One of the wonderful blessings of keeping a journal of my Bible study is that I have a record of my thoughts at different times in my life. I can search my memories and draw off those old studies. On those mornings when I am uncertain where to go I can look back at where I have been and see where I am today.
Journaling – A Memory
This morning was one of those mornings. I was struggling to clear my head and find focus so I just started looking at old entries and it did not take long and the Lord spoke to me through one of the last year’s posts. It began with a Psalm…
“23Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!”
Psalms 139:23-24 (ESV)
This is one of my favorite passages in God’s Word. It is one of the passages that reminds me that God knows me better than I might ever know myself and if I ask He will show me the blemishes that I might set them aside and draw closer to Him… “lead me in the way everlasting!”
What a glorious promise there is in this passage, and how much I need this every day. For in this world there are so many distractions; so many ways to drift. It puts me in prayer almost instantly. I am humbled by all the times I fall short.
There is that moment when you get cut off on the highway or someone is rude to you in the store or when you feel slighted by someone. Or a time when there is simply more pressure than you can handle and you just want to scream out or punch someone or something. It can happen to us all without warning… But as I reflected on this old entry I felt that God had done more work in me then I realized.
Our only hope in avoiding those things is the Holy Spirit and His influence. He knows us. His desire is always what is best for us. As I reflected on this I found that in that past years I was yelling less and praying more. Remembering who is hurt by an angry outburst had slowed those responses.
When we lose control, the damage is not limited to those around us. When I lose my temper, I sin against God; those things which come out in moments of frustration, anger or selfishness are the things that break God’s, heart.
It is easy to slip into acting out of my own passions. I may be tired or focused on something else or they may be buttons that are still sensitive to the touch and before I know it I have responded and it is not always with the best of results. But as I read this journal entry I realized there has been a change.
It came when I reread First 1 Corinthians 10:13
“13No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
As I read that passage I realized that more and more I was taking the escape route offered by the Lord. That does not mean I always take it but is becoming more the rule than the exception.
I went back and read all of 1 Corinthians 10. Paul reminds the Christians of Corinth, (and us), That not all the Jews Moses led out of Egypt survived, and he walked through some of the pitfalls. But in Verses 11-12 kind of spell out why they were documented and why we should heed them.
“11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”
It is a very somber warning but Paul also explains the truth of the matter… In verse 13 he explains that as alone as we might feel in our struggles with temptation we are not alone. We are not the only one with this struggle, and we are not tempted beyond our ability. He always offers a way to escape.
What a wonderful promise. No circumstance that we face cannot overtake us IF we will trust in this promise. It may not be easy but if we hold on to Him we can endure… and more than endure… we can overcome.
Oswald Chambers Text
But then I went on to read the devotional I read and quoted that day in 'Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. It was titled “The Way to Purity”
The referenced verse was Matthew 15:18-20
“18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
I shuddered a bit as I read that passage. But Chambers reminded me that like 1Corrinthians 10: 10-13 God gave us His Word and promise that we can endure all things through Him.
I like what Oswald Chambers says to close his devotional on the subject.
“The only thing that truly provides protection is the redemption of Jesus Christ. If I will simply hand myself over to Him, I will never have to experience the terrible possibilities that lie within my heart. Purity is something far too deep for me to arrive at naturally. But when the Holy Spirit comes into me, He brings into the center of my personal life the very Spirit that was exhibited in the life of Jesus Christ, namely, the Holy Spirit, which is absolute unblemished purity.”
In this, I find comfort and strength. There is still a battle that goes on in and around me. Paul talks about it in Romans 7 and Ephesians 6
But as I reflect on these passages and the insight God shares with us through them I am even more led to James 1:19-20 and the whole circle of this thought…
19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
And if I want to be better at this I need to be in the Word. The world has no answers… no solutions and no hope. Our hope rests in Jesus Christ and His Word is our guide and lifeline.
Psalms 118:1 (ESV) “1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!”
I am thankful that God has compelled me to Journal my study… He knows my struggles and He knows my needs. I am thankful for His patience with me. I am thankful that He searches my heart to show me the way to repentance.