The Gift

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭NASB

I have always read this with thought that Paul is talking about the kindling afresh of a specific ministry gift: teaching, prophesy, etc. But today, as I look more closely at the original language, I realize Paul is talking about the gift of receiving the Spirit Himself, with the entire ministry of that God-Presence in me and you as in Timothy.

Thus, Paul is saying, kindle afresh the “gift of God” – the work of the Spirit who gifts us with grace (spiritual power) to do all God calls us to, without fear: that work of God that pours forth in response to our faith to believe in, trust in, and obey God.

Kindling that relationship afresh requires our constant and consistent work of surrender to the work of the Spirit in us. It is seeking God’s revelation for ways we quench the work of God’s Spirit in us and sincere repentance for those practices. Following that is constant effort to not quench Spirit’s influence and function within us, realizing that He is the unifying work of God that makes us one with Father and Son. It is constant feeding of-on relationship with the living, breathing, life giving Spirit, who imparts to us the power, provision, ability, specific gifting, & successful ministry of God in us. Kindle afresh our Spirit union.

Father God, thank You. Please reveal to me habits that quench Your freedom to work Your power in me. Forgive me and kindle afresh Your Spirit ministry and reign in me. In Jesus, amen.

Planned for Destiny

‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:24-28‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God has determined our appointed times and the boundaries of our habitation, putting us in this life at this time in history for a purpose. He has a plan and a destiny for us.

Discovering His planned destiny for self requires us to first walk out His purpose in developing the habit of seeking Him. He desires us to seek Him as if, perhaps, we might actually feel around for Him and find Him, knowing that He is not far from each one of us.

It is in Him that we live and move and exist, and it is by His grace and provision that we discover and fulfill our God ordained destiny. He is waiting for you and for me.

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, SO THAT you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:9-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Appropriated by Faith

“However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” – ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:16-17‬ ‭NASB

“God’s Word is always true whether people believe it or not, but without faith, the Word will not be activated.” (Patricia King)

I don’t like the word “activate” when it comes to God’s Word. The word “activate” gives faith a power it doesn’t have. God’s Word was activated the instant it left Him, and IT WILL accomplish its purpose because of Him. It is working all around us and even in us, whether or not we believe it.

But faith does APPROPRIATE God’s Word in our lives: possessing faith to believe, we open up to the effectiveness of God’s Word in us. And it doesn’t take much faith to invite God to have His way in our lives. Jesus said it only takes a mustard seed of faith. The smallest seed of faith that is capable of growth opens our lives to God.

We don’t power God’s work. He powers ours as even the possession of faith is given by Him (Romans 12:3). He portions out faith to us as He intends, granting us power to believe. It is our responsibility to receive and use it for His glory as good stewards in walking His Word out in life by faith that believes God.

As we accept the faith God’s Word raises up in us and stop fighting against it, God’s Word enlivens us, His Spirit gets a foothold, and our lives begin to align with Him.

“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” – ‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:5-6‬ ‭NASB

“What are you trusting God for today?”

A friend, sensing God’s lead to do so, asked our group this question this morning: “What are you trusting God for today?”

God and I were talking about this very thing between 4:20 and 6:20 AM. After watching a video a friend sent, concern for my own living and breathing health came on me.

When I woke up at 4:20, a tune was tumbling through my brain that I didn’t recognize at that moment. Finally, after laying there awhile, just listening to the incessant tune, not really thinking about anything, I asked God what on earth was keeping me awake, and why this tune is flowing through me over and over. “What are You wanting me to realize?”

He helped me discern that I was worrying about my life because of the decision to take that vaccine I did not have peace about. I had peace in the decision to take it, once I truly asked God’s opinion-direction and knew I had it. I trust my God and His will for me, but I still don’t trust the vaccine, or more truly, the people leading us to it.

The video pointed out concerns about the vaccine, which I’ve heard before, but this one made a more clear case outlining the causes for concern. It made me distrust the vaccine and those making and pushing it still more, and that made me ask God to confirm the works of my hands in my truly hearing from and following Him in my decision.

Then I recognized the tune: that Big Daddy Weave version of Trust and Obey.

My God is trustworthy, despite the plots, plans, and fouled attempts of fleshly beings. What man intends for evil, God means for good. He will amaze us as we see how He uses our obedience to follow and trust Him.

So, I rest in His capable hands knowing that it is God who gives life, breath, and all things. He is the One who determines our appointed times (seasons, opportunities, epochs) and the boundaries of our habitation. We are not where we are by mistake. God has a purpose and plan, and He calls us to trust and obey Him who faithfully directs our steps and determines our paths. (Acts 17:24-28)

How about you? What are you trusting God for today?

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:5‬ ‭NASB

To Each Generation

“Let the peace of Christ, to which you were indeed called in one body, rule in your hearts; and be thankful.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭NASB

My dad often told stories of the WWII coupons and sacrifices made for the war effort. I wonder if they felt like I sometimes do in these days of empty shelves and troubled happenings.

Reading other seasons of difficulty in history, I realize that to each generation seems to come a season of wondering if this is the end of life as we know it, or if this is the day the clouds will finally part and the long awaited Christ appear. The thing is that we don’t know – and we won’t know until this, too, is history. All we know is what is right now.

We can’t sit and worry about tomorrow or let fear rule. We have to look at what we can do in each day to be ready to face whatever tomorrow brings. Being grateful for what we do have; gratitude for skills we have, or can obtain and share that mean the difference to our ability to survive: this attitude of gratitude is vital for our sanity and hope.

Without hope, we perish. So look at what is in our now with a survival attitude that includes a focus on gratitude. Prepare for what may be, and cling to hope that when our now is history, we will have faced it with courage, wisdom, and strength to light the way for the days of challenge in the lives of those who read the history we are making.

Fearless Ministers of Reconciliation

Yesterday’s post titled “Without Regret” ended with James 5:19-20:

“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

As I reread that verse, my heart gasped with realization. What better way to stop people from understanding their absolute need of God than to make talk of sin irrelevant. Making sure everybody feels good about themselves to the point of their being unable to recognize or acknowledge their own sin, much less to know their need of God’s saving grace, is an enemy tactic: a lie to make people feel they are good enough, having no need of mercy.

In a world where it’s difficult to broach the subject of sin and the need of a Savior, how much more difficult is it in environs where sin is no longer acknowledged, and talk of the sin nature is considered a negative mindset and an insult to one’s character.

With that came thought of this scripture:
“When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.” Ezekiel‬ ‭33:8-9‬ ‭NASB

Old Testament, yes, but it still makes me cringe for the number of times I let fear stop me from speaking to someone regarding their need of the Savior. How many will God hold me responsible for in my failure to speak of sin and the saving grace available to us. Now, I don’t believe we lose our salvation, but we do put a rift in our relationship with God through disobedience, and we do lose rewards that would be credited to our treasure in Heaven.

In Christ, we are charged with the ministry of reconciliation. God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ, and through Him, escape the wrath of God’s death penalty to obtain eternal life in Christ. We cannot make that clear to people without there being an understanding of sin, what it is, and how it separates us from God.

“… Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. ….” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:1-6, 8-21‬ ‭NASB

Reconciliation requires us to receive forgiveness for sin, which requires admitting we are sinners in need of the covering of mercy’s grace found in Christ. The enemy of God blinds the eyes of people who refuse to address sin.

We are called of God through Christ to be His instrument for reconciliation, which requires us to address the sin nature and define sin for the sinner in need of the Savior. When we as Christians refuse to address sin issues, we prove ourselves to be sinners, condoning sin with our silence, and making self a stumbling block to those who follow our example, and to those who remain blinded to the reality of the sin nature.

We are called to make God known by lightning up the evil hidden in dark places and by being salt that permeates all we touch with all that God is: His righteousness alive in us; His love pouring through us; His merciful grace freeing us from old ways to the new He bears out in us; His truth separating fact from fiction.

Therefore, Beloved in Christ,
“Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:34‬ ‭NASB

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:6-13‬ ‭NASB

Without Regret

“Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Jesus, Matthew‬ ‭18:15‬ ‭NASB

It appears to me in these days, that it is not considered kosher to speak of things God considers to be sin. It’s considered negative and unpopular to speak of sin or the sin nature. It makes people feel bad about themselves, which is unacceptable in a feel-good society. It’s not easy to address sin issues with people today, just as it was difficult for Paul, who shares this fact with the Corinthians; but his experience shows that it is profitable when received properly, as God desires.

“For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭7:8-10‬ ‭NASB

Addressing sin issues in this world is seen as insulting, it makes people uncomfortable – as it should, and instead of recognizing the person pointing out the issue as speaking God’s judgment in agreement with His Word, the insulted one sees the speaker as being judgmental. We allow feelings of insult to keep us from asking God if what the speaker is talking about is true of us. We fail to recognize our sin nature, and seek God to lead us to repentance that turns from sin to align with Him and become as He is, bearing His image into this world. But to God, sin is a dead serious issue, and we are called to help one another recognize the pit we are in and, if possible, give a hand up from that pit.

The preacher, standing in for our pastor today, spoke of his memory of preaching to his stuffed animals as a young child. The desire and call to preach has always been in him. I have a similar memories. The first thing I remember after accepting Jesus as Savior, at about 10 years of age, is sharing Jesus and the need of repentance with a friend on the next day. Another vivid memory is of being the Bible teacher for our kid’s club, sharing scripture and teaching on things God calls “sin” or “righteousness”. It is in me, and I must faithfully speak warning to the heart that walks contrary to God.

Scripture does not focus on just righteousness, it contrasts righteousness with sin. Contrast produces understanding. I.e., we can’t fully know love without a comprehension of hate.

I know how hard it is to hear and receive such warnings. Sin is in all of us, and I’ve had to ask God if a sin warned against was truly in me. He has used faithful friends to pull me out of pits. Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what I think of you or you, me. We can believe we see an issue with sin as defined and judged by God, in self or another, and be wrong. We can think the person seeing the issue in us is wrong when they are truly seeing clearly. We don’t know the heart like God does. We don’t even truly know our own hearts, either beating ourselves up with harsh self-evaluation or by refusing to receive truth. Thus it is vital that, when a preacher seems to be talking straight to us or a friend takes time to warn us, that we ask God’s opinion and seek His truth with a heart that is ready to hear, receive, and repent.

Don’t fear or ignore the voice God uses to call you out on a sin habit in this life, Beloved. Let it lead you to needed repentance. Fear, instead, being called out for sin when the end of days stands us before the judgment seat of God, where we will find it too late for repentance. Thank those who love you enough to reach a helping hand out with hope of keeping you from that fiery pit. And give God glory for His saving grace reaching out to us through Jesus, even while we are still sinners at heart.

“My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you strays from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that the one who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James‬ ‭5:19-20‬ ‭NASB

Stand Firm

Jesus was not afraid to offend those leading others away from truth and righteousness. He, who is example to all who hear, stood firm on righteousness; He spoke truth out of love that desired to protect His own, and out of desire to win some snared by deception. He spoke with the authority that comes from assurance of His facts, and He did not apologize for the offense the hearer took from His words.

As we make sure we are standing on what is true and right and good, we, too, can love those around us enough to chance offending them for the protection of all, with hope of freeing some.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:1-14‬ ‭NASB

When Jesus says “You”

“But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; YOU give them something to eat!”” (Matthew‬ ‭14:16‬ ‭NASB)

This instruction from Jesus to the disciples grabbed me today as the word “you” jumped off the page at me. I don’t believe God would have told His disciples to do something without a plan for their success. Yes. It’s a faith lesson for them – and for us. Do we trust God and have the faith of a mustard seed, capable of growth; and do we believe that God will respond to our faith, however small, so as to move the mountains that challenge us?

Have you ever had a time when someone showed up unexpectedly, just as you were finishing cooking dinner and were ready to sit down to it? Did God instruct your heart to feed the unexpected guests, though you knew there was insufficient supply? I have, several times. And God has not failed to amaze me as that food somehow was more than sufficient, even leaving leftovers.

If you have faith in God and the wisdom of the ants to receive His instruction and follow His lead in storing up for the coming “winter” (the season of life when supply will not meet the need for life without a storehouse), do so with faith. Trust Him to direct you in your saving for the time of need. And trust Him for His supply for those He might tell you to feed.

I’ve seen several express concern for those who don’t have the wisdom of ants for preparing for challenges we see coming. If you believe in God and know He has called you to prepare, let Him lead you to the amount you are to store up. Then trust Him. If He tells your heart, “YOU feed them,” “YOU clothe them,” “YOU tend to their need,” know He will be faithful to make provision for your obedience.

And if He does not impress on you to help someone yanking at your heart strings, believe that God, who knows what is best, has His purpose in withholding your aid. God may want them to turn to Him for supply. Or there may be another person in their life God wants to use.

The bottom line is, trust God, and follow His lead to the good He would have YOU do. And, as you follow Him, know that He has a plan to make your obedience adequate for His purpose.

‭‭James‬ ‭2:14-26‬ ‭NASB

Prep with Assurance

Luke‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NASB

Some people believe prep practices point to ungodliness; that it is a sign of the love of money. Sometimes this is true. Realizing this, God calls me to check my motives. Am I after wealth and resource in a righteous, healthy way? Am I following Godly wisdom, trusting His lead and supply? Or am I after wealth and resource as an end to itself? Is my reliance on wealth and supply? Or is my reliance on God and His wise directives?

Chasing after wealth and supply as our hope for survival is a trap, a snare that enslaves. It will keep us running after it constantly, with ever growing fervency, while never quite being enough, effectively pulling us further away from the One True God who is our hope and help. That is the way of false gods.

But when we chase after God and His wise counsel, not only does He lead us to readiness for what is coming, but He frees us to realize that even if our storehouses fail, His will cover us. He who is with us and for us will be there to guide and direct us to His pastures of provision. He will supply strength, power, protection, and amaze us as He meets our need.

Don’t take my word for it. Look at Noah, who built a big boat and loaded it with supplies as God directed, providing for himself and all for whose care he was charged. And he did it even though his mind could not fully comprehend the coming storm or the full need.

And what about the Israelites? They left their captivity with all God charged them to collect. As their supply waned, God’s undeniable provision kicked in. For forty years in that wilderness, they did not fall to malnourishment; thirst did not kill them; and their shoes and clothing never wore out.

So don’t worry about tomorrow. If He is pointing you to the storm that’s raging and beaconing you to prepare for it, ask God’s direction for your path to readiness. Ask how much to store for the need. If you run out of space and He is still pressing your collection, ask wisdom and provision for its storage. He will make you ready for yourself and those charged to your care, even though you may not fully comprehend the scope of it all.

Enter His rest as you obey, knowing that He in whom You trust will not leave you alone in your need. He will help you just as He did those before us. And when scoffers scoff at you, smile as you remember, “… wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (Matthew‬ ‭11:19‬ ‭NASB)

“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (Hebrews‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭AMPC‬‬)