Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sorry, This Seat Is Taken

         These past few weeks have been very difficult for me. The business is growing by leaps and bounds and my responsibilities are growing with them. With that growth comes time management. I have always been very good about keeping a time for God in the morning. When my children were little I used to get up before everyone else in the house just so I could have a time of prayer and devotion before the demands of motherhood started. Over the years I have had to forgo a day or two here and there, but never more than that. This past week I realized I had missed a whole week! I had not prayed; I had not spent any time in God's word at all. All the demands of the day crept in and I chose other things. Without even realizing it, my fire and passion for the Lord God and His Word had dwindled and I was feeling weak, drained and empty. I needed Him, (I still need Him), but there was this moment where the emptiness became so overwhelming in me that I cried out and asked for all my friends to begin praying for me.
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         But this emptiness didn't just appear, it had been slowly growing and consuming me for awhile now. I had been praying about my time and how it seemed to be getting away from me. I knew that it was an area of my life that the Lord wanted to work in, because it seemed to be in my thoughts a lot. While I was pondering on what to do about organizing my time better I got a picture in my head about place cards. You know the ones that they place on a plate at a table during a wedding reception. The cards have the name of the people who are supposed to sit in that seat. When you go to a reception you are not going to sit in someone else's seat, but you are going to look for your own. My time with the Lord needed to have a place card sat on it, that way, when someone or something else tried to take His place, I could say "Sorry, this seat is taken. It is reserved for God." But yet I struggled. Over and over again I found myself being consumed by the demands of running my company instead of allowing myself to be consumed by the One who created me. That is when it came to the surface, this emptiness, this need to be filled and set on fire again for His word. So, once again, I prayed.
         I poured out my heart before the Lord. I told Him about my wayward heart and how it had wandered from His presence. I prayed and pleaded with Him to forgive me for the sin that He was convicting me of as I came before Him. I prayed and I pleaded, I cried and I lamented. He answered, "Ephesians 3:20- "Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us." With those words my soul was flooded with love, grace and mercy all at once. I was broken, humbled and rejoicing all at the same time. He heard my cries. He saw my struggles and all that I had asked He was able and willing to do, because He was that power that was working in me. He was the reason my soul was crying out. He wants to consume me, but I let other things consume me. Let Him consume me, my spirit was saying, let Him in and He will fill you to overflowing. His word continued to flow in me as I continued to read. I was filling up and I didn't want it to stop.
"Therefore it says, 'When He ascended on high, He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.' (In saying 'He ascended', what does it mean but that He had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the One who also ascended far above the heavens, that He might fill all things.) Ephesians 4:8-10
         Why was I still a captive when He had set me free? He showed me that there were areas of my life that I was still allowing to control me. I was not under the power of anyone or anything anymore. He has freed me from all that once held me back. He lives in me and moves in me. He did all of this so that I could be filled by Him, not by the things of this world, but by Him. Why do I, as a free man (woman) seek to be brought under into slavery again by the things the Lord has freed me from? Why do I seek to be a slave to this world, when Christ has made me free in Him? (Galatians 4:9) I am allowing things to have control over me instead of giving God, who has bought and paid for me, the right to control me. My will and my desire is not only weak, but it is selfish and wants its own way. But I must not allow myself to be brought under the power of anything other than Jesus Christ.
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15
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         There is that reference to place cards again. Be wise. We have to set boundaries on our time with the Lord. We have to set boundaries on our walks as Christians. The Lord showed me my day, and in all sincerity and honesty, I am an unwise user of the precious gift of time God has given me. I waste a lot of it. I waste it with watching Television when I could be spending time in His word. Besides that, have you seen what is on the television lately? Why then do I spend so much time in front of it? Turn my eyes away from evil things, O Lord! (Psalm 119:37) When I looked at my day, when I began to examine all that I did, I realized that half the stuff that I was doing was pointless and non-productive. Paul tells us to look carefully. We have to pay attention to what we are doing and why we are doing it! Lloyd-Jones wrote, "We have to walk on a knife-edge in these matters; you must not become extreme on one side or the other. But you have to be watchful. And of course, you can always tell by examining yourself whether your strength is increasing or declining." Examine you day. Did you keep the place cards or did you let someone else sit in His seat?
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle with flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over the present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." Ephesians 6:10-13
         I am in a spiritual battle. Everyday, as soon as my feet hit the floor, I am battling my flesh because it wants to do what it wants to do, and I am battling the spiritual forces that are against us as Christians. Do you really think that our enemy, the devil is excited about you putting up those place cards for the Lord? His schemes are to distract us, to draw us away, to make the other way look easier, more appealing. His schemes are to tell you that you are too tired to read or study, you don’t have time, you should answer that phone because it might be a potential client. You should do everything else but sit at the table with God. We have got to stand firm. I think it is easy for us as Christians to forget that we are partaking in spiritual warfare everyday. We have dumbed it down to the point that we don't even believe in its existence anymore. But it is real. We are in the midst of a battle right now, whether we choose to see it or not.
         Stand firm against the temptations to move that place card. Resist the schemes to sit down, watch a little TV, you earned it, you worked hard today. God doesn't need that much of your time, you did do that little devotion this morning. You listened to some worship and praise music while you were running today, it's okay- God knows your heart.
"The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labor to deface the heavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve by God's grace not to yield to Satan. To resist him and he will flee." Matthew Henry

         Our enemy wants to destroy us through the power of the air, the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers, the present darkness using all the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Let us not be unwise, but wise to the schemes of the enemy. Not only the devil, but our own flesh. You are at war! Pay attention! Be a military strategist. Think about your moves before you head off into battle. You don't just run into battle unprepared. Set those place cards on your day, and don’t let anyone else sit in the seat that God has reserved for you and Him. You have to pay attention to your time, it is a gift. If you have to, get up earlier, or go to bed later. Whatever it is that you need to do, don't remove that place card from His table. If you do, you will end up empty and scarred because the battle is long and the battle is hard. And last, but not least, make time for "praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saint," Ephesians 6:18