New King James Version (NKJV)
7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.
Today’s post is an answer to the last post on checking our motives and aligning ourselves with Christ. I truly believe and have witnessed how God doesn’t just tell us what to do, but He creates a path for us. While the Bible might not have direct answers for a specific situation, it is a reminder that we know the One who does have the specific answers. James 4:7-10 has a few steps that we need to be mindful of as we walk this life trying to align our “natural” self with God’s spiritual self.
1. Submit ourselves to God.
There are a few things that prevents us from submitting ourselves fully and completely to God. The first of which is pride. Pride prevents use from acknowledging that our motives are not of God. It will keep us striving for making ourselves better instead of thriving on God’s will. Pride will cause destruction. Don’t believe me? Satan is a perfect example. He wanted to be bigger than God and was full of himself. He ended up getting kicked out of heaven due to this pride. But let’s make this a little more real to us.
I was involved in a few destructive relationships in college, before I met me husband, of course. 🙂 The young men were all wrong for me, mainly because they did not have relationships with the Lord and thus didn’t know how to treat me. My family and friends tried stepping in and told me how bad these relationships were, but I was so full of pride that I didn’t want to admit that I made another poor choice. I kept making poor choice after poor choice; allowing my heart and body to become broken at the end of every relationship. Obviously how could they work out for the good if one is of the world and the other is not? I became so broken that the only way out of it was to submit myself to the Lord; I had to realize that He was the one who cherished me and wanted to provide the right man who would cherish me the way He does. But my pride kept me from God’s best.
I think the second reason we don’t submit to God is because we have the wrong perception of who God is. How could God want anything to deal with my life? Why would He want to be involved in my mess? I am unfaithful. I am sinful. I am selfish and anything but what He desires. Or how could I ask God for anything more? He has given so much to me that I feel like a failure every time I have to come back to Him. Perhaps we had a poor example of a father here on earth that the very image of God as a father sends chills down our backs. I pray that the Holy Spirit would intervene in your life and restore your perception of a father.
When I was in high school, a speaker at our church told us this story. When his daughter was young, they threw a party. His daughter loved balloons and she had a beautiful bright pink one that she treasured. But her and her friends played too rough with the balloon and it popped. Her treasure was now a pile of broken pieces. She ran to her father begging him to fix her balloon, but there was no way to humanly fix that balloon. So he consoled her; picked her up and let her cry in his lap until she calmed down. Then he looked into her little tear-stained face and told her that he’s got an even better balloon. She found this so very hard to believe because the one she just had was perfect! But out of his pocket he had a pink balloon with sparkles and glitter all over it. She was in amazement! After they put helium into it, the balloon was more magnificent than the original.
See we have all these broken balloons, broken dreams or hopes, or we are that broken balloon. And God wants to draw us near, comfort us, let us grieve over what we lost. But then He wants to restore us, not to our old selves, but to something better. He wants to breathe life back into our lives. We get mad that something has fallen apart, or we are broken once again. But in that brokeness is when God works, because we are willing to submit ourselves to Him. God does not deny a broken and contrite heart. There is power in submitting to Christ.
2. Resist the devil.
How do we resist something we don’t see? How do we flee from a being we at times disregard as nothing more than a child’s Bible story? The truth of the matter is if you believe in God, you need to believe and acknowledge that there is Satan and he seeks to kill and destroy all. Every good and perfect thing is from God. And every evil, every lie, and every form of destruction is from our enemy. We must resist any tendencies to allow ourselves to go into the dark places that would lead down a destructive path.
The first way we can do that is through controlling our thoughts, our words, and become the antithesis of our sinful selves. Analyze your reactions to past situations. If you acted sinfully, how would God desire you to respond? It might have meant appearing weak to others, but it’s proving strength in Christ.
A few years ago, my marriage was falling apart. Bobby and I went through a very dark time in our lives. When everything came to head, we had to realize that in our pain, we hurt one another. We could have decided to end it using the excuse that there was too much pain to heal while still married. We could have ended up like another failed marriage. But we submitted ourselves to the Lord along with our marriage. Instead of trying to heal individually, we allowed God to heal us together, thus allowing us to have several blessings. We are stronger as a couple, stronger in our faith, stronger parents all because of submitting ourselves to God and allowing Him to do His thing. Yet it wasn’t always easy. There were days when my mind would wonder to the “what ifs” and would stir up the memories of pain. I had to be conscious of my thoughts because what controls my mind, controls my heart and my actions. Instead of living in pain, I chose to live in God’s peace and healing. Thus, He’s been able to mold us and make us into what He needs us to be.
3. “Wash your hands..and purify your hearts.”
We are new creations when we become Christians, thus we have a higher standard to live by. We need to do away with how we lived our old lives, and align our lives to Christ. We need to replace our sinful desires with God’s. How do we know if they are godly or not? Well, do they align with God’s word? Do they succeed if put into plan? For example, it could be your desire to own a successful company, but the way you get there could violate God’s will for your life. Like James said earlier, we need to check our motives and cleanse ourselves of anything not of God.
4. “Grieve your sins.”
Do not be afraid to admit your sin and grieve for how far it has brought you away from God. One sin can open up the door for hundreds more, that could take you miles away from God. Your sin changes your desires, your mindset, your responses. You allow your sin to define you to the point of not knowing who you are anymore. That is mournful! You have lost yourself on the path of sin, and can’t find your way back. But no matter how many steps you take from God, it only takes one to go back. And no matter how you have changed and not matter how much you hate who you have become, God hasn’t changed, including how much he Loves you. So grieve what you have done, but don’t stay there.
5. Humble ourselves & He will lift us up.
We hit rock bottom many times in life because of sin. But when we hit the bottom, we have two options. One is to stay there and live a life of depression, trying on our own to dig ourselves out just to fall again. OR we can humble ourselves. We need to hold on to the understanding that we are not strong enough to pull ourselves out of the mire. We do not have the strength to live this life without Him.
If you are reading this either you have experienced this brokenness or you are there now. I want to encourage you that even if you were the only one, Christ would have gone through the pain all over again just to show you what His love is. One of the greatest things about Christ is this: His love transforms us. He meets us while we are filthy in sin, but doesn’t let us stay that way. He covers us with His cleansing blood to give us a new life, a better life. Perhaps your dreams, your balloon, has been shattered. Your heart has experienced yet another break, and now you can’t even recognize the pieces to attempt to put them back together. I pray you allow God to mend your broken heart. Allow Him to hold you while you grieve and mourn. Allow Him to comfort you. And when you’re ready, and He’ll know, He will revive your spirit, your heart, your mind, your dreams, your life.
If you ever need prayer or an encouraging word, please shoot me an email or leave me a message. You’re on my heart, but even more so You’re on Christ’s heart!
Thank you so much for your mercy, grace, and love! Thank you for transforming our minds into something worthy of you. Thank you for not leaving us in our mess. I pray over those that are hurting right now or lost. Jesus, draw them close. Holy Spirit I pray you convict us, examine our hearts, and reveal your truth to us.
In Your Holy Name,
Y’all have a great afternoon!