Good morning, patrons.
I just want to thank you for reading, commenting on and encouraging my writing of His word. You are greatly appreciated and I pray for you as we walk together with hope of being the people of the potential that God placed within us.
Today my husband and I excitedly anticipate the arrival of our middle child and her two children who are coming for a visit, so I will be on vacation from my blogs for a while. She usually stays at least one week, and sometimes two: unsure which it will be, but it will be good times of many great memories.
This is your opportunity to catch up on past posts if you like, or just vacation from reading my often lengthy ponderings all together. Unless God instructs otherwise, when our family returns to their home, I will be back with thoughts from Chapter 6 of Isaiah.
Until then, here are some links to some of my earliest posts of interest:
Know ME. I AM Seeking your Face – God’s desire for us. The start of a series of 8 blogs
Forgiving God’s Way – Part 1 of 2
Grace Defined – series – Skip 2 blogs to find the next post in the series
Hear the Parable of the Sower – series
My prayer for us as we go through this week or two of vacation is that we may know and experience the truth of the following:
“…And the Lord said, ‘My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. … I will do this thing also that you have asked, for you have found favor, loving-kindness, and mercy in My sight and I know you personally and by name. …” (Exodus 33, AMP).
Until I return, may God bless you and keep you, my friend (Numbers 6:22-27).
God’s Expectant Produce
“Let me sing now for my well-beloved a song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it and also hewed out a wine vat in it; then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones” (Isaiah 5:1-7 – vs. 1-2).
God has done an awesome work in the lives of His people, if we will only recognize it and walk in it faithfully. He plants us where He wants us to produce good fruit for His glory, and He provides everything needed for us to be productive vines, sweet and aromatic as the best of wines. He leaves nothing to chance. All that is needful is available to us.
“…And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? …” (Vs. 3-6).
The question is, are we recognizing and rightly using His supply to reach our potential in Christ? As I consider this question for myself, I know that in areas of my life where my faith is strong in Him and where I am surrendered to His work in my life, I am very productive and seeing good fruit bear forth. In other areas where there is struggle to believe and, thus, to surrender, the fruit born is less than desirable. Why is that? Verse 7 suggests a few things to consider.
“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.” (Vs. 7)
He looks for justice: are we producing that in life? Our idea of justice is not always the same as God’s idea. We see this in Romans 12 where we are advised:
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Vs. 14-21).
Herein is justice: to trust in the Lord’s justice, doing good to all men wherever it is in our power to do so, even when they do harm to us. That does not mean we never back away from those who harm us. In His hometown, Jesus walked out of the crowd that threatened life and limb, and I do not recall that He returned to that place again during His ministry. He told the disciples to knock the dust off their feet as they leave a people who refuse their message and work among them, a testimony against them. We are to trust God to deal with the injustices through the means He provides. Leaving the insults done to us in the hands of the righteous Judge who sees and knows the heart of every man while we trust Him to deal with the injustice; trusting Him to judge righteously so that we may continue to do good, reaps a reward we cannot bear out through our own vengeance.
To seek our own vengeance, repaying harm done to us perpetuates sin. It does not work the righteousness of God. He has provided avenues and laws through which punishment is given to those who do evil. Trusting God to use the rule of law is not vengeance on our part, but His rod of man used for discipline (2 Samuel 7:14). Desire for vengeance will only keep us crying out in distress. But a focus toward doing good to others despite harm done to us while trusting in and waiting for the Lord to intervene keeps us producing good fruit to the glory of His name.
The ingredient I see in all of this that assures good fruit? “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” (Psalm 37). Hum, looks like a return to the Psalm 37 study.
Father, equip us to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; to not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Empower us to cease from anger and forsake wrath; knowing that fretting leads only to evildoing. Evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while, Lord, and the wicked man will be no more. Though we look carefully for his place, he will not be there, for You either will have removed him or changed him by Your grace. You promise that the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. This is our hope and song as we look to You in faith, knowing and receiving Your provision to produce good grapes that bring pleasure to You, even when being crushed in the wine presses of life. In Jesus, show us Your glory. AMEN
Spirit and Fire
Isaiah 4:4-6 “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”
It was interesting to me to find this passage after a recent conversation with a friend about another passage that I would say goes hand in hand with this. In it, John the Baptist says of Jesus, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). From these two passages we can glean a little discernment of these baptisms from the Father through the Christ.
First of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of judgment, Jesus says that the Spirit He will send us will “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Here we see that the baptism of the Spirit comes to those of the world who receive within themselves this conviction that brings understanding of their sin, God’s righteousness and that sent through Christ on our behalf, and the judgment to come that will be determined by whether or not we believe and receive. This baptism is the baptism of rebirth that brings our spirits fully to life with His, making us one with Jesus and part of the Kingdom of God. After this baptism of rebirth, the work of the Spirit of judgment continues as He teaches us to recognize the source of the choices we have in life, whether they will produce sin or righteousness and wisdom to discern the consequences of our choices. Without this work of the Spirit in us, we cannot walk with God in truth.
Second, this first baptism of the spirit of judgment leads to the baptism of fire or burning. As we grow in our maturity as people of God, His Spirits begins to burn within us to reveal sin habits and patterns that must be surrendered to God and transformed to His likeness. This can be an arduous process to go through, much like burning away our flesh with fire would be difficult to live through. The more we fight the change God calls us to make the more fierce the fire burns through consequences meant to move us toward Him and away from the evil we run after to easily. This fire is not only burning away the rule of flesh in our lives, it is removing the desires and pursuits that make up the dross that hinders His image from reflecting in our lives.
God will do what it takes to make us into His image because He loves us and no unrighteousness can enter the gates of the eternal. The more we work in cooperation with the Spirit of God, the less of the burn we will experience. So be quick to hear and believe; and receive and press forward in faith. Then the fire of God can impassion us for the things of God, empowering us for good and glory as never before.
Father, we cry out for the baptism of Christ to do its work in us, making us a reflection of Your glory, grace, and love. Holy Spirit, have full sway to the glory of God’s name. In Jesus, amen.
All for One
“When a man lays hold of his brother in his father’s house, saying, ‘You have a cloak, you shall be our ruler, And these ruins will be under your charge,’ He will protest on that day, saying, ‘I will not be your healer, For in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; You should not appoint me ruler of the people. …’” (Isaiah 3:6-12).
It always amazes me in the season of deciding who will lead our country here in the USA that we look for a man to fix the ills of our land. Here I am reminded that no man has the answers that will heal our land.
I find it interesting that, in the verses above, the people come and ask the one to be their ruler. And he responds, “I will not be your healer.” He has wisdom enough to realize that he is as flawed as the rest, impoverished in his own right. We look in the wrong place when we look for a man who has THE PLAN that will heal our land. There is no such thing.
One ploy of every opponent for an office is to reveal the trash in the household of the other. As I consider this passage, I am reminded that there is no one person who has it all together perfectly. There has not been a flawless man or woman since Jesus, nor any before Him. We can look at the men who are running for office now and be brought quickly to despair. For as the remainder of this passage says, so it can be said of our nation:
“…For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, Because their speech and their actions are against the Lord, To rebel against His glorious presence. The expression of their faces bears witness against them, And they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. …” (Isaiah 3:6-12).
We, the people who make up our nation, whichever that nation might be, if we hold our sin out there as if we are proud of it, never turning from wickedness to righteousness, there is no man who can help us. Only as we—each individual of us—turn to and walk with God will we see the Physician turn to heal our land. When we seek Him first, we will find Him and He then will lead us to leaders of nations that are men after His own heart, equipped by Him to lead the way in righteous paths that work God’s healing in our lands.
“Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, For they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him, For what he deserves will be done to him. O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray And confuse the direction of your paths” (Isaiah 3:6-12).
Who should rule? If God does not rule in each individual of us who are called by His name, then we are a nation most to be pitied. When “We the People” turn wholly to God, that is when we will see the end of our downward spiral.
No man has the answers, not fully. I am watching for those who know the One who does have the answers and will walk with Him to lead the way. It will take all of us to find His healing, all for One, walking in His ways.
Father, lead us in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake, to Your glory, and the fulfilling of Your good purpose and plan. Help us as a nation of people to choose today whom we will serve, knowing that as the least of us go in following You, so goes the nation. Make us wholly Yours, following You in holiness. In Jesus, grant us to have eyes to see the man who is Your choice for our nation, and grant him Your Spirit and Your equipping that he may lead with strength and bring us forth in power. In the blessed and holy name of the Savior who covers our sin, amen.
God Intends Good
Though this dream I shared with you is obviously meant for the body of Christ, as God instructs my heart for the writing of this short series, I can see clearly my own life in its meaning. During the time of many things coming at me and my family in the past few years, I have walked the premise of this dream out with realization that God is doing a work in me and in mine. What the enemy intends for harm, God uses for good (Genesis 50:15-21; Romans 8:28). In my many and growing number of years in this life, one thing I have learned is that any evil allowed to reach me is intended by God to do a work in me that purifies and helps me to grow in Him, so I face such struggles with earnest expectation and hope of seeing God do just that. And I know that He is after a root of rejection that has been with me from my earliest days. A root that has grown so deep for so long sometimes has to be burned and blasted out: thus the fires of testing and trial.
Besides doing a work in me, it also gives me opportunity to bear testimony of His work in my life as doors open for me to share the comfort He gives me with others who struggle. So as I relayed to you these things I perceived from God as the many faces and forms of the enemy, I was made acutely aware that though this dream is for the Body – the Bride of Christ, it is also very much for me as an individual part of that Body, thus, the testimonial of my struggle flowed to the pages. Just as this message is for me, so it is for you in your struggle.
I know that I am not alone in this struggle with the enemy suitor who seeks to destroy our ability to bear righteousness into the earth. Everywhere I turn I meet people of God who have their own story of heartache and challenge to tell: devastating, stagnating, unbelievable things coming at the body of Christ. Beloved, if that is you, please know, what the enemy means for harm, God uses for good.
I also want you to realize something I am increasingly aware of in my own struggle. Our flesh is one of the faces and forms of the enemy. Our own bodies, when under great stress, give way to the stress. Though we fight to do right in our situations, the effects of extreme stressors mess up our hormones and body chemistry in ways that turn our own bodies, minds, and emotions against us, making the body we live in an enemy to overcome. This is the battle I am in, and it is the battle I believe is portrayed by Paul in Romans 7.
It is important for us to realize this truth about the physical body and its limitations for several reasons: one being to protect us from falling to guilt and shame in our struggle. Like Paul, we need to realize the righteousness of Christ that covers us and makes us whole even when our own flesh betrays us.
Try as I may to carry on as the daughter of my daddy, doing right by him, many days my flesh gives way to the stress and breaks down in the effort. I’ll tell you, there are days when I need someone to come alongside me and be the hand of God, grabbing mine and helping me do the good I desire when my own flesh is shut down, destroying my ability. This is especially true when my grief over daddy gives way to social anxiety. We need to not only be alert to our own struggle, but as people of God watching others who are in such a battle, we need to be there for those we can help. This is the time when those of the Body who are weak need the strong to cover them like a hand going to stop the bleeding wound: not just with prayer, but with encouragement, and even walking alongside them in their struggle.
One thing I have learned in my Christian lay counseling studies is that those who are ensnared by paranoia and anxiety issues that are empowered by out of control body chemistry need people who will walk with them faithfully, not turning from them in their time of need. It is difficult to deal with the negativity of those who struggle. It is frustrating to see them begin to make progress, only to fall back again and again in their battle. But let me tell you something, we are the hands and the feet, the arms and the legs, the mouth and the ears, the heart and the mind representing God in the earth. We are the Bride, yes; but we also are the body of the Groom and we need one another.
How are the legs of Christ lopped off? Through the frustration of us, His body, working with individual members of His body who are in the fight of their lives. Through our indifference to those who are in difficulties we want to run from. Through our own protectiveness that pulls away from them instead of sticking it out with them. I’m not just speaking to you, the reader, here; this is truth I need to realize as well. There are times in our lives when we need the physical hand of the Groom, the Body of Christ in the earth, to reach our own and help us heal so we as the body of Christ can move unhindered by disabling forces of life in the world.
Today’s blog is my hand reaching out to those who struggle as I am struggling, sharing some of the things God is teaching me through my experience, hoping that it will be the bandage and balm you need as well. Because of His grace toward me and His work in helping me through this season of life, I have learned many things that are vital to our ability to be the Bride and the Body, bearing righteous fruit in a difficult day and age. Following are some of those things. I have learned…
† The greater depths of God’s love for me personally and how understanding and trusting that love frees from fear: He loves me with a love that will not be moved.
God, for years, has used my husband’s love for me to teach me of His love. I have heard my husband profess his love for me verbally and seen him show it in ways that amaze me, over and over again, expressing his love in ways that have me convinced of its veracity. When we first married, I feared the loss of his love, wondering of its trustworthiness because of childhood experiences and that of a previous marriage in which “love” proved unfaithful and fleeting. But he has so poured his love into me that I no longer doubt it or fear the loss of it.
Like most children, I learned of love through childhood experiences, and though I have always believed that God loves me, fear of somehow losing that love has been there to hinder. During this season of struggle, God has done the same thing for me that my husband did. He has assured me over and over of His love for me being faithful and trustworthy. I no longer fear that God will turn from me in my struggle. I know He will stick with me until I come out strong, shining like gold, having legs to birth righteousness in the earth as He intends.
† I can trust God when I can trust no other: That is ingrained into me as never before. He loves me, knows my heart, and will never leave or forsake me. I am His servant. He has chosen and not rejected me (Isaiah 41:8-16). Though my daddy may reject me, disbelieve me, turn with anger and suspicion from me, God knows my heart and He chooses me. He has repeated that Isaiah 41 phrase to me so many times since my struggle with Complicated Grief Disorder began that I believe it with all my being and trust Him in it. My trust in God’s presence, understanding, faithfulness, love and care in choosing me and not rejecting me is beyond measure. I stand in awe of God.
† God understands better than I where I am right now, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He is the one who led me to the study of counseling that revealed the Complicated Grief Disorder that I am in, which is akin to and treated the same as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He diagnosed it, and He will lead me to healing when He is finished using the grief to work change and maturity in me. In the meantime, His grace covers my “I can’t” with His righteousness while I seek to grasp the Groom’s hand and walk in His “I can.”
† God’s opinion is true and righteous judgment: As long as I know God’s opinion of me and my situations, the opinion of man has no bearing on me. I do not have to worry about what man thinks of me as long as I walk forward in the Lord’s pleasure. He sings over me when no other will. I was amazed a few weeks back when the pastor called for the weary to come to the altar. As I knelt there alone at the altar, I feel the hand of a woman I do not know on my shoulder. She did not know my pain, but as she prayed, her prayer turned to singing over me, and I knew though she did not know what to pray, God was responding to the need. He is Lord of my life and my relationships, and He alone gives favor with man. Please God and He will take care of the rest.
Though I struggle to minister to daddy right now, I am not without a ministry to my Lord. He keeps me active in His work in other areas while He is building me up to be what He needs me to be as my daddy’s daughter. I know He will be victorious in the situation and I rest with hope in Him to see my legs restored in this struggle.
† Footstool praying: there is value of what I call “footstool prayers.” Though, in my pain, I may not have words to express the need for which I pray, God does. In the power of His Spirit I have learned that God loves to respond affirmatively to the prayer that is lifted to His throne without words, but with sincere desire for Him to have His will and way in the need. My concern being laid at His feet, beside the footstool of Christ, I can then turn my attention to go on my way without that burden weighing me down. I am freed by faith to know that I can leave that need, whatever it is, with Him and He will deal with it. I may not think of it again until I realize His answer. Some days thought of the need may come with many words of prayer pouring forth in the power of His Spirit. But when it overwhelms me, I know He hears my heart’s groaning, though my mind can form no thought for words, as I lay it beside His footstool for His disposal.
† I can! When God wants me to, I can press forward to minister to daddy and deal with him, because God through His Spirit supplies power to perform. When that power moves, I go in obedience with it. If that power from Him is not there, I wait for it, trusting Him to meet the need where I can’t. I have grown to trust His covering and His faithfulness to Himself (2 Timothy 2:1-13). Though I may not always be able, He always can, and He will accomplish the purpose of His will.
† Jesus is our example: The ways He revealed through example are mine to portray as need arises. In the dream, the example of Christ was to have faith to believe God and see Him faithfully supply. I am learning to choose to believe even when my body fails me and fights me.
Did you know that sometimes Jesus walked away from a situation knowing it was not yet His time? I am growing in faith to know that sometimes God moves us to step back and let Him deal with a person or situation that is beyond us to cope with. He does not want us beat down by the assault of those given over to their own flesh.
Earlier I said that we, the body, need to be God’s hand to grab hold a struggling body part and help them heal. But God knows when that part is not open to being helped. So there are times in life when God tells us to step back and get out of the way so that He can deal with it.
Did you know that my daddy, who cannot read, quoted scripture to me verbatim the other day? Years ago when my daddy’s struggle began, I got up in the night, grieved over him, and God led me to pray through whole chapters of scripture for him. During that prayer session, God spoke very clearly to my heart that I would see my daddy sitting fully clothed and in His right mind, sharing His word with those who will listen. Also years ago, God led me to give my daddy the entire Bible on tape. He, for many years now, has listened to it faithfully. Thus, I saw that promise fulfilled as we talked together my last visit and I came to discover that my daddy has the gospel figured out and secured in his own heart—he is fully clothed and in his right mind spiritually. And he spouted several verses as he shared his faith. I am praising God for His hand that can, even when I am without legs to press forward.
Bride of Christ, nothing shall be impossible with God. Keep seeking the hand of the Groom and give your life to the birthing of His seed. Trust in Him no matter the appearance of the circumstances of life; listen for His voice crying “only believe”, knowing that it is unity with Him that grants us strong legs and a birth canal. Then rise up and go forth to prosper His kingdom, even in the midst of enemy incursion. Hold close the child of righteousness birthed through you by His grace, and trust His protection over you and it. He alone can produce the seed within you, and He alone can protect and empower its growth and maturity to His intent and purpose. Let no enemy-suitor draw you away from holding tight to His hand. Only BELIEVE!
Yesterday the battle was revealed, the enemy of the Groom seeks to cut the legs and reproductive canal off the body of the Bride, hindering the bearing of the fruit of Righteousness into the earth. How does he do that? Is it through sin? Yes and no. What do I mean?
Unrepentant sin habits stunt the growth of a Christian and hinder the intimacy of their union with the Groom. But remember in the dream, this is the Bride who intimately loves the Groom and seeks with all her being, even to the loss of her life, to birth healthy righteousness into the earth. So I would say that this is not a professing Christian who is walking as an unrepentant, wayward child of God, never fully developing the intimacy that He intends. This is the mature and growing Bride who desires right and intimate relationship with the Groom at all cost, and she seeks to protect the birthing of the child into the earth, even if it has to be by C-section. So I do not see sin itself as the issue that hinders and disables this Bride, but some attack from this enemy of God that cripples and disables, leading to a sin struggle beyond one’s ability to cope apart from the grace of the Divine. Why?
Because as a mature Christian, this Bride is vigilant against sin and seeks quickly to turn back to the Father to walk with Him in His way. She understands that her sins repented of are covered by the blood of the Son, her Groom. So what do I see that Satan is using to lop the legs and ability to bear off of this mature, vital and productive Bride?
Guilt / Shame:
Satan can trip up even the mature: that is clear. This Bride, mature of faith and growing, recognizes her sin—generally very fast, and repents quickly. When Satan cannot lop off our legs by leading us into a life of habitual and continuous sin, he will try the next best thing, snaring us in guilt and shame. “How can ‘I’ go forth to bear Righteousness when ‘I’ am so worthless,” he says to our minds. Stunned by some fall, though we got back up and turned to the right path, if we are not mindful to the voice of the Father, we will believe this suitor’s lie spoken as our own thought. Though we press forward when so snared, our gait is slow, the path arduous, and we too often hit a gap we cannot cross because we receive the thought as true and forget the Cross of our Groom.
So let’s just put that one to bed right now. Guess what? We are worthless—apart from Christ. Even our greatest good is as filthy rags before our holy God. Thus enters the Groom to grab our hand and remind us of His covering. We are set free indeed through Christ. When God looks at us, He sees us as righteous because He sees us through the covering of the Savior.
We are worthless in our own right. But to God? By His grace, we are PRICELESS; so priceless and desirous that He loves us, and He loves us so much that He gave His Son on our behalf, the propitiation for our sin. In Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). So, in the name of Jesus, as representing Him and His interests, tell the devil where to go, forgive yourself, and get on with the bearing of the righteous seed within you. Otherwise you risk…
Discouragement / Despair:
When we cannot forgive ourselves, trust the covering of God, and speak truth to counter the lies of the enemy-suitor who wants to turn the grace of God to foolishness that is useless to the nurturing of the righteous seed within us, discouragement and despair make that seed sickly. Jesus is our Righteousness. He covers us with His blood of cleansing and He has put His Spirit within us: the seed of righteousness. That seed will bear forth if we faint not in the battle because the seed is the source of our ability to bear the produce of God’s Righteous Lot. The seed, the Spirit of God in us, will grow and bear its fruit if we will only believe and surrender to its work. Realizing where our righteousness comes from will protect us from guilt and shame that brings discouragement and despair.
Are we to live righteously and be righteous? Yes. But we can do nothing apart from Christ at work within us. And when we fall only to get back up and press forward anew, we can trust the cover of Christ that reveals His righteousness on our behalf. So don’t give up and don’t give in to discouragement and despair over your own struggle with the enemy suitor. That only leads to…
Fear / Unbelief:
One of the enemy suitor’s greatest instruments of destruction is fear. If he can lead us into fear, he can trap us there in unbelief. Fear is rooted in and fed by unbelief. If we believe God truly loves us purely, we believe He can and will supply all we need to succeed in fulfilling His intent and purpose, and we have courage and confidence in Him to press forward to reach the goal He sets before us knowing that He will protect His purpose and plan in us. Fear and unbelief are vitally linked in order to destroy our ability to trust that we hear from God or that He will supply us to have what it takes to get the job done.
God’s word in John 10 promises that those vitally linked with Jesus know His voice and follow Him and the stranger’s voice they simply will not follow. Part of what makes one mature in Christ is growing faith in knowing His voice and following Him. He speaks to us in ways we can recognize. The enemy suitor, the antichrist, wants us to doubt the voice of God and fear moving forward. Getting us trapped in this cycle of fear fed by unbelief leads quickly to …
Self-preoccupation / protection:
Oh my! This one slipped up to grab me and I am still fighting this battle, unsure really how to walk free. But I know God has the answer…God IS the Answer.
I have shared many times about the paranoia my dad is trapped in. He accuses those who love him most of doing things to and against him that they would never think to do, and there seems to be no changing his mind on what he believes to be true. After many years of dealing with this and watching it get worse, one day I heard the lie spoken as from my own thoughts and physically felt something in my psyche snap like the pop of breaking a stick in two. By way of reminder, this is the way it went:
“‘I’ CANNOT do THIS (deal with daddy) anymore.” SNAP!
To which I, replying to what I believed was my own thought, said, “That’s right! I cannot do this anymore.” Agreement. Two or more in agreement has power, whether for good or for harm.
I have struggled with stagnation and hindrance ever since, trapped in all kinds of fear and anxiety over the issue, some reasonable, some ridiculous, but all leading to a discouragement and despair over the situation that has me absolutely snared by self-preoccupation and self-protectiveness. “I can’t deal with it anymore.”
And you know what, that is true. “I” can’t. I am worn out from it. I am so grieved over daddy’s struggle and accusations that I cannot bear to hear it any more. It is beyond me. And there is where my thoughts are trapped and snared up in the line of one “I can’t” after another.
Trapped by a long line of self-preoccupied and protective statements, I struggle to press forward in that area of life, and it affects my ability to press forward in other relationships as well. Where dealing with daddy is concerned, I can do no less than to grasp the hand of the Beloved who reaches out to walk with me in bearing forth Righteousness into the situation. I cannot move to function without Him. The enemy suitor of self-preoccupation and protectiveness fights against my grasp constantly. When the Beloved gets through to grab hold on me, I go forth with power to perform that is all and only that of my Beloved’s working through me; and the victory of it lifts me for a time. Then, unwittingly, I slip back into self-preoccupation and protectiveness, my legs lopped off to half of the pelvis, and the battle begins again.
Preoccupation with self and protection of one’s own in this way quickly can lead to…
Disunity / Starvation:
For a long while in this struggle I found it difficult to be around others. I could read God’s word, and somehow He always spoke to me through it, but my focus was off. I know His loving, caring presence constantly, ministering to my hurt, but often still I find prayer illusive—deliberate, focused prayer that is. In this struggle with my pain, though God is very near me and I am acutely aware of Him, I see two major ploys listed above in play:
Guilt and shame over the fact that I cannot deal with daddy and do what I feel I should be doing as his eldest daughter. Worried about what others think of me as I feel I have deserted daddy and the rest of the family.
Then there is fear: fear of my family turning from me in their own struggle with anger brought about by this situation we are in. They appear to understand my struggle and often comfort me in it, but still the fear of losing them is there. And finally, social anxiety with others: feeling that if my own daddy cannot see who I really am and that I would never do the things he thinks I have done, how can I trust anyone else to love me and know me?
This guilt, shame and fear have led to “feelings” of disunity, being unable to relate comfortably and confidently with family, friends or church family. I am not feasting in the food found in relationships with others, and am starving for companionship as a result. This struggle has at times led to…
Procrastination / Misappropriation:
I procrastinate on things I need to do, but that put me into a vulnerable position. When opportunity to gather with others comes, social anxiety leads me to hide out, wasting the energy God gives on fretting, worry, and what amounts to my own unrighteous judgment of the hearts of others I fear are judging me. When it is time to plan family gatherings for some special occasion, I drag my feet, if I move at all. Time and attention I should be giving to friends in need and family indeed, I give to anything that will protect me from having to deal with the situation. The worry and fretting over having to deal with others wears me out, so I wind up behind in everyday things that keep the house in order and me ready for meeting together with others. Thus I procrastinate and misappropriate my time and energy when I am deep in my struggle with this family situation. That, then, finds me in the midst of…
Distraction / Busyness:
I either struggle with distraction, lacking focus to get anything of significance done, or I get myself to a place of being too busy to have time for dealing with such difficult issues. If Satan cannot slow us down in our pursuit of God and His ways, he will throw us into a season of distraction and / or busyness.
Well, that took an unexpected turn into a personal testimonial that I did not intend. But I trust God did, and that somehow, as you read my personal struggle, you are helped to see and understand your own disabling, enemy-suitor attack, and the path it too often takes us.
Now, let me tell you, I am getting better, and God has used this season to grow me in areas and ways I am not sure I could have learned as well in any other way. So, to keep this from being way longer than it is, next post will cover things God has taught me and how He is growing me through this struggle. God never wastes anything. He lovingly uses it, as a smelter uses fire to remove dross and as Vine Dresser uses pruning shears and manure fertilizer to promote growth. See you back here for the rest of the story.
The Battle Revealed
Father, the dream, it is pregnant within me, filled with meaning and power. Here am I, O God. Help me to write it. I can do nothing on my own, but only as You give utterance can I.
Last night I had a dream that I believe is vital for our day. In my dream there were three main characters: the Groom, the Bride, and the enemy suitor that took many forms and had many faces, all coming at the Bride and Groom at one time.
Now you have the characters, here is the setting:
The Groom has a Bride that He is absolutely mad about. He loves her more than life itself and she is His by promise and by right. All that He does, He does for her, giving even life and breath to show His love and care for her.
The Bride loves the Groom like no other and desires Him above all. Her heart soars at the site of Him, and her greatest delight is His pleasure.
But there is a rival to the Groom who is constantly trying to separate them from one another and woo the Bride away. This enemy suitor puts on appearances of having love and care for the Bride like that of the Groom’s, but his motives are sinister. Though she is not swayed, this rival suitor is relentless in his pursuit.
Now you have the setting, here is the dream.
The suitor is constantly pulling at the Bride. She frantically reaches for the Groom who is chasing hard after her as His rival works to separate Him from her presence, but every time they get near to a firm grip on one another, she is swooshed away by the suitor in some new form or many. The Groom runs hard after her, never doubting her faithfulness to Him as He sees in her eyes her desire, and knows her heart for Him.
As the Groom chases His Bride, the enemy suitor takes His legs from Him. Each time he does, the Groom yells, “I believe!” to His Father, and His legs grow back fully restored. He starts His pursuit of the Bride again with ever increasing fervor. Over and over, the enemy suitor takes the Grooms legs, the Groom cries out His faith to the Father who responds to His faith, restoring His legs with power to perform, and the chase goes on.
Determined to win the battle, the suitor turns and takes the legs up to half of the pelvis of the Bride. The Bride, impregnated begins to show signs of her pregnancy as the fetus grows strong within her. The suitor tells her the child is his, to be raised up for his intent and purpose. Missing half of her body, the Bride puts the whole of her life energy into the focus of growing the child within her to be birthed healthy and strong. She has lost sight of her Groom in her pain and stopped reaching for Him, putting all her energy into growing a healthy child within, trusting that something will happen to free her from the pain as she gives her life for the child.
Meanwhile the Groom is calling to her, reaching and fighting to get to her side only to be hindered and fought at every turn by the enemy suitor’s many forms and faces. Calling out to her, as she focuses to grow the child, she hears with recognition the voice of her Beloved, shouting, “Only believe!” Her focus on delivering a healthy child, filled with hope, increases.
Finally the Groom breaks through to the Bride grabbing hold of her hand and assuring her, “The child is ours! We will raise it to our intent and purpose.” Her legs grow back, full and strong, and the suitor with its many faces and forms steps back for a bit as the child is born. I awake to the scenes of the Bride holding the child close and protected; and the Groom standing guard and fighting off the enemy that is now intent on steeling the child.
As I wake, I come quickly to discern the meaning of the dream. The Groom and the Bride are, of course, Jesus and His Bride, the Church. The enemy suitor is Satan and all he uses to lure the Bride away from the Groom, with all their many forms and faces. They try to stop Jesus from complete, intimate, and faithful union with His Bride, but Jesus looks always to the Father who protects His ability to pursue her and get to her. The Bride is impregnated by the Groom with the seed of Righteousness that will work His intent and purpose in the earth. But we have the enemy suitor that is doing all he can to hinder our union with the Groom and get hold on the fruit of our lives, souring it for his intent and purpose, to hinder the birthing of Righteousness in the earth and the bearing of the good fruits of the Kingdom and Crown.
So what are these hindrances used of Satan to cut the legs to half the pelvis off of the Bride? Next post we will look at some I believe are the biggest influences that make the birthing of Righteousness a challenge to be overcome by faith to “Only Believe.”
A Work Worthy of Worship
“Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made” (Isaiah 2:8).
Is it wrong to rejoice in the work of our hands? That is the question I find myself pondering as my focus is drawn to Isaiah 2:8 for today’s ponderings.
In today’s reading, the people were literally making images out of wood, stone, and metals that they sat up on mantles and called their god. They bowed down to works of art—the works of their hands, and worshipped them.
As Christians we believe there is only one God and He is One though He is seen in the form of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They are one and the same together, three portrayals of the one God. We worship Him who is One. But what about the idols of life? Do we fall to worshipping the works of our hands?
I stand in awe of the gift God gives me for writing His word. Every time I see the words flow to the pages for posting to encourage His people, my heart soars to the heights with awe of His work through me. I rejoice and find great joy in doing this work He calls me to. That is the way I believe God desires it to be as His people find joy in the works of their hands as gifted and empowered by God. That type of worshiping in the works of our hands honors and glorifies God as we surrender to Him as His instruments in all we do, acknowledging from whence our ability comes and our absolute, destitute need of Him in the doing of it.
At the same time, I have constantly the need to be careful that I do not turn to pride in my own efforts. I constantly have to remind myself that I can do nothing apart from Him, and I continually remind God that He is my first most vital need. I cannot do good work apart from Him, for He alone is good. Without Him my writing is labored and faulty, and I know I must have His power flowing through to do the work He calls me to accomplish.
There is a fine line between rejoicing in the works of our hands through worship of God who equips us, and worshiping the works of our hands as if God has nothing to do with it. No matter what our pursuit in life or the activities we take on, without God, it is nothing.
Father, help us today to honor You in all our ways, doing all things as unto the Lord and in the power You supply, giving You glory due Your name. Thank You that You gift us to do work in life that we can rejoice in, finding life abundant and full at the work of Your hands through us. We are partners with You for life, O God. Be glorified and magnified in all we do. In Jesus, amen.
Passion Inflaming Gardens
Wow. For the first time in several months I find myself without a clear direction for our time of Pondering together. Seeking the Lord for where He desires to speak to me, I am led to read Isaiah. Until God directs otherwise, we will consider thoughts from Isaiah, most likely looking at one thought for each chapter. Today we consider thoughts from Isaiah 1:27-31:
“Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her [returned] converts with righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God). But the crushing and destruction of rebels and sinners shall be together, and they who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. For you will be ashamed [of the folly and degradation] of the oak or terebinth trees in which you found [idolatrous] pleasure, and you will blush with shame for the [idolatrous worship which you practice in the passion-inflaming] gardens which you have chosen. For you shall be like an oak or terebinth whose leaf withers, and like a garden that has no water. And the strong shall become like tow and become tinder, and his work like a spark, and they shall both burn together, with none to quench them” (AMP).
Passion: What is the passion of your life and focus right now, in this very instant? If you are like me, your desire is to say that God is; that the things that God is passionate about are the things that impassion you. But I have to ask myself as I read this thought for today if that is truth. Or is my passion an idol to be dealt with?
Today’s world has many pleasures to be had in it. We can become impassioned to those pleasures with ease, but do those pursuits help our witness or hinder it? Do those things we give ourselves and our time to bring increase to the kingdom of God? Or do we watch the clock tick by hours and minutes in uselessness?
There is nothing wrong with me enjoying a good game of Jewels 2 or Majong Titans. But when I watch 10s of minutes fly by, hour after hour in pursuit to the higher score and faster win day after day while hurting friends are ignored and the house needs attention, my passion for the game becomes an idol that robs of the weightier things of life more abundant and full.
Consider your passions today. Are they driven by eternity, or driven by the earthly?
Father, grant us to have Your heart of passion for those around us and for meeting needs. Help us to have right priorities that, yes, allows for rest and fun things, but not at the expense of our being Your hands and feet in the world. In Jesus, show us Your glory and help us to be Your light reflecting in the earth. Amen.
Remembering His Footstool
Last posting we saw the protection of God that watches over our walls or borders. Today we consider the protection of God found in Lamentations 2:1. Though God was speaking discipline to His wayward children, we can learn good things from this word, which says, “How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in His anger! He has cast from heaven to earth the glory of Israel, and has not remembered His footstool in the day of His anger.”
This is an accounting that reveals the disciplining hand of God that comes to a nation when He removes His protection from them. What do we learn here about God’s protection of His people? Note the statement, “has not remembered His footstool in the day of His anger.” What is the footstool He speaks of?
I believe we get a glimpse of “His footstool” spoken of here and a better understanding of who the “His” is that is mentioned here as we look at Luke 20:41-43:
“Then He said to them, ‘How is it that they say the Christ is David’s son? For David himself says in the book of Psalms, “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’’” (See also Psalm 110)
The footstool God chooses to not remember when disciplining a nation is the footstool He is making of the enemies of Christ, which are those who come against God, His people and His ways.
God is the strength of a nation and a people and a person. When He steps aside to let an enemy have the upper hand in our lives, it is to discipline us for our good or to work a plan that will bring greater victory in the end.
God protects us from His enemies and the victories He brings to us are the materials that make up the footstool of Christ, showing His preeminence over all. When we cooperate with God in the battles of our faith, I believe we take part in preparing the footstool of Christ. Also God makes it a point to connect us with the victory of Christ as He calls us the Body of Christ. When the enemy is under His feet, they are under ours with Him.
God protects us from His enemies, fighting as Champion on our behalf. And He does so, not only fighting personally and through His angelic forces in the heavenly realms, but He is the source of our strength to persevere in the physical against the forces of darkness as is seen in verse 5 of our Lamentations passage:
“He has broken off in His fierce anger every horn (means of defense) of Israel. He has drawn back His right hand from before the enemy. And He has burned amidst Jacob like a flaming fire consuming all around” (Lamentations 2:5).
What is the “horn” that is broken off? Psalms 92:10 in the Amplified gives us understanding:
“But my horn (emblem of excessive strength and stately grace) You have exalted like that of a wild ox; I am anointed with fresh oil.”
The preeminence of a people is determined by God who is our strength. The “horn” in scripture is often used as a symbol of this strength. It is vital, as a people and as a nation that we remain in right standing with God Almighty. He is our hedge of protection, Victor over those who would come against us; and He is our strength to persevere and come out on top as “the head and not the tail”.
“The LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully” (Deuteronomy 28:13).
“Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you” (Isaiah 46:4).
God is our hope, our help, our saving grace, and our strength. We need His hedge as people of God and as a nation under God. To turn from Him is our greatest enemy and our sure destruction. Any hope for any people-group to stand victorious is only found in God: our shield and bulwark. The US of A is not a strong nation because of any physical power in our own right. We are a strong nation only because of our spiritual strength, and that is ours only in God through Christ Jesus our Lord.
“…Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon…” (Isaiah 55).
The healing of our land is not promised to us because of prayer alone. It is turning back to God that raises His banner over us and brings us back inside The Hedge. We must be His people, called by His name with right standing, to humble ourselves and, yes, pray, seeking His face, and turning from our wicked ways as His people, we can know that He will hear from heaven, will forgive our sin and will heal our land.
Are you in the midst of a struggle, feeling like the underdog? Seek the Lord while He may be found. Listen for and heed His voice. Trust and obey, and see your horn lifted as you receive fresh anointing from Him. Come in under His protective cover and stay there by remaining in close, personal, and deliberate relationship with Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords, granting Him His due right to sit on the throne of your will and way. Then you will have assurance that He who watches your walls will also be alert to His footstool.
A couple of scriptures have caught my attention lately and got me to thinking about the hedge of God’s protection in our lives. One is found in Isaiah 49. Looking at it today:
“But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me” (vs. 14-16).
Zion, otherwise known as Jerusalem: here we have God’s assurance to His people that their walls of protection and security are always on His watch-list. His care is emphasized as He notes that His people are “inscribed…on the palms of My hands” – a picture of Christ. He loves us so much so that He has made a way through Christ for us to have assurance of our relationship with Him and of His care for us, that of a parent for a child. He continually watches over His people.
Without Him there is no true security in our walls. He causes our walls—mental, physical, moral, emotional, social, provisional, relational and spiritual—to stand against the enemies and against the storms of life that come against them. We as a nation seek to secure our borders from illegal intrusions by those who mean us harm. Only as God watches our walls, as a nation, a people, families, and personally, are we truly secure. It excites me that our walls are continually before Him.
God watches over His people for He cares for us. He promises that He will never leave nor forsake us. For this, we are grateful, and we have hope even in difficult days when life assails us and threatens to bring us down. Our walls are watched by God. He is our security. He is our hope. Trust in the Lord for He is near.
But what of times when it seems He is not? …
At Rainbow’s End
“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence” (Acts 2:25-28).
Coming to the end of our walk together in considering chasing rainbows with Daddy-God, we come to the conclusion of the car commercial:
“Finally we see daddy and daughter running excitedly through an open field, daughter anxiously hurrying daddy, beckoning him to come quickly. Grasping hands, together they enjoy the rainbow across the way.”
Our look at Noah, Moses and Abraham has revealed to us that God communicates what is to come to His children, assuring our hearts of His presence in our lives. Not all God spoke to these was promise of good things to come. Sometimes God speaks warning to our hearts and instruction to see us through. You may be saying, “God doesn’t work this way anymore.” Not true. All who believe will and do have many opportunities to stand and see the rainbow hand in hand with God.
I have many rainbows I have stood across from and watched with God through the years, and others I am chasing with Him, watching as they come into view only to disappear from view again, just enough of a glimpse to keep anticipation alive. I wait and watch with earnest expectation of running with God to find the treasure that His promises point me toward. So today we look at past and present rainbow chases in the life of this child of God who feels unworthy to stand in company with such men as these afore mentioned. But for a current view of God’s work today, my own experience is what I have to share. Some of these testimonials you have read of before, but hopefully you will bear with me through the reminder.
Rainbow one: My husband.
Married before, having one daughter and expecting the second when we separated, knowing I did not need to go back into that bad situation again, I cried out to God in despair and fear of being a single parent, possibly being alone for the rest of my life. Falling to sleep, I have a marvelous dream of sitting before a beautiful fire in a fireplace in a house I knew was mine, sipping my coffee, looking up at a painting depicting Christ hanging above the fireplace. At that moment I hear behind me the sound of one I knew was my husband, coming my way as he says goodnight to our kids. Heading into the kitchen for something before joining me, he asks if I need anything. As I say, “I’m fine, thank you,” I awaken, knowing with clarity that the dream was God’s response to my cry. My heart rested in Him, I waited and watched as the days, weeks and months unfolded.
A little over a year later, divorce finalized and now married to a wonderful man who, at that time, was in process of adopting my daughters, making them ours, I sit in front of a fireplace, sipping coffee, and look up to see the very picture that I saw in my dream. Hearing my husband come up the hall saying good night to our daughters, he enters the kitchen. “Hun, you need anything?”
Standing before that rainbow, knowing the presence of my God there with me in that moment, we rejoice together over His faithfulness to bring His promise to pass.
Rainbow two: Disaster warning.
Sitting in my quiet time one morning before my husband got up to prepare for work, God warns my heart that something horrendous is going to happen at Johnny’s workplace that day. As I help him get ready for work, the sense of dread just continues to grow. So I warn him of the issue and ask him to stay home and have our friend he carpooled with to do the same. He assured me he would be watchful, but he had to go to work.
A couple of hours later he calls. A heavy section being lifted into position for attachment to the unit they were building was secured to the boom with what we later learned was a faulty piece of equipment that gave way, dropping its load from its height. Hitting our friend on its way by, it breaks him in half, leaving him a paraplegic. I grieved before the rainbow with the Lord during that season, and we watched as He changed the life of a family, for their good and His glory, though through some very difficult circumstances.
Rainbow three: The cry of the Spirit.
I went through two weeks of sensing the Spirit of God grieving something. Again knowing that something was about to happen, I spent those two weeks telling all who would listen of the Spirit’s grief for some soon to come event. When news came of the Oklahoma city bombing, I was glued to the TV, weeping with the Spirit for days.
Rainbow four: God’s provision.
At a time when our second daughter was about to go to college, needing another vehicle for her to take to college, our son, only months into his driving experience, wrecked our van. Now we needed two vehicles. Crying out to God for His provision of our need, I sense Him telling me that all would be well and to call the prayer chain and have them pray specifically for His provision for the need. That day my husband and son drive up with another car: cost, $10.
My mother-in-law passed away several months before the event. During her illness which required frequent trips to the city for treatments, they bought a smaller vehicle for use around town. However mom, a tall woman, was uncomfortable in the car, so they parked it after only a half dozen uses. When we wound up in need, dad “sold” it to us.
Insurance paid $4500 on the wrecked vehicle. One day while on a date in the city we decided to stop at a lot and just see what they had available. Finding a Taurus that was in good shape but had a lot of miles on it, Johnny offered them $4000 for it, end cost. When the salesman came back from talking with the manager, they agreed on the $4000, but then added the tags, titles, etc. to the cost. Johnny told them no, the $4000 was to be end cost or we could not take it. The salesman said they could not do that. Heading out to the truck, I am surrendering the car, which I liked a lot, to God and again expressing trust for “His provision.” Johnny opens the door for me and as I am climbing in, we here the salesman calling behind us, “Wait. Come back. We accept the offer.” Thus, God’s provision cost us a van, but left us with $500 in our pockets and two cars. The prayer chain and I stood in awe before the rainbow of God’s provision in awe of His hand.
That old Taurus with over 100,000 miles on it kept taking me wherever I needed to go throughout my daughter’s college days and son’s high school years. The little Topaz carried my daughter through college and into her married life. God indeed blessed us.
Rainbow five: The “earthquake like” event.
Again in my quiet time God warned me that our nation would suffer an event—the damage of which would be likened to that of an earthquake that would strike from New York City to Washington DC, setting our nation and indeed, the world, to grief. After two years of God leading me to call people to prayer, well, the towers fell. I have to wonder how much worse it might have been had God not called His people to pray, for God promises that when we seek Him, we will find Him. And when we ask with faith, we will receive. He instructed my heart that the event would not be stopped, for it had purpose, but I am convinced that it could have been so much worse.
Rainbow six: “He will be My son”.
After our son graduated from High School, he decided that he would move off with a friend we barely knew to another city in another state. I was very concerned, as he struggle so through his senior year, leaving home for a time and graduating by the skin of his teeth, as they say. I wanted to hang on to him and keep him close where I could protect him somehow, but knew he was of age and there was really nothing I could do beyond encouraging him to stay nearby for a while until he was better situated. And I was going to more strongly encourage him in that than we already had done, until God very clearly highlighted 2 Samuel 7:14 for me, saying, “I will be his Father, and he will be My son, and when he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of man.” In other words, “Hands off, daughter. He is mine to deal with now.” Sharing that with my husband, we let him go his way.
It was a rough few years, watching him make mistakes that nearly landed him in prison for a time. But God. God was faithful to be his Father, disciplining and training him. During the time it looked like he might have to go to prison, God told me to look at the promise again. There, I discovered the rest of the story in verse 15, where God clearly added, “But My lovingkindness will NEVER leave him.” And it hasn’t. He got probation and has grown to be a responsible young man with children of his own, having met his wife in that place. To me, she is perfect for him, able to deal with his hardheaded ways better than most.
She and I have seen many rainbows come and go with my son, stemming off this promise of God. One I continue to wait for is seeing him grow in the signs of son-ship, bearing the fruit of the Spirit more fully. I know that rainbow will come with time, because God is faithful and He continues to assure my heart, “He will be my son, and I will be his Father….”
Rainbow seven: “I will return.”
A promise we all have and watch for is the returning Christ as King for a thousand years. I know this too is coming and watch for it with earnest expectation and hope-filled anticipation. The more evil grows in the earth, the more my heart cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.” But even still I have to add, “Yet not one second before the last one who will respond comes to You.” I do not believe Jesus will return until all who will receive Him as Savior and Lord have been brought into the fold. Thus we continue our work of being His witnesses in the earth to raise up disciples to Christ.
In all of this, as I look at this journey of rainbows before me, I stand in awe as I recognize the treasure I have found. It is there for each of us. What is it?
Absolute assurance in the faithfulness of God, who continually says to us, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.”
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).
Come. Chase His rainbows with me. By faith grab hold of your share of the treasure, friend, and press onward and upward with confidence in God.
In the Car
Thus far on our journey with Daddy to chase the rainbow, we considered the fact that we must first choose to go on this wonderful journey with Daddy-God, and that comes through trusting in the faithfulness of God. Next we have to get in the car with Him. That is accomplished as we “only believe”: believe we can hear Him and know His voice, discerning what He is telling us; believe with trust that He will lead the way on paths of righteousness that will reach the destiny; believe what He says is truth; and most importantly believe that God is who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do. Today we seek to discover what that belief looks like, beginning by going back to that car in the commercial:
“Do you see it?” daddy yells.
“There it is!” exclaims daughter.
Later, “Where is it?” asks dad.
“Its gone. We lost it,” the dejected voice of his little girl says.
“We’ll find it,” assures daddy as he turns on a dirt road, splashing through a puddle.
The roller coaster ride of anticipation; oh my, what a journey that can be. Riding in the car with Daddy-God on numerous journeys of my own has been wrought full of excitement too often tempered by time of wondering if we will ever reach our destination. And when the ride is long, the journey can include times of distraction and impatience that can lead us to become disinterested in the journey, detached, apathetic. So what are we to do while in the car of destiny to protect ourselves from the malady of apathy? What does God expect from us? Let’s take a look at this little girl in the car, Noah, Moses, and Abraham to discover some of our roll in the journey.
From our little girl in the car, I am reminded of one of my favorite Paulian quotes found in Philippians 1:18-20: “…according to my earnest expectation and hope….”
Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. Even in long waits, when we catch a glimpse of the rainbow, we should be filled anew with earnest expectation and hope that has us yelling with excitement, “Daddy, I see it!” And what does that earnest expectation and sincere, faith-based hope produce?
“Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22).
We do not see any sign that Noah questioned God as Moses did. He simply began collecting the wood and tools, drawing up the plans just as God gave them to him, and making the pitch ready.
Another act of obedience and hint of what Noah did during the time of awaiting the flood is seen in the account of events as given by Christ in the Gospels:
“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).
Apparent to me in this account of Christ is that Noah warned the people of the wrath to come, imploring them to repent and turn to righteousness. The hint in this passage to this fact is that the people “did not understand” what they were warned of until it was too late. And who do we think warned them but the one that God told to prepare for it? Surely people asked Noah, “What on earth is this thing you build, and why?” God did not tell him to keep it secret. And I know if it were me, I would certainly be trying to warn other family members and friends to prepare for what was to come. And like Jesus in the parable of the bridegroom’s unwilling guests, when family and friends would not listen, I would tell anyone who would lend me an ear (Matthew 22:1-14).
We also find similar hint to Noah’s warnings in the words of Peter who called Noah the preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). And so must we, in the car with God as off we go, our rainbows to see.
Moses is also an example of obedience, as are all who ride in God’s rainbow seeking auto, though, like all of us, he had his moments of slipping to the flesh. So what can we learn through Moses experience about being in the car on a long journey to a rainbow with God? There is probably a lot more than we will cover here, but I see two things about Moses that is important to our ability to make rainbow runs that avoid apathy.
First is his perseverance. As some have been heard to say, it took Moses and Israel 40 years to make what should have only been a 15 day journey. Why?
“For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the sons of Israel, “You are an obstinate people; should I go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you. Now therefore, put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what I shall do with you”’” (Exodus 33:5).
Standing at the foot of the Mountain of God, waiting for Moses to come down, the people of Israel became impatient and questioned the faithfulness and ability of God to protect and keep Moses for so long, and thus, to protect and keep them; so they sinned against God by making a molten image to bow down to as their god. They failed to stay in the car with God, bailing out when doubt came, and wound up wondering the desert wastelands for 40 years. But God remained faithful though they were not, empowering Moses to lead them during that time, helping him to persevere, though their obstinance and rebellion would often test his patience.
Perseverance in life’s journey is a must if we are to stay in the car with God. Life too often challenges our resolve in this journey. But God will help us to persevere if we keep looking to Him as our resource and encouragement. And that brings us to the second thing I see in Moses that we can learn to incorporate into our journey with God. Continuing in Exodus 33:
“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, You say to me, “Bring up this people!” But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, “I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name’” (vs. 12-17).
Moses had an awesome, personal, real, vibrant and vital relationship with God that was fed and sustained by his sincerity in his communications with God. He not only grew to trust God, but he relied on Him and expected Him to be the faithful God that God made him to understand He was.
God told Moses from the beginning that His name is “I AM”. That name resounds the faithfulness of God by emphasizing that what we can come to know of Him is who He is, thus His story tells us, “I AM Love”, “I AM Real”, “I AM with you”, “I AM Faithful”. To know God intimately in ways that give us confidence to communicate with Him as Moses and other examples of faith have done will keep us in the car with Him even when the journey is long.
“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ …” (Genesis 22:1).
Abraham had a promise from God that all the land of the Canaan of his sojourning, as far as he could see, would belong to him and his posterity. But all the life of Abraham was spent as a squatter in the land of promise. Any land he gained was given or sold to him by those who possessed the land in his day. He lived his entire life in waiting, for, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).
Abraham did not sit around and twiddle his thumbs, waiting aimlessly on the sofa of faith. He did not try to force his way into possessing the land. He trusted God’s timing, waiting on God’s instruction, and he possessed a “here am I” attitude that was prompt to respond to God’s call. He lived the life he had to the full with God while awaiting the promise to come. Even when God tested him, telling him to sacrifice his one and only heir of promise, the one through whom Abraham expected the promises of God to be fulfilled, he did not hold anything back from God, but he trusted two things: that God would provide for Himself in His faithfulness, and that God was able to raise up people even from the dead if that was His way of fulfilling the promise (Genesis 22:2-14; Hebrews 11:19).
Because Abraham believed and trusted God with a “here am I” attitude, the promise of God proved faithful to do as Abraham had come to trust He would and His promise was affirmed to him.
“Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, ‘By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice’” (Genesis 22:15-18).
A “here am I” attitude does not sit on faith as the means to an end. Faith is the engine. But there must also be a can do attitude that willingly does what is required.
“But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:18-24).
Inside the car with Daddy-God we find earnest expectation and hope coupled with faith that produces unquestioning, immediate obedience pouring forth from a “Here am I” attitude of readiness that holds nothing back from God and that perseveres the challenges, tests, and extended journey of life. And where does our time in the car with Daddy take us? To the concluding post in this series of study.
Deciding to Go with God
“Let’s go chase a rainbow.”
“What’s a rainbow, Daddy?”
“A rainbow is sign of My faithfulness to keep covenant with My children.”
“What’s ‘covenant’, Daddy?”
“It is my Word to you, My promise of things to come.”
“How do we chase Your rainbow, Daddy.”
“We begin when you get in the car with Me. It is a journey of faith where you may not always be able to see the road, and times of doubt that we will find that bow may tempt you. But because you trust Me, you can know for sure that we will find the bow and the treasure it covers.”
“How do I open the car door, Daddy?”
“Only believe, My child. Only believe.”
“Believe how, Daddy?”
We begin our journey at the beginning of most journeys, deciding to get in the car and go with the Driver. Some common questions we often ask before getting into a car include ‘do we trust the driver’ and ‘do we believe he is taking us where he says we are going.’ The closer the relationship we have with the driver, the less time we spend on answering the questions until the questions are no longer significant, for trust in the Driver is complete and we know He will go where He says.
Throughout biblical history we see this scenario played out. In the beginning of his journey with God, Moses had many reasons for not getting in the car, all of which reveal uncertainty not only in his own sense of worth and ability, but in his ability to trust God who called him to join Him on a rainbow chase. As he grew to know God, we see doubt and fear diminish in his character. David, on the other hand, spent so many hours alone with God, seeing God do such great things, that when he comes on the scene of God’s story, he seems to have no doubt or fear. He just moves to do what he knows God would have him do, and a giant is felled.
What of Noah? Let’s take a peek. I love the beginning of Noah’s journey, found in Genesis 6:5-8.
“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”
Noah stood in stark contrast to those around him. So God saw him as an instrument through which He could provide saving grace to those who would join Noah on the journey God was about to call him to, starting in verse 13.
“Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.’ Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.”
We see no sign that Noah questioned these strange things God told him to do, nor did he doubt. He simply believed God and through that belief, he obeyed, getting into the car with God to go with Him to rainbows end.
Until this point, Noah nor any others had ever seen rain. They were in the middle of a land without a major body of water to hold such a vessel as he was building. What did it take for Noah to climb aboard with God for this chase?
First he had to know and trust that what he heard was indeed from God. He apparently knew God well, because “Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.” This is our first goal if we are to chase rainbows with God. We must know His voice so we recognize when He is speaking to us.
Noah’s story is a picture of the Christ, Jesus being a type of boat for saving those who will enter in with Him. Jesus, in John 10 promises that we can and will know His voice. It is a promise to His children, Him being God incarnate, the Living, Life-giving Word, that we can take to the bank.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers. … I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (vs. 1-5, 14-16).
Getting into the car with God requires us first to know His voice so we recognize that it is indeed Him who is calling us to come. Then we must trust Him to lead the way. And finally we must believe, not only that it is Him who is speaking, but also we must believe what He says is truth; and we must believe that He will and He can do what He says. And what does this belief look like? See you in the next post.
There is one car commercial that thrills my heart every time I see it. I have to back the DVR up as we are flying through the commercials on a recording and watch it over again. In the commercial, a little girl and her daddy are flying down the back-road highway, looking for something.
“Do you see it?” daddy yells.
“There it is!” exclaims daughter.
Later, “Where is it?” asks dad.
“Its gone. We lost it,” the dejected voice of his little girl says.
“We’ll find it,” assures daddy as he turns on a dirt road, splashing through a puddle.
Next you see them running excitedly through an open field, daughter anxiously hurrying daddy, beckoning him to come quickly. Grasping hands, together they enjoy the rainbow across the way.
Watching that commercial fills me with excitement because I know in my heart that Daddy-God is beckoning me—and you—to chase the rainbow with Him.
For many, the rainbow has come to be synonymous with the promise of God, a reminder of His faithfulness. Today we begin a journey that, for me, is a ride in the car with Daddy-God, watching to see where we will wind up. I see vaguely the direction we need to go on this journey, but the specifics of the path to get to the treasure of the rainbow is unclear. Thus we get into the car with Daddy as we begin by looking at the first rainbow, found in Genesis 9:8-17.
In this passage, Noah and his family just disembarked from the ride of a lifetime, one in which they are led to a new beginning like no other before it or since. “Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, ‘Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.’
“God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ And God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.’”
The rainbow: the sign of covenant promise. To remind who? God? Really? Do we really think that Daddy-God forgets anything? I believe that anything He “forgets” is by choice; not because He has a faulty memory.
“But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me” (Isaiah 49:14-16).
“Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain, and the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, to make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, and to cheat with dishonest scales, so as to buy the helpless for money and the needy for a pair of sandals, and that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?’ The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob, ‘Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds’” (Amos 8:4-7).
“Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; but you have become weary of Me, O Israel. You have not brought to Me the sheep of your burnt offerings, nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with offerings, nor wearied you with incense. You have not bought Me sweet cane with money, nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; rather you have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities. I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:22-25).
God is not short of memory. He chooses what He will hold on to and what He will let go. He does not need to tie a string around His proverbial finger as we too often do. The rainbow is placed in the sky as a remembrance, yes, Him saying to us, “I choose to remember my covenant-promise and I remind you of it with this reaffirmation of my commitment to you.” And what have we discovered such signs to be placed for in our study of the stones of testimony? A sign such as this not only acts as a covenant agreement between two parties, but is reminder to pass the testimony on to our children and grandchildren, telling them of the work of God in our midst that led to the sign being put in place.
Science may give us the details behind the making of the rainbow, but it is God who set up the chemistry for its making. We can trust the faithfulness of God, and the rainbow reminds us of this truth.
Thus begins our journey to chase the rainbow with Daddy-God. When I first thought of this series of study, I thought we were to look at some of the specific promises of God to His people, however, though we may do some of that, I have come to believe that we are to discover together what a child of God who is chasing rainbows with Daddy looks like. Again, I am not sure where all this will take us or how long this series will be, but I hope you will get in the car with us as we see where all Daddy-God will take us on this chase.
The Joy of One Flesh Living
A review of 1 John 4:12-16 brings us to the final aspect of our ministry to God in Christ as we work to fulfill what is lacking of Christ’s afflictions: given here in the Amplified version, verse 12-13 adjusted for easier reading.
“No man has at any time yet seen God. But if we love one another, God abides, lives and remains in us and His love, that love which is essentially His (and can only come from Him in His power) is brought to completion—to its full maturity, running its full course and is being perfected in us! By this we come to know, perceive, recognize, and understand that we abide so as to live and remain in Him and He in us: because He has given / imparted to us of His Holy Spirit” [vs. 12-13 (love-defining thought added by author)].
In Christ, as we come to know, recognize, believe and rely upon the love God has for us, we enter into a life experience of one flesh living—being fully one with God and He with us. His body, His bride, His child: every way in which the scripture speaks of “this being bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” He uses to describe the life of one who is one with Him in Christ.
This fact is awe inspiring to me. I can see this principle of God in His word more clearly than ever before. There is a part of me that knows I am already there in His power and provision. But I desire more than ever to get to that place in my every day experience in ways I have yet to know.
How do we do that? I do not have it all figured out yet, but here are some clues we can grasp hold of as we look at the remainder of this passage in chapter 4 and on through chapter 5 of this book. Continuing with verses 14-16 of chapter 4, we find our first answers to our “How” question.
“And besides we ourselves have seen and have deliberately and steadfastly contemplated and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. Anyone who confesses (acknowledges, owns) that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides (lives, makes His home) in him and he [abides, lives, makes his home] in God. And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.”
Know Jesus: The first step to one flesh living with God is to know Jesus, His Son, acknowledging with full belief of understanding Who He is in all His fullness. Through faith in Jesus as the Christ, God incarnate, the propitiation for all sin and victor over the death that separates from God, we enter into the body of Christ, which brings us to this one flesh relationship with God.
Know and trust the Love God has for us: We become ingrained perpetually into one flesh with Him as we come to greater realization and more full assurance of knowledge to understand, recognize, being conscious of by observation and experience, and to believe so as to adhere to, put faith in, and rely on the love God cherishes for us.
Realizing that God IS LOVE, in all its fullness, and all He does flows forth from His heart of love to us, equips us to trust His hand in our lives and come more fully into agreement with His will and way. It helps us to have His thoughts and walk in His ways when we trust His love for us.
Trusting His love removes fear of any hardship that may come to us because we live in a fallen world. Believing His love, we are equipped to know that we are part of His flesh, protected and encompassed by Him, only being touched by pain as will make us stronger and provide us opportunity as His witnesses to a lost world still ensnared by death’s grip. We are His hands and feet, reaching out with His love so that others may enter in with us to live and abide with Him.
Pressing on through Chapter 5 we find:
Love as He loves (vs. 1-3): Unity with the Father produces love in us, equipping us to love those in our sphere of influence. The better we become at our roll of being a conduit for His love, the more we will experience this one flesh dimension in our relationship with Him. His love flow includes empowering our sincere love for Him that will produce in us…
Obedience to His commands(vs. 1-3): Whether His commands are from His written and Holy Word, or whether they are the day to day directives He gives us personally in the power of His Spirit, love for God produces a unity that makes His desire our own. And more than that, it makes Him our greatest desire. Thus we willing choose His will even when it is hard, because we desire to walk in one flesh with Him who is our true desire. And that flows not only out of our love for Him, but from…
Faith in Him (vs. 4-6): True belief in God’s testimony to us produces a faith that will follow Him in obedience. We become one with Him in thought, desire, and understanding, and we walk as one with Him. I believe this is the walk that led to Enoch being no more, “for God took Him” (Genesis 5:21-24).
What a testimony to have: that we walked with God as Enoch did, being known as the friend of God like Abraham, thus being a person after His own heart as David was, doing only what we see Him doing, as Jesus did. We have the capability of having this testimony as we grow strong in one flesh living in God through Christ. This is the faith we are called to. And this faith…
Believes the testimony of God in the power of the Spirit (vs. 7-12): It is God who sent the Spirit as His testimony that Jesus is the Christ and that His Kingdom has come to us who will enter into it by faith. It is God who sends the Spirit to reach out to us and woo us to Himself still today. To refuse to believe the testimony of God concerning the Christ and all He is and does in us by God’s provision of grace, a testimony sent to us in the power of His Spirit, is to call God a liar, and that is the unforgivable sin (see vs. 16).
There is an encounter Jesus had with the Pharisees where they accused Him of casting out demons in the power of Satan (Matthew 12:22-31). In so doing, they blasphemed against the work of the Spirit in the earth and through Jesus Christ. So, was the real issue that they did not believe Jesus, though He was casting out demons in the power of God? No, that would be speaking against the Son of Man and was the symptom of the true underlying issue. Jesus says speaking against Him can be forgiven. What was the issue?
The work of God through Jesus in the power of the Spirit was done for the purpose of making the Christ known in the earth, proving His coming, and calling people to enter into the Kingdom of God with Him. The work of the Spirit is the testimony of God regarding Himself and the Christ. The Spirit does the work of God in the earth, proving He is.
I believe the point Jesus is making is that, to refuse this work of the Spirit being the testimony of God, sent to equip us to live this one flesh Kingdom life, that is the unforgivable sin. Refusing the Christ when the Spirit is doing all He can to make Him known to us is the only unredeemable sin—refusing to believe the Spirit’s testimony concerning God and Jesus, proving they are and that Jesus is the way, is the only true suicide. All else is covered by the blood of Jesus and can be forgiven man.
For us who believe the testimony of God and enter into one flesh relationship with Him, never to be killed by sin again, we find…
Our Confidence (vs. 13-21): In the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, Jesus is our confidence for all eternity. Because of the Spirit in us, we experience God in new and real ways that help us to know that we know that He is and that He is the redeemer of all mankind who will put their faith in Him through Christ.
Because of relationship with God through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Spirit, we have confidence that we have the mind of Christ, and being covered in His blood, we can freely approach the throne of God and make our request of Him. We receive our request from God because we have His heart desires within us when we are actively living in one flesh with Him through the Spirit at work in us.
We have the mind of Christ, being equipped to have the thoughts of God. Being a people birthed through Christ to be people after God’s own heart, God’s heart beats within us, thus equipping us to have His desires. And the Spirit flows through us, the blood of Christ coursing through us in the power of the Spirit in which the true life flows, making us one with Him. Therefore, we have the full resource of God at our disposal as we walk with Him in obedience.
By this power in us we KNOW with confidence that He is, and that we have eternal life. With this confidence we know that we are in Him as He is in us. And our lives can flow with confidence from Him as we grow in one flesh living with Him.
John ends his discourse with this warning, which is worthy of repeat: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”
Idols rise up in our lives when we follow the voices of the false prophets. These lead us away from God and when we walk out of the protective cover of God, our one flesh life with Him is hindered and harmed.
The joy of the Lord is our strength because we are in Him and He is in us. By this truth, not only do we have joy in Him, but He rejoices over us, calling us “friend,” and He fully equips us for a life of abundance that honors Him. Our protection, power and provision for a life of victory supplied in Christ is found through one flesh living in God.
“By this we come to know, perceive, recognize, and understand that we abide so as to live and remain in Him and He in us: because He has given / imparted to us of His Holy Spirit. …Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”
Don’t follow the false. Follow the truth as testified to us by God and we will remain in Him.
Rejoicing in Sure Revelation Knowledge of the Truth
“Beloved, do not believe (put faith in) every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world…” (1 John 4).
As we begin this focal thought on our work of completing what remains to be done in fulfilling the sufferings of Christ in our age, we must consider revelation knowledge of the truth of God. Here John, in the leading of the Spirit, warns us to beware the false prophets, instructing us to “prove or test the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God.” Why would he instruct us to “test the spirits”?
Think about what a prophet is. A prophet, no matter the religious philosophy they come from, is believed to be one endowed with some special power or insight from some higher power that enables them to have revelation knowledge from that god. The god the person represents, even those of no god at all, receive their knowledge from a spirit, whether God’s Spirit, a demonic spirit, or the spirit of flesh. We must realize whether the prophet we follow is truly and rightly representing our God in the power of His Spirit.
This chapter of scripture gives us clues regarding what to look for that will tell us for sure whether the spirit behind the prophet is our God’s Spirit. Where does his or her revelation knowledge come from and how do we test the spirits to know?
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (vs. 2-3).
One of the best ways to know whether the spirit behind the prophet is from God is to discover what they have to say about the Christ. Now this statement of discovering whether the spirit confesses that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” is deeper than it sounds. It is not just that the prophet believes Jesus was, but that he truly knows and confesses who He was: the Son of God, Immanuel, somehow very God with us, the promised Christ, the seed of Abraham, the true and rightful King of kings and Lord of lords.
All that scripture says will be in the Christ is found in Jesus. Any prophetic spirit that denies any aspect of Christ’s person is a false spirit of antichrist. What brings me to this conclusion? For one thing, James, based on experiences seen with Jesus as expressed in Matthew 8:28-34, speaking of faith in Christ that is active, said, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19).
Another found in Luke 4:41 says, “Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.” Demons know who Christ is and will say who He is, but they will not confess Him as Lord. They will not bow the knee in surrender to Him.
Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
The Spirit that truly professes who Jesus is will lead us to live a life that reveals Him to be our one and only Lord of lords and King of kings. It will empower us to wholeheartedly bow the knee in habitual and willing practice of obedience. The person following the true Spirit of Christ will not only know the triune God, but will be known by Him because they are in vital relationship in every way. Though they slip and fall, the relationship being of vital importance to them will lead them quickly to repentance.
“They (those under the influence of the false spirits) are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (vs. 5-6).
Another key to testing the spirits is unity of spirit. When I meet a brother or sister in Christ, my Spirit in me jumps for joy in agreement with the Spirit of God in them. When that connection is absent, chances are great that there is a spirit of error or of antichrist in play.
I.e.: many under the influence of a false spirit are grumbling under their breath right now with the very talk of there being spirits at work in the world today. They do not believe in such, though the scriptures clearly reveal their existence and ability to affect our thoughts and our lives. A false spirit can have greatest sway in the life of one who refuses to acknowledge their existence. Beware, beloved. The word of God is either all truth, or it is not true at all. We can’t have it both ways. What kind of god would be worthy of our following if he could not even protect the veracity of His professed word? If God cannot profess truth to us I in all it fullness for us to follow, and protect that word of truth, we cannot trust His word and, therefore, are fools for believing.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (vs. 7-8).
It is impossible for a person to truly love as God loves without the Spirit of God in them. We can tell by the love walk of the man whether the Spirit of God is in them. The absence of this love signals that a spirit of error is in play.
Many false prophets speak words of love while leading the flock astray from righteousness. True love always works to do what is best for those they love. We can know we are following a spirit of error when it leads us to err against God.
“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (vs. 9-10).
We cannot confess the fullness of the love of God that was expressed through the Christ without the Spirit of God in us. Such love is beyond our ability to fully understand, much less work out of, apart from the work of God’s Spirit bringing revelation knowledge and understanding of that love and its ways to us.
There is a story of a man who, out boating with his family, winds up jumping into the brink to try to save his Christian son and one of his son’s friends who did not know Christ, when they fell overboard. Realizing he could only save one, he swam past his son to reach his friend who would spend eternity separated from God if he died that day. Making such a choice requires revelation knowledge that understands the love for us that it took for God to allow His son to die as propitiation for our sins. Thankfully that young man came to know Christ and is a testimony of love beyond understanding today.
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. …We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (vs. 11-14, 19-21).
A person who has a spirit of antichrist in play cannot rightly portray or express the love of God. Those who profess Christianity under the guise of a false spirit can and will lead those around them to false understanding that can cause them to miss the Christ and chance eternity separated from God if they are not reached by the love of God miraculously or through a true believer. Without understanding of God’s love for us and the work of the Spirit to help us love as He loves us, we cannot make His love known in truth. And if we cannot love others on His behalf as He loves them, how can we truly be in love with God? Love cares about the things that are important to the beloved.
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (vs. 15-18).
Being in sincere relationship with God, having His Spirit to lead and empower us, we are made one with Him, having Spirit lead revelation to understand how great the love of God is toward those who believe and receive His Son with understanding of who He is and what He accomplished on our behalf. Through Christ we are made one with God, never to be separated from that love relationship again. Once we fully understand the depth of God’s love for us, having assurance of His desire and care for us, we enter into understanding of His pure love that protects us from fear tactics.
One major weapon in Satan’s arsenal is fear. If he can cause us fear that doubts God’s care for us, leading us to question the assurance of our eternal relationship with Him, Satan can defeat us and rob our strength. Full understanding of God’s love for us assures our heart of His care and provision for our here and now and for our eternity. Fear no longer can grip so as to defeat the heart of the one who has revelation knowledge of the great love of God. Understanding that love increases faith that God is for us and not against us; that He is in control of all that concerns us, working for our good, to give us a hope and a future. Thus we realize fully…
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (vs. 4).
Growing in our relationship with God through the power of His Spirit equips us to have revelation knowledge of the truth of who Christ is and His work on our behalf even now. It equips us to know and rightly express the love of God in the earth, having assurance of His faithfulness toward us that protects from fear tactics. And it grants us eyes to see and recognize the spirit of error and the spirit of antichrist in our midst, enabling us to give warning to those who may be fooled by the imitation, including warning the elect—the righteous lot of God who are failing in any given moment to be watchful in the power of the Spirit of God within them.
Brother and Sister in Christ, I warn you, we are heavily into the days of the spirit of antichrist, as many, even big names in the Christian realm, profess as true beliefs that make the work of Christ small and insignificant. Beware the spirit of error in our day.
My grandson had to have an emergency appendectomy last night. I will be helping with him as needed, but if all goes well, I hope to have the last excerpt of this study posted for you tomorrow. If not, it will be next week. BLESSings, and thanks for reading my blogs. I pray that this study will be used of God to help us grow strong in our work of completing all Jesus left us to do on His behalf.
The Delightful Proof of His Nature Practiced
Read 1 John 3:
“…Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity)…” (1 John 3:4-24, Amplified version quoted herein).
The number one clue of our belonging to the Kingdom of God is seen in our practices stemming from His nature at work within us. It is a practice without hypocrisy. This practice of righteousness does not merely say what we believe then habitually walk off to do the opposite. It proves what we believe in our practices even behind closed doors with no one watching but God alone, because we love Him and what we believe is who we are in Him.
God delights in the righteous acts of His people, in a righteousness that is not just external for show and tell, but that begins in the sincerity of heart that is surrendered to Him for His use. True righteousness stems from the heart of who we are. The remainder of this chapter reveals ways in which we see this action in the lives of the people of God’s pasture. Those who delight in righteousness as God does, bringing delight to His heart in the sincere practice of it from a nature made one with Him will:
Practice the Keeping of His Law / Commands / Will:
“Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect—being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will)…” (vs. 4-10).
I have a wall hanging that quotes G. K. Chesterton as saying, “The only faith that wears well is that which is woven of conviction.” Keeping the laws and commandments of God, practicing them in sincerity and truth from the heart of our being, requires conviction in the veracity, integrity and credibility of God. If we do not trust Him to lead us in righteous paths for our good and His glory, we will say one thing and do another as if to placate Him and look good to others while going our own way. Completing the sufferings of Christ means to continue in His likeness of trusting fully the veracity, integrity and credibility of God, walking with God in His ways, even unto death, with hearts that are pure toward Him.
“…Boys (lads), let no one deceive and lead you astray. He who practices righteousness [who is upright, conforming to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action, living a consistently conscientious life] is righteous, even as He is righteous. [But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated the divine law) from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done]” (vs. 7-8).
The practice of righteousness through the keeping of the laws, commands and will of God comes natural and is of vital importance to the one who truly belongs to Him, having His Spirit residing within by the gift of grace through Christ. If this is absent from our lives, we have need to question whether we truly know Him, for “No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God” (vs. 9). The same is true when it comes to…
The Practice of Love Toward the Brotherhood / Sisterhood
“By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children and who take their nature from the devil and are his children: no one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action] is of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother (his fellow believer in Christ)” (vs. 10).
God is love. Him truly residing within us in the power of His Spirit will produce love in us as well, not only for those we call “brother and sister in Christ,” but for all mankind. We do not love the ways of the evil one that resides in those who do not know Him, but we do love the person with a holy love from God that desires them to enter into this union we possess. Thus we do good to all, especially to the brotherhood, and we do good to those who do us evil with hope that through acts of lovingkindness we may indeed win some (Romans 12).
“For this is the message (the announcement) which you have heard from the first, that we should love one another, [And] not be like Cain who [took his nature and got his motivation] from the evil one and slew his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his deeds (activities, works) were wicked and malicious and his brother’s were righteous (virtuous)” (vs. 11-12).
The world, on the other hand, will hate us because they do not have within them the love that can come only from God, living and active within.
Now realize that there are several kinds of love in this life: brotherly love, sensual love, self-love—these three being dictated by the object of ones affections and the fickle emotions within us. The love God speaks of in this passage we consider is the unconditional Agapé-love that is not destroyed by sin done against it. This love is not subject to its surrounding or physical emotions, but comes from within, from who we are in Christ by the power God supplies. It presses forward to do that which is best for the one loved even when the one we love sins against us. It is a love that can only be achieved when surrendered to the Father’s love flowing through us to those around us. Though this Agapé-love may be hindered for a time by our flesh warring against the Spirit within us, this love will eventually win out as the nature of God within us takes hold and has control, proving us to be one with God and working in His nature.
“Anyone who hates (abominates, detests) his brother [in Christ] is [at heart] a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding (persevering) within him. By this we come to know (progressively to recognize, to perceive, to understand) the [essential] love: that He laid down His [own] life for us; and we ought to lay [our] lives down for [those who are our] brothers [in Him]. But if anyone has this world’s goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him? Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity)” (vs. 15-18).
Thus, as we live the life as He lives, having a nature like His, we…
Practice Confidence Before God
“By this we shall come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate, and pacify) our hearts in His presence, Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For we are in God’s hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him]” (vs. 19-20).
Even when we are caught in any sin, we stand with confidence before a holy God in the grace gift He supplies through Christ, knowing that nothing can separate us from His love for us. God convicts of sin and brings us to repentance as He disciplines us as sons and daughter through Christ (Hebrews 12). Desiring to remain in His love, we come quickly to repentance and work to cooperate with His Spirit’s work of transformation within us. Equipped by Him to stand in confidence and without condemnation before our holy God as we desire, we work to…
Practice What is Pleasing to Him
“And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God, And we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we [watchfully] obey His orders [observe His suggestions and injunctions, follow His plan for us] and [habitually] practice what is pleasing to Him” (vs. 21-22).
Confidence in our eternal destination though Christ is ours to possess. And the possessing of it through the practice of His nature proves our relationship with Him, completing the work of Christ, who made a distinction between the hypocrisy of those snared to evil, refusing the work of God within. And He proved the nature of God within Himself by His habitual practice of righteousness and God-pleasing from a pure heart. We join in fulfilling His sufferings by proving the nature of God that frees from sin and His work in the world of men that is available through the sacrifice of Christ, as we live, breathe and move in the power of His Holy Spirit residing within us, thus destroying the work of the evil one with Him.
“And this is His order (His command, His injunction): that we should believe in (put our faith and trust in and adhere to and rely on) the name of His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and that we should love one another, just as He has commanded us. All who keep His commandments [who obey His orders and follow His plan, live and continue to live, to stay and] abide in Him, and He in them. [They let Christ be a home to them and they are the home of Christ.] And by this we know and understand and have the proof that He [really] lives and makes His home in us: by the [Holy] Spirit Whom He has given us” (vs. 23-24). This being true, we…
Practice Walking in the Spirit of God
“…But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh…” (Galatians 5).
Giving the Spirit full sway in our lives, trusting God to make His presence and leading surely known to us, surrendering to His lead so as to not quench the work of the Spirit within, this is the nature of Christ in us. He always lived to please the Father.
We carry on to completion His suffering against the flesh, the world and the demonic as, in the power of the Spirit, we stand against evil by walking “in the Light as He Himself is in the Light.” Thus “we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” and we prove ourselves to be in Him and He in us (1 John 1:7, NASB).
The Delight of His Kingdom
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3).
Children of God: Princes and Princesses of the Kingdom. We are part of the royal court. God rejoices over each one of us, and the more we come to look like His Firstborn Son, the more joy we bring to Him.
The only real goal we need to have for life more abundant and full is to grow strong in our likeness to Christ, purifying ourselves as God is pure; wholly belonging to the Father, being passionate about Him and all He that is passionate over. If we do this one thing, our weight will line out as we surrender our health practices to Him. We will overcome health issues, if not finding our healing this side of glory, then finding our strength in the wait for the healing. As we learn to deal with the situations and circumstances of life as He would, we will have peace in knowing that we followed Him and we can trust Him to deal with the situation in due season.
Like Jesus, we are to strive to live lives as children of His kingdom in our here and now experience. Jesus spent a lot of time teaching about the Kingdom and what it looks like. That is a clue to us that we should know how the Kingdom of God functions and looks so we can be an expression of His Kingdom as His ambassadors to the world, completing His work of making the Kingdom of God known in the earth.
In doing so, we also must realize that though we are of His Kingdom already, secure in our citizenship, we are not in the Kingdom yet. Thus the reason Jesus prayed that though we are in the world, we would not be of the world (John 17:13-19). Our lives are to continue His work of expressing the Kingdom lifestyle into our surroundings.
We have covered the Kingdom life before in other studies, and I don’t want to belay our time here spending too much time on that again, but just by way of review for those who have read my materials for long and intro to the new reader, let’s touch on a few of the aspects of the Kingdom life that should be in us. The Kingdom is:
† One – Those who truly belong to God are one with the Son, who makes us one with the Father and with one another. There is unity in the Kingdom and we are to work together toward unity in the earth (John 17; Matthew 12:25-28).
† Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost – By the power of the Spirit at work in us, we strive to be righteous as He is righteous; we enter into His peace provided for us even in the difficult seasons of life in a fallen world; and we have joy in Him because He empowers us to know our God and trust His hand (John 12-16; Romans 14:17).
- Righteousness – No unrighteousness may enter the gates of His Kingdom (Matthew 5:20; John 3:5; Revelation 21:24-27; Isaiah 51:22-52:1).
† Kingdom Revelation – The Kingdom is no longer mysterious to the true believer, for it is given for us to know, understand and proclaim His Kingdom on earth; it is ever growing within us; it is a treasure worth discovering and possessing for oneself; it is a resource to us, equipping us to separate the good worth keeping from that which is to be cast away (Matthew 13).
We could go on, but suffice to say that ours is to possess and release the Kingdom of God on the earth in ways that encourage all who will to enter in with us. We are in the world, though not of the world: we are of the Kingdom while yet we await our entrance for all eternity.
While in the world, we are warned, “For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1). We are in the world, but because we do not behave as those of the world, they often find us strange and disagreeable to their way. They cannot know, recognize or understand us because they do now know, recognize or understand Him (Amplified). John 15:18-21 warns:
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.”
It is not us they truly persecute; but it is our ways that are not their own. And when they come against us because our ways are not like theirs, it is not truly us they come against, but Christ in us. They do not know, recognize as legitimate or acknowledge the righteousness of our ways because they do not know, recognize or acknowledge Him. Those who stand in opposition to God and His ways, naturally find themselves standing in opposition to all who represent Him and His ways.
Kingdom life is upside down to that of the ways of the world. We love those who hate us, choosing to do good toward them where we can. We find peace in the midst of turmoil; joy in the Lord within the pages of life’s sorrows; and when we are weak, that is when we are truly strong. We do not walk the paths of life as the world does, but while on paths with them we walk the straight and narrow way of the Father. And we seldom fret as the world does, coming quickly to remember and realize our limitless supply is made sure through His grace toward us who believe. This is our call, to finish the work of Christ in our day, making His Kingdom known to all who will hear.
“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23).
“And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing” (Luke 9:2).