Category Archives: Choice

A Good Thing

I awoke yesterday and headed to the kitchen to make coffee. Preparing myself to get ready for church, it was my day at the East door, so I was up earlier than normal for a Sunday. Heading up the hall, I heard it: water running. I thought, “Did I forget to turn the dishwasher on and Johnny get up in the night and, seeing it, start it for me? … No. I remember starting it. Why is it still running?”

Getting closer to the kitchen door, I feel the water on my feet. Turning the light on, I see it: water gushing out from under the sink. What a mess! Running back to the bedroom, I wake Johnny with, “We’ve got a problem!” That was the start of our beautiful Sunday, experiencing God’s provision.

flood002As quick as possible, Johnny gets into the kitchen and shuts off the water (I need to learn how to do that, by the way). As he heads for the shop vac, I am already pulling the carpet shampooer out of the closet, and off we go, 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM, ten hours of sucking up water. I pushed the heavy Hoover, Johnny used the shop vac. By noon, I was hurting and spent. Johnny sent me to the grandkids guest room to rest while he finished up. It was a long day, and I am full of gratitude for God’s obvious and awesome provision. Gratitude for…

  • My sweet husband, who, during our coffee break, said, “Well, at least we won’t have to run the humidifier for a few days.” His attitude was so great during the entire ordeal that it helped mine and, hopefully, mine helped his.
  • God’s provision of equipment, readily available, and the strength to persevere.
  • Peace and rest in the turmoil.

I am forever grateful for an attitude of gratitude and the ability to deal with the spills and gushes of life. Over many years of dealing with such trouble, I find that a right attitude and gratitude is a necessity to us as we go through our days in an uncertain world. Stuff happens, and it is there to test and prove or improve our character.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” ~ Romans 5:1-5.

It is in those moments when unexpected life issues interrupt our plans that we learn who we are. Either we add to the turmoil with a bad attitude and failure to realize God and His provision for handling the problem, or we make it a memorable part of our journey through life that adds strength and resource for future upsets to our days. Hopefully, in so doing, we help others along the way.

Disappointment is God’s appointment. It is opportunity for God’s people to shine with the glory of the Lord that makes us an asset in helping others weather the storms of life. Faith in God expresses itself during times of disappointment to reveal the hope and the help we have in the One who cares for us. Whatever comes your way today, Beloved, may you shine with the glory of God found in a proven character of hope in God that trusts in His loving provision.

~*~

“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!” ~ Psalm 20:1.

“For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock” ~ Psalm 27:5.

“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me” ~ Psalm 50:15.

“Lord, you are my strength and fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble! …” ~ Jeremiah 16:19, NLT.

“The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him” ~ Nahum 1:7.

I have a problem that sometimes loses friends.

I am saddened today as a result of losing a friend because of my problem. Here is my problem: I believe fully and completely every word within these covers…

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The Bible of Christianity is not a “politically correct” book in our day. Essentially, it says this…

“There is Only ONE”:

  • One TRUE God
  • One Savior, the Son of God, Jesus
  • One Spirit who unites believer to Father, Son, and each other for all eternity
  • One truth
  • One Righteousness
  • One pathway to heaven
  • One gate to the…
  • One kingdom of God
  • One Door to the Father of all eternity
  • ONE and only ONE

I believe these things, not because my momma told me to; not because of the circles of people I run with; not even only because it is what I choose to believe. I believe this word…

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…because I have experienced Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a way that compels my belief and strengthens my faith through the experience. It is what gives me courage to speak up and risk rejection, persecution, and alienation.

This word instructs me to understand that the greatest love is to deny fear of losing a friend so-as-to share these things I believe true with those who I do not know have ever heard; and to encourage the faith of those who struggle to believe. From my standpoint, the greatest act of hate is to remain silent about this faith I possess in this truth I believe because, from my understanding of these pages, there is only ONE.

If the Atheist is correct and the truth is, “There is no God, no heaven, and no hell,” we don’t have to worry about it. One day we will die, turn to dust, and be none the wiser that we were following the wrong truth. If the Pantheist is correct and there are many Gods and many ways to heaven, we don’t have to fret. We are each on a path and will meet up in eternity. However, if this word is the ONE…

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…dare I be silent when given opportunity to say, “I believe…because…”?

It is my understanding that every devil behind every false belief has one goal: to keep as many as possible away from the ONE way, truth, and life.

As one who truly and fully believes the God of Holy Bible is ONE and only ONE, showing us the way, the truth, and the life, I cannot stand silent about what I know. I try never to push my beliefs on others, though my excitement and commitment may come across that way. Pushing would do no good, for God says we each must choose. However, I do have to share my beliefs as opportunity comes, for to do less is to participate in someone being separated from ONE for all eternity. If there is no interest in what I share, they made their choice and I move on to love them anyway, being the best friend I can be in the situation. If my sharing my faith insults another, I hate the insult, but I love the person too much to fail to share what I can.

One of Elvis Presley’s brothers spoke at a conference I attended. There he shared complaining to Elvis about his girlfriend continually telling him about Jesus and trying to get him to go to church with her; to which Elvis’ reportedly replied, “Brother, if someone loves you enough to tell you about Jesus, they REALLY love you!”

If my sharing plants a seed of truth that God later uses to help even one person find the path, I win a brother or sister. For me, as one believing the things I believe to be true, remaining silent is the true “hate crime”. In light of this, though I hate losing friends, I make no apologies for the faith I believe and proclaim because I truly love each one I am privileged to meet.

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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.

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.

HE LOVED THEM TO THE END

Opening the word, something caught my attention yesterday in chapter 13 of John that I am drawn to revisit.

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, HE LOVED THEM TO THE END” ~ John 13:1.

Looking closely at that wording, the footnote says “to the end” means “to the full extent.” He loved fully, all the way to the finish line. The Amplified version of scripture seems to interject that fact best.

“Now before the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew with full awareness that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, HE LOVED THEM TO THE LAST AND TO THE HIGHEST DEGREE.”

“So it was that during supper, Satan having already put the thought of betraying Jesus in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that Jesus, knowing fully that the Father had put everything into His hands, and that He had come from God and was now returning to God, Got up from supper, took off His garments, and taking a servant’s towel, He fastened it around His waist” ~ John 13:1-4, AMP.

Pondering this scene with knowledge of what is coming to the life of Christ next, I recognize that this is the eve of the greatest hardship of Jesus’ life. In just a few hours, He will take His disciples to the garden for a time of prayer as He prepares for what is ahead of Him. He knows that the weight of the sin of the world will be on His shoulders and that His Father will turn away. He knows the difficulty ahead, and being fully man with all the sensory receptors and emotions of any other, the stress of it affects Him. In just a few hours, that stress will leave Him crying out to God with beads of bloody sweat flowing from every pore of His body. During that time of prayer, it is said of Christ that, “He began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed” (Matthew 26:37, AMP).

I don’t know about You, but when I know something hard to cope with is coming on me quickly, depression takes hold as the body’s stress chemistry comes into play. Depression too easily hinders my hands and feet, hindering my doing what I need to do while waiting to do what I must. That was not the case for Jesus. Out of love, He sat the good example to the end.

In our focal passage it says, knowing His time was upon Him, that He loved His people to the end, all the way to the finish line, with all the fervor of love possible. Out of His love, He put on the servant’s towel and began washing the feet of the guests. Take a moment to realize, please, that among the guests present, there is Judas Iscariot, the one He knew would betray Him. Jesus loved on His betrayer. (Selah ~ Pause and calmly think on that.)

It was customary when guests entered a home that the lowest servant in the house put on a towel, get a basin of water and wash the feet of the guest. Reportedly, this was the worst job there was to do. Why?

I don’t know if you have ever tended to another’s dirty feet, but it is not a pleasant job to do. In Bible days, people walked most everywhere on dirt paths in sandaled or bare feet. Their feet got nasty. Yes, it was a dirty job; proven in part by the fact that Jesus did not just put on a towel, but he first took off His garments. He knew He would get dirty doing the work of washing feet, so He removed His outer garments to protect them. On this day, no one took it upon himself to tend to the feet of the guests. It was a nasty job and no one wanted to do it, so, as a last act of love, Jesus put on the servant’s towel and did the lowly job of tending to dirty feet.

Pondering this act of Christ, I discern several reasons for His choosing to put that towel on, instead of asking another to do it.

  1. It set an example of selfless service. Asking another to perform that particular service would have embarrassed the one asked, considering it an insult. Jesus, being guest of honor, put the towel on Himself and showed all there that love chooses to do the lowliest, least desirable acts of kindness for those loved. Love is selfless.
  2. Jesus used the opportunity to teach His followers, and us through this account, that the cleansing power of their relationship with Him is complete. Completely cleansed from all sin by Christ, we need only the touch up cleansing when a new soiling of sin occurs. Thus, as they say, it is vital that one stay prayed up with God in their battle against sin. This discourse is one proof for those of us who believe that once we enter into salvation by the blood of Christ through faith to believe Him for it, we do not lose our salvation with every struggle against the nature of sinful flesh. Our spirit is secure for all eternity in Christ. (See John 13:6-10)
  3. It is my belief that Jesus chose to do this job himself because it was opportunity for some one-on-one time with each of His disciples. I do not believe that Peter was the only one Jesus had a conversation with while washingtheir feet. I believe each one responded out of their own fleshly impulse, need, and nature; and Jesus used the opportunity to minister personal lessons all around, encouraging the growth and faith of each one, according to their
    "You gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair." (Lk. 7:44)
    “You gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.” (Lk. 7:44)

    need. This account with Peter is just the one on which we get to listen.

Beloved, a lowly, unpalatable job is not a shame for us in Christ. It is opportunity to make oneself available to God for purposes of His own. It is a chance for some one-on-one ministry time with those around us who can benefit from the perspective we have in Christ. It is love’s greatest act of sacrifice when we do the lowliest job with eternal purpose as exemplified by Christ, our Savior, King, and Lord.

What is it that He said in another example of sacrificial service? Oh, yeah!

“Now go and do the same” ~ Luke 10:37.

Healing Balm for Appetites: Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Last night as I got in the bed, I again prayed healing for my appetites. Immediately Psalm 37 came to heart as a healing balm.

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret…” ~ Psalm 37:3-7.

God told me early in January to occupy this journey to a healthier lifestyle. This healing balm instructs that I am to occupy the land of my dwelling, cultivating faithfulness, having my delight in the Lord who will not only give me my desire, but will direct me to desire good things He can bless.

One word that stands out here as important to my ability to occupy this journey is the word “CULTIVATE”: I am to cultivate faithfulness.

  1. a. To improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops; till.
  1. b. To loosen or dig soil around (growing plants).
  2. To grow or tend (a plant or crop).
  3. To promote the growth of (a biological culture).
  4. To encourage or foster: cultivate a respect for the law. See Synonyms at nurture.
  5. To acquire, develop, or refine, as by education.
  6. To seek the acquaintance or goodwill of; make friends with it.

As I commit to the Lord in my dietary desires, He will do it, bringing forth my righteous judgment as a light. That begins with RESTING in the Lord and waiting PATIENTLY upon Him, giving Him opportunity to have a say in my desires. Accomplishing that rest requires that I refuse fretting: not allowing my thoughts to be stuck on a desire of the flesh. Allowing my mind to stick on a fleshly desire makes for struggle on this journey and too often leads to a fall. Allowing God to be God of my appetites, taking every thought captive in obedience to Him, I walk in freedom from that which would rule my appetite in His stead. Healing comes to my appetite as I cultivate faithfulness in waiting for Him to inspire good desire.

My part is to cultivate faithfulness to God as God of my journey, wanting Him and His desires above all. One thing stands out: “make friends with it”. My healthy lifestyle is not an enemy. It is a friend. A healthy friendship includes respect: respecting my body as God’s temple; respecting God as resident in it – knowing He always works for my good and not for harm, giving me hope for my final outcome; thus, respecting His desire for my nutritional needs and the foods that fill it. In developing that friendship and respect, I prepare my heart for the healthy desires God has for me, nursing and cherishing my desire for Him above all else.

I think of Daniel’s diet. His diet being vegan is not the important thing. The important point in his story is his commitment to faithfulness to God revealed in him eating only what the Lord prescribed. Daniel is one who listened to Jeremiah’s word from the Lord and obeyed. He surrendered to Babylon in obedience to God; and he continued to seek the Lord from the land of his captivity. He chose God first in all things, and God met his needs.

Healing of my appetites will come as I give myself fully to want of God, cultivating faithfulness and receiving God’s heart in forming my desire. And the promise: “…those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land” ~ Psalm 37:9b.

Pondering the Hard Places of Life

I have learned much in my 60 years of life. God used many people to train me up. From my daddy, I learned faithfulness and frugal living. From Aunt Peggy and Aunt Shirley I learned how to care for a home. From Aunt Maxine I learned the importance of Scripture to daily life. From Aunt Edna and Uncle Bobby, I learned the importance of living those Scriptures through a faithful, Christian walk. In the power of His Spirit, God has used His Word to instruct me, His Church to build me up, and His people to encourage and help me. God uses many things in this life and in our situations in order to grow and mature us. Today my thoughts are on the hard places He takes us to for His purposes and our good.

Why am I thinking on such and side tracking from my pondering of Hebrews? Two reasons:

During what I call my “Prescription walk” I am currently listening to the book of Jeremiah. In it, over and over again, God uses Jeremiah to warn the people of Israel and Judah of His hand coming against them, sending them into captivity. Over and over they are told to give themselves freely to their captors or suffer destruction. With each warning comes promise that if they will willingly surrender to God’s will and put themselves under the taskmasters He is sending to enslave them, that in their time of captivity they will find their lives fully restored.

That’s one reason I am pondering our subject today. And these words catch my attention for the second reason.

I have a friend who is facing a very difficult decision, one in which he has to choose whether he will surrender himself to captivity, or fight to see if he can win his freedom. I don’t envy his decision one bit: in fact I grieve it for him and all involved terribly. Nor do I know the answer. Only God does. But as I think of his situation in light of the words in Jeremiah, this I do know:

In any situation we face where the choice is to surrender ourselves to go through a very hard place in life or fight to see if we can win our freedom, the opinion of God is vital. He knows which direction is our ideal soil for growth, maturity, service, obedience, and the glory of the Lord. He has a purpose in the mountains, and He knows which way will bring true freedom.

Sometimes God calls us to go around a mountain and avoid it at all cost. Sometimes He leads us to go over that mountain and defeat it by fighting our way to the other side. And sometimes He calls us to go through that hard ground to the other side, trusting His hand for us.

If we choose to fight when He says to surrender, we fail to trust His hand and His purpose, and we find ourselves actually fighting Him. So discernment of God’s will is vital. If we are called by Him to surrender to a challenge or enemy force, it is truly Him we surrender ourselves too. And God is faithful. He will see us through those difficult places and bring us through with greater understanding of who He is and how faithful He is to us who choose to trust Him. If we choose to fight when He says “surrender”, we may find ourselves facing the very terrors we fear.

In my times of surrendered trust in God, as He took me through the middle of my hard places in life, I found these reasons for His doing so:

Sometimes it takes the crushing things in life to remove those deeply imbedded, huge roots of sin that we often do not even realize we have. God is always at work to make us into the image of God, and if that means captivity for a time so that we can be made truly free, that is what He requires. Cooperation with Him is the only way to survive such experiences.

Sometimes there are things and people in our lives that we value more than God, making them an idol. God will take us through hard places in order to lead us to trust Him alone, to relinquish our idols, and to more fully bond with Him as our first, most vital necessity. These are the times He calls us to realize Him as our greatest desire above all else, choosing first His Kingdom and His righteousness. And once we make that choice, we find more of all the good things in life, only they are rightly prioritized, having no power to pull us from Him as the One possessing first place in everything. Having Him first and foremost as our greatest desire makes everything else taste sweeter.

CrossDaily05And then there is the reason of His need of our special gifting and life experience to bring light into dark places. Sometimes our captivity is nothing more than a mission field and opportunity to bring Him glory.

Many of us have hard decisions to make from time to time. Before balking at a place that looks like enemy captivity that will harm and destroy you, stop to ask the Lord His opinion. Get His heart for the situation. Hear His promises for the call of the captive. If He is there, in the hard place before you with some purpose of His own in hand, your only choice is whether to surrender to Him there and have His help for the journey, or fight against Him where you are. Whichever side of the issue God is on, that is the safest place to be. Discern where God is standing; enter into His rest through faith-filled, believing obedience; and follow Peace to the pastures of His choosing.

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” ~ James 4:10.

Sanctified “For Their Sakes”

“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” (John 17:18-19).

Sanctification – being set apart with a purpose. We are set apart BY God for His use in His intended purpose. He is creating for Himself a Kingdom of people, and we are part of that, if indeed He is our God and us His people. We are set apart by God for His purpose, and we are set apart TO God by right of our choice. He gives us choice, the right of determining to bow the knee now, and to work with and for Him in fulfilling His glory in the earth and bringing His Kingdom purpose to pass.

Jesus was Sanctified and set apart by God to be our Savior. Jesus here lets us know that He was set apart to God by His choosing to follow God’s will for the sake of us who are the object of His desire. Because He loves us, Jesus wants us, and He wants us to be sanctified in truth, therefore He chose to live a sanctified life in fulfilling the purpose of God for Himself so that we, too, may be sanctified in truth.

As I read this today, Father instructs my heart that this is my call and purpose as well: to be sanctified, set apart, fully consecrated by God for His purpose; and to choose sanctification through cooperation of obedience for the sake of those in my sphere of influence, so that they too may find, know and enter into their sanctification in truth and righteousness. For me this truth and call of God in this day is instructing me to have right priorities in all I choose to do and say, so that I may be His vessel, fully surrendered for His use in making Him known in the world.

My life is too scattered right now. I have felt that for a while and have prayed, seeking the Father for right priorities and focused living, for Him to aim me at the target of His design so I do not fail to fulfill His purpose. This teaching through the life example of The Christ comes to me as God’s answer, to focus my choices on “sanctification for your sakes” so I have right priorities in these last days.

What about you, beloved of the Lord? Who have you sent out into the world today? Did you sanctify yourself in your encouragement of them so that they have an example of set apart living? As you live as in the world, though not of it today, choose now to live in such a way as to encourage and give example to a life dictated by sanctification to Father God through Jesus The Christ.

“If anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

(For a biblical definition of sanctification, read http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/sanctification/)

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

I wrote the following for my Spark page blog and thought I would share it with you here. SparkPeople is a free healthy lifestyle community I am in. If you struggle to eat right and exercise, it is an excellent site providing resource materials, tools for a successful journey, support from other members, and teams to challenge our journey forward. Whether you are young and relatively healthy, handicapped and in need of support, or older and in need of encouragement to change long held habits, their is a support system for you at http://www.sparkpeople.com. (If you join SparkPeople, tell them TRANSFORM-ABBY  sent you and it will link us as friends. Then be sure to tell me who you are.)

So here is today’s blog share with you:

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

Scripture encourages us to Choose life. That phrase hit my heart this morning as I reread my own status, and I wondered with regard to our Spark journey, “What does that mean anyway?”

My first thoughts went to the passage itself for my answer (Deuteronomy 30). In that passage it tells us to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. So to choose life on this journey is to:

Do good toward ourselves and, in the doing, to do it for those we love as well. When we eat right, we are doing good for self. And providing good things for self generally will make that same provision available for those we love so they, too, wind up eating better. When we do good toward ourselves by moving our bods and making sure we get needed activity it is good for us, yes, but it also provides an example worth following for our children and grandchildren, and even opportunity for them, our mates and other loved ones and friends to join us. So choosing life is to choose the good by doing what is best for ourselves with that good having the potential to impact those closest to us. And doing good for self adds strength to our days so we are better able to do for others.

Choose blessing: I have a note up on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Choose the things that matter most.” Choosing blessing is to have right priorities so that we are blessed in life, enjoying the good things in it, and so we are a blessing in life, giving self and giving our best to others. The example that came to mind is to know when spending time with that grandbaby that is visiting is more important than making sure the furniture is dusted. And which is more important? A baby that feels loved and safe, or harping at them in anger over the fingerprints left for us to clean? Choose blessing by having right priorities.

There are so many thoughts in scripture to direct us in how to choose life: “set your mind and keep it set on the things above, the higher things” (Colossians 3, AMP); “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…do not merely look out for your own personal interests” (Philippians 2); “treat others as you would like to be treated”. And Luke 6:31-33 brings me full circle as it instructs:

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Agape love loves others as we love ourselves, doing good to them, having their best interests at heart. It is not based upon a system of reward only for those we feel deserve it. It is based on who we are. And love for others begins with a love for God that knows how to love oneself, and love others in kind. If I will not do something to or toward myself because it would not be good for me, I must not do that to others. If I do good for another, but fail to do the same for myself, I have committed self-neglect. I cannot take proper care of others if I fail to meet my own needs so I have strength and energy to care for others. Thus we are right back to the point of fact that to have life abundant and full, we must do good toward ourselves and others.

Choose life, beloved, and this journey will be a true blessing that makes a life-journey worth taking.

Word of Life: Sanctified – Set Apart

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” ~ 1 John 2:3-6.

The Word that comes to heart for us to grab hold of and possess for our lives in this season of history that is unfolding before us is this: it is vital that we remember and live as the SANCTIFIED AND SET APART people of Jehovah-God in the likeness of the Christ we follow. We cannot fully obey God as God without this vital attitude of heart driving us to that obedience.

There are so many things in this life vying for our attention and our allegiance: things, “entities” that too easily become a god we bow to – jobs, money, food, self-gratification, other gods galore, from these things mentioned to everything from gods the multitudes bow to, including “mother earth” and “father time”. God’s word warns us in 1 Corinthians 10 (*vs. 18-21) that these gods, who are no true gods at all, do have a power. They are powered by the demons lurking behind them, making those gods seem strong and worth bowing down to. I believe that anything that draws us away from our allegiance to Father-God is influenced and used by the demonic, all of whom do not want us to grow in our knowledge of and unity with the One True God.

God’s word also tells us that there is only One True God, and all will bow to Him in due season (Philippians 2:1-11; Romans 14:11). Better for us to realize this truth and bow now by choice, sanctifying ourselves to Him now, rather than being forced to bow before His throne of judgment when it is too late for that act of reverence to do us any good for our eternal destiny. And I believe it will be a true act of reverence, for on that day all will see Him as He is and will recognize in Him all that He possesses that they long to know: His authority, His power, His beauty, His love, the true freedom He supplies, etc. They will know it fully, and they will also know that it is too late for them to choose it.

These will be cast into outer darkness – dark being everything that has nothing to do with God; and they will know full well that they will never be touched by or see all that glory again, for all eternity. There may well be real fire that burns forever in hell, but I believe the greater burning will be the burning desire to see Him, know Him and be touched by all He is just one more time. And there will be the burning fire within of knowing that desire for Him will NEVER be quenched.

Thus, my first thought for us today as we seek the Word of Life that will sustain us in these days, took my mind and heart to one of my favorite “life goal” passages found strengthened by the wording of the Amplified version of scripture:

“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.

WALK-WITH-GODIt is vital right now that we decide to live sanctified, set apart lives for the glory of God, and we do that by “setting our minds and keeping them set on what is above, the higher things”: the eternal. We must be driven by eternal purposes, “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). We can better our lives here and effect change in the world best when we behave as good citizens of that eternal Kingdom of God to which we now belong and for which we already live and work to benefit. That means we must know Him and His ways so that we live lives of obedience in agreement with Him who is working a plan that is building for us a city in which to dwell for all time.

Looking at Colossians 3 through 4, here are words I see that speak to me of our duty and privilege where living set-apart-to-God lives is concerned:

“So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin] … put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things …” 3:5a, 8a.

Realizing that we have died with Christ on the cross, dying to the desires of our flesh and the sinful practices that do not truly represent our God is the first step to sanctified living. Until we discern with understanding that we are dead to the flesh – dead to the worldly, fleshly, demonic impulses, being set free from such things to bear the image of God, we will continue in those practices. Truly believing with understanding that we have been crucified with Christ and are no longer slave to our sinful impulses strengthens us to think about our choices and choose the freedom He has given us to live godly lives as His image-bearers, having been made alive even now to the eternity we will have with God.

“…you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, And have clothed yourselves 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 (the likeness) of Him Who created it” ~ 3:9b-10.

Once we have come to understanding that we have stripped off the old, it is vital that we put on the new that is ours to possess through Christ, being renewed (transformed from the inside to become a totally new creation) and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image and likeness of Him who is our creator. In other words, we are to be continually perfected in Him and in His likeness as we grow in our knowledge and understanding of Him and His ways.

Verse 11 of chapter 3 tells us that we are no longer separated from one another by color, creed, or genealogy, but we are sanctified and set apart as one in Christ: one body with Him, all of one Kingdom and creed, making no distinctions between us. Therefore we are to love one another and treat each other with respect, not thinking more highly of self than we ought, but seeing the good in each who possess Christlikeness, and encouraging each to discover their rightful place in His eternal purpose.

Verses 12-17 of chapter 3 instructs us in the clothing we are to dawn and what that new garment looks and feels like. Within it we are instructed in verse 15 that God’s kind of peace is our dwelling place. We are to live inside the envelope of His peace, and following that peace will direct our path to His will and way, umpiring us to recognize whether we are truly remaining in Him, sanctified and set apart in our daily living. When we fall away from His peace, we have fallen away from Him.

Verse 16 instructs us that as people who are set on Him and His kingdom, His word is to “dwell in you in [all its] richness”. If the world burns all our bibles, and they will one day, His word in us is what will equip us to continue encouraging and helping one another as we share together the things He brings up in our remembrance. And we are called as the sanctified people of God to develop faithfulness in teaching and instructing and encouraging one another in His truths. So growing in the knowledge of Him and His ways is a vital part of our sanctification.

Verse 17 instructs that we do all things as if we are doing for the Lord Himself. Whatever our work, whatever our preoccupation, God is to be the center of it, the reason for our doing our best, and the One we truly seek to please. When God gives me instruction for a topic to share with you, like He has done with this series, I spend many hours at the computer obeying His calling and equipping me. Many may see it as hours wasted that could be put to “good use” cleaning, cooking, being an ideal wife, or helping others. And there is a season for that when God calls me to it. But when He gives me something to write, my best use of my time is to set myself apart to His use, allowing Him to pour through me the words He desires to give you in due season.

When I let other things get in the way, though I may finally get to what God told me to do, the words do not flow, both because I lost the connection through failure to live set apart to Him, and partly because the time has passed for that word to reach people in the time of need. When I am prompt and faithful with the use of my time, I stand amazed that other things always manage to get done in their time, as I follow God in the wise use of my time. Living life to please Him in all we do is the greatest action we take as the set apart people of God.

The remainder of chapter 3 through chapter 4 gives examples of areas in which we are to practice doing all as if for the Lord Himself. I encourage you to read it and begin today to set yourself apart to Him as workers who will be found worthy at His coming.

Colossians chapter 4, verses 2 through 6 reminds us that as the Sanctified through Christ, our prayers and thoughts will constantly turn to Him for our help and strength. We will seek Him for our need and for that of others. And Paul expresses a major focus for the set apart ones: that of being His witnesses, having His words for those who ask any question about our faith and beliefs and practices. One of the greatest prayers you can pray for those like myself who are often called to share His thoughts with you, is to pray protection over our time use and our words, that we will be sanctified and set apart to Him, using time wisely and having His true words in due season.

Thus I say, in agreement with Paul to those of us who desire to live sanctified, set apart lives in the Lord, “See that you discharge carefully [the duties of] the ministry and fulfill the stewardship which you have received in the Lord” ~ Colossians 4:17. Live as people who are one with Him, being like Him in all your ways from thought through action, realizing your citizenry, and doing all things so as to please the King of the Kingdom, having Kingdom purpose in every word and deed that is driven by the eternal.

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NOTE of encouragement concerning the Amplified Bible: Someone said to me that they did not like the Amplified version of scripture because the differing words that can be used in translation (found in brackets) are repeating the same meaning. In part that is true. But what I have found more true is that, where I find that in the Amplified, I look the words up in the dictionary. There I find added meaning brought by each word that strengthen and encourage my understanding and growth in the subject matter covered. I encourage you when using the Amplified to keep a dictionary handy and when it feels repetitive, define the words to see the subtle difference that bring greater understanding of who and what we are to be in this life, set apart to Him.

Word of LIFE: Faithful ~ Our Reliable Advocate

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is FAITHFUL and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” 1 John 1:8-10.

FAITHFUL” is the word of Life that stands out to me in this portion of today’s passage that is vital for us to latch on to in these days as what is to come unfolds before us. As things unfold to reveal the truth of His prophetic word to us concerning these end-time days, and as we see much evil grow in this world and many atrocities come, especially toward those who believe in the Jehovah of our Holy Bible, both Jew and Christian, it is imperative that we remember our God’s faithfulness. He is faithful and righteous, and He will keep His word of promise to us who believe in, trust in, are confident in and rely upon Him.

This combination of words used to describe the faith we are to have is seen often in the Amplified version of scripture: faith ~ to “believe in, trust in, be confident in and rely upon Him”. It is the full and true definition of what faith in God is and how it looks on those who truly believe that HE IS FAITHFUL.

One of the main reasons I see for our need to grow strong in our trust of His faithfulness is that, as evil grows in the world, so will the temptation to fall before it. God’s word instructs us that even our greatest good can be as filthy rags before our Holy God. Why is that? Isaiah, in chapter 64, says:

“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the power of our iniquities” ~ vs. 6-7.

Look at what Isaiah says is the reason for the filth: “no one calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You.”

Do you realize that there are many people who could be called “good people” in this life? They treat parents with respect, they are faithful to their mates, they do not steal, kill, or covet; and they speak truth at all cost, never bearing a false witness against another. But what are the first three points of God’s law given by Moses (Exodus 20)? Are they not laws that call us to have faith in, trust in, believe in, be confident in, and rely upon One Who is the only True God, taking hold on Him as our own and remembering to keep Him and His ways of first priority in living out the remainder of the Law?

And how many times does God promise those who seek Him that, if they will seek Him with whole heart, they will find Him so as to be His people and Him their God; and they will find Him faithful as God? Even those seen as “good people” sin against a Holy God when they do that good with no thought of Him or desire for Him.

True goodness requires reliance upon God, just as Jesus relied upon Him:

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [EVERYTHING NOT IN CONFORMITY TO HIS WILL IN PURPOSE, THOUGHT, AND ACTION]” ~ verse 9, AMP

Jesus’ righteousness was perfect righteousness because He always conformed Himself to God’s will, seeking first to accomplish His purpose, having His thoughts, and taking action as God instructed so all was done to His glory and the fulfilling of all things just as Father planned it. That is why He willingly went to that cross. He believed God and trusted His way was THE BEST WAY; thus while quaking over what He knew He was about to suffer, He prayed before going to that cross, “Yet not My will, but YOUR WILL BE DONE” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus knew that Father-God is the Architect and Builder. All the good we do that is NOT done with God’s will, purpose, and thought in mind, taking intentional action as instructed by Him in the power of His Spirit, failing to couple action with relying upon Him in the doing of the good, that good is made evil in His sight. Without reliance upon God and His Spirit, we too easily fall to the desires of our own flesh, the unenlightened wisdom of this world, and the lies of the demonic. Thus we need our Advocate, Jesus, to help us through these days as we seek after God to honor and glorify Him.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the PROPITIATION for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” ~ 1 John 2:1-2.

Jesus is Propitiation: Following fully the will of God, trusting in and relying upon Him, Jesus stood in our place at our punishment, taking the penalty on our behalf, as full and complete payment for our sins. And it tells us here that He paid the price of the sins of the WHOLE WORLD.

The minute Father laid all sin on Jesus’ shoulders on that cross, all sin ever committed since His hanging on that cross was completely paid for by Christ. It is a gift that is available for all who will receive it with believing faith and full reliance upon His payment. It is not Jesus plus anything that saves. It is Jesus alone, and that requires us to RELY upon Him who paid the price, TRUSTING that payment to be all that is needed for our entrance into fellowship with Father, as part of the people of His Kingdom.

Once we enter into this new covenant of TRUST in Jesus as the Savior who purchased the right of redemption at Calvary – giving Him the right to deliver us from slavery and set us free to discover and serve God fully, we are then called to renewed FAITH in God through Christ Jesus, given full rights of access to God as His children, rebirthed in Christ to a relationship with and reliance upon God as God and Father. We are then to be His witnesses, telling others of the gift found in Christ, ready in season (when it is easy) and out of season (when it is not easy or popular) to give an account of this hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:13-17; 2 Timothy 4:1-4).

Because of our relationship with God through Christ, we are to be His ambassadors, representing His interests in the earth. Being brought by our new birth through faith into relationship with God through Christ to be His children, we are delivered into His Royal Priesthood, to be His worshipers and leaders of worship, worshiping the Father in Spirit and in truth through our daily lives and choices, setting an example for others to follow. And we are set on a course of being possessed by God, able to enter more readily into His will by receiving through our relationship of reliance on Him the purposes of His heart for our situations. We are given by His Spirit in us the very thoughts God thinks, so we are able to think as He does. And we are then able to take actions as led by Him in the power of His Spirit to the fulfilling of His purpose and plan, in one accord with His will and way.

If you are getting anything out of this series of study, beloved, it is NOT because I am a great author, able to put words together well. It is because, through reliance upon the faithfulness of God to be God, He spoke to my heart and was able to make it clear to me. He told me a storm is coming—I know not what, only that it will set the nation, and indeed the world in turmoil. And He gave me instruction through the passages we are covering and through those we are yet to cover in the days ahead that give us His Word of Life that will help us to weather the storm and to possess His heart in it.

I have awakened with a headache, being dull of thought each morning so far, not knowing what to say to you or how to say it, but having clear direction as to where in His Word I would find the thoughts and being fully surrendered to be His conduit through which the thoughts may flow. Any instruction coming clearly to you is because I have succeeded in relying upon God to pour it forth to you as He wills it to be so, and He has faithfully instructed your heart, giving you understanding of these things. By His grace sufficient, you receive it with understanding.

A storm is coming that will put us to quaking, just as Jesus did. Like Jesus, as we sincerely cry out, “not my will but Yours”, we can trust that God is God and He will have His will and His way in the earth. We can come through the storm, no matter what it brings to us on a personal level by abiding in and remaining in Him and in His Light. And we can come through every temptation this season will bring to us by trusting His faithfulness and relying fully on Him who is God to be our God, leading us to the fulfillment of His will for us in purpose, thought and action.

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Beloved, if you do not know God through His gift found in Christ and Him crucified; I implore you to reread the paragraphs above, covering His propitiation. Seek His forgiveness for sin today, especially for the sin of seeking to be good people without relying on God for that goodness, and receive His gift of grace sufficient found in Christ’s sacrifice, given to pay the price for all your sin.

If you are a Christian who has fallen into the ways of the world and failed to rely upon God for every purpose, thought, and action, remember He is for you and not against you. God, by His Spirit, is continually working to perfect You through Christ (Philippians 1:6) who ever stands before the Father as your advocate.

Today is the day and NOW is the time to trust Jesus to be your Advocate, Who will forever intercede on your behalf before the Father (Romans 8). Be filled with His Spirit so you can know the will of God and walk in His ways with reliance upon Him to lead, direct, instruct, and empower you for success in fulfilling His purpose for your part in this season of His eternal plan.

Read Galatians 5-6 for teaching on what reliance upon the Spirit of God rather than on one’s own flesh looks like; and be sure to talk with a Christian near you who has proven themselves to be a faithful follower of Christ (we know them by the fruit of their lives, that of true goodness coming from relying upon God in Christlikeness). Tell them of your decision regarding Christ and seek their assistance in growing strong as His follower.

Word of Life: Prophetic Alert and Series Introduction

“…what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” ~ 1 John 1:1-3.

Yesterday, excited to get ready for church,  I woke early with a beautiful and powerful song flowing through my mind over and over – not an uncommon occurrence, but this day’s episode was different. As the words flowed through my heart, reminding me that God is and He alone is God, I began to discern that there is a reason the Spirit is singing such to me. In the car for a leisurely, peaceful drive to church where quiet and stillness allowed for hearing, I discerned that something devastating is about to hit. I do not sense this to be a personal warning, but national-global / global-national – it is for all of us and not just me and mine.

Now this is not news to us. Most all who know and follow closely to God are watching as we see end-time prophesy unfolding every day. But as this beautiful song coursed through me, I realized what God was saying to me through that song and in my quiet time reading that morning. The thing He wants me to tell you is this:

As we see things unfold and the devastation hit, it will make many hearts quake and put us in a panic. The only thing that will protect us from reacting in ways that will do more harm than good is to remember that God is; that He is God; that He is for us and not against us; that He is doing a good thing in the earth; and that He will be with us in the storm. With eyes on Him, we will come through to His glory.

These days are already testing the hearts and faith of God’s people. I see many already falling away because of feeling that, “A God of love would not allow such travesties in life”. Some are young and unexperienced in the ways and presence of Father. Others are trapped by fleshly, worldly, and demonic wisdom, with thoughts of feeling that there is “a better way”. These fail to realize and remember that God is God, the Architect and Builder who is working an eternal plan, building a people for the place of His eternal dwelling (Hebrews 11:10).

Let’s consider this on an architectural standpoint. Say an architect or engineer draws up plans for a huge, building. He carefully and strategically positions each support beam in his blueprints, placing each beam and wall where it will not only be most functional, but where the support is most needed for the building to stand, firm and secure on its foundations. Then a worker, charged with following the blueprint to build his section, thinks, “That looks awful placed there. The wall will be prettier and the room bigger and better if that beam is moved here.” He fails to follow the instructions, feeling he has a better plan, not considering weight bearing or the end result. What happens next? The building falls in on that section.

Beloved, we must begin now to realize and remember that God knows where all the support beams need to go, and He has the end product in mind. He is the only one with all the pages of the blueprint at His disposal. We only have bits in pieces and are only able to see in part what will be the end result.

Consider also the construction of a building. My In-laws live in an area that is growing, with new builds popping up around them. As we watch each building go up, for the longest it is difficult to even imagine what it will look like, and it even looks plumb ugly for a time, all those beams and pipes sticking up, followed by ugly, green walls. But suddenly it begins to take shape and we can tell more about what it is going to look like and just how big and beautiful it is going to be.

We are in a building phase in God’s plan that is looking pretty ugly right now, and it is vital that we remember that Father-God is the Architect and Builder of a city in which to dwell for all eternity. It will be huge and beautiful, filled with all good things. But to get there, fields must be cleared and leveled, forms poured, and beams set in place. And we, beloved, who trust in Him, are the workers. We have to decide whether or not we will trust the Architect and do it His way. That is what this series will cover. How do we live life in these days?

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, CONCERNING THE WORD OF LIFE—and THE LIFE WAS MANIFESTED, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us…” ~ 1 John 1:1-3.

God did not leave us without a blueprint to follow. We have the Word of Life, not only written in His Book, but manifested to us through Christ. We have His Word, written in our hearts:

“You are our letter, written in our hearts, KNOWN AND READ BY ALL MEN; BEING MANIFESTED that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:2-3.

If you have the Spirit of God living in you, He has testified with me in your heart, confirming the truth of the things I say now and am about to say through these days of study. If you have the Spirit of God living in you, and if you are alive in this season of time, that is no accident. You are not here to suffer through what is about to be a time of trouble in the world, but you are here for a purpose as a worker, following the blueprint set by the Architect, observing the instruction of the Builder of all things good and glorious, so as to become the manifestation of His glory in our day.

We are here in this season, chosen and set apart for such a time as this, in order to manifest the foundation found in Christ. We are here to manifest the beams and walls that are set in Him. We are here to show others how to build using precious stones, silver, and gold that will stand the test that is coming to us. We are here to observe and manifest within ourselves the WORD OF LIFE that sustains and empowers us to live life to the full even – and especially in times of trouble and hardship. And it begins with realizing experientially, in the depth of our being, that GOD IS GOD! And we are not. Our first decision to make as we begin this journey together is, WILL WE TRUST HIM?

It was awesome as I got to church yesterday morning and received the word given by our pastor, all of which confirmed for me that I am hearing correctly concerning the coming storm and our need to firm up our foundations and make sure the support beams are in the proper place. He talked about our need to “HOLD ON” and get ready for God, ‘cause when the storms of life hit, God is getting ready to do something great.

One thing he covered in his message to us was the time when Jesus said, “Let’s go over to the other side.” He and the disciples climb in the boat and head that way. A storm rises and these veteran fishermen become afraid as it appears to them that the boat is sinking.

You remember the story: they cry out to Jesus, finding Him ASLEEP in the stern of the boat. He was unwearied by the tossing waves; and He was unafraid because He had said, “We are going over to the other side.” He knew that is where He was to go; it was God’s calling and God’s timing; so He knew they would reach the other side and fulfill God’s purpose (Mark 4:35-40).

When God calls us, beloved, He will get us there. What He tells us to do, He will provide for us to do it. We will not perish one second – one breath – one instant before it is His time for us. The thought that hit my mind when the pastor was talking about Jesus sleeping in that boat was this, “UNTIL JESUS PANICS, THERE IS NO NEED FOR ME TO.”

The time will come when Jesus will say to this storm coming upon us, “HUSH! SHUT UP! Be peaceful, still and quiet.” Until then we can find the place of the eye as spoken of in the series on Ponderings linked below, and we can live the Word of Life that will make us workers with Him in this season, bringing about the completion of all things in our time.

Are you ready, beloved? Prepare your hearts to hear with an attitude made ready to follow the manifestations of Christ for our day, becoming His hands, feet, and light in the world.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” ~ Matthew 7:24.

Pray for me, beloved, as I seek the heart of God in writing the things He is showing me to give you by way of teaching or reminder, as we prepare to weather the soon arriving storm. “These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” ~ 1 John 1:4. See you in the next post.

You are God! ~ Katinas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE-IdstEdTI&index=2&list=PLfiEjLIYhJ9D1tHHJ_Ep1m340430xSaMe

(For wisdom on weathering the storms of life, read the series, “In the Hearing of the Lord” beginning with the intro to that series and following the links to each part for that 6 day study: https://darlenesponderings.com/2014/03/25/in-the-hearing-of-the-lord-series-introduction/).

FREEDOM! For ages 13 and up.

Hello! Over the past few years I have developed the habit of writing a birthday letter for my grandchildren, encouraging them to be, and to be all God wants them to be. Since I also have several readers who are young, I like to share some with them, to encourage them. But even the mature in Christ can use a reminder of these things, to check ourselves and realize where we are in life, so 13 and up, read on; and be encouraged.

~*~

Thirteen! Wow. It is hard to believe that you are entering the glorious teen years. So much growth, freedom, and fun to be had if you face these years with realization of the power you have going for you. Here is the power I want you to possess as you head toward being an adult.

Growth – this is the beginning of turning the corner from “kid” to “adult”. You are not an adult yet, you still have much to learn; and you need to trust and seek God for it and you need to trust your parents to have your best interests at heart as they nurture you through this time.

But this is the time when you need to begin to realize and discover just who and what you want to be when you grow up, and I am not just talking occupation. Yes, it is important for you to more fully discover your likes and dislikes, talents, abilities and giftedness, so you can discover the areas of the workforce that you are interested in pursuing. But I am talking about what kind of person do you want to be? How do you want others to see you?

Do you want to be known as a person of integrity? Grow in the knowledge of what truth and righteousness really are. Today’s world would tell you that there is no real truth and no right or wrong; that truth and righteousness is dependent on each person’s viewpoint. So if you make someone mad, they can rightly hurt you according to their truth in the moment.

That seems a harsh and silly example, but you would be surprised at the number of people who think that way. People are at such a point in our time because they deny God and His ways as being a reality. To know truth, live righteously and be a person of integrity, grow in the knowledge of God and His ways, and you will succeed.

Spirit-fruit2You need to begin now to give real focus to discovering the attributes you want to possess, learn what each requires, and begin to make those your own: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, mercy, compassion, trustworthiness, truthfulness, etc. I challenge you to choose one attribute to work on each month, learn what God has to say about it, talk to others you see that trait in, and begin to possess these for yourself.

You may have to revisit a desired attribute many times throughout your life to check yourself and adjust to repossess lost ground, but if you will develop this habit of growth, you will become all you want to be. So, who are you, and who do you want to be? This is your main goal for life during your teen years, to become the adult you really want to be.

Freedom – there is greater freedom to be had as you progress through your teen years, which will make you feel powerful, and there is a power to express in possessing and maintaining this freedom. With greater freedom there is greater responsibility if you want to maintain your right to be free.

Example: if you want the freedom of going places with friends, prove yourself to be a responsible person who can be trusted to remain the person you want to be while out with others who will try to sway you to be what they want. One way to make this easy on yourself is to choose friendships with people who want the same things you want as a person. Another person who wants to be known as a person of integrity will not tempt you to lie to your parents so that you can do something you know they will not approve of, nor will you tempt them to be something you, yourself, do not want to be.

Freedom is not free! It takes work and commitment and knowing when to take a stand for what is right so you can maintain the freedom you have. Power over yourself, your desires, and your situations is required for true freedom to be yours.

Fun – if you begin today to develop as a person: becoming the person you want to truly be when you grow up, discovering good likes and talents, abilities, and your giftedness from God; and if you will live as a person who appreciates and understands true freedom is worth taking a stand to maintain, you will find fun in life that is worth having.

Looking for fun that is worth having and that you don’t have to hide from your parents will lead to a life worth living. You will not be easily snared WALK-WITH-GODby the evils of life: drugs, alcohol, sexual sin, etc. But you will find yourself a leader among your peers, helping them to desire to be better people, living in freedom, and having fun worth their time and energy.

All these things make for a life worth living that honors our God who is worthy of serving by being His light in the earth. Making these things your own personal journey in life will protect your relationship with God, protecting you from being drawn away from Him to things that rob you of the joy of knowing Him and His presence with you.

If you ever do walk away from these things I am giving you today, all you have to do is begin anew to practice this power you have. Possess the person you want to be, walk in the freedom that is free indeed, not being dictated by anything or anyone who would lead you away from who you are and want to be, and have a life of fun that is worth having.

Grandpa and I love you dearly and you are constant in our prayers. We desire the best for you, and that best is always God and His ways. Look to Him to direct you and you will find the best you can be in Him, with freedom that is true and eternal, living a fun life that the world cannot understand but longs to possess. It is all yours to possess. Go get it!

Love you dearly and daily,

Meeme and Grandpa

The Reigning Royalty of God’s Kingdom (Pt. 3 of 3)

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, HE SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE MAJESTY ON HIGH, HAVING BECOME AS MUCH BETTER THAN THE ANGELS, AS HE HAS INHERITED A MORE EXCELLENT NAME THAN THEY” ~ Hebrews 1:3-4.

King Jesus is trustworthy, being found faithful in following Father God, keeping Him as of first importance and His purposes as first priority. King Jesus is trustworthy, found faithful in keeping the letter and heart of the very Word of God; knowing it with full and comprehensive understanding; and making God’s Word His own mantra for life more abundant and full. And King Jesus is trustworthy, pursuing – eternally – Father’s Kingdom Purpose in all things: today’s final point in this series, revealing the trustworthiness of Christ and the reason He is King above all.

anointing5Jesus Christ, the Messiah was faithful to pursue Kingdom purpose, proving Himself worthy to be the eternal King in the eternal Kingdom of God.

Though He lived as a good citizen in the world where He was stationed, He lived first and foremost as a good citizen of God’s Holy Kingdom. He kept Father and His purposes as first priority and this fact is heard in words spoken by Him and seen in the actions He took, as revealed in these few samples of His proclamations to us:

“Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfill them” ~ Matthew 5:17, AMP ~ We too are to fulfill and complete the Law in His name and power for the purpose of God to be fulfilled in our time.

“I have come down from heaven not to do My own will and purpose but to do the will and purpose of Him Who sent Me” ~ John 6:38, AMP ~ We too are to find God’s purpose for our living and being in this time of history.

“He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples were saying to one another, ‘No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?’ Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’” ~ John 4:32-34 ~ We too must have desire for accomplishing God’s will in God’s way, seeing it as our greatest sustenance for life more abundant and full.

Jesus knew why He was here and He often told us what the purpose of His life and ministry was. It always was directed and dictated by the will and purpose of God for Him, not for His own desire. He denied Himself daily to take up His cross and follow God to accomplish His purpose, denying Himself His own fleshly desires in order to fulfill His greatest desire, that of accomplishing God’s will in God’s way. And we know He had desires of flesh because we are told that He was a man, just as we are; and He was tempted in all things as we are. As Leader of all He calls us to have this same purpose and take action in His likeness by denying fleshly desire in order to accomplish godly purpose.

Our greatest picture of the lengths Jesus would go to in fulfilling the purposes of Father God are revealed in such words and actions as these:

“Now My soul is troubled and distressed, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour [of trial

But for this hour, I have come. Not My will, but Your will be done.
But for this hour, I have come. Not My will, but Your will be done.

and agony]? But it was for this very purpose that I have come to this hour [that I might undergo it]” ~ John 12:27, AMP.

“And He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death; remain here and keep watch.’ And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will’” ~ Mark 14:34-36.

Jesus went through many a trial and testing, being tempted in all ways as we are, yet without sin; for, despite the struggle that might come to His flesh, He kept God and His purposes of first priority in every choice He made. Though He agonized over the hardship He was to undertake, He chose death over disobedience to God and failure to fulfill His good will and way for the completion of all things God desired to accomplish through Christ. And He tells us, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

Jesus sat the example then called us to do the same. He tells us that He came in the Name of the One True God, as representing Him and His interests, and He calls us to be His ambassadors, following His example in being the people of God, called by His Name. Jesus, our example in leadership, also taught us to pray to the Father in the name of the Son, Jesus, as representing Christ’ priorities and purposes in furthering His ministry in the earth. To accomplish living, breathing and praying in His Name, we, too, must be people of purpose, having the heart desire of Father God as our compass for life’s choices.

Drawn to Quiet Waters?

I closed out my Facebook account yesterday. It is something I have sensed for a while that God wanted me to give up, but it was difficult to surrender to that being God’s will. I use FB a lot to keep up with things going on in family and friends lives and for ministry, so it did not make sense to me. But I know God does not have to explain His directives to me and that there are times when the whole point of an exercise is obedience, so after several days of sure confirmation that it is Him I am hearing, I obeyed. And I knew I was not just to deactivate. I was to close it out completely.

It has been difficult since I left FB. In just one day away from there I have realized that I am addicted to the stimulus and to knowing that people are a typed note away. I find myself wondering, “Wow. What am I going to do now?” I also find that the authors of FB know this fact, and thus they give 14 days for closing out the account. All you have to do to stop its closing is to sign back into your account. Fourteen days to decide “God’s will, or my addiction.” Hum….

WOWThe thing that comes to heart as I think on this is, “I called, but you did not answer; I spoke, but you did not hear” ~ Isaiah 65:8.

God still wants time with His chosen people, just as He did in the garden. And He desires for me to be … “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” ~ Psalm 42:1-2.

He is calling me to “seek, aim at and strive after first of all His kingdom and His righteousness – His way of doing and being right, and then all these things taken together will be given you besides” ~ Matthew 6:33, AMP.

God always has a purpose for what He calls us to and what He allows us to go through. We don’t always understand it, but we can all know that as we live the words, “We must obey God rather than men,” we will find Him faithful to His promises. For “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Acts 5:29; Romans 8:28)

Thus God is saying to me, “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” ~ Colossians 3:1-2, AMP.

God has called me to the study and writing of His Word. That has been true for a very long time. Our day is strategic and the time of Christ draws ever so near, so the wise use of our time and talents in the place God has placed us is vital. He is calling me to seek Him in prayer for the things going on in the earth. His desire is for me, wanting time with me, so He calls me to lay down the things that hinder me and rob of all He desires for me and to spend the time I have seeking after Him. Thus, “I opened my mouth and panted with eager desire, for I longed for Your commandments” ~ Psalm 119:131. To which He responds, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it” ~ Psalm 81:10.

“And they waited for me as for the rain, and they opened their mouths wide as for the spring rain” ~ Job 29:23.

God often calls us to or places us in situations that are hard for us to understand. He wants us to trust, long Quiet-w-Godfor and seek after Him in those times, knowing that He will bring it to a good end that glorifies His name and works His eternal purpose.

Has God caused you to sit down by quiet waters, Beloved?

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. …For He satisfies the longing soul and fills the hungry soul with good.” (Psalm 37; Psalm 107:9)

Working for the “Well Done”

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:10-17.

Wow. How to tell you what I am seeing as I look at these two, often separated passages, and understand that they are one. Okay, let’s try this:

Picture the world as a cesspool of sin—for that is what it is. It is like the hot room in a facility that deals with all kinds of chemicals and germ warfare sources of destruction. When entering such a room to deal with such things, a person has to first put on a protective suit. It is the first line of defense.

Christ is our suit. He clothes us in righteousness that assures us a place in the Kingdom of God, protecting us from the destruction of sin. But we are called to build on that foundation in life as we deal with the destructive forces of this world. The way we handle the things we encounter in the hot room builds on the foundational covering of Christ to establish us as a holy temple of His presence here in the earth. The more we practice obedience to the protocols – our second line of defense against the things found in the hot room, the better the materials that are found in the building that we lay on the foundation of our security in Christ.

Then, when God calls us out of the hot room we go through the third line of defense that keeps us from inadvertently bringing the death and destruction of the hot room out into the place of righteousness where God resides and where no unrighteousness can enter: that is the fires that test the quality of our building that we have laid on the foundation of our security in Christ.

The more we have done things WITHOUT THOUGHT OF OBEYING THE PROTOCOLS meant to protect us from the destructive forces, and those meant to make us a witness to others found there that need the foundation of Christ and the example of a godly life, the more our building will have wood, hay and stubble in it that will be burned away.

The more we live so as to influence others for good and protect from contamination in our own lives, the more our building will possess gold, silver, and precious stones.

If we build with only a few of the good materials, them being attached to and surrounded by bad materials, when we go through the final decontamination phase, even the good will fall away as that which it is attached to burns away. In reverse, if we build mainly with good materials, even though there is some wood, hay and stubble in our lives—which there will be, though the materials that cannot stand the fires of testing fall away, we will still come through with a temple of glory intact and ready for the eternal Kingdom and the “well done” of the Son.

At my missionary friend’s memorial, recently attended, one thing we all agreed upon is that he most assuredly met the Master as he came out of the decontamination chamber to enter His embrace and receive the “Well done, good and faithful servant.” If God told him to forget what he had planned that day and just go to the next town and sit in the local DQ, he did it. He told me this last visit home that, in those times, most often there would be a divine appointment. But he had also come to learn that sometimes God sent him on such assignments to “simply take His Presence into a dark corner.” I cannot tell you the number of people who, after meeting him and visiting for only a few minutes, bear the testimony of their life being changed by the encounter.

Beloved, if you are truly trusting Jesus Christ for your salvation so as to be covered by His foundational protection, God’s word teaches us that encounter with Him will be honored by God, for “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” ~ 2 Timothy 2:13. But if you are not working with Him to learn and live out the safety protocols and helping others to do so as well, the temple we are building to the glory of God can be completely burned away so we take no good accomplishment into the Kingdom through which to bring Him glory and receive a “well done” greeting.

An encounter with Christ should change our lives. In fact, we are told that we in this world can recognize His people because we bear fruit in keeping with righteousness (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:6-10; Philippians 1:9-11; Hebrews 12:7-13; James 3:13-18). If we are truly united with Him, there will be a change in our lives: something that reveals we have had an encounter with Him that has us suited up in a protective covering against the hot room of the world. It is the bear minimum requirement that allows us to come through decontamination to enter the Kingdom. Even in a germ-storage hot room, if a person goes in without the suit on and is contaminated, he cannot just come back out, even after undergoing decontamination, and interact with others. Instead he is placed in an infectious ward and he becomes the vial in the hot room, with all who enter into his presence having to be suited up for their protection.

Building a temple on the foundation of Christ that will withstand the decontamination chamber requires we spend time in the Protocol Book—the Bible, learning not only how to move through and function in the hot room safely, but how to make a difference in the lives of others while we are there, setting an example that helps them to enter into a life that is changed by an encounter with Christ-in-me. Brothers and Sisters, this is how we work in the hot room so as to go through decontamination with something remaining that glorifies God and receives the reward of the “well done.” But in order to do that, we have to step into the hot room. We can’t hide out in our safe zones and build as glorious a temple as is possible for us unless we are willing to obey God’s voice to “go to the next town and sit in the local DQ,” or “go to Israel and live in Jericho.”

Go out into the hot room, beloved, being in the world, but not of it, and let Father make a Holy Temple for Glory out of you.

The Young Don’t Always Do What They are Told

“For after I turned back, I repented; And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh; I was ashamed and also humiliated because I bore the reproach of my youth” ~ Jeremiah 31:19.

I have three children, twelve grandchildren, and many friends and acquaintances that are younger than me, and one thing I have learned through the years is that the young don’t always do what they are told. I can warn one of these from my experience of a path they are thinking of traveling, and instead of hearing and receiving the warning, they too often choose to walk the path for themselves and learn things the hard way. In the world’s economy, there is too often an unseen badge of honor we feel we have earned by learning things the hard way, by experience rather than through instruction. But in God’s kingdom, the badge of honor comes to those who hear and, through faith, obey the instruction given.

“The young don’t always do what they are told” comes to me in the voice of a Stargate SG1 character named anteausAnteaus, a leader of the Nox in episode 107. He was not just speaking of the child Nox under his care, but he was speaking of the SG1 team and the people of earth. What has me thinking on this subject this beautiful Sunday afternoon?

On my way home after Church, mulling over the message and its application to me personally, the Spirit, in the voice of Anteaus, said to me—about me, “The young don’t always do what they are told.”

I am nearing 60 years of age, an elder in our society, yet to God whose age is beyond number, I am “the young.” Still, at my age, I too often fail to hear fully what God is telling me. There are a couple of things we flesh beings are prone to do when we are not hearing and receiving through faith God’s instruction to us with understanding and clear comprehension:

One – We too often hear, but then add more to His instruction than He intended we bear; just like Adam and Eve. Adam was told not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Yet somehow when the serpent asked Eve about it, it was translated to and through her as, “We are not to eat, or even touch it!” (Genesis 3) So one way we fail to do what we are told is by making God’s instruction burdensome by adding to it things that He did not intend us to bear. Or, if you are like me, we often add things that make it less our fault when we fail, as you will see in my example below.

I am not beyond making God’s instruction to me more difficult or convenient by adding ultimatums or a way out beyond what He instructed me. Just today God instructed me through 1 Peter 1:1-2 that we are chosen for the purpose of obedience to Christ. As I noted that in my study notes, I had to scratch two words out as I wrote, “We are chosen for the purpose of obedience to and through Christ.”

Now is the “and through” untrue? No. I can do nothing apart from Christ (John 15). And it is through the Spirit of God that I am empowered (Romans 8:13; Galatians 5). But in that moment God was instructing me that I must choose to obey. It is my responsibility to hear and obey: my choice, given me by God, to do so. As a result, as soon as I finished writing “obedience to and through Christ,” God caught my attention with “That is not what My word says,” and I had to scratch the “and through” to take responsibility for the “to do” I am called to.

Two: Another way we fail to do what we are told is through forgetfulness or by setting God’s instruction aside and ignoring it altogether. No matter how old I get, and even the older I get, the more prone to forgetfulness I am. How many times of late I have slapped my thigh with the words, “Man! I forgot.” I have to deliberately work to grasp hold on God’s instruction and choose to do it with determined conviction and deliberate effort to remember. I know that, from the earliest Bible days to now, I am not alone in this struggle, as Paul and Peter both often taught “by way of reminder, lest you forget.” And farther back still, God would have the patriarchs of faith set up altars of remembrance, so when they would see it, they and their children would be reminded of the ways of the Lord, what He did for them, and His instruction to them.

No matter how old we get in this life, we have to remember to take care, for “The young do not always do what they are told.” Like the child Nox and the SG1 team in episode 107, when we fail to hear and receive instruction, we very often get ourselves into a world of hurt that could be avoided if we would only listen with intent to put into practice the wisdom of those older and wiser: especially when that Older, Wiser One is God the Father.

An Independence Day Thought

I have 11 1/2 grandchildren and the older ones enjoy writing and blogging. Our second oldest blood born grand wrote a blog on our independence that is insightful and mature beyond her 16 years. It is a word worth reading, so I share it with you today. BLESSings, and may all your days be a day in which freedom dwells, for if it does not dwell within us, it cannot dwell in the land in which we live.

http://kennedystafford.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/where-liberty-dwells/comment-page-1/#comment-149

Fruit-Bearing Pursuits

wheat.taresBehold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell…among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out ~ Matthew 13:3-9 and 18-23.

I have a note taped on my mirror where I see it most every day that simply advises: “Choose the things that matter most.” Life can be so hectic; and I don’t know about you, but when stress rises, so does my appetite, destroying my healthy eating journey. Being too busy not only causes stress, but if I am not careful, lesser things that amount to weeds rob my time and choke out the more important things; most usually the things that I do to care for me, so I am healthy and ready for whatever the day brings.

I noted a verse today in the Amplified that brought another dimension to this thought for today.

“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed also darnel (weeds resembling wheat) among the wheat, and went on his way. So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the darnel (weeds) appeared also. And the servants of the owner came to him and said, Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? Then how does it have darnel shoots in it? He replied to them, An enemy has done this. The servants said to him, Then do you want us to go and weed them out? But he said, No, lest in gathering the wild wheat (weeds resembling wheat), you root up the [true] wheat along with it” Matthew 13:24-29.

Sometimes it is difficult to discern the good from the best. We need the Father’s help to distinguish that which is best for us, especially when weeding through things we enjoy and would like to keep. The enemy of our soul is good at setting before us things that look like the genuine works of God, His ideal for us. Today let’s seek the Father for the things above, the purposes that meet His desire for us. With His help we can discern what to weed, and what to just let set until the time is ripe for sorting.

Caught in the Wake: Part 2b

Humble Enough to Draw Near

Walking on Water06“Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” ~ James 4:5-8a.

Here, in the last portion of our focal passage for part 2 of “Caught in the Wake”, we have a step by step blueprint to walking on water in the midst of stormy seas.

Submit to God:

Sin is failure to walk in unity with God, and walking with God requires us to follow His will, doing so in His way. When we realize our part in causing a surge of sin around us, we must reach up our hand to God by admitting where we got off track in following Him and coming into agreement with Him that our fall was sin and we need His grace again.

Two things I want to look at here is the “Note” from yesterday promising to cover the “personal sin” issue; and we need to look at the work of the Holy Spirit who “convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment.” Without understanding in these two areas, a storm tossed sea that continues even though we submit will confuse us and can be used of Satan to discourage us. So let’s begin with the first, the fact that it is personal sin we have to deal with.

As was hopefully made clear in the introduction to this series, a wake of sin of this proportion is not generally caused by one person,

Returning to walking with Jesus
Returning to walking with Jesus

but by many whose waves of consequences combine to cause surging seas that appear insurmountable. Now, as is the way of God, I can do nothing by way of repentance on behalf of another. Each person is responsible before God to repent for their own sin issues. I can confess in agreement with God that what they did is sin, and I can pray for the Spirit to do His work in drawing them to God, but I can only repent for my own sins and make myself right with Him anew. Why? Because repentance requires one to turn from walking their own way, to walking in God’s ways. That requires a choice of heart, for from the heart flows the issues of life. My feet will follow my heart, so if my heart is not following God in His desires, my feet will continue to struble over the stones of sin coming from my hardened heart. Only I can choose for myself whether I will follow God and obey Him, doing things His way. My relationship with God is my own and yours is yours.

When we get our eyes focused on the surge of waves brought up by the sins of others, we put ourselves in danger of sinking under the emotional assault and fault finding that comes to us with such a focus. When caught on stormy seas, our focus must be to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our attention on making sure we are hand in hand with Him who equips us to walk on top of the water. This is where the Teacher and understanding His role come into play. The Spirit is responsible to instruct our hearts, and His instruction is clearly stated as being that of bringing understanding to us regarding sin, righteousness and judgment.

The work of the Spirit in the life of one not yet united with Christ is to draw him to realize sins grip that has him enslaved in an eternity without God. He causes that lost soul to realize that God is righteous and holy and can have no part with sin. And He makes that person aware of the judgment already passed against sin, which is separation from God for all eternity. Then the Spirit causes the person’s eyes to open to the saving grace of God that is found only in the Lamb provided by God, Jesus Christ, the Savior. That person then has the choice of remaining under sin and slave to it, or having the chains torn asunder by their choosing to enter into the sacrifice of Christ that frees from sin. Once they choose saving grace, the Holy Spirit of God enters into their lives, becoming one with their spirit, granting them access to the Father through their new birth in relationship with Christ.

Now this new Christian has the Spirit forever within, and the role of the Spirit takes on a deeper dimension of grace that starts this new creature in Christ on a road of transformation and the Spirit works to restore the image of God that was created in mankind from the beginning, but was distorted by sin. With every choice that comes before the Christian, the Spirit works to make them aware of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He instructs their heart, if they are listening: “This way leads to sin, the judgment and consequences of which is against God and contrary to Him. That direction leads to righteousness, the effect of which will maintain relationship with God and accomplish His purpose.”

Submission to God heeds the teaching of the Spirit, reaches out from the heart to grab the hand of Jesus, who empowers us through the Spirit to walk on top of the waters of life and complete His sufferings of accomplishing the work of God in the earth. The blood of Jesus keeps us covered while the Spirit of God is doing the work of transformation in us, bringing us to completion until the day of Christ’s return, when eternity in God’s new Kingdom begins. Thus is the path of submitting to God, which automatically produces our next point in overcoming the storm tossed seas.

Resist the devil:

Note that submission to God is automatic resistance to the devil, who is always in opposition to God. We cannot walk with God and with the devil at the same time. When we are in submission to God’s will and way in life, we stand hand in hand with God through Christ, and the devil turns with cringing fear to get away from us.

The devil is total opposite to God. God is truth. The devil is the lie and the father of lies / liars. God is good and loves goodness. The devil is evil and loves evil. God is love – love always does what is best for the one loved, which is to protect unity with the Father-God and our ability to walk with Him. The devil is hate, desiring to be god himself, he does all he can to destroy our relationship to God and cause us to fall away to following after sin.

When we give ourselves to sin, we walk away from God to walk with the devil, making him god of our lives. When we become a stumbling block in the lives of others, leading to their falling into sin, we cooperate with Satan’s desire and work in the earth. So we must resist the devil by submitting to God, which causes us to…

Draw near to God:

Walking on water04When we choose to walk with God, His glory surrounds us as He draws near to us in renewed relationship. The devil will cringe at the presence of God with us and run away from us. This is the cycle that comes from drawing near to God through submission to Him that resists the devil and causes God to draw near to us.

And how much greater still it is when we live a life that not only holds to the hand of Jesus who enables us to walk on the waters beneath us, but we reach our hand out to help another grab His and walk with us to victory.

When we love God and begin to take on His likeness anew, we search for truth and walk in it, making it known to those around us. God’s goodness begins to flow through us like a river to refresh and help those around us. And His love fills us and spills out to the lives of others.

The Spirit grows strong within us, quickening us – making life found in relationship with God come to our eternal spirit. And we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, humility, compassion, and other qualities of God flourish within us, making us holy as He is holy.

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

Even as we practice these spiritual disciplines on a personal level and get on top of the water in the midst of stormy seas, the surge can continue because we are not the sole source of the surge. Remember in our example, one sinned, hurting another in a way that made them an open target as the hurt cracked their armor, allowing the tempter to draw them out from their relationship with God. Sin has a domino effect that brings an avalanche crashing into the calm waters below, and the ripple of sins hitting the peaceful places surges the stormy winds of sin’s consequences. Each person involved plays a role in the cause of the storm that is sending waves of harm to the lives of all around them. And each must do their part to get back on top of the water with Jesus. Until each one is in right relationship with God anew, the storm will continue to beat down on all in its path.

This being true, how do we recoup and press forward while waiting for others involved to do their part in calming the storm around us? What can we do to quiet the winds and bring calm to the waters of life again? See you next post.

Caught in the Wake: Allowed by God?

Part 1

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

 

Did God, who is Holy, allow the sin, which is not? Is He the author of it? Why or why not? These are the questions we seek to address today.

My answer would be “yes and no”. How can that be?

Throughout scripture, here is the picture I see. God has chosen to have a vital and growing relationship with mankind. He has chosen me, and, whether or not you choose Him, He chooses you. He gives His all to the growth and development of this relationship He desires and designed to be. But “relationship” is two-sided. There is no relationship without both parties giving themselves to it. Therefore, in order to have the relationship of His heart’s desire, God had to make a way for man to choose Him as He chooses us. For choice to be true, there must be something else from which to choose. Thus God planted two trees in the earth.

The first tree, known as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, supplied us with choice. The second tree, that upon which the Savior hung as the sacred Lamp of God, provides us assurance in our choice. The choice of those who had it in the beginning was to choose the tempting fruit of the lie over the truth of God and unhindered relationship with Him. Before going to our focal passage in James, let’s take a quick look at Adam and Eve.

EveAndTheSerpent_lIn the story of Adam and Eve’s fall found in Genesis 3, first enters the serpent. The serpent back then could speak, and it says that he “was more crafty than any beast of the field.” He came to the woman, asking, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman replies, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

Now my question, before we go further, is why did the serpent approach Eve rather than Adam? I believe we get a clue in the response given by Eve. Her response is that of second hand knowledge. God told Adam, “Don’t eat that or you will die.” He never said, “Don’t touch it.”

How often do we see someone who has been warned of danger carry the warning of “do not taste” to a level of “don’t even touch it.” Eve was not even around when God gave warning to Adam. To our knowledge at this point in the story of God, she did not have this one on one instruction of the Lord in her experience, from what we are told in scripture.

I don’t know about you, but for me it is much easier to believe a truth from God when we are instructed on it personally by Him. So the serpent came to Eve, who most likely, as many of us would do, was wondering about the truth of the warning because the fruit of that tree just looked too good to be harmful. And what did he do next?

“You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (vs. 4-5).

Now we know that this serpent is being instructed in what to say by Satan, most likely possessed by him, because we are told of Lucifer’s desire to be God in Ezekiel 28 and other passages. He often works to lead others to desire to be their own god, and he does so by causing us to question the truthfulness and integrity of God. Satan, through the mouth of the serpent, caused Eve to doubt further the truth about God she was taught by Adam, and caused her to question the veracity of her God. The fruit of that tree being appealing to the eye, and the words of the deceiver sounding good to the ear, she was tempted and did eat. The serpent, being the pawn of evil, lied to Eve, who believed the lie and she made her choice regarding relationship with God.

She, then, carried the lie further as she offered the fruit to Adam. We are not told what occurred between Adam and Eve in that Eve2moment, but I can just hear it now, can’t you? “Look, Adam! It is luscious. I did eat, and I did not die! God lied.” So Adam, enamored with Eve and always desiring to please her, as is often the case in male-female relations as we seek to please one another: Adam forgot his God, and seeing Eve still breathing, doubted God’s veracity and he ate.

Note something important here, the eyes of their heart did not open to the knowledge of good and evil until Adam bit the proverbial bullet and it exploded. It was Adam that God gave charge to in the Garden to tend it and care for all living creatures in it. He had not only the authority to rebuke the serpent, but I believe that if he had grabbed the hand of his wife and dragged her running to the Father, things would have been different. Instead he too, fell, and their eyes opened to see evil.

Death was not the expected instantaneous death from life, though their bodies began the process of decay in that instant—aging little by little, leading to that final breath in this life to enter eternity with, or without, God. The death experienced in Eden was worse than instant cessation of the life of their body. Instead the death that came was instantaneous separation from intimacy with God. As the voice of God came to them, Him searching the Garden for their presence, I believe because He sensed the disturbance of their intimate connection that occurred, hearing Him calling, Adam and Eve knew they sinned against God and were afraid, so they hid themselves. In an instant, their relationship with Him was never the same.

Thus we find ourselves in the wake of sin still today. Sin is deceptive, leading to belief of lies that destroy relationships. Unlike Adam and Eve, we come into this world in a flesh of sin with the seed of sin ruling, causing us to doubt the truth and trustworthiness of God. From the day we are born, unless our parents or someone else tells us of Him, we do not know there is a God to acknowledge. We are separated from Him, knowing only our own fleshly desires as ruler and master. And sensing the emptiness left by His absence, though not knowing what is missing, we run to our lusts for fulfillment.

James 4:1-5 ~ “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD IS HOSTILITY TOWARD GOD? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’?”

Our intimacy with God is our spirit united with His Spirit. Yet even today our lusts and desire for the pleasures of this world wage war within us, drawing us by the lie away from the Truth. That pleasure we seek says to us, “Take me and you will be satisfied and made complete. If you can just have me, you will have all you need for life more abundant and full.” But only One can fill that place in us.

Note the Capital S in this verse, “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.” James here is speaking to Christians who have chosen God through the second tree. This second tree, the tree of Calvary, where the Savior gave His life to purchase all who will believe, gives us assurance of eternity with God, as we take the fruit of that tree with faith to believe Him who provided it. Even Christians, who have trusted and believed Him, receiving His Spirit that quickens our own to bring Life to us again through eternal relationship with Him, even we can be drawn away by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the boastful pride of life. Look at verse 5 in the Amplified version of scripture:

“Or do you suppose that the Scripture is speaking to no purpose that says, The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love?”

As long as we are in weak flesh that is perishing, living in a weak and alluring world of deceptive desire, we can be tempted away from the sincerity of our relationship with God. Though we do not lose our relationship with Him as before, the intimacy can still be hindered, weakening us as His witnesses, His ambassadors, His holy priesthood in this life. We must grow day by day and opportunity by opportunity to continue to choose relationship with Him over the ways of this life.

Our spirit is made to unite with His. It is our choice whether we will believe God and choose Him over the fleeting pleasures of sin’s lie. Anything that brings separation from intimacy with Him destroys all we can be and have in this life. Still today the serpent of old robs us of our abundance by way of his lies that lure us to choose other things over the goodness and glory of our God.

So yes, God allows the opportunity for us to choose to sin against Him, because every opportunity to choose sin comes with opportunity to believe in and choose God. However, no, evil is not set before us by God, nor is it created by Him. God is truth and always deals with us out of His integrity. But there is loosed upon the earth His arch enemy whose desire is to destroy all God cares for. God cast him out of His kingdom and he allows him to tempt us so that we have choice, the lie, or The Truth. Sin, first in the fall of Lucifer, and then in the fall of man, unleashed evil in the world and in the flesh of every person, making it slave to its lusts. God is not evil and no evil comes from His hand, but He allows evil to reach out to us so that we have choice in our relationship with Him.

Choose truth, Beloved, and walk with God in unity of faith to believe Him over the lie before our eyes. God gives us the plumb-line of His word. If the desire of our heart does not stand up to the truth of God’s word, it is sin, and sin separates, hindering a right and true relationship with a holy God.

“Choose life, that you may live, you and your children with you” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19.

Caught in the Wake

Introduction

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

God is Holy. What does that mean?

Holy means separated from sin; set apart from evil; filled with good, righteousness, and truth.

God IS and He IS Holy!

Two things about this reveal to us that God and sin cannot abide or dwell in the same place. One who is separated from sin cannot remain where sin resides. And One who is fully good, righteous, and true will shatter and scatter sin, for sin cannot remain in the presence of the Holy. Sin is dark. God is Light. Light dispels darkness. Thus God tells us, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” ~ James 4:7-8.

As we walk away from sin, we walk into the glory of the very presence of God. But, as we see mentioned in the verse above, there is an Aliveenemy who seeks to draw us away from God. He is the epitome of sin and the father of lies. He desires all God has, wanting to be god himself, so he fights all that God is and all that He loves, seeking to destroy God’s desire and design.

This demon-king, Satan, knows that the flesh is weak. He knows that apart from God, we can do nothing. So he works overtime, appealing to our flesh, enticing us through our lusts, and luring us away from God so that sin can rule. And when he cannot lure us, he will put us on the run in a panic, causing us to forget grace, leading to our struggle to work our way back to a righteous stance, thus, we try to become our own savior and usurp the work of Christ.

In introducing this short series of study, let me tell you a little story that is true of many today, and that could be true for any in our day.

A family of people is going through life with all the normal ups and downs we all have. They are strong Christian people, seeking the Lord fervently. Faithful in church, they are actively involved and growing strong in their personal ministry of faith. Their children are strong in the Lord, growing, and greatly loved as exemplary pupils of the faith.

One day the father, upset over some personal hurt, takes a step toward an old sin struggle and begins anew to look at porn. His sin grows stronger as his addiction renews its old hold and enslaves him. He winds up committing adultery in a way that causes his family to turn from him. Divorce ensues.

In her hurt, the wife reaches out to friends for help. Many come to her aid, both male and female. One thing leads to another and she falls into the arms of sin for her comfort.

Divorce leads to the necessity of moving the kids off from their strong support system. The kids, devastated over their family falling apart, made worse by the loss of strong friendships, begin to struggle with the ugliness of life. One falls into depression. Another turns to anorexia. Still another follows the example of the father and falls to addiction to porn. They begin to be snared by a spirit of falsehood, and lies seem easier to them than the truth.

The mother has pressed on to try to get life back where it should be, but one hardship after another knocks her down. Worry over the children, financial issues, discord with the ex-husband, the struggle of new relationships, all of it begins to take its toll on her weary soul.

All these beloved of God are trapped in the wake of sin—their own and that of those near to them.

Wake – The visible track of turbulence left by something moving through water. A track, course, or condition left behind something that has passed. In the aftermath of; as a consequence of.

Sin starts a ripple effect that disturbs all around it. One wave hits, bringing about another, over and over, each building the next until a surge of insurmountable proportion brings flooding and devastation. Many in our day are trapped in the wake of sin. How to get out? That is the question.

Over the next few days we will look at this phenomenon and discover the answers to the following questions:

  • Did God, who is Holy, allow the sin? Why or why not?
  • What is one to do who finds themselves caught in such a wake?
  • How do we recoup?
  • How do we press forward?

Beloved, no one living in this world is immune to sin, and sin can and will clutch the lives of even the most godly if it is given the opportunity of a crack in our defenses. My hope is that by the end of this series, we will not only have the answers to the above questions, but that we will know and understand this word from James:

“…do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” ~ James 4:5-6.

 

 

 

Pondering the Point of Christmas:

“As I see it, there really are only two Gods in this world. There is the Creator who designed it all, who imbues our life (potentially) with meaning and mission. And there is the autonomous self. The lives of each of us orbits One or the other. We choose to live as a child of God or of the lesser god named self. In a way, its the only choice in life that really matters, since all the other choices-our beliefs, morals, priorities-cash out as natural extensions of this one choice. At Christmas, God comes to us as Emmanuel, God with us. But only if we want Him to be with us in life, to orbit His life with ours. This is the choice each of us makes, not by any profession of faith, but by a thousand little decisions each day, to do it His way or mine. Think carefully. Choose well. Merry Christmas.”

Author: Curtis Martin of Fort Collins, Colorado ©

Used by permission

Christmas, or Not? The Controversy and Our Choice

nativity 02
Merry Christmas

This morning, as I awoke, my thoughts ran quickly to the controversial issue I have been mulling, and yes, fuming over for weeks now concerning Christmas as a Christian holiday and it being “stolen from us in our day and culture”. I am hearing that there are even people gearing up to fight to get it back. And until I started my research, I was leaning toward getting aboard the boat with them. But after just barely starting my research, God began to minister to my heart and lead me to adjust my understanding and perceptions. I am now leaning toward a thought that has hit my head several times of late; that thought being that we need to celebrate Christ in peace with those who celebrate their “holidays” or set another time as a time for our celebration of Christ. Why do I say that?

The very beginning of my research reveals what I have heard for years; that Christmas as a celebration started out of other traditions of the day. Quoting one article on History of Christmas website:

“Believe it or not, many of the traditions that we observe during the Christmas holiday season began way before the birth of Christ. Exchanging gifts, decorating trees, and the burning of the Yule log were all winter traditions that began before Christ was born, but were eventually incorporated into the holiday that became known as Christmas, and became part of Christmas history.” 1

According to this same article, “One theory about the evolution of the winter celebrations to the celebration of the birth of Jesus is that the Roman emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity, wanted to incorporate the pagan winter rituals together with the celebration of Jesus’ birth. In this way, Constantine hoped to help both pagans and Christians celebrate together. Many believe that this is the reason for celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25th. It is widely believed today that Jesus was not actually born on, or even close to, December 25th. Eventually, the Roman church became more successful in making the December celebration about the birth of Christ, replacing any celebrations that were in honor of pagan gods.” 1

Some interesting facts:

†   The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. 2

†   The first Nativity was created by St. Francis of Assisi in 1224 and was a living nativity, set up in an effort to explain the birth of Jesus. The Nativity is exclusive to the Christian faith and the celebration of Christ at Christmas in many parts of the world. 3

†   Decorated trees were used in celebrations long before Christ, as well as being seen as home décor for luck and other such beliefs. It is believed that Boniface, a Monk who came to Germany in the 7th/8th century, first introduced the use of the fir as a Christmas tree, its triangular shape being used to signify the Trinity. 4

†   The 12 Days of Christmas is believed to come from the Zagmuth in Mesopotamia, a festival in support of their chief god, Marduk, who was believed to battle the “monsters of chaos” at the beginning of winter. 1

†   The Council of Tours in 567 established the period of Advent as a time of fasting before Christmas. They also proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany a sacred, festive season. 5

I could go on, but you can read the articles linked below for more information. The fact is that the celebration of Christmas, meaning “Christ’s mass”, is highly linked with celebrations of other non-Christian cultures through adoption of timing, traditions, and symbols. Do we have a right to celebrate it with freedom and respectful consideration by those who choose not to? Yes. Is this season solely ours? No. There are too many other cultures with similar celebrations, some linked with other gods, who have had this same season for eons, long before our choosing it for our purpose of honoring and remembering the Christ.

So what’s the solution?

†   “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31.

†   Remember that “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 5:20.

†   And, lest we forget, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, INTENT ON ONE PURPOSE. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” ~ Philippians 2:1-8.

Our main purpose for still being here, the reason we continue to watch for Christ’s return, is because He still has a work for us to do in the earth. We are here to represent His interests, and His interests are for us to be an expression of His image in the earth, reaching out to those He died for with arms and attitudes of love. And we are to do so in likeness to Christ, who gave up His high position and all the rights that afforded Him to come here and suffer the loss of all He had for a time so that He might provide a way of saving grace for us. Thus, we are to lay down our lives, if need be, in order to win some. (Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-24)

The celebration of Christ is a heart issue. We cannot force it on others. They cannot truly take it from us. My decision today as I think on these things is this: When I say “Merry Christmas” and someone else responds with Happy Holidays, I will smile and thank them while lifting a prayer for their ultimate blessing. If someone complains about my nativity being visible to all in my front yard, I will do my best to respond to them with grace while standing my ground in celebrating my King. Hopefully as I do so, with respectful consideration for him while still standing firm for my Christ, that person will come to some understanding of my love of my God and will return the respect of my right of choice as I respect their God-given right to choose against Him. Remember, rejection of Christianity and its practices and peoples is not ultimately rejection of the person serving Christ, it is rejection of Christ Himself, and He will deal with that (Luke 10:16; Titus 1:16). Ours is to love Him and love others as He does: unconditionally and incorruptibly.

Are some things worth fighting for? Yes. Are we, as Christians to do so? We are called to “fight the good fight of faith”, so I would say we are to pick our battles well, make sure our heart and attitude in the fight line up with God’s will and way, then stand firm on Him.

We are called to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves in this world. To me, that means to understand the ways of evil and know what God has supplied us in the set-up of world government that can be used to fight the good fight within the legal bounds of His Law and the laws of man, but we must do so always with our role of ambassador in heart, being innocent of unrighteous motive and clear of attitudes that misrepresent Him, standing with His Law when man’s law is in contention with Him.

Christmas is the focus of the Christian in celebrating this Holiday season. But other belief systems coincide with our Christmas. Let them have theirs while we keep ours with respect and peace one to another, or change the date for ours and separate from the rest. It is our choice, people of Jehovah in Jesus, the Christ. What will we do?

References:

History Of Christmas on History of Christmas website: http://www.historyofchristmas.net/page1.html

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas; See also History of old Christmas day: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/ch/old_christmas_day.htm

Nativity History: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/ch/nativity.htm

Symbols of Christmas on The Holiday Spot.Com: http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/christmas_symbols.htm

History of Advent: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/trivia/advent.htm

Sites of interest:

History of Holidays: http://www.historyofholidays.com/

The History of Christmas: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/

The Holiday Spot: http://www.theholidayspot.com/

A Call to The Elect

“For the Lord spoke thus to me with His strong hand upon me, and warned and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, ‘Do not call conspiracy [or hard, or holy] all that this people will call conspiracy [or hard, or holy]; neither be in fear of what they fear, nor make others afraid and in dread. The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor His holy name by regarding Him as your only hope of safety, and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him. And He shall be a sanctuary, a sacred and indestructible asylum to those who reverently fear and trust in Him; but He shall be a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Isaiah 8:11-14, AMP; brackets removed for easier reading).

We are in precarious days as a nation and indeed, the whole world, facing many and diverse challenges. As I watched things unfold over these weeks of the election season, the Sandy storm thundering its bolt upon our land, God has spoken many things to my heart.

He often speaks warning to me of things to come, and through these weeks of waiting and watching for Him, He again warns of difficult days ahead. The true election of our day was and is “God” or “not God.” Not only was that our true choice where our vote for a President was concerned, but it is our true choice with every decision and every potential path throughout every day of our lives. As for the Presidential election, the days ahead will reveal our vote.

One thing God is making clear to me as I consider all He is revealing is that I am not here to cause further dread, calling things a conspiracy, giving way to paranoia. I am not to give focus to the hard things ahead, or call things ‘holy’ that this world calls ‘holy.’ Instead my cry is to the possessed of God, those truly belonging to and surrendered to Him. My cry is a call to look up; look up to the Lord, your shelter and strong stay; and look down, look down to your feet and check your stance. Where are you standing on this issue of God and His ways. “…Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you…” (2 Peter 1:1-10).

Our stance on the issue of God and His way is vital to our nation and to each individual professing faith or no faith in Jehovah—Yeshua. “The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor His holy name by regarding Him as your only hope of safety, and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him.” I believe we are a nation heading into the winds of adversity right now, but God is our help and hope. “…And He shall be a sanctuary, a sacred and indestructible asylum to those who reverently fear and trust in Him….”

“…but He shall be a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” At the time of the writing of Isaiah 8, Israel and Judah were failing to honor and follow God. They were coming under the disciplining hand of God and Assyria was raining down on them. God allows such adversity in the lives of those who are His chosen, who refuse to heed His instruction that is given for our good, His glory, and the fulfilling of His purposes.

The days ahead will call each individual to make our choice. Will we look to and stand in the shade of the Mountain of God? Or will we look to and follow the dictates of the winds of adversity coming down off the hills of false hope?

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. [Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler” (Psalm 91:1-4, AMP).

~*~

If you would like to join a prayer force as we watch to see the Lord’s opinion of the recent election, join us on Facebook at Living Worshipers (http://www.facebook.com/LivingWorshipersPage?ref=hl).

 

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 5

God’s Expectant Produce 

 “Let me sing now for my well-beloved a song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it and also hewed out a wine vat in it; then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones” (Isaiah 5:1-7 – vs. 1-2).

God has done an awesome work in the lives of His people, if we will only recognize it and walk in it faithfully. He plants us where He wants us to produce good fruit for His glory, and He provides everything needed for us to be productive vines, sweet and aromatic as the best of wines. He leaves nothing to chance. All that is needful is available to us.

“…And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? …” (Vs. 3-6).

The question is, are we recognizing and rightly using His supply to reach our potential in Christ? As I consider this question for myself, I know that in areas of my life where my faith is strong in Him and where I am surrendered to His work in my life, I am very productive and seeing good fruit bear forth. In other areas where there is struggle to believe and, thus, to surrender, the fruit born is less than desirable. Why is that? Verse 7 suggests a few things to consider.

“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.” (Vs. 7)

He looks for justice: are we producing that in life? Our idea of justice is not always the same as God’s idea. We see this in Romans 12 where we are advised:

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Vs. 14-21).

Herein is justice: to trust in the Lord’s justice, doing good to all men wherever it is in our power to do so, even when they do harm to us. That does not mean we never back away from those who harm us. In His hometown, Jesus walked out of the crowd that threatened life and limb, and I do not recall that He returned to that place again during His ministry. He told the disciples to knock the dust off their feet as they leave a people who refuse their message and work among them, a testimony against them. We are to trust God to deal with the injustices through the means He provides. Leaving the insults done to us in the hands of the righteous Judge who sees and knows the heart of every man while we trust Him to deal with the injustice; trusting Him to judge righteously so that we may continue to do good, reaps a reward we cannot bear out through our own vengeance.

To seek our own vengeance, repaying harm done to us perpetuates sin. It does not work the righteousness of God. He has provided avenues and laws through which punishment is given to those who do evil. Trusting God to use the rule of law is not vengeance on our part, but His rod of man used for discipline (2 Samuel 7:14). Desire for vengeance will only keep us crying out in distress. But a focus toward doing good to others despite harm done to us while trusting in and waiting for the Lord to intervene keeps us producing good fruit to the glory of His name.

The ingredient I see in all of this that assures good fruit? “Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” (Psalm 37). Hum, looks like a return to the Psalm 37 study.

Father, equip us to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; to not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Empower us to cease from anger and forsake wrath; knowing that fretting leads only to evildoing. Evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while, Lord, and the wicked man will be no more. Though we look carefully for his place, he will not be there, for You either will have removed him or changed him by Your grace. You promise that the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. This is our hope and song as we look to You in faith, knowing and receiving Your provision to produce good grapes that bring pleasure to You, even when being crushed in the wine presses of life. In Jesus, show us Your glory. AMEN

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 3

All for One

“When a man lays hold of his brother in his father’s house, saying, ‘You have a cloak, you shall be our ruler, And these ruins will be under your charge,’ He will protest on that day, saying, ‘I will not be your healer, For in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; You should not appoint me ruler of the people. …’” (Isaiah 3:6-12).

It always amazes me in the season of deciding who will lead our country here in the USA that we look for a man to fix the ills of our land. Here I am reminded that no man has the answers that will heal our land.

I find it interesting that, in the verses above, the people come and ask the one to be their ruler. And he responds, “I will not be your healer.” He has wisdom enough to realize that he is as flawed as the rest, impoverished in his own right. We look in the wrong place when we look for a man who has THE PLAN that will heal our land. There is no such thing.

One ploy of every opponent for an office is to reveal the trash in the household of the other. As I consider this passage, I am reminded that there is no one person who has it all together perfectly. There has not been a flawless man or woman since Jesus, nor any before Him. We can look at the men who are running for office now and be brought quickly to despair. For as the remainder of this passage says, so it can be said of our nation:

“…For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, Because their speech and their actions are against the Lord, To rebel against His glorious presence. The expression of their faces bears witness against them, And they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. …” (Isaiah 3:6-12).

We, the people who make up our nation, whichever that nation might be, if we hold our sin out there as if we are proud of it, never turning from wickedness to righteousness, there is no man who can help us. Only as we—each individual of us—turn to and walk with God will we see the Physician turn to heal our land. When we seek Him first, we will find Him and He then will lead us to leaders of nations that are men after His own heart, equipped by Him to lead the way in righteous paths that work God’s healing in our lands.

“Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, For they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him, For what he deserves will be done to him. O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray And confuse the direction of your paths” (Isaiah 3:6-12).

Who should rule? If God does not rule in each individual of us who are called by His name, then we are a nation most to be pitied. When “We the People” turn wholly to God, that is when we will see the end of our downward spiral.

No man has the answers, not fully. I am watching for those who know the One who does have the answers and will walk with Him to lead the way. It will take all of us to find His healing, all for One, walking in His ways.

Father, lead us in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake, to Your glory, and the fulfilling of Your good purpose and plan. Help us as a nation of people to choose today whom we will serve, knowing that as the least of us go in following You, so goes the nation. Make us wholly Yours, following You in holiness. In Jesus, grant us to have eyes to see the man who is Your choice for our nation, and grant him Your Spirit and Your equipping that he may lead with strength and bring us forth in power. In the blessed and holy name of the Savior who covers our sin, amen.

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 1

Passion Inflaming Gardens

Wow. For the first time in several months I find myself without a clear direction for our time of Pondering together. Seeking the Lord for where He desires to speak to me, I am led to read Isaiah. Until God directs otherwise, we will consider thoughts from Isaiah, most likely looking at one thought for each chapter. Today we consider thoughts from Isaiah 1:27-31:

“Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her [returned] converts with righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God). But the crushing and destruction of rebels and sinners shall be together, and they who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. For you will be ashamed [of the folly and degradation] of the oak or terebinth trees in which you found [idolatrous] pleasure, and you will blush with shame for the [idolatrous worship which you practice in the passion-inflaming] gardens which you have chosen. For you shall be like an oak or terebinth whose leaf withers, and like a garden that has no water. And the strong shall become like tow and become tinder, and his work like a spark, and they shall both burn together, with none to quench them” (AMP).

Passion: What is the passion of your life and focus right now, in this very instant? If you are like me, your desire is to say that God is; that the things that God is passionate about are the things that impassion you. But I have to ask myself as I read this thought for today if that is truth. Or is my passion an idol to be dealt with?

Today’s world has many pleasures to be had in it. We can become impassioned to those pleasures with ease, but do those pursuits help our witness or hinder it? Do those things we give ourselves and our time to bring increase to the kingdom of God? Or do we watch the clock tick by hours and minutes in uselessness?

There is nothing wrong with me enjoying a good game of Jewels 2 or Majong Titans. But when I watch 10s of minutes fly by, hour after hour in pursuit to the higher score and faster win day after day while hurting friends are ignored and the house needs attention, my passion for the game becomes an idol that robs of the weightier things of life more abundant and full.

Consider your passions today. Are they driven by eternity, or driven by the earthly?

Father, grant us to have Your heart of passion for those around us and for meeting needs. Help us to have right priorities that, yes, allows for rest and fun things, but not at the expense of our being Your hands and feet in the world. In Jesus, show us Your glory and help us to be Your light reflecting in the earth. Amen.

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 2

The Ache in God’s Heart

 In the last post, I shared the love that God pours through me toward others, citing for our discussion three examples of those times and how Satan uses fleshly and worldly limitations in understanding God’s love for us as he works to distort our experience of it and ability to rightly express it to others. Today let’s look at God’s love for us and what that means with regard to our right of choice and our eternity.

Revelation 3:5 says, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I (Jesus) WILL NOT erase his name from the book of life, and I WILL confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

Talking to the church of Sardis, Jesus warns that there are people of the church (the gathering of those who profess Christianity) who are alive in this life, but they are dead. These have never made a true decision to follow Christ and receive the gift of true and eternal life, but they play the part as if they have. There are a few in the Sardis church who have done so, and for these who overcome in this way, they receive these promises stated in verse 5 of Revelation 3. This scenario is still true in life today. There are some who truly know and walk in the promise of God. But there are many, even among the church goers of our day, who have a false faith, being no faith at all.

Note: the book of life. My understanding as I study the “book of life” is that every name of every person ever born into the earth has their name in this book. Some who were of the pre-Christ, faith in our God continue to have their name remaining in the book because they walked in vital relationship with the Father, and they trusted in the coming of the promised Christ. They chose to believe and receive their righteousness through believing faith in God and His promises before Christ arrived.

Then Jesus the Christ came as the Lamb of God, and He paid the price required to defeat sin and the death sin brings us, revealing Himself to be the only doorway to the Father and the King who will come to fulfill God’s promise to Israel as rightful Ruler, having defeated the enemy of God (John 10). There is now a new covenant with God and that covenant requires relationship with God through Christ for entry into His Kingdom family. This covenant promise reaches the hand of God out to all, Jew and Gentile alike. Only those who truly and fully choose to wed themselves to God through Christ’s sacrifice that redeemed right over us from the hand of the enemy that enslaves us will find their name still remaining in the book when Jesus confesses as our advocate before the Father those belonging to God’s family.

In Colossians 3 we are told that those who enter into relationship with God through Christ are made one together, removing all separation of circumcision. In the old covenant, circumcision was a sign of consecration of a people; revealing to all their commitment to God and His right of Lordship over them. It was meant to be an outward expression of an inward work. True commitment to Christ works that intended purpose in us through the power of His Spirit within us, proving circumcision of heart through the fruit of lives consecrated to God.  

Through Christ we all enter into relationship with God, being made one with Him in Holy Matrimony for all eternity. Without Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, there is no circumcision that is sufficient. Apart from Christ, we cannot be set free or made right with God, and are the poorest of the poor no matter our wealth in this life. And even our greatest good, if not coupled with Christ and the work of His Spirit in us, is as filthy rags before a Holy God; for our heart motives, intentions and purposes are too often distorted from His, destroying our ability to be in relationship with a God who cannot even look on sin.

Still, God, Who is love, loves fully, completely and purely: the Barbarian (those who refuse to conform to God and His ways) and Scythian (considered to be the worst of the worst of mal-conformists); the Jew (the people of God’s possession), the Gentile (those not part of God’s possessed people); the slave and the freeman (rich or poor matters not, His love just a great toward both alike). All who have yet to enter into relationship with Him through Christ, who is our freedom from sin and death, God loves as fully as He does those who are His.

But He is hindered in giving that love fully to you who refuse His saving grace, because you have not chosen to separate yourself from your sin by receiving in your body the Sacrifice for sin found in Christ that vitally unites us to God, the Father. Until you do, you are in danger of having your name removed from the book of life, being eternally separated from God because of sin that is only cleansed and covered by the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus; the Messiah. And for some, booing my words right now, know that hearts can harden to the point of passing over the threshold of no return, passing up your opportunity while yet you live.

God grieves over you with love unfulfilled. This is the reason God revealed to me for the pain and the struggle I have experienced, so I may understand the heart of God toward those lost to sin, making me able to somewhat express to you the depth of God’s love for you.

One day all will stand before the judgment seat of God. Oh, hear me people. There we each, the Bride, and those scratched out of the book, all will stand before this God who is pure love, the love we all look to find; love that we need in order to be whole and complete. This love exudes from His every pore, for it is who He is, and all will know it. We each will fully know His love for us as individuals of His creation. Then the roll will be called and Jesus will separate out the sheep, those birthed to God through the Lamb. As He leads us sheep into the eternal Kingdom to live forever with our God of love, He will confess us as His own beloved Bride (1 John 5:13).

Then, with the ache in His heart akin to what I have experienced for years now as shared in part 1 of this article; an ache multiplied to His heart exponentially by each person who is no longer on the rolls of God’s book of life, He will shout, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:31-46). His love has flowed to me over one I felt hindered to express it to fully, and I thought I would be crushed by the ache within me. I cannot even fathom the weight of the pain He feels over the masses who refuse to believe and receive His love.

In Matthew 8, Jesus speaking to a Jewish crowd, says that those who were sons of the kingdom but failed to choose relationship with God through Him will be “cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs. 12). This proclamation of warning from Christ to the people of God He reached out to is true for all mankind. To understand this agony that will bring the castaway to a fire burning constantly and bringing them to weeping and gnashing of teeth, we need to recognize two things:

First is this love of God that is equal for all, the sheep (children of God) and the goat (castaways—lost for eternity). He loves us, yes; and His love desires that we willingly choose to love Him back, living for Him in line with all He holds dear and true, which requires an obedience of us to be and do as He is.

But man is unable to do that on His own. If we learn nothing else in the Old Testament, it is that mankind is incapable of the righteousness of God’s desire. So God ordained that there be sacrifice for sin and, through the lineage of Israel, because of His love for us and His desire for a relationship with us, He raised up a Holy Seed to be the Lamb of God: the Seed of Adam that would stomp the head of the serpent; the Seed of Abraham that would bless the nations.

God’s love is pure and complete, loving us as we are, but, desiring the best for us, loving us too much to leave us in our current spiritual condition. So He sent His son to pay the price of blood required, and He sends His Spirit that we may know His ways so we may know Him, receiving and becoming a conduit of His love and His righteousness, empowered by His Spirit. In the Day of Judgment, all will fully know this truth, but for those who refused to believe, it will be too little, too late.

The second understanding we must have is that, in the Kingdom of God, there will no longer be need of a sun because God will be the light of that place (Revelation 21:23).

Standing before God, two things are revealed to those scratched out of the book: revelation of the full and complete awe of God, who is love; the truth that He is and knowledge of all that He is. They will see Him as He is and experience for a brief moment His pure love for them and the completeness He brings to those who see Him in His glory. And two: They will see Him in all His goodness through His Light that brings full revelation of all that is good. They will know in an instant their sin, contrasted with His purity; sin that can no longer be forgiven, for they will again realize that it is too late.

As quickly as they come into contact with God, in all His fullness so as to discover His pure love and glorious light of truth and righteousness, they will be cast away from Him forevermore. As they are sent away, they will go knowing that without God, true love cannot exist, for God is love. Without God there is utter darkness. Those who fail to choose Him through Christ will be sent away to an eternity without any Light to a place where no love resides.

If you have ever experienced utter darkness, where you cannot see your hand in front your face, you know how unnerving that can be. Imagine that for all eternity. Imagine being in that place of darkness with no one you love or who loves you; for love cannot exist separated from its Source.

Jesus speaks of the eternal fire that these will experience. Could it be that the fire that will burn forever, torturing those cursed for an eternity without God, is the fire of desire to experience for a second that purity, that love, just once more.

People say that the fire is flames of heat because of the parable of the rich man who asked for a drop of water to quench the heat of his tongue. But could the water he requested be the Living Water that quenches thirst forever? Could it be the desire to experience His glory and worship at His feet one more time? For I believe they will fall on their knees in worship before Him on that day of judgment, and they will profess Jesus as the Christ, the King and Lord of lords, but theirs will be as the confession of the demon who knows it is too late for them to enter into His rest and find life made full and complete (Philippians 2:1-11).

And what was Abraham’s response to the man? “Between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us” (Luke 16:19-31). The cursed are not within reach of the Water they long for, and none who might have compassion to share with them can do so. It is too late.

In the parable, this tortured man requested that Lazarus be sent back to life to bear witness to his brothers so that they might repent and be saved his agony. But Abraham essentially said that those who will not listen to the testimony of their own patriarchs who bore witness of the Christ, why would they heed the testimony of another, though resurrected from the dead. Thus many refuse to hear the witness of those who are reborn in Christ and bear the testimony of His presence and work in our lives. Many are enslaved by refusal to realize there is a God. Many are snared by pride that believes we must somehow be good enough for God, not realizing that we are incapable of goodness without God.

The sacrifices of Israel, short lived as it was while yet ordained by God, required it to be done over and over again to keep their sin covered because they were incapable of maintaining purity then, just as we are incapable today. Even the exercise of sacrifice for sin became sin, as many did so as a habit that had no true effect on their lives. They refused change, continuing in their sin, and the act of sacrifice given in outward observance of the Law was nullified by lack of the circumcision of heart that separates from sin.

Then enters Jesus: His sacrifice was once for all. All the sin of all mankind that would ever exist was placed on His shoulders. God, paying the full price required in blood, sent His only begotten Son as a Lamb to the slaughter, First Born among many brethren who would be birthed through Him. The sacrifice of Christ Jesus covered the sin of those who trusted in His coming before He came, and the sin of all who would believe in His ministry of love and sacrifice after those days.

Why did God plan for and provide this sacrifice. Because He loves us all and desires that we have a vital, effective and growing relationship of love with Him, and that requires us to realize that we cannot achieve that relationship without His work in us. Thus, He provided the way by which we may know Him as God.

This is the love of God for us that put Jesus on that cross. And all – ALL – saved and lost alike, who stand before God on that Day of Judgment will fully know that love poured out on their behalf. The sheep of God will enter into His Kingdom to eternal joy and rejoicing; and those who refused to believe will fully experience His pure love that makes one whole, only to be cast away from it for all eternity. Their weeping and gnashing of teeth will be the constant ache of knowing that pure Love and revealing Light for an instant in eternity, knowing only never to experience it again. They will be fully alive in their understanding of what they could have had, while fully dead in the outer darkness, experiencing the pain of utter death found in separation from God for eternity. They will know the ache of God’s heart over love lost.

As I said before, God has allowed me this forbidden love experience, with the ache of longing that was grievous and sorrowful to me, so I can understand how He feels toward those who have yet to choose Him through Christ. My heart now relaxes and releases its struggle with a sigh of relief in understanding that purpose. And I thank my God who has allowed me this experience so that I can share it with you and so that I can have His heart to grieve over those who refuse to believe as I love the lost masses with Him. I have prayed many times to understand God’s heart toward the lost. Little did I know that my struggle was His answer to my prayer; discerning the longing for those loved and the ache of sin’s separation.

The time is growing short, and the Day of Judgment draws near when no man may choose. Beloved of God, do not let that hour come on you as if unexpected. To say to self and God, “I will sow my wild oats, and then I will come to salvation” is foolish. Today is the day of salvation, for you have no promise of a tomorrow. Choose now, while you are able, surrendering fully to the transforming grace of God’s pure and holy love that will make you whole as never before. I urge you to call upon someone you know to be true of faith as a Christian so they can help you take the first steps in your journey of faith through Christ.

~*~

The next post I thought was separate from this, but God has revealed that it is part of this series, making it three posts instead of two. It is for those who know Christ, or think they do. See you soon with the rest of the story.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 7b

“For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (vs. 9-11).

“…But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.”

Yesterday we discussed the need to grow in patience to wait upon the Lord. Taking another look at our passage, we see that waiting is an act of humility.

It takes humility to sit and wait on the timing of another, especially when it is God and we can’t fully discern what He is doing. To know His call in our lives and trust His timing on things, when we think we are ready to go, challenges our humility, forcing us to the choice of falling away to our own path, or growing strong in the bearing of the fruit of humble patience in our lives. Choosing humble-patience in God produces assurance of our “inheriting the land”—accomplishing the goals and plans of God for us, and leading to our abundant prosperity.

God’s word has a lot to say about the humble, and Jesus, again, provides the example of true humility for us.

Jesus waited 30 years before coming into God’s timing for His ministry and the building up of disciples to carry on the work. We know He was anxious to get going because, when He was but 12 years old, His parents ran back to Jerusalem in a panic, finding Him busy about His Father’s business in the temple. And He was believed to be 33 years old before He saw the plan and purpose of God brought to completion through His willing sacrifice and resurrection power. For He who is the King of kings to wait so long, humbling Himself before His earthly-parents and others of authority in His world, very-God in the body of a child being taught of man; His wait required humility, the cornerstone of patience.

I also have the privilege of having my husband as a visible example of humility at work. For several years I watched my Choleric, organized, perfectionistic husband work under the authority of a Phlegmatic, laid back, disorganized, Sanguine. But my sweet, patient, humble man would fold his arms, taking a relaxed, hands-off stance, and sitting back, he would wait until the boss was ready to go, having just enough Phlegmatic personality to calm his get it done temperament.

Through these examples, I see that humility is an important trait to develop if we are to wait well.

We have talked some about humility in Parts 4 and 4Aa of this study when we covered the roll of the Bondservant, who humbles himself through surrender to his Master, going from temporary and unwilling slave, to eternal and willing bond-service, having the humble mind of Christ. Seeing that humility is vital to our ability to wait upon the Lord, let’s see what more we can learn from scripture about those of humble heart.

†   “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way” (Psalm 25:9),

Humility is vital to our ability to learn, grow strong in, and know God’s ways. And remember, it is through knowing His ways that we truly come to know Him. Therefore it is the humble in heart that will truly grow to know God intimately and personally.

†   “The humble have seen it (the salvation of the Lord) and are glad; you who seek God, let your heart revive” (Psalm 69:32 – vs. 29).

The humble who seek the Lord will see His salvation and find their heart revived. It takes humility to seek the Lord first in all things, with wholehearted faith in Him. But as we do so, we will find the reward of His presence and work in our lives. Is your heart weary, your light dull? Revival comes to the humble who seek the Lord in earnest, and finding Him faithful, see the darkness dispelled by His light revived and made new within.

†   “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).

It takes wisdom to live a good life, knowing when and how and to whom to humble oneself. Being humble before God requires us to know when to bow to His authority in any given situation or to His authority found in the high position of other beings. Wisdom also knows when to bow to His authority by standing firm with His authority in us against another. Wisdom is promised to the humble of heart.

The meekness of humility is not wimpy. It is surrender to authority: surrendering first to God’s authority as God, then recognizing the authority of others ordained by God; and, being surrendered to God, taking up His authority when He calls us to stand against that which is not of His choosing. Humility requires much strength of character. Humility is always that of bowing first to God; then knowing when to bow to the authority of others, we choose when to surrender and when to stand firm; both requiring strength of character in trusting God.

†   “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

Do we really honor God as God in our lives, or do we take for granted His lovingkindness and grace? When His word convicts us of sin, do we humble ourselves through contrition of spirit, trembling at His word, or give half-hearted thought to it and go on our way unscathed: without true and sincere repentance? This, by the way, is the heart of hypocrisy: saying we walk with God while failing to receive His word implanted by surrendering to His will with our all. Lack of humility treats God and His word as commonplace.

Look at the Amplified version of Isaiah 66:1-4:

“THUS SAYS the Lord: Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house would you build for Me? And what kind can be My resting-place? For all these things My hand has made, and so all these things have come into being by and for Me, says the Lord. But this is the man to whom I will look and have regard: he who is humble and of a broken or wounded spirit, and who trembles at My word and reveres My commands. The acts of the hypocrite’s worship are as abominable to God as if they were offered to idols. He who kills an ox then will be as guilty as if he slew and sacrificed a man; he who sacrifices a lamb or a kid, as if he broke a dog’s neck and sacrificed him; he who offers a cereal offering, as if he offered swine’s blood; he who burns incense to God, as if he blessed an idol. Such people have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations; so I also will choose their delusions and mockings, their calamities and afflictions, and I will bring their fears upon them—because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not listen or obey. But they did what was evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight.”

Lack of sincere obedience, true humility, honest contrition, and wholehearted earnestness toward God as God fails to delight the heart of God because it is hypocrisy. He will not listen to nor heed the plea of those of us who fall short in this practice of humility through our practice of hypocritical, feigned obedience. We want our nation to revive and be healed? It begins with “me”, knowing, “…to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

†   Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger. …I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the LORD” (Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12).

The humble of heart know God as their refuge in time of trouble. They are not overcome by fear, nor do they fall in the way of the “terrible” and imagined, because they have found The Secret Place of God as Shelter, Shield, and Buckler (Psalm 91).

As I think on this with my recent struggle in Complicated Grief Disorder and Social Anxiety nearing agoraphobia, I realize that fear is sourced in pride. We fear that which we feel we cannot stand against or control. Fear says, “If I cannot stand against it to protect myself, how can God protect me?” Fear refuses to surrender in faith to God and His will and way for us, whatever that may be.

Fear is self-centered. Faith is God-centered, trusting God’s love to be for us and not against us. His perfect love, trusted by faith and flowing to and through us, casts out fear. Humility bows when “I cannot” turns to acknowledge “but God…”: realizing that “Nothing shall be impossible with God, Who can.” Through trusting Him even when fearsome things happen or may happen, with humility we deny fear’s grip on our lives and trust God’s love which is always for our good and not harm, to give us a hope and a future that honors Him. Through faith in Him, we accomplish His purpose in the earth, living with Him in the eternal.

†   “…who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:21).

Humility is required for transformation to take place. Wondering why your life is not being transformed according to God’s promise? Look to see where pride, arrogance, and stubborn obstinance still holds its grip.

†   “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.’ …Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:6, 10).

True greatness comes most to those who are truly humble-putty in the hand of their God. Humility trusts God to make us sufficient for His use. Humility believes God. Humility knows that the place in which God’s will takes us is the best and safest place we can possibly enter into.

True humility waits for the Lord with patience for the path ahead, while keeping His way where we are.

The humble walk with God as Enoch did, and he was not, for God took Him to be with Him desiring his presence with Him. The humble believe God as Abraham did, and it was counted to him as righteousness. The humble are people after God’s own heart as David was, and God called him “the friend of God” with Moses. Humility exalts us to enter into the presence of God, putting us in direct contact with His light, equipping us to be His reflection in the earth, dispelling darkness on our way with unity in Him. Thus, the humble, who wait patiently upon the Lord, will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity, being exalted to know God and His ways for all eternity.