We’ve been working our way through the book of Ephesians, learning to identify ourselves according to God’s definitions and not those of the world or the enemy. Today we’re learning about the power we’ve been given through the Holy Spirit to live righteously. There is a standard of right and wrong that is sort of written on our hearts, but despite our greatest efforts, none of us can live up to those standards in our own strength. That’s why, when we begin to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, believers are going to stand out so much from the rest of the world. We’re suddenly going to do things differently, because when we’re sealed by the Holy Spirit, there is a new and powerful force at work within us.
When we come to a place in which we realize letting go of control and fear has become a necessity, I doubt there are many of us who naturally think of good boundaries as the way to do it! Quite the opposite. Most people have such a distorted view of them that they can’t see the signs of unhealthy boundaries, and therefore throw all boundaries out thinking of them as an ineffective way to grasp at control in a relationship.
Fortunately, God has given us a wonderful picture of what good boundaries look like through His Word. As we learn how to use these parameters to protect ourselves rather than to make attempts at manipulating situations that are simply not in our control, we’ll find freedom and peace.
Sometimes life gets foggy. For one reason or another stress piles up and it becomes difficult to navigate or even find the path forward. When that stress is a result of deep betrayal, especially when it has been repeated again and again, the fog is likely to gather all around our perceptions of ourselves. Insecurity is almost inevitable. It can become so very difficult to find truth when our thoughts are clouded by questions about our identity and worth. This is when it is so important that we find our answers in the TRUTH of the Word of God!
We’ve been looking at the life of one of the most complex characters in the Bible, finding a treasury of lessons from the life of Joshua. But before we talk about his commitment to leaving a legacy of faith, let’s remember what we’ve already learned. He started out as Moses’s assistant, a minor supporting character and servant leader. During his time in that role, Joshua watched and learned. He communed with God, and his faith grew and grew and grew. Then Moses died, and Joshua was called to take over as the leader of Israel. The command for his life, “be strong and courageous for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” was demonstrated at the walls of Jericho, and then throughout the years when Joshua the warrior swept through Canaan, conquering the Promised Land with the army of Israel. We’ve come to know him as everything from a calm and easy-going leader to a fierce and savage warrior. We’ve been impressed by his willingness to do whatever is asked of him. But as his story starts to come to the end, we see a few final aspects of Joshua’s character, particularly his determination to leave a spiritual legacy, and find ourselves inspired one last time!
We’re working our way through a study of the life of Joshua. So far we’ve seen him as a servant leader under Moses in the first part, and then as a brand new leader, standing firm in faith at the walls of Jericho in the second. Now, in this third part, we find a new and terrifying role for him as Joshua the warrior comes to the forefront. God had taken more than 40 years to prepare him for a job only one person so far in history has done: lead the people of Israel into the promised land to conquer it. I often think this massive task is seemingly forgotten (or at least overshadowed by other stories), but it was a huge job! As Joshua emerged from the shadows, executing justice in obedience to God, we find he was a beast! After so many years as a quiet observer, Joshua steps up with an unexpected amalgam of character qualities, all relevant to those of us working to heal from the wounds of sexual addiction.
I hope you read part one of this series about the life of Joshua, because it helps us understand how we’ve come to this point in which we find Joshua at the walls of Jericho, stepping out as the brand new leader of the people of Israel. Though we did see him lead the army into battle once before, mostly we saw him learning, serving, and watching. We saw him sitting silently in the presence of God, meditating regularly upon the words of his Lord. Through Joshua’s example of servant leadership, we learned so much about what it looks like to be strong and courageous even when we’re simply learning quietly!
We also mentioned how the life of Joshua was kind of unique because he served so many different roles from beginning to end. In this part of the series, we’re going to look at another one of those roles. As leadership is passed down from Moses to Joshua, we’ll see a new kind of strength and courage from the new commander. No matter what God asks, we always find Joshua standing firm in faith!
I have always loved reading about the life of Joshua in the Bible. He has been one of my favorite Bible characters for as long as I can remember. The theme of his life was, “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” From his first appearance in Exodus when we see Joshua as a servant leader, through Leviticus Numbers and Deuteronomy where we see him and Moses demonstrate one of the best examples of spiritual mentoring in the Bible, and all the way to the end of the book of Joshua, we find him as a man of integrity and faith.
Of course, a character who demonstrates such admirable qualities would bring valuable lessons to any believer, but I believe his example of standing firm in faith is of particular importance to those of us facing off with the monster of sexual addiction. Whether we are the addict, or the wife of the addict, Joshua’s strong and courageous life of victory can inspire us to go all in, as he did, to a life lived in passionate pursuit of our Lord!
There is a very important reality about addiction, lies, and relationships we need to address. When we’re active in our addiction, or even at the beginning stages of recovery, it can be difficult to understand why confession is SO important. The enemy tells us we’re protecting the people we love by not telling them what we’ve done, and that WE certainly are better off if we keep those secrets. As liars ourselves, we believe these lies pretty easily. But keeping secrets in a relationship shatters the foundation of trust needed for success. And as far as our own recovery is concerned, the consequences of telling lies are absolutely detrimental, dragging us back into the addiction again and again.
God helped me realize that I am not in control of my husband’s recovery. It’s out of my hands. I have to surrender to Him and learn how to let go of control in a relationship and instead surrender that relationship to God.
After facing an intimate betrayal, or any other trial for that matter, we all have to figure out how to trust God in difficult times. We’re tempted to believe that when life is hard it’s somehow an indication that God has abandoned us, or that He is untrustworthy. But it is a lie. In times like these, passages like Psalm 37 offer encouragement, hope, and a wonderful model around which we can build prayers to calm our anxious hearts. The Psalm 37 message teaches us to delight in the Lord, it reminds us of the ultimate fate of both the wicked and those who choose to follow God, it reassures us that the Lord is fighting for us, but most important, it shows us exactly how to trust God in difficult times.
The question, does God love me no matter what, is one I’ve wrestled with for most of my life. If you too battle the lie that tells you you’re unlovable, I pray this story will help you to truly know and believe that God loves you personally and deeply and without condition!
Is there anything more central to communicating God’s way than taming the tongue? I mean, if we could all somehow learn just to control what comes out of our mouths, being sure that every word was pleasing to God, and nothing more, I feel certain we’d see dramatic improvement in our communication both within our marriages and everywhere else! But alas, as our focus passage in James points out, the tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. We shoot its arrows with little regard for the damage that will be done. So how can we stop it? How can you learn to be careful with your words and surrender them to God? Or even to just keep your mouth shut? That’s what we’re going to try to figure out today.
Today we’re learning about our calling and gifting. The identity God has given us is not meant simply to benefit our own lives. It is such a wonderful, mighty identity that it is meant to spill out of us and pour onto the entire body of Christ. We’ve each been called by God and uniquely gifted to serve the greater whole, and when it all works together, it is the most beautiful thing the world will ever see, for it is Christ Himself revealed through us!
A period of separation can be a really helpful option in marriages attempting to recover from intimate betrayal and sexual addictions. But there are a lot of different types of separation, (some healthy, and some not) and different situations call for different solutions. Let’s cover several of the healthy options available to us and discuss when each is likely the best choice.
When it comes to marital communication, we really can’t underestimate the importance of forgiveness. We need to understand how unforgiveness is connected to pride, and how humility will change the way we relate to and speak with one another.