In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 5

Read John 17

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” ~ vs. 14-19.

“Sanctified in Truth; Your word is truth.”

Beloved, there is a danger in the world today that threatens our ability to work and live as Name bearers for Christ: that is, failure to realize and live as people who believe God’s word is true; inerrant in every way. The two things threatened when we fail to believe that God breathed His word in full truth through the thoughts penned by His authors include our ability to receive His instruction and our ability to trust His promises.

Sanctified in Truth

Sanctification means to be set apart for a purpose, fully useful in the hands of God in accomplishing His work in the earth; fully surrendered to His will and way, desiring His work fulfilled in us.

When we fail to believe God’s word fully represents Him, His will, His way, and His truth, we will pick and choose what we want to believe from the pages of Holy Writ and fall short in our sanctification to Him as Lord. When we close ourselves off to the relevance of His word in our day, we become unteachable of spirit, unable to transform with the work of His word in us.

When we are unteachable, we refuse the transforming power that equips us to renew our minds (way of thinking and believing) and to know the will of God, which is good and acceptable and perfect. When we cannot discern the will of God because of unbelief, we cannot please Him. Sanctified living requires us to believe the inerrancy of God’s Word and its relevance in our day so we are equipped to love Him through full obedience that makes us adequate for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 12:1-3; Hebrews 11:6)

God’s Word is Truth

When we fail to believe that God’s word is truth, we cannot fully receive, accept application to our lives, and walk with hope in the promises of God. They are without relevance if His word is a lie.

Jesus believed all God said was true of Him and His life purpose, thus He was able to withstand temptation to fall away from the path God laid out for Him. Believing God’s word to be true and that He would do all He promised, Jesus refused a lesser crown in this life. Bowing down from His high position to be a humble man, walking with the power of God’s supply to experience a cruel cross in order to purchase a people for His own possession as King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God because He believed God’s promises, taking Him at His word.

I am really excited that following this study of John 17, God is teaching me the significance of our sitting to His right and to His left. I don’t want to give it all away in this post, but suffice to say, Jesus believed God and He received authority to fulfill the purpose of God laid out for Him from before time began. Jesus is our example, beloved. We are to walk in Jesus name as a people sanctified and set apart to God for His purpose. The only way to accomplish that is to believe God, taking Him at His word to and for us.

Truth is truth. Walk ye in it.

Father, the world hates anything that is in opposition to it. Your word is truth, standing in direct opposition to the waysInGodsHandssme and wisdom of this world. Therefore, we who believe are the hated, reviled by the world, just as Jesus was. Truly believing God, taking His word as God-breathed, is not an easy road to follow, but it is the road to eternal purpose that is worth the reward it brings us. Grant us hearts that believe You, taking You at Your word, being teachable of heart, and trusting fully in every promise You give. To do otherwise is to fall into the hands of Your enemy, allowing Satan to win our lives as his to claim. In Jesus, may we truly and fully believe You so that we may see Your glory in the fulfillment of all You planned for us from before time began. Amen.

We are His KINGDOM People: In the World, Not OF It

As I watch the news today, my heart breaking for our nation as it steps farther from God, I find myself praying, “Here am I, O God. Help me to know how to be a Christian, in love with and serving You, being one who is in the world, but not OF the world.”

Today in this nation, same sex marriage gains approval in the court of human appeal. As one who believes God means it when He tells us that marriage is one man to one woman, having purpose in that union, it makes my heart sad to see this decision come to our nation. However, the thing that God reminds me of is the fact that God’s ways and Laws are given to distinguish those who are His from those belonging to the world. We are People OF His Kingdom, on assignment IN this world, charged not to be OF its system. Beloved of God, this world is dictated by a different wisdom and principles than God leads us to possess.

The world has every right to be the world. That is the nature of THE BEAST. Why are we so shocked when the world in which we live behaves in agreement with its nature? Our challenge is to remain in the nature God calls us to possess as people of His Kingdom.

The travesty is that too many of our children are going the way OF the world. That breaks my heart still more. However, Beloved, like it or not, this is their right of choice, given them by God.

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes AND HIS JUDGMENTS, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them” ~ Deuteronomy 30:15-20.

Our children and all those in each age have right of choice, to choose whether they will believe God, love Him and adhere to His ways, or whether they will serve the god of this world. What is our choice and responsibility as Kingdom people who are in the world, but not of it? As Paul said in his days of challenge, so must we say, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge” ~ Acts 4:19. We are responsible before God to make our choice and set an example for our children to follow. In so doing, as parents we are responsible to give our children the seeds of truth they need to possess so they can make their own, well-informed decision.

It is vital that we make a distinction between the ways of this world and those given us by God. Our children need to realize the choices set before them and the consequences when making them. They need to know that to choose God is to choose not to be of this world and its ways. They need to understand the difference available to us in God’s Kingdom. If we fail to help our children have understanding of what it is to be of God’s Kingdom, Children of the Royal court, tasked with eternal purpose, we will lose a generation of our children.

Watching the way of the world unfold and take hold in our nation is scary to me, for it signals failure to choose God and His way, which signals consequences that will come in behind those choices. That fear makes me want to lock my children and grandchildren away and protect them from this world. I want to make their choice for them to protect them from the fallout coming on the world. The problem is that God does not give me that right. He only grants to me the right and responsibility of a parent and grandparent tasked with setting a good example and training those He gives me in the ways and truths of the Lord.

Our nation is in trouble: not because I say so, but because God says so in His warning to those who follow Him, found and outlined throughout His word. The hope of our children lies with God, and we must do all we can to give them the resources they need to make the choice that is for their best “today” and their eternal destiny.

Beloved, our nation is in trouble because it chooses more and more to go the way of this world’s system, and that is the fulfillment of prophesy long ago warned of as the end of days draws ever closer to its conclusion. The question is, are we following God as Kingdom People, or are we toying with life as part of the world and its philosophy, afraid of taking our stand with God for fear of losing our position in this life or connection with those in it?

“Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; BUT AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE, we will serve the Lord” ~ Joshua 24:14-15.

We each have our choice to make. Choose today whom you will serve and be the people of God’s Kingdom despite the ways of this world. In that decision, be head under God in your own home, refusing to allow the ways of the world to find refuge there. Realize, parent, that the father of the prodigal had to release the son to the world for a time, allowing him his fill so he could realize the caregivers in charge of hogs have it better in the Father’s house than one can have in the world. We all must die to self before resurrection in Christ can come. They must make their choice just as we had to do.

Our choices have consequences, be it blessing or curse. Our nation in this world is toying with the curse, in keeping with the dictates of this world. However, Beloved, the world has no hold on us who are the Blessed and Beloved People of God’s Kingdom. Walk as Children of Light (Ephesians 5:7-10; 1 Peter 2:9-10).

“…Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE Lord, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:12-16 (read 1 Corinthians 1-2).

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 4c

Read John 17

“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves” ~ vs. 11-13.

Hedged by His Name ~ Part 3

As we live within the hedge as people of God’s name, we possess a mind set on and driven by eternal purpose; and we bear His image, having His nature in heart and flowing out as adornment. Last in my thought for the hedge we have when we are In Jesus’ Name is found in John 15:

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” ~ vs. 8.

When we name our Children, we give them personal names that distinguish them as individual, but they are born automatically possessing our family name. It tells the world that this is Joseph of the family of Smith. Discipleship is the same. This is Peter, disciple of Jesus. Andrew was disciple of John until he united with Jesus, changing his alliance: he married into the family of Christ.

A family’s character is judged by the reputation of its family members, each making an impact on the reputation of the whole. Likewise, the teacher grew in reputation partly by the actions and behaviors of those aligned under his discipleship. That is what happens with us as we become disciples of Christ, we come under the name “Christian”, representative of that family name. People know of Christians what they see and experience of our actions and behaviors. Thus, they believe they know who Jesus is through that experience. Do we represent Him well? Our lifestyle is the answer that reveals the sincerity of connection with the Christ. It is not just words, but it is our actions and ways of living that reveal the truth.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” ~ vs. 1-8.

God has long had a people in the world, tasked with representing Him and His interests. They are called “the Children of God” and are of the lineage of that Name, disciples fed by His heart desires, through which the fruit of His Spirit at work in and through them makes Him known. That name comes with great responsibility and with the full resources of God for the fulfillment of our responsibilities as His representatives in the world. As we abide in the vine of Christ, possessing the family name He passes to us, we are His disciples, tasked with discipling others.

Like with the nation of Israel, others may see what God is doing for and through us, His great blessings toward us, and desire to take part in that. Their desire may draw them in with claims of possessing the family name, but they are weeds beside us, never fully grafting to feast on the vine in true commitment and surrender to Him. Such people are unproductive branches that sap the provision of God meant for feeding the vine.

Simply saying, “I belong to Jesus,” is nothing without fruit that proves adherence of the graft. The things we do and the words we speak have power that will reveal the vine upon which we feast. Beloved, if we call ourselves Christian, but live as one fed by this world’s philosophy, we blaspheme the name.

“The person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people” ~ Numbers 15:30.

We can walk along side and claim the people of God as our own, but we cannot claim God without vitally uniting with Him. The truth of our unity with God will reveal itself by a life changed to agree with Him and His nature. The Amplified version of this verse in Numbers is scary to me:

“The person who does anything willfully and openly, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one reproaches, reviles, and blasphemes the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people [THAT THE ATONEMENT MADE FOR THEM MAY NOT INCLUDE HIM].”

“Whether native born or a stranger.” Strangers hear and see the blessed of God and enter the fold to claim the blessing without wholeheartedly taking the marriage vows that make for vital union and right of name bearing. Likewise, we can be born and raised among God’s people, but without personally choosing relationship found in vital union with God through Christ, we cannot possess the family name in righteousness and truth.

If we truly belong to God in Christ Jesus, taking that family name through belief in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf, giving us life and a new name, it will show in our lifestyle, choices, words, thoughts and desires. We will faithfully feast on the vine of Jesus, bearing fruit that represents our God, Lord, Father, and King. If we fail to bear the fruit of abiding, we are impostors and not true Children, and we are in danger of eternal damnation, separated from God and His family forever.

“…To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature…. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you” ~ 2 Peter 1:1-11.

“Make certain of His calling and choosing you.” That suggests we can have a false encounter with God that tricks us into believing that we are safe and secure in that relationship. We cannot bear true fruit without real relationship. TheInGodsHandssme proof of relationship is in the fruit of our lives.

These things, Lord, You speak in the world so that we may have Your joy made full in us. We can face this life as we unite more and more with You, being one together with You in the power of Your Spirit, bearing Your name, flowing out of and adorned by Your nature, as righteous representatives of the family of God. As You have spoken over us, O God, so let it be done. In Jesus, amen.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 4b

Read John 17

“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves” ~ vs. 11-13.

Hedged by His Name ~ Part 2

Last post we covered that, as people living in the hedge of God’s name, we possess a mind set on and driven by eternal purpose. Focus on the eternal leads us to our need to clothe ourselves in our new nature through the internal flow and external adornment of the image of God.

“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart…” ~ Colossians 3:9-10, 12.

As the Beloved of Christ, made One with God through Him, we are to put off the old self and put on the new that bears the image of the One who is God. That image we put on flows from a heart that is changed and made One with Him.

The heart of our soul is the essence of our character and nature. Made new in Him, His new creation, having His image in us brought to life, the habits and character of our old nature that was dictated by fleshly, self-centered desires, is pushed out and overruled as we possess the nature that is God. The most quoted passage, speaking of the nature we possess in the power of God’s Spirit is Galatians 5:22-23.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

The remainder of Colossians 3:1-17 describes these and other attributes of God’s image found living in us. These characteristics we possess as our own, allow the Spirit to freely live in and flow through us to express God’s glory in the world around us.

Note that when we have His nature living and active within us, that image we bear has no law that stands against it. Our fleshly nature fell under the dictates of many Laws of God set in place to rule the ways of humanity. Even in today’s world, it is too often laws that motivate us to do the right that is expected.

In our flesh, which is self-indulgent, we run from God and walk all over any who get in the way of our fulfilling our desires. However, God’s nature is perfect and holy, fulfilling eternal purpose based on God-centered desires for unity and glory, and His Spirit transforms our nature. Leaving the worldly behind, we walk with godly intent and purpose.InGodsHandssme We are no longer motivated by force of law, but by the power of a right heart in Christ. Possessing His nature fulfills the Law and reaps a harvest of glory, hedging us in the protection found as we live our lives in Jesus Name.

These things, Lord, You speak in the world so that we may have Your joy made full in us. We can face this life as we unite more and more with You, being one together with You in the power of Your Spirit, flowing out of and adorned by Your nature. As You have spoken over us, O God, so let it be done. In Jesus, amen.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 4a

Read John 17

“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves” ~ vs. 11-13.

Hedged by His Name

Beloved, look at what Jesus is praying here. He placed a hedge of protection around us who are in His Name.

“…keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are…”

In His Name, living and breathing and moving and speaking as people made One in Him, is a hedge of protection for us. It seems vital, then, that we understand what it means to be in the Name of God / Jesus. As I think of where to take us in discerning the fruit of being in His name, the following come to heart as a beginning of our discovery, getting you started on the road to living it. In keeping these posts more devotional length, we will look at this subject for several days, covering each passage in turn.

The most vital need on our journey to become one with God, hedged and protected in that name is having His priorities and mindset for life, being eternity driven:

“If then you have been raised with Christ to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead, aim at and seek the rich, eternal treasures that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above, the higher things, not on the things that are on the earth. For as far as this world is concerned, you have died, and your new, real life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in the splendor of His glory” ~ Colossians 3:1-4, AMP.

God keeps bringing me to this realization, that I am one with Him, made complete in Him. All that I do, think, and speak is to flow out of this unity. It begins with possessing eternal perspective. To get a picture of what this mindset looks like as it bears its fruit in us, we must consider Paul’s teaching through verse 17 of Colossians 3.

Vs 5, Amplified Bible (AMP), warns us to beware the things that work “the deifying of self and other created things instead of God.” Our lives must always reveal God as God in us. This eternal perspective gives us power over fleshly emotions and desires. When God is God in us, we do not give ourselves to fleshly impulses. Instead, we walk a life that reveals that we are no longer children of disobedience, obstinately opposed to divine will, being fully surrendered to the Spirit residing in us (vs. 6-9).

Vs. 10 advises that we in Christ have clothed ourselves “with the new, spiritual self, which is ever in the process of being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image and likeness of Him Who created it” (AMP).

Letting go the flesh and its desires and putting on this eternal takes a lifetime. The produce of it reveals itself in us as spoken through the remainder of this Colossians 3 passage:

Vs. 11: all distinctions vanish. When we are one together in Christ, seeing Him in each other, we are no longer separated by race, color, creed, family history, etc. Past issues set aside, we are one together with God, removed from all dissension, hatred, unforgiveness, distrust, etc. We find unity in the love of God that flows through us as new creations in Christ to each other.

Vs. 12-17: our very nature bears His image, being holy as He is holy through the adornment of the character and nature of God who flows through and covers us.

InGodsHandssmeThat brings us to the focus for our next post on the subject of being in Jesus Name through our individual possession of unity with Him as His image bearers.

These things, Lord, You speak in the world so that we may have Your joy made full in us. We can face this life as we unite more and more with You, being one together with You in the power of Your Spirit. As You have spoken over us, O God, so let it be done. In Jesus, amen.

The Problem with Offense

“I am offended by that!”

“That offends me!”

These words grow louder in our society every day. Every day a new – old offense, touted on our newscasts, raises the temper in America. With each one, I find myself taking a side on which to walk my offensive line.

Most recent in the news are those “offended” by the flying of the confederate flag. As I watch the reports pour forth, stores get in on it, spreading a flag out, stating, “We will no longer sell these flags because we do not want to ‘offend ANYONE’”.

Immediately that “offended” me. Not because I want a confederate flag to fly, but because I want the right to fly one if I desire. However, as quickly as the offense hit me, God’s Spirit called me to shush it.

Think about it. What is the meaning of “Offend”?

Offend ~ Resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a PERCEIVED INSULT.

Offense comes from a place of resentment, and is most often caused by festering anger. Note also in this definition that offense sprouts out over a “perceived insult.” It is based on our perception and opinion, which may, or may not, be based on truth.

Do I care if people fly a confederate flag? We don’t fly one, but others have every right to do so, and I want the right to fly a flag without fear that some person passing by, who does not know me or my heart, will judge me by their perceptions of that flag.

We are in a nation of free speech, and flags speak of allegiances. We fly an American flag because we are of that allegiance. Others fly a flag in honor of those who fought under that flag. Flags can speak of ideology, yes, but we need to know the ideology that has a person flying the flag.

The confederate flag speaks, yes. For some, they speak of a heart that is not right toward American-Africans (Not a typo, will explain in a bit). That is sad, but true. However, the Civil War issue of slavery was secondary to the cause of the war.

My understanding of that time in HISTORY is that the war started because people in the south felt the leadership in the north was making unjust demands against their produce, requiring more of them than they felt just and right and doable. Therefore, war broke out. The slave issue came into play as the north, needing to increase their depleted army, promised freedom to those slaves who would fight for their side.

Did the slaves deserve freedom? YES! Was the war a just war from the beginning? Everyone has their opinion. Nonetheless, many Flag-treadfought and died on both sides, and they fought and died for a cause they felt worthy of the fight. The African slaves, seeking freedom as Americans fought with the northern states because they deserved freedom and felt it worth the effort if they could win their freedom in the fight.

To me the confederate flag stands for our right to choose. It stands against unjust government. It is the southern voice shouting “Don’t tread on me!” I love that flag. LOL

To others it speaks of racial discord and the right of white over black; unjust slavery and hardship. This is sad to me. But why punish those who honor their fallen under that flag, seeing it for what it was in their eyes, a people looking for just government.

Offense tells the one we perceive offense from that their heart ideology is wrong, and it says that we only care about our own viewpoint. It assumes knowledge of another’s heart issues. It judges the heart of a person that we often do not know.

Think of the offensive side of a football team. Their goal is to push for territory they want to gain, even if they have to run over another person to get there. That is what acting out of offense does. It pushes, too often out of festering anger that works destruction, forcing “my way over your way.” It judges the heart of all who are on the other side as being of evil intent. Going on the offensive automatically puts those opposed on the defensive, even if they know you have a right to your opinion. The battle of the offended against those on the defensive brings all to discord and disunity.

The thing God spoke to my heart in the Spirit this morning as offense threatened to pull me into the battle is this, “WE CHOOSE TO BE OFFENDED.”

I am sorry for the offense perceived by others and I hate that which causes their offense. On the other hand, I am too easily offended by others trying to force their will off on me; my personalizing the injustice of their perception. Thus, I have to choose whether I will let that anger get hold of me and dictate my life and actions. The choice is mine, and it is quickly quelled when I refuse anger and choose the right. The right I want is our unity as a nation: to deny offense based on anger that brings division and walk in righteous paths of peace, love, and grace.

People, if we keep going the direction we are in, we don’t need ISIS to come in and destroy us. All they have to do is sit back and wait. With enough time and ammunition, we will destroy ourselves from the inside out.

Festering anger breeds offense. The offended put others on defense. And the battle is on.

A house divided against itself will quickly fall.

It is vital that we learn how to fight the good fight of faith, knowing how to choose our battles. A battle line drawn out of anger and resentment breeds discord, which brings disunity that will bring the house down. A battle drawn from a stance on what is right and good will draw people together. As we seek out of love to express what is right and true, others seeing the righteousness of it will join in, and a union forms that stands in strength.

I honor the right of others to take a stand. However, I pray that stance is made out of a desire for a righteous outcome. If anger, resentment, pride or arrogance is the fuel, destruction will come as people pushed to offense take their side. Note the base for your stance, beloved. If anger is the base, we choose to be offended and to judge the heart of others out of our angry perspective, thus breeding anger in kind. If we are standing on a base of what is right and a desire for truth and unity, there is no need for an offensive: Only live right and others will soon follow.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another” ~ Galatians 5:19-26.

Side Note

Why do I prefer “American-African / Latino / Asian / Irish / etc.”:

I am American-Irish. I word it that way because I want unity in my country, so I am an American first, and I happen to be of Irish decent. I have never been to Ireland. I love my Irish roots and the people who spawned me. However, I am and always have been American.

Only as we move our roots fully to possess and grow a strong America as Americans first will we see this discord begin to calm itself. Hanging onto the past as if it is our present reality, our perceptions dictated by the hardship of our history, we will never build a strong America for our children to live in.

Only as we become an American who happens to have blood from other nationalities and races can we be one people, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We need to know our history, pulling from the good to continue that, and making sure we do not repeat the bad; but we do not need to keep living in the past. May we as Americans make our now and our kids future better by living the good we know in our now lives, producing good soil for the growth of future generations.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 3

Read John 17

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.” ~ vs. 6-10.

Manifested Ownership

From the Name of God, to the Words He sent and the people He provided opportunity to share with, and I would add to the worlds goods provided for use in the ministry given Him, Jesus recognized that all was God’s and was given Him by God for His use in manifesting the name, will, way and glory of God. All belonged to God. It was given to Christ for Him to possess, manifest through His own life and ministry, and use as a gift to those in His sphere of influence.

Jesus’ realization of ownership began with self: “for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.” He believed that He Himself belonged to God for His purpose, sent into the world to accomplish God’s will in God’s way.

Jesus is our example for life. We manifest Him in the same way He shared God with us, as people of God’s own possession, sent for a purpose. That begins with ownership. Jesus received the Name of God as His own. Salvation comes from God through Christ. Father is Immanuel, the Christ, Savior, Lord, Master. He gave rights to Jesus for Him to possess and manifest these characteristics in the world, thus being God with us, fulfilling His purpose as Christ, the Savior made Lord and Master as King of kings under God’s authority.

Jesus, in turn, puts His name on us as followers of Christ, and we are responsible to manifest His character, word, will, way, and stewardship in this age God birthed us to. We are under His authority, given authority with responsibility as stewards of all He gives for our use in living and being His representatives where we are living and breathing.

All that we have belongs to God. Our reputation, our words, our funds, every opportunity for good, our time, this day, our now moments, and every breath we breathe is His. We do well to realize all we have first belongs to God. Then we must realize that all He gives us is ours to possess and use in manifesting Him name and His glory in the earth. When we say we are “Christian”, people look to us to discover what that means. Represent God with every breath.

Beloved, when we frown at tithing, it is because we fail to believe and own the truth that “all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine,” given us for the purpose of this ministry of manifestation. When the need of others becomes inconvenience InGodsHandssmeinstead of opportunity, we forget whose Name and glory we possess. When anger, depression and other emotional issues take hold, leading us to say things that do more harm than good, we forget the Word gifted us for use in producing His glory and work in the world. When we waste our days and resources on menial things, we forget whose purpose we are to fulfill and the fruit we are to bear. He gives all to us for us to own in His name and use to His glory.

“So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers]” ~ Galatians 6:10, AMP.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 2

Read John 17

“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” ~ vs. 1-5.

Father, The Hour Has Come!

Beloved, realize today that every breath you breathe as one who believes in God through Jesus the Christ means that your hour has come. Like Christ, our being born to this age of humanity’s history is no accident; nor are we a “plan B”. From before time began, God planned us.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” ~ Ephesians 2:10.

There is purpose for our breath in this age. With that purpose comes authority and Spirit-power to fulfill all His good will and way for us in this age.

“Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

The main purpose we have in our life is to make the Father and the Son known to those around us. We accomplish this purpose not only by word of mouth, but, more importantly, by our being as He is. Every characteristic we know of God should express itself through our character in the power of the Spirit. We love as He loves. We forgive as He forgives. We humble ourselves to accomplish the Father’s purpose just as Jesus did. And on we go, glorifying God the Father and Jesus the Son by representing all we know of them to those around us.

InGodsHandssmeBeloved, pray today to grow up into all the glory of God so that you are His representative, accomplishing the purpose of making Him known and fulfilling the good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. In this way, we become the answer to the prayer of Christ, glorifying God in all things, and manifesting His glory as one with Him, empowered and useful in accomplishing His purpose in our days.

May we each be able to say, as Jesus did, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 1

Read John 17

“Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life” ~ vs. 1-2.

Humbled and in awe of God, I bow.

Beloved, do you realize that if we are one with God in Christ, an answer from God to Jesus’ prayer here in John 17, we should have this prayer resonating within us? As I read this prayer this morning for the 100th plus time, it no longer belongs to Christ alone. This prayer became my prayer, rejoicing my heart at the thought of God answering this prayer in my life.

Beginning today with these 2 verses, let’s look at how we can continue this prayer in Jesus name.

InGodsHandssmeFirst, by way of reminder, Jesus instructed us to petition the Father in the name of the Son. “In Jesus name” is more than words we tack to the end of our want list. “In Jesus name” means that all we ask of God should represent Christ’s interests and heart desires. We are to grow past being children, crying out for everything that catches the attention of our childish – fleshly desire on the toy shelves or through worldly commercials. We are to understand God’s will and way and align our desires with His; most importantly, being as one with Him, God’s fulfillment of the John 17 prayer of Jesus’ heart cry.

If we are walking as God’s response to Jesus, beloved, we can join the heart of Jesus to pray this prayer as our own. Thus begins: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your daughter in Christ, that this daughter may glorify You, even as You gave me authority in Christ over all flesh, that to all whom You have given me in my sphere of influence, I may give eternal life by the testimony of Christ at work through me in the power of Your Spirit.”

In Jesus, we begin. And what a great beginning it is: to pray to glorify God to all He places within our sphere of influence, being an example of His glorious image, helping others to saving grace in Christ. May God so move in us, beloved.

Parent with Discipline and Instruction

Today’s Bible Gateway scripture grabbed me with a different-than-usual understanding.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” Ephesians 6:4, NLT.

Reading that well-known verse, just as I started to delete it, a different instruction from it grabbed my heart and stopped my hand as pondering began.

Usually this verse says to me the truths commonly taught by others: that the father, or parent, is to train the child in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord; to teach them the word and ways of God. This is true, but today it grabs me with understanding that Paul is teaching the way of disciplining the child so-as-to not provoke anger. He is telling the parent to develop within themselves the disciplines of God, receiving His instruction on how to be a parent to their particular child, so that child can grow strong in a teachable spirit.

This scripture specifically singles out Fathers, but we should receive it as good instruction for both parents. Usually in a family, there is a main caregiver and disciplinarian; and that is not always the dad. It is often the mom. Moreover, in today’s society, single parenting is too common. Therefore, I write this with parents in mind, not just the dad.

The first instruction given a parent in this passage is to train up the child in ways that do not breed anger in them. Anger produces bitterness and resentment that makes a child grow into a hard-hearted, unteachable adult. Such a heart attitude makes it difficult for a person to be open to God’s instruction and training in life. They often develop the traits found in their parent that produce the anger, and thus become a parent like their own, producing anger in the next generation. Resist the urge to be a hot-tempered parent.

“Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself” ~ Proverbs 22:24-25

A child cannot easily leave the company of a hot-tempered parent. They quickly learn to give themselves over to angry outbursts of their own, carrying on the tradition when they become parents who are harsh, hard, sharp and pressing. We can learn a lot as parents, following the example of Christ in Matthew 11:25-30:

“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne” ~ AMP.

As parents following the example of God in discipline and instruction, we yoke with our children, being an example to them, training them up in godliness to be the people God created them to be. We set an example that trains them to realize they have purpose and skill as people of His Kingdom, able to make this world community a better place for those around them.

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” ~ Proverbs 15:18.

Controlling one’s temper as a parent instructing the child is a vital discipline to develop, benefitting both the relationship of parent to child and setting an example that trains the children in the way and importance of controlling their own emotions. It is vital that a parent learn to take a time out when angered, giving themselves time to get their temper in check and decide on a godly course of action in training the child out of a place of wisdom, love and spiritual discernment.

Parent, it is never too late to apologize for being hot-tempered and to make the adjustments that calm the heart of dispute and set a better example, bearing the fruit of the Spirit into that relationship (Galatians 5:22-23). Though it may take time for the adult-child to believe, receive the apology as sincere, and realize the change in example, it will take hold and bring healing as you persevere in walking out your change of temperament.

A second parenting instruction comes to mind, found in the Amplified version of Proverbs 22:6:

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

This instructs in several important parenting skills to develop. One is to realize how each child best receives instruction. Some children are rigid and require a more firm hand; while others are easily bruised and require a gentler tactic. It is vital to learn the type of discipline the individual child responds to best. Whatever works best, all need discipline that is free of anger. Never discipline when angry. Send the child to the bed until a clear and cool head prevails in the discipline given.

Another instruction found in this wording of Proverbs 22:6, training according to the child’s “bent”, is to realize the gifts, talents, skills and abilities of each child and train them up in a way that helps them develop, becoming strong in the good things that make up who they are as people created by God for a purpose. It also means to recognize their individual temperament and help them know how to use the good qualities they have for benefit. They also need training in how to cope rightly with the more negative aspects of their personalities.

For some of us, our parents did not train us with our gifts and bent in mind, so we may have to seek God’s instruction for how to train ourselves up in these areas so we can better help our children develop their gift and personalities. God is the ultimate Father and He is always ready to help us grow strong as the people He planned us to be. His word teaches that His work of developing and perfecting and bringing us to full completion is a continual work that only ends when Jesus takes us home (Philippians 1:6). Realizing this for ourselves as we grow to be the parents God desires of us will help our patience with self in the process. It is also a vital truth to teach the child, helping them to cooperate with God and know how to work with Him in developing stronger skill and character throughout life.

A third instruction I think of concerning discipline and instruction to us as parents comes from the description of the Proverbs 31 wife:

“She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks. …She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat. Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying], ‘Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all’” ~ vs. 15, 26-29.

Training our children in the word of God is not the responsibility of the Sunday School teacher alone. They should be additive to the teaching the child receives at home. Realize that children learn more from actions than words, so make sure you practice the things taught them from God’s word, training by example as well as word.

This entire discourse in Proverbs 31:10-31 is that of a Mother setting a good example of how to be a godly wife – woman. The same is true for the husband, setting the example of a godly man. Our exemplary life is vital training for the child. Thus, we must know how to be godly people ourselves if we are to pass that quality on to our children.

Here the mother “assigns her maids their tasks.” Children need to learn how to function as vital participants in community life. They need to know how to keep their area of responsibility in good order. They need financial and economic training. Children learn how to be good citizens of the Kingdom – nation – community – by first learning how to be good family members as stewards of all the good gifts of God. We must not neglect to give our children a sense of responsibility as citizens in life.

Note also that this mother, in her parenting example to us, “opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law (teaching) of kindness [giving counsel and instruction].” Not only is the parent to give the child wise counsel and training in kindness, but she is to do so by practicing wisdom with kindness. A godly parent sets the good example, looking well to the ways of the home and family, not feasting through thought and actions on “the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity)”. Such a parent earns the reward of children who bear the testimony of having praiseworthy parents.

Parents, “do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Grow strong parenting skills, learning the discipline of character God instructs us to possess.

This article barely touches on the things we can learn from God’s instruction to us that will make us noteworthy parents that produce godly children who will make the world a better place as they grow to be good citizens, skilled as good stewards in community life. Insights of this article are good starting points for growth as parents to children, but God waits at the ready to help each of us in our areas of specific growth needs. He promises, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart’” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

No matter how old our kids grow to be, as long as we live there will be opportunity to yoke with them in their journey to becoming all God planned. Once we are one, though the nature of our role may change, we never stop being parents. Choose today to be a parent of noteworthy character, an example worth following, yoking with God in readiness to learn good parenting skills that allows you to yoke as partner-teacher on your child’s journey through life.

These Things ~ Miracle ME!

The Greater Works

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father” ~ John 14:12.

In our study of the produce and reasons for the “These Things” teachings of Christ, I found as I typed the last post a WOW thought that produced in me one final pondering on the subject. It came from the following thought quoted from the previous These Things Series post:

“As we said, life is hard. It can be hard some days simply to get out of the bed. The works we do are the greater works because we are not God. We are men and women of God, empowered by the Spirit, yes; and every good work we do and accomplish in that Spirit power is nothing short of a miracle. …”

That “Wow!” moment set my heart to realize that every good thing God accomplishes through us is a miracle that fulfills the promise of Christ found in the “greater works than these” we do in His name.

Now I don’t know about you, but I do not see “greater works” than those of Christ coming out of my life. So how is it true that all God accomplishes in me is a miracle that fulfills this promise of God? Here is what God is showing me as I ponder these things: NOTE the difference between Jesus and us.

Jesus

Jesus came into the world being One IN the flesh, but OF the Spirit. He came being IN the world, but OF the Kingdom of God. He came to a realm influenced by demonic wisdom, but He was OF godly wisdom and purpose. Jesus overcame the unnatural of His flesh man existence to live fully His natural estate of the godly as example to us. He did not have to overcome His true nature to be godly. God is His true nature.

Us

We came into the world being OF the flesh, living worldly purpose, too easily driven by demonic influence. It is a miracle of God when we fully realize and possess Him, walking in the new nature we have through Christ to overcoming our natural estate so that we can be people OF God, influenced by Him, being OF the Spirit, and OF His Kingdom, living lives OF godly purpose.

God’s work of deadening our natural flesh being is miraculous.

OF

That word courses through me as I type. John shares in John 17 the prayer of Jesus for His disciples, of which we are if we truly believe and follow Him. In His prayer, Jesus revealed this miraculous work of God in us.

“I have MANIFESTED Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them. I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not OF the world, even as I am not OF the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” ~ vs. 6-19.

Beloved, through Christ, as we live in the sanctifying power of that name, we are no longer of this world, the flesh or the demonic. We are in the world but not OF it. We are OF the Kingdom of God. We are in fleshly bodies, but we are OF the Spirit of God. While surrounded by demonic influences, through Christ we are OF the will, way and purpose OF God. In the name of Christ as representatives of God’s image and nature, WE ARE OF GOD, sanctified – set apart to Him and made complete as His image bearers through Christ.

Of: Expressing the relationship as part of a whole.

We are of the Kingdom of God, expressive of that Kingdom. We are of the Spirit of God, expressive of God, bearing forth His image. We are of the purpose of God, working His will and way in the earth. We are no longer of the flesh, the world, and the demonic influence. WE ARE OF GOD, made whole and complete in Him. The work God does through us is greater works because we are overcoming our natural state in the power He supplies, by His power in us, becoming wholly that which is unnatural to our life experience.

Jesus came as the God who was man. His natural estate helped His unnatural condition: He fully possessed who He was in the name of God. We are man, made into God’s image. Only as we realize who we now are in Christ can we fully overcome our natural state as man to be helped by the unnatural state we are now in through Christ, in that power of His Spirit at work in us. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20). As I find that place of the overcoming power of God at work in my reality, making this unnatural my daily norm, the greater works of God is accomplished; all that He is becomes real and alive in me; the possession of my true estate in Christ.

Last post for this series, in covering John 10’s teaching that we follow the voice of the Good Shepherd because the other voices are strange, I said, “Jesus still calls out and speaks to His Sheep today, and those who know His voice follow Him. They will not follow a stranger because they do not know the voice of the stranger.” God’s voice is strange to the flesh, the world, and the demonic. We have to overcome the voices that we have known all our lives, so that those become strange and His becomes the voice well known.

Beloved, we struggle with our fleshly nature because we refuse to let that voice become strange to us. We struggle, too easily falling to the wisdom of the world because that voice is agreeable to our fleshly desires. We struggle, influenced by the demonic because we fail to realize and stand firm on the fact that we no longer belong to that purposed influence. We struggle because we fail to understand fully that we are no longer OF the fleshly nature, the world economy, or demonic purpose.

We are OF God, His Kingdom, and the Spirit that indwells us. Thus, we must…

COME OUT AND BE SANCTIFIED.

Colossians 3:1-2 in the Amplified advises us.

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.”

Bigger GodI read a devotional called “S.O.A.P” today, titled “You Need A Higher View”, written by Rich Wilkerson. Based on this Colossians passage, He advises, “Too often, believers operate from a ‘Buried in Sin and Shame’ position rather than a ‘Raised Into Heavenly Places With Christ Jesus’ position. We have direct access to the Father through Jesus Christ, who is seated at God’s right hand in Heaven. That is where the Apostle Paul commands us to set our affection and attention. Elevate your viewpoint. Instead of ‘Looking Up’ from your problems, ‘Look Down’ on your problems with your ‘Problem Solver,’ JESUS.”

We are OF God, Beloved. Come up higher in Christ

“…Every day that we overcome the flesh, the world, and the demonic is because we possess the Spirit that possesses us and works this miracle of God in His overcoming power. Wow. That is awesome to my heart and inspires me to realize the miracle worked when I hear His voice and simply follow Him.” (see yesterday’s Ponderings)

~*~

Cliff Note: Tending roses after typing this, I reach down to smell one just opening up to the fullness of its beauty. As I smell its wonderful fragrance, God reminds me that the minute a rose comes into its beauty, it begins to die. It is in dying that its glorious fragrance springs forth.

Likewise, as we die to the old nature, the beauty of our new nature in Christ ignites. In death of the old, the birthing of the new brings forth the fragrance of God that is His miracle in us, fulfilling the word of “greater works” promised in Christ. The Spirit overcomes the natural we know in our flesh experience, birthing forth the image and fragrance of God in all His glory. Sanctified and made complete, we bear forth the greater works fruit and fragrance Jesus calls us to in His “These things” teachings.

Go forth into this new life, Beloved, and fill the air with His fragrance and glory.

These Things Revealed

Pulling it together

John 16:1-15

These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them.

These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

Life is hard. Have you figured out that, too often, life is hard? When we seek to follow the Father and live the life He desires, there are a hundred different things that vie for our attention and seek to pull us from the path He designed us to walk. Therefore, Jesus spoke with purpose.

He spoke so that we may have peace in knowing Him, realizing His great love for us and growing to be His friend who walks with Him to accomplish His purpose. He spoke so we can possess the Kingdom purpose He has for us, bearing the fruit that works that purpose in the world around us, making this a better place to be and shining a light that draws others to join our journey on the straight and narrow path of God’s making.

Jesus spoke so that we may truly and fully believe, receiving all that He has for us.

Top of the list of His desire for us to possess is His indwelling Spirit, for He still has “many more things” to say to us today. Jesus still calls out and speaks to His Sheep today, and those who know His voice follow Him. They will not follow a stranger because they do not know the voice of the stranger. God gives His Spirit to every believer, and He speaks clearly, telling us of God and His purpose and plan, so that we have all we need to walk the straight and narrow path of His eternal purpose for each individual of us. (John 10)

In our focal passage, the work of the Spirit that Jesus tells us will come to help us is this: that we may understand sin, righteousness and judgment.

The Spirit instructs our heart to know sin, wrong paths, all that goes against the ways of God. In addition, Jesus tells us that sin reveals lack of believing-faith in God, His word, His ways, and His promises. His Spirit is here to help our understanding so that we may have faith to believe.

The Spirit instructs our heart to know righteousness, right paths, all that accomplishes the will, way and purpose of God.

This work of the Spirit fulfills the promise of Christ that He revealed when He instructed us through John 14:12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”

When we learn the voice of God that comes to us in the power of the Spirit, we accomplish the purpose of God who created us for good works. We do so knowing that “nothing shall be impossible for us who believe, for all things are possible with God and I can do all things through Christ, my Lord.”

As we said, life is hard. It can be hard some days simply to get out of the bed. The works we do are the greater works because we are not God. We who believe are men and women of God, empowered by the Spirit, yes; and every good work we do and accomplish in that Spirit power is nothing short of a miracle. Every day that we overcome the flesh, the world, and the demonic is because we possess the Spirit that possesses us and works this miracle of God’s overcoming power in us. Wow. That is awesome to my heart and inspires me to realize the miracle worked when I hear His voice and simply follow Him.

This faith to trust the Spirit to lead us to the will, way, and purpose of God, thus doing His work, accomplishes the great things of God in our day to day living. Representing Him in all we do, fills up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Colossians 1:24). The work of Christ in the earth continues in us as we become His lights in the world, glorifying Him in all we do – great and small, as good stewards of all He supplies. The Spirit helps us to realize that all we have in this life, all we go through whether good or difficult, all things are ours to possess and use for His Kingdom purpose: nothing wasted.

Lastly, Jesus tells us of the promised work of the Spirit in us so that we can know judgment, consequences, and potential outcomes.

This understanding of judgment He gives to us leads to good judgment for living. He gives understanding of His judgment in the power of the Spirit in order for us to know that there are two kingdoms at work in the earth and our actions and choices accomplish the purpose of one or the other.

As believers in God through Christ, the godly Kingdom is the one we seek to represent as we follow the dictates of the Spirit to fulfill the good works God created us to accomplish in such a time as this (Ephesians 2:10; Esther 4:14). The ungodly kingdom is the one dictated by the evil spirit of Satan, and its desire is to destroy the work of God in the earth. Thus, it is vital that we learn wisdom ~ the ability to have functional understanding of sin, righteousness and judgment that helps us to make right decisions so that we fulfill Kingdom purpose in all we choose to do.

In verse 25 of John 16, Jesus adds, “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father.”

We have the whole of scripture and the power of the Spirit so that we can understand the plain and simple truth of God and His eternal purpose. Jesus gives us the Spirit of God so that we can understand, believe, receive His truths, and walk the path He has for us to walk.

Beloved, we too often try to make this plain and simple truth harder than it is, seeking to find some magical ingredient that will make life here easy. The fact is that life here is hard because there are two kingdoms vying for our affections, and we have four sources of wisdom seeking to influence our decisions. The plain and simple is this: “Choose today whom you will serve”. Which spirit will you possess and follow? Which voice guides you? “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

“…this we also pray for, that you be made complete. …rejoice, BE made complete, BE comforted, BE like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will BE with you” ~ 2 Corinthians 13:9-11.

~*~

I thought I was finished with this series, but the “Wow” moment is coursing through me with greater depth of understanding that we will cover in the next post of Ponderings. Thank you for your faithfulness as patrons of this blog spot.

Things Leading to Perfect Peace and More!

Other produce of the “These things” spoken by Christ:

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. …” ~ John 16:33, AMP.

In this series, we looked at the “these things” referenced by Christ, teachings given to us so that we may have perfect peace and confidence. In looking at the teachings of Christ in this message found in John 14-16, we found these ingredients to a life of perfect peace and confidence:

  1. True and abiding belief in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit: knowing who this Triune God is and the truth of His existence and work brings assurance that this world’s challenges to Life in Christ cannot destroy.
  2. Kingdom reality: knowing that we are here with a purpose as God’s representatives in the earth, being in the world but not of it, working to be His light that draws many to His Kingdom, fills us with purpose that is undaunted by life’s struggle.
  3. Fruitful living: As Kingdom representatives, we are to produce fruit in keeping with a true and abiding relationship with God and His Kingdom purpose that bears the image and glory of God in the earth, thus fulfilling our purpose and strengthening our resolve.
  4. Love: as Kingdom people of God, we are image bearers, His producing within us the character and nature that shows us to be His children. As such we are not only to know His love for us, but knowing that He loves because He is love and He cannot deny Himself, we are to love in kind, having love as an attribute from the core of our existence. Love is who we are. Therefore, love done well to His glory produces fruit that strengthens peace and confidence.
  5. Called Friend: As people of Kingdom purpose who bear the image of God, our relationship with Him grows ever stronger as we become more than slaves forced to obey. As friends of God in Christ, we choose relationship with Him, obeying out of faith in Him despite the challenges living in the world brings our way. That abiding relationship with God brings us from slave status, to Friend of God in Christ, a bondslave by choice of love’s friendship and desire to be in His service and under His protective care by choice.

All these things, alive and growing in us, bring us to hearts of perfect peace and confidence in God through Christ, empowered by the Spirit-bond we possess and live out into the world. In studying this out, I found other things that “these things” taught by God-Christ produce. Before we close out this series, let us look at the produce found in “these things”.

Bible001“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me” ~ John 16:1-3.

Jesus knows what it is to be outcast because of faith, belief, and its practice. Living in the world brings challenge that can lead to conflict. Being Kingdom people in a world of opposition against God and godly principles is difficult. Jesus instructs us that true understanding of the things spoken by God and becoming as He is so we are at our best as His representatives protects us from stumbling in a world of obstacles.

“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. …It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” ~ John 15:3; John 6:63.

Remembering these things spoken by Christ helps us to trust His cleansing power and to live the life He gives us in the power of the Spirit. When caught off guard in the world and found stumbling over some obstacle, our peace and confidence remains strong as we remember the things we know of God, the things that make us who we are as His Kingdom people. We are already clean because we trust Him and all He says of Himself and of us. All we need when stumbling comes is to let Him wash our injured and muddied feet by trusting His word to us.

“But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. …These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father” ~ John 16:4, 25.

Jesus purposed two things in all the things He taught us: to warn us of the things of this world and the flesh that lead to eventual destruction; and to tell us plainly of the Father so we have what we need to overcome evil and be His image bearers.

“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” ~ John 14:25-26.

I lean heavily on this one in these days of my life, when memory of things spoken to me through God’s word is challenged by my weak ability to recall. Jesus speaks wisdom and instruction in abiding moments with Him and the Holy Spirit brings all to my remembrance when life’s stressors and health issues challenge my mind’s ability to retain His instruction. I trust God to help me recall His instruction, and He faithfully does so through this work of His Spirit in me. We will cover this one in greater detail in our last post for this series. For now, I want to end this post with the following final, awesome promise produced in us through “these things” taught by Christ.

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. …Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full” ~ John 15:11; 16:24.

Following “these things” taught us by Christ produces true and abiding joy in us. We too easily fall to looking for joy in our situations and circumstances, only to find disappointment. We expect joy to come through those we love, too often being let down in our expectations, thus being robbed of a false joy that is fleeting. However, when we get our joy from faithfulness to trust, believe in, rely on with confidence and practice “these things” taught by Christ, our joy remains with us because of Him fulfilling the promise found in “these things” that produce joy, peace and confidence.

Life circumstances and flawed people cannot rob of joy that abides in us through our thriving relationship with God as Kingdom people who are set to represent Him to those we love and accomplish His purpose in our circumstances. When our joy comes from our relationship with Him and our understanding of and commitment to Him as His ambassadors in this life, we will ask according to His heart desire and He will faithfully meet our desires with “Yes” and “Amen”, thus bringing us to fullness of joy found in unity with Him.

God speaks with purpose in mind, and that purpose produces good things in and through us as we remember His teachings and become as He is, representative of Him and His Kingdom in our here and now lives. Remember these things of God, beloved, and go forth to prosper as Royal Ambassadors of His Kingdom purpose.

Praise the Lord! For June 10, 2015

A Life Of Abundance

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

What do you think of when you consider a life of abundance? I know of few people who think of poverty, depravity, struggle and hardship when they consider the abundant life. I think we all fall into the pit of thinking that things being less than perfect is a sign that we do not have this promise fulfilled in our reality.

The other day, while rolling around in my head those storm tossed situations that seem unending, God spoke to my heart, “Abundance is unhindered by circumstance. And circumstance is opportunity for abundance.”

Immediately I understood that God’s abundance promised to us is not that we will be rich in earthly wealth. It is not that trouble will never touch us. Always in this life, we will have opportunity to find things rolling around in our troubled minds.

Despite our circumstances right now, beloved ~ poverty, trouble, discord, want, need, desires unfulfilled, loneliness, uncertain futures, etc. ~ despite these things we can have the abundance of life in God. Those near to Him in faith and hope do have that abundance despite troubled lives. We find God’s abundance in the assurance of His love and care for us, knowing He will help us through each storm and meet our need with eternal purpose, realizing we are never truly alone and we can trust Him despite our earthly situations. Beloved, we find that abundance in faith that fully trusts God.

Greater still is the understanding that our abundance is God. He is our shield and our very great reward. The footnote for Genesis 15:1 says that “your reward shall be very great” is more truly translated “I AM your very great reward.” When we have God ~ a vitally growing, trusting, loving, functional relationship with God, we have our abundance. He will never fail nor forsake those whose heart is set firm to trust in Him.

So praise the Lord in times of struggle, looking surely to Him who is faithful. Remember that He is faithful and He will provide the need of those who seek Him with whole heart. Find your security, assurance, and satisfaction in Him. When we fail to realize that He is our abundance, a challenge in life that runs for a long time will bring us to a defeated spirit that does not work the will of God in the situation. In realizing that every challenge in life is opportunity to trust God’s abundance, that abundance becomes our The_Comforter2help to weather every storm. So, beloved, only believe in God’s faithful love that never leaves nor forsakes us and have a blessed day.

“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.

Things Leading to Perfect Peace ~ Part 5

Called Friend ~ Deepening Relationship

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another” ~ John 15:12-17.

Hear these words of Jesus, beloved. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

What did the disciples have that made them friends instead of slaves? They possessed a vitally growing relationship with Christ. This reality of growing in relationship with God that makes us friends He shares His life with is ours to have and possess in Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit working in and through us. That reality begins with understanding this love that God has for us, a love that lays down His life on our behalf. That love is the perfect love that casts out all fear.

Think about your most trusted friend. What is it about your relationship with that friend that helps you know that wherever you go, whatever you do, that relationship will always be there? For me that ingredient that makes for true and lasting friendship is trust in the love they have for me and me for them.

walking-with-godI have three friends who moved off many years ago. These friends stay in touch through our marvelous technologies that span space and time to bring us closer together. I can be who I am with these friends and know they love me as I am, even when I am not my best self. We may not see each other often, but when we do, it is as if we never parted company. We may not always like what the other does, but we love each other anyway. And we know that when we struggle, there is always the other to reach out a loving hand to help us to come up higher in life as God’s chosen friend.

That is another thing I look for in a human friendship. I look for a growing relationship with God. I want people around me who know Him and are able to encourage my walk with Him. One reason for that is not only that these friends have a growing relationship with God that makes them ably equipped to counsel me from His perspective, but they possess His abiding presence, being available instruments to Him, allowing Him to reach out and touch me through their lives: and me to them. Just now I received a text from one of them that I do not hear from often, but she knows when she is in need, I am here for her, just as she is for me.

Beloved, that is what God wants with us. This desire for a relationship that is vitally growing and available, able to encourage and help to rise up to greater heights is not foreign to God. It is His image at work in us. God is love. Love’s most vital need is someone to give itself to and for; and its greatest desire is to find that love returned in kind.

When we have this growing reality at work in us, knowing God and being known by Him, mutually loving and giving self to bring the other higher, Him lifting us to higher ground as we lift Him to greater glory, shining ever brighter, we have friendship with God and a love that casts out fear.

Fear cannot reside where true love’s trust abides. God loves you. You can trust that even when you are in a pit of despair because of poor decisions that caused you to fall away for a time. He reaches out in love, desiring to grab your right hand and help you to higher ground. When we move away from Him, He is still there, waiting to hear from us andJesus 01 - water walk reach out His hand of love, help and companionship.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing means NOTHING! Not even the bad decisions we make in falling away from Him can remove His love from us. His sacrifice of love remains even in our darkest days. Though He hates where we are and what was done to put us in such a state of affairs, He still loves us and longs for our presence. So reach up and trust His love to grab you and help you be your best self to the glory of Him who loves you more than life itself.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another” ~ John 15:12-17.

Oh, beloved. What great peace it is that comes to the heart of the one who truly understands, receives, believes, trusts and grows strong in this friendship found in a deep and abiding love relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son in the power of the Spirit abiding within us. And we know this love abides in us as we come to desire His will over our own, laying down our lives by picking up His desire for us and making that our possession for a life of abundance with Him.

Praise the Lord! For June 9, 2015

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights ~ Habakkuk 3:19, NLT.

The NLT drew me here, but the Amplified truly encourages me as it adds deeper understanding to this already encouraging truth.

“The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds’ feet and will make me to walk, not to stand still in terror, but to walk and make spiritual progress upon my high places of trouble, suffering, or responsibility!” ~ Habakkuk 3:19, AMP.

There are many times in my day when I have to seek the Lord for strength of body, mind and character in order to press forward in dealing with some trouble or responsibility that is hard for me in that moment. God is always faithful to move on my behalf so that I can move on His behalf to accomplish His purpose. Even something as small as showing affection to someone I love dearly in times when I feel awful can be overwhelming. One cry to my Lord for His supply, and the difficult becomes a victory won to His glory, praise and honor.

As I read the word “suffering” in this passage, I think of times I called out for God’s protection, trusting Psalm 91 to be true. He gives His angels charge concerning us. I recall one such time when a dog coming at me with malicious intent had me calling God to charge His angels. That dog literally skidded to a stop and looked with stunned expression up higher than my head and back down to the ground beside me. He was not looking at me, but looked obviously as if there was something between us. Then he turned, eyes still turned back at that angel, and left with tail tucked while giving one more quivering bark.

So praise the Lord with faith to trust Him today, being assured that He is with us and for us, equipping us to stand and to walk forward to progress. Praise God that He gives His angels charge concerning us. Remember that God is for us and not against us; He never leaves nor forsakes us; and He is faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Yes, Praise the Lord, trust in Him, seek Him in every moment of need, and have a blessed day.

Praise the Lord! For June 8, 2015

We have just come through a very busy three weeks, chocked full of challenge, stress, joy and peace. Good things and not so good; easy things and things that took energy; it was all good because:

“Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, You are God” ~ Psalm 90:2, NLT.

From the beginning to the end, God is still God. He is in control of all things. He has purpose and plan to get us safely from point A to point Z, whole, complete, and continually perfected in our work as His image bearers. We can trust our God who is still God no matter the challenge this life brings to us. So praise the Lord in the good and the not so. Remember that God is still God with a purpose and opportunity central in every thing that comes to us in our day. And have a blessed day.

~*~

NOTE: I hope to press forward soon to finish the last two blogs for our series on peace.