Category Archives: Godly Principles

Trust In The Lord and Be Established

13 Days of Trust in the Lord and do good. Day 2: 2 Chronicles 20:20

“…put your trust in the Lord your God and you will be established. Put your trust in His prophets and succeed.”

The Lord will “establish” the person who truly and fully trusts in Him. There is no need to feel like you cannot fit in, like there is no room for you, no place or position that is yours to possess, when you wholeheartedly trust the Lord to establish you. He has your spot ready, and He wants to prepare you for your spot. To fully comprehend this promise, let’s look at what it means to be established, and then we will touch on steps needed to get there.

Established means to set up on a firm or permanent basis; to cause to become regular or usual; to receive permanent acceptance or recognition; to cause to be able to grow or thrive; to show something to be true or certain by determining the facts.

God establishes us by growing us up in Christ, by training us and making us faithful to Him as first in all things, causing us to stand out in the gifts, talents, and abilities He is establishing in us. So our first responsibility in cooperating with Him is to be the best student of His flock.

As we show ourselves faithful students and servants of God, He causes us to stand out to those in authority, whether in a church or secular setting. These call on us as the one God has ready to meet a need. No matter how small the opportunity may look, if God inspires us to take it as an assignment from Him, our responsibility then is to jump in wholeheartedly, doing the work as unto the Lord, with joy of heart, putting our best effort into it, knowing we represent Him in all we do.

These are the things that make us known in His Kingdom work and in life. Whether our job is within a Christian organization or in the secular workforce, we represent Him in all we do. All He puts in our heart to do, every opportunity He leads us to, prepares and establishes us.

God’s promises are backed by the honor of His name. We can trust Him in all things to fulfill His promises for His Name’s sake.

In like fashion, we are to be people of reputation, having a good name as being a trustworthy person of notable character, integrity, and work-ethic, rightly representing Him wherever we are. These are the things that lead to promotion, establishing us as the people of God, keeping Him first in all things.

Psalm 37:23-24 “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, Because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.”

Necessary Fires

Read 1 Peter 1:1-9.

“…In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” ~ verses 6-9.

The thing that stands out to me as I read this is the word “necessary”. It says the trials God allows are only allowed IF NECESSARY, and that necessity has a glorious purpose: that some greatly needed “revelation of Jesus” come out of the fire with us.

The trials and tribulations God allows to touch the lives of His people He only allows out of necessity, in order to reveal Christ to and through us. For that to happen, does that not mean that Jesus is in the fire with us, even though we can’t see Him for the smoke and heat burning our proverbial eyes, and the flames blocking our view?

Take courage, Beloved of God. You, who are the “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” are not alone. God will bring Glory’s good out of the flames of adversity.

Look at what this says and be filled with the confidence of Christ.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” ~ Romans 8:28.

Controversial Matters

I never felt led to write on the controversial issues of things like the gifts of the Spirit in tongues and prophesy, until now. As I write today, I write not as one having all the answers, but, as Paul said, I write as one who believes I, too, have the Spirit of God and He has given me understanding that I believe true (1 Corinthians 7:40). The things I share today are based on the understanding I have as one who is taught.

A Christian for 50 years, in the word, digging and searching for God’s answers for over 40 of my adult years, I have studied the gifts of the Spirit many times in those years. I’ve studied these both under the instruction of strong Baptist leaders and on my own in the leading of God’s Spirit, who is THE TEACHER. Every time something happens to make me wonder if I know the truth on any subject, I dig it out again and refresh my memory, watching for deeper understanding. None have I dug out more than on the subject of the gifts of tongues and prophesy.

Some say that the gift of tongues no longer exists. That is not what I have heard any Baptist preacher or teacher proclaim in teaching the gifts of the Spirit. The church I am in now are Christian people of faith not affiliated with a religious persuasion, and their teaching on the subject is not far from all I have heard from those Baptists whose teaching I sat under. Truth is truth, and those seeking truth from God will land on the same Rock.

Those saying tongues no longer exist is like those who say that the cannon of Law no longer applies. Believing either of these requires we skip over a lot of scripture, as if insignificant to life today and no longer needed.

This blog states my understanding, all I have learned, both through the teaching and preaching of others and in my own study on the subject. The gift of tongues is real and it is seen in the earth today in three ways:

  1. The gift of tongues is seen in those gifted by God to learn languages with ease. These often become the interpreters and missionaries to foreign fields in our day.
  2. The gift of tongues is seen in the testimony of many who could suddenly / miraculously speak and understand a foreign language.

On a mission trip with a group of Baptist people, headed to a Hispanic country, a nurse I was sitting with shared of an experience she had on a previous trip. Heading to their next visit, their interpreter had business to tend to and was to meet them at their destination, so they were traveling without an interpreter. On the way, they came upon a bad auto accident. The nurse got out to see how she could help, but no one on the scene knew English, so she prayed for God to help her understand and be able to help the injured woman. Suddenly she found herself talking with the native woman in fluent Spanish. She tended her need and prayed with her in Spanish, fully understanding and understood, until medical personnel arrived and took the accident victim off to the hospital. As soon as they took the woman off in the ambulance, the nurse could no longer speak or understand Spanish.

  1. There is a gift of tongues, a language unknown to man, but only by God. To doubt that, I would have to deny the teachings of Paul in 1 Corinthians. There Paul tells us that God grants this gift to individuals for the purpose of their spiritual edification (1 Corinthians 12-14).

This is the tongue God was speaking about when He called my heart to attention, asking, “Darlene, what about the language of twins,” leading me to consider that just maybe Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have a language all their own.

There are several lists in scripture of giftedness given to individuals by God, as determined by the Spirit, meeting every need for the common good of the body of Christ as a whole (i.e.: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11). “Various kinds of tongues” is on these lists and we find this gift active in the earth in the three ways previously mentioned. Within the 1 Corinthians teachings of chapter 12-14, Paul gives very clear guidelines for the use of tongues.

First Corinthians 13:1 warns, “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.” This reference to “tongues” again speaks of all three representations of this gifting. It also makes clear to me that some are gifted with the language of the angels. This is one reference used by some who say that the individual-edification-gift of tongues is the language of the angels. The individual-edification-tongue is the one people believe the devil cannot understand. As I stated in the previous devotional, demons being fallen angels know the language of the angels, so that belief never rang true for me.

Demons know the languages of humankind. We know this because every nation in every language struggles in their thought life. That struggle not only comes from our fleshly thinking and worldly viewpoints, but is often egged on by demonic whisperings in the ear of man (a fact I first learned under Baptist teaching and that I happen to agree is true). A proof text that comes to mind for this is found in the book of Acts, chapter 5, where Peter says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?” We are left with the understanding that demons influenced the thinking, desire and decision of Ananias and his wife, Sapphira. Therefore, it is vital that we watch our stinking thinking, realize its source, and find the truth of God to counter it.

Angels have a language, and according to what 1 Corinthians 13:1 implies, God gifts some with that tongue. As stated earlier, I believe that this language is not hidden from Satan. He speaks angel.

Then we come to 1 Corinthians 14, verses 1-5:

“Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.”

“For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for NO ONE UNDERSTANDS, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.” This verse clearly teaches that there is a tongue (language), gifted to individuals, that is between the individual and God alone. Only God understands it and only He can gift another to interpret it. As I understand it, this would have to be a language that is God’s alone, accessible only by His giving it to the recipient. To deny this is to call the scriptures a lie, and if one part is false, how can we believe any of it to be true?

I believe God, so I believe there is a tongue (language) gifted to those the Spirit decides should have it, and one way of that gifting is a tongue that is understood by God, alone.

Scripture warns in chapter 14, verses 39-40 to not forbid the use of tongues. As you have probably surmised, I grew up in Baptist churches. There are many Baptist groups, some more legalistic than others: not all Baptists believe the same. Many fear falling back into what was named the Charismatic era. Misuse of tongues was prevalent in that movement. It was a time in Christian history when people chased after the sign gifts and many fell to false sightings and experiences that fooled even the elect (those chosen by God as His own).

I know Baptist people who have the gift of tongues, but they dare not tell just anyone about it for fear of being ostracized. This is sad to me. Fear hinders the work of God more than any other, thus God warns of falling prey to fear more than He warns of any other sin of man. Fear denies all that stretches our belief in an attempt to keep oneself safe. Fear, based on lack of understanding, denies the work of God around us. Unfortunately, for every truth of God I can think of, there is a false representation that feeds fear, giving one cause to doubt.

  1. There are false tongues: Demons know all languages except the language that is God’s alone (if my recent revelation is correct – and I believe it is). This being true, if we seek a sign instead of God and His will done His way, the devil can respond to lead astray. A tongue unknown to the recipient can easily mimic the tongue of God to the one looking for a sign, and the recipient will be none the wiser. However, I have heard from people who received the false tongue, and there is one tell that signals it: the effectiveness of their ministry and witness suffered. As the demonic takes hold, ground belonging to God is overtaken by the stronghold of Satan, and the person finds the power of God for service and testimony diminished.
  2. There is a false prophesy. Demons whisper in the ear of man to feed them, and, as Jesus taught, if we fail to realize the voice of the stranger, we will follow them to false understanding (John 10). Many false prophets exist today. Know the voice of God and follow Him. We do not learn truth by studying falsehood. We learn truth by studying to find the truth. When we seek to know truth by studying what is false, we not only can be fooled as to what truth is, but that focus leads one to being overtaken by a judgmental, fearful spirit that sees the false everywhere they turn. Learn truth, watch for truth, and the false will not fool you.
  3. There are false interpretations of tongues and of dreams, and of messages. Like with the missionary friend of a trusted friend mentioned in my previous blog, if one does not know a foreign language and someone speaks it, that person speaking may be cursing God while claiming to be speaking in His name. Surrounded by others who do not know the language spoken by the one using a tongue, these may express agreement thinking they are praising God when in truth, they just agreed with blasphemy. We must take care that we heed the Spirit and walk in the light of God.

Scripture teaches that there is a proper way to use tongues. First Corinthians 14 lays out the order we are to follow with any tongue:

“What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God” ~ Vs. 26-28.

The church I currently serve with does not forbid tongues, but they do require the gifted follow this guideline. We have many in our body who have the gift of the individual-edification-tongue, but seldom do you hear any verbalize the tongue in the assembly. We have one, sweet older lady, that when the message or a worship song grabs her heart with conviction or praise, she may sound off a few words for a few seconds. Her Spirit grabs us and leads to many “Amen” agreements, bringing us to join her heart of repentance and praise. It is never disruptive and always unifying.

When I first joined this church, another woman used to come who was constantly “praying” loudly in her tongue. It was disruptive to the service, hindering the ability of others to hear the message, and it was grating to those hearing it. These unknowingly play the devil’s advocate, as he uses such disturbances to stop what God is doing. I many times prayed, “Father, let every tongue not of You be hushed.” She would cease immediately, and the Spirit brought peace again. Our elders went to the lady, giving her every opportunity to obey the teaching of God through Paul in verse 26-28. The woman replied, “I can’t help it. It is the Spirit causing it.” The very command in these verses proves the spirit that does such is not God’s Spirit, for the Spirit of God does not break the law of God. After a time, they asked her to go elsewhere.

Through the years, each time I have considered the teachings on tongues and dug it out again, I was drawn by a desire to have all of God that He has for me. I have many times prayed that if there is more of God to experience that requires a tongue, I want it. I do not want to miss out on any of my Father’s presence and power. Every time I do, including this time, He tells my heart, “Darlene, you do not need it.” I know His Presence and experience His power. Often I think perhaps He skips the “tongue” with me and goes straight to interpretation: which is required for one to prophesy.

The gift of prophesy is for the edification of those who hear. It warns of sin, instructs in the righteous paths of God, and makes application to current situations so the people know how to live life in any circumstance. Even in Old Testament prophesy, the prophets not only warned of what was coming, they told what the people did to bring it on, what, if anything, they could do to avert it, and how to live in the midst of it. We find all of these components in the messages of true prophets today. It always leads the listener, giving opportunity for repentance and instruction for a godly life. The prophet:

  1. Expounds on the word of God, bringing to light its application for today’s life situations.
  2. Receives revelation of deeper truths, found in scripture but sometimes hidden from those whose eyes are blinded, their minds darkened by sin or immaturity.
  3. And yes, I believe God still has prophets that receive warning from God of things to come. In my experiences, those messages always come with instruction for living godly lives, preparing all to weather the storms of life found in the days of trouble.

I cried with the Spirit of God, deep weeping within me, for two weeks before the Oklahoma City bombing, knowing something horrible was about to happen, calling all who would hear to prayer. On the day it happened, a friend called to ask, “Darlene, could this be what The Spirit has us praying over?” I had no idea why the Spirit wept so, but when I turned the TV on and saw the destruction, I knew this was it. I cried with the Spirit, that same weeping, for days, watching emergency personnel go through that rubble.

For over two years, God had me lead people to pray regarding what God described to my heart and had me write to those praying as “A destructive force that will hit the US, bringing devastation from New York City to Washington, D.C. It’s destructive force will affect the entire nation and, indeed, the whole world. Its damage will be likened to that of an earthquake.” He had me call others to pray with me, telling them what the Spirit told me, because we were heading into an election year, and “if God’s choice for a President is not in office, the response to the destruction will fall short of God’s will.” For two years we prayed, and when 911 happened, no one had to ask, “Is this it?” Several times I heard reporters say, “This looks like the destruction seen in a high intensity earthquake.”

God’s word says that the prophesy is known as coming from Him when it comes to pass. I’ve experienced it over and over again, in great ways and in small ways, so I know the gift is real and effective today. I have experienced tongues as well. Only once, I heard the language of God within me, so peaceful, rising up in praise. I asked, “Lord, that was beautiful! What did I say?” He replied, “You simply said, ‘Thank You, Jesus. Thank You, Lord. Thank You, Jesus.’” I have had Baptist friends call me. “Darlene, I keep hearing this word from the Lord, and He says you have the interpretation.” God would give it.

I have been in prayer sessions when someone used a tongue that disturbed my Spirit, which comes from the gift of discerning the spirits. A quick prayer for every voice not of God to shush, hushes it every time. I have also experienced a strong prayer in tongues of every sort that were of God. It always raises up an “Amen” with praise.

Tongues are for edification of the individual, and with correct interpretation, it edifies those hearing. Some tongues gifts are in known languages, so interpreters and missionaries can go to the people and teach them of God. The individual-edification-tongue I believe exists and is for those who need a sign of God’s presence with them: either they need it for their own ability to believe, they need it for a time of ministry, or it is needed so those around them believe.

God draws near to speak mysteries to the heart, edify the spirit, lifting the recipient to higher ground where increased faith resides. And when He desires to do so, God gifts some with interpretation of His language, so that the mind of the individual and those hearing may be edified.

Truth is what we need, beloved. I am so grateful that God taught me long ago to dig out His truths and believe in Him with trusting faith. How many fail to experience God for fear of the false, not knowing the truth? That is very sad to me.

Hear the teachings of others, but don’t take my word or any others as gospel until you get alone with God and ask the Spirit-Teacher to show you. Until He shows you, stand firm in the faith you have and do not let fear get hold on you.

In reverse, do not let fear keep you from studying God’s word to discover the truth. If you have a tongue and are afraid you may discover it to be a false tongue, fear falling away from the living God more than the loss of a tongue that makes you feel special while it sets up strongholds in your life.

Take care, beloved, not to call tongues “evil” when God’s word clearly teaches it is a gift from His Spirit for a purpose. Know the truth that sets free indeed. Then walk in the faith that you have while waiting for ever-growing understanding in the deep things of God.

The Language of God

“For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:2.

I believe the gift of tongues is still active in the body of Christ today. It was not until recently that I have sought the Lord for deeper understanding of this gifting. The teaching I have heard has downplayed this gift. It also has told me that this “tongue” is the language of the “angels” and that Satan cannot understand it. That never came across to me as true because Satan, fallen as he is, is an angel. He knows the language of the angels. That being true, to seek that gift and long for it rather than for greater experience of God puts one in danger of a false tongue. That raises up fear in me that hinders my desire for the gift.

I have heard stories of people who received a false tongue and the work of the demonic that came with that to hinder their effectiveness as God’s instruments. One such story reports from a missionary of a time on furlough when he stopped in for worship while traveling to his destination. The church he visited was a tongues speaking church. They had people come up to the interpreter with their tongue and the interpreter would expound on the message of the speaker. After one particular message, the missionary stood up. Apologizing for interrupting when he was but a guest, unknown by the body, he explained that he was a missionary to an Asian area of the world. Then he told them that the last person speaking was speaking in the language of the people group he worked with. He said, “In that language, this man just cursed God and Jesus.” Tongues can be falsified and work in the heavenly realm and on the earth to do harm if we are not careful to seek God rather than a language.

Nevertheless, I have experienced the gift of tongues and the interpretation of it enough to desire the closeness with God and I have prayed many times that, if I can have more of Him with it, I want it. Yesterday that desire increased as I contemplated the scripture above and God instructed my heart with understanding that corrected the teaching I have received. He brought to my heart the memory of the language of twins (triplets, etc.). On the earth it is observed many times that twins from the same egg often share a language that is known by no other than themselves. Parents and other siblings may pick up on the language as they observe the twins. The twins may teach the language to another, but it is their own voice, and no others. Suddenly I understand that the true “tongue” of God to His people is not the language of the angels, but the language of the Triune.

Now I see how no one else would know it, not even the devil. Wow! Now I see how awesome this gift is and my desire is increased by the understanding that this gift can only be had by those whose desire is for Him and greater understanding of the Triune Glory.

Now I see why tongues edify the person speaking it. It is a sign of the nearness of God, personal communion with Him in His personal language. Not even the angels have that. It is God’s gift to us who house the Spirit of God, given to those with whom the Spirit wills to share it. I experience the groaning of the Spirit often, even as I type this. How blessed it would be to me to know the language, not only to speak it, but to interpret it so my mind is edified and I can share it with others. Now I pray with increased understanding and faith in God, who can protect from the false, if it be Your will, O God, here am I.

“Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:39-40.

Seeds of Glory

“Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth. …Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you, when I restore the fortunes of My people” ~ Hosea 6:1-3, 11.

God returns to His people like the long awaited spring rains that promise new life for the earth when we turn from our darkness to seek after Him anew with wholehearted desire. He is the treasure possessed in the resurrection of His people to new life with Him.

This promise is true, no matter how late the season of our life, or that of the history of humankind. It is His people that God responds to, whether in response to our sin that invites the hand of the Father to discipline us out of His loving desire for our good, or that of the heart of the Father’s loving response to our seeking after Him with sincere desire to know Him. It is His people who seek after, trust in and rely on God as Lord that elicits His response.

Trouble comes in this life. That is an assurance Jesus warned us to expect (John 16:33). We are in the world, which falls to the dictates of fleshly desires, worldly ideology, and demonic influence. Those of the world do not believe God, seek Him, trust Him or rely on Him. As such, these vehemently oppose God, thus producing trouble in this life.

The trouble produced increases when the people who seek God forget God and fall away to the flesh, the world, and the demonic. God often uses trouble in this life to discipline a wayward child. That is what is happening with the people of God in the book of Hosea, yet God promises a return to Him that will find the reward of the fortunes of the spring rains.

What does God promise will come with that fortune? A harvest.

Beloved, God uses times of trouble, whether brought on by our own sin, or the touch of trouble found by our living in a world that opposes God and His will and way. Often, trouble in life allows us to experience the greatness of God and His grace toward His creation.

Trouble always brings opportunity. Sometimes that opportunity is to realize some way we have that opposes God so we can surrender to Him. Other times the opportunity is that of ministering to others in the midst of the trouble. Always, trouble presents opportunity to respond to God by choosing life over death, determining in our hearts that we will serve the Lord, as Joshua advises (Joshua 24:15). There is one more thing produced out of trouble:

Trouble in this life produces in us a harvest. As we learn more about God in seasons of hardship, it produces seeds of Spirit-fruittruth and righteousness in us, giving us a testimony to share with others. Winter seasons can be difficult, but even the winter has a purpose. It is in the winter that a tree rests from its work of produce, able to devote its time to growing deeper roots that allow for a greater harvest season. It is in the winter season that seeds mature in preparation to burst forth with new life. As we come into the spring of life, we share the things we learned during our season of growing deeper roots into our understanding of life with God. Through that, we reap a harvest of souls, inspiring others to know God.

In our days, as we travel this road in a very troubled world, experiencing the winter seasons of life that that trouble brings, there is a spring coming especially to this late hour in history. Come out of troubling times into the fortune found in God. That fortune provides us all we need to help others grow to know the Lord.

Beloved, don’t waste the times of trouble. Cooperate with God to allow trouble’s winter to deepen your roots into Him as God and to prepare your seeds for harvest. Understanding God and the good intended by God will produce its treasure trove within you. There you will find all you need to reap a Kingdom harvest that glorifies the Lord.

Speak as a Disciple

“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]” (Isaiah 50:4, AMP).

When I pray having this verse of scripture in heart, I pray, “Speak, O God. Your daughter is listening. Grant me ears to hear as a disciple so I may speak as a disciple.” Today, as I pray that oft desired heart, thought comes regarding the word spoken about Peter when he denied Jesus three times. Standing around that campfire, warming himself, watching to see what would happen with Jesus, people ask him if he is one of those who run with Jesus. One person there says, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away” (Matthew 26:73). Peter’s accent and speech told the story of his heritage.

People who spend time with Jesus, seeking Him as a disciple, desiring to learn of and know Him as a child of the Living God, these hear Him and the things they hear effect the way they talk. Their speech is cleaner, refusing to dishonor God through cursing. They are not bitter, filled with anger, wrath, malice, and slander. They do not use smooth and flattering speech meant to gain approval, being deceptive or manipulative. Nor is their speech abusive, killing the soul and destroying destinies.

Instead, they talk with hope for the future and gratitude for the present. They are bold in speaking truth, showing careWords04 for the listener’s eternity and their here-and-now relationship with Holy God. They are uplifting, having words filled with grace, as though seasoned with salt, knowing how to respond to each person, able to “speak a word in season to him who is weary,” imparting discerning wisdom with truth and love.

Beloved, when standing in a crowd, does your way of talking give you away as being different, as being a disciple of Christ? Does your speech make it clear to others that you have been with Jesus that day as a faithful follower, His Kingdom representative? Do people tag along with you because of the inspiration flowing through your mouth and lifestyle?

Speak, O God. Your child is listening. Grant me ears to hear as a disciple so I may speak as a disciple.

The Heart-Song of Godly Promotion: Intent on One Purpose

“…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…” ~ Philippians 1:18-2:8.

Intent on one purpose, what should that be?

As I consider that question, I know my heart’s cry is to be like Jesus, who sought the Father and His purpose in all things, desiring the Father’s glory above all. My determined purpose cries out with Paul’s heart to know God intimately, being as one with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Philippians 3:8-11, AMP). The only way I see to godly promotion is found in unity with God and His purposes, which are not always easy or convenient, pleasant or desirable to the flesh.

According to this mandate from Paul, standing firm in this fellowship of the Spirit, we find unity of faith that whole-heartedly loves God and one another. That mutual, wholehearted love and unity of purpose makes one willing to deny oneself for the cause of Christ in loving God and others as Jesus exemplified through the power and leading of the Spirit of God.

With like-mindedness, having the same love one for the other, our unity comes in realizing that each of our purpose is to glorify God as God while helping one another to progress forward with joy in this faith, standing firm in it. Having this unity of heart with understanding of this love and humility exemplified in Christ, the only pride of our confidence found within is Christ and Him crucified: we boast in none else. Trusting His sacrifice, we live our lives with the realization of our need of Him, alive within us, uniting us as one in love of God. If you have ever met only briefly another person, and instantly known this unity of the Spirit with him or her, you know what I am talking about.

I read an inspirational quote recently that I cannot seem to find again, but the premise of it rolls around in my head a lot of late. Essentially, it said that in knowing who we are with realization of our purpose, our life choices would follow that path. Knowing who we are as believers of God in Christ does not only mean a realization of our fleshly being. It requires us to know who we are as God sees us, coming to realize His design and purpose in our being in this life at this time. When we know ourselves as God knows us and we know Him in ever-growing intimacy, that understanding dictates our priorities, empowering us to reach our desired end.

As we surrender ourselves fully to God, dying to our own interests that are dictated by our flesh-being trying to resurrect itself, Promotion03having God’s purpose and priorities as our directive, we possess His heart for our own lives and for those in it with us. This mindset and this fellowship of the Spirit remove all distinctions between us. Always desiring God’s best plan for each individual, we no longer compete against each other. This desire removes all jealousy, each of us living for the other as people, living to please God alone. In so doing, we inspire one another to higher ground on our journey to a humility that leads surely to the exaltation that comes from God.

Each of us surrendering to be one with the Father through Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, finding His purpose for our own lives and trusting His purpose for those among us, we come into unity together in the fellowship of His Spirit. In this unity, jealousy that covets what another person has that we admire dies, for our focus is on God and His glory through our being all and only as He is, just as He created us to be. In this unity, the victories we each possess in life bring rejoicing to all, as our hearts bow to the glory of God found in each individual rather than in the exaltation of self.

Jesus set the example as He left the comforts of heaven to come to the cross for our benefit. He set the example through His desire for God’s priorities, purposes, and plans over that of His own or any other person’s desire for Him. Knowing and trusting God’s will made Jesus bold to stand firm in faith and to choose the path ahead in life (John 4:34; 5:20, 30, 43; 6:38; Luke 4:14-30; John 6:1-15). The King of kings set the example as He stepped into the lowliest of jobs saved for the least of the household slaves during that last supper with His beloveds (John 13:1-20). Taking towel and basin to wash their filthy feet, spending precious time in intimate communion with each individual one of them, He instructed us to do for one another as He just did for each of them.

Godly promotion comes to those who fully discover and understand humility that bows to God alone, taking a backseat to others out of faith in God who sees the heart of our surrendered-humiliation. One of the greatest things we can do is to deny self, even stepping into the lowliest of positions for the benefit of others who need the touch of God through us to the glory of God and the good of His Kingdom. Meeting the needs of others as God leads should be our only competition.

Beloved, sometimes bowing to God can mean being humble enough to allow another to wash our filthy feet, just as Peter learned while his Lord bowed to wash his. God knows our heart. He knows who needs the humility of serving others for a while and who needs that of being the one served. Both positions require surrender to God’s will and way, the emptying of ourselves through self-denial, and humility to submit. Following Jesus in surrendered service to God as both one who serves and one who receives the benefit of service is the pathway to promotion in God’s Kingdom.

hardest road

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor” ~ 1 Peter 5:6, NLT (see verse 1-11, noting especially verses 4-5 and 10).

“Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal” ~ John 6:27.

“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege, the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ, and that I may actually be found and known as in Him, not having any self-achieved righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that genuine righteousness which comes through faith in Christ, the truly right standing with God, which comes from God by saving faith….” ~ Philippians 3:8-11, AMP.

“If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself” ~ John 7:17.

The Heart-Song of Godly Promotion: Humility of Mind

“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” ~ Philippians 2:4-6.

Humility of mind is vital to one’s ability to empty oneself and obey God at all cost. By implication, I see that failing to humble self before God stems from the prideful desire to be God. It sets our desire over His, failing to surrender to His right over us as Creator-God, Savior, Lord, and King. Humility is a major issue in the human condition, being difficult for us to truly achieve apart from the work of the Spirit of God within us: leastwise, that is my experience. Even in times of appearing most humble, there is too often a self-centered motive involved:

False humility says, “If I allow them to lead (humility to consider the interests of others as more important), perhaps they will like me (self-centered motive).”

God-centered humility says, “I must allow them to lead (humility to consider the interests of others as more important), because that is God’s will in this situation (God-centered motive).”

False humility says, “I must surrender to their ideal (humility to consider the interests of others as more important), because I want the managerial position opening up (self-centered motive).”

God-centered humility says, “I must surrender to their ideal (humility to consider the interests of others as more important), because I appreciate God giving me this job and I serve in this position, doing my best as unto the Lord (God-centered motive).”

True humility of mind forgets self, thinking only of God. It asks, “What is God’s heart desire? What is His will and way in this particular situation?” Note in our focal passage that, though humility “regards the interests of others as more important” than one’s own interests, that practice does not rule out times of one’s own interests taking precedence, as it says, “do not MERELY look out for your own interests.” This tells me that true humility of mind allows God to inspire a right system of prioritizing, so we know when to meet the need or desire of others, and when it is important to follow our own heart desire.

Following the lead of the Spirit to know the will and purpose and pleasure of God is the key to true humility. This humility before God is the ingredient that enables a wife to know when it is important to give self to a friend for the day despite the dishes in need of attention, and when it is important to remain faithful to the duties of homemaking so the needs of the family are met. Humility that allows God to be God is the practice that helps us to discern when our mate’s or child’s need for our undivided attention trumps our desire to read or to watch a favorite TV program, or when our physical need of destressing takes priority so we can have a right attitude toward meeting their need. Our humility is toward God, and that humility has a vital purpose in life:

“Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” ~ James 4:5-10.

Promotion03The Spirit of God empowers true humility; therefore, God is jealous to find His Spirit active and effective within us. The benefits of this humility toward God that surrenders quickly and completely to the leading of His Spirit, allowing Him to be God in our lives, include:

  • The Spirit of God increased and effective in our lives.
  • Increased work of God’s grace in our lives.
  • Automatic resistance and victory over the devil / demonic / evil.
  • Greater nearness to God, increased experience of relationship with Him.
  • Deliverance from habits and acts of sin.
  • Singleness of mind, settled on eternal purpose, having one heart with God.
  • Possession of God’s heart: rejoicing in the things that cause God’s heart to rejoice; weeping over that which brings Him to tears.
  • Exaltation / promotion by God as part of the royal court of God’s Kingdom.

Humility before God removes the joy that our sin once brought – sin being anything that goes against Him as Lord and His desire and purpose for our lives. With this heart toward God, we grow to desire the experience of God in every area of life. Anything that pushes away from Him brings remorse and bitter weeping. Growing to love God more than any other selfish desire produces ever-increasing love and desire for more of Him. When we reach this point in our love relationship with God, we grow stronger in our ability to obey at all cost, desiring that nothing come between our God and us. Beloved, as the day of evil increases in the world, it is vital that we develop this humility so our love of God protects us.

~*~

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. …The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who really loves Me; and whoever really loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him” ~ John 14:15, 21, AMP.  (See also John 3:36; 1 Peter 4:17; 1 John 2:3-5 and Romans 6-8)

The Heart-Song of Godly Promotion: The Reason

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” ~ Philippians 2:9-11.

On our journey to discover the pathway to godly promotion, the words, “this reason,” beacon us to discern the reason mentioned for Christ’s promotion to the Name above all. Finding the answer and discovering the pathway to our own promotion requires we go backward in the passage from here. Doing so, first we look at the example of Christ that is the reason for His promotion.

“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” ~ 2:5-8.

Jesus had it all. He was in the Eternal, the Omnipotent, Omnipresent God, with full authority as God. He chose to leave the Eternal, coming into the limits of a flesh being so-as-to set the example and live the life that led to sacrifice for the eternal hope of all humankind. That journey led Him back to the eternal for all time, imparting to Him as Christ, the Son of God and man, the Name above every name as King of kings and Lord of lords. Simultaneous with Jesus’ promotion, God imparted to us the Way to Truth and Life Eternal in Christ.

Jesus began where He wanted to be, came willingly to where we are, then returned to the throne that was His all along, making a path for us to follow. Christ’s example points us to two things necessary for godly promotion:

  1. The emptying of self.
  2. The humbling of self to the point of obedience.

Jesus left His high position, emptying Himself of all He had and was, to come on our behalf as Christ, Savior and King. He calls we who are in this Beloved union through Christ to the same. “Emptying self” is the call of Christ found in Luke 9:23:

“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me’” ~ NASB.

We must do as Jesus did, denying self-interest in order to take up the cross of self-denial as exemplified in Christ. The Amplified version of this verse tells us that to deny oneself means to disown oneself by losing sight of self-interest and concern, laying down one’s own interests, to refuse and give up self-centered purposes. Denying oneself takes up God’s purpose, plan, will, and way as one’s own.

Then the Amplified Bible explains that we take up our cross as we follow Jesus, cleaving steadfastly to Him, conforming wholly to His example “in living and, if need be, in dying also.” To empty self is the mindset expressed by Paul in Galatians 2:20:

“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.”

The Persona of Pre-Jesus, described in our Philippians passage as One existing in the form of God, willingly chose to relinquish who He was and all He had in order to walk in human flesh as the promised Messiah—fully man, while rightly God. We follow His example by emptying self of our flesh man to take up His likeness in Spirit and in Truth. Emptying oneself lays down the person we think we are and desire to be in order to discover the person He destined us to be. It lays down our individual, selfish want and any claim on one’s own life in order to take up Jesus, give Him full reign, and allow Him to complete His work on earth through us. In so doing, we become the body of Christ. This is the humbling of self before Him to the point of obedience at any cost.

Promotion03God “WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation” ~ Romans 2:6-8.

Godly promotion requires dying to self-interest, humbling self to obey God, trusting Him to be God, lifting us up and taking us to higher ground in His way and on His timetable. He knows what our promotion in life looks like and what it will take on our part for us to get there. Note that Jesus received a type of promotion through a degree of renown in the earth that led to thousands following to see what he would do next. However, even the closest of His followers scattered and denied Him when He was taken into custody and only a little over 100 followers of Christ remained in that upper room after He bore His cross. The true promotion of Christ came to Him as He took His seat at the right hand of the Father in the Eternal.

We too readily work for a promotion we can see here and now, failing to focus on the treasure of Heaven. If our promotion is not what we expect, bringing hardship and challenge to us as it did to Jesus, Paul, and others of Bible times, we too readily fall away and quit working for the things of God. The heart of Jesus often hurt over those who turned away, but He did not view His success from a worldview. He saw with eternal eyes and trusted the will and way of God. God’s idea of promotion and prosperity is not worldly, but eternal.

Jesus set the example to show us the way to godly promotion through emptying of self and living humbly as servant of God, trusting all to Him. Next post we look at what God expects of us who would receive promotion.

~*~

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” ~ Matthew 6:19-21 (see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

“If then you have been raised with Christ to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead, aim at and seek the rich, eternal treasures that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above, the higher things, not on the things that are on the earth” ~ Colossians 3:1-2, AMP.

The Heart-Song of Godly Promotion: Realizing Opportunity

“I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” ~ Philippians 1:19-20.

The Apostle Paul was, and still is, a big man in Christendom. He is the example of one who follows hard the example found in Christ, taking every opportunity to glorify the Lord, “whether by life or by death.” As we begin our study to find the heart-song of godly promotion, what better place to begin than with Paul. Promoted by God as the best-known apostle of Jesus Christ, his road to fame was full of opportunity, but not of ease.

Paul wrote 2/3s of what biblical scholars deemed worthy books to include in the New Testament portion of the most published historic chronicle of our day. The Holy Bible is the go to authority for those desiring to follow Christ Jesus as Lord; and Paul was the number one, exemplary leader in teaching the way of following Jesus.

Because of his heart for God, Paul was highly promoted by God, but not in the way that we too readily tend to look for it. Paul often wrote from a jail cell or while in chains as a prisoner awaiting trial. He often relied on financial supply from those supporting his work and never, to our knowledge, had great, earthly wealth. Not much of a promotion in this worlds standard of measure, is it? Yet even here, in this letter written during one of those imprisonments, we hear his heart as he speaks of seeing the place he was in as an opportunity to accomplish God’s purpose and plan. Later in Philippians, Paul writes of learning the secret of being content. The secret he professes is that of seeing every situation in life as opportunity to trust in, rely upon, and glorify the Lord as his source of strength and supply (Philippians 4).

Paul was so successful as a follower of Christ, taking every opportunity to bear witness of Him, that people were jealous of his success as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We see that in his testimony in chapter 1:12-15.

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will.”

Others, seeing Paul’s example of faith in God despite circumstance, received inspiration to take every opportunity to share their own testimony of faith in God through Christ. Paul tells us that some preached Christ out of envy, hoping to cause trouble for him, but that did not bother him as long as Christ received glory in their sharing (1:16-18). These preaching out of envy are a picture for us of those who desire promotion with an ungodly mindset. They do not have as their greatest desire the promotion of the cause of Christ. Instead, their greatest desire is to achieve the prestige they see in others. These may have made a name for themselves in the earth; we don’t know for sure as they are not named, but these are an example to us of promotion sought after from a wrong mindset and heart-song. These desire prestige for self rather than the furtherance of Christ.

On this journey we walk in Christ, our promotion may not look like a good thing when viewed from a world viewpoint. Promotion as the people of God’s Kingdom, stationed in this world as ambassadors of Christ, God’s Holy Priesthood, truly effects our Kingdom position and eternal reward. Promotion from God’s viewpoint requires that we recognize every opportunity to take a step up for the glory of God, even when it may lead to our own momentary discomfort. The promoted and successful in Christ follow God and His will, accomplishing Kingdom purpose at all cost, knowing He is our supply, being content where we are, with faith that God is working His plan in and through our lives.

Each step toward higher ground with God only goes up when taken with a right and true heart attitude. Success on the Promotion03journey requires we have a mind set to please God alone with a right heart attitude, so we successfully participate in His fulfilling eternal, Kingdom purpose.

Next post we begin the journey of discovering the reasons for Christ’s promotion and the instruction God gives us who are the called, equipped by Him to come up higher as His Kingdom representatives.

~*~

“Behold, I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves; be wary and wise as serpents, and be innocent (harmless, guileless, and without falsity) as doves” ~ AMP.

The Heart-Song of Godly Promotion: Introduction

“There is no security on this earth, only opportunity” ~ Neal Caffrey character on the TV program, White Collar.

Several weeks ago, reading Philippians, I noticed something that caught my attention in a deeper way. I noticed the example of Christ with new understanding. Mulling over these passages in these weeks, while finishing the study of life at God’s side, asking Father the direction He desires we go as we look at these verses, my heart landed on one word: Promotion.

“For this reason also, GOD HIGHLY EXALTED HIM, and BESTOWED ON HIM THE NAME which is above every name” ~ Philippians 2:9 (read Philippians 1-2).

Promotion has long been a big word in this world. Many people desire to come up higher in life, be a recognizable Promotion03somebody, do something big, and find security in the journey. More and more in the Christian community that one word rises up within bodies of believers. Many Christians watch for their promotion to higher ground in every area of life. They work toward it, long for it, some with undying resolve, others stumbling away from faith when their expectations go unfulfilled.

As I look at the example of Christ and think of the example of Paul, the author who penned the Philippians letter, I wonder if we are looking for promotion in all the wrong places and all the wrong faces. In light of the understanding flowing to me as I ponder these truths, “There is no security on this earth, only opportunity,” resounds with a wisdom that humbles me.

As I consider this saying from a secular crime show in light of the spiritual wisdom unfolding to my heart from God’s word, I can only hope and pray to write these thoughts with a clarity that helps us all to know the true prosperity God desires for us. As we share together this journey to discovering “this reason” that brings promotion, feasting on these words we will cover in Philippians, I pray we each desire and find the promotions in life that come from God alone.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 6c

Read John 17

“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. … Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”” ~ vs. 18-25.

Sent In Jesus Name

Concluding this look at John 17, desiring to be His people, His response to this prayer of Jesus for us, we acknowledge His work in us. God sends us into the world in Jesus Name to be a people sanctified by and set apart to live a life of truth, being in agreement with God, His will, and His way. God sends us into the world in Jesus name to be His image bearers, making His love known to all: For God so loved the world. Finally, today, God sends us into the world in response to Christ’s desire that we be…

Set in His Presence to Make Him Known

Jesus prayed that we may be with Him where He is and that we may see His glory. Yes, that is a prayer for us to join Him in the Kingdom He prepares for our eternity, and for us to see Him as He is, in fullness of glory. However, I also think of these words of Jesus regarding His work with the Father in the world:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” ~ John 5:19.

See self through God's eyes.
See self through God’s eyes.

Jesus knew the presence of God in His midst as He walked through life in the world, but not of it. He recognized the glory of God as He realized the work of God in His path. Jesus joined the Father in what He did in the world where He served Him to accomplish His purpose. Jesus is our example for life. I believe that as we surrender to the leadership of the Spirit, we too can know the presence of God in our midst and see the glory of His hand moving so that we can cooperate with Him to accomplish the purpose He has for our being in this age of the history of this world.

Beloved, God sends us into the world to contrast the character and nature of God against that seen in the world. He sets us apart to be a people of truth, led by and living in agreement with all God says is true, right, good, and worthy of praise. He sends us out as recipients and conduits of His love, making the love of God known in the world. God sends us into the world, but He does not send us out alone. We have the Spirit of God who gives us eyes to see His glory, ears to hear His instruction, and a heart made ready and willing to accomplish His purpose.

Father, You send us into the world to represent You and make You known, therefore we are InGodsHandssmenot to be of this world philosophy, acting in the ways deemed true by its wisdom and priorities. We who live for You, knowing Your presence and following Your lead, are Your response to this prayer of Jesus. Make us to know You that we may walk in Your ways and make You known, being a people after Your own heart, united as one in the power of Your Spirit at work in and through us. In Jesus, amen.

“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence” ~ Acts 2:25-28.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 6a

Read John 17

“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me…”” ~ vs. 18-25.

Sent In Jesus Name

In this part of the conclusion of Jesus’ prayer, His words instruct our hearts to know that, just as the Father sent Him into the world, so He now sends us, His followers, into the world. Like Him, we are in the world, but not of it. He deploys us into the world as soldiers of the Kingdom of God, charged with a strategy for making God, His love and His truth known.

God sent Jesus into the world because “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). We will cover more on the love aspect of His sending us in the next post. Suffice to say today that just as God sent Jesus, so He sends us, out of love and a desire to reach those lost to relationship. Today we focus on our deployment as those charged with the call to be His people…

Sanctified in Truth

With this realization in heart that God sent Him into the world because of His love for those of it, so Jesus sends us. That love leads to His praying, “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”

Truth is vital to unity, beloved, and unity with God and each other through Christ is the goal of truth’s sanctification. We cannot be one together as His body without guidelines that help us know Him, His will, and His way. That plumb-line we stand up to is the truth of the inerrancy of every word given in His Holy Bible.

Jesus chose to sanctify Himself fully to God for His use in fulfilling this Kingdom purpose for our sakes, providing us a pathway to a sanctified life through Christ. He chose for our sakes to know the truth of God, believe that truth, and live His life as led by that truth. Set apart to following the truth laid out by God, He led by example; thus, we now are His people, called and equipped to fully commit ourselves to truth in serving God, just as Jesus did.

Now with His example set to show us the way, He sends us into the world just as the Father sent Him. One thing the Father sent Jesus to accomplish is to correct the false understanding about Him, His will, and His way that was destroying His people, keeping them in discord and disunity. Thus, Jesus chose to know and live truth according to God’s intent, and He sends us into the world with the weapon of truth that protects unity. The question is, will we sanctify ourselves as He did, following His example in taking up the cross of self-denial in order to follow God’s truth in all things.

078In the remainder of John 17, we see that Jesus includes us living in this day in this prayer as He prays not only for those with Him in that moment, but for all who believe because of their testimony. Our response to those before us, who believed because of the testimony of these disciples of Jesus and who passed that testimony on with their personal testimony, makes us a part of God’s answer to this prayer of Jesus. In responding to the testimony of God in our day, we become the ones prayed for by Him, us becoming His “sent” ones to this generation in the world. Thus, the baton of faith is passed to us for this age, calling us to bear the testimony of this God who so loves us.

Now we are the deployed of God, sent to bear this testimony of a life of purpose chosen by us in Christ. God’s purpose in sending Jesus and Christ’s in sending us is because of their great love for all. Their purpose for sending us provides understanding for us who are the sent in Jesus name. God sends us so that others may know the truth about Father and His love. Therefore, we must seek to know the truth, setting ourselves apart to live as people of truth, bearing forth His testimony in the world as people alert to our being the beloved of God.

This is the first of our purpose in Christ as the sent: to choose as Jesus did to sanctify self in truth for the sake of those InGodsHandssmeHe sends us to, living and speaking the truth of God, so that others may come to know the Father and His great love.

Father, we choose today whom we will serve, whether the god of this world, or You, the true God of all creation. Grant us to choose You today as people set apart to live in truth, made complete in You and made one together as those sanctified in truth. In Jesus, amen.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 5

Read John 17

“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” ~ vs. 14-19.

“Sanctified in Truth; Your word is truth.”

Beloved, there is a danger in the world today that threatens our ability to work and live as Name bearers for Christ: that is, failure to realize and live as people who believe God’s word is true; inerrant in every way. The two things threatened when we fail to believe that God breathed His word in full truth through the thoughts penned by His authors include our ability to receive His instruction and our ability to trust His promises.

Sanctified in Truth

Sanctification means to be set apart for a purpose, fully useful in the hands of God in accomplishing His work in the earth; fully surrendered to His will and way, desiring His work fulfilled in us.

When we fail to believe God’s word fully represents Him, His will, His way, and His truth, we will pick and choose what we want to believe from the pages of Holy Writ and fall short in our sanctification to Him as Lord. When we close ourselves off to the relevance of His word in our day, we become unteachable of spirit, unable to transform with the work of His word in us.

When we are unteachable, we refuse the transforming power that equips us to renew our minds (way of thinking and believing) and to know the will of God, which is good and acceptable and perfect. When we cannot discern the will of God because of unbelief, we cannot please Him. Sanctified living requires us to believe the inerrancy of God’s Word and its relevance in our day so we are equipped to love Him through full obedience that makes us adequate for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 12:1-3; Hebrews 11:6)

God’s Word is Truth

When we fail to believe that God’s word is truth, we cannot fully receive, accept application to our lives, and walk with hope in the promises of God. They are without relevance if His word is a lie.

Jesus believed all God said was true of Him and His life purpose, thus He was able to withstand temptation to fall away from the path God laid out for Him. Believing God’s word to be true and that He would do all He promised, Jesus refused a lesser crown in this life. Bowing down from His high position to be a humble man, walking with the power of God’s supply to experience a cruel cross in order to purchase a people for His own possession as King of kings and Lord of lords, Jesus is seated at the right hand of God because He believed God’s promises, taking Him at His word.

I am really excited that following this study of John 17, God is teaching me the significance of our sitting to His right and to His left. I don’t want to give it all away in this post, but suffice to say, Jesus believed God and He received authority to fulfill the purpose of God laid out for Him from before time began. Jesus is our example, beloved. We are to walk in Jesus name as a people sanctified and set apart to God for His purpose. The only way to accomplish that is to believe God, taking Him at His word to and for us.

Truth is truth. Walk ye in it.

Father, the world hates anything that is in opposition to it. Your word is truth, standing in direct opposition to the waysInGodsHandssme and wisdom of this world. Therefore, we who believe are the hated, reviled by the world, just as Jesus was. Truly believing God, taking His word as God-breathed, is not an easy road to follow, but it is the road to eternal purpose that is worth the reward it brings us. Grant us hearts that believe You, taking You at Your word, being teachable of heart, and trusting fully in every promise You give. To do otherwise is to fall into the hands of Your enemy, allowing Satan to win our lives as his to claim. In Jesus, may we truly and fully believe You so that we may see Your glory in the fulfillment of all You planned for us from before time began. Amen.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 4b

Read John 17

“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves” ~ vs. 11-13.

Hedged by His Name ~ Part 2

Last post we covered that, as people living in the hedge of God’s name, we possess a mind set on and driven by eternal purpose. Focus on the eternal leads us to our need to clothe ourselves in our new nature through the internal flow and external adornment of the image of God.

“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him…. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart…” ~ Colossians 3:9-10, 12.

As the Beloved of Christ, made One with God through Him, we are to put off the old self and put on the new that bears the image of the One who is God. That image we put on flows from a heart that is changed and made One with Him.

The heart of our soul is the essence of our character and nature. Made new in Him, His new creation, having His image in us brought to life, the habits and character of our old nature that was dictated by fleshly, self-centered desires, is pushed out and overruled as we possess the nature that is God. The most quoted passage, speaking of the nature we possess in the power of God’s Spirit is Galatians 5:22-23.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

The remainder of Colossians 3:1-17 describes these and other attributes of God’s image found living in us. These characteristics we possess as our own, allow the Spirit to freely live in and flow through us to express God’s glory in the world around us.

Note that when we have His nature living and active within us, that image we bear has no law that stands against it. Our fleshly nature fell under the dictates of many Laws of God set in place to rule the ways of humanity. Even in today’s world, it is too often laws that motivate us to do the right that is expected.

In our flesh, which is self-indulgent, we run from God and walk all over any who get in the way of our fulfilling our desires. However, God’s nature is perfect and holy, fulfilling eternal purpose based on God-centered desires for unity and glory, and His Spirit transforms our nature. Leaving the worldly behind, we walk with godly intent and purpose.InGodsHandssme We are no longer motivated by force of law, but by the power of a right heart in Christ. Possessing His nature fulfills the Law and reaps a harvest of glory, hedging us in the protection found as we live our lives in Jesus Name.

These things, Lord, You speak in the world so that we may have Your joy made full in us. We can face this life as we unite more and more with You, being one together with You in the power of Your Spirit, flowing out of and adorned by Your nature. As You have spoken over us, O God, so let it be done. In Jesus, amen.

The Problem with Offense

“I am offended by that!”

“That offends me!”

These words grow louder in our society every day. Every day a new – old offense, touted on our newscasts, raises the temper in America. With each one, I find myself taking a side on which to walk my offensive line.

Most recent in the news are those “offended” by the flying of the confederate flag. As I watch the reports pour forth, stores get in on it, spreading a flag out, stating, “We will no longer sell these flags because we do not want to ‘offend ANYONE’”.

Immediately that “offended” me. Not because I want a confederate flag to fly, but because I want the right to fly one if I desire. However, as quickly as the offense hit me, God’s Spirit called me to shush it.

Think about it. What is the meaning of “Offend”?

Offend ~ Resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a PERCEIVED INSULT.

Offense comes from a place of resentment, and is most often caused by festering anger. Note also in this definition that offense sprouts out over a “perceived insult.” It is based on our perception and opinion, which may, or may not, be based on truth.

Do I care if people fly a confederate flag? We don’t fly one, but others have every right to do so, and I want the right to fly a flag without fear that some person passing by, who does not know me or my heart, will judge me by their perceptions of that flag.

We are in a nation of free speech, and flags speak of allegiances. We fly an American flag because we are of that allegiance. Others fly a flag in honor of those who fought under that flag. Flags can speak of ideology, yes, but we need to know the ideology that has a person flying the flag.

The confederate flag speaks, yes. For some, they speak of a heart that is not right toward American-Africans (Not a typo, will explain in a bit). That is sad, but true. However, the Civil War issue of slavery was secondary to the cause of the war.

My understanding of that time in HISTORY is that the war started because people in the south felt the leadership in the north was making unjust demands against their produce, requiring more of them than they felt just and right and doable. Therefore, war broke out. The slave issue came into play as the north, needing to increase their depleted army, promised freedom to those slaves who would fight for their side.

Did the slaves deserve freedom? YES! Was the war a just war from the beginning? Everyone has their opinion. Nonetheless, many Flag-treadfought and died on both sides, and they fought and died for a cause they felt worthy of the fight. The African slaves, seeking freedom as Americans fought with the northern states because they deserved freedom and felt it worth the effort if they could win their freedom in the fight.

To me the confederate flag stands for our right to choose. It stands against unjust government. It is the southern voice shouting “Don’t tread on me!” I love that flag. LOL

To others it speaks of racial discord and the right of white over black; unjust slavery and hardship. This is sad to me. But why punish those who honor their fallen under that flag, seeing it for what it was in their eyes, a people looking for just government.

Offense tells the one we perceive offense from that their heart ideology is wrong, and it says that we only care about our own viewpoint. It assumes knowledge of another’s heart issues. It judges the heart of a person that we often do not know.

Think of the offensive side of a football team. Their goal is to push for territory they want to gain, even if they have to run over another person to get there. That is what acting out of offense does. It pushes, too often out of festering anger that works destruction, forcing “my way over your way.” It judges the heart of all who are on the other side as being of evil intent. Going on the offensive automatically puts those opposed on the defensive, even if they know you have a right to your opinion. The battle of the offended against those on the defensive brings all to discord and disunity.

The thing God spoke to my heart in the Spirit this morning as offense threatened to pull me into the battle is this, “WE CHOOSE TO BE OFFENDED.”

I am sorry for the offense perceived by others and I hate that which causes their offense. On the other hand, I am too easily offended by others trying to force their will off on me; my personalizing the injustice of their perception. Thus, I have to choose whether I will let that anger get hold of me and dictate my life and actions. The choice is mine, and it is quickly quelled when I refuse anger and choose the right. The right I want is our unity as a nation: to deny offense based on anger that brings division and walk in righteous paths of peace, love, and grace.

People, if we keep going the direction we are in, we don’t need ISIS to come in and destroy us. All they have to do is sit back and wait. With enough time and ammunition, we will destroy ourselves from the inside out.

Festering anger breeds offense. The offended put others on defense. And the battle is on.

A house divided against itself will quickly fall.

It is vital that we learn how to fight the good fight of faith, knowing how to choose our battles. A battle line drawn out of anger and resentment breeds discord, which brings disunity that will bring the house down. A battle drawn from a stance on what is right and good will draw people together. As we seek out of love to express what is right and true, others seeing the righteousness of it will join in, and a union forms that stands in strength.

I honor the right of others to take a stand. However, I pray that stance is made out of a desire for a righteous outcome. If anger, resentment, pride or arrogance is the fuel, destruction will come as people pushed to offense take their side. Note the base for your stance, beloved. If anger is the base, we choose to be offended and to judge the heart of others out of our angry perspective, thus breeding anger in kind. If we are standing on a base of what is right and a desire for truth and unity, there is no need for an offensive: Only live right and others will soon follow.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another” ~ Galatians 5:19-26.

Side Note

Why do I prefer “American-African / Latino / Asian / Irish / etc.”:

I am American-Irish. I word it that way because I want unity in my country, so I am an American first, and I happen to be of Irish decent. I have never been to Ireland. I love my Irish roots and the people who spawned me. However, I am and always have been American.

Only as we move our roots fully to possess and grow a strong America as Americans first will we see this discord begin to calm itself. Hanging onto the past as if it is our present reality, our perceptions dictated by the hardship of our history, we will never build a strong America for our children to live in.

Only as we become an American who happens to have blood from other nationalities and races can we be one people, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We need to know our history, pulling from the good to continue that, and making sure we do not repeat the bad; but we do not need to keep living in the past. May we as Americans make our now and our kids future better by living the good we know in our now lives, producing good soil for the growth of future generations.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 3

Read John 17

“I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them.” ~ vs. 6-10.

Manifested Ownership

From the Name of God, to the Words He sent and the people He provided opportunity to share with, and I would add to the worlds goods provided for use in the ministry given Him, Jesus recognized that all was God’s and was given Him by God for His use in manifesting the name, will, way and glory of God. All belonged to God. It was given to Christ for Him to possess, manifest through His own life and ministry, and use as a gift to those in His sphere of influence.

Jesus’ realization of ownership began with self: “for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me.” He believed that He Himself belonged to God for His purpose, sent into the world to accomplish God’s will in God’s way.

Jesus is our example for life. We manifest Him in the same way He shared God with us, as people of God’s own possession, sent for a purpose. That begins with ownership. Jesus received the Name of God as His own. Salvation comes from God through Christ. Father is Immanuel, the Christ, Savior, Lord, Master. He gave rights to Jesus for Him to possess and manifest these characteristics in the world, thus being God with us, fulfilling His purpose as Christ, the Savior made Lord and Master as King of kings under God’s authority.

Jesus, in turn, puts His name on us as followers of Christ, and we are responsible to manifest His character, word, will, way, and stewardship in this age God birthed us to. We are under His authority, given authority with responsibility as stewards of all He gives for our use in living and being His representatives where we are living and breathing.

All that we have belongs to God. Our reputation, our words, our funds, every opportunity for good, our time, this day, our now moments, and every breath we breathe is His. We do well to realize all we have first belongs to God. Then we must realize that all He gives us is ours to possess and use in manifesting Him name and His glory in the earth. When we say we are “Christian”, people look to us to discover what that means. Represent God with every breath.

Beloved, when we frown at tithing, it is because we fail to believe and own the truth that “all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine,” given us for the purpose of this ministry of manifestation. When the need of others becomes inconvenience InGodsHandssmeinstead of opportunity, we forget whose Name and glory we possess. When anger, depression and other emotional issues take hold, leading us to say things that do more harm than good, we forget the Word gifted us for use in producing His glory and work in the world. When we waste our days and resources on menial things, we forget whose purpose we are to fulfill and the fruit we are to bear. He gives all to us for us to own in His name and use to His glory.

“So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers]” ~ Galatians 6:10, AMP.

Parent with Discipline and Instruction

Today’s Bible Gateway scripture grabbed me with a different-than-usual understanding.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” Ephesians 6:4, NLT.

Reading that well-known verse, just as I started to delete it, a different instruction from it grabbed my heart and stopped my hand as pondering began.

Usually this verse says to me the truths commonly taught by others: that the father, or parent, is to train the child in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord; to teach them the word and ways of God. This is true, but today it grabs me with understanding that Paul is teaching the way of disciplining the child so-as-to not provoke anger. He is telling the parent to develop within themselves the disciplines of God, receiving His instruction on how to be a parent to their particular child, so that child can grow strong in a teachable spirit.

This scripture specifically singles out Fathers, but we should receive it as good instruction for both parents. Usually in a family, there is a main caregiver and disciplinarian; and that is not always the dad. It is often the mom. Moreover, in today’s society, single parenting is too common. Therefore, I write this with parents in mind, not just the dad.

The first instruction given a parent in this passage is to train up the child in ways that do not breed anger in them. Anger produces bitterness and resentment that makes a child grow into a hard-hearted, unteachable adult. Such a heart attitude makes it difficult for a person to be open to God’s instruction and training in life. They often develop the traits found in their parent that produce the anger, and thus become a parent like their own, producing anger in the next generation. Resist the urge to be a hot-tempered parent.

“Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself” ~ Proverbs 22:24-25

A child cannot easily leave the company of a hot-tempered parent. They quickly learn to give themselves over to angry outbursts of their own, carrying on the tradition when they become parents who are harsh, hard, sharp and pressing. We can learn a lot as parents, following the example of Christ in Matthew 11:25-30:

“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne” ~ AMP.

As parents following the example of God in discipline and instruction, we yoke with our children, being an example to them, training them up in godliness to be the people God created them to be. We set an example that trains them to realize they have purpose and skill as people of His Kingdom, able to make this world community a better place for those around them.

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” ~ Proverbs 15:18.

Controlling one’s temper as a parent instructing the child is a vital discipline to develop, benefitting both the relationship of parent to child and setting an example that trains the children in the way and importance of controlling their own emotions. It is vital that a parent learn to take a time out when angered, giving themselves time to get their temper in check and decide on a godly course of action in training the child out of a place of wisdom, love and spiritual discernment.

Parent, it is never too late to apologize for being hot-tempered and to make the adjustments that calm the heart of dispute and set a better example, bearing the fruit of the Spirit into that relationship (Galatians 5:22-23). Though it may take time for the adult-child to believe, receive the apology as sincere, and realize the change in example, it will take hold and bring healing as you persevere in walking out your change of temperament.

A second parenting instruction comes to mind, found in the Amplified version of Proverbs 22:6:

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

This instructs in several important parenting skills to develop. One is to realize how each child best receives instruction. Some children are rigid and require a more firm hand; while others are easily bruised and require a gentler tactic. It is vital to learn the type of discipline the individual child responds to best. Whatever works best, all need discipline that is free of anger. Never discipline when angry. Send the child to the bed until a clear and cool head prevails in the discipline given.

Another instruction found in this wording of Proverbs 22:6, training according to the child’s “bent”, is to realize the gifts, talents, skills and abilities of each child and train them up in a way that helps them develop, becoming strong in the good things that make up who they are as people created by God for a purpose. It also means to recognize their individual temperament and help them know how to use the good qualities they have for benefit. They also need training in how to cope rightly with the more negative aspects of their personalities.

For some of us, our parents did not train us with our gifts and bent in mind, so we may have to seek God’s instruction for how to train ourselves up in these areas so we can better help our children develop their gift and personalities. God is the ultimate Father and He is always ready to help us grow strong as the people He planned us to be. His word teaches that His work of developing and perfecting and bringing us to full completion is a continual work that only ends when Jesus takes us home (Philippians 1:6). Realizing this for ourselves as we grow to be the parents God desires of us will help our patience with self in the process. It is also a vital truth to teach the child, helping them to cooperate with God and know how to work with Him in developing stronger skill and character throughout life.

A third instruction I think of concerning discipline and instruction to us as parents comes from the description of the Proverbs 31 wife:

“She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks. …She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat. Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying], ‘Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all’” ~ vs. 15, 26-29.

Training our children in the word of God is not the responsibility of the Sunday School teacher alone. They should be additive to the teaching the child receives at home. Realize that children learn more from actions than words, so make sure you practice the things taught them from God’s word, training by example as well as word.

This entire discourse in Proverbs 31:10-31 is that of a Mother setting a good example of how to be a godly wife – woman. The same is true for the husband, setting the example of a godly man. Our exemplary life is vital training for the child. Thus, we must know how to be godly people ourselves if we are to pass that quality on to our children.

Here the mother “assigns her maids their tasks.” Children need to learn how to function as vital participants in community life. They need to know how to keep their area of responsibility in good order. They need financial and economic training. Children learn how to be good citizens of the Kingdom – nation – community – by first learning how to be good family members as stewards of all the good gifts of God. We must not neglect to give our children a sense of responsibility as citizens in life.

Note also that this mother, in her parenting example to us, “opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law (teaching) of kindness [giving counsel and instruction].” Not only is the parent to give the child wise counsel and training in kindness, but she is to do so by practicing wisdom with kindness. A godly parent sets the good example, looking well to the ways of the home and family, not feasting through thought and actions on “the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity)”. Such a parent earns the reward of children who bear the testimony of having praiseworthy parents.

Parents, “do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Grow strong parenting skills, learning the discipline of character God instructs us to possess.

This article barely touches on the things we can learn from God’s instruction to us that will make us noteworthy parents that produce godly children who will make the world a better place as they grow to be good citizens, skilled as good stewards in community life. Insights of this article are good starting points for growth as parents to children, but God waits at the ready to help each of us in our areas of specific growth needs. He promises, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart’” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

No matter how old our kids grow to be, as long as we live there will be opportunity to yoke with them in their journey to becoming all God planned. Once we are one, though the nature of our role may change, we never stop being parents. Choose today to be a parent of noteworthy character, an example worth following, yoking with God in readiness to learn good parenting skills that allows you to yoke as partner-teacher on your child’s journey through life.

Things Leading to Perfect Peace ~ Part 5

Called Friend ~ Deepening Relationship

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 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. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another” ~ John 15:12-17.

Hear these words of Jesus, beloved. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

What did the disciples have that made them friends instead of slaves? They possessed a vitally growing relationship with Christ. This reality of growing in relationship with God that makes us friends He shares His life with is ours to have and possess in Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit working in and through us. That reality begins with understanding this love that God has for us, a love that lays down His life on our behalf. That love is the perfect love that casts out all fear.

Think about your most trusted friend. What is it about your relationship with that friend that helps you know that wherever you go, whatever you do, that relationship will always be there? For me that ingredient that makes for true and lasting friendship is trust in the love they have for me and me for them.

walking-with-godI have three friends who moved off many years ago. These friends stay in touch through our marvelous technologies that span space and time to bring us closer together. I can be who I am with these friends and know they love me as I am, even when I am not my best self. We may not see each other often, but when we do, it is as if we never parted company. We may not always like what the other does, but we love each other anyway. And we know that when we struggle, there is always the other to reach out a loving hand to help us to come up higher in life as God’s chosen friend.

That is another thing I look for in a human friendship. I look for a growing relationship with God. I want people around me who know Him and are able to encourage my walk with Him. One reason for that is not only that these friends have a growing relationship with God that makes them ably equipped to counsel me from His perspective, but they possess His abiding presence, being available instruments to Him, allowing Him to reach out and touch me through their lives: and me to them. Just now I received a text from one of them that I do not hear from often, but she knows when she is in need, I am here for her, just as she is for me.

Beloved, that is what God wants with us. This desire for a relationship that is vitally growing and available, able to encourage and help to rise up to greater heights is not foreign to God. It is His image at work in us. God is love. Love’s most vital need is someone to give itself to and for; and its greatest desire is to find that love returned in kind.

When we have this growing reality at work in us, knowing God and being known by Him, mutually loving and giving self to bring the other higher, Him lifting us to higher ground as we lift Him to greater glory, shining ever brighter, we have friendship with God and a love that casts out fear.

Fear cannot reside where true love’s trust abides. God loves you. You can trust that even when you are in a pit of despair because of poor decisions that caused you to fall away for a time. He reaches out in love, desiring to grab your right hand and help you to higher ground. When we move away from Him, He is still there, waiting to hear from us andJesus 01 - water walk reach out His hand of love, help and companionship.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing means NOTHING! Not even the bad decisions we make in falling away from Him can remove His love from us. His sacrifice of love remains even in our darkest days. Though He hates where we are and what was done to put us in such a state of affairs, He still loves us and longs for our presence. So reach up and trust His love to grab you and help you be your best self to the glory of Him who loves you more than life itself.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 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. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another” ~ John 15:12-17.

Oh, beloved. What great peace it is that comes to the heart of the one who truly understands, receives, believes, trusts and grows strong in this friendship found in a deep and abiding love relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son in the power of the Spirit abiding within us. And we know this love abides in us as we come to desire His will over our own, laying down our lives by picking up His desire for us and making that our possession for a life of abundance with Him.

HE LOVED THEM TO THE END

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Very Works

Reading John 10 this morning, waiting on my husband to finish reading his newspaper so we could visit before his leaving for work, verse 25 stands out to me for today’s focus:

“Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.’”

“Jesus answered them, ‘I have told you so, yet you do not believe Me [you do not trust Me and rely on Me]. The very works that I do by the power of My Father and in My Father’s name bear witness concerning Me [they are My credentials and evidence in 425109_135478716573009_812090474_nsupport of Me]’” ~ AMP.

I am reminded of two things this morning. First, I do not have to concern myself with what others believe or do not believe about me. The fruit of my works will bear witness of me, just as they did for Jesus. They are my credentials and evidence in support of me too, so trust in the Lord and do good.

Second, do the works that I do by the power of God and in the Father’s name, as an obedient servant of God. Then my fruit will bear a good testimony of my life in Christ, and I will have no fear of humankind.

~*~

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” ~ Psalm 37:3-7.

 

Pondering Tempest’s Calm

“He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” ~ Mark 4:39, NKJV.

“Peace, be still.” That is the phrase coursing through my mind as I think on this past weekend. A family we greatly love was in for a visit. We were so excited for their arrival, and so exhausted when they left. What exhausted us?

The male head of that family is a man of hot temper. He loses his temper easily, being gruff of speech and very impatient with much frustration coming from his tone of voice and mannerisms. As a result, there was constant fussing among them, bad attitudes in kind from the others of that family, and I felt it within myself at times. Scripture instructs us to avoid men of hot temper, and this rippling of the waters of peace is why we are so warned.

“Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself” ~ Proverbs 22:24-25.

It was exhausting to experience; I can’t fathom living in that day after day. Oh, wait! Yes I can.

As I ponder this issue, I remember my younger years and some days since, when my own temper flared in like manner. I too was raised in a home by a hot tempered mother. Thankfully, as I discovered that temper within myself when my children were young, God worked with me to change my ways.

I learned that such temperament is often a bad habit that can be retrained. Learning a new way where temper is concerned begins with “Peace, be still.”

When my children were little and I found myself sounding too much like my mother, I began seeking the Father for a change of temper. “Peace, be still” is the first step revealed to calmer waters of existence. “Be still and KNOW that I AM GOD” (Psalm 46:10-11). I learned to draw near to God and let Him have control of my temper.

Selah ~ Pause and CALMLY think of that.

I learned to send the kids to their room or sit them in a chair or simply say, “be quiet for a bit”, giving me some time with the Lord to calm down. Disciplining when my temper is flared is never a pathway to peace and cooperation. I may elicit obedience with my temper, but not obedience that is coupled with a right attitude. You know what? Heart attitude is vital to true obedience; and we teach our children obedience to God by the way they obey us.

My husband learned to practice this with me and, in doing so, helped me to change my temperament. When an argument rises between us, he will go out to work on some project giving us each time to cool off. Later we can sit calmly together, being able to truly hear what each has to say, and we can come to agreement without arguing and yelling. The important thing is to make sure we come back together to deal with issues in need of attention. Neglecting to do so can breed bitterness as the problem continues unchecked.

Time out allows me not only to get my temper under control, but it also allows me to rightly evaluate the situation. Sometimes I might realize that the real problem is that I am overly tired to the point that kids being kids is that proverbial straw on that proverbial camel’s broken back. That is truer of me now that I am older and no longer used to having children around. I have to be very careful that my being tired does not cause me to sound off in ill-tempered fervor. If that is the case, the time out itself often fixes the problem. I talk to the kids about mom (or now, “Meeme”) being overly tired and in need of them to do something quiet that will allow me to rest. Voila! Peace is restored and we are in good relations again.

At times when a real issue needs to be dealt with, time out calms me enough so we can discuss the issue in ways that allow us to come to an understanding of the right and better way of things. Discipline (training in righteousness) dictated by calmer minds helps the child and parent or husband and wife adjust their way of thinking and doing. When my temper is under control, I am better able to listen to them and understand what they want or need; and I am better able to express my will and reasoning to them in ways that foster cooperation. With a child, when spanking is in order, it is better done in love with reason when calm is the driving force.

Dealing with a child when frustrated and hot tempered breeds frustration and rebellion in the child. It is what scripture refers to when it says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Colossians 3:21 ~ this applies to mothers as well). Children – and mates for that matter – who are always assaulted by ill-temper and a bad attitude become people of ill-temper and bad attitude. It is exhausting to live that way because it is like fighting the wind. You know not where and when ill-temper will come, how fierce it will be, or how long it will last. One wind rises up a clashing wave of resistance that hits another and another until the seas of our lives are rolling so hard that destruction is imminent. Scripture rightly warns:

“An angry man stirs up strife, And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression” ~ Proverbs 29:22.

Temper usually comes when we demand our own way, often unreasonably. It is a god-complex that is sin, demanding always to be in control without thought of God and His ways, and without practicing love toward others, caring for one’s own needs and desires over those of others.

There is hope for us as we learn that “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, BUT the slow to anger calms a dispute” ~ Proverbs 15:18.

A hot temper is a bad habit that becomes a snare to all touched by it, robbing of strength, energy, love and relationship. But it can be overcome as we “seek first His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). When we choose to take a time out with some deep, calming breaths, forcing our mind and heart to be still and know God, seeking Him for wisdom, He calms and quiets the storm within just as He did that stormy sea. When we are calm, we then have the capacity to see, hear and know truth, and we can speak wisdom with peace that not only trains up those who hear to walk in righteousness, but it trains them in how to deal with their own temper issues.

Josh McDowell said it well, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” But relationship spawned out of peaceful waters will produce cooperation that calms the tempest. Which do you want for your relationships?

“Peace, BE STILL!”

Pondering The Lord, God of Heaven’s Armies

“Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people” ~ Amos 5:14-15, NLT.

I love the wording of this verse in the New Living Translation. Of course, it is beautiful in any true translation, but this one captures my heart as I think on “The Lord of hosts”, “God of Heaven’s Armies”. It brings me to restful, peace to think of our God, fighting for us as commander of the Angelic hosts of heaven.

We are encouraged, “Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have said.”

In scripture, righteousness is defined as true living; and sin or evil is called “death”. Death separates oneself from God; life walks in unity with Him.

Every evil we face has a spiritual component to it that most often requires a spiritual response. When we choose to do good and fully follow God, He gives His angels charge concerning us, to fight the demonic forces behind the evil that seeks to destroy us.

Most often, the things going on in the earth are a picture image of what is going on in the heavenly realms. When we choose the good of God’s desire, God works to bring good to us in the spiritual realm. When the good of the Spirit is our influence, we choose the good of God’s desire.

Satanic forces influence the hearts of men to actions contrary to God using the wisdom of the flesh, this world, and demonic whisperings to deceived hearts. Such battles require angelic forces to deploy in response. When we choose good, recognizing and fleeing from evil influences, we have the assurance of God’s help. These armies of God fight the demonic forces so that the message of God can reach our hearts and influence our good.

I believe this war on terror is such an instance of evil’s influence on mankind. Only as we choose the good and fully follow God’s lead in this battle will we see victory. And that victory must be aided by His angelic forces coming against the demonic forces that influence and use the evil we see.

“Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people”

Goodness and justice are our spiritual weapons against evil. These weapons of our warfare loose God’s mercy toward us and move Him to take action on our behalf in whatever evil we face. But the definition of what is good is not ours to determine. It is dictated by God, requiring us to come into agreement with His desires. We must seek to know His heart on the issues before us if we are to do the good that flees from doing evil and moves the hand of God on our behalf.

Good is to do the will of God in the way of God to the glory of God.

“Evil”, everything contrary to God, His will and His way, is the only thing in scripture that I can think of in which God calls us to hate. We do not hate the person given to evil. They are only a vessel of evil, just as we are only a vessel of Good. Even Jesus says, “Why do you call Me ‘good’? No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18). Thus we hate the evil itself, but we are called to love the person.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” ~ Matthew 5:43-48.

“Sons” or children of God look like Him. Father God is our example to follow when it comes to love, and if we are His, we will look like His child, being in His image. He loves because He is love and He can do no less. We are “perfect as He is perfect” when we love because that is who we are. His love is perfectly within Him, dictating His actions toward all mankind. Though He hates the evil produced by those who are “enemy” at the time of their evil and He comes against that evil that is standing against Him and the good He desires, He still loves the sinner enslaved by evil.

It is letting love be in us as it is in Him that produces the good that reaps the reward of His hand at work on our behalf to protect us from the evil desires of enemy forces. Love has nothing to do with the recipient of its affections. Love, true love that desires and does what is best for the one loved, cannot be bought with a price or lost with any evil done. Love is what it is at all times. It assumes responsibility for itself, being unconditional and incorruptible. We love God because He first loved us and He shows us the way of love as He lives and breathes through us. Therefore our love for God always chooses the good He desires even for those who stand in opposition to Him.

We always have God’s love, Him doing what is best toward us as He works to bring us into agreement with Himself and His perfect desires. Even in the midst of consequences for past evil done by us or to us, when we turn back to Him through goodness and justice, His hand moves to help us face evil’s consequences.

We have God’s help when we surrender to His good and run after righteousness and justice as He defines it. We accomplish good when we seek to be as God is in character, thought, motive, deed and action. We accomplish justice when we agree with Him who defines evil and its consequences, divvying out and taking the consequences earned by evil practices, but doing so with a nature of love that desires the good, even and especially for those we call “enemy”.

Today, I check my stance with God the Father. Today I pray the God of angel armies be with you as you continue to fight the good fight of faith in the love He provides through the moving of His hand of help and hope.

Firm in Faith – Firm in Stance

Yesterday God highlighted for me Isaiah 7:9b…

“If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all” ~ ESV.

“If you will not believe, you surely shall not last” ~ NASB.

Looking at verses 1-12, we see Ahaz facing three kings who are out to destroy him and take his territory over. Ahaz starts out to gain the aid of Assyria, but God sends Isaiah to stop him and encourage him to trust in the Lord instead.

This passage so hits home for me in so many areas. I feel God’s call to do something, then, when it gets hard, I want to elicit others help to do what I am called to do, often so I can back out altogether. Many of us desire to do right: work at a job God opened for us, reach a goal, obtain a dream, minister to another in our sphere of influence; but when obstacles get in the way and the road gets rough, instead of trusting in and relying upon God, we wimp out, back pedal, or look to others besides Him for our solution. God may send His word of assurance through many avenues, telling us it will be okay if we will just stay the course and trust Him, but we don’t like pain, so we run in fear, and fail to hear or believe. When this happens, we rob ourselves of the opportunity we have to participate in the great work of God and experience Him as never before.

See self through God's eyes.
See self through God’s eyes.

Here in Isaiah 7, God tells Ahaz that the army coming against him will not succeed. He does not tell him that the battle will not come. Nor does He tell him that his victory will be easy. What He does say is, “If you trust and believe Me, you will be able to stand firm, withstand the battle, and come through to its completion having your kingdom and your crown in tact. BUT if you will not believe, you will not last, but will fall away.”

I read a devotional thought today from SparkPeople.com that spoke to me on this issue. The quote they used is from Frank Tyger, saying, “Most barriers to your success are man-made. And most often, you’re the man who made them.”

Regarding this thought, the author of the devotional writes, “What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to stick to a fitness plan so that you will look great this summer? Are you trying to improve a relationship with a friend or loved one? …Whatever you are trying to do, think about a time when you’ve allowed yourself to think, ‘I can’t!’ Why did this happen? Most of the time, it is because of a barrier that you yourself created.

“It is completely natural for you to have this reaction in life. For most of us, when things get tough or when we start to fail, we try to find ways to justify our actions instead of trying to find ways to get over the hurdle. …”  (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/quotes_translation.asp?id=262).

I remember a time when I said to myself, “I can’t do this anymore.” It broke something in me and, for a time, it robbed me of my ability to cope with my daddy’s paranoia issues and minister to him. It even hindered my ability to relate with many others – for a time. When I realized the enemy assault in those words that were not based on truth in Christ and that robbed me of faith in God who equips me for all things, I began the slow road to healing and got back in the proverbial saddle of life again.

We must take care when the hurdles come upon us that we keep our eyes on and our faith in God, or we will be easily knocked off our horses and off the path God has for us. Life is hard, but God is faithful. Seek His face for the assurance needed and stay the course that will get us to the finish line, having accomplished all His good will and purpose. The center of His will is often hard, but it is the safest, most blessed place to be.

Know the True Battle Lines

“Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?’” ~ John 18:10-11.

Jesus knew His hour of glorification was at hand. Peter did not understand fully what was to come, so he drew the sword to fight for the life of the One he loved, and found himself standing in opposition to the Christ. Jesus, on the other hand, understood the evil coming at Him was from the Father for the fulfillment of all things good and glorious. Fighting against drinking that cup would be fighting against Father. Fighting against the very will and way of the Father would keep Jesus from fulfilling the purpose for which He was sent into the earth.

As I read this today, I am reminded that we must have this insight within us that Christ had for His hour of Glory’s opportunity. Every hard thing that comes at us, though the enemy of God intends it for evil, we must realize that God intends to work good out of it. And there are some hard things that come for God’s purpose that are not sent by the enemy of God, but are sent through that evil by God for a purpose that may be beyond our comprehension at the time. Seeing the glorious purpose of God fulfilled requires us to cooperate with Him in addressing our life circumstances. (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20)

Take the Patriarch Joseph as example. He suffered much hardship because of what looked like the cruelty of his brothers. But God laid out the plan in which He trained Joseph and put him into position for the dreams sent him by God to be fulfilled. Though Joseph did not fully understand why he had to go through such hardship, he kept faith and trust in God, cooperating with Him by making the most of each situation. As a result, those very things suffered were used of God to grow his faith and his gifting in preparation for his ultimate role that fulfilled the purpose of God in saving his people in the time of famine. Just think what might have been if Joseph fought his captivity instead of making the best of it?

Thus I find myself asking today what situations I am in that are God’s road for training and equipping me for the opportunity ahead that will allow me to work with Him in fulfilling the glory He has planned for my life.

We all go through days of difficulty, beloved. Sometimes those hardships come because of our sin: Father’s disciplining hand reaching down to deliver us from those tendencies that too often lead us astray of His will and way. Beloved, when it comes to God’s desire for a right and eternal relationship with us, He is not afraid to break our leg as a good Shepherd would do to a wayward sheep, putting us into a position where we will seek Him and where He can have quality time with us, gaining our undivided attention. He would rather put us on our backs now to keep us from eternal damnation and separation from Him than see us perish for all eternity. He uses such times to increase our faith, enabling us to fully trust Him who is making us into the person of His design, ready to fulfill His purpose.

Most often the evil one sends difficulty meant to knock us off kilter in an attempt to stop the work of God in and through us. The devil hates God and he hates us who follow him. Lucifer wants to be God, and he wants as many as he can possibly deceive to be with him in his eternal punishment. So he works overtime, doing all he can to hinder the work of God in and through us who are his witnesses and his chosen vessels meant to help others come to Christ. If Satan can lead us to destroy our testimony so we are useless in the work of helping others to discover the truth of Christ, he wins a battle. If not that, he will work to get us so wrapped up in our hardships and difficulties that we have no time or energy to minister to others, thus bringing us to defeat.

Then there are the times, like with Christ and Joseph, when God is the one who sends those things into our lives that bring difficulty and are hard to understand. He uses such hardship to train and prepare us for some work ahead that may not be evident yet. Or those very difficult things may very well be the very path that gets us into position for God’s very glory to come forth and accomplish His very purpose for our very lives. It is the “verily, verily” of God’s very truth.

Joseph, like Christ, chose to not allow evil to win, but to cooperate with God’s goodness in the midst of the hardship faced in order for God’s purpose to be fulfilled for the good of all concerned. These are examples to us in our own times of difficulty. No matter the source of the evil, cooperate with God. Don’t put self in a position of fighting God. Know the true battle lines and turn to face the frontlines with Father.

The question for us today is, will we fall to the will of the evil one who is out for our destruction, or will we cooperate with God? Choosing cooperation with God for the good He desires is vital, lest we find ourselves fighting against the One who is doing us good, and not harm meant for evil. God is always working in us to give us a future and hope for our final outcome. And He may even use hardship to put us into a place of being His resource for the salvation of others (Jeremiah 29:11).

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

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

So here is today’s blog share with you:

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Word of Life: Review and Final Word of Encouragement

This series started as God spoke to my heart things I need to remember and put into practice as I see things in our day that disturb the heart and have me watching more steadily to the East for the Rising Son. Then, as I shared in our intro, the Spirit led to realization that something coming upon the earth will happen soon, causing the hearts of even the elect to quake. In preparation for knowing how we are to face such days, this study began.

By way of review, our study began in the intro with a call to remember that God is God and we are not, therefore we must trust in, lean on, rely on and be confident in Him. As the Architect and Builder, He holds the plans for all eternity in His Holy hands. He alone has the full blueprint. We see in part and know in part, but He sees fully with full knowledge. We must trust Him in these days that even the chaos and the quaking yet to be revealed are birthing pangs leading to the great things of God. (See the intro)

In our days together, we have covered many Words for Life that will see us safely through the birthing process. To come through this time of new birth, we must to ACTIVELY ABIDE in all that God’s word instructs us to abide in, especially in His Light. As things around us grow steadily dark, signaling the passing of the old and the birthing of all God’s design and desire, it is vital that we remain in His Light and be His Light to dispel the dark and draw those in who are open to the truth. (See blog post 2 of this series)

One reason we must be faithful to abide in His light is because darkness can cause even the elect to question whether He even exists and if His saving grace is real. God is weeding and pruning in these days, revealing those who say they have faith, but, having a head knowledge of God,  do not truly believe from the heart (see 1 John 2:18-19; John 15:6); and pruning off branches from those who do truly believe, but still hold to the old that hinders fruit bearing (John 15:1-8).

In the Light of God we are able to know that He is faithful and His Saving Grace through Jesus is true; the full payment – propitiation for sin. To weather the coming storms, we must TRUST THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD AND HIS PROVISION for our eternal destiny. And we must trust with believing hearts that JESUS IS OUR ADVOCATE, forever and always interceding before the throne of God on our behalf, day and night. (See blog post 3 of this series)

Blog 4, “Sanctified – Set Apart”, reminds us that, like Esther, we are here for such a time as this. God has a purpose for us to fulfill in working with Him as builders on His eternal project. To fulfill our purpose we must have our minds and hearts set on the things above, the higher things of God’s eternal purpose and plan.

A major aspect that is needful for our living Sanctified – Set Apart lives is learning that we are called and EQUIPPED to BE as He is (blog 5). We are given His Spirit whose number one work in us is to restore the IMAGE we were meant to have: that of being like God in all aspects of our character and nature, will and purpose, thought and emotion / desire, deed and action. Scripture calls us the Body of Christ. We are to be an extension of all that He is, able to complete the work of Christ in the earth as His hands, feet, heart, mouth, etc. It is vital in these days that we find our place in His body and become all He desires us to be for His use in these days.

Then the blog posted yesterday on “Kingdom Reality” (blog 6) calls us to realize if we haven’t already, that our eternity began the day we said “I do” to Jesus, becoming part of His bride that is being made ready for Him. In that instant, we became citizens of the Kingdom of God, having authority and responsibility as part of the Royal Court to fulfill Kingdom purpose in this world. Like Queen Esther, we are here for a purpose. If we truly know Jesus as Savior and the triune Godhead as Lord, we are now and always will be of God’s Kingdom, and not only of God’s Kingdom, but of the Royal Court of Christ, working out of His authority. So act like it. Remember it. Let that reality direct our decisions and actions, our thoughts and desires, and our way of treating others.

In this final blog, I must remind us, as John did, “Children, it is the last hour,” and antichrist is alive and well in our day (1 John 2:18-23).

The war of terror brought by “radical Islamists” is the spirit of antichrist. People like one of my nieces, who say, “no god is my judge”, is ensnared by the spirit of antichrist. All who come against Christendom and the Jewish population out of which the Christ was birthed, whether a people group or a philosophy, that true enemy force is antichrist. All that seeks to lead God’s people from their faith and the truth we are to live is antichrist. Thus it is vital in our day that we:

Test our faith (2 Corinthians 13:5): *1 John*; Romans; *Galatians* – Colossians; these are excellent texts to read, praying for the Spirit to bring us to true and right evaluation of ourselves as to our hope in Christ and whether we are of true faith (Romans 12:3).

Just believing that Jesus is, is not enough beloved. Even the demons believe and they shudder (James 2:19), but their faith is not that of one who is saved for all eternity, one with Christ in His Body and part of the Bride – citizen of His Kingdom. There is more to it than just believing Jesus is / was. If our faith in Him does not bring His Spirit to possess us (1 Peter 2:9; John 16) and change us from the inside out to be as He is, producing the fruit of God in us (Matthew 7:15-23), we need to make sure of our position in Him. Today is the day of salvation, beloved, for JESUS IS returning at an hour we do not know, and on that day it will be too late to make that decision. Be sure of His calling and equipping you for all eternity.

Test the spirits (1 John 4:1): “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” ~ 1 John 4:1-6.

Beloved, I can’t say it better than that. If the Spirit of God resides in us, He testifies with the truth. If what I have shared is truth, the Spirit of God in you has done summersaults within you, confirming for you that these things are of God and convicting our hearts that these truths are to be heeded with understanding and with determination to do them. Even testing to see if we have the Spirit of God can be done by simply asking, do I truly believe all that Jesus says about Himself and all that others of scripture profess as truth concerning Him and is that understanding effecting the way I live, think, and prioritize life?

When we do doubt, and even the strongest can have moments of weakened faith, the Spirit quickly rises to assure the heart of the one who is truly His through Christ. If the Spirit within confirms our faith, we have hope of eternity and are called and equipped to become as He is, the very image of God, bearing the fruit of it. If we have doubt that remains, today is the day of salvation!

“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning (the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth). IF WHAT YOU HEARD FROM THE BEGINNING ABIDES IN YOU, YOU ALSO WILL ABIDE IN THE SON AND IN THE FATHER. This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.

“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing (Spirit) which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing (Spirit) teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him (in God by the Spirit of God)” ~ 1 John 2:24-27 (Authors notes of understanding).

BE Strong and Courageous:

“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, THAT WE WOULD BE CALLED CHILDREN OF GOD; and such we are.

“For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. …”

Antichrist is all that does not know or acknowledge God in all His fullness, especially the Christ who is our propitiation. The “world” is all that is dictated by the wisdom of the spirit of antichrist. That world sees that we are the Children of God because of our faith in Christ that brings to us the hope of eternity with Him, making us to be as He is; and being convicted, they hate us because they hate Christ because of the spirit of antichrist within them. That world spirt will come against us more and more as the day of Christ’s return draw near. Therefore we must be strong and courageous, drawing ever nearer to God, assured of the Spirit and the faith that is in us, filled with His Spirit, and ready to give an account for the hope that is in us, in season—when it is popular, and out of season—when it is not popular.

The birthing pangs we are experiencing are those of the coming tribulation that will usher in the 1000 year reign of Christ and the final and forever defeat of Satan and his evil. And, unfortunately, it will bring the destruction of all who are enslaved by the spirit of antichrist and fail to turn to receive the Spirit of Christ. But 7 years of tribulation will lead into that final hour of judgment and condemnation of antichrist in all its forms.

I am of the belief system that we who are now in Christ will be raptured out at the beginning of the tribulation period. Scripture seems most to teach that philosophy. But there is precedence for a later rapture time, and we must be ready for either scenario. We must test our faith and the Spirit in us to be sure that we are ready when He comes to go with Him, ready to stand before His throne with confidence in Him and His advocacy for us. And we must be strong and courageous, so if we are part of the tribulation saints who will suffer those days, we will have the ability to stand firm in our faith even when antichrist comes to kill us. That spirit of evil is doing and will do all he can to destroy those who truly and sincerely believe with whole heart.

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” ~ 1 John 2:28-3:3.

Cling to the Hope that is within you, and let no one and no thing steal IT from you or you from IT! Realize these are the last days, and many are perishing because of the spirit of antichrist that rules the world and it philosophy / wisdom. Be bold and courageous to share your faith wherever you are able, with hope that the Spirit of God will use it to deliver yet another ensnared by sin before it is too late.

Word of Life: Kingdom Reality

“…Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” ~ 1 John 2:12-17.

“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.” The longer I live, the more I understand how important it is to have His Kingdom as our daily reality. The only way we can overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life that leads to loving this world and its ways is to come more and more fully into Kingdom Reality.

This passage states that the love of this world—being in love with it so as to be led away by lust of the flesh and the eyes, and the boastful pride of life—reveals that we do not have the Love of the Father ABIDING in us. Abide means to live in so as to remain in. God desires to live and make His home within us, abiding there. Why?

In my more recent experience I am finding that to be true, not just so He can control me, because He does not force His control on me; but so that I have an Anchor that stabilizes me in the waters of His Kingdom.

His presence with me reminds me constantly of the oneness He desires with me. I am in Him; He is in me; we are one together and my true residence is with Him where He is even now and always. My eternity started the day I said “I do” to Jesus, becoming part of the Bride of Christ and made one with the Father as a Child of God. I am a member of God’s Kingdom.

Realization of that unity and position with Him anchors my soul, protecting me from letting the desire for the things of this life pull me away from Him. The stronger that reality is in me, the less I feel of the pull of this world.

l109149486I was watching Deadliest Catch this past week. One of the boats was docked when a major storm rolled in. As the captain in charge at that moment felt the waves tugging and pushing, he realized that if he did not reposition the boat, they would be pulled away and made a wreck by the waves. That is the way it is with us. As we come more and more into the reality of His Kingdom that is in us and with us, we can more readily recognize when there is a threat to our position so we can make needed adjustments and reestablish the lines that hold us in security.

There is another thought we can take from that Deadliest Catch episode. The captain of the boat wanted to get hold of the owner of the boat to get clearance before doing what he knew needed done, because if one person involved failed to do their part, the move needed could be sabotaged and lead to the wreck they were trying to avoid. Because of the storm he was unable to reach the owner. So he had to make a decision based on what he knew from past experience and what he knew of the owner.

Sometimes, when we are in a storm, we feel like we can’t reach God. Now that thought is another that can lead to a whole other study, but John helps me to stay on track with this thought as we return to pick up the first of our text:

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. …” ~ 1 John 2:12-17.

In times when a decision must be made but we struggle to feel like we can hear from God, this is what I see in this passage that gives us instruction. The children of God living His Kingdom reality:

Have experienced forgiveness – they know what repentance is and have understanding of God’s grace sufficient. These know because they know Him that His grace will always be sufficient.

These know God – having been and still being in intimate relationship with Him. Though they may feel that they can’t hear Him at this moment, they know Him: how He thinks, what His will and purpose is, and the actions He takes.

These are overcomers – that have been in bad situations before and have won victories. They have experience in dealing with the challenges the enemy of God sends, and they know God always leaves them with help they can rely upon. Thus…

These have strength – this strength is God-powered, because their faith and hope are in Him. They trust His presence with them even when they may not “feel” it or know it experientially in that moment.

These have the Word of God abiding within – though they may not feel they are hearing His voice right now, they have His Word to direct them and give them a future and a hope in their final outcome.

Beloved, when storms hit, it can be difficult to hear God’s voice speaking. We must have experiential knowledge of Him and that comes as we live with Him as His Kingdom dwellers. I believe that God always hears us (Isaiah 59:1). But sometimes God is silent, testing to see if we have faith to trust Him enough to do what we know needs done.

God brought this passage to mind for us today ~ Matthew 25:14-30 ~ The parable of the talents. You remember the story. The master goes on a journey and leaves his possessions with his servants, expecting them to be good stewards. He did not tell them what to do with the wealth entrusted to them. All indications are that he expected these to bring increase to him out of their knowledge of him and his ways and priorities. Apparently he trusted these servants, which tells me he had reason to believe that they had enough experience with him to be able to make wise and discerning decisions on his behalf.

You know the story. Two of these acted out of faith and did what they felt the master would want done based on what they knew of him. The third Jesus-Bride006held back in fear. What did he say?

“Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.”

Now obviously the master knew this one was often driven by fear, so he did not give him much to squander. And what was his response? “You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.”

God brings increase to us as we prove to be faithful stewards, leaving us with greater resource to use on His behalf. That fact tells me there will be times when God will entrust us with His wealth. His wealth is not just the “talents”, Beloved. His wealth is the knowledge of Him – knowing His ways, His purposes, His thoughts, His words.

It is vital that we know our God experientially so we may have the faith needed to take action in due season when His voice is not evident. We must know Him, know His word, and have experience of Him that can direct our path. That experiential knowledge of God comes most to those who realize His Kingdom is in us and we are in it even now. We abide in Him and He in us. Beloved, read Revelation 21 and note the following:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them’ … I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. …”

Note beloved…WOW!!!!!!! Note the oneness found here. Just in the few words of this chapter shared above we see “the new” come down for the old has passed away. Note the new Jerusalem, beloved. It comes down into the new heaven and the new earth, and what is its appearance? It is “made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” We are it, beloved and it is us.

Jesus-Bride001Then note the temple. It is not there as a separate structure because God in all His fullness and the Lamb, who is the veil, are the temple. The whole city is in the temple. And the Temple is in the whole city, becoming for it the Light that replaces the sun.

And the Light enlightens every man (John 1:9). The Kingdom is in us, and we are the Kingdom, Beloved of God. We can know Him now experientially, having the Light of His glory within us; and what is the light?  The light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:9).

So as these storms come upon us in these days, Beloved, draw ever nearer to God, submit to God, resist the devil who will use the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the boastful pride of life against us IF WE LET HIM, just as he always has done. But he must flee as we draw near to God through submission to Him, which puts us instantly into resistance against Satan and his minions. Choose God and live for and with and in Him day by day, breath by breath. When hearing Him is difficult, follow what you know of Him in faith, trusting Him, and do the good you know to do as a good steward of His Light.

He never leaves nor forsakes us. He is with us and for us. By faith, believing, go forth and prosper, for you who are in Him and He in you are The Kingdom of God.

Word of Life: “BE” ~ As He Is

“Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” ~ 1 John 2:7-11.

At first my eyes fell on the obvious, but God quickly led me to the deeper. As His chosen people, meant for Light, to be His Light, being in the world but not of it, we are called to “BE”: Be as He is.

Yes, we could easily go to “love” as our topic for today. We are called to love one another, especially our Christian family members, but we are also called to love our enemies, as previously discussed in this study. Jesus said it is easy to love those who love us, but we are called and equipped to do that which seems impossible to the rest of the world. We are called to love even the unlovable of this world, those who actively hate us and are out to do us harm. Why? Because we are to love as God loves so that we are His Light to dispel the darkness around us.

And how does God love? God loves because HE IS LOVE, therefore He can do no less and still remain true to Himself. God loves all mankind, all His created beings – yes, I believe even the one we call the Devil, Lucifer, Satan. He loves all His created beings because He is love. He does not love all our ways of being and doing, but He loves us. He comes against evil, hating evil, but He does not hate the one doing the evil. I believe it hurts His heart to have to destroy one He loves who is attached vehemently to evil ways. I believe it grieved God to have to cast Satan and those with him, who are part of His created angel-forces, casting them out of His kingdom because he would not turn from his sinful pride. God will tarry long over a person, giving that one every chance to come to the knowledge of God through Christ, because, though He hates the evil, He loves the person, and I believe He tarried long with Lucifer before finally dealing with Him. We know Lucifer was awhile in his sin because he had time to turn 1/3 of the hosts of heaven to follow him.

Evil continues in the earth not because God does not care, but because He does! God so loved the world – all mankind, whether or not they have chosen Him, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever – WHOEVER – believes so as to put their trust in His Son and the sacrifice He became on our behalf, shall be saved. Therefore He tarries, giving each individual every opportunity to turn in faith and receive this gift of grace. God’s purpose to reach all who will join Him in His kingdom through His gift of grace found in Christ stays the Hand of punishment against those who commit the evil until their decision against Him is set and the time allotted for them to turn is up.

God loves because of who He is and He loves all. Boy, I could get off on a discussion of love real easily, and God is leading me to do a study of love for posting here, but for now, as we prepare to weather the things that are unfolding, we need to realize Jehovah – “I AM” – is who He is, He cannot be any less; and we are called to “BE” as He is (1 John 4:17). We can grow stronger in who we are as His people, called and equipped for such a time as this, as we learn who He is and how He functions out of the resource-pool of His character / nature. We are to be as He is so we have confidence in the Day of Judgment. Discovering His character and developing it for ourselves, functioning out of the resource of His Spirit who makes us as He is, is vital to our traversing the days coming upon us.

There are two things I see that determine God’s actions and reactions: His sure knowledge and practice of Who He is, coupled with His sure focus on His purpose and plans for all things. If He took action out of who He is with no purpose to help direct His actions, I can see one of two things happening. His love would hinder punishment of evil; or His righteousness would destroy all despite love, because all mankind sins and fails to achieve His glory. God is true to His word and will not go against His promise / purpose. God knows who He is and He knows His purposes, and these two aspects work together to direct His actions and reactions.

An example of how His character and purposes work together in His decisions is found in Numbers 16, when Korah and those with him came against Moses, claiming a holiness that was not true, leading to God opening the earth to swallow up him, his family, and all with him. Seems harsh and overboard and certainly does not seem to fit with God being a God of love who is patient toward us, not wishing any to perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9): that is until we break it down.

God, who is love, is patient and will give every opportunity to those who have potential to change their mind and heart attitude. But God knows the heart of every man, and He knows when a person has made their decision and will not turn to His way of thinking and being, or to His purposes. Besides being love and patient, God is also Protector. He protects those who are His. Korah and those with him were set in pride and arrogance against God’s chosen, which put them against God and His purposes. Their attitude and falsehood were acting like leaven in dough, spreading and putting the lot in danger of falling away from God. So out of love for those who still had a heart for God and His ways, He removed the leaven of sin so as to protect the rest from it.

A modern day example is seen in what is going on in Iraq. Is it God’s will for us to go against ISIS? I believe it fits with His ways. ISIS is threatening the very lives of God’s people. It is like Him to send His disciplining hand against those who are arrogantly coming against His chosen people, those surrendered to Him as God, threatening to turn His beloveds away from Him to follow after evil spurned by pride.

Some would say, “Well, let Him swallow them up then!” But God does not always work that way. We have more examples of God sending the sword through His army of people to bring the destruction of those who stood against Him and His ways, than we have of Him sending a natural disaster. Thus I believe that our armies being led to go against ISIS to protect God’s people there is His response in this hour. God often calls on His people to be His hand of protection for these who do not have resource or strength to fight for themselves. Should having to take this action grieve us? Yes! We are love, desiring those ensnared by the philosophy found in those of ISIS to find God through Christ. But knowing that their leaven of falsehood is threatening the lives of those who are His, He is forced to take a stand, and we are part of His response.

Beloved, God is still working a plan in the earth that is bringing about His eternal purpose. It is vital in these days that we develop godliness by: one, learning to know who we are in Christ and developing those characteristics. We are a new creation, having a new resource pool of characteristics to dictate our actions and reactions. And two, we are His representatives, called and equipped to work with Him in fulfilling His eternal purpose. So it is vital that we learn His heart for every situation that comes upon us, having understanding of His purposes, so we act and react in ways that represent His interests and work His plans out to fruition.

We must be as He is, in character, yes, but also in purpose, thought and action. We are to represent Him well in the world, while working alongside Him to fulfill the purpose of creating for Himself a people after His own heart that will be with Him for all eternity.

Word of Life: Sanctified – Set Apart

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

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

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

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

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

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

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And SET YOUR MINDS AND KEEP THEM SET ON WHAT IS ABOVE (THE HIGHER THINGS), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory” ~ Colossians 3:1-4, AMP.

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

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

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

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

“…you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it” ~ 3:9b-10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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