“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. …” John 14:16-17, 16:8-11
As a Christian who believes Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, I don’t believe I’ve seen anything that makes me sadder than this ideology pictured below that says there is no such thing as sin.
It is true that, apart from God, our conscience does not recognize sin. Our conscience is dead to God, separated from Him, unable to know His righteousness so we can see sin’s contrast and the judgment of God against it. For that, we must have the work of the Spirit of God, drawing us to God and empowering our realization of how our lives fall short of God’s glory, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
To believe that sin does not separate us from God is to believe the lie of Satan, “…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.” (Genesis 3:1-5)
You see, they were already like God – we were created in His image, purely good, with no evil in them. Their conscience was pure, having no thought of sin, for they were like God in all His goodness, following Him in trusting purity. Then the devil led them to doubt the goodness of God and sin entered the heart of humankind, separating them from God and deadening the purity of our conscience.
Now, apart from the help of the Spirit of God, we cannot discern our sin or understand sin’s nature, because we cannot know God. The Devil will deceive us into thinking we know God, leading us to a type of god, a false god, if it will keep us from understanding our sin nature and our need of a Savior. Without God working to draw us to truth and His Spirit opening the eyes of our heart to discern sin in us, separating us from God, we cannot acknowledge need of the Savior when we refuse to believe sin exists and our conscience is deceived. We are lost forever, separated from God and doomed to an eternity without Him, never to know intimacy with the One True God.
“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” John 16:8-11
“Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22
Loving God follows Him at all cost, keeping all He deems right and true, knowing relationship with Him as great reward, holding Him as first, most vital need and necessity. Love of God desires to please and honor Him as of greatest importance.
Loving others sets an example of loving God that helps them know God and His ways, so they, too, grow to love Him above all.
Making disciples not only teaches others God’s priorities, but it lives a life that sets an example worth following, that helps them understand loving God above all and loving others as we love self.
Jesus is saving grace, and He is the perfect example of loving God first and foremost, loving others as we love self, and making disciples that follow the example of Jesus in keeping God first above all. Following Jesus’s example realizes the importance of righteous living according to God’s laws and directives. It also recognizes that “my” sin gives a false understanding of God that leaves others with the impression that sin is okay because God forgives. Loving God and others realizes that “my” sin sets a stumbling block before others that hinders their relationship with God and their understanding of loving God first and foremost, causing them to stumble in their following hard after Him.
Father, forgive me. Empower me to truly love You with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength; and to love others as myself. Make my life an example of discipleship in Christ that honors You as God and helps others know how to truly love You above all else. Empower my repentance in every area of my life that sets a stumbling block before others. In Jesus, I take up my cross of self denial daily and seek to follow hard after You in the example of Christ. Amen.
“O that you would be completely silent, And that it would become your wisdom! Please hear my argument And listen to the contentions of my lips. …Your memorable sayings are proverbs of ashes, Your defenses are defenses of clay (fleshly thought and comprehension).” – Job 13:5-6, 12
The wisdom of silence. Oh how difficult it is to learn: especially when we want so badly to help and to impact for good. I do believe this my greatest weakness. Knowing when to speak and when to just be silent with others is a challenge. (Resist that comment, please. 😂)
In the story of Job, we see two instances where silence is truly golden. One God has been working to grow me in for years! It is knowing when to stop speaking God’s truth to those who refuse to hear. It is extremely sad when God says, “Stop casting your pearls before swine.” When that happens, it is vital to practice the wisdom of silence and leave the wayward heart to God.
Job is very put out by his friends, who are judging his situation with eyes and hearts of clay. His ears are shut off to everything they are saying because he knows their judgment is wrong. And their ears are closed to him because they believe their understanding of the situation must be correct. Job’s words to them are pearls under their feet. Their words to him are proverbs of ash.
When we are speaking needed truth to someone who refuses it, God is the one they reject, and it is He, alone, who can deal with them. Stop casting the pearls of God’s truth and wisdom out for them to trample under foot. Turn, instead, to speaking to God for His mercy and grace to open their spiritual eyes and ears to receive Him-His truth.
Job keeps turning to God, pleading over his situation, knowing he’s done nothing to deserve his plight, and unable to understand it’s cause, but he fails to pray for his friends with understanding of their position.
“Be silent before me so that I may speak; Then let come on me what may. Why should I take my flesh in my teeth And put my life in my hands? Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Nevertheless I will argue my ways before Him. This also will be my salvation, For a godless man may not come before His presence. Listen carefully to my speech, And let my declaration fill your ears.” – Job 13:13-17
Too often we strive to make the other person understand instead of praying to Him who gives understanding.
The second situation in Job’s story where we see the need of wise silence is when our flesh-eyes are insufficient to see and know the whole story. We so want to help the hurting heart in seasons of extreme grief and turmoil, that the proverbial truths of God become ashes – burned up, insignificant truths to the hearer. Until there is greater understanding and the hurting heart is ready to hear, it is better to be silent, lest harsh, unrighteous judgment falls to us, as it did to Job and his friends. Job’s friends judged him guilty because of false understanding of God’s truths applied to him, and Job judged God with unrighteous harshness because of lack of understanding the purpose of God.
As I’ve shared before, God is always dealing with me before He has me share with you. This is an area He constantly works on with me. When I read Job, I’m always struck by the friends reactions to Job’s pain in chapter 2:
“Then they sat down on the ground with him for SEVEN DAYS AND seven nights WITH NO ONE SPEAKING A WORD to him, for they saw that his pain was very great.” – Job 2:13
To slow down and just be with someone in their extreme grief, saying nothing, only listening. To practice the wisdom of silence and wait for God. It is a vital wisdom to develop. I’m working at it. These harsh, hard, and pressing days, when there is much grief and pain in the world, and when so many have hearts closed off to God and His truth, I find myself on constant training ground.
It was not until the end of Job’s journey of trial that he prayed for his friends, and then only at God’s instruction. With that I pray:
Father, bless me and those with me to have wisdom to understand and comprehend from Your viewpoint. May we have wisdom to know when and how to speak, and when to practice the wisdom of silence. May we have ears to hear clearly and discernment to understand fully. Let the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in Your sight, useful to You for building up and not tearing down O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. In Jesus, make it so. Amen
Declaration: By Your grace, O God, “My mouth will speak wisdom, And the meditation of my heart will be understanding.” – Psalms 49:3
“THE Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. …You anoint my head with oil….” Psalm 23:1, 5 AMPC
Our good shepherd anoints His sheep because they are important to Him. In doing so, He honors them individually as the object of His great love and care, marking them as His own with His healing, life giving, anointing oil. That is exciting to me. Looking at the purpose of a shepherd oiling a sheep’s head and applying it to us as God’s spiritual sheep, we find:
1. Oil protects our heads as we butt against the opposition found in this world, and even against differing viewpoints and personality issues in the church.
2. Oiling protects against enemy attacks set to steal, kill, destroy, hinder, and irritate.
3. Oiling protects against sickness of body, soul, spirit, mind, and strength.
4. Oiling softens and heals cuts, scrapes, scabs, and scars.
The Good Shepherd loves us, therefore He tends our individual need, lovingly, watchfully, and carefully anointing our heads with the oil of His healing balm.
Cast “the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7 AMPC
God made wonderful promises to Abram that led him to journey to the promised land. There God reaffirmed His promise and Abram built an alter of remembrance and worshipped the Lord.
Famine struck the land, moving Abram to Egypt, away from the physical reminder of God’s promise. Forgetting God’s Word to Him, Abram’s thoughts turned to fear and some bad decisions, but God was faithful to His Word, and Abram saw first hand the effects of God’s faithfulness.
When Abram returned to the place of the altar of remembrance, he worshipped the Lord anew, remembering God’s promise with the added benefit of experience.
Wayward thoughts of fear and doubt are dangerous to us, leading us to bad decisions. It is vital that we remember God’s promises to us wherever we are and treasure in our hearts every fulfillment of them.
This is the example of Christ to us. He kept God’s Word and the destiny of God’s promises, purpose, and plan ever before His Eyes. Knowing His time was in God’s hands, and that God’s plan was best and His faithfulness was sure kept Him safe and on course to destiny. The same is true for us as we Hide God’s Word in hearts of faith, trusting His faithfulness to complete it.
Father, begin with me. Search my heart. Father, reveal yourself to me. Make me know Your ways. Reveal to me every place in my life where my ways do not align with Yours. Instruct me in righteousness and cleanse me. Adjust my course to walk in Your ways and have Your favor. May Your light shine through me to reveal my God to all around me.
Father, I pray You for me and for all I love and care for: from self, to family, friends, church, and work associates; to city, state, and nation; and, indeed, to all throughout the earth. Let us know Your ways that we may know You, so that we may find favor in Your sight. Consider Your people, Lord, and lead us in Your presence, for apart from Your presence, how can it be known that we have found favor in Your sight, and that we are Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?
Lord, I pray You, show us Your glory! Make all Your goodness pass before us. Proclaim Your Name before us. Be gracious to us and show us Your compassion. Grant us to seek Your face with wholehearted fervor and to find You watchfully and affectionately caring for us.
Be gracious, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out our transgressions. Wash us thoroughly from all iniquity and cleanse us from all sin. Make us to know our transgressions, and that our sin is against You. You alone, we have insulted as we have willfully sinned and done what is evil in Your sight. Make Your people and the nations in which we reside know that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. You, Lord, desire truth in our innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make us know wisdom so that we may repent, make amends, and turn to walk Your way.
I, alone, stand before You, with hope in Jesus, my Advocate, The propitiation for my sin. I cry out to You, trusting You through Christ, to purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness. Let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence nor take Your Holy Spirit from me, but draw near to me as I draw near to You, and fill me to overflowing with the power of Your presence. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit of obedience. Then use me, O God, to teach transgressors Your ways, and turn sinners to You.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; that my tongue may joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it. You are not pleased with burnt offering, thus You gave my Jesus, once and for all; Your Son for me, because You love me. I stand amazed! And, OH, so grateful. Thus, the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
By Your favor do good to Your humbled people. Build the walls of our cities and the nation in which You make us to dwell in safety. Grant provision to our dwelling places, for in its provision of rains in due season and productive work for our hands, Your people live in welfare: possessing health, happiness, and good fortune; well-being. Delight Yourself in us as we humbly walk in the gift of our Jesus.
Father, fill Your people with peace that passes understanding and umpires life. Grant us to so greatly trust You as to remain in Your rest, despite the turmoil of evil in this world. Let us not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious toward wrongdoers. May they wither quickly like the grass and fade like the green herb, either surrendering to You in newness of Life, or falling to Your justice.
Grant us to trust in You, O God, and do good. May we dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. May we delight ourselves in You and be such a delight to Your heart that You may inspire and fulfill the desires of our hearts.
Father, I commit myself and all my ways to You, trusting with ever growing fervor in You, believing that You will accomplish all that concerns me. I ask You for all around me to have this full assurance and commitment to You, so they, too, may know You and experience Your faithful care. Bring forth our righteousness as the light and our judgment as the noonday. Increase us to rest in You and wait patiently for You. Rest us in You so we will not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Equip us to cease from anger and forsake wrath, refusing to fret, knowing that it leads only to evildoing.
Father, You promise that evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more. We will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. The humble will inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant prosperity. Though the wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth, You, O Lord, laugh at him, for You see his day is coming.
Lord, the wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, to slay those who are upright in conduct. May their sword enter their own heart, and their bows be broken.
Thank You, Lord, for drawing us to Yourself and helping us to know that better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. Thank You that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, made blameless in Him and by Him. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but You, O Lord, sustain the righteous. You know the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever, through Jesus Christ the Lord. May we trust in Your gracious Gift and not be ashamed in the time of evil. In the days of famine, be our abundance.
The wicked will perish; and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish—like smoke they vanish away. The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. For those blessed by You will inherit the land, and those cursed by You will be cut off.
Lord God, I cry out for those in danger of being cut off. I pray You, open their eyes to see, their ears to hear, their minds to know, their hearts to understand, and grant them a spirit of repentance before it is too late to know Your gracious favor. Draw them to Yourself while there is still time.
We cry out for a great spiritual awakening to You in our land, and a great revival in Your Church. Deliver Your people from love grown cold and lukewarm commitment, to the heat of abundant fervor for You and Your ways. Empty us of self and ungodly, worldly, fleshly desire. Fill us up with the Power of Your Presence and spill us out to Your glory and crown: to the glory of Your great name.
Establish our steps, O God. May You delight Yourself in our way. When we fall, let us not be hurled headlong. Hold us by Your righteous right hand and do not forsake us nor let our descendants be found begging for bread. Grant us supply, including a heart that is gracious and lends, and make our descendants a blessing. May we depart from evil and do good, abiding forever in You.
You love justice and You never forsake Your godly ones; they are preserved forever. We cry out for the generations: draw our children to Yourself. May they be numbered among the righteous who inherit the land and dwell in it forever. May their mouths utter wisdom, and their tongues speaks justice. May Your law be in their hearts so their steps do not slip. Do not leave them in the hands of the wicked or let them be condemned when they are judged. May they faithfully wait for the Lord and keep Your way, that You may exalt them to inherit the land; and may our eyes see it.
Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; that the man of peace may have a posterity. The salvation of the righteous is from You, O Lord; You are our strength in time of trouble. Lord, help us and delivers us. Delivers us from the wicked and save us, as we take refuge in You.
In the name of Jesus, I pray You, regard us as good and restore our land. Set Your eyes on us for good, and bring us back as a great nation of people who seek hard after You. Build us up and do not overthrow us. Plant us and do not pluck us up. Give to us a heart to know You, for You alone are the Lord. Make the US to be Your people, and You be our One and Only God. Only by Your grace will a whole nation turn to You with their whole heart. This is what we cry out for, knowing that NOTHING is too difficult for You, and that it is Your desire that none perish, but all come to repentance. Thus we pray with believing hearts in the blessed and holy and honored Name above all names, Jesus, the Christ, amen.
There are two ways to increase light. You can power light and set it on a lampstand. Then you can increase the light through mirrors set where they catch the light and reflect it out. Most talk of us being reflected light, and that’s true if we stand in proximity to Jesus so we catch His rays and mirror it out. But in this passage of Matthew, Jesus doesn’t say we are the reflection of light. He says we ARE light. How is that?
What makes light light? Power. A spark to a wick makes candle light. Oil in a lamp with a wick sparked to life creates oil lamp light. Electricity pouring into a bulb’s filament lights it up.
Even a sun has power from inside that lights it up. The moon is dead marble that reflects the light of the sun in the night sky: it’s brightness, size, and shape dependent on proximity to the sun it reflects. The sun is powered from within. As long as it’s light is powered, it shines. When power ceases, it dies, and light stops.
When we stand close to Jesus, desiring to emulate Him, He can bounce Himself off of us. But when we so greatly desire to be like Him that we begin to surrender ourselves to Him, He sparks Life in us, filling us with power that makes light. We become light as He is light.
That is what God wants from us. As we draw so near to God that we let go of our fleshly thoughts, desires, and ways, He fills us with Himself, empowering us to be as He is. As He pours Himself into and through us, He lights us up to be as He is. As Paul says, “… it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me ….” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)
God did not make us simply to reflect His image. He made us to bear His image as fruit from a tree. Fruit comes from within. As we get so close to God, so intimate with Him, we become one as He and Jesus are one. His essence in us produces Life’s power that bears forth the very image of God in us.
We can’t be God. Only He is the power. But we can be so filled with and fueled by Him as to be sparked to Life, abundant and full, becoming the spitting image of God, bearing forth love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Powered by Him: as He is, so also are we in His image, born from within.
As He is, so are we, by the power of God’s grace working in us. Only then will we BE LIGHT, as He says we are.
I know I’ve shared this before, but I got this wall hanging right after we bought this house. I was walking through Walmart, talking to God about feeling lost, unable to see the path ahead. I had that sense of lostness for awhile, as God started moving our hearts from our home and life of 32 years, to new horizons on unknown paths. When we found our new home, that lostness multiplied. So that day in Walmart, as I talked to my God about these things, this painting caught my eye and God said clearly to my heart, “I know the path ahead. You just need to trust Me for the next step.”
I am still on this unclear path today, taking one step after another by faith. It’s been a strange story WE have walked , but beautiful in its formation. We traversed through joy and laughter, sorrow with tears, sickness and the shadow of death, coming to the end of eras leading into new beginnings. I can’t see clearly the eternal fruit of it, but I know it’s there.
As this scripture and thought role through me, I feel as blinded by fog as the day God led me to this life portrait. Thankfully, I know who holds my hand and guides every step. Continuing trust in Him for the stepping stones of this strange path finds such great peace in this fog filled life.
As I seek the Lord today, He warns me against pride where my part in helping my kids know Him is concerned. I am often overwhelmed with grief and feelings of failure as I watch my children and grandchildren struggle in these days. “Surely I failed to give my all or they would not struggle like they do in their Christian walk.” He warns me to remember that it is He who draws them. I can’t do that, and the pride revealed in my failure complex can actually bring destruction to my ability to be all God desires I be to them.
My responsibility is to plant seeds of truth, water with love and grace, and pray for them in faith as I set the example of Christlikeness in my encounters with them. I cannot save them. It is not my responsibility. But I can continue to do what I know to do and have done, live Christ before them and trust God, who makes my seeding, watering, and praying effective for His glory, to produce the crop He desires in them.
“So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:7 NASB
“But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NASB
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20 NASB
“A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. …”
The wealth of this man was not the problem. God blesses us with wealth and requires us to steward all He gives us in ways that honor Him. This man kept the laws of God and most likely gave to the synagogue and to the poor as God requires. But his heart had apparently fallen into trusting his wealth and taking pride in it, giving it the place of true treasure in his heart, a place belonging only to God. So Jesus points out to him the thing that stands in the way of His right relationship with God.
“… And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. …”
Jesus had a purpose in making this distinction, both for this man’s eternity, and in training those who followed Him. You see, it was long believed that those with wealth were wealthy because they were right with God and pleasing to Him. They surely had a place in Heaven. Hearing Christ’s comment led an astonished disciple to ask,
“…“Then who can be saved?”
Thank God! Jesus assures our hearts, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
We get our eyes off of reliance on God too easily, trusting in self, wealth, kings, etc., turning God’s blessings into a god of our heart. God lovingly points these out to us so we may possess the relationship with Him that He waits to give us.
Nicodemus walked away, dejected, that day. But he apparently took to heart Jesus’s words and became one of the secret followers that helped to bury Jesus, and He stood against those plotting against Him. He may have been a coward and given to riches, but I believe God did the impossible in his heart and we will meet him one day.
How about you and me? What stands as hindrance to our relationship with and testimony of God in our lives? Will we let God work the impossible in us to get our eyes rightly focused for our eternal good and His eternal glory? Today is the day of salvation, for we don’t know that we will have a tomorrow. Choose well the Treasure of your heart.
…the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. …
— John 5:36-37
We are the continuation of the testimony of the reality of Christ when we obey God in accomplishing the work He prepared beforehand, that we should accomplish in Jesus name and power. As God bore testimony of Jesus being all He said He was, so He does for us as we live Him, knowing it is no longer I who live, but Christ living in me. We live, accomplishing the Work God planned beforehand, that we should walk in them, “In Jesus name”: in His authority, as representing Him and His interests. (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:8-10)
What is the work we are to do? Here’s some initial thoughts. We are called and equipped to:
1. Pray in Jesus name, as authorized by Him and with His interests at heart as our first, most vital need and desire. (John 15:15-16; 1 John 5:14-16)
2. We are salt in the world. We are light as He is light, bearing forth the fruit of His Spirit (Matthew 5:13-16; John 15:1-17; Galatians 5:22-23). Thus we…
a. Love: as God loves, unconditionally and with our all for all time and in every situation, out of our who, unhindered by the do of those we love (1 John 4:7-21).
b. Rejoice with Spirit Joy: that joy in the Lord that is strength to us, filling us up, resting us, unhindered by life circumstance (Nehemiah 8:10-11; Romans 14:17; Romans 5:3, AMPC, 1 Peter 4:12-13).
c. Peace: that comes from God, beyond comprehension, umpiring life (Colossians 3:15; Romans 14:17)
d. Patience: enduring perseverance that stands firm in the wait with a good attitude and gratitude (Psalm 46:10; Ephesians 4:1-2; Hebrews 10:36; Colossians 3:12 see in Amplified Classic).
e-i. Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-control: all of which (a-i) flow from who we now are in Christ Jesus, the image of God, living and active in us. Being God’s light, portraying the image of God in the world is the work of Christ by the power of His Spirit through us (Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 5:20; Colossians 1:24).
3. Being ready in season and out of season to bear testimony of God’s work in us, His grace toward us (2 Timothy 4:1-2; 1 Peter 3:14-16).
4. Remaining in Christ, fully clothed in the new self with all humility, submitting to God and His way in all things and at all times (Titus 3:1; Colossians 3:1-17).
5. Bearing the armor of God in readiness to fight the good fight of faith at all times (Ephesians 6:10-18):
a. having our head – thought life – protected by faith in the salvation we have in Christ;
b. our breast – heart – covered with the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus that is ours to possess;
c. being girded, wrapped up, and held secure by truth;
e. having feet shod, covered and made ready wherever we go to carry the peace we have with God by the gift of Christ, sharing it with all we meet;
f. bearing God’s Word as a sword, which is able to pierce heart, bone, and marrow;
g. covered with faith as an impenetrable shield;
h. praying constantly in the Spirit, in constant communication with our God and King;
i. praying especially for those on the frontlines of our faith.
And there’s so much more:
Man and woman, together as one, loving, respecting, cherishing, nurturing, completing each other, raising up families to the glory of God.
People of God, the church, the very body of Christ, strengthening, encouraging, and helping each other be our best selves in Christ, the very image of God.
I could go on and on. Suffice to say, God did not leave us with little to do. We are a people of purpose.
Every breath is worthwhile and accomplishes God’s glory as we remember the call of God in bearing the image of God as light in a dark world. We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for we once were not a people, but now we are the people of God; we had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, do dishes, or serve on a special call mission field, in whatsoever your hands find to do, do all to the glory of God, giving thanks to Him in Jesus name. (1 Peter 2:9-10; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17)
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
Satan looks for an opportune time to tempt us. In this account of Christ’s temptation, as in the temptation of Eve, we see that he watches for and taps into our wants, desires, needs, and longings. He watches for an instant of focus on a desire and pounces, first addressing that want with opportunity for fulfilling it. With Eve it was longing for a forbidden fruit. With Jesus, it was physical hunger.
The desire may not be a bad thing. Bread is not bad. It’s a staple and is a form of food that provides the best source of some vitally needed micro-nutrients. But Jesus recognized it was not God offering: not His hand, His timing, or His desire. So Jesus stood His ground and looked to the Bread of Life – the Living Word of God – for strength to withstand.
Next Satan turned to testing the rightful and true understanding of God’s Who – His intent. With Eve it was, “Did God really say…?” With Jesus, “You know You can safely do this I ask because of God’s promise to protect You.”
When God says, “Test Me in this,” as He did in Malachi’s instructions to encourage our faithful tithing with understanding that God meets faithful obedience with His ample supply, that is good. But Satan trying to challenge belief in God’s goodness and faithfulness is from evil intent. It is set to turn the heart to challenge God with an attitude of “prove it!” It is set to take advantage of the goodness of God with evil purpose.
And finally, Satan sets out to test our sincere trust in God, raising up doubts that lead us to fall away from Him. With Eve, he caused her to believe God was lying in order to keep her from a good that would make her as God is, knowing all. She forgot that she already possessed God’s image, having been made like Him, and was led to feel there must be more to have. With Jesus, Satan tried to set himself up as being as God, able to give Jesus the promised reward, and willing to do so without requiring Him to give Himself in a painful sacrifice.
Both Eve and Jesus had to decide if they trusted God and believed Him to be the Greater One. Eve failed and Adam willingly followed her lead, bringing us all here, to an ever growing evil age. Jesus, however, chose trust in God and won the day, along with our eternity. He is the example we must follow if we are to take temptation seriously, realize it’s intent, and walk in victory. In Him is Life, abundant and full, and Life is the Light of men.
Following Jesus, remaining in the Light of His countenance, we can realize when Satan has found opportunity with us, and trust that God will use it as opportunity for us to walk in victory as our desire for Him leads to seeking Him knowing we will find Him faithful.
“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.” Ephesians 5:6-10
In difficult times, when it’s hard to see our blessings through the smokescreen of trouble, we must remember that “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.”
By His grace we have jobs and strength to work it. By His grace, He blesses our hands to put food on the table. For His glory we have family and friends to lift us up and bring joy to our days. Whatever little bit of good you see, thank God for it, knowing that God blesses us as we acknowledge our need of Him and recognize every good He gives, with gratefulness to Him for it.
God desires our good “And 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.” Our calling is to grow strong in our ability to recognize and trust the good that comes from Him, and to trust Him in the wait as He works good in the midst of trouble. So find every good today and give thanks to The Giver of Light to see by. 💗🤗🙏🏼
“Now these are the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who gave him strong support in his kingdom, together with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel.” 1 Chronicles 11:10 NASB
Second Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11 tell of 30 mighty men who supported King David. It also tells of the three who topped the list. These were obviously closer in relationship to the King.
King Jesus had 12 of His closest disciples, and three of them topped the list of those He called upon as travel companions in this life.
We’re not meant to walk alone. We all need our three, mighty warriors. We need close relationships with people who will love us unconditionally and pray with us, going to battle on our behalf. These are ones we can tell anything to and know they will keep it between us. These are ones we can call on anytime of day or night and they are there for us, doing battle on bent knees, encouraging righteousness in us, being real together with us.
I have at least 12, and three closest of them. Have you found yours. Like with marriage, these need to be equally yoked partners, having the same love for God and desire to please Him. They should be given to seeking God and growing in Him. If we desire godliness and godly counsel, these must be people who seek to keep God of uppermost importance in life, for He is our first most vital, need and necessity.
Thank God for your three today, and pray for them as one of their three. If you don’t have your three, seek God to raise them up before you.
“When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.” Revelation 6:3-4 NASB
As Christians, our peace is in Christ, the fruit born out of His Spirit, active and effective in us. Peace comes from trust in God and it umpires our lives, directing us through the mire of life. It is not dependent on circumstance or happenstance, but is totally relient on God, a biproduct of relationship with Him.
Trust in the Lord, believing Him; enter His rest and walk in the peace that passes understanding and overcomes the goings on in this world. As this world goes mad, we don’t have to, for greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world.
So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agapaō) Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (phileō) You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (agapaō) Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love (phileō) You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love (phileō) Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love (phileō) Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (phileō) You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep. — John 21:15-17
“What is the meaning of Agapé love? Agapé, and its verb form agapaō, is one of the several Greek words for love. The Bible also mentions phileo (brotherly love), and refers to eros (erotic/sensual love). The Greeks also spoke of storge, which is a love between family members. Agapé love is a little different. It is not a feeling; it’s a motivation for action that we are free to choose or reject.” (From Compellingtruth.org)
Agapé is used of God’s love for us. It is a love that is given by His choice to do so, and is not dependent on our earning it. It is the love that makes the truth spoken by John, “God is love (Agapé).” God delights in, esteems, and gives goodwill to us because He desires us and wants the best for us. Agapé flows out of one’s who: what we want, desire, and choose to be and do toward the object of our delight.
Phileō is friendship love, often based on emotion and how we feel at the time. It is often earned by good and trusting relationship, and can be lost through insult, disagreement, or even distance.
Jesus graciously comes down to Peter’s level of love, but His desire from us is agapaō. He is asking Peter, “Do you delight in Me enough to care for those I delight in, just as I delight in them, even though they behave as undesirable sheep?”
We are called to love as God loves us. That love is an unconditional choice to delight in God enough to take delight in and give goodwill to all He delights in. It is a gift given out of our who in Christ, by the power of His Spirit, undeterred by their do. And it flows from love (Agapé) for God first. Because we love God who first loved us, we love others in kind, seeking to minister to each other out of desire to please God. Because love is first for God with desire for Him and His pleasure, we love others even when they may fail to love us.
“Most people have never heard their name and God’s mentioned in a prayer. You may be surprised how willing a friend will be to accept your offer to pray for them.” From a NeedHim.org devotional
This is so hard for me to fathom, being from the Bible Belt and having many praying friends and acquaintances, but the fact is, though many have a belief that there is a God, few truly know Him or understand that He is ONE. And fewer still think of Him daily, much less constantly. We often don’t think to pray for ourselves, and may find it hard to believe that anyone cares enough to pray for us.
My prayer for each one today is that we know Him who is God, that we seek Him for ourselves, and that we each have at least one person we know we can call on with any need and they will be faithful to pray.
I often leave the blessing of Numbers 6:24-27, praying it over people even though I don’t know if they believe. It doesn’t matter if the one prayed for believes. It’s the faithfulness of God to keep His Word and the faith of the one praying that moves the heart of God. So be faithful to pray, and please know you can call on me anytime. I count it a privilege to pray for you by name. 💗🤗🙏🏼
Christian, God is telling me, “Be careful of your testimony, Darlene, that you don’t inadvertently contradict yourself.”
Who do we seek after with whole heart? God: Father, Son, and Holy Presence.
Who do we point others to? God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Who do we pray to? God: the Father, through the Son, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.
Whose image do we bear? God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Who do we worship and profess as true? God: Father, Son, and Holy Presence.
Who do we look to that we may know ourselves? God: in whose image we are created.
It is God who knows us, God who forms us, God who instructs our who and do, God who directs our future and defines our nature. We must take care that things we do, think, believe, speak, and share do not inadvertently lead people to another besides God.
Psychics, witchcraft, fortune tellers, some of these cutesy games I too am guilty of playing, are appealing to our senses because we want confirmation of who we are and what lies before us. We want to feel strong and powerful. However, these are not God or His Word and are most often backed by the demonic, set to lead us away from the true God, bearing a false light that shines on false paths leadings to halls of mirrors that distract from truth, focus us on self, and trap us in delusions of grandeur.
We must take care to not rely on these things that lead to false understanding and point others to defining powers that are not God. It contradicts our testimony of faith, hope, belief, and trust, and points others to false gods, behind whom lurk demons. And it leads us to believe our own strength and goodness, inadvertently denying our reliance on God, who alone is good and in whose grace we find our strength.
“… let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we? All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-24 NASB
Be careful of your testimony of faith in, belief in, and reliance on the One True God and King, who sends His Spirit to help us.
“… Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.”” Matthew 15:1-14 NASB
I believe that Jesus loved the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day, enough-so that He refused to fear insulting them for their good and the good of those looking to their instruction. Our teaching, exemplary lives, and testimonies of faith matter to God the Father. To me, the greater insult and act of hate is to see a professing Christian bear a testimony that leads others away from God and say nothing for fear of offending them. Better for them to be offended by me, and me by them, than to face God after living offensively toward His Lordship, will, and way.
I also know that we are called to deal with our own issues first and to take care that our attempts to help another is not an act of hypocrisy. We are always to act out of sincere love and care, for the good of others and the glory of God. And I know that we do not always know and judge our own heart rightly. Sin is so deceptive, our own hearts so deceived, that we don’t often realize the sin we practice. Thus, encouraging and building one another up in love is vital when God the Father directs it.
Anytime I am led to encourage a loved one to rethink a position taken or word said, it makes me look at self and make adjustments too. Hope of encouraging righteous living in others, encourages and strengthens self first, as I apply the truths professed to my own life.
It is vital any word of encouragement to look at ones self and adjust direction be based on God’s judgment, standing in agreement with His Word of law, will, and way, and not one’s own ideology. Why should another be dictated by my personal sensitivities, or me, theirs. But all must bow to God’s will and way. Judgment must always be based on what God has already judged.
In these days of lawlessness and evil, self-reliance and personal offensiveness, it is vital that we help one another realize when we are walking in the ways of this world instead of on the paths of righteousness that honors God as God. So if you love me and care about my relationship with God and the testimony I bear, love me enough to encourage my righteousness, even though it may insult or offend me for a moment. If your viewpoint aligns with God’s, He will help me see that and change my ways. And I pray to love you enough to speak truth, according to God’s Word, to you in kind.
My understanding and belief is that God is One God, but He manifests Himself to us in three distinct entities. It is a truth that can be difficult, at best, to describe, and near to impossible to comprehend. In fact, without the aid of God’s Spirit, this truth is so beyond our finite mind’s ability to comprehend, that I believe this to be the greatest cause to doubt the existence of God found in humankind. Thinking on this, as I study on the Third Entity of the Triune One, something said brought to mind identical triplets.
Identical triplets form from one egg that splits itself into three entities. These three look so much alike that it can be near impossible to tell them apart. They think alike and have similar interests because they are one, but they also have clear distinctions, recognized by those who know them best, distinct characteristics that mark each as their own being.
This is what I understand of God. God says He is One; yet he expresses Himself to us in three different entities, identical beings that possess distinct attributes that define their roles in their triune function as one being.
God the Father is the God Head of the Triune. He houses all knowledge, understanding, and eternal insight, along with all holiness that cannot even look on evil. This headship is expressed in scripture by Jesus’ proclamation that only the Father knows the time of The returning Christ (Matthew 24:33, 36-39 ).
God the Son is the physical manifestation of the God Head. He is the Spoken Word of creation, the Angel of the Lord of Old Testament, Jesus the Christ who brings the massage of God and reveals God’s who to us in the New Testament. When He comes, He can be touched, heard, seen, and He can touch us. Jesus is the head of His body, the true and living church.
God the Spirit is the Holy Presence and manifest Power of the God Head. He dwells in us to bear His image through us, equipping and empowering us, making us one with the Triune and enabling our unity with one another. He is the power of God at work in and around us.
When I first received Jesus, my focus in growth was totally on Him. Still today I see many, longtime Christians whose focus is Jesus. But after some time, the Spirit began showing me that Jesus came to make the Father known; that it is the Father we are to pray to in the name and authority of Jesus, as a representative of the interests, priorities, and purposes of Christ. And that we are to seek to know the Father. So I asked Jesus to reveal the Father to me, and began a glorious journey of ever growing relationship with Abba. The difference between Father and Son entities of the Triune One grow ever clearer, helping me better relate with each and the Whole.
Through the years I have also looked closely at the power and work of God, the Holy Spirit, but lately I have been drawn to realize Him as an individual part of the triune that desires to be known and acknowledged. He makes us one with the Father and Son in thought, desire, purpose, and action, and the Father jealously desires association with His Spirit actively working in us. So I have been digging anew, asking Father through Christ to make me know His Spirit with greater intimacy.
The Spirit of God is the Fruit Bearer. He is the seed of Christ that works in us to empower and enliven the image God created to be ours, but that sin killed and Satan stole from us. That image comes forth as fruit of the Spirit produced in all of us. It proves our relationship with Father bought for us by the Son and made alive anew in us as we cooperate with the Spirit. Each possess all these fruits to the degree that we surrender to God’s Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. These make up our who by the power of God’s Spirit enlivened in us. These are ours to the degree that these make us who we are.
Another thing found in my study of God’s Spirit that I have known a long while in part, but that strikes me today of greater importance to understand, has me pausing to grasp this fact more fully. The Spirit of God “gifts” us for ministry and for victory in Christ. The gifts of the Spirit are different from the fruit. The fruit is our who, the gifts are our do. The truth I need to realize more deeply and with greater trust is that The Spirit faithfully gifts us for each encounter or situation with gifts like prophecy, service, teaching; exhortation; giving, and mercy, to name a few. There are gifts we work out of most frequently, but the Spirit also recognizes the need of the moment and fully equips us for that need. We do not have to worry about what to say or do in any given moment when we trust God’s equipping through the power of His Spirit in us.
Therein lies my focus and the prayer of my heart. Father God knows what my day holds and the people I will encounter. He knows each need and the way He desires to express Himself to me and others. Holy Spirit knows the Father’s heart toward me and those around me, and He moves in me to make me ready, adequately equipped and gifted for every good work, as best expresses God’s image and power into each situation and every encounter. The work of God’s Spirit is here to help me yes; but more importantly, He is here to equip me to express the Father into the lives of others for their encouragement, so they may be built up in their faith and service. I pray for that gifting and for surrender to the work of God’s Spirit through me for the glory of the Triune.
How are you doing on this journey of growing relationship with God in the form of His identical-triplet representation: Father, Son, and Holy Presence? May we each be found faithfully growing strong relationships with our One God’s Three Expressions of His One Person. And may we each surrender self to His manifest glory made known in us. He is faithfully making us as He is and desires us to be.
“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.
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.
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
“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
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?
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.
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
“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
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.