By Margaret D. Mitchell
Week of February 12, 2023
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I read Christmas advent books into January and Valentine’s Day. This year, there’s one I’ve gotten stuck on . . . in a good way. It’s Pastor Rick Warren’s The Purpose of Christmas.
About midway through, there’s a brief chapter titled, Jesus Came to Save You from Sin and Yourself.
For me, this says it all. At least right now.
You see, God has been highlighting selfishness to me lately. And, if you’ve known Jesus for any measure of time, you know that we have to give up to go up.
We’re always a work in progress. The transformation never ends. Just when we feel like we’ve overcome some major area of resistance, Holy Spirit goes and shows us something else. I feel like I live in daily repentance. And that’s a good thing.
Before I even began reading this book, right around Christmastime, Holy Spirit had me write a devotion titled, New Order, with “Order” being my key prophetic Word from Him for 2023. So now, as I walk out this physical transformation, I’m realizing, even more, the transformation He’s doing in me.
And so, it goes, as I work to bring my house into a new order, He’s working in me as His house, His temple. And just like a piece of furniture that needs to be pulled out and cleaned behind, He’s exposing another area and layer of selfishness that has to go.
I’ve had to discipline myself to not neglect His house as I’ve tended to my own. Holy Spirit spoke to me clearly, several months ago, saying, “Don’t put your house before Me.” I sensed in my spirit that something was coming up ahead, where I needed to have my mind set on what was most important to Him. He knows it’s easy for us to let priorities get messy during transformations, especially for those of us who tend to be task-focused.
We know surrendering to Him means that we have to lay down our own ways.
So, now when surfaces and spaces are made messier in the midst of establishing new order, I’ve had to block out the mess long enough to focus on Him; and make myself sit and be quiet right in the middle of the mess. It has been seriously slowing my natural, hurried pace, but it’s obvious to me that He’s bringing me into a greater Martha-Mary balance and, ultimately, peace.
Holy Spirit confirmed all this in His Word:
First, in John 14:15 TPT, He says, "Loving me empowers you to obey my commands."
And secondly, in Matthew 16:24 TPT, which says, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If you truly want to follow me, you should at once completely reject and disown your own life. And you must be willing to share my cross and experience it as your own, as you continually surrender to my ways.'"
Recently, I wrote in my journal that “I need to please God above what pleases me.” Sometimes, we need to be reminded of this and realize what following Him looks like for where we are now. This leads to a key element, which is discernment.
The verse Holy Spirit highlighted to me in this regard is Romans 12:2 TPT, which says, “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes."
For me, this means to stop occupying myself with activities that focus my mind on anything less important, especially social media and news briefs during work breaks. Some of the images and stories I see there have proved to be distractions in my mind in the sense that they shift my focus off of God and onto pop culture. And since we know that we become what we focus on, this kind of “little thing” has the power to shift us off course over time. So, it’s really not a small thing when we give it too much influence in our minds.
But when God’s selfless voice is the loudest in our heads, He transforms our thinking to align with His. Only in this place of His Presence and Words can we rightly discern what pleases Him most. It’s how we’ll be able to walk with Him, obey Him, follow Him, and live for Him in this new order of life.
He promises it will prove to be more beautiful and satisfying than we could ever do our way. His way is and will always be superior to ours and, graciously, for our benefit.
So, pray with me if you will . . .
Thank You for the new life You have for me. I know that remaining close to You is everything. Therefore, let Your voice be the dominant one in my life, so that I remain aligned with You and speak Your true Words for Your greater purposes. Help me to quickly respond to You. And keep me under Your protection.
In Jesus’ Mighty Name,
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder of God's Love at Work, a marketplace outreach purposed to share God's greatest power source - the love of Christ.