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Saturday, January 10, 2015

And the Spirit brings....

A coward is someone who lacks courage.  When faced with danger or uncertainty, the response of the coward is to shy away or even run from it.  Where there is difficulty or opposition, something we can be faced with nearly everyday, the coward will turn attempt to hide from it.  Pain is too much for the coward and he is easily intimidated by even the smallest of stuff - fearing failure, he won't even begin!  So, why am I so interested in the coward?  Simply because I don't want us for even one moment to think of ourselves as cowards - for if God's Spirit dwells within you, there is no reason for a coward's response to life's dangers, uncertainties, difficulties, oppositions, or pain!

God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7 CEV)

God's Spirit doesn't make cowards out of us - our own thoughts and beliefs do!  By the past responses we have had to circumstances beyond our control, or difficulties too great for us to handle on our own, we often form thought patterns which become the "go to" thoughts when faced with new circumstances or difficulties.  Our learned behaviors are what often determine our response to the difficulties - if we failed before, it stands to reason we may fail again.  Many see the "may fail" as "will fail" and never try again.  God's plan is for us to never give up on the trying - for it is in taking each step forward that we learn to walk stronger and stronger until one day we don't fall again!  Brooke Foss Wescott was quoted as saying, "Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to the eyes of men. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become."  There is much truth in his words - for courage is not always perceptible until the moment arises when it is put to the test!

The Spirit of God within gives us three very important attributes - sometimes imperceptible until the moment arises in which each of these is put to the test, showing just how much of his power, love, and self-control really has become a part of our lives.  The first is that of "power".  To some this may seem a little bit like something only those in a high position might have, but let me assure you, if you are a child of God, you ARE in a high position! Power is really the capability to do or accomplish something.  We have this capability because of who dwells within, not because we have things all together in our lives.  Let me assure you, even men and women in places of "high power" in society don't always possess the capability to do things on their own - it is their position and who or what it is they have at their disposal which makes them "power-full" individuals.  This holds true for the child of God - for who and what we have at our disposal when faced with challenges or difficulties is what gives us the capacity to overcome those obstacles!

The Spirit of God within brings with him a tremendous gift of love - something we could not muster on our own toward either others or ourselves!  If you want to love others, you often need a love which is outside of your natural ability - because some people are just downright unlovely!  Their actions hurt us - their intent is not always noble.  Their needs outweigh what we think "normal" people should have.  Their unreasonableness is sometimes only outdone by their unreliable promises.  People fail us - but we are called to love them in return.  This is the principle of turning the other cheek - to give love when faced with disappointment, rejection, or hurtful actions.  Not an easy task for any of us, but because of the gift of the Spirit of God within, we can love with a capacity not our own - it is HIS capacity within us which helps us to love the unlovely.

The Spirit of God within brings about the possibility for self-control.  Apart from him resident within us, our best "will-power" is nothing but us putting forth our best faith effort. If you haven't figured it out yet, our own "will-power" is a little flawed since anything which really puts a strain on us is often able to over-power even our strongest attempt at "will-power".  I saw a commercial last night showing the "new" and "improved" Weight Watchers program - complete now with a "personal coach" to help you through the tough struggles to avoid the temptation to eat beyond the meal plan.  The commercial depicts common objects being viewed as food items - such as the phone suddenly being a rich chocolate bar you can bit off a hunk of and the water dispenser lavishly producing colorful candies for the taking. Our minds and hearts are unreliable - we need something "external" to our own will to help us avoid the "crashes" which send us headlong into failures galore.  To this end, the Spirit of God brings something we call "self-control" - the ability to put "in check" our will and rely upon the grace of God to bring us past temptation into places of victory!

We may not fully appreciate the gift of the presence of the Spirit of God within, but when we see the three attributes of his presence, we might begin to understand the importance of relying upon that presence more and more each day!  Just sayin!