Category Archives: Holy Habitation

Greater Love Requires Humility: A Quick Study

The best devotionals: The Word of God, coupled with comprehensive understanding of the words read. And the best, most needful Bible study aids are a Bible concordance, a dictionary of Bible words and one for the language being read. Your notes would look something like this.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 NASB)

Selfishness – (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. “I joined them for selfish reasons” Synonyms: egocentric, egotistic, egotistical, egomaniacal, self-centered, self-regarding, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-seeking, self-serving, wrapped up in oneself, inward-looking, introverted, self-loving; inconsiderate, thoughtless, unthinking, uncaring, heedless, unmindful, and More.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NASB)

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. ….” (John 15:13-14 NASB)

Conceit – excessive pride in oneself. “he was puffed up with conceit” Synonyms: vanity, narcissism, conceitedness, self-love, self-admiration, self-adulation, self-regard, egotism, egoism, egocentricity, egomania; and More.

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3 NASB)

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. …. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life….” (Philippians 2:1-18 NASB)

Beware of Waterless Places

“”Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. ….”” (Matthew 12:43-45 NASB)

God showed me long ago that the waterless places demons travel is everyplace The Living Water isn’t. Today, as Pastor taught on this passage, I realized the need to beware of waterless spaces in and around me.

We have a tendency to give God this room, but not that closet. Beware! That closet is a waterless place, giving space for demonic activity in our lives. We give Him this friendship, but not that one. We surrender this hobby, but not that activity.

We leave ourselves open to demonic hindrance, disturbance, and occupation, when we maintain areas where The Living Water is not allowed to flow and flood. The Devil can’t have our eternal soul if we truly belong to Christ. But he can rob of abundant life in our here and now. And he can keep us from intimacy with God, a testimony of hope, eternal rewards, and crowns of glory.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”” (John 7:38 NASB)

Father, reveal the unoccupied, waterless spaces in my life where enemy occupation has found a home. Deliver me, cleanse me, and flood every nook and cranny. In Jesus, amen.

Directed by Bit and Bridle

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

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

This piece is the bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Psalms 37:3-5 NASB)

The Cleansing Coal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meager Wages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Call to Firm Commitment:

With Insight on the Mark of 666

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Going on with Jesus?

Oswald Chambers

My Utmost for His Highest

Holy Bible App

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

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

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

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

The High Calling of Heroic Servitude

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:13-14 NASB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faith Made Whole

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

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

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

Know Your Enemy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Righteous Right Hand

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

This excites me! Look at what this says.

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

And the really exciting one!

  • He upholds us with His righteous right hand.

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

JESUS!

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

PROPITIATE!

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

KINSMAN REDEEMER!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Desires Fulfilled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.” (Psalms 37:3-6 NASB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Watchful Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Favor

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I (Jesus) go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…” (John 16:7-8 NASB)

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

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

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

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

Heart Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Philippians 4:8 NLT)

The Right Helpmeet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there’s more to this story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dangerous Assumptions

Read Genesis 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Residing as Aliens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Year End Reminder

“But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NASB

The example of forgiveness given us by God is to forgive “for my own sake”, just as God did in Isaiah 43:25. In the midst of Israel’s sin, God chose to forgive for His own sake, and we are instructed to forgive as God forgives (Ephesians 4:32).

The main reason to forgive, expressed in this 2 Corinthians passage, is so that Satan cannot take advantage of the situation to do harm to the cause of Christ. Forgiveness “for my own sake” protects me from bitterness, anger, and a slew of other negative emotions that lead to my own sin against God, through lack of love, failure to trust God to tend to the offender, and other bad fruits born out of lack of forgiveness.

Our forgiveness does not free the offender from the consequences of their sin. It leaves those consequences to God, for Him to tend to, and frees us to go on with life, free of the influence those negative emotions can have on our bodies, minds, and souls. It frees us to live a life of peace that glorifies God and bears the fruit of righteousness.

Though forgiveness can aid in continuing relations with those we love, forgiveness does not mean we must maintain relationship with the offender. Bad company corrupts good morals, and wisdom let’s us know when we need to remove a person from our midst. Forgiveness simply lets go of the insult and let’s God tend to the offender.

What do you need to forgive today, surrendering it to God, so you can press forward in peace? Let’s not enter this New Year carrying burdensome, tattered, energy sapping baggage. Bow to God now, and lay it at His feet.

“‘Be still, cease striving, let be and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” Psalms 46:10-11, (multiple versions)

Reach for the Prize

We, the people of God in Christ Jesus, are both fully perfected in Christ as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; and we are simultaneously continually being perfected until the day of Christ, when He is fully revealed in us.

Though we are eternal beings raised to newness of life in Christ, we still live in human flesh that tries to resurrect itself as a dominant force. We have earthbound thinking to overcome, bad habits to change, and a higher calling to walk into.

Long ago, I was impressed by God to stop setting resolutions to try to improve my flesh, and start setting my aim to reach the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. As I turned my attention to reaching for that prize, Father began showing me in scripture a mile marker for that year. My first prize assignment was to grow my knowledge of God in greater, ever increasing intimacy (Philippians 3:10-11, AMPC).

Growing intimacy with God requires time in His Word so He can point our hearts to the prize we are to reach for. My encouragement today is for a commitment to seek God in His Word, asking Him to show us the prize we are to reach for. Get into God’s Word, watching for Him to highlight the prize He has for you to attain in this coming year. Get your spiritual eyes on that prize and watch in awe as He opens His Word and opportunities to help your growth and position you for victory in grabbing that ring in victory.

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. …” (1 Peter 2:1-5 NASB)

Philippians 3:7-16 NASB

Love from the Heart

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart….” (1 Peter 1:22-25 NASB)

God’s Word to us instructs us to love each other from the heart, but what does that mean?

“Heart” in scripture most often refers to the core of our being: from all that makes us who we are as individuals. This core being is made up of our mind or thoughts, our will, and our emotions.

Loving from the heart of our mind means to possess right, true, and loving thoughts toward others.

In the love chapter, we are instructed that kindness is a love virtue. All actions begin in our thinking, toward God, ourselves, and others. Doing kindness begins with our thoughts toward each: God, self, and others. Patience, jealousy, bragging, arrogance, actions unbecoming to a Christ follower: all these and more in the outline of love actions are effected positively or negatively by our thoughts. So love begins with our minds, and requires our fervent practice of taking every thought captive in the obedience of Christ, following His example in the practice of love.

Love begins in our minds because true, Agape love, which is the “love” word used here, is a function of our wills. Will flows out of what we think and believe true, right, and good, which is dictated by who we are, our defining characteristics. As Christ followers, we are people of The Word, and we will seek wisdom from that Word in directing our wills.

God loves by choice, because He is Love, and He cannot deny Himself. His love is not led astray by wayward thought processes, nor does He willfully go against who He is. Everything He thinks, says, and does flows true to His character, being dictated by who He is, the main part of His nature being love. When He slew whole groups of people, it was not dictated by hate of those destroyed, but by love that desired to protect those adversely affected by some form of hate or rebellion in the ones slain.

Love is not self-centered, selfish, but God and others centered. It is considerate of those we love in all we choose. It does what most represents God in accomplishing His will out of love for Him. And it considers what is most beneficial and caring toward those within our sphere of responsibility. By choice of our will, we do all out of love, becoming love as God is love, and staying true to who we are in Christ: the image of God.

Though love is a choice of our wills as dictated by right and true thoughts within us, it is not devoid of emotion. Emotions are. Though we should not allow emotion to dictate, devoid of thought coupled with wisdom of will, emotions help our expression of thought or opinion when aided by right thoughts and wisdom bred will.

When my husband looks at me with love’s passion shining in his eyes, I see the depth and sincerity of his love for me. When a controlled outburst of anger rises up to get my attention, I recognize the need to take heed to the importance of the issue expressed by the one angered. Emotion aids expression when controlled by love and wisdom. But be forewarned about being dictated by unchecked emotion.

When emotions rise, it’s important to acknowledge the flare, weighing it on the scales of loving wisdom, and taking it captive to righteousness. Passion unchecked and without love’s focus can lead to adultery. Fear unchecked and without love’s focus is destructive to faith, able to drag us off in opposition to God and His ways. Fear breeds hate, as it is ill equipped to think righteously or choose what is best out of love for God, self, and others.

Note the order given as seen in throughout scripture: mind, will, emotions. Without right thinking, our wills will lead us astray. Devoid of will’s directive, emotions make us fickle.

Love seeks out right and true thoughts. Love takes action deliberately, with clarity of will, as righteousness and wisdom become clear. Love uses right thought and clarity of will to temper emotion as a vital communication and motivation tool. Thus, we knowingly, deliberately, and fervently love from the heart in likeness to our God, who IS love.

Scriptures referenced: 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Corinthians 10:1-6.

Gifts That Last

“I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you…!”” (Acts 3:6 NASB – http://bible.com/100/act.3.6.nasb)

We don’t have to go into debt to give the perfect gift. Peter and John gave the gift of healing. My sweet husband gives me joy and laughter, love and encouragement everyday: like today, as He dawns my homemade, glove potholder like a hat. 😂🤪😂

There are two things mentioned in our Acts verse that is important to gift giving:

First give what you have.

Doing such huge gifts that it puts us in debt for a year is not necessary. It can cause stress that tears at the core of relationships. And it can rob of time with those we love as we work overtime to clear the debt in time for next Christmas.

Most of all, high dollar giving feeds cravings for this world’s goods and hinders growth in the importance of contentment with what we have. Thoughtful, loving, gift giving within budget, given out of love and care, will carry greater value in the long run, breeding a contentment that keeps us free from stress, debt, and greed.

Second, gifting in the name of Jesus, as represents Him, His ways, His love, carries eternal worth into the giving.

The greatest gift I received this year was the gift of three weekends from my granddaughter. She came to help me and be with me. That is priceless. She and her sister gave the gift of taking responsibility for the Thanksgiving meal, freeing me of stress and blessing with rest, love, and joy. My heart flutters still.

The top gifts in life: debt free, joy-filled, love. It ministers to hearts, heals, strengthens, forms strong bonds, and makes long lasting memories that uplift and encourage for ages to come.

Happy gift giving! Merry Christmas!

Finding Who We Are: Part 14

Back to the Temple, to the Holy Place, Where We are The Church

When I finished up the section covering who we are as the Temple of God, I felt that I did not adequately emphasize a vital aspect of our being that is found in Holy Place life. In the Holy Place, where only the priests can enter, all who are true followers of Christ being Priests unto God in His Royal Priesthood, life in the Holy Place is Church.

We are The Church. We wash each other’s feet through encouragement and love as we enter together. We fellowship around the Showbread Table, Light each other’s lamps at the lampstand, and worship through prayer and song at the table of incense.

I was kicking myself for missing or failing to emphasize that, praying about doing an addendum, when God advised my heart to not worry about it. Now I know that He knew the last chapter.

So here we are, the final post of our trip through Hebrews, looking at who we are as the people of God in Christ. Until now, we have focused most on each of us individually. We are each tasked as priests, standing ready at the altar of sacrifice, poised to give an account of the hope we have and share with those who want it. We are responsible to watch with care for the image of God in us and encourage it in others as we wash holy feet. We enter the Holy Place on behalf of others, yes, but also in living our lives as honors God, fellowshipping with His people at the showbread table; checking our light and lamp oil at the Lamp Stand; praying and worshiping as incense at the table of incense. There we find our entry into the Holy of Holies for very personal time with the Father.

In the Holy of Holies, we visit with our Father about His Word, growing our personal understanding and surrender to His ways. We know and are reminded of His healing from the bite of sin’s serpent of death. We remember His loving care that meets our need as manna from His storehouses, all while being acutely aware of His mercy seat where Jesus ever lives to intercede on our behalf. Here, in our individual, very personal time with the Father through Christ, we are rested, revived, and replenished to return to The Church in renewed strength for ministry.

Now we see in chapter 13 who we are corporately. We are The Church. As I read Hebrews 13, the words speak to me, giving an excellent picture of what “Church” looks like. As I read these words, here is what stands out to me for us to realize about being part of The Church.

In Verse 1, we find our first, most vital responsibility as members of The Church: unfailing, unconditional love. We are to excel in living out the Agape love that flows from Father, through Son, to and through us individually, to each other. And guess who gets the first dose after love of God in all His forms? “ME!”

As we love God, His love flows to us to empower us to fully and truly love Him more. In this exchange, we come to know His Agape for us individually, as His beloved Child. His love for “me” empowers our love for self to be a love that rightly evaluates self, frees from self hate and self worship, and empowers a humility that equips our ability to truly love others. It is a love that does not fail as God’s righteous thoughts toward “me” and those in “my” sphere of influence equips our right relationships.

This love extends to empower our fulfillment of verse 2, “Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood–being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Thus, we open our homes for fellowship, bible studies, overnight guests, etc., giving hospitality out of Love’s flow.

Love is gracious, merciful, humble, and giving. True Love, as God defines it, motivates and empowers everything we think, feel, say, and do. Thus, Love’s “…hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. ….” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 AMPC)

Out of love, we recognize our fellow countrymen and women, feeling the plight of those in persecution of every form. As The Church, we pray for and do all we can to help those imprisoned because of their faith (Verse 3)

As The Church, we recognize that our relationships are a picture of God’s Kingdom, beginning with the marriage bed. We hold human marriage in highest honor, knowing that as the Bride of Christ, our marriage in this life is to emulate that BLESSed union.

We know that adultery and any infidelity breaks the heart of God, as it mimics the separation of sinful man from their Holy, Creator God and His loving desire for our best good (Verse 4). Infidelity is the same sin toward our mate as idolatry is toward our God. It robs from our mate that which belongs only to them, and gives it to another. And this infidelity, though usually given to another person, can be given to things, just as an idol can be a thing or a pursuit that robs what belongs first to God or our mate.

As the people of God we hold God and His nearness as greatest value, knowing He who will never leave us, meets our every need. We do not give His glory to the monetary temptations of this world or hold any other treasure above Him, who cares for us affectionately and watchfully (Verse 5-6). This, too, fits the marriage bed, as we are called to cherish and nurture our mates.

As The Church, we work together to grow in our relationship to Triune-God, learning to truly love, honor, cherish, and nurture that Holy Union with God. ”So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?”

As The Church, we pray for and support the leadership of our assemblies. We call them to accountability for righteousness in their leading, and we follow their holy example, imitating their faith as we grow by their example, a faith that leans the entire personality on God to become the real individual He wants of us (Verse 7-8).

Verse 17 adds instruction to “Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them continually recognizing their authority over you, for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account of their trust.”

Their “trust” is from God, the responsibility given as shepherds of their flock. We are charged to do our part “to let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you either.”

At the same time that we are to follow our leaders, helping them lead victoriously, learning and growing faith because of their example, making sure we do not become a source of hardship and sorrow by bucking their authority, we are to be watchful for false teaching. Verse 9-15 warns that there should not be alien traditions added to God’s Word of instruction. Nor are we to trust any other altar of sacrifice for sin than that of God’s Son. “It is good for the heart to be established and ennobled and strengthened by means of grace (God’s favor and spiritual blessing) and not to be devoted to” unnecessary rituals and sacrifices.

As The Church, we care about others, meeting the needs of others (Verse 16). We pray for the work of The Church, its ministries, evangelists, preachers, teachers, etc., ministering to their needs (Verse 18-19). Following these guidelines, we accomplish the fellowship of Holy Place ministry.

“Now may the God of peace, Who is the Author and the Giver of peace, Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood that sealed and ratified the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), strengthen, complete, perfect and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; while He Himself works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it). …” (Verse 20-25).

(Hebrews 13:1-25 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 13

We Are the Children of God: Recipients of The Father’s Discipline

“… The Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. …” (Hebrews 12:5-15 AMPC)

Beloved, as people who are rebirthed into Christ, we are the blood born children of Holy God. He loves us completely and unconditionally. One proof of God being our Father who loves us is His discipline working righteousness in us.

Discipline gets a bad rap in our day. The ways of discipline are toned down, often calling actions common to discipline abusive. Spanking is taboo, yet God’s Word says that if we spare the rod (some define as a small switch for stinging the legs), we HATE our son (child). (Proverbs 13:24 NKJV)

The main reason that I believe “discipline” gets a bad rap is that many define discipline as harsh, linking it only with spankings, grounding, or other punishments given for wrong doings. But God’s discipline, though it does respond to wrong doing and may respond harshly, is always done out of love, and is much more than reactive.

The defining parameters of discipline is training in righteousness, that we may be holy as He is holy. The number one verse I run to when describing discipline, which speaks of the purpose and work of scripture, is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. This oft quoted verse uses words like teaching, reproof, correction, training, instruction, conviction. The goals of such discipline are to increase righteousness, to make adequate and fully equipped for good work; to train in discerning good and evil. So we don’t just get onto a child for doing wrong. We train them to understand why it is wrong and teach better ways and reasoning so they find value in righteousness. That is God’s purpose in all He allows to touch our lives.

God does not tempt us to evil, but as He trains us to know the difference between good and evil, He does grant opportunity to recognize and choose between them. The older I get, the more I realize that any choice between good or evil is actually a choice between God and not-God.

Scripture teaches to avoid bad company because desire to fit in with those we call friend, when they constantly lean toward evil, erodes at and corrupts our good morals. The Father practices what He preaches, another vital aspect of discipline, desiring us to follow suit. Our walking with corruption separates us from the Father. If we truly want a close relationship with our Father, we must run with Him and with those close to Him.

Training involves time. We cannot teach a child how to love on a puppy without hurting it and expect them to fully understand in that instant how to love and treat others. It takes time and practice with ever growing subject matter to bring us up in how to love and treat others. And those that learn fastest and easiest are those who have parents who are good role models. Consistency is a must.

Now, I know parents can be abusive, but instead of training parents how to discipline righteously, we are training them to coddle children, making for kids who are selfish, unable to truly care for others, making them targets for evil.

Beloved, as blood born children of God, because He loves us and desires us to be all He knows we can be, having a right estimation of ourselves, God disciplines us. This discipline aimed at helping us become all He knows we can be is the meaning of training a child according to his (or her) “individual bent” (Proverbs 22:6,AMPC). It means recognizing one, the type of discipline that works best in training the child without breaking their spirit. Secondly, it requires the parent to recognize their child’s strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents, and abilities, helping them grow and develop in line with who they are and can be.

When training a child to overcome their weaknesses, discipline helps them recognize resources that make them strong in weak areas. A child learns to hold on to things that stabilize them while growing strong walking legs. As we teach a child to walk by giving them our fingers to hold while we stabilize them, so we must help them learn to grab God’s hand and rely on His resources. The thing God wants us to learn and to pass on to our kids is this: where we help a child learn to walk, the goal being to eventually let go of us, God wants us to grow to know to never let go of Him. Our true weakness comes when we run in our own strength, forgetting that we still will do best by holding His hand. We are at our best when willingly surrendered to His care.

Beloved, we are the most BLESSed kids around, because our God loves us enough to care what we do and who we become. Because God loves us, He is always ready to forgive failure and, taking us by the hand, He shows us the still more excellent way of love, righteousness, peace, and joy, breeding heavens glory into all we are, say, feel, believe, and do, so we are the best “me” He created us to possess.

“My son, keep your father’s God-given commandment and forsake not the law of God that your mother taught you. Bind them continually upon your heart and tie them about your neck. When you go, the words of your parents’ God shall lead you; when you sleep, they shall keep you; and when you waken, they shall talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the whole teaching of the law is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:20-23 AMPC)

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMPC; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 5:14, 12:11; 2 Peter 2:14, NASB; Proverbs 22:6 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 12

The Testimony of Kingdom Coming: The Testament of God

“… Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God. … Urged on by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise. … These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth. Now those people who talk as they did show plainly that they are in search of a fatherland (their own country). …” (Hebrews 11:5, 8-9, 13-14 AMPC)

Chapter 11 of Hebrews brings hope to many people of faith as testimony of people of faith through the ages rolls across its verse. Reading through these precious words today, I see mere humans, lauded for a great faith that led to actions bearing testimony of their faithful God. Several things I note as I read:

First these are people of faith who trusted the same perfect God of promise, but these are not perfect people. Abraham fell more than once to fear: faith’s biggest enemy. Moses, a Christlike leader of God’s people, struggled with anger issues that led to doing things his way instead of God’s way. David, the mighty warrior with a heart for God, committed adultery, then tried to cover it up by committing murder. Yet, though they did not behave perfectly and had to repent more than once, these made the faith hall of fame as recipients of God’s faithfulness.

Second, every promise given is fulfilled, but none saw all fulfilled in their lifetime, and some we still wait for we know as finished in the eternal though we still do not see it. This fact is a picture of faith. And this walk of faith we live bears a testimony of God.

Beloved, we who believe God and trust by faith are His living, breathing, testament, adding daily to God’s faith hall of fame.

“And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised, Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].” (Hebrews 11:39-40 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 11

People of Conviction

“For still a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay. But the just shall live by faith – My righteous servant shall live by his CONVICTION…” (Hebrews 10:37-39 AMPC)

Beloved, as God’s righteous servants, we are God’s People of Conviction.

People of conviction are fixed: strong in their belief, not easily swayed from the course of following and growing strong in Him. These have received God and His Word as full truth and are convinced by Him that all He is and says is true. There is no turning us from our course, for our full trust is in Him. We believe! We are oak trees, having roots set deep and ever growing in the soil of God’s Kingdom, constantly refreshed by His River of Living Water. Having set our minds, we keep them set on the things above where God resides; the higher things (Colossians 3:1-4 AMPC).

Our Hebrews 10 focal passage goes on to say that, as people of conviction, we respect “man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it.” Many passages of scripture make it clear that we human Christians are in a state of constant growth. As long as we live in this world, our experiences will work maturity in us, helping us to know God better and come into stronger conviction of faith.

Romans 14 warns us to not put one another down for the faith we have, siting the faith for or against the eating of food sacrificed to idols. Respecting each other’s faith in truth, we are to be considerate of one another’s sensibilities, not condemning each the other’s degree of faith.

Faith begins as a mustard seed. It takes time to grow into a mighty, fruit bearing tree. One may be strong and mighty in an area where I am weak and frail; but I will likely have great faith in something they are just coming into. Realizing we are all at different levels of faith according to our level of maturity in Christ, we are tasked to accept each other without condemnation or becoming a cause for stumbling.

“The faith (based on truth) which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14:22-23 NASB (thought added by author)

As I consider our being people of conviction, living the faith we possess, looking at it in context with the chapter it resides in, I note an exciting truth we can possess with sure conviction. The thing that jumps out at me from Hebrews 10, verses 1-2, sets my heart aflame. What freedom will be ours who hold to this sure conviction.

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, CAN NEVER, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, MAKE PERFECT those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, WOULD NO LONGER HAVE had CONSCIOUSNESS OF SINS?” (Hebrews 10:1-2 NASB)

Did you see it? IF the previous sacrifices fully cleansed, they would have no consciousness of sin.

Beloved, Jesus fully cleanses. (SELAH!!! Pause…and calmly think about that.)

This does not mean freedom to sin, but freedom FROM SIN and the ultimate consequence of death (eternal separation from God). When we sin, we have a sure place in Christ for forgiveness and cleansing that frees from condemnation. No sin can ever again get a deadly hold on us because Jesus paid the full price of all – ALL – sin. We who receive, believe, and cleve to Him can never be lost from Him again. So, though we sin, we can run to our loving Father who will wash our holy feet so we shine in Christ again. This conviction is ours to possess. Praise the Lord!

Beloved, if you are truly in Christ, having received by faith this precious gift of Mercy’s grace, that guilt trip the enemy of righteousness keeps goading in your mind’s eye is destroyed by a sure conviction of God’s powerful grace. Lean yourself fully on Him through trusting repentance that sets free from condemnation. Grow strong in Your sure understanding of God and His ways, being fertile soil for faith-filled fruit bearing. In this way we live a life of conviction, with a freedom that draws the longing desires of those in need of what we possess.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-C

Into the Holy of Holies

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“…Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:2-4 NASB)

Lifting up the incense censor of personal relationship with Jesus, who has gone before us as a cloud to fill the mercy seat, we do something no ordinary, secondary priest has been allowed before. The old curtain torn away, we enter, having access through Christ to the Holy Presence of the Father, entering safely into the Holy of Holies, our sin covered: set free indeed.

I can sense the awe, the wonder, the reverential, holy fear and abandon that causes me to fall on my face in worship and surrender, acknowledging of His worthiness and sovereignty. Daring to lift eyes to look around, I see the Ark of covenant laid open before us, for our consideration. We are in the Presence of the Holy One. In this instant, nothing else matters as the glory of His Glory rises in us.

As I am there, I realize a familiar place I have been to and been touched by many times in my LifeWalk in Christ: an absolute, undeniable unity with this Holy.

Even now, Beloved, prostrate together with you, I realize that God has already answered the prayer of Jesus for us to be one with them as He and the Father are one. We just have to recognize, trust, and walk out this union. In these days of my life experience, I grow stronger daily in this realization. The rested assurance of being one in Christ: of being part of His very body. His very thought flowing to and through me as every neuron in me connects in surrender to my place in Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect at it yet, and I, too, frequently fight on the battlefield of the mind with the weapons of war that God provides. Taking every thought captive in likeness to the obedience of Christ, daily I grow stronger roots into my eternal reality. And I believe that every breath of this reality that I realize, makes up an undeniable experience of this Holy that will, on the day I fully stand before Him, make this familiar a true homecoming.

As I look at the Ark, open to view, I see the things of God that make this Holy our living reality today: the Ark of the covenant with its mercy seat and covering angels; the golden jar of manna; the budding rod; and the tables of the covenant.

The Ark of the covenant with its mercy seat and covering angels is full of symbolism, a reminder of truths we can still cling to, today. Because of Jesus, us being His body, and Him our covering, we see the faithfulness of God in the Ark before us. We know we can trust His mercy toward us because of Christ in us, the place where Jesus stands between our sin nature and God’s wrath, freeing us from the bonds of death.

The Ark is a visual for the faithful Presence of God, Who is with us and for us so that none can be successfully against us. As He went before the people of Israel, making a way for them, so He does for us who believe and trust His direction and protection.

The Golden jar of manna is assurance of God’s faithful provision. Reminder that we can trust Him with our physical need. No need we face in life is beyond God to meet according to His riches in glory.

The budding rod was proof and reminder to Aaron and God’s people that Aaron was the chosen high priest of there day. It ended all dispute for the people, and it squelched any insecurity in Aaron. He WAS chosen.

For us, Jesus is The Chosen and Eternal High Priest. We, too, are the chosen tribe of Jesus, representing His Priesthood before The Father and in the world. We are set apart in Christ, by God, as His Temple on Earth and in service to it for His glory.

We never have to question God’s calling and choosing us. As people of God in Christ, we simply must possess our position as Priest unto God, trust the sign of the budding rod before us, know our role in His Temple, and do our role. Because of Christ, our time with the Father in the secret place of His holiness provides that budding rod of assurance for us.

As for Israel, the tables of the covenant bear constant reminder to the people that God alone is God. There is no other. His ways are simple and straightforward, and we are to follow in His ways. The laws given provide the measuring rod that leads to repentance. Jesus is the embodiment of God’s Holy Word, making Him the measuring rod by which we are to live, breathe, and find our being, all of which we accomplish by the strength producing grace of God through Christ.

Beloved, as I think on these things, rejoicing in Christ, bowed here before my God and King, I realize that, in the new covenant of Christ, our procession through the temple worship starts and ends here. While Israel started at the door to the outer court and the sanctifying sacrifice at the Altar of Sacrifice, making atonement for themselves before continuing on through the temple service, being stopped at the door of the Holy of Holies, we begin and end our day in the Holy of Holies: in the very Presence of God in all His glory. Only as we start our day here can we press forward in full provision for service.

We start by remembering God’s law and the sacrifice of Jesus that sanctifies and sets us free. We praise God for His calling and choosing us in Christ, possessing and committing ourselves to that service. We entrust all our need to His provision and rest ourselves in His constant and sure Presence with us: in His faithfulness to lead us.

Stepping out in and through Christ, into the Holy Place, we light the incense altar from the fires of our Christ, filling the Holy of Holies with praise and gratitude for God’s loving care, lifting the known needs of others to Him. We stop at His Lampstand, check our Oil, and make sure we bear His Light. We feast ourselves at His table, filling ourselves with the milk, honey, bread, and meat of His Word.

Departing with Christ all over and in us, we enter outer court service. Stopping to check our face in the Laver of cleansing, we wash our feet and the feet of those with us. Prepared for service, we stand at the altar to await our first arrival. Busying ourselves with the good work and daily cares that God entrusts to us. We move freely throughout the rooms of the Temple as need and as opportunity presents itself to us, going in and out of the Holy of Holies as needed to replenish ourselves throughout the day.

At end of day, we reverse course, stopping at the cross to thank God for His sacrificial gift to us. Checking our face in the mirrors of God’s image, we take time needed to wash feet. Entering through the veil of the Holy Place, we feast from God’s table, trim the lamps and check our oil. We light the incense with gratitude for God’s work in our day, offering prayers for the needs before us. Then crossing that blessed threshold into the awe inspiring Presence of our God, King, and Father, we find our place of rest in Him and settle in where personal replenishing takes place, making us ready for the morrow.

Beloved, we are the Temple of our God, and we recognize that the new and vital Holy of Holies is our personal place of meeting with God: the secret place of communion where we fill up with Him. Enter into His service and glory in our God.

“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” (John 16:26-27 NASB)

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B3

Holy Place, Part 3 – The Table of Incense

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:2-4 NASB)

This passage in Hebrews makes it sound like the altar of incense was inside the Holy of Holies, but it wasn’t. However, as we will see, it is so vital to service in the Holy of Holies that it makes sense they would see it as part of that glorious room. According to God’s instruction to Moses in Exodus 30:1-10, the altar of incense was placed in the Holy Place, in front of the entrance to the Holy of Holies. God’s instructions for Arron, the High Priest, are as follows:

“Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; he shall burn it every morning when he trims the lamps. When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations” (vs. 7-8).

Perpetual is never ending or changing. It is to occur repeatedly; so frequent as to be endless and uninterrupted.

Two things to note: One, that no one was to enter the Holy of Holies except once a year on the Day of Atonement. That tells us that the altar had to be outside the curtain, because the High Priest tended the incense daily, in order for it to be perpetual before the Lord.

Second: no other sacrifice was made on this altar, with the exception of the ritual of blood on the Day of Atonement. There was prescribed incense that was for use on this altar. Exodus 30:34-38 gives specific instruction for the incense, a special blend that is holy to the Lord only and not to be used in the same proportions for personal pleasure. It is the Lord’s. God also warns in verse 9 of Exodus 30, “You shall not offer any strange incense on this altar, or burnt offering or meal offering; and you shall not pour out a drink offering on it.”

Other facts gleaned about the incense altar include the fact that the fire for the incense is taken from the hot coals of the sacrifice, beginning with the sacrifice for the priests given each morning, and being part of the ritual with many offerings, such as the peace offering.

Commentaries, along with scriptures describing the Day of Atonement rites, tell us that the smoke and scent from the incense altar wafted up and moved through crevices around the heavy curtain covering the Holy of Holies. On the Day of Atonement, after the sacrifice, the priest was to burn the incense before entering the Holy of Holies. The scripture specified that the cloud of smoke from the incense altar would “fill the mercy seat”, making it safe for the priest to enter. (Leviticus 16:13)

Another telling passage to note is the story of Korah’s rebellion. Korah committed the sin of Lucifer (Satan), that of the pride of thinking more highly of himself than he ought. (Numbers 16:1-50 NASB)

Jealous of Aaron’s position, Korah came to Moses claiming to be righteous and worthy to hold the High Priest’s office. He led 249 others to follow with the same claim. God instructed them to come before Him, bringing censors with burning incense before the Lord. You can read the account of God’s choice of Aaron and Moses and the demise of Korah in Numbers 16. But it is the rebellion of God’s people on the following day that gives a vital picture of the purpose and significance of the altar of incense:

“But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD’S people.” It came about, however, when the congregation had assembled against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tent of meeting, and behold, the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” Then they fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!” Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. HE TOOK HIS STAND BETWEEN THE DEAD AND THE LIVING, so that the plague was checked. But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the doorway of the tent of meeting, for the plague had been checked.” (Numbers 16:41-50 NASB)

Note the tendency to blame anyone other than those who did the deed. Sound familiar.

Beloved, the cross of Calvary is our coals of sacrifice. Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, is our incense; and He is the one who floods the mercy seat, ever living to intercede on our behalf. By Him, we enter the Holy of Holies into the very Presence of God. Through Him we intercede for others, as He takes our prayers and praises to the Father, a fragrant aroma, pleasing to God.

One important thing to note from the rebellion of Korah against the chosen: the difference between them was their heart attitude and surrender to God’s will. We, as priests unto God, chosen by Him in Christ, must bear this heart of humble surrender to Him in our service on behalf of mankind. We must take credit due us for our sin, own it, and, with wholehearted fervor, be quick to repent. We can stand, assured of our priestly rights, when we hold the censor and trust our Altar of Incense in our serving.

As Jesus takes His stand between the dead and the living, we serve as His representatives by standing in intercession for those of this world in need of a Savior. We stand for the needs of those in the body of Christ. We stand in service at the pleasure of the Father because Jesus takes His stand for us. Because of Christ, that heavy curtain is torn asunder, and Christ, the Savior, ushers us into the presence of the Lord God, our Father. Trust in the Sacrificial Lamb is the incense we burn before the Lord. He is our Seed of sacrifice. Bow down and worship the Lord for His glorious gift to us!

“For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11 NASB)

AMEN!

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B2

Holy Place, Part 2 – The Lampstand

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“You shall set the table outside the veil (covering the Holy of Holies), and the lampstand opposite the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; and you shall put the table on the north side.” (Exodus 26:35)

The lampstand of God’s Temple is located in the Holy Place, deeper in the Presence of God. Remember, the outer court is holy ground. It belongs to God and He is there. The outer court is where ministry to others happens. But only the priests are allowed into the Holy Place. As we will cover, the Holy Place is where intimate relationship with God happens.

We are His Light to the world, so in one sense, we are His lamp. But we are also His Temple. Within us as His Temple, we find a place in us that is the Holy Place. As we look at this reality, I discern with increasing clarity that the Holy Place in us is where we commune with God. And in that place is His lampstand that illumines our lives before Him.

God’s Lamp sheds light that illumines our personal darkness first, helping us to come more and more into His Light, where we receive ever increasing fullness of His Spirit, Who lights us up as His Light to this world. It happens in the Holy Place of God’s Presence. Let’s take a look at that earthly tabernacle to discern what the Holy Place looks like in us.

The tent of meeting and God’s Holy Temple built by Solomon was positioned to face East, facing the direction of the coming King. They didn’t know who their coming King was, and, in many cases, they still don’t. But we in Christ do know who He is, and we watch with expectant anticipation.

Stepping into the Doorway of the Holy Place, the table and showbread are on the right (north side), the lamp on the left (south side). Pictures show them about midway of the wall.

The lampstand was shaped to represent a tree: from root to branches. Jesus is our tree of life. I see the Lampstand as representative of our connection to the Eternal we have through Christ. We live through Him.

The lampstand set in the Holy Place was made of pure gold. The purification of gold by fire is likened to the work of God in purifying us as His servant representatives.

Scripture also likens our connection with Christ to trees and vines, Him being the root and us the branches through which His fruit is borne with it’s seed in it. For me, the lampstand being of pure gold speaks to the reality of our cleansing, already complete in Christ. Our eternal life is secure in Him, who is able to make us stand. He is our Light, leading us to God. We are His Light, illuminating Savior and King that all may see and know Him.

The tree shape is a picture of the tree of life that feeds us and produces the fruit of life in us. Jesus is the tree of life in us who are sealed with His Spirit. It is vital to our lives that we realize our connection to Him as the tree of life in us. Only as He feeds us like the root of a tree to branches producing leaf and fruit, can we produce any fruit or be His Light on the earth.

“”You are the light of the world. … Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NASB)

One purpose Father designated the shape and position of the lampstand to accomplish is that the lamps “light up the space in front of them” (Exodus 25:37 NASB)

Reading the complete Matthew passage above, Jesus reminds us that we don’t hide a light, but we strategically place it where it’s light can be seen. As His light to the world, God has us strategically positioned. As part of His Temple Lamp, it is vital we understand that there is a purpose for our position.

One thing we covered in the outer court passages is that, when someone walks into our sphere of influence, it brings opportunity for ministry. We may find ourselves introducing them to Jesus, or aiding their understanding of His Lordship. Wherever we are in any given day, our lives should spotlight our Savior and King.

I find the wording of Exodus 25:37 interesting: to light the space in front of the lamp. If we are not careful, our focus drifts. We get stuck in the past, on things and regrets behind us; or we get distracted by sideline issues and minutiae. God intends our focus to be on the opportunity right in front of our eyes.

Most often throughout scripture, the lamp or light, with or without the stand, represents the light of God’s Presence. Thus He calls us to be His Light: Jesus as the Light of the world, commissioned us as His light to the world, the work of His Spirit in us being the fuel for our lamps. We can accomplish God’s purpose best when we trust His supply of oil as His Light, and when we face forward to tend to things in front of us.

In Revelation, the lampstand, complete with lamps, represents the Church as a whole and its angel or leading minister (see chapters 1-3). If our church is full of dry bones and dark corners, having no power to draw those into it from outside, that church has a problem. And that problem begins with members that are dulled of senses and content to be as they are.

God seats us on The Lampstand of Christ, the root of David, His life force flowing to and through us as we are vitally united with and through Him. A lifeless, darkened, and fruitless assembly has lost touch with its root and died or is near death.

Applying this to our being the temple of God and it’s effect on our daily walk in life lived as being within the gates of the Holy Place, our lamp is our relationship with God in Christ, our obedience to Him bearing the fruit of relationship with Him, making us to be as He is. Our union with Him grows stronger in the purification process, connecting us more securely to the trunk and root of the tree of Christ, through which is our spiritual nourishment. Our ministry and life-song as bondservant and ambassador, and, more importantly, image bearers who look like their Daddy, shines His Light, bearing the fruit of a life in His Light. Only from here can we worship and obey God, and minister to and empower others. Only through personal time in our Holy Place, communing with God in front of His Lamp, can we hope to be a vital and thriving asset as His light to the world.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B1

Holy Place, Part 1 – Showbread Table

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. ….” (Hebrews 9:1-5 NASB)

I pray your thanksgiving was greatly BLESSed. Ours was. As it has been several days since our last post, please bear with me for a bit of review.

As the new temple of God, the residence of His Holy Presence on earth, all together we are the earthly sanctuary. Thus far we saw the One Doorway into the outer court, Jesus. We, ourselves having our personal experience of His saving grace, entered that door and decided to stay. That decision made us priests unto God in Christ, bondservants, charged with temple service: we, ourselves, being part of His Temple on earth, in the New Covenant of Christ.

Thus far we discovered that, as we found the altar of Christ, we now help others to the altar for saving grace, and for ever increasing surrender to His Lordship as disciples of Christ. The instant someone enters our presence, they step on Holy Ground. As the new Temple of God, we are always on Holy Ground, charged to behave accordingly. People should begin to experience God in us. Thus, our being as He is makes it vital that we watchfully possess the very image of the nature of our God. That leads us to God’s provision of the Laver

We discovered the Laver of cleansing set in front of the Doorway to the Holy Place, very possibly having mirrors in which we look for the image of God in us. Any scarring or marring seen must be cleansed and restored by the washing of our feet at the Laver of cleansing. We wash our own feet through repentance. We wash the feet of others believers through forgiveness, and through encouragement in righteousness. We bear that image in the outer court as we minister to the needs of those allowed into that area by God in Christ. And we check that image, making it clear and sure, before entering deeper into God’s Presence, found in the Holy Place.

The Holy Place is that area in which only the priests could go. In this large room, they had daily duties to tend before God and on behalf of the people.

The Holy Place, like the outer court, has only one entrance. What I see here is Jesus, beckoning us to deeper intimacy with God in Christ.

Crossing that threshold in our seeking after God and ministering to Him, the first thing to catch our attention is a golden table covered with bread. Twelve loaves, to be exact: evenly spaced with six loaves lining the length of each side of the table. In the Old Testament, these represent the twelve tribes of Israel, laid out in the forever and always Presence of God.

In the New Testament Temple, ours is The Living Bread of Life, Jesus. He entered the eternal dwelling ahead of us, representing our interests before the Father as He ever lives to intercede on our behalf. Because of our Living, Life giving Bread, Jesus, we are enabled to enjoy intimate relationship with The Father.

Eating around the table has long been a place where relationships happen and are strengthened. There’s love, encouragement, strengthening, training, bonding, and more in that time around the table. It pictures face to face time, in intimate relationship with God.

In the physical world, families who keep the dinner hour, seated together around a table, without TV or technology to interfere, are stronger, closer, and more united. In this spiritual sense, we should never leave the Showbread Table where vital nourishment to see us through our day is found. It’s an attitude of relationship that should be a constant, allowing quick access to feast on that precious Bread, Bread which only the priests were sanctioned to eat.

As stated, the Sacred Bread is twelve loaves, lined in two rows on the table, representing each of the twelve tribes of Israel, set as in the presence of God. These are unleavened bread, representing sinless lives in total surrender to God.

In the New Covenant, Jesus is our Bread of Life, our life source Who is forever interceding for us in the Presence of God. Because of Him, we stand sinless before God. We, considered as the body of Christ, are in God’s Presence with Him by association as His body.

Jesus, our Bread of Life, sustains us, empowers us, ignites us, meeting our every need for Life abundant and full. He is our ALL. We can do nothing apart from Him. Because of our relationship with Him, we can come boldly to the throne of grace to find our every need met.

When we enter the Holy Place, our first duty is to do intimate relationship with God, feasting ourselves on Him. Then, receiving His fullness into ourselves, we carry that fullness with us to the outer court of our daily lives and ministries.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-2b

We are The Temple: Outer Court Part 2 – The Laver 2

So, from what we have considered thus far, I would say that the Laver experience is very personal to each of us. It is us, deliberately reaching for the heights of godliness. And it is God, reaching for us, privately, in response to our reach, and corporately as we let Him live through us to minister to each other.

Today, we look at one thing about the Laver experience that absolutely thrills me. No one really knows exactly what the Lavers looked like, but the following gives a hint of one probability.

“Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.” (Exodus 38:8 NASB)

All translations I read reveal the use of the bronze frames of mirrors as they gathered the material for this project. The fact that the command of God was for this basin and stand to be made of pure bronze supports the understanding of the extraction of the bronze from the mirrors. However, some translations and commentaries say the following:

“Bezalel made the bronze washbasin and its bronze stand FROM bronze mirrors donated by the women who served at the entrance of the Tabernacle.” (Exodus 38:8 NLT)

Some believe that the mirrors were kept intact and used to form the basin. This meant that when the priest leaned over it to wash their hands and get water to wash their feet, they saw their reflection in the basin.

Wow! That possibility speaks volumes to me. As priests unto God in Christ, we are called and equipped to represent Him and His interests in this world. Each hand and feet washing session gives opportunity for the priest to check their image as a Christ follower. Are we bearing forth the image of God? As we leave the altar to go into the Holy place, did we rightly and truly represent Christ in that altar encounter we just had?

As mentioned, an altar encounter may be with someone in need of meeting Christ as Savior, or it may be with a fellow Christian in need of recognizing His Lordship and righteous teachings in some area of struggle. In that encounter with a struggling Christian, our responsibility is to help them grow in their commitment and understanding of dying to self and self interest so He may live stronger in us. Whichever we are dealing with, we must check our stance and be sure we minister to the need as bearing forth fruit in keeping with righteousness.

We are not judge and jury. God’s Word is. As long as we stand in truth on the Word of God, we do well, but we are to take care to speak, act, and react in line with full truth.

The Laver, for us, is coming to the Wellspring of Living Water after any altar encounter, to cleanse ourselves in Christ. To pray for those ministered to with a view to our own lives, recommitting self to purity in that area of our lives, so we are not tempted away and caught in the same snare.

Also at this time, looking in the Laver mirror for the image of Christ in us, we take a moment to evaluate ourselves in the way we behaved, repenting any sin revealed in us through the ministry encounter. This preps us to enter into the Holy Place for the needs of others, which we will begin looking at in our next post.

Then, as we leave the Holy Place to return to outer court ministry, we wash again, asking whether we truly represented Christ in our service to God done in the Holy Place? And at this time, we seek to put on Christ anew in preparation for our next service opportunity. These are the checkpoints we have at the Laver of our life and ministry.

Today, as then, God is approached by way of the blood and the water. Jesus is our blood sacrifice and we stand in Him. Jesus is the living, life giving water, and we live, breathe and move out of the flow of His provision, as represents Him. Thus, the Laver represents our reliance upon and reception of His every provision in our lives and ministries.

“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)

One final thought here: if I’m understanding correctly, in the Old Covenant, the priest washed his own feet and hands. In the New Covenant, Jesus teaches us to wash one another’s feet. As I think on this, I see where both are important for us to know and do.

We don’t always have a fellow believer nearby to help us evaluate our life and practices. We need to be able to practice self-evaluation and cleansing: bringing self into alignment with Christ’s likeness throughout our day. What was it that Paul asked in Romans? “In teaching others, do you not teach yourselves also?” (Romans 2:17-24 NASB)

While we need to be able to teach and evaluate ourselves, we also need to recognize that we are one body in Christ, and there are times when we need the aid of others.

This completes the outer court ministry area of our lives as the Temple of our Living God. Because of His Presence in and around us, it is holy ground and part of our Temple of God reality. Wherever we are is holy in Him and we are to behave as the holy people of God.

Next blog post we enter the Holy Place. Until then, I pray you have a very BLESSed Thanksgiving.