Directed by Bit and Bridle

“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.” (James 3:2-3 NASB)

We looked last post at the coal of fire used to cleanse the whole of Isaiah’s person by the cleansing of his lips; at how control of the tongue prevents sin. Then James points out how a horse is controlled by the bit and a bridle. That begs the question of what we can learn from the purpose and function of a bit and bridle.

This piece is the bit.

Looking at it in position on an animal, we see the bit lies over the tongue.

Researching the purpose of the bit, one thing jumps out to speak to me. The main purpose I found for the bit is to allow the rider to communicate with the horse. With training, the bit equips the horse to know the direction the rider wants to go, as well as how fast or slow to travel and when and where to stop. The amount of pressure used increases to get an unruly animal in check, and lessens to reward cooperative obedience.

As noted, the bit lies over the tongue. With regard to our relationship with God, this speaks to me of the importance of keeping the mouth still so the ears can hear and the senses can comprehend. One of the best definitions of this quiet alertness to God is Psalm 46:10.

“Cease striving, be still (quiet), stop fighting, let be and know that I am God” (KJV, NASB, AMPC, early translations of TLB, GNB)

Our listening ears have to focus. Rattling our mouths will hinder hearing with discernment. So we literally need to quiet our mouths and perk up our ears. As God’s people, we are to listen fully. In ministry to others, we are to listen to the person in front of us, listening both to their issues and listening to discern if God just placed an assignment before us. Any speaking should be to aid comprehension of the person’s true need until understanding comes and wisdom from God rises.

So, we need literally to quiet our mouths and open our ears: first to perceive God and His will, purpose, plan; and then to hear, perceive, understand those around us and their needs.

But there’s another way our “tongues” must be still. We talk without a word. We let our minds wander. Our emotional state toward the person or situation before us can lead to fuming, griping, complaining, fidgeting, feeling put upon, upset over an intrusion, excited for some opportunity, or a sundry of other thoughts, emotions, and desires that hinder ability to hear God or people. To hear we must cease striving against the situation, get our body and emotions still, quiet our thoughts, know God may be in the situation, and let Him be God in His leading and using us.

The reins connect to the bit rings, via a bridle: headgear that connects all together and aids to control the head, and thus, the whole body of the animal. Tugging left or right, pulling back or leaning forward let’s the horse know the direction, speed, and stopping place. Some animals are easily distracted or startled by things on the sidelines, so blinders are used to aid their focus. All of this aids both communication and control of the animal.

But here’s the thing we most need to know about James’ analogy:

“Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.” (Psalms 32:9 NKJV)

When love and trust connect a horse and rider, the horse wants to be with and please the rider. With such a relationship, the rider can ride and communicate without bit and bridle, and the horse obey willingly and immediately. They trust each other and work together well as partners.

This is the relationship God wants with us, Beloved. He wants us to recognize and know when He is directing us and communicating His desires to us. It requires a trust that comes out of a love relationship.

When I first started really seeking God to understand His communication with me on a personal level, I first had to choose and commit myself to trust Him. I chose to first trust that He would distinguish Himself to me and protect me from the trickery of the “stranger”. I had to trust Him to give me comprehensive understanding of His “voice”, His way of speaking to my understanding. Not that I hear an actual voice, but understanding of His will and direction in a situation comes so clearly that I can say with surety, “God says to me, ‘This is the way. Walk ye in it’”

God has purposes for life that is common to all His people. But He also has a purpose and plan for each of us that is ours to discover and walk out faithfully as His servant ambassador to the world.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV)

Wherever we are, God has us there for His purposes. We are to do our work as for Him, living our lives as represents Him. Some have a call to special service as ministers of God’s choosing. To fulfill that purpose we must grow to discern His lead and cooperate with His directives as He leads us to that place.

Then there are those like me, called to write (or speak) His Word of encouragement, making it clear. Without trust in God to put His Word in our hearts and minds and empower our communication, well, we better put our pen down, for a word given without faith that we truly received it from God is sin.

Beloved, how are you doing at following the will of God for us all expressed through the teachings of scripture? Does God have to force His will with His spiritual bit and bridle? He cannot entrust us with His greater calling for our lives, if we can’t obey His directives required of all who say they are His people.

What is your calling and equipping from God? Does your love for and trust in Him empower discernment of His true leading? Do you obey despite any fear of the opinion and rejection of humankind? Stubborn faith to trust Him fully is revealed through obedience productive of the fruit of righteousness. If it is Him directing your path, it will come to the fruition of His will for you.

“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.” (Psalms 37:3-5 NASB)

The Cleansing Coal

One of my favorite songs, recorded by Kutless, is “Take Me In (To The Holy of Holies)”. My enjoyment of it is especially true in these days of God teaching me the greater depths of our role as His Temple. On one particular day, as I sang along with it, revelation dawned on a truth needed.

The lyric is of one seeking Father to, “take the coal, touch my lips, here I am.” Those words usher in thought of two scripture passages, the first being the source of that lyric.

“…Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”” (Isaiah 6:1-7 NASB)

Isaiah has just gazed upon the glory of God, seated on His throne. Instantly, Isaiah not only confesses his sin and the sin of all the nation’s people, but he also expresses deep, abiding surrender to God’s will: “Here I am.” With Isaiah’s recognition of the fire of iniquity fueling that sin, my mind goes to the second passage risen up within me, found in James.

“…if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” (James 3:2 NLT)

We cannot help, when in the sure and pure Presence of God, but to realize how unworthy we are to be there. When God heard Isaiah’s repentant plea, God sent the angel with the burning coal to touch his lips and cleanse Isaiah’s entire being. In doing so, not only was Isaiah cleansed and purified, but He was set apart and anointed to use that mouth in service to God. He spent the remainder of His day’s doing just that as a prophet of the One True God to the people of Israel.

Looking at both passages, we can recognize that our mouths are a major hot spot in our journey to please God. James states it clearly. Ability to control the tongue equips one to control their entire being.

Reading on, James warns, “…the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6 NASB)

Think about it. We too quickly speak, only to find ourselves on roads of endeavor God never intended. We make a rash commitment that forces us on a path to destruction; or we speak thoughtlessly, only to back out and fail to keep our word. Or we respond too quickly to falsehood, insult, injustice, dispute, only to find doors of opportunity and relationship closed; and further access denied.

Then there are hurting people who constantly hurt people. There’s prideful people who overestimate themselves and bite off more than they can chew. And there are insecure people who fearfully fail to trust God and refuse an opportunity He sends that would not only grow faith and security, but allow them to participate in a work of God beyond their comfort zone, bringing them up higher in their walk with God. And, lest we forget, as stated by James, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” (James 3:9-10 NASB)

But God cleanses and God sanctifies, putting a new fire in our tongues, flaming from a bit of His choosing, controlled by the reins His Hands direct. With surrender to His bit and bridle, He leads us to walk the streets of His desire, design, will, and purpose.

With these insights, I have to ask what we can learn from the analogy of the bit and bridle. We will look at these in the next post.

Meager Wages

“For sin’s meager wages is death, but God’s lavish gift is life eternal, found in your union with our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Romans 6:23 TPT)

God, through Jesus Christ, delivers us from sin’s wage of eternal separation from The Father.

Scripture tells us that all will stand before Him on the day of judgment, when sentencing is passed and all will go into their eternal reward, whether Life or death. I believe that all, goat and sheep alike, will fully know, in that instant before His throne, all the glory and love of His essence. All entering Life with Him will know the full joy of their reward. All cast into eternal death will fully comprehend the loss of everything they ever truly desired. The major flame of hell’s fires will be the burning desire to know that Presence one more time, with the sure knowledge that it is lost to them forever.

That said, as I read this passage this morning, my thoughts go to other wages of sin we receive in this life. Many who profess Christ live like whatever they do in this life is ok, seeing themselves covered by fire insurance. That is all Christ is to those with this frame of mind. Walking in relationship with Him to become like Him, bearing the image of the Father, is beyond the scope of their desire. No change that points to relationship with God through Christ is evident in them. These, I believe, are in for a rude awakening on that day.

Then there is the daily bad choices we all tend to fall into, though our focus is on following Christ in all things and our nature is obviously being transformed from glory to glory in the power of His Spirit. My thought today runs to these sins where, knowingly or not, we run headlong into the desire of our flesh, without thought of the consequences.

Consequences are wages. For good done, consequences generally produce a good wage, and that good wage will find us in glory as the gold, silver, and precious stones of our testing.

For evil we choose, consequences produce the wages of sin. These wages produce separation from God as we walk away from Him and His path for us. We may go a long while before realizing that we left His side. Repentance regains our position beside Him and is met by His leading us to get back on course.

Sin’s evil can also produce separation of relationships we value: some forever ruined, others temporarily put on hold. They produce wages such as teenage pregnancy that can throw our desired destiny off course, loss of a job, health issues, broken fellowship, etc. The list is long and unending.

Sin has a wage it gives, but it’s wages steal, they do not prosper. They always take more than they give, though we may not recognize it at the time.

God’s Grace can come in, turning our sorrow into laughter. I.e., the teenage pregnancy that robs of a destiny, but produces a child to love, find joy in, and raise as an arrow in God’s arsenal. God’s Grace toward us can restore what was stolen. But there is always a wage for sin.

Learning to stop and count the cost is a valuable habit to develop. But for our cost counting to produce a wise choice, we must value our relationship with God above all else.

God values relationship with us, thus His mercy and grace moves in to cover when we forget our love for Him and choose the lesser as more valuable. But what a waste to turn from Him as our first love, our first, most vital need and necessity to partake of the wages of sin that give little, truly only robbing of the Life of abundance that God desires for us.

Father, empower us with wisdom to count the cost of sin and choose protected relationship with You. Thank You for grace sufficient and mercy that comes to repentance, and for the covering of Christ that sets free indeed. We pray, also, for those who do not know Jesus to come into vital relationship with Him. In Christ, amen.

“So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Romans 8:1 TPT)

(Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NASB)

A Call to Firm Commitment:

With Insight on the Mark of 666

“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (John 6:66 NKJV – https://www.bible.com/114/jhn.6.66.nkjv)

As I read the following devotional, the address of our focal scripture caught my attention. The question hit my understanding, “Could this define the mark of Satan’s 666?”

I’m not a, what are they called, numerologist, but could the number on this address be a God thing? These chapter and verse numbers weren’t in the original writings. They were added to the scriptures later, when people preparing our text worked to make them available to all. It is to aid study and memorization.

I believe God guided the compilation and functionality of our scriptures. And, because of that question rising up as it did, I find it telling, this 666 address that points to people’s refusal to walk with Jesus.

Take this thought for what it’s worth. May the reading of Pastor Chambers devo firm up our commitment.

Are You Going on with Jesus?

Oswald Chambers

My Utmost for His Highest

Holy Bible App

“It is true that Jesus Christ is with us through our temptations, but are we going on with Him through His temptations? Many of us turn back from going on with Jesus from the very moment we have an experience of what He can do. Watch when God changes your circumstances to see whether you are going on with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We wear His name, but are we going on with Him? “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66).

“The temptations of Jesus continued throughout His earthly life, and they will continue throughout the life of the Son of God in us. Are we going on with Jesus in the life we are living right now?

“We have the idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings around us. May it never be! It is God who engineers our circumstances, and whatever they may be we must see that we face them while continually abiding with Him in His temptations. They are His temptations, not temptations to us, but temptations to the life of the Son of God in us. Jesus Christ’s honor is at stake in our bodily lives. Are we remaining faithful to the Son of God in everything that attacks His life in us?

“Are you going on with Jesus? The way goes through Gethsemane, through the city gate, and on “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13). The way is lonely and goes on until there is no longer even a trace of a footprint to follow—but only the voice saying, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19).”

The High Calling of Heroic Servitude

“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.” John 15:13-14 NASB

“Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for Your sake,” and he meant it (John 13:37). He had a magnificent sense of the heroic. For us to be incapable of making this same statement Peter made would be a bad thing—our sense of duty is only fully realized through our sense of heroism. Has the Lord ever asked you, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38). It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

To lay down my life as friend of Christ: my heart thrills at thought of such commitment, faithfully lived. To truly accomplish such a desire, I must lay down my will and way so as to walk in obedience to His will and way. I must trust Him, His leading, His Presence, His provision.

It takes a heroic Spirit to trust the lead of God, pressing past fleshly fear and one’s own desires and ideas of what’s best, to accomplish that which for fleshly, limited minds, is the unthought of, unimaginable, heights of God’s glory.

Who would have thought of the promised Kingdom of God rising up from the death of its King? And who, looking for that Kingdom to line up with their limited brains understanding, would lay down their life to walk that King to His death, feeling they might die with Him and the Kingdom be lost. Only those possessing a heroic Spirit.

Though we are on the side of more complete revelation and able to see more clearly than the disciples who saw the face of Christ, I wonder how many of us are dictated by fear rather than faith to lay self down as friend to the King and, trusting Him fully, to follow His lead dutifully, even to end of days. Following Jesus today still requires a heroic Spirit, and God has made provision for that need.

A hero is not someone who doesn’t know fear. A hero is one who does the needed right despite fear. He (or she) stands in the strength of God’s supply, laying fear at His feet, and does the needed righteousness out of faith’s commitment and trust. The better we get at heroically refusing to let our fears quench God’s Spirit in us, the more we will experience the fulfillment of His high calling in life.

Father, grant us to trust You enough to obey Your lead even when Your will and way makes no sense to our finite brains. Grant us courage to embrace Your directives, and, in the power of Your Spirit, to walk boldly into the glory of Your high calling. In service to The King, Amen.

Faith Made Whole

“… Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. …” (James 2:17-26 NLT)

Faith is made complete when it leads to agreement with the Father, producing actions of obedience that accomplish His works and glorify His Name. We know that “in the mount of the Lord it will be provided” because Abraham’s faith produced obedience out of trust in God’s faithfulness and provision that revealed The Lord our provider (Genesis 22). Faith works with God out of a trust that takes the opportunity to reveal God’s faithful character. Thus faith is made whole through actions that flow from trust that God will take His opportunity through our faith to show off His glory.

Father, increase our understanding that faith is a muscle. Faith not flexed disintegrates. Faith is made strong, mature, complete, whole, as trust moves it into action. Let our faith move us to where it sees You working. May every spark of faith press us forward to join You in making You known as You reveal to all Your faithfulness that will not deny Yourself. Open our eyes to see opportunities You give us to flex our faith muscle. May we be complete in Christ, who saw where You were working and joined You there to produce Your glory in the earth. In Jesus, amen.

Know Your Enemy

“Abram replied to the king of Sodom, “I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’” (Genesis 14:22-23 NLT)

Wow. The commitment Abram had toward God, putting His faith and trust in Him, desiring to protect God’s image at all cost. Is my heart there?

This leads my heart to another scripture I read with note today:

“… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. …” (Matthew 6:19-24 NASB)

The desire of Abram for God and His glory was strong. Because of that desire for God and His work in his life, Abram’s eyes were set on having that desire met. He did not look away from God and the assurance He gave to him for the good coming from God’s hand. He knew any treasure of man could not compare to what God had in store, so he chose the treasure of heaven over that which his physical experience could grasp.

Abram proved faithful, having spiritual eyes full of the Light of Glory.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” (Genesis 17:1 NLT)

It was this focus on God that won Abraham the reputation of being a righteous man, a man of faith, one God called “friend”. Note what this verse says, because it contains the way, the truth, and the life: “Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.”

It is in faithfulness that we find the path of the blameless. The faithful keep their eyes on God, the Prize. The faithful have their desire set on God and His ways, being excited to see what the Lord will do. The faithful lay their treasure in Heaven. The faithful have eyes filled with God’s Light. The faithful trust God and follow His directives. The faithful protect God’s image at all cost. The faithful know their true enemy is their own fleshly , darkened eyes, set against God, His will, and His way.

“I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’”

How many of us have our senses so trained on God and godliness, that we can recognize temptations to rob God’s glory? Anything that is set to steal us away from the path of God’s desire for us, is set to rob and pilfer the glory of our God. That flesh eye, filled with darkness, is what opened Eve to temptation, leading to the fall of humankind. We don’t want to be on the wrong side of that line between Light and dark.

Father, this heart of Abram is also the heart of our Christ and King. Grant us eyes full of Light found in hearts set on Your glory, that we may stand with You and for You. In Jesus, amen.

God’s Righteous Right Hand

“’Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:10 NASB)

This excites me! Look at what this says.

  • There is no need for us to fear, for God is with us.
  • We don’t have to be anxious when we know that He is our God.
  • He strengthens us and helps us.

And the really exciting one!

  • He upholds us with His righteous right hand.

The thing that makes this so exciting to me is the clear flash of revelation that attached itself to my mind’s eye of understanding as I read it this go round. You have heard the adage, “right hand man”, right? WHO sits at God’s Right hand?

JESUS!

And what did Jesus do for us in the name and authority of the Father?

PROPITIATE!

He paid the full price owed for us in our sin. He became for us, our…

KINSMAN REDEEMER!

Because of Jesus, NOTHING can take us out of our Father’s Hand. We are safe, secure, rescued and restored. And God has…

“raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

We are the body of Christ, held up, stabilized, and made strong in The Father’s Righteous, Right Hand.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)

“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4 NASB)

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25 NASB)

Desires Fulfilled

Read this blessing of God to Abram, then consider the boast of Babel.

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”” (Genesis 12:1-3 NLT)

“Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”” (Genesis 11:4 NLT)

Do you see the similarities? The people of Babel wanted to settle down into a place of their own. They wanted to be a great nation of great renown. Then here comes Abram, following hard after God, and what does God promise to him? A territory of his own in which to settle down and grow into a great nation, with a name of great renown.

It begs the question: did God just pick something out of the blue to gift to Abram, or was this the deep desire of Abram’s heart? It was an obvious desire for the people of Babel. Was their desire wrong? What’s the difference between them and Abram? What do the answers to these questions say to us concerning our desires?

I believe God plant’s the seeds of His desire in all off us. The problem is what our minds and hearts do with those seeds. For example, God “wishes none to perish, but all to come to repentance.” The seed of desire for eternity is in most all of us. A desire for God resides there. Problem is in what feeds, nourishes, and waters that desire. Are we delving into Truth and searching for the Real with understanding that their is a Mind, a Power, greater than self to find and humbly tap into? Or do we see self or some other pathway as the solution?

God wanted the earth populated. He wanted all to find their place in the scheme of God’s plan. So He planted desires toward that end into the heart of humankind. I believe Babel was the result of God given desires being twisted by self-centered minds, aided by enemy potencies. They were working out of the wisdom of the flesh, the world, and the demonic. And fleshly weariness in the journey may well have been a factor. Seeing the area and liking what they saw, failing to seek God’s opinion and provision, they were willing to stop there rather than find the greater plan of God.

In Abram, on the other hand, we see the following:

“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.” (Psalms 37:3-6 NASB)

I believe this call on Abram’s life and the desires in him began with his father, Terah. The journey to Canaan began in the heart and at the leading of Terah, indications being that he was, at the first, following God.

However, along the way, Terah’s son, Haran, died. When they reached the city named Haran, Terah settled there. One, well known Bible teacher, (I’m thinking it was Beth Moore, but don’t quote me on that because my brain is unsure), but that Bible teacher made the observation that Terah got stuck in Haran out of his grief over the passing of his son, Haran, and he could not make himself go on, so God passed the baton to Abram. I believe that is true.

The difference between the people of Babel and Abram is their seeking after God. Abram fed off of his desire to follow God over all other desires. His willingness to please God earned him the reward of a promise for his heart’s desire to be realized. All that the people of Babel wanted, Abram wanted to, and his heart toward God as first place made the difference.

God places desires in our hearts: desires for good, for future, and for hope. Seeking Him, chasing hard after Him, trusting His lead is key to seeing our desires fulfilled.

A blogger, using Proverbs 16:3, advises that once we commit to follow God, then, and only then, does God order our thoughts to direct our path to His desires being fulfilled in us (David Fischer). What’s the desires of Your heart, Beloved? A friend of mine often said it this way, “I know the desire. I’m seeking God to know what the journey to it’s fulfillment looks like” (Missionary Steve Cook). God will establish our thoughts to understand the ways and means as we first commit ourselves to Him and seek Him for it.

“Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3 NKJV)

God’s Watchful Care

Which is God? Scattered and Divided? Or Together and United? Both or Neither?

“At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.” But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.” In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.” (Genesis 11:1-9 NLT)

It appears in this passage that God is being mean, working against the people to scatter them, bringing division to them. He actually is looking out for their best interests.

First, they express desire to stay in this place, stopping the movement that was scattering them across the earth. This plan was in opposition to God’s command, given both to Adam, and again to Noah.

“…“Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. ….”” (Genesis 1:27-28 NLT)

“Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1 NLT)

In scattering the people, God was both protecting His plan for populating the earth, and He was protecting the people from sinning against Him. It’s like when we have a small child that keeps reaching for something they don’t need, something we know will hurt them. Giving them a new focus or breaking their focus away from a harmful pursuit so they choose a better and safer way is a wise solution in training them.

Another problem these faced should they have succeeded in their plan is the loss of understanding their need of God. Note The Lord’s assessment, “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!”

Working together, not only were they successfully sinning against God’s will and way, but they were setting themselves up as their own gods, adequately equipped for ever growing sin. The problem being, they could never out grow God as a god. They could, however, push Him to have to delve out a harsher response to their rebellion. And they were succeeding at leading each other astray from Him. So He took action to protect His children from straying further. Note here that this is the sin of Satan, who desired to be God and swept a third of the heavenly hosts away with him in his rebellion.

There’s something else to see in God’s assessment, “”Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!””

God’s enemy, Satan, works hard to stop God from being accepted for Who He is: The Lord, The All Mighty, The All Sufficient and only ONE. Satan knows his end, and he desires to take as many of us with him as he can persuade. This enemy knows that if he can unify a group against God, or against His will, he can get far in leading them away from Him and from their destiny with Him. This work of Satan is what we see on our TVs when a protest march turns into a riot with bodily harm and looting.

Satan also knows something else. He knows that a scattered people is a dysfunctional people. This is what we see in the divisiveness of The Church and in the splitting of individual fellowships. He stops up the effectiveness of The Church by scattering us so we cannot come to one heart and mind for greatness in the work of God.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

Following God’s will is our good. Cooperating with His plans is our purpose. The path to the future He has for us is our hope. Together as His people, united as one with Him, nothing shall be impossible for us.

“The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!”

God spoke a truth over the people of Babel that with Him as our desire and guide is a good thing. Only in going in opposition to God and His will is our unity a thing for our God to stand against and protect us from. Anything that is in opposition to God is Antichrist, backed and empowered by Satan, who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us, robbing us of our eternity and the fulfillment of our God ordained purpose.

God is not opposed to unity when coupled with allegiance to Him and His ways, which are good and accomplish good. God is opposed to Antichrist. He watches carefully over His plans for us and the eternal destiny He has for His creation. By His power, He unites us to His purpose and separates us from Antichrist.

Finding Favor

I love the story of Noah. He was good at everything I aspire to.

When everyone else catered to thoughts snared by mortal flesh, he held to thoughts of God and His ways. While everyone else catered to the ways of the world and fitting in with friends, Noah loved God and ran hard after Him.

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, being numbered by Him as “a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time”. And “he walked in close fellowship with God.” (Genesis 6:9 NLT)

Noah was so close to God that God not only let him in on His plans to destroy the evil, but entrusted to him the job of saving the good and preserving life. Noah’s relationship with God pictures everything I want my relationship with Him to portray. The last verse of Genesis, chapter 6, gives the clue needed for achieving this life goal:

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22 NLT)

We’re not told whether Noah questioned God. What we are told is that Noah obeyed. He TRUSTED God and followed His every dictate out of that trust. This fellowship with God is possible for you and me, too. God has provided for us to possess this relationship.

“I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I (Jesus) 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…” (John 16:7-8 NASB)

God gives us His Spirit so, through Him, we may fellowship with God. This Spirit empowers us to live lives that cooperate with God in accomplishing His will, His way. Our Spirit filled and led love work with God to convict the world of sin that separates from God, righteousness that unites with God, and the coming judgement that is already set against this world of sin. It is this knowledge imparted to us that led us to choose The Christ and receive the seal of His Spirit. And how does He do that?

Through the Spirits work in us, we learn of God, His will and His ways. And by that Spirit power, we choose obedience. We see it in this same work of the Spirit: granting understanding of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Once we understand our sin nature and God’s provision of righteousness in Christ, receiving that gift to escape the power of the judgment of sins death, the Spirit works in us for change and transformation. As we grow in fellowship with the Father in the power of His Spirit, the Spirit empowers us to look through God’s eyes at every choice that comes. He empowers us to discern the path of sin, evil, death, and the path of righteousness, goodness, Life. He imparts good judgment to us so we may choose the path of obedience to God. Our lives become a testimony to those watching this change in us, making us partners with God in saving some.

Beloved, who is your hero of faith. Like me, you may have many. Look at their lives and realize that God makes a way for us to follow their example. By grace, in the power of God’s Spirit, we, too, find favor with God in following hard after Jesus, empowered by the Helper Spirit of God.

Heart Matters

“…The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. ….” (Genesis 4:1-16 NLThttp://bible.com/116/gen.4.1-16.nlt)

Cain and Abel: we know the story well. Here we see these first born into the world. Bear with me for a little speculation here. Cain was firstborn. The first experience of birth pangs. He is named “Cain” in appreciation of God’s help bearing something Eve never knew before that experience. Thus, Eve describes the meaning of the name, Cain, when she proclaims, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man.”

When Abel came, Eve knew from experience what to expect and was better prepared for his birthing. The name, Abel, means “vapor, breath, in the negative sense of having no substance and being something very close to nothing.” Now, considering the implication of Cain being so named out of gratitude for God’s help in going through such unanticipated difficulty, Eve, being better prepared, saw the birth of Abel as a breeze by comparison.

Now, I’ve seen women who had difficult births teasingly, or not, remind their child often of the great pain “they” caused her. This frequent rant often causes a child to feel unacceptable, breeding a need to please with hope of being accepted. If, this was the reality for Cain, we have the root of rejection he dealt with on a daily basis. Abel, on the other hand, would function from a position of being accepted and loved, which breeds confidence. Such differences in there motivational viewpoints led to a sibling rivalry.

With that understanding, we turn to the scene at hand.

First, note that, though they are no longer in Eden, God, the Father, continues to walk with them in fatherly love and acceptance, seeking to relate with and influence their lives for good. He and Abel appear to have a good relationship. Abel, being confident and assured of loving acceptance, out of that love, brings God a gift of the first and best of his herd.

Then comes Cain. Remember, he functions out of rejection and insecurity. He comes with a gift, probably trying to keep up with his brother and somehow win the approval and acceptance of God. His gift is not from a spirit of love and appreciation, thus his gift is a bunch grabbed in haste, not from the first of the crop, and certainly not the finest. Thus, he gives out of a spirit of followship, not fellowship, and most likely begrudgingly given, feeling he had to buy God’s love, while anticipating that nothing will be enough, so why waste the best.

Note here that Abel gave from the blood sacrifice. Cain gave from sin’s curse. Let’s see if I can explain what I see:

Adam and Eve’s sin led to the curse of death, a separation from the intimacy they had with God before the fall. When God cursed the land to bring difficulty to Adam’s work as a farmer and sent them out of the garden, He first made a blood sacrifice for them and covered their nakedness by the power of His grace. Thus, though they were no longer in the Garden, they still had access to God.

Abel not only literally gave a blood sacrifice to God out of a loving relationship with Him, but he gave from the position of the forgiven. Cain, functioning out of rejection, failed to recognize God’s love and grace toward him. His gifts came from that sense of the cursed. Thus, God did not accept a gift given begrudgingly, from one trying to buy what was already there for him to freely possess. Out of his “feelings” of rejection, Cain rejected the truth about God toward him. Dejected, he walked away to sulk and brood in anger that turned on Abel.

Notice something else here. Dejected and sulking in his pity party, God approached Cain, reaching out to him with truth intended to help him make a wise choice toward a righteous path. Cain again rejected God’s hand of love, failing to recognize that God was dealing with him as a Father toward a beloved son.

“For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.” (Hebrews 12:6 NLT)

Now look at Cain’s state of mind. Dejected means sad and depressed; dispirited. Synonyms are downcast, down hearted or disheartened, despondent, disconsolate, dispirited, crestfallen. Of these, despondent stands out to me as true of Cain: being in low spirits from loss of hope or courage. And disconsolate: (of a place or thing) causing or showing a complete lack of comfort; cheerless. He was so bitter and angry that he had no ability to receive comfort. Though The Father reached out to Cain in love, desiring to lift his countenance and direct him to truth and the righteous path, Cain gave himself to his dejected spirit and killed his brother.

God’s Word warns us that our fleshly hearts are deceptive, and cannot be trusted. He advises us to keep our thoughts focused on the true, the right, the pure, the honorable, the lovely, the admirable, the things that are excellent and worthy of praise. If Cain had trusted and believed God, leaning into Him to develop his own relationship with Him, having right thoughts toward Him, he would have avoided all his trouble.

Where is your heart toward God, Beloved? Do you trust His love for you? Are you trapped by fears of rejection, dejected in your thinking toward God and man? Is that breeding distrust toward God; jealousy, bitterness, and anger toward others? Are you trying to buy the love and acceptance Jesus already bought and holds out as a gift to you? Where is your heart motive in seeking after God?

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)

(Philippians 4:8 NLT)

The Right Helpmeet

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”” (Genesis 2:18 NLT)

I can’t recall what had me pondering this well known verse several weeks back, but it was probably some little annoyance that had me taking a thought captive: you know those proverbial socks. This is usually the verse I ponder in those moments as I thank Father for my precious man. On this occasion, however, a question arose in my pondering heart.

“What original word is used for ‘man’ here? Is it a word meaning ‘the male of the species,’ or is it like most occurrences where the word used means mankind, human, or humankind?”

Last night, as I again found myself pulling this sword of praise out in that proverbial battle, I remembered the question and looked it up.

The Word for man in this verse is the word “adam” (little a), meaning Man (cap M), mankind, human, humankind. It can also be translated “any, anyone”. God is saying that it is not good for any of us humans to be alone. We need each other. We need not only companionship, but a helpmeet – helper for Life.

For one, it is obvious that the propagation of the species requires a male and a female. God’s design is for each male to find the female that best suits him and him her. They are intended to commit themselves solely to one another in holy matrimony, a picture of God’s unbreakable commitment to us, and together, to make a family.

A woman cannot have a baby without a man. Not even today, with artificial insemination, can it be done without some male, somewhere, donating his part in that process. A man not only needs the eggs of a female, but a womb. A “he” cannot make a baby without a “her”. We need each other.

Then there is the need of each other in living life. In my experience with my man, we so perfectly fit each other. He is good at needful things in life that I either can’t do or have no inclination towards. And he frequently tells people that he does not want my job as homemaker and mom, and how much he appreciates all I do. Now, he is very good to help me with things when I need it, or just to be nice and get me on the sofa with him quicker. But he is very thankful for the many things I do that he has no desire for doing. And I have him as my most frequently lifted source of gratitude in my thankfulness for God’s provision. We need each other.

But there’s more to this story.

“So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:21-25 NASB)

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” This clicks into place better with the understanding that we each, husband and wife, are helpmate to the other.

Children look to their parents through their growing up years to help them with their needs. They are used to running to mommy and daddy when they need something. When we marry, that reliance is meant by God to transfer to our mate. We are no longer to depend on our parents, but on each other.

A wife who runs to daddy instead of her husband for every little thing she needs breeds jealousy in her husband, belittles him as a man, and hinders his growth as a husband. A husband who belittles the wife, berating her for failing to be and do like mommy, breeds jealousy in his wife, belittles her as a woman, and hinders her growth as a wife. Such habits breed discord and hinder the unification this passage reveals as God’s will for us.

When we marry, it is intended that we each bring the best of our family forming resources and experiences to make our own family life. Done well, we make a home for ourselves and our children that is very possibly better and stronger, not necessarily in comparison to our childhood homes, but in recognition of our individual tendencies and preferences. We mold our home life to fit “us”.

As we work together, rely on each other, learn each other’s strengths, and incorporate the best of our childhood family rituals and practices, we build our own family and make a home. It most likely will not look exactly the same as our childhood family because of the differences our individuality brings to the table, but as we seek God and become one together with Him as our glue, it will be a home that is perfect for us.

“… FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33 NASB)

Dangerous Assumptions

Read Genesis 3

Reading the account of the fall of mankind, my attention settles on the wording used in the discourse between Eve and the serpent-possessed. The serpent TRULY informs Eve that eating the fruit of the tree banned by God would give her “knowledge of good and evil.” To that, we are told that Eve sees “that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the WISDOM it would give her. …” (Genesis 3:6 NLT)

Note the false assumption. Satan knows how to use truth to lead us to false assumptions.

Knowledge is facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and GOOD JUDGMENT; the quality of being wise; THE SOUNDNESS OF AN ACTION OR DECISION WITH REGARD TO THE APPLICATION of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

We can have knowledge, but have no clue where sound judgement in its application is concerned. That comes with growth and maturity in the practice of righteousness, which is truly found in God.

Little did Eve know that, with time, those daily walks with God in the garden, would have produced in her great knowledge WITH wisdom that flowed from continuous and growing relationship with the Father of all creation, who is righteousness, truth, and wisdom.

Beware of making assumptions, Beloved. Be sure in this New Year to spend time in God’s garden, getting His opinion on the things we think we know.

Residing as Aliens

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” (1 Peter 1:1-2 NASB)

Peter addresses his audience as alien residents. These He addresses are physical aliens, scattered across foreign lands, away from their God-given homelands. But I believe he is also addressing them as Kingdom people, living as aliens in this world.

That being true, this letter is for us as well. We, too, are a peculiar people: being in the world, but not of it. We are strategically place in the earth, according to the foreknowledge of God, positioned for a work planned for each individual of us, prepared by Him before we were borne.

“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 NASB)

We “are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood.”

The sprinkled blood both cleanses from sin and sets apart for special service, set apart and sanctified to God for His purposes: Chosen, for a sanctifying work of the Spirit. The Spirit of God in us is tasked with the work of sanctifying us to God, setting us apart to Him. This sanctification reveals itself as we grow in obedience in two ways: obedience that follows the dictates of Christ, who is The Word of God incarnate. An obedience that not only recognizes the authority of the Father behind the teachings of Jesus, but that recognizes Jesus as the example we are to follow in our acts of obedience. We obey best when we obey in the obedience OF Christ. Obedience done as Jesus would obey, in keeping with the image of God seen in Him, is our weapon of warfare.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NASB)

Learning to think as Christ thinks and take action in agreement with Him, chasing hard after God’s will and way, doing all as glorifies and honors the Father. This is the obedience of a sanctified life, proving the successful work of God’s Spirit in us, making us obvious aliens in this world, clearly defining us as Kingdom dwellers.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 NASB)