The Narrow Focus

Listening to a Biblical meditation, the speaker directs to visualize looking as through the big end of a telescope, which makes the view through the small end very narrow in focus. Put that focus on God, refusing to move from gazing at Him. See a temptation come across your field of view, but keep focus on God; refusing to follow the object of temptation. Note that the temptation moves rapidly out of view.

That temptation God allows to float between us is a test meant by Him to prove and strengthen our resolve to keep the focus of our desire on Him. Temptation’s ability to grip and sway us is weakened by our straight and narrow focus on One true and righteous passion: God alone.

Practice keeping a restfully assured focus on Him today, Beloved. When you catch your focus drifting, turn quickly back to your narrow ended telescope, and let that distraction move out of site. Victory over temptation to sin is assured when we maintain that straight and narrow love for God.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. …” (Hebrews 12:1-4 NASB)

Temptation’s Lure: My Passion

A Comprehensive Look at James 1:14 (In context)

“Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” NASB

Temptation: we all face it at one time or another. It is even said of Jesus that He, too was tempted, even as we are, yet without sin (1). Truly, temptation is opportunity to choose whether we will do evil or do good. Jesus’s first, most vital desire in all things, at all times, was God.

Jesus was God incarnate, yes. Jesus was filled and empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, yes. But He was still a man who contended with human flesh. The thing about the desires Jesus surrendered Himself to, is His fear of, trust in, and desire to please God that kept Him on the straight and narrow path of always choosing good over evil, so as to always please His Father and bring Him glory. He was dictated by lusts, desires, passions set on God, His will, and His way, ONLY. He did not give leeway to His flesh.

As I look at this verse in several translations, I find understanding that can help us follow in likeness to the example of Christ.

“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” NLT

Lusts are focused on the attainment of all our hearts desire. If we are not watchful to keep our desires in line with God, His will and His way, those desires can not only be used to entice us to sin; those desires can grab us and drag us away from the paths of God’s choosing.

Have you ever committed to stay away from a desire, like sweets, only to find yourself running straight to it. I have! In that instant, not only do I find myself eating a sweet, I often fall into gorging myself on them. My lust, desire, passion, literally drags me away from my commitment.

The passion of the Christ was God: first, foremost, and always. That passion protected Him from being dragged elsewhere. Clue?

“Every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).” AMPC

Have you ever found yourself blaming the devil, the temptress, or anyone but self, because they sat the temptation in front of you? I have. It is hard to take the blame for our failures. But truth is, it is our own desires, passions, lusts, that cause our fall.

We alone are to blame when temptation comes and we fall away. We fail to keep our desires in line with godliness, and make ourselves a target. Not only do we make self a target, but we fail to have the right arsenal against the attack of our flesh by having evil passions under our belt. The only passion that can save us from ourselves is desire for God alone. Only then will we do the things that please Him, like studying His Word, so we have knowledge of truth under our belt.

“Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” NIV

It’s “MY”evil desire to blame. Each person is responsible for their own demise. The phenomenon of the individual falling into the group mentality of a chaotic mob is not the mobs fault. There is some desire in that individual that is responsible for their own fall from righteousness. They wanted something that joining the mob could feed them, so they chose the evil of the mob over the good of walking the other way alone.

“Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure them away into darkness.” TPT

When we give self over to the lusts of our flesh, failing to give self to godly pursuits, we leave the Light and walk off into the darkness. Our greatest aid against fleshly desires, lusts, passions, is the transforming of our minds that change the fleshly to the godly (God-centered) pursuits. The more we want Him, the more we want to please Him, the more we desire all He has for us and gives to us, the better off we will be and the closer to His Light we will stay.

“People are tempted when they are drawn away and trapped by their own evil desires.” GNB

We set our own trap, providing the cheese to lure us, when we fail to align our desires with God’s. The tempter knows what to put in his trap, because we give it to him.

One last fact I found comes from the Orthodox Jewish Bible, which introduces us to the “Yetzer Hara”:

“But each one is tempted by his own ta’avah (lust, yetzer hara), being dragged off by it and being allured.” OJB

“In Judaism, yetzer hara (Hebrew: יֵצֶר הַרַע‎) refers to the congenital inclination to do evil, by violating the will of God. … The yetzer hara is not a demonic force, but rather man’s misuse of things the physical body needs to survive.” (From Wikipedia – Also see Self Seduction by Jewish author Dr. Alan Morinis)

“Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” James 1:13-15 MSG

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who LOVE HIM. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. DO NOT BE DECEIVED, my beloved brethren.” James 1:12-16 NASB

1 – Hebrews 4:15

Glorious Unfolding

Glorious Unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman

The Glorious Unfolding, such an uplifting lyric any day; but on this day!

As I listened to the beginning lyrics, God opened my spiritual ears to hear, with clarity, His “voice” speaking hope to my heart in the words so skillfully sung.

“Lay your head down tonight. Take a rest from the fight. Don’t try to figure it out. Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart. ‘Cause I know this is not anything like you thought the story of YOUR life was gonna be. And it feels like the end has started closing in on you, but it’s just not true. There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold.

“And this is going to be a glorious unfolding. Just you wait and see and you will be amazed. You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over. So hold on to every promise God has made to us and watch this glorious unfolding. …”

Such great encouragement, not just for eternity, but for every difficulty in life today. The heartache of watching a mate lose ground in a devastating health battle. The wayward son or daughter living lives we never dreamed or wanted for them; lives they never saw for themselves. One’s own health or life situation closing a dream path, an opportunity seemingly never to come again. Storms rising to destroy all we have, and life as we know it seems suddenly to end. So many heartbreaking situations; yet the words of this song, the encouragement found there, shatters the hopelessness and helplessness with one fell swoop of assurance in God.

He is up to something marvelous; something amazing; something beyond one’s ability to fathom, much less to dream it. The sudden devastation that seems to end everything may simply be a course change that requires a new beginning.

Nothing is too difficult for God. He is never taken by surprise or unprepared. He is not only writing our story on this road we travel. He is writing HIS story. And He is ready and thoroughly equipped to WIN.

Just like in scripture: it’s not just a bunch of stories of many peoples’ lives. It’s the story of God, at work in and through the lives of many. That story continues in and through us: our lives made complete and beautiful by Him working with and in us. Because of Him, there is a glorious unfolding coming to us who wait to see Him with earnest expectation and hope of glory, trusting and believing and KNOWING that He IS working in our everyday situations.

We are part of His life tapestry, and His tapestry is gloriously beautiful and perfect in every way. Wait for it!

Paint Your Picture by Julie Myer

Incidental Temptation

I wrote the following one year ago, on the 12th of 2017. It’s funny, because as I read in Hebrews this morning, thought of writing about the temptation Christ faced every day of His life was brought to heart. Then here it is, in my memories, ready to post.

It’s long, but hopefully it is well written enough to help us know that, if our Savior faced temptation, we will too. As you read it, I pray you realize that He who successfully faced every assault the tempter threw, can surely empower our victory, too.

Incidental Temptation: Opportunity to Choose Good or Bad

Written 10/12/17 by Darlene Davis

Good day to you. I woke up feeling so great! Wow! I didn’t have any pain all night that I know of, then I got out of bed and realized that I am not there yet. Ugh.

It’s amazing how sapped of energy I felt with so little movement. For those who did not read my post yesterday, I went to the doctor with some weird symptoms and chest pain. They suspect Angina and are setting up a stress test. And I just got going good with Grow Young Fitness!

The PA noticed my weight loss as she evaluated my chest pain and, once she knew it was on purpose, she was pleased. She said that I may exercise as long as I am not hurting. The ache is still there, so I will have to take it slow today.

Isn’t that the way life too often is? We get our feet under us in doing something we need or long to do, and something happens to hinder us or test our resolve.

All this attack against my health is upsetting, yes, but it got me thinking about temptation and things God is teaching me. Temptation is much more than a plate of cookies on a table or a bottle of wine in the hand of the addicted. Everything in this life comes with temptation. With the chest pain comes the temptation to lay down and act sick even when I feel better, tempting me to give in to fear of causing more pain. It tempts me to give myself back to my habit of stress eating and give up on getting this excess weight off, giving up on the very thing this health issue needs me to do. Worse yet, it tempts me to question my God and His love and care for me.

All of that is just the tip of the iceberg of tempting things that go on underneath the surface of such times of challenge. Such times can have hidden beneath it the temptation to give up on life and lay down to die: the temptation to despair. They often tempt us to face the challenge in our own strength: the temptation to pride and self-will. Most often such situations tempt us to forget who God is, how much He loves us, and His faithfulness to fulfill His good will in us: temptation to rebel against the reality of God, and His right over me as Lord of all.

I could go on, but the point is all things present a type of temptation. Take Jesus as an example – He’s a good one to follow.

Starting out His ministry, He faced the temptation to forgo baptism in pride that He had no sin to confess or be forgiven of, as John proclaimed, “You should be baptizing me.” But He knew it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness, thus keeping Him from sin, so He pressed John to baptize Him.

Jesus resisted temptation of pride when the crowds wanted to crown Him before His time. He resisted temptation to the fear of the mobs who wanted to throw Him off a cliff, choosing instead to trust God that it was not yet His time and to press past the mob, going on to finish His work.

Jesus resisted worry and fretting so He could rest Himself in the bow of the boat. He resisted the temptation to take glory to Himself instead of glorifying the Father. On and on we could go throughout His days, revealing the temptation each account brought before Him. But He stood in the face of it all to fulfill the work He was here for, glorifying God, and making Himself a worthy Lamb for the ultimate sin sacrifice.

As you and I look at the things we face in this day, I pray we will be faithful to follow the example of Christ who only allowed Himself to give Himself to the temptation to do right and good, fulfilling the work He saw the Father doing, and bringing glory to His name. He only gave Himself to that which required Him to remember the character, nature, authority, power, and purpose of God, and join Him in it. Even when threatened with despair, as He prayed, “Take this cup,” His deeper heart cry was, “Yet not My will, but Thy will be done.”

Surrendering to God’s will, He refused the temptation to self-preservation, self-protection, and self-gratification. He faithfully refused the temptation to call the armies of God to deliver Him from His appointed path, though they were charged to His care and would have come had He called. He also refused the short-lived fame of a false crown in this life, offered by the multitudes ready to follow Him as King into battle to accomplish deliverance as they understood it; He withstood the temporal temptation in order to do the greater work of an Eternal King, preparing an eternal Kingdom.

Jesus stood for Righteousness in every temptation, following instead the temptation to do good, giving Himself to God’s will for the greater good and the greater reward. God does not tempt to evil, but He does stand in opposition to it, holding out to us the opportune temptation to walk His way.

That is the path we face with everything that comes our way. Follow the temptation to evil, rebelling against God’s will in order to do things “my” way.” Or choose the temptation to stay the course as a follower of Christ in fulfilling God’s good purpose, trusting Him despite the challenge, and doing so for Righteousness’ sake.

Look at all your going through today, beloved. What’s the temptation? Like Jesus, choose that which fulfills righteousness.

Whose Prisoner We Are

“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus…” (Philemon 1)

The thing that jumps out to me as I read Philemon is this understanding that Paul, captive in a Roman prison for the cause of Christ, considered himself a prisoner OF CHRIST, not of Rome. He knew why he was in prison, because God warned him and gave him clear understanding of the purpose for this season. He knew that he would not find release until the purpose of God was fulfilled. He also knew that he was there at his own choice in following God’s will, not at Roman or Jewish design.

He had a chance to choose to leave, twice – or at least three times, actually, as God seemed to give him warning with opportunity to choose to turn away from Jerusalem more than once, and as Roman authorized judges saw he was innocent and planned to release him. But he chose to walk the path God told him of, he called for the judgment of Caesar. THE POWER OF THE ENEMY TRYING TO DESTROY THE WORK OF GOD THROUGH PAUL WAS MADE IMPOTENT BY PAUL’S SURRENDER TO GOD’S WILL FOR HIS LIFE JOURNEY. He trusted that it was God, Himself, dictating His prison time.

Beloved, what situation are you in where you feel trapped, imprisoned, helpless? What situation are you walking into, knowing God’s call and refusing the naysayer? Could it be that surrendered trust in God, seeing self as the prisoner of Jesus alone, might well be the key to defeating the work of Satan?

If we truly believe that God is Sovereign in all, we have to know that whatever imprisons us is allowed by Him for a purpose of His own will and way. He is Whose prisoner we are: as we, who belong to Him, live this life with assurance that He cares for us affectionately and watchfully (1 Peter 5:7 AMPC).

God has purpose for all He does or allows. Ours is to trust and to seek Him in it, so as to cooperate and partner with Him in fulfilling that purpose. Just a slight change in view point, a clearer understanding of God’s power at work though our confined state, can well be the shift we need to come out victorious in Christ, bearing a testimony beyond comprehension.

“… I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. …” (Philemon 1:1-25 NASB (vs. 6))

Free Will Choice

“Without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.” (Philemon 1:14 NASB)

Have you noticed how some people seem to push for rules and regulations that force people to give to the “under privileged” or to care for those here illegally, or any number of other causes? Have you noticed how some seem to enjoy playing the part of Robin Hood? Does it get your back up (an old saying meaning to rile up, like the hairs of a dog standing up when in battle mode)? Do you wonder why that riles us so? Here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

God gives us the right of choice. Not only that, but opportunities to give are chances from Him for those WITH A HEART TO DO SO to give without compulsion.

Exodus 25:2 says, “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; FROM EVERY MAN WHOSE HEART MOVES HIM you shall raise My contribution.”

I believe that, when God desires a person to give into a need, HE stirs their heart with willingness to do so. God doesn’t want us to give from a forced position. He wants the gift to be from a willing heart, as if giving to the Lord, Himself, for that is what it is in His estimation of things.

When someone forces us to give, it steps all over our right in the Lord, leading to giving begrudgingly. A person can’t take much of that without the heart (their willing love and care toward others) growing cold. People who try to force acts of loving care become part of the problem instead of a fix to it.

Trust in the Lord to inspire the good in others, for only God is good, according to Jesus (Mark 10:18), and “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17 NASB)

God work’s in us, so that He can work through us, to the glory of His Name and the good of our character that grows strong as He works His good out through us who live according to His dictates.

Now, that said, can we get a right attitude in forced servitude? When we live as unto the Lord and in the power of His supply, nothing shall be impossible with God. So put on the Lord Jesus Christ and, in the humility of the Savior, let no worldly rule steal your Joy. Your free will choice is to do every good as unto the Lord and in the power of His supply. Though others require of you by force, they cannot steal your joy of service in and for our Lord, unless you give-in to that begrudging spirit that seeks to still, kill, and destroy the goodness of God in you.

Go forth, and prosper the Kingdom.

From One Cracked Pot to Another

I shared some time ago, early on in our three year journey, telling you of my husband’s battle with prostate cancer (see link below). Throughout this experience, though there have been days of exhaustion and emotional challenge, I stand continually amazed by the Father’s care and provision. When my strength and countenance were challenged, His supply and faithful care uplifted me. When rest was the need of the day, peace and ability to do so has been there. God’s provision and Presence is remarkable.

My husband is the director of the welding program at our local college. Diagnosed at stage four and now stage five, by the grace of God, he has worked throughout this entire ordeal. We can count on one to two hands the number of sick days he has taken. God faithfully sustains him.

Drawing near the end of the summer semester, he finally retired with commitment to stay just long enough to train his replacement. It was none too soon for me, as I could tell that my body was at a limit in its ability to function. Relief was in sight. I was ready, and excited.

Problem? All along he has trained someone to take his position, with plans to hire someone for a lower position, but that fell through, practically at the last minute; so the school hustled to find someone. Problem? The person found can’t start for two to four months. My husband’s commitment to the welfare of the program kicked in and he committed to try to hold the fort until his replacement comes.

Now, I trust the Lord and know He is at work in all of this, but I’ve realized lately that something in my thinking and emotional state snapped at the change of semesters. It has really put a kink in my role in this journey we are on. It is challenging my ability to function. It has also laid me out in the lap of my God. I am absolutely, deeply beyond my own strength and ability. Even my ability to think and “feel” right is challenged. Only by the grace of God am I moving in these days.

But here’s the thing! A brokenness seen is a problem solved when seen through the eyes of our loving God. He is my rest, my strength, my hiding place. Nothing has changed where hope and faith and strength in God is concerned. He is not surprised or caught off guard. He is still with me and He will see this cracked pot through.

The exciting thing about a cracked vessel is more openings for the light of God to shine through, new areas for Living Water to pour out through. God doesn’t throw cracked pots out. He simply refurbishes them, putting them to use in new, creative ways of service. With that understanding in heart, I pray, may it be so, to the glory of God who makes me whole.

Hang in there with me, Beloved. Let’s shine that Light and spill that Water everywhere we go. Even from our weary soul, the Lord be glorified!

Prostate Cancer: Warning to All Men

Gifted Bondservant FOR

“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, FOR the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness…” (Titus 1:1-4 NASB)

Okay, Bondservant of God and ambassador of Christ, what follows your FOR? For the apostle, evangelist, prophet, preacher, teacher, Paul expresses it well. Those called to spread the Good News and apply God’s truth to life in their age, the “for” of their ministry is “the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which (we are) entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior.”

For the gift of helps, it might be FOR the purpose of meeting daily needs so as to free those charged with spreading the Good News so they can accomplish their FOR with less concern for daily need. We all have our “for” in the work of spreading truth. And we all are called to be ready with our testimony, so our “for” may cross over into the area of the evangelist. I.e.: “I use my gift of helps in serving at the food bank for the needs of others with hope of having opportunity to share the work of Jesus.”

We have a work FOR the service of our Lord, and we are responsible to fulfill it. Knowledge of our motivating purpose, our FOR, equips us to serve with greater commitment, effectiveness, and strength of resolve.

Know your FOR. We are all vitally needed in the roll God places in us as part of the body of Christ and the church of the living God. Knowing our FOR is a great help in serving with head high, unashamed.

Instruction in Godliness

Do not open the chosen passage linked below before reading my instruction to you, Beloved, for this passage provides a challenge for us. In it, Paul is instructing Titus regarding attributes to watch for in choosing Elders for posts he is charged to fill. Now, here’s the thought I want us to consider as we read this passage today.

In life, I’ve oft heard people express opinions about leaders in The Church that leaves the impression that our leaders are to be better people than the rest of us. I believe this is false understanding of the scriptures. I believe that God desires all of His children to live exemplary lives that make each of us ELIGIBLE for leadership positions. Thus, the instruction today as you read this passage is for each individual of us to apply these truths to self. How are we individually doing in our practice of godliness and our life witness?

Every descriptive passage that points to godly character should leave us asking The Father for His opinion of our progress in godliness. With that thought, Beloved, read on!

Titus 1:5-16 NASB

You Follow Me!

“Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”” (John 21:22 NASB)

Following the Lord as He dictates through the work of His Spirit within: that is a goal long practiced, and I am so grateful when the Lord graciously confirms the work of my hands. Especially so when I wonder if I’m doing things correctly or efficiently. Efficiency was my concern on this day.

Feeling so led, I Jerichoed around my town after dropping hubby off to work, one of my frequent ministries in the Lord, but on this morning I couldn’t keep my focus in prayer. Frustrated at one point, telling the Lord my focus issue – like He couldn’t tell 😂 – I prayed, “Lord, I don’t even know why I’m doing this!” Very clearly to my heart came “Obedience.”

That’s all I needed, to know that I was following the dictates of the Spirit to accomplish God’s will. I realized in that instant that, though my focus might be off, the work of God’s Spirit was spot on. Thus assured that He was doing something mighty even in the midst of my struggle, I continued on, knowing that whatever He was doing, HE was doing it.

What freedom of Spirit! To trust the Lord and simply obey. I believe that was one point Jesus was making with Peter. We may not fully comprehend or understand what God is doing in His calling and equipping us, but He is never confused or unfocused. He always knows what He is doing. All He needs from us is willing obedience and faith that trusts Him to be bigger than life in and through us.

Trust in the Lord, Beloved, and have a Glory day.

A Standard Set

“…When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19 NKJV)

I can understand the heart of a woman’s pain when watching a man she knows as “rapist” from her earlier days, seeing him very likely to be raised up to a position of authority in our highest court system. It must be excruciating to her. And more excruciating is the issue of not being able to prove her accusations to those same courts. But proof is necessary, and righteously so. Thus I feel her pain and I comprehend the struggle.

At the same time, I can comprehend the pain of a man who may not believe he is guilty in the way accused; or who has so greatly changed since then so as to no longer be that person. Fortunately, for him, we live in a society of law that lays the burden of proof on the shoulders of the accuser, counting the accused innocent until proven guilty. And I, for one, am very grateful for our system of law. It is, by the way, biblical, the scriptures making it clear that there must be at least two or three witnesses to a crime.

I am writing today, not to tell any woman they shouldn’t feel or possess their pain, nor to tell them they should not bring their accusation when their hurt was from so many years past. God knows your pain and He can lead you to have strength to stand up to the accused. But I am writing to share how God has so graciously freed me from my pain; the frequency of these cases constantly drawing me into a grateful heart toward my God who set me free indeed.

My experience is different from many of the women coming forward today against men; like that of Bill Cosby. I was not, to my knowledge, drugged. In cases where a man drugs a woman to have his way with her, that is RAPE in one of the ugliest forms. Though I was not maliciously drugged, I was drunk out of my skull, and some of my drunkenness was helped by the boy who raped me.

I was somewhere between mid-16 to mid-17 years old. Though I professed Christ as Savior at the age of 10, I was not raised up to know how to follow Him as Lord, nor to know the importance and freedom-producing purpose of doing so. On that fateful night in my life, I was terribly upset about something I do not even recall the details of now. Instead of turning to Christ for His help in the pain, I had opportunity to turn to liquor. And turn I did.

I chugged a huge gulp of wine, climbed on the back of my car in our secluded party spot, one of my gal-friends beside me, and was immediately surrounded by five or six boys. Someone nearby handed me some type of another liquor; not sure who as I was already feeling the effects of the wine. I took a drink and passed it to the next person.

Somewhere along the way, one of the boys got the others to hand the bottle to me every other turn. I was so drunk, that the details given to you now, to this point in my experience, are all I remember until numerous hours later when I began to sober up. I was passed out drunk in the back seat of my car most of the night, according to friends.

The next day my girlfriends told me what all happened that night. It included me winding up in the back seat with that boy who, in my memory, started the liquor coming my way every other time; which some might say was me being maliciously drugged. That’s a heart issue judgment best left with God.

I don’t know if anyone tried to stop me from getting in the backseat with him. I’m sure if they did, I didn’t cooperate. But I do know that no one fought that boy away from me. Thus, in the sense that I was incapacitated in my ability to make a knowing and wise decision, I was raped that night, the only memory of which that I have is the flash of his face over me.

Despite my lack of memory of the incident, I have never felt that I had no role in what happened. In the sense of culpability, I have always considered myself most to credit for the assault. You see, I knew the results of drunkenness from watching my alcoholic Mom. I knew better than to drink like that. If I didn’t understand its dangers before that night, I certainly did after, and never again drank that way.

I believe God led me to do four things immediately following that night that absolutely freed me from the pain of the experience. That incident has never stunted or harmed my ability to move on in life as a result of these actions.

  • First, I took responsibility for my role in the travesty, owning it, and I repented before my Lord for my actions that led to a drunken state that removed from me the ability to choose good over evil; and I repented the sexual sin that resulted because of my vulnerability in my drunken state, which I deliberately chose for myself. No one forced me to get drunk.
  • Second, I faced my rapist and, after apologizing to him for my part in allowing myself to get into such a state that I would do something with him I never would have done sober, I was able to leave his role in the rape with God for Him to handle. God empowered a forgiveness toward him for my own sake, so bitterness nor any other enemy to my mental health and well-being was able to bind me up. The incident had no talons with which to get hold on me.
  • Third, I both apologized to my friends for things I did that I do not remember doing, and I forgave them without their asking for it, for not fully recognizing my vulnerable state and fighting for me.
  • Fourth, I forgave myself for getting out of control like that and I learned from it.

Some would say that I should have turned the boy in, but truly, it did not occur to me that the incident was RAPE until years later, when we started seeing cases like this bombard our TV screens. In my day the rule was that drunken is as drunken does. I just thought of it as a night of stupidity and loss.

I don’t recall the name of that boy, not that I would share it here if I did. And I barely remember what he looked like then. I would not recognize that boy, now a man, today, unless he came up to me and told me who he was. Even if I did, I would not bring charges against him, not because I see myself as better than women who do bring a charge against a rapist long past, nor because I would be afraid to, but because, for me, it is done, settled, finished. God has it. He is The Judge and He will tend to it.

The only way I would ever even think about bearing witness to his actions in a court of law is as a witness in a case where more current rape victims bring charges against him: to help them make a stronger case, showing a long held lifestyle of raping women to this day. My hope is that God worked in his life and that he never again participated in such horrific acts against women. Until I see otherwise, he has nothing to fear from me.

Beloved, God raises up a standard over His children in our battle against evil, an evil powered by the demonic. For me, it was a standard of owning and repenting my role in the evil done. It was forgiving those who even inadvertently participated in the evil, including myself. And it is (and was) understanding of God’s grace and mercy that equips me to let the past go, and move on to the joy of a life worth living.

The Standard we have over us in Christ is Jesus Himself, His blood that sets us free from sin’s death, whether our own sin or that of others done toward us. I thank God for His mercy poured out to me. And I pray the freeing power of Mercy’s grace toward those hurt so badly by the evil sin of rape.

© Darlene Ingram Davis: 09-28-18

The Reignited Gift

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NASB)

I’ve been in God’s Word to some degree for over 50 years, since childhood; studying and teaching it with intimate fervor for at least 40 of those years, and it never ceases to amaze me how the Spirit can bring a “Well, dah!” out of me. This passage did it for me this morning.

I’ve always read this with thought of “gift” being that of teaching, or evangelism, or leadership, or whatever Timothy’s undergirding service-gift might be. Today I read it with that start of realization, recognizing that Paul is talking about the gift of the Spirit, Himself. He is saying, “Kindle afresh The Spirit of God within you.”

You see, something was raising up great fear in Timothy, such as to quench the Spirit’s freedom to work in His life. That fear was most likely his youth and the challenge of teaching with authority those he saw as older and wiser, leaders in the community. Paul reminds him that the Spirit in Him bridges that gap, equipping him to boldly and confidently speak and teach the truths of God with power.

Beloved, what quenches God’s Spirit in you? Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you. How? Through trust that believes God; faith that realizes unseen truth; and surrender that submits to Him, even when it doesn’t make sense to our finite thinking.

Trust in the Lord today, Beloved, and do the good He sets before you, working out of the power of His sure Presence within you. Go forth in Him and prosper the day.

Proof of Innocence

“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16 NASB

I don’t know about you, but for me there are few things more testing and trying to my patience than a child who gripes, complains, and argues with every call to duty. I want them to obey willingly and with a right and good attitude that does right and good as unto the Lord. Our passage today tells me that God desires that in our relationship with Him as our Father as well.

There’s a parenting warning tag that goes something like this: Rules without relationship breeds rebellion. I believe that goes both ways. A bad relationship between child and parent makes both rebellious. The child’s rebellion comes out in the ways of disobedience, bad attitude, and more. The parent rebels through impatience – sometimes explosive, crankiness, indifference, and more. A loving relationship is vital for a life that behaves in blameless innocence toward God and man.

Throughout scripture we see relationship with God is mirrored in our relationships with each other. Scripture relates our relationship with God in likeness to a good marriage; the love and care of parent and child; sovereign with servant; and His being the best friend we can ever know. Relationship is important to our God and He wants us to do that well at every level, especially with Him.

For a healthy relationship with God, we are called of God to obey with a willing spirit. Submitting ourselves to God as a living and holy sacrifice that is acceptable to Him as our “spiritual service of worship”, as inspired by Romans 12:1. Our willing obedience, according to Christ, is equivalent to actions of an abiding love relationship with God in Christ (John 15:9-10). Willing service is done out of love for Him who loves us; a love that desires to remain with Him forever, a love that honors Him through blameless innocence toward Him, proving our loving relationship with Him.

So, Beloved, as a child of God that desires a good relationship with Him we must do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that we will prove ourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God.

The True Travesty I See

Lying has been part of the human reality since the earliest days of creation, according to scripture. Lies exist. People lie. We see it every day. And few can truthfully say they have never lied.

People lie to protect self from getting caught or suffering loss. They lie for money; for selfish agendas; to get their way in a situation. This world is replete with reasons to lie. So when one says “yes they did” and another says “no I didn’t,” suspicions rise as we question, “Which is lying?” And when that accusation comes at a seeming strategic time, suspicions rise still higher.

In cases like this one pictured below that is in the news in these days, we can’t just say one is lying and the other isn’t without questioning things and finding truth. On the woman’s side, if she is the truth sayer, justice for her tragedy is at stake if we blindly choose to believe the man. On the man’s side, if he is the truth sayer, his reputation and life is at stake if we blindly believe the woman. Thus, finding truth is vital.

The sad thing, and the thing that infuriates me, is all the women – and men: men can be raped to – but all those who have been raped and are thrust back into their pain by watching such travesty. They hurt for those who have experienced rape and want them always to be believed, so others feel safe to come forth. I understand their point. Problem? People lie. Suspicions rise. And truth has to be sought so the innocent gets justice.

I hate when people come forth with false accusations. I hate when a true accusation is met with a cowardly response, a lie to save face by one who can’t admit their wrong and do right by those they hurt. But I really hate the pain caused to those watching, who are flung back into their pain. I hate when situations like this make others afraid to come forth. For these being hurt, the one lying should truly be ashamed, whichever it is, and should suffer the justice due.

Recognizing a False Circumcision

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”” (John 8:12 NASB)

Look at this beautiful promise of God, Beloved. Do you believe with trusting faith in this truth? Do you seek faithfully to walk it out in life by the power of God’s Spirit? The promises of God are glorious to us who believe. And to us for whom they are sent and received by faith, believing, they are irrevocable. God’s eternal promises are vital to our living a life of abundance.

What about promises like that found in the best known scripture there is? “”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE” (John 3:16 NASB). Do you believe this promise with saving faith? So do I. Does that make us brothers and sisters in Christ? Some would say, “Not that alone.”

Recently, someone I love and respect deeply, and have learned much from through the years, deemed me lost and apparently decided I’m a false teacher because we do not have the same defining parameters for THE CHURCH. Now that has really bothered me. As I said, I love and respect this person, so like the men of Berea, I’ve been seeking the Lord to confirm truth for me.

Lately, every time I read a promise like these stated, the Spirit of God catches my attention to focus me on the fact that those who have a false definition of The Church nullify the promises of God. Example:

⁃ “So, you believe the Word about Jesus? But you’re not in my fellowship of believers, so your faith is useless.”

⁃ “I see the work of God’s Spirit in and through you, the bearing of The Fruit that is found in every true believer, but you’re not of our association, so your work is pointless.”

Sad, isn’t it, that we deny many of the brotherhood (sisterhood) because of what I would call a false circumcision.

Here’s what I’m understanding. A belief like, “my fellowship is right and yours isn’t, so you are lost” denies every promise of God, making God’s promises secondary to our understanding of The Church/circumcision we profess. False circumcisions we deem necessary for eternal grace nullify all other promises of God found in Christ.

Here’s another problem I see with a false circumcision added to the promises of God. That false understanding becomes a trap, a snare, a stronghold against true faith, true worship, and true fellowship. Continuing the “my church or yours” theme, here’s an example.

I know a woman from a church fellowship with the belief described above. She fell in love with and married a man of another church background. He, as spiritual leader, insisted they attend his church. She dutifully did so. Problem? Every time she came, she felt condemned to hell. She was grieved and unhappy the entire time. And though she agreed with every teaching she heard, she could not get past her definition of The Church.

Now, I believe this type of situation falls in under the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10. Because of my belief of the parameters of The Church, which is true according to my understanding about scripture, I can enter into any fellowship despite our denominational differences, and I can worship freely, even giving my “Amen” to truths taught there. I can do so, recognizing, loving, and enjoying the fellow believers there with a clear conscience and sure faith.

If this woman’s husband has the same faith as I, in my opinion based on my understanding of the teaching of God through Paul, then for the sake of the wife’s conscience, he should have joined her in her church. But here’s the flip side of the problem. What if that husband has the same belief system concerning his church fellowship? Then he cannot join her church with good conscience. These then take the place of the unequally yoked, which is misery for a marriage.

Conclusion: a false belief system that creates a false circumcision, adds the necessity of a work’s action to the salvation equation. That false circumcision then makes the promises of God concerning salvation in Christ alone invalid in ones struggle to keep that circumcision, thus we have a boatload of people believing they are saved while they are leaning on the wrong side of their equation. The person snared by a false circumcision then finds it to be a stronghold that brings separation from much of what Jesus sees as The Church, and even separating them from true faith in Christ. Our false circumcision hinders worship outside of the fellowship that bears that circumcision. Those who demand the bearing of a circumcision take the place of the Pharisee, tying heavy loads on their fellow believer; loads God never intended them to carry. And it brings a false, self-condemnation to the heart of one who finds themselves on the wrong side of that legalism.

Beloved, know this. It is Jesus who knows those who are His, and by His Spirit, He seals and marks them so they have the assurance of their salvation through faith in Him, and so they are recognizable to His true followers. Let’s stop raising up stumbling blocks and walls of divisiveness between us, and let’s walk together in the truth of saving grace through Jesus Christ.

LOVE or Love

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17 NASB)

We don’t see it with our all encompassing word, love, but in the Greek, 2 different words are used in this passage: agapao and phileo.

Most know this, but for those who don’t, agapao is God’s kind of deep, abiding love. Like the Father’s, it flows from who we are as empowered by Him and lands on all, whether love for God or man. It is not gifted by merit of the recipient, but flows freely because of who we are in Christ, thus it loves enemy as well as friend.

Jesus, in verse 15 and 16 uses agapao. The amplified version defines this love as being “with reasoning, INTENTIONAL, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father.” Thus, this love functions solely out of devotion to God who imparts His nature to us, then serving Him out of love as a bondservant, we love others in like fashion.

Throughout this passage, Peter uses “phileo”, which is the affectionate care one has for a good friend. Problem is that this love is too readily subject to the merit system, and does not extend to anyone that is not considered a friend. This love is too easily flesh led and dictated.

Again, the AMPC version defines phileo as “deep, INSTINCTIVE, personal affection, as for a close friend.” Jesus is telling Peter, “ If you agapao me, feed my sheep (“out of that love,” I believe is implied).” But Peter can’t comprehend an Agape’ type love: not yet, anyway. So Jesus, in verse 17, brings it down to Peter’s level, asking, “Do you phileo Me?”

This tells me that Jesus, who agapaos us, loves us enough to accept the love we give. But what joy it is to Him and what benefit to us and others, when, in the power and provision of the Spirit, we possess agapao. How much easier it is to serve God and man when this God-love flows to and through us like a river of life.

Father, empower our love today, making us to be love just as You are love. In Jesus’ mighty name and authority we pray, amen.

John 21:15-17 AMPC

Power to Enjoy

“Every man to whom God has given riches and possessions, and the power to enjoy them and to accept his appointed lot and to rejoice in his toil – this is the gift of God to him. For he shall not much remember seriously the days of his life, because God, Himself, answers and corresponds to the joy of his heart – the tranquillity of God is mirrored in him.” Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 AMPC

I see this truth in Johnny as he works and puts energy into his life’s calling. He has done what God placed in him to do, and the joy of his labors outweighs any challenges those labors bring. And I experience this truth myself, as I find joy and contentment in caring for him, in being his wife and helpmeet.

Thinking back on my life, on both the good and the difficult, the joys far out-way the sorrows, the good memories dimming and deadening the hardship. And in each season of my life, the labors there, the work I found for my hands to do, made much of the joy of my days, each in its season.

What better legacy to leave our children than our exemplary life of serving our God out of His provision of our Power to enjoy our labors with love for Him and each other.

“TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven…

“I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. He has made everything beautiful in its time.

“He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds, a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages, which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy, yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be glad and to get and do good as long as they live; And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor – it is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-13 AMPC)

A Time to Disarm

“So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”” (John 18:11 NASB)

A man, born blind, suffered that stigma for many years before meeting Jesus. Upon seeing the man, the disciples asked, “Was it the sin of this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus corrected a false understanding that all who are sick are there because of some sin committed, saying, “It was neither.” Then He stated the true purpose, “It is so that God May be glorified in the Son.” (John 9:1-12)

Lazarus was allowed to die that he might be resurrected to the glory of God (John 11). Jesus warned the disciples that they would be dragged into court on account of Him, but not to worry, for it was opportunity for their testimony to the glory of God. (Luke 21:12-19; Acts 5:33-42)

Jesus walked through life with clear understanding of His purpose in life. He knew when He could fearlessly walk out of a bad situation because it was not yet His time, and He knew when to willingly walk into it, knowing the suffering would work the glory and fulfill the purpose of the Father.

Even today, for us, there are times and situations we are not to fight against. Times come when God’s Spirit inspires us to know this hardship is for God’s glory and purpose. Nothing we can do will get us out of it, because God is planning to take us through it.

Not only might Father take us through a thing rather than deliver us from it, but He may not reveal where we are going beyond the next step. Even if God reveals the end product to us, we must take care to not pick up the gauntlet and run our own path, trying to get there. We will waste precious time and energy, and may well rob the Father of His full glory.

We must note something here. Before Jesus told Peter to stop fighting, that He must drink the cup God has for Him to drink, Jesus spent at least an hour crying out for the Father to remove it, if possible. Then, assured He must drink, God strengthened Him to walk through all He faced. It is not sin to seek deliverance, but it is vital that we willingly receive His strengthening to walk through and drink our God given cup.

Take a new look at your situation, Beloved, and ask the Father if you need to put down your proverbial sword and walk bravely into this opportunity to see His glory. Watch the steps He leads you to, and get ready for a harvest.

Link to all Scriptures referenced

They Know Not What They Do

“These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.” (John 16:3 NASB)

Do you ever wonder what’s going on in a world gone crazy, amazed at how people are behaving? Jesus reminds that such things are done by those who do not truly know the Father or His Son.

Why are we so shocked to see people of a lost world acting worldly? Scripture teaches that evil in the world will continue to increase, being at its worst as we draw near to the Day of Christ’s return. Things are crazy and people out of control because we draw ever nearer to that day. The enemy of God gains ever-increasing control as people refuse God, and as hearts grow cold and unable to truly love.

What should we do?

– Keep our lamps lit through the continual filling of God’s Spirit and stand ready.

– Draw ever closer to God.

– Be ready to bear witness of His grace and to speak wisdom, truth, righteousness, love, and peace wherever we can.

– Don’t waste breath on those who will not hear, nor cast the pearls of God’s Word before swine.

– Keep your heart from hate and your steps from foolishness.

– Remember that bad company corrupts good morals.

– Live the Light of God in all you do.

– And remember the true battle, while involving humans possessed and deceived, is a spiritual one against an evil enemy army. (Ephesians 6:12 NASB)

– Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith.

That Great Day is dawning, Beloved. Stand ready!

LIVE!

“… “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. IN THAT DAY YOU WILL KNOW that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. ….” (John 14:16-31 NASB)

One reason for the resurrection of Jesus and His 40 days of visitations was to assure the disciples that He was still with them and in them through the power and provision of His Spirit. Still today, we are each, individually one with Father and Son by the power of the indwelling Spirit of Triune God. And in our fully living that out, we are one with each other, the prayer of the Christ fulfilled (John 17). We have the mind of Christ and the heart of the Father within us because of this miraculous union.

I have long believed this truth, yet never as I do now. Father has spent the last few years calling me to deeper, more intimate understanding of this reality: that “I”, ““I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer “I”, I who live, but Christ lives in me (also); and the life which “I”, I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved “ME” and gave Himself up for “ME”.” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

The hour Jesus cried out for the cup of His suffering to be removed, I believe one thing heaviest on His heart was the understanding that, in the instant all our sin was piled on His Shoulders, He would, for the first time ever, know life without the Father’s Presence. He took all our sin with the destitute abandonment of a God who cannot abide evil, so we, NOW, can enter into our eternal unity in the Spirit.

No temptation can overtake the one who abides in The Triune, Who abides in us. Holding our Abode as of most vital importance and greatest treasure is our way of escape from sins grip. Though we may slip or stumble and need our feet washed, we will not go down for the count and fall away from victory in Christ.

So enter into the Beloved, sweet friend, then go forth and conquer with every breath of your days in Christ. Nothing can steal that joy from us, the joy of unity with the Eternal, when we live and breathe it in our now-day.

ABIDE!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Old Church Choir

Zach Williams

http://youtu.be/-cRh8NqmXoE

What I Do Now

“… So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” …” (John 13:1-11 NASB)

There is a lot going on here as we watch God incarnate gird loins with towel and go to work doing the job normally given the least of slaves. He removed clothing because it is a dirty job, washing mud and more off the feet of those He served out of love.

The main point we tend to focus on here is the fact that we too easily soil ourselves while walking through life in a lost and dying world. Jesus graciously and lovingly keeps our feet clean. That is a glorious truth for which we must be grateful. But I want to look at something else I see that is going on here.

Do you think Peter was the only one Jesus talked with as He washed the feet of His disciples? I don’t. What I see here is our Lord, taking time to spend with each one as Jesus washed their feet.

He knew each of them: the way they think and react to stress; the fears and insecurities they each struggle with; their beliefs, hopes, and dreams; and He knew the obstacles ahead for them. Jesus chose this time of personal, willing, and loving service for one on one time of ministry to the deep needs of these loved ones, getting them ready for things to come.

Our church does this from time to time. Participants are given time, both in the chair and in the towel. It is a glorious opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by our church family.

Whether we dawn a towel of service, or share a tea time, Beloved, we are to wash proverbial feet as we go through our days, pointing out truth that encourages and lifts to higher ground.

We Live Christ

“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”” (John‬ ‭10:37-38‬ ‭NASB‬‬ – http://bible.com/100/jhn.10.37-38.nasb)

Our lives should be a clear expression of this truth concerning Christ. We are His ambassadors, priests unto God, bearing forth His Light to the world around us.

So then, if I (Darlene) do not do the works of My Father, in likeness of my Savior, Jesus, do not believe me; but if I do them, though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father through Jesus Christ, my Lord who lives in me.

Amen????

The Son of God Appeared for this Purpose

Are storms evil?

No. Storms happen because they are keeping the law. There are laws in nature that determine when it rains, snows, hails, when the wind blows and how hard, where the lightening strikes or tornadoes form. These things, in themselves, are not evil, though they can bring great destruction; nor are they necessarily good, though they can bring good and needful things to the earth. However, storms can be used for evil, or they can lead to great good.

When a storm produces destruction, we see one of two things come from those effected:

  • Some come out to take advantage of others out of selfishness and avarice.
  • Others come, even out of their own extreme poverty, to help those in need and to build anew.

I read a devotional that eluded to this passage of scripture and the purpose for Christ expressed here:

“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who ABIDES in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who PRACTICES righteousness (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice out of love for God and allegiance to Jesus) is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who PRACTICES sin (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice, which is rebellion against God and His chosen King) is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.

“The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil (sin and all that stands in opposition to God, His will, His way, His sovereignty). No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:4-9 NASB (my understanding)

The storm is not evil or good: but the force behind it and the spirit it brings can produce great evil, or healing balms of good through the actions and reactions of people effected by the storm. A person reveals his heart in such seasons.

Jesus came to destroy the work of Satan that leads people to do the evil seen in such times. With Job, when His children were killed in a tornado, the purpose of Satan and the trap of temptation set by him was to prove Job would lose faith in God and rebel against Him. That is what Satan seeks to accomplish through the storms of life.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NASB

To die, in God’s value of things, is to turn away from Him in lack of faith to trust Him in the storm. It is to rebel against Him out of anger, self-centeredness, pride, greed, or any number of evils that get a controlling hold on our hearts and lead us to turn against God’s way.

Life, in God’s economy, is this relationship with Him from a heart that trusts and follows Him despite the tricks of the devil. We don’t easily and habitually give in to temptations to sin out of fear or because of stressors to faith in God. We stand with God and for God, no matter the length of our waiting for His hand to move, and we find Him faithful. This is the Life, abundant and full, that Jesus provides.

The abundance Jesus provides is peace beyond measure; joy unrelated to circumstance; faith fed by deep pools of belief’s hope; and a River of love flowing to and through us, all fed by God, who is love. Evil that seeks destruction cannot win when God’s people stand firmly planted on Him.

“Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.” Psalms 37:1-9 NASB

“My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:1-8 NASB

Yes, Satan used a storm and other devastations in Job’s life, intending it for evil; but God allowed it, knowing it would produce the good He desired. The question is, on which side of the equation will we stand?

The Unforgivable

“Truly and solemnly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever abusive and blasphemous things they utter; But whoever speaks abusively against or maliciously misrepresents the Holy Spirit can never get forgiveness, but is guilty of and is in the grasp of an everlasting trespass. For they persisted in saying, He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:28-30 AMPC)

This command / judgment through Christ tells us that those who sneer at and dismiss as hogwash the work of God’s Spirit through Jesus are eternally guilty and beyond saving grace. Denying that Jesus is who He says He is and did all reported of Him by the power of God is the unforgivable sin, blaspheming the work of God in the power and authority of His Holy Presence.

This passage also condemns the misrepresentation of God’s Spirit. Misrepresentation: the action or offense of giving a false or misleading account of the nature of something. So for one to claim a work of the Spirit erroneously or to fail to give credit to the Spirit righteously, is dangerous. The question we must ask is whether the death and resurrection of Christ ended this Law, or does it stand today?

Of course, the requirement to recognize the work of God in Christ that provides saving grace as pictured in the scriptures stands. We must believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”; that “He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). But what of the work of the Spirit in our day? Can we walk into dangerous territory through denial of the Spirit working in God’s people today? I believe we can.

Scripture teaches that when we come into Christ through salvation, we receive His Spirit as teacher, guide, and power for service. It is Him working in and through us that gives us any ability to accomplish the work and way of God.

Scripture teaches that those who follow Christ in the power and equipping of the Spirit of God are His representatives, having authority and power as ambassadors of Christ and priests unto God to carry on the work of Jesus through the ages.

When someone refuses our authenticity in Christ, Jesus takes it personally. When Jesus directs our lives, instructing our hearts to know His will in a situation, and someone accuses us of hearing and acting out the demonic, the insult is counted as against Christ and His work through the Spirit.

We must be careful in our judgment concerning the way of God seen in our day. Scripture teaches to judge the fruit produced. God’s Word teaches that a word of instruction from Him is known true when it comes to pass, accomplishing His desire and purpose.

Take care against condemning the work and way of God in others. Though our unbelief may not be so severe as to lose The Eternal, it will hurt our witness and it can work division in the Body.

Matthew 7:15-20 NASB

See also Matthew 10:14; John 13:20; Luke 10:16

Fit – IN Christ

“And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”” (Mark 1:7-8 NASB – http://bible.com/100/mrk.1.7-8.nasb)

Boy! What a statement, Beloved. John, the baptist, understanding the person and purpose of the coming Christ, overwhelmed by his own flesh nature before Him, pronounces himself unfit to even minister to Jesus’s feet.

The lowest of servants were given the nasty task of cleaning feet at the end of the day. The feet were covered by whatever muck and mire walked through that day. It was a dirty job, cleaning people’s stinky feet. So when John says he is unfit to even unlace the shoes of the Christ, he is referring to himself as being lower in worth than the slave charged with feet cleaning.

Then Jesus came: The Propitiation for our sin, and by that gracious love, He pronounces the true believer, “Fit!”

After reading this passage the morning I wrote this blog, I was still thinking about it when I sat on my stool before my husband to put his socks and shoes on for him. Since his hip replacement surgery, years ago, it has been my joyful task to help him dress his feet. As I bent over to kiss the tops of his beautiful, hard working feet, BLESSing them for this day, thought hit me, “What we do to the least of these, we do to Christ.”

Since Johnny’s cancer entered our journey in life, the weight gain from the treatments makes it hard for him to clip his nails. To me, clipping another’s toenails is the worst of jobs. I hate doing it, but willingly do the best I can out of love for him. With this revelation of Johnny’s feet being the feet of Christ to me, the task is much more palatable to my soul.

Thank you, Father, for opportunity to bless Jesus and serve You through our care for one another. In Christ, Amen!

Reigning in Life

“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17 NASB – http://bible.com/100/rom.5.17.nasb)

Think about what this says, Beloved, for it is freedom for us. With the fall of mankind, sin took over flesh to rule through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.

When we surrender to Jesus, He frees us to reign with Him in Life: this life as well as in the eternal; the abundant life He desires for us.

Reliance on grace sufficient and the righteousness of Christ, alive and well within us, empowers us to stand firm against the flesh, the world, and the demonic, to reign with His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and SELF-control that is sufficient against sin in Christ’s sufficiency.

Take up the crown of life God gives you today, and, trusting God’s grace, go forth to the victorious life Jesus bought for you.

DIARY OF A BIBLE:

My Aunt posted this a year ago. Looking online, the only name I could link it to is a Tom Young, sited as an inspirational “submitted” by him. Still, the authorship is unknown.

DIARY OF A BIBLE:

JANUARY: A busy time for me. Most of the family decided to read me through this year. They kept me busy for the first two weeks, but they have forgotten me now.

FEBRUARY: Clean-Up Time. I was dusted yesterday and put in my place. My owner did use me for a few minutes last week. He had been in an argument and was looking up some references to prove he was right.

MARCH: Had a busy day first of the month. My owner was elected president of the PTA and used me to prepare a speech.

APRIL: Grandpa visited us this month. He kept me on his lap for an hour reading from 1 Peter. He seems to think more of me than do some people in my own household.

MAY: I have a few green stains on my pages. Some spring flowers were pressed in my pages.

JUNE: I look like a scrapbook. They have stuffed me full of newspaper clippings…one of the girls got married.

JULY: They put me in a suitcase today. I guess we are off on vacation. I wish I could stay home; I know I’ll be closed up in this thing anyway, for at least two weeks.

AUGUST: Back home at last and in my old familiar place.

SEPTEMBER: I have a lot of company. Two women’s magazines and four comic books are stacked on top of me. I wish I could be read as much as they are.

OCTOBER: They read me a little today. One of them is very sick. Right now I am sitting in the center of the coffee table. I think the preacher is coming by for a visit.

NOVEMBER: Back in my old place Somebody asked today if I were a scrapbook.

DECEMBER: The family is busy getting ready for the holidays. I guess I’ll be covered up under wrapping paper and packages again…just as I am every Christmas.

-Author Unknown:

It is very sad to see a dusty Bible, obviously seldom used. What I find true for many is that they try reading cover to cover, feeling that the way one should do. However, these quickly become overwhelmed by all the names, numbers, and regulations, and they give up. Even those who decide to read the New Testament will often start with Matthew and shoot for Revelation, only to become disinterested because of the repetitive accounts in those gospel records.

About 15 or 20 years ago, I was taught in SS class a better method that is easier to stick to. This method takes one through the New five times before going to the Old. It allows the reader to know Christ and His ways before reading the Old covenant and prophetic accounts. That knowledge makes the Old easier to glean. I’ve shared this reading suggestion before, but here it is again for those new followers.

Bible Reading:

    1 – John through Revelation
    2 – Matthew, skip to Acts through Revelation
    3 – Mark, skip to Acts through Revelation
    4 – Luke, skip to Acts through Revelation
    5 – John through Revelation
    6 – Genesis through Revelation
    7 – Repeat 1-7

Tips: Always seek first the work of the Spirit who was sent to empower our comprehensive understanding.

If a verse grabs your attention, stop there for a bit and give God time to instruct your heart.

Have a notepad ready and keep a diary of the insights gleaned.

Pick one verse from the day’s reading, write it on a piece of paper you can tuck into a pocket; pull it out to read, commit to memory, and meditate on through the day.

Now, get up from here and give your Bible something good to record in it’s day.

Clothed and Ready: Part 2

“Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, WHO KEEP THEIR CLOTHING READY so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” (Revelation 16:15 NLT)

Yesterday we began looking at the clothing we are to wear, so we are protected, never having to feel exposed and ashamed. We started with the dawning of the cloak of Christ: compassion, kindness, love, peace, gratitude; these being just a few of the colors found in that garment as defined in Colossians 3. Today, in part 2, we look at the armor of God, which is vital in protecting us from the head hung in shame.

In looking at the Armor of God, making sure we have it firmly in place, let us break down to its parts, Ephesians 6:10-18, which outlines this God-provided Armor:

“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].”

The cloak of Christ is a picture that reveals our union with God in Christ. We must be fully clothed in that grace, which is the provision of His strength poured into our lives. God’s grace is the power for our lives of victory. Reliance on God’s all sufficient grace is vital for a life of victory.

“PUT ON GOD’S WHOLE ARMOR [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.”

Remember who our true enemy is and, standing firm against that evil, take your stance on truth, righteousness , and the still more excellent way of love. In any discord, there’s an evil force out to bring division and fell the heart, mind, and soul of those who call on God.

Remember when Jesus told The parable of the seed. He makes clear that the enemy of God tries to steal the seed or stop its growth. He brings many down through temptation, and the troubles and worries of this life. We truly need to realize where the true battle lies and then arm ourselves for victory.

“Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins”

Recognizing truth is the belt that holds all in proper position. The belt in the armor of a warrior is used to hold the scabbard for easy access to weapons of defense, and it is used to tuck any lose tails of clothing out of the way so the warrior is not tripped up. God’s Truth does likewise for the warrior of God, empowering our righteous use of our sword and keeping articles of stumbling out of our path.

“and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,”

The breastplate of God’s Armor on us is righteousness, defined in our AMPC version as integrity, moral rectitude, and right standing with God.

Integrity is deeper than honesty. Where honesty may point out or admit to a wrong, integrity refuses any partnership with any evil thing that dishonors God and His Holy Name. It always does right out of honor and loyalty to God.

“And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.”

As I consider the shodding of the feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, I am reminded of the encouragement given that, when taken before the courts, it is opportunity to trust God to reveal Himself through a testimony given in due season. We are always to remember Whose we are and the main purpose of our life in Christ.

This is what Jesus did as He trusted God when His life was threatened before it was His time. He walked out of harms way, unscathed. The Spirit can inspire us as to our times, giving us courage to speak the truth of the gospel, even in the midst of opposition.

“Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].”

The name and sacrifice of Jesus covers us. No true or lasting harm can come to those who faithfully persevere in this Holy Abode. Our eternal lives cannot be stolen away by God’s enemy, as we are shielded by His saving grace. Thus, Jesus and His disciples behind Him walked fearlessly and blamelessly to their appointed times.

“And take the helmet of salvation”

The enemy of God loves to attack us through our thought life. Remembering Whose we are puts God’s helmet over our heads for our protection against his assaults, shielding our minds from the fiery darts of our accuser.

“and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.”

Knowledge that believes God and trusts His fulfillment of every stroke and letter of His Word is the double edged sword we wield. Arm yourself all throughout your day through reading, studying, and meditation on His Word at every opportunity.

The calling and equipping of my ministry through Ponderings is set to aid in your readiness in the fight. We seek to teach, encourage, and strengthen the soldier in the army of God through the sharing of His Word and through our most vital weapon and resource avenue: prayer.

“Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).”

Clothed and Ready: Part 1

“Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, WHO KEEP THEIR CLOTHING READY so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” (Revelation 16:15 NLT – http://bible.com/116/rev.16.15.nlt)

Never to feel exposed and ashamed. How glorious it is to have confidence in Christ and live equipped to hold heads high, with no need of shame. This scroll of Revelation caught my attention and called me to check my manner of spiritual dress. It promises that by keeping our clothing ready, we will not be caught in shame at Christ’s return. Sounds like a great time to take a look in the proverbial mirror of our lives and be sure we are fully clothed.

The first garment we need to make sure we dawn and check for any repair needs is the cloak of Christ. The most clear picture of what that cloak looks like when properly worn is found in Colossians 3, starting with verse 9.

“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him – a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:9-17 NASB)

These garments reveal Christ in us as we represent Him in life today. Look at all the colors that should be visible in the cloak of Christ on us: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience – bearing with one another, forgiving each other. Beyond all these, love – God’s kind of pure, unmerited love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And peace from Christ that rules the heart, coupled with thankfulness to Him Who clothes us by grace through faith.

This first part of our garment makes evident to all that we are made one with God in our following hard after Christ, empowered by gratitude for His grace to live free of shame. Tomorrow, part two.

The Cloud

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I saw this plant come into view, and my heart leapt! It was just beautiful to me.

These carbon black plants have been here for multiplied-decades, the last remnants of many more that used to be here. I remember momma stepping out to see which way the wind was blowing before daring to hang laundry. And heaven forbid the wind to change directions!

Through the years I’ve heard people express joy in the smell of laundry, dried on outdoor lines. I never understood that. Ours always smelled of carbon and fossil fuels. LOL

As I look at these stacks and the criss-crossed sections of pipelines darkened by decades of carbon soot, I note the mostly white steam escaping the shoots, and my heart rejoices in the Hope of Christ.

You see, no matter how many decades of sin and shame covers our lifespan, we are not beyond the reach of His saving grace. And even in the earliest stages of our surrender and commitment to Him, His Spirit moves in, fills us up, and begins the lifetime work of cleansing, purifying, and transforming us to be the vessel God planned from before time began.

Even in our earthen vessels marred by passing sin, the glory of the Lord seeps out of us who are His, like steam rising to draw the eyes of others in need of a fresh view of Splendor’s beauty and grace. The greater our surrendered commitment to God through Christ, the purer our cleansing flow will be. Rising up as testimony of our relationship with God, His cleansing, Life-giving flow reaches out to touch others in need of His grace, sufficient for them too.

We each choose daily the steam flowing forth: either the dark stench of sin, or the purifying flow of Love’s grace at work in us. Which do you want those you love to be covered by when they are near to or up wind from you?

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15, AMPC

“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19-20‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Seeking Holy Habitation, seated at God's feet (Exodus 15:13).