Category Archives: Holy Habitation

Focus on Victory

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭2:15-17‬ ‭NASB

The world or worldly. This passage defines “all that is in the world” as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Considering this malady today, my thoughts settle on the eyes.

I know that lust resides in my dead flesh. The flesh wants what it wants. When revived from the death of sin bought for me by Jesus, that flesh with its passions and desires rises to draw me away from God and His desires for me. That enlivening begins in the eyes.

When my eyes fall to something flesh desires, the lust of the eyes excites the flesh. Then that flesh woman in me raises up from the dead to spark life back into the boastful pride of life in me as it did in Eve.

The lie of Satan is seed that is passed from parent to child. When lust of eye tweaks lust of flesh to resurrect itself, that seed of Satan starts talking in my own voice. “Surely one taste won’t hurt. I am strong and can just have one. God won’t mind as long as I reassert my self control. I can do it.”

I’ve fallen to this trap of fleshly lust over and over, especially in my way of eating. One reason for that is my knowing that no food is evil in itself. It’s my lust of flesh that is evil, and it knows how to trap me into making food an idol that too readily enslaves me. The lie is thinking “I” can be strong enough for anything. The trap is pride that ignores the first step into it: the focus of my eyes on an idol that too easily enslaves me.

Today, as I consider these things, I realize that the first step toward victory over the lust of my flesh is to look away from that which caught my eye’s attention. This may be the physical sighting of a delectable morsel, or it may simply be my mind’s eye allowing it’s focus to shift off course. Look away and turn gaze back on God.

Step two: do battle with pride. Take every prideful thought captive and make it bow to the name of Jesus as Lord and the Spirit of God as ally to our ability to do anything, knowing that “I” is unable to do anything apart from God. Take self thoughts captive to God’s desires for me, His power to overcome given to me. Refocus on relationship with Him and my desire to please Him above all else, keeping Him as the Lord and one true God over me. Set my mind and keep it set on walking in eternal victory. Keep it set on Temple life.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:12-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The lust of the flesh keeps me in the grave of sinful passions. But God! By His grace, it is no longer “I” who live as flesh, but Christ lives in me through the power of His Spirit. His Spirit gives true life to me as I walk in believing faith and trust in God. By God’s Spirit alone, I have power to overcome the passions and desires of my flesh. Walk in victory with me and let’s be made whole.

The Gift

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭NASB

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

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

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

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

Planned for Destiny

‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:24-28‬ ‭NASB‬‬

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

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

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

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

Appropriated by Faith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are you trusting God for today?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:5‬ ‭NASB

To Each Generation

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

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

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

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

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

Fearless Ministers of Reconciliation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without Regret

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand Firm

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

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

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:1-14‬ ‭NASB

When Jesus says “You”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‭‭James‬ ‭2:14-26‬ ‭NASB

Prep with Assurance

Luke‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NASB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serve God with Your Wealth

We cannot serve God and wealth, but we can, and should, serve God with our wealth. God is the one who graces us with the ability to make wealth, and He instructs us to be good stewards of it as servants of His manifold provision. When we look to making money as the means of meeting our needs, chasing money takes the place of God. When we chase God and seek to please and serve Him with all He supplies, He opens doors for the provision of all we need.

The better we are at serving God and keeping wealth as resource in that work for Him, the more He trusts us to handle the riches of this life for His glory. He doesn’t promise that we will be rich in this life, as the world measures riches, but He does promise our true needs will be met as He opens the storehouses of His provision to our faithful service to Him as God.

Note to the Church

“Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord God be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. …” – ‭‭Micah‬ ‭1:2-5‬ ‭NASB

Church, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ and spared the eternal death of separation from God, saved from being cast into eternal hell. Proof of this grace in us is seen as we turn from sin by the power of His Spirit, to bear the fruit of righteousness in likeness to Christ. And we are continually being perfected, as we, day by day, walk free of our sin nature and become more Christlike, choosing Him more and more. But we, as His people, are not spared from the consequences of sin in this life now.

The world – people who have not received Christ and who are the true “walking dead”, cannot be expected to recognize and walk free of sin, being separated from Him and without His Spirit to teach them what sin is. It is because of us, who know what sin is, but give ourselves to it anyway, or give harty approval of it by condoning sin as ok, that discipline of a nation comes.

By the power of God’s Spirit today, look at self first: where is God calling you personally to repentance? Once you have taken care of personal business with God, then look at the Church as a whole: where are we giving approval to sin? If you share the Name of God in Christ, repent. Perhaps God will have mercy on US again.

The Righteous Way of Anger

Anger is not sin, it’s an emotion. God’s Word says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin….” (Eph. 4:26)

In our pictured Mark 3 passage, we are told that Jesus was angry because of the hardheartedness of the Pharisees he was dealing with. He was angry because they held of higher value the keeping of the tradition of doing nothing they counted as work on the Sabbath, above the need of the people around them. He was angry at the distortion of God’s law for personal gain by those lording it over those they were called to minister to as servants in His name.

In other accounts of this work of Christ, He chides them for willingly helping one of their farm animals in need, while ignoring the need of the people they were to serve. They were hypocrites about the type of good work done on the sabbath and would condemn others for doing what they, themselves did when it was important to them. They were good about requiring others to do what they would not do. Their hypocrisy, hardheartedness, and ungodly arrogance toward others made Jesus angry.

Two things from this passage point to what changes anger from godly, to ungodly (sinful). One is the why of our anger. Selfish, self-centered anger does not please God. The Pharisees were angry with Jesus because He usurped their authority, taking away their power and influence over the people. They were jealous. Selfish anger, anger based on getting ones own way in a situation, or one showing carelessness for the need or problems of others, makes that anger sinful.

The second thing is what we do with that anger. Jesus chose to do what was pleasing to God and set a godly example for those watching in making the care of others a priority. He did not let the opinion of the leaders of that day keep Him from doing the good set before Him. And He spoke truth to them.

The full Ephesians verse says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” (4:26-27) We are to do what is right, take care of the issue in a godly manner out of loving care for God and man, and take care of it quickly. When we let anger hang around, coursing through our heart and soul, the devil uses it to get a stronghold in our lives as bitterness takes hold, rising with hate close behind it.

And here’s another thing to note. Jesus did not concern Himself with the Pharisees’ attitude toward Him, whether they liked him or accepted his instruction. He spoke truth to all, desiring that truth to influence their lives for good. But what they did with it was their responsibility. He dealt with it, and left it in their lap. He didn’t cling to the anger or carry it to the next encounter.

We are to do the same: speak truth out of love, desiring to influence the ones dealt with in ways that lead them closer to godliness; do what is right in God’s eyes, despite what others think; then release the outcome to God, not letting anger take hold in destructive ways, but trusting God to deal with the hearts of all involved.

“… 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.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:9-21‬ ‭‬‬

In Christ

Beloved, if we are truly in Christ, we have been crucified with Him; and it is no longer us who live, but Christ lives in us. The life we now live in the flesh we must live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself up for us. He is in us and for us, and we are made new in Him.

In Christ, all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form and that continues within us as we walk through life in Him and for Him. In Him we have been made complete, as all the fullness of deity dwells in us through Christ.

He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. By His grace, we are renewed in the spirit of our minds. Putting on the new self, we are in the likeness of God which has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. In Him we are holy and blameless before Him – chosen to be so in Christ.

By grace, we are sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit of the promise and we are enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, for in Him we live and move and exist. We, who have come to know and believed the love which God has for us, bear the fruit of all He is in us through Christ. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: these attributes and more live in us and make us who we are in Christ. Humble, meek, lowly – able to die to self for His name’s sake; abundant in the power of God and in His grace sufficient for us.

God is love. The one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, we also are in this world. Because of His great love, the Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. Therefore, we rightly represent Him as patience flows through us for love’s sake.

Beloved, if you are in Christ, you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. We do this best, not only through words, but through actions and reactions that reveal Him living and active in us. ‬‬

Therefore do not become partners with those who refuse Him, those who walk in the darkest of darkness; for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, as you try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the useless deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light, and light is what you are.

You are the salt of the earth. Remain in Christ, for He is the One who keeps you effective and flavorful, as salt must be. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are within it’s illumination.

God put you in the place and position you are in, for this season, in this age, and you are here with purpose. You are light, set in place to stand out in contrast to all the darkness around you. You are salt, to season, preserve, protect, cleanse, and flavor all He sprinkles you into. Let your light shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Let your saltiness fall on all, with hope of God penetrating their lives and preserving their eternal souls. Be as He is and watch what He will do in and through you in Christ.

‭Galatians‬ ‭2:20; Colossians‬ ‭2:9-10‬; ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:21‬; ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:23-24‬; ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:4; ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:13‬; ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:5‬; ‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:28‬; ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16-17; ‬Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬‬; ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:9; ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:9‬; ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:7-13‬‬; Matthew‬ ‭5:13-16

Pray for Afghanistan

Father God, the attack against Afghanistan and the Christians living there is an attack against You, and an attack against us who are one with them in Christ. I am furious over every evil going on that is doing it and allowing it.

You care for Your people more than we can fathom with all our caring. We see the pain in the earth, an enemy victory. You see eternal glory and angelic forces fighting the true enemy. We see flesh and blood men, women and children suffering at the hands of other humans. You see demonic forces at work and angelic forces set against them.

You tell us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. We see victims in an Afghanistan take over by Taliban. You see a Taliban taken over and defeated by an evil force that stands against all You deem good, right and true.

Father God, We take our stand with You for these under attack by hate and false understanding of You and Your ways. We take our stand against enemy forces of wickedness. Put the Sword of the Spirit, which is the very True and Righteous Word of our God, powerfully into our hands, and equip us to wield it with strength and accuracy at the enemy’s head as we stand with You against this evil. Send forth Your Angel Armies and show Yourself strong against all that is not of You. Be our True Victor! In Jesus, amen.

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:10-18‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God, or Not God

“… Choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days.” – Read Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:1-20‬ ‭‬‬

When discussing sin issues as defined by the Word of God and Jesus in the Holy Bible, people often say, “but God gives me choice,” which is true. God does give us choice, but that fact does not mean that which we choose is alright with God. All choice is truly between God or not-God. We either seek Him and His ways, or we go the way of our fleshly desire, this world’s philosophy, or demonic influences.

In Deuteronomy, God gives us defining parameters to direct our choice. We are told to choose good or evil, life or death, blessing or curse, prosperity or adversity. And God’s Word defines each of these choices.

Good is who God is, what God does, and what He says. To choose good is to choose God and His ways. All else stands in opposition to Him, which is evil, bringing us into adversity with God. (1)

God is life, abundant and full. Divergence from Him and His ways is death. (2)

God is the blessing, and He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Anything not of God, anything that replaces our affection for Him is a curse, for it robs us of The Blessing. (3)

Following and possessing God and all He is as God is prosperity. He is our exceeding great reward, the supply for our every need. Following hard after Him, keeping Him of first, most vital need and necessity, opens His storehouses to meet our need. And, more importantly, choosing Him as the one and only God and Lord through His gift of Jesus Christ grants us assurance of His eternal Kingdom. (4)

It doesn’t matter how rich we get in this life, without God as our choice, we are destitute and adversity is guaranteed. God allows no other God before Him, nothing else can have His glory. With great wealth comes great responsibility, and one’s first responsibility is to choose God as one’s true treasure. Failing to possess Him, we take our stance against Him, all the way into eternal damnation.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” ‭‭Joshua‬ ‭24:15‬

“Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:19-20

(1) Mark‬ ‭10:18‬ ‭
(2) ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬; Colossians‬ ‭3:3‬; ‭‭I John‬ ‭5:12‬; I John‬ ‭5:11‬; ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:6‬; Romans‬ ‭6:23‬; John‬ ‭11:25‬; ‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬
(3) ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:4‬; ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:5‬; ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:12‬; James‬ ‭1:17‬
‭‭ (4) Genesis‬ ‭15:1‬; ‭‭Malachi‬ ‭3:8-10‬

Be On the Alert

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. … What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’ ” Mark‬ ‭13:30-33, 37‬ ‭

Prophecy can be confusing to us because some speaks of things specific to the hearer, and some for an age yet to be. And some, like here, speaks to both: direct warning to His disciples and warning for future generations. He is telling the disciples things they will see in their lifetime signaling the death of this world and the coming new Kingdom of God. But He is also speaking prophetic, beyond them to all who come after them. Each generation will see these warning signs until the instant of His return.

Like that first generation, we will all ‬‬see these signs ebb and flow like birthing pains, getting stronger, longer, harder, and more severe until the the end is here. We are warned by these signs to be ready and alert so we are found fully prepared for Him when He comes. What’s the sign we’re looking for that tells us this is it?

“For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. … the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matthew‬ ‭24:27, 30-31‬ ‭‬

Like birthing pangs lead to an opening for the emergence of a child, so the harsh, hard, pressing things around us will lead to parting skies and the returning Christ, bringing in a new and eternal age. Are you ready and alert?

Follow God

His science is flawless.

I hear it every day, people boasting the science concerning COVID, both for and against the truths concerning the disease and the treatments, including the vaccine. Here’s what I know: no one fully knows. Science is a learning tool. It helps figure out truth, but until truth proves out through consistent, broad range, experience, science is theoretical. They don’t fully know one way or the other.

But GOD.

God fully knows, not only the disease and the treatments, but the reason and purpose behind its source: whether sent by an enemy intent on destruction, or brought about by God in fulfilling His plans and purposes. God fully knows my body and yours. He knows how the disease will effect each individual. He knows what each treatment will do and which my body will respond best to. He comprehensively understands the science behind the vaccine and the disease.

So, instead of looking at constantly changing scientific theory before it knows, ask the God-who-knows-all His opinion for your dealings with the disease and it’s potential remedies – healing aids. He promises to give needed wisdom to us when we ask with faith to follow His response. Once you get His response, trust Him for the outcome. Trust His purpose and plan. He is always working in and through us for eternal good.

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Double-minded: tossed to and fro by the mind of one’s flesh arguing with the mind of Christ given in the power of God’s Spirit.)
— James 1:5-8

First Order of Preparedness

I am a member of a group of preppers, seeing the signs of the times and making ready for whatever may come. As a Christian, though I believe in practicing wisdom to be prepared for every kind of storm in life, ready to take care of mine and to help others, I know that all my preparations can be gone in an instant. Thus, it’s vital to remember that my hope is not in my supply, but my Supplier.

People say first priority for preparedness is water. I agree. And first priority in water supply is the Living Water, Jesus. I believe that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. All our preparation and learning to live off the land will fail without God’s support, grace, and favor. He grants wisdom for life choices, direction for our feet, protection in the storm, and favor with Himself and with man. He gives supply that gives us safety into the eternal. And He promises that though money may fail us, He will never leave nor forsake us.

We can guess at what is coming and work to be ready, but He knows what is coming to each day and is already there making a way for us. However, there is one thing we know is coming to all of us: death of this shell. How sad it would be to prepare for storms of nature or man, but fail to be prepared for eternity.

God is my hope. He is my help in the day of trouble, my strength in the battle, my shelter in the storm, my Shepherd for the path, my Savior for all eternity. He gives me eyes to see, a mind to know, and a heart to understand; and He brings to my remembrance the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding stored in the banks of my mind at the moment of my need.

Make sure you are one with His vine and that your tendrils are attached to Him as first priority; that you are lapping freely of the Living, Life giving Water. Then make wise preparations with faith that He will be with you and guide you through every challenge until we meet Him in the air.

Robin Meadows says, “Just as tendrils are trained to hold to the fence for support, we need to train our hearts and minds to be entwined with Him and hold to Him. Dependent on Him, we gain supernatural strength to endure even the mightiest storms of life.

“Where does your strength come from? Are you attaching to people or things hoping to find fulfillment and security? Or are you training your heart to be connected to the One who is Strength?”

Enter this, your Rest, and get ready for all that is coming.

Lessons From My Garden: Day 6 • Devotional

Love Bears All Things

Love does not keep an account of wrongs suffered, adding them all together and holding them against a person. That’s an easy one to see. But do we realize this?

Counting up the good I do to someone I love, with thought that they aren’t loving me in the same way, adding my good against them, is the same thing.

It is counting up wrongs suffered by lifting my good as opposed to their lack of it as I see it, and that is in opposition to true love as God defines it.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Love trusts God to reward “my good”.

Love loves because it is who I am in Christ, and it is what I do to please my God, who is love.

That counts.

Loss of Love

The death of a relationship is one of the hardest of deaths, for the person mourned is not gone from life, they are only gone from my life. It’s especially grievous when we don’t know why they left the relationship.

Sadly, refusal to address the issue causing the separation says a lot about the falsehood of the love in that relationship. True love cares enough to address issues. So someone walking away without a word as to why, with no effort to address the issue, is symptom of a lack of true love and caring.

So there is the real pain. I thought they loved and cared for me as I do for them, but I now know they didn’t. I’ve tried to reach out through multiple avenues, and they ignore it out of some perceived insult from me that I don’t know I did. It hurts, deeply. Intent to go where they live and try to see them face to face has been hindered, but that remains in my heart to do. However, it feels too late now.

Loss of what I thought we had is the pain. They don’t love me enough to tell me what I did so we can address the problem and heal the relationship. How do we heal that wound?

Jesus addressed rejection this way, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus forgave the rejection of those who refused His love; and He prayed for those who rejected Him to have God’s forgiveness. And! Jesus was and is ready to reestablish relationship whenever we call.

I love my friend. I wait for that friend to reach out, address the issue, and heal our wounds. I realize the loss in my life, and I am saddened. May our God bless and keep my friend. May my heart remain ready to reestablish relationship. For me, trust is the issue now. And that is truly sad.

God, or Not God

“For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load. … Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:3-5, 7-9

I deceive myself when I fail to take time to seek God for a right and true evaluation of self: where I am, where I need to be, why I should desire to be there, and what I need to do to progress forward.

You can try to encourage and help me, and I can do the same for you, but self determination is a gift from God that belongs to each of us. God made sure we have freedom of choice. I-👁 have to choose to progress forward. 👁 have to want it. 👁 have to make progressing forward a priority. 👁 have to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse, prosperity or adversity, all of which equates to choosing God or not God.

No one else can make me do the good I need or desire. And no one else can do it for me. AND, if I am truly committed to God and working out of His supply in my journey, no one – and no thing – can truly hinder or stop my progress. Though life may hit a bump, it’s “choice” that will keep me moving to the finish line, or keep me from the prize.

Seed is sown into our lives, my life, whether or not I realize it. Like uncontrolled weeds, bad habits, untended, produce and sow bad seeds that reap a harvest of dandelions (false-gods). Satan constantly works to get us-me to feed the bad seed for his harvest of unrighteousness. With Spirit-eyes open, Good seed must be chosen, sown, and fed deliberately and liberally for a crop of good to come.

Self-deception and failure to realize the bad seed sown and fed gives the devil opportunity to sneer at God as he makes accusations against us-me. (“See! I told you she couldn’t follow the dictates of the Spirit for long. Your Spirit can’t control her! She doesn’t love or honor You enough”)

It is vital for me to seek God for true evaluation through His looking glass. I need to realize truth about self from His perspective, so I can make a right evaluation and choose right paths that honor God as God. I may deceive myself and others, but God knows the truth of my heart. I need Him if I am to see my true issues, needs, desires, and resources. Transformation is from Him.

Truly, there are only two choices: God or not God. To choose God is to choose the dictates of His Spirit that produce life, blessing, good, prosperity, and the Eternal. Choosing God builds a life of gold, silver, and precious stones that do not burn away in the fires of testing. …

Choosing “not God” is to choose the dictates of our old, dead flesh, which produces death, cursing, evil, adversity, and all that is temporary and worthless. Choosing flesh produces a life filled with wood, hay, and stubble, all of which will fail us and be burned away in the fires of testing.

Scripture tells us some will enter the eternal kingdom smelling like smoke (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). The implication is a life focused on fleshly desires and temporal pleasures rather than on the eternal. I don’t want to live a fleshly life, head hung in shame, that leaves nothing to show of God’s eternal glory when I stand before Him. I must choose the Spirit over my flesh.

God is not concerned about food, for example. But He is intent on my choosing Him. Food is the test. Choice is the proof. Proof of righteousness withstands the heat, bringing glory to God. Faithfulness for big things is built through fires of testing in the small, seemingly insignificant.

God, or not God. That’s my choice. God gave that right to me and to you. Gold, silver, and precious stones all require a lot of heat and patient time to develop. Growing weary on the journey leaves the produce immature and in a perishable state. Developing a healthy lifestyle dictated by the Spirit requires determination that perseveres despite the weeping desires of my flesh.

My determination of Spirit-control must outlast the pleas of my pitiful flesh. Like the parent (Spirit control) of a screeching two year old (demanding flesh), I must persevere to stand my ground and push through until flesh quiets and gives way to the Spirit with ever increasing ease.

Freed, and Charged

“If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
‭‭John‬ ‭8:36‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

God sets us free from sin, not to sin. Sin is anything that denies God as Lord and works against His will, way, truth, and lordship. Father God forgives – and has forgiven – all sin through Christ, delivering us who believe and receive Him from the consequence of sin, which is death – eternal separation from God, the source of life. All are trapped in this death until they surrender to God by receiving His gift of Christ, acknowledging God the Father as the only true God and Jesus as the one way to the Father.

Though we have eternity with Him because of Christ, we can walk back into the bondage of sin through our bad choices. Freedom from sin’s death does not prevent us from experiencing and being snared by the consequences of deliberate sin actions. I.e.: sexual sin brings the consequences of unplanned, often unwanted pregnancy; disease (STDs); broken relationships, to list a few. Breaking societal law brings jail time or prison sentences. Spending yesterday’s prosperity on today’s unwise and unnecessary wants leaves a tomorrow in need. Overindulgence in food or other addictive behaviors traps us in a body snared by sickness, excess weight, loss of strength and energy, and more. Etc.

Not only does scripture tell us that we can recognize those who are His through Christ by the fruit produced in their godly, Christlike lives, but scripture also charges us with responsibilities. As followers of Christ, we are charged to represent Him and His interests rightly and truly. We have a responsibility to do right and good, as bondslaves of Righteousness. A bondslave is one who chooses, usually out of loyalty and love, to bind themselves to a master. When we choose to obey God and do right as one truly set free from sin’s separation from God, we make ourselves a bondslave, charged with commitment to love and obey The Father in likeness, loyalty, and gratitude to Christ.

Yes, we are set free in Christ. But we are not to turn our freedom into excuse for sin.

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:13‬ ‬‬

Good, Good Father

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” James 1:17 NASB1995

It’s easy to look around the world today and think there’s nothing good going on. It seems there is unfathomable turmoil around every corner. Something unthinkable happens, leaving us stunned with nothing good that is readily apparent to our flesh mind and emotions, and we plummet to despair. Yes, I’ve been there many times, and here’s what I’ve learned, and am learning, even as I write.

First, we don’t think or see things like God does. His thoughts are higher, meaning smarter than ours, having greater perspective of the full picture than us, and always possessing eternal purpose. He does not allow anything to hit our lives without there being purpose in it, and His desire is that we know and trust Him with the absolute assurance that He is accomplishing something for someone’s eternal good in fulfilling that purpose.

His ways are higher than our ways. When He allows trauma into our lives, there are many things going on at one time.

* It gives us opportunity to shine as people who know and trust Him, giving those around us visual proof of faith’s aid in walking through troubled waters.

* It gives us opportunity to recognize where we still struggle in our faith walk and fruit bearing so we may grow stronger in those areas. It’s one thing to realize we are human, subject to slip into fleshly impulse. It’s another to let that knowledge become excuse for surrendering to it. Like with Job, in our stubborn resistance to deny our fleshly dictates, God will get as hard on us as our stubbornness requires, because He loves us and desires our best. That best is to grow stronger agreement and cooperation with the dictates of His Spirit

* Trouble tests our heart’s soil in areas of fleshly indulgeance, pride, and arrogance, revealing whether the seeds for growth, maturity and fruit bearing can thrive there.

* And trouble gives us life experience of our God that provides a testimony of His faithfulness and goodness and comfort we can use as His instrument in helping others when trauma hits.

This Father, from whom every good comes, always brings good out of trouble for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. When God allows His child to walk into troubled waters, He always has a purpose in it that becomes a call for us to walk with Him in fulfilling it. We, who are saved by grace through faith, are called according to His purpose and equipped by Him for EVERY good work. Trouble is always a door to us, affording us this opportunity.

God is doing a good work in us, and He WILL do it right up until Jesus comes for us. God will complete His work, will, and purpose in us. Thrashing against trouble is fighting against God, saying, “No. I don’t want it” to His will, way, and purpose.

Our response when trouble hits, flows out of not only our degree of surrender to our fleshly impulse, but out of the degree of our habitually practice of faith to trust God, believe these truths about Him, and enter the rest He supplies us when we successfully practice this faith. Falling to the flesh in a moment of sudden trauma is common to all. The thing that shows our maturity in faith is how quickly we recoup, drawing near to God, submitting to Him, and finding supply to control that fleshly impulse and enter God’s rest.

When we are in the flesh, responding to our emotions, it can be very frustrating to us for people to point us to these truths about God. We know these truths, but we’re not ready to hear it yet. We want to scream and holler, or cry and waller, and we want others to commiserate with us.

The problem with that is, the call of God to His people is to encourage our righteousness, turn us from the dictates of flesh to the Spirit, and help us turn our thoughts toward the higher things of God and His ways. Those of us who believe the quicker we turn to God’s way of thinking, sometimes move too quick with encouragement to come up higher. In our desire for the person’s Power for the journey, we forget that God also tells us to weep with those who weep. And so, our zeal hitting their trauma comes across as preachy or better than thou.

Our intent is to help the traumatized one to come quickly to Colossians 3:1-2 thinking, so they can have right thoughts within them, thoughts that increase one’s coping skills and strengthen us for the days we face. Thoughts that help us recognize the good gifts of God to be found in the rubble of trouble. But we must take care to acknowledge their trauma and the pain they are in. This is an area where I need work.

The fact of the matter for all within the sphere of our turmoil, both us who hurt, and those trying to encourage, is that God’s desire and purpose is to build a new relationship with us – a deeper, more vital and effective relationship with us. As the perfect Father, God wants only the best for His child, and our approach to trouble, whether in facing our own or in encouraging those we reach to help, always presents us opportunity to grow and come up higher into that love and security. May we surrender to Him, enter His rest, and enjoy the good gift of His faithfulness.

“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 AMPC

Unmerited Favor: All Powerful Supply

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭

Many people see grace and mercy as being the same things, but they aren’t. Scripturally, grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin, distinctly different, and both necessary for redemption, sanctification, and the work of completion.

Mercy is what most use to define both. Mercy is unmerited favor. It is God’s work to protect, provide, and direct to good that we do not deserve – at all, nor can we. Mercy has nothing to do with our ‘do’ and everything to do with God’s ‘Who’. He loves us, therefore He gives us His mercy. He loves us, thus we experience Him deliver us from consequences our actions and choices deserve. When we are spared a just outcome to unrighteous choices and actions, that is mercy. Woo! The stories of mercy I could tell.

Grace is God’s power made perfect in our weakness, giving us strength and ability (2 Cor. 12:9). We cannot produce the fruit of God in our lives apart from His grace at work in and through us. We cannot serve God or know and do His will, His way without His grace powering it. We cannot even possess and work out of faith in God apart from His grace to power our faith. Mercy gifts us a measure of faith; grace empowers us to use that faith.

We cannot be saved apart from Mercy. And we cannot live Christ apart from grace. We cannot be right within ourselves without mercy; we cannot live outwardly the right mercy produces in us apart from grace pouring through us. Mercy saves. Grace sanctifies.

From External Tutor to Internal Teacher

“… Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. …” Galatians‬ ‭3:19-29‬ ‭NASB

The purpose of God’s Law is to tutor us and cause us to realize our need of His merciful grace. It’s intent is to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. Then the power of God through the Spirit of God moves into us to teach us His ways and equip our success in following Him in the likeness of the perfection of Jesus Christ.

Where we fall short, Jesus covers us so we receive the mercy of God. And our weak flesh does fall short of this glory of God. We need God’s mercy, which means we need Jesus who covers us. We need God’s grace which empowers us to live as Jesus lived, thus we need the filling of the Spirit of God that comes through faith in Christ.

By faith to believe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus accomplished on our behalf, we find freedom from sin and it’s consequence – death – eternal separation from God. By the work of God’s indwelling Spirit, we find power to live the freedom granted, as honors the God we possess and profess for all eternity.

Got Jesus? Only believe, receive, and profess Him, and He will seal the deal through the powerful work of the indwelling Spirit.

True Love Is a River Flow

“…That’s how you once behaved, characterized by your evil deeds. But now it’s time to eliminate them from your lives once and for all—anger, fits of rage, all forms of hatred (f.n., “including self-hatred”), cursing, filthy speech, and lying. Lay aside your old Adam-self with its masquerade and disguise…” Colossians‬ ‭3:5-17‬ ‭TPT‬‬

We are always dearly loved by God. ‭However, hatred for one’s self closes the door to love. We cannot know and fully receive the love of God or others when self-hate makes us feel unworthy. Nor can we truly give love when we hate self.

To top that, we tend to judge the opinion of others toward us by our own opinion of self, so self-hate produces misunderstanding of others words and actions, thus causing us to react inappropriately toward them.

Self-hate keeps us self focused, so we cannot see the struggle and difficulty others have and are acting out of themselves. Self-hate denies we are worth loving, and when we can’t love self enough to recognize any good in us, we can’t truly give love to those around us who struggle as we do. It’s a vicious cycle that gets confusing with the thought of it.

So, let’s get that out of the way. We are unworthy. In our fleshly struggle of self-hate that cannot truly receive love, we are broken vessels. None of us are perfect apart from Christ, nor can we be perfected without the work of God active and alive in us. We need Him. When we broken vessels think love is earned by worthiness, we cannot recognize true love to receive it, nor can we give it. Broken vessels cannot receive true love and hold onto it long enough to possess it where we can have it to give out freely to others.

Here’s the thing: God IS Love. His love comes to us, not because of who we are or what we do, but because of Who He IS.

We cannot lose what He freely gives. We haven’t earned it, therefore we can’t unearn or lose it. His love is ours by His choice, because love is His “who”. And when we finally learn that truth, the truth of God’s love for us personally, heals us. We become His mended vessels, able to recognize, receive, know, possess, and give true love: which is God in all His fullness.

And here’s another wonderful truth we need to know. When we choose to believe and receive this love from God, He begins to show us who we truly are and can be in our relationship with Him through Christ. Like a River flow reconfigures the riverbed, by His love working in us, He adjusts our “who” to something glorious and new, as we become like Him, including being able to love and give true love out of who we are because of Him.

His unconditional, unearned love flows from Him to us and for us to self, healing our brokenness and filling us up. But it doesn’t fill us like a closed reservoir, He flows through us like a river flows, which makes us love as He is love. An extension of His Who, He flows love from us to all around us. He makes us worthy of love by making us as He is, love, able to truly believe, receive, and give love, even to those who can’t earn it, because they haven’t received for themselves Him who is love.

Beloved, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to pay the price of our unworthiness. By accepting that gift of grace, letting go of our self-loathing to receive God’s unconditional love, we enter the River flow to be made love as He is love. Believe it. Receive it. Begin now to be changed by God’s love flow.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Respect. What is it? And what determines the giving of it?

According to The Free Dictionary: respect is a feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard; esteem. The state of being regarded with honor or esteem: a leader held in the greatest respect. Consideration or appreciation. Due regard for something considered important or authoritative: I.e., respect for the law.

My personal answer to both questions is “me”.

In my opinion and, prayerfully, in my personal life, respect is an attribute I must possess and practice. Respect, like love, is who I am and choose to be. It flows out of love, honor, and loyalty, first to God, then to self and others, and finally to the institutions of life: family, church, job, law, nation, etc.

With God in first place, respect is given out of love, honor, and loyalty to Him. He calls us to love Him out of one’s entire being as first, most vital relationship, and love others as self. Respect is first and foremost an act of love that honors God as Lord.

God tells us to honor our parents. He does not specify honoring parents who are worthy. We honor our parents, whether or not they are good at parenting, because God is our God. Honoring parents, honors Him as God. One way we do that as children of God is by living as honors Him in such a way that it makes our parents look good as parents. Honoring Him expresses honor for those He birthed us to. It can be hard, especially if the relationship is a bad one, but God, who requires it, equips us for it.

Loyalty to God spills over to respect self as the temple He chooses as residence. Loyalty to self chooses to BE as He is, through love, honor, and the loyal practice of all He places in us and calls us to. Desire to BE all He desires for me, and all He is making me to BE, requires me to be loyal to self in requiring the best in me. Out of loyalty to being who I am and desire to be, I give respect, at all times, to all people, including myself, in loving care as His temple.

We are called to respect parents, which includes grandparents, because God says to and we respect Him. We are called to respect governing officials, which includes law enforcement, because they are given charge by God to reward good, and punish evil. Respect honors a parent’s wishes through obedience as a love action toward God first. Respect obeys the laws of the land for the same reason. Respect obeys God above all: His laws and requirements take precedence over all others.

When we ignore a request or order given, or do a half hearted job of it, we disrespect God first, denying His Lordship; then we disrespect self, sullying our reputation as God’s representative; and lastly we disrespect the authority figure we dishonor through disobedience or halfhearted service.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T begins and ends with “me”, who I am, who I want to be. And it reflects my true relationship with God, in whose image I am called to live.

Father, as I think on these things and write these words, I can see areas of needed practice using my respect muscles. Make me better at living this necessary attribute. Empower the attribute of respect to flow from me out of love, honor, and loyalty to You as Lord in all my relationships. In Jesus, amen.