Category Archives: Holiness

The Nature of Light

“All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” ~ Ephesians 5:13.

Ponder the nature of light for a moment. What does light do? We use light to penetrate darkness and expose things hidden there. Light helps us walk through dark places without stubbing our toe, caught unaware by dangers lurking in the shadows. Light is the exposer of dangers in the night. That is a good thing, right? Then why, when God, the true Light, exposes something hidden in our dark places, do we run from the truth revealed as if that exposure is the thing that will hurt us?

My experience of the nature of God’s Light revealing a dark corner of my life, is this: that revelation exposes something that puts me or others in danger of falling away from the path God sits before us. God’s revelation of the dark place presents me with opportunity to clear out the things that cause the darkness, bringing the full splendor of Light’s glory to my living places, and setting me free from harm’s way.

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

Every dark dwelling exposed by the light makes that place light when we address the issue as children of Light. Seeing the things hidden in the dark is opportunity to choose goodness, righteousness and truth. Light’s revelation is opportunity to own our sin and walk free of it. However, what is it that too often happens?

Instead of seeing the opportunity God is giving us to come clean and walk free of our sin, we get self-protective and try to turn the spotlight on contributing factors. We return to the root of sin found in Adam and Eve, who, instead of saying, “Yes, Lord. That is what I did.” They said, “Yes, I did it, but that woman YOU gave me tempted me and, therefore, made me do it.” Or, “That serpent, the devil YOU allowed to enter my garden area beguiled me.”

Too often, when sin is exposed, the offender becomes defensive, putting the offended on offense, drawing the battle lines. Relationship destroyed, the true issue goes unchecked; that true issue being the thing in each individual that opens them to temptation’s snare. God reveals things hidden in the dark for a purpose: to deliver those snared from the thing within them that makes them a target for temptation. Delivering us from the root of sin, sins death no longer has hold on us, bringing glory to Himself and to His children as they follow Him in bearing the fruit of the Light.

When we become defensive, pointing fingers at contributing factors, laying blame anywhere but with our own choice made, refusing to work to recognize the thing within that snared us, we fail to own up to our responsibility. True repentance cannot come when we hold to blaming others. We may not even own our tendency to blame another, but that tendency reveals itself every time we choose to site their part in our excuse.

Blame hinders our ability to discern the pain of the one we blame. Often the things we point out as “cause” of our choice have an underlying factor to it that makes the offence we feel unreasonable. Blinders on, we fail to see the pain of the one who caused us pain. Example:

A husband, looking for an occupation he will enjoy and want to stay with, refuses to get a job digging ditches so he can provide for his family in the interim of finding that perfect position he longs to have for himself. The wife, needing security, increases her workload trying to fill in where hubby is failing. The scenario and frustration of financial issues increasing stress on the wife, she loses faith to trust hubby, no longer respecting him as head of family. Failing to meet her need for security, the husband’s need for respect goes unmet.

Worn out from work and family life, struggling to meet her family’s need, having to get up early to do all again the next day, wife goes to bed, a stress headache and exhaustion destroying libido. Hubby, frustrated at his intimacy needs going unmet, turns to pornography for his gratification. Then one day God shines His Revelation Light, unshrouding the pornography. Wife, trust and her sense of security further assaulted, tries to address the issue without the respect needed to aid her attempts. Hubby blames wife for his addiction, citing her failure to meet his need. Further attack on her sense of security, destructive words fly to ears that cannot hear, as he feels no love or respect. With one storming out the door, clothes in hand, a marriage lies dead in the dust.

Add to that a common scenario in our day: a woman in a second marriage, whose first husband hurt the children because of his addiction to porn. Fear and anger take hold, turning wife into a protective momma-bear. Only perfect love can overcome such fear. Do they have it?

Light shines in the dark places of our lives to reveal a problem. That revelation is our opportunity to own our sin and repent of it, not leaning on any crutch of blame or expectation of the other person involved seeing their part in it. True repentance is between self and God alone. It is saying, “I did it. I chose wrong and sinned against my Holy God and those I love. Forgive me and help me enter into restoration, never to turn that way again.” We will not have the right attitude of heart to repent to those we harmed or address issues with them until we first come into a right relationship with God. Only then can repentance do the things needed to correct the course.

The husband realizes he failed to meet the wife’s need, having put her into a stress that she was ill equipped to handle. He gets a job and corrects his error. The wife, trust and her sense of security growing, gets back to a work and home lifestyle that is manageable. Her security growing, respect starts the trek to full restoration with each day the hubby proves faithful. Next thing he knows, she is the one pursuing intimacy.

The Light has purpose. It is never for harm, but is always set to produce righteousness, goodness, and truth. In order to get the full benefit of God taking the time to shine a light of revelation into our darkness, we must realize the purpose of His Light.

Light protects from dark things overtaking our lives and leading us off the path to a road of destruction (John 12:35).

Light grants opportunity to show oneself strong as a follower of Christ (John 8:12).

Light reveals those who are people of truth, having the fellowship of a right relationship with God and with each other (1 John 1:6-7).

Faithfulness to walk in the Light prevents stumbling and protects us from running away from good things, offended and defensive (1 John 2:10-11).

Beloved, God’s Light reveals the problem He desires to address. The solution for situations such as the one sited in this article is this:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal” ~ John 12:24-25.

The solution is simple ~ unconditional, incorruptible love that dies to oneself in order to meet the need of those loved. True love accepts full blame for sin committed despite the part of the other that spurred bad choices set in hidden places. There is a time to address the contributing factors, but the time of sins revelation is not it. That moment is time for the one caught in sin to own their sin. If one truly loves the person they desire relationship with, they will take up the cross of self-denial and sacrifice their own desires to do what is right, good and true, restoring relationship and meeting the need of those we say we love.

True love is choice. Love is action taken for the good of the one we love, even though it leads to one’s own harm. A husband, seeing the wife’s struggle, realizing her need of security, will dig ditches 12 hours a day to meet her need. A wife, seeing her husband’s frustration, will do her part without stepping too quickly to meet her own need, giving him opportunity to step up and be the man she longs to respect. Both will do their part to meet the need of the other while trusting God to open doors of His storehouse, bringing them closer to their heart’s desire for true security and a well-deserved respect.

Light has a nature. Its nature is revelation of secret or hidden things in dark places that threaten harm to those who come near without light for their path. Its purpose is to provide opportunity to clean the dark corners of life and increase a life producing the fruit of the Light. Therefore, beloved, when hidden things are revealed by the Light working in your life, “Walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”

God’s Light is restorative, not destructive. When our reactions to a dark corner revealing our humiliation is to lash out, we bring more darkness into play. Darkness destroys; but take courage, beloved. God’s light dispels darkness, pushing it back so it does not overcome us. Trust His Light and walk the path it reveals with faith in Him for the good He desires for us as He delivers us from temptations snare and the sin that too easily entangles us because of roots that are not set deep in the foundation of God, our Rock.

“While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light’” ~ John 12:36a.

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: Faithful ~ Our Reliable Advocate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

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

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

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

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

WORD OF LIFE: ACTIVLY ABIDE

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” ~ 1 John 1:5-7.

Man. There are so many directions we can go with this passage, so many words we can give focus to, but as I consider what Father is instructing my heart in for this season coming upon us, the word that comes to heart as of first importance for us is not actually found in this version of this passage. That word is to “abide / live / remain / stay.” The Amplified version of verse 6 puts it this way:

“So if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we LIVE AND MOVE AND ARE WALKING ABOUT in darkness, we are both speaking falsely and do not LIVE AND PRACTICE the Truth which the Gospel presents.”

It is vital in these days, beloved, that we abide! We must live, move and walk around in His Light.

We are told to “abide” many times in scripture: abide in Christ / God / Spirit and He in us; abide in the Word of God; abide in His Love—receiving it and giving it away; abiding in His grace and lovingkindness; abide in His covenant / promises / agreement with us; and now in this passage, to abide in His Light as He is in the Light (John 15:4-7, John 14:17; Galatians 3:10, James 1:25; John 8:31; John 15:9-10; Romans 11:22, AMP; Hebrews 8:9, AMP). It is vital in this time that we learn and practice abiding / remaining / living in these things so as to move and walk in them, practicing them in life so that the fruit of each is born out into the world and situations around us.

Jesus warned the disciples, “You will have the Light only a little while longer. Walk while you have the Light and KEEP ON LIVING BY IT, so that darkness may not overtake and overcome you. He who walks about in the dark does not know where he goes; he is drifting” ~ John 12:35, AMP.

When Jesus left, He gave us His Spirit to be His Light in and through us. The Spirit within us dispels the darkness, giving us the ability to discern God and His ways so we may be His Light in our day. He teaches us what it means to be and walk in that light through Ephesians 5:8-10:

“You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”

It is vital in these days that we abide in His Light by BEING children of Light, seeking to know what pleases God and walking that out by bearing the fruit of HIS goodness, righteousness and truth. The world sees goodness, righteousness and truth as they see it. But God wants us to find and abide in His ways. “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” ~ 1 John 2:6.

That means even to look on a man or woman with lust is sin, where the world would say, “I’m not dead. It doesn’t hurt to look” (Matthew 5:27-28).

We are to love one another as Christian brothers and sisters, a sign of being in His light: “The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him” ~ 1 John 2:10. But it also means we are to love our enemies, loving with His incorruptible, unconditional love that desires the eternal good of even those who hate us (Matthew 5:43-48; see also Romans 8:35-39; Ephesians 6:24; John 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 John 5:3).

It means that though all looks to be lost, we maintain hope, because our hope is in God and His promises, and He in us; and we have read and believe the end of the book (Mark 9:23).

We could go on and on, filling all the earth with His truth, but you get the picture. The Light we dwell in and live out opposes the darkness of this life.

Therefore, our first thing to remember as we come into the days ahead of us and the storms those days bring in ushering in the soon returning Christ is that we abide, dwell, live and walk in Him, being His Light in the world, dispelling darkness where we are beckoned.

“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father” ~ 1 John 2:24.

Hands Not Limp Are Hands at Work

“Seven days you shall celebrate a feast to the Lord your God in the place which the Lord chooses, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful” ~ Deuteronomy 16:15.

~ Hands that are not limp are surrendered to be productive with assurance of faith, to the glory of God.

God’s word tells us that six days of the week are for work, while the seventh is for rest. Work is vital to our lives. God made our bodies to be in motion and intended us to be actively involved in making a good life. He is the one who makes us able to make wealth.

There are few people I know of who are truly happy never doing anything. Most people are happiest and feel most productive with a job well done. I have seen elder people come to that time of life when they can no longer work. And I have watched them slowly dwindle to nothing because they feel useless, being unable to do anything productive with their hands and feet.

Hand-weld01When we first married, my husband’s goal was to be able to retire at 35 years of age. He did not make that goal, but I have watched him in seasons of extended time at home, away from work for one reason or another. He can’t sit still long most days. He is constantly up working at something. When a health issue is the reason for his long stint at home and he can’t get up and find something productive to do, he gets depressed and sullen.

I am a stay at home wife and I enjoy things like writing, reading, and crochet. Even I find that I have difficulty sitting and just watching TV. I have to have something for my hands to do, and I get up frequently throughout the day to do something around the house or run errands. Without such work, our home would not be worth living in. We are not made to sit and do nothing. As much as I enjoy not having to leave home to work, sitting too much brings great depression on me.

Just as we are not created to be always sedentary, we are also not made always to work alone. There comes a time when the old adage “Many hands make light work” is true for all of us:

“But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set” ~ Exodus 17:12.

Moses work was not difficult. His part of the battle the nation was in was simply to stand on a hill with his hands up and the staff God gave him held high. But even easy work can wear us out at times and we need someone to Hands02come alongside in those times to help us get the job done.

God calls each of us to do our part in this life to help society function. We need to work, for our own good and the good of those around us. Even menial labor, when it allows us to feel we are doing our part in life, can make a world of difference in our attitudes and sense of self-worth. And learning when we need or can use a little help is a good thing.

Hands Not Limp are Hands Raised in Prayer

“Moses said to him, ‘As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.’” ~ Exodus 9:29.

Echad~ Hands not limp rise up to God, seeking for His hands to move in our lives and the lives of others to perform the work that only He can do.

Here we see that the Father works through our prayers to reveal Himself to those for whom we intercede. God’s answer comes so that we may know Him for Who He is. Moses lifted his hands to the Lord with full faith that the request made would receive a sure response.

Faith in prayer is vital. Though I have seen God respond to the prayer of the unbelieving: I believe God hears prayer, even when lacking faith, for He desires to reveal himself to us that we may believe and in His mercy, He responds to build our faith. However, hands lifted up without true and sincere belief that God is God, that He hears our prayers, and that He will surely respond, comes from weak hands and dulled hearts.

I have learned that I may look at a situation and know that, apart from God, it is an impossible thing. But I cannot look at God, with knowledge of Him, and fail to realize that “nothing shall impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Lifting hands up with all I am focused on all God is increases faith to me that makes me to know the impossible is truly Himpossible.

Another reason for lifting hands in prayer is revealed through Ezra:

“But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God” Ezra 9:5.

mary-mother_of_jesus_21~ Hands not limp reach to God in repentance with a cry for mercy and grace to send help in our day of trouble.

We are weakened and laid low when sin has full reign in our lives, so times of repentance are vital to our hands being strengthened and made effective for God’s use. Sin not only weakens us as individuals, but it also weakens nations. Here in this passage, Ezra is grieving the sin of the nation when he gets up from his humiliation and stretches his hands out on their behalf. When true repentance has hands lifted to Him, God is faithful to grant mercy and restore strength. Thus we cry with David:

“Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary” ~ Psalm 28:2.

Hands Not Limp are Hands in Worship

“You shall slaughter the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the lobes of his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet, and sprinkle the rest of the blood around on the altar” ~ Exodus 29:20.

You knew we would get to this first, right? This verse along with many others in Exodus reveal to us that the hands that are not limp are consecrated for the worship of God and in the restoration of God’s people. Here we see that the ears, hands, and feet of the priests are anointed and consecrated to God for His use in leading the people in worship and restoration. Beloved, we too are priests unto God with a holy priesthood through Christ (1 Peter 2:9).

I have found more times than not that when I am ministering to a fellow believer who is struggling and down trodden, they are best lifted up when I express the glory of God over their situation, helping them refocus to see more clearly the One who can walk them out of their situations. When we focus on our struggles in life, we too often find our hearts in defeat and we fail to worship God with gratitude for Him. But when we refocus to see the one who is bigger than our life circumstances, worshiping Him for Who He is, hope abounds and help reaches us to empower us to press forward while waiting for the moving of His hand in our need.

As I read this passage, I note that not only are the hands anointed for the ministry of worship, but so are the ears and the feet and the altar. Our ears are anointed to listen for the wee small voice of God and His Spirit who empowers our worship and feeds us the words those we minister to need to hear. He instructs our hearts in the way we should go and in the changes we need to make in life as we listen for Him. Our feet are anointed, not only to go out in His Name to minister to others, but they are anointed to live life to the full and to press forward in life to His glory, even as happenstance leaves us wanting to lie down in our misery and hide from life.

The true worshiper that worships in Spirit and in truth not only speaks His glory, but is attentive to His voice and ready to press forward as His representative in life, putting feet and hands to work in the ministry of reconciliation. As I see the consecration of the altar in this passage, I see our lives, our very existence consecrated for sacrifice to God’s use as we take up our cross daily to follow Him.

Another picture in scripture of worshiping hands that are not limp is found in Nehemiah.

anointing5“Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” ~ Nehemiah 8:6.

When situations in life are difficult, reaching to God in worship that is mindful of His glory, His presence, and His power, care, provision, protection, etc., empowers our hands with strength to persevere instead of letting our hands fall limp in despair. Hands not limp are filled with and used in the worship of God, knowing that the joy of the Lord is strength (vs. 10).

Psalm 26 instructs us concerning hands lifted and made strong in worship:

“I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Your altar, O LORD, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders ~ Psalm 26:6-7.

We are called by God to lift up holy hands in worship (1 Timothy 2:8). That means that in situations where we are tempted to be defeated and let our hands fall limp, evaluating our part in the situation and repenting any sin that put us there is vital. So also is the spirit of thanksgiving in the midst of our difficulties. Repentance and thankfulness are two vital aspects in worship

Thus, beloved, when difficulty comes, “Lift up your hands to the sanctuary (which is God) and bless the Lord” ~ Psalm 134:2 (author’s note). There you will find your help and strengthen your hands for the plow, being equipped to press forward to the glory of God and the fulfillment of His kingdom purpose (Luke 9:62).

Hands Not Limp: Introduction

“How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? ‘A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest’—Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man” ~ Proverbs 6:9-11.

Reading a devotional thought this morning, my heart was captured by Zephaniah 3:16:

“In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not be afraid, O Zion; Do not let your hands fall limp.’”

LimpHands12“Do not let your hands fall limp!” The Amplified version adds, “Fear not, O Zion. Let not your hands sink down or be slow and listless.” It is the picture of one caught by surprise and standing, stunned, not knowing what to do.

That is not the only way our hands can be caught hanging limp. Laziness, depression, disinterest, falsehood, lack of knowledge, lack of leadership, failure to be alert: all these things and more can find us standing or lying down on the job, with hands limp, not being ready for dealing with the need of the moment.

As I thought on these things, the questions came, “So what are we to be doing with our hands? In what ways can we be found ready for action with strength in our hands for the need of the hour?”

Next post will begin a series of study using scriptures God led me to in helping me find the answer to these questions. There may be more we can add than these I found as I looked from Genesis through Psalms, but what I found is a very good beginning for those of us who want to be found faithful at His return.

The Burning Bush

burning_bush3“Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said also, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God” ~ Exodus 3:1-6.

What was it that drew Moses attention and desire to ‘check it out’? It was the Light of God’s presence, burning in ways he realized was something unusual, special, real, producing a light that caught Moses eye and beckoned him over. Like others in scripture, when he realized He was in the very presence of Jehovah-God, he was quickly impressed that his feet were on Holy Ground. And what did God say? “Take off your shoes.”

What was it that caused Adam and Eve to want to cover up their nakedness? I believe it was not their naked bodies that beckoned the cover-up. It was their sin that distorted the image of God they were created to bear. They sinned against God and immediately wanted to hide themselves from Him so He did not see them as they now were. Their covering they made was inadequate, so God made coverings for them that included the shedding of blood to cover their sin.

When Jesus came, He paid the full price of sin and provided His own robe as a new covering for all who believe and receive the gift of His sacrifice for their sin. In so doing, not only does He clothe us with eternal robes, but He cleanses us from the inside out, leaving with us His Holy Presence who indwells us and restores the image of God in us who have new life through rebirth in Christ.

So now, we who are called the temple of God, house His presence and we are called and equipped to be Hisburning_bush light shining in the dark places of this world. Now we become the “burning bush” and the ground under us is holy, for He is holy. He wholly dwells within those who believe and receive Him. The question is, are we – His people, His temples, His lights, His burning bush for our day, living as people of Holy Ground? Or are we hiding behind coverings of our own making that try to hide from God the sin our Savior and Lord died to cover?

God told Moses, “Remove your shoes.” We are to be real with God, standing in His presence as His image bearers made whole and holy in Christ. We must be real with Him so that He can fully and completely cover our nakedness and restore the image of God in us. And we must be real with Him so He can set up His presence within us to set afire our lives as His burning bush that is useful for drawing others into His holy presence.

Remove your sandals from your feet, Beloved of God, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.

The Call to Holiness

1 Peter 1:16 ~ “Be holy for I AM Holy.”

God is holy. He expects us to be holy as well, living as His representatives, revealing His holiness through our holy lives.

It is all good and fine to note the call, but simply agreeing with God that we are to be holy is not enough. We need to understand what that means, and I will tell you, looking at the defining characteristics of the holy gives insight that breaks chains away.

I’ve shared before about a time when in nursing school, I was visiting with two other women during a break. One of them used some impolite expletives, then, looking at me with a look of great respect, she apologized to me for her language. My other friend, obviously incensed, blurted, “Excuse HER. What about me!” “Yeah, but she’s different,” responded the first. Immediately the thought that flowed to my heart was, “O God! I don’t want to be so different that others are uncomfortable around me.” With that thought / prayer, I turned a spiritual corner and hurt my testimony for the rest of our time in school. If I had known then what I am seeing here now, it would have helped me receive the compliment with rejoicing and hope that God could use me to help others desire to be better. God exalted me in the eyes of this one who was watching and was under conviction in her own life, then I blew it because I did not know how to accept the exaltation and realize it as a God-thing.

That intro done, to make sure we understand what this call to holiness means so we can fulfill the call, let us define it:

Holy:

  1. Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power; sacred.
  2. Regarded with or worthy of worship or veneration; revered: a holy book.
  3. Living according to a strict or highly moral religious or spiritual system; saintly: a holy person.
  4. Specified or set apart for a religious purpose: a holy place.
  5. Solemnly undertaken; sacrosanct: a holy pledge.
  6. Regarded as deserving special respect or reverence.

In all of this definition we find what we are to be portrayed to the world as the holy people of God. God is holy. He expects us to be holy as well, living as His representatives, revealing His holiness through our holy lives. We do that by

†   remembering who we belong to as His own possession (1 Peter 2:9)

†   living according to His will and way revealed in Scripture and in the power of His Spirit

†   realizing we are set apart for a purpose, finding what that is, and doing that

†   walking as people who know their time and work here is for His glory and is a solemn undertaking, sacrosanct, a holy pledge

Yes, I skipped #2 and #6 on purpose. It is the focus I want to major on. A phrase in definition #2 catches my attention: “worthy of worship and veneration.” Now if you are like me on that fateful day in nursing school, I thought only God is worthy of worship and veneration and my receiving such veneration as a daughter of God revealed was to sin against God and rob His glory, so I fell. As I look at this today, I get some new found perspective that would have made a world of difference had I known this back then. So let us look more closely at this worship and veneration we are to live so as to receive.

First the word “worship” is better stated as “worthship”. In worship we see the worth of the one worshiped and laud the glory of that which is worthy. Then we come to…

Veneration: To venerate – To regard with respect, reverence, or heartfelt deference.

Deference: 1. Submission or courteous yielding to the opinion, wishes, or judgment of another. 2. Courteous respect.

God definitely has worthship. His worth is far above that of any other beings. No one can live up to His worthiness. So to worship God for His worth, giving Him His due adoration and respect for His worthiness, is much greater than any note of worthiness made for any human being. If we have right perspective to know the worth of God and keep His worthiness at the top of our favorite heros list, we will have and keep Him in the right place in our lives: most holy and most worthy. Worship of God for His worthiness will far exceed any other as we keep Him first in all things.

Now realize that we are called to be holy as He is holy. Taking that into consideration in light of the defining characteristics that make one holy, we see that we must live lives that are seen as worthy of veneration as good examples, representative of God and His character and power at work in our midst. People have a worthiness that can be recognized and lauded as worthy of appreciation and respect. That is especially true of those who know with practical realization that they are the chosen possession of God, and that God is faithful to supply our every need so that we may live holy lives that honor Him as Lord.

Of course, the flesh beings that we are, our worthiness of such attention falls far short of God’s worth. The thing is, as people of God who are to be holy, when people applaud our worth, we need to learn how to receive that with realization that God is the One who is truly worthy as He empowers and equips us. With that realization in our hearts, knowing that God calls us to be holy and that holiness involves being worthy of veneration, when venerated we can take the compliment with rejoicing, because if we are lauded as the people of God, He is glorified in that.

We cannot and must not be put on a pedestal that is as high as or higher than God’s. He is the only one with worthiness to sit on a pedestal of that height. But scripture teaches that He “exalts” the humble, (Luke 14:11, 18:14; James 4:10). He brings them to a position of worth, worthy of veneration. It is humility that keeps the applause coming to us from going to our heads and making our pedestal unstable or even to topple. Humility before God receives graciously the compliments of others while giving glory to God.

Father, may we be found living a holy life that sets a good example, worthy of respect, veneration, note, to the glory of Your name. In Jesus, amen.

You may stop here, or if you want a little more, read on as we note some significant passages in Scripture that give insight regarding the exaltation we may find ourselves in:

“God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another” ~ Psalm 75:7.

In Joshua 3:7 we see Joshua about to step up to the plate following heavy hitter, Moses. God assures Joshua that He will exalt him before the people so that they will know that as God was with Moses, so He would be with Joshua. That is the purpose of our exaltation today as well, beloved. We are to live exemplary, notable lives so that others may know that God is with us.

In 1 Chronicles 14:2 we see that God exalted the kingdom under David for the sake of His people.

In 1 Chronicles 29:25 we see God exalt Solomon to become one of the most well-known and beloved kings in scripture. We also know that Solomon had his sin issues, yet God’s mercy and compassion toward him chose to exalt him anyway. You are not beyond God’s work of exaltation if you are seeking His face and trusting Him. His love and grace is sufficient to cover your unseemly places while He continues to lift you up and increase your beauty as His possessed representative. Like Dundee said of his land in Crocodile Dundee 1, God claims His right over you, calling you “BelongaGod”. If you belong to Him, He will work exaltation in you.

In Psalm 37:34 we see that those who wait for and keep the way of the Lord are exalted.

In Psalm 89:16 we see the righteousness of God gifted to us is what makes us worthy of exaltation. That’s the gift of God’s grace through Jesus, people.

In Psalm 89:24 we see that those who trust in the faithfulness and loving-kindness of God have their “horn” exalted: in other words they are given great strength and prosperity.

In Proverbs 14:34 we see that uprightness and right standing with God (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation) elevate a nation.

In Proverbs 24:7 we see that “wisdom is too exalted for a fool”. Thus we know that turning from foolish ways exalts us to receive true wisdom.

In Proverbs 29:25 trusting in the Lord so as to not give self to fear brings God’s exaltation.

Then we have warning:

In Isaiah 24:4 we see that exaltation can and does fade away. If we live godly lives in our youth soHaughty as to be deemed worthy of veneration, we must continue to practice those things that make us worthy. Relying on yesterday’s pedestal moment to the neglect of the next will see this glorious position God placed us in fade over time. Remember, the reason we are exalted is so others know Jehovah is our God. We cannot serve Him today and forget Him tomorrow and stay in our high positions of honor with God who exalts us.

In Jeremiah 48:29 we are reminded that “pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, KJV) It is God who points us out to others and exalts us before them. It is Him who places us in positions of honor, and He can and will remove our lampstand if we become haughty and try to rob His glory for ourselves, or if we turn away and run after the things of this world.

So, live life to the full as honors God and represents Him well, beloved. When exaltation comes, receive it with grateful heart that sees God’s pleasure in the exaltation of His people. Give Him glory and praise Him with thanksgiving.

Caught in the Wake: Part 3

Clean Hands, Pure Hearts

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

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

Walking on water04How do we recoup when the storm of the sea of life around us is not made by us alone, and despite our cooperation in walking with Jesus, the storm still rages? How do we press forward to calm waters anew when we cannot control the stones tumbling in from the unclean hands of others around us to cause the wake that threatens us with every growing wave? Here in our passage we have two vital ingredients to calm the raging seas: James 4:8b-12.

“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” ~ Vs. 8b-10.

As said in the previous post, part 2 of this series, we can only control ourselves and the stones we are adding to cause the wake. So peaceful waters begin as we watch ourselves, remembering that we are not infallible; for apart from cooperation with the work of Christ in us, we too are sinners. We must set our minds to clean hands, which require us to seek pure hearts in agreement with the holiness of God. We accomplish this by being “miserable and mourn and weep” over our own sin, letting “your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom” by way of repentance that is truly saddened by sin, however pleasurable it may seem. Thus we “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord” trusting that by His grace, “He will exalt you.”

You and I, who know God through Jesus Christ, are to be holy as He is holy despite sin’s surge all around us.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” ~ 1 Peter 1:14-16.

“If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:17.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” ~ Romans 12:1.

Remembering that we are made to be and live holy lives as the living temple of God, housing His Spirit as seal of our unity with Him; the practice of holiness is vital to our ability to walk the stormy seas and experience the calm that is found when we walk hand in hand with Jesus. Actively being alert to every opportunity to present ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, is the step by step path to crossing storm tossed seas that are out of our control.

Note, in our James 4 passage, vs. 8b-10 above the call to “purify your hearts, you double-minded.” I believe that wording is vital to our understanding as we seek to walk with clean hands that cast no stone of sin into the water. Our thinking can cause all sorts of trouble for our hearts. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The will of God for whom? For each individual of us. You and I can only choose for self to align our wills with God’s will. So we must seek the thoughts and will of God as we relate with others who stir the waters, responding to each challenge as pleases Him so we do not add our stones of sin to the wake of the stormy seas.

The way we allow ourselves to think and feel toward others who are troubling our waters will drop stones that soil our hands. We must remember, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” ~ Romans 12:3. Our minds are transformed from the blame game the world plays as we remember from whence our grace comes, and choose to have sound judgment that does not think more highly of self than we ought, but that has God’s grace toward those still struggling with sin.

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you” ~ Colossians 3:12-13.

And “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”

It is vital, especially when we are coming out of hurt that has caused us to stumble, that we leave the judgment / condemnation of those whose sin sends trouble to stir the seas of life around us to God. If we fail to practice grace and leave vengeance to God in dealing with those who hurt us and make trouble for us in this life, we enter into bitterness, and anger, and all sorts of depression and oppression that will bring destruction to our bodies and add to the wake of sin we are in.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coalsl109149486 on his head.’ DO NOT BE OVERCOME BY EVIL, BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD” ~ Romans 12:9-21.

This is the prescription for persevering and walking free of the storm tossed seas around us: Forgive self and walk in the righteous path of God that is set before you; forgive those around us and deal with them righteously, trusting God to pass judgment and send the consequences for sin righteously. This prescription taken daily as we deal with those who trouble the waters, we can not only see our own hands cleansed and our heart purified as our minds are transformed to love with God’s love, but we can help those with us on the seas to grab the hand of Him who can cause us to walk upon the waters. And the next thing we know, the waters around us are calmed, though the outskirts of the sea still be tossed and turned.

(Recommended reading: Good read when caught in the wake of sin and working your way out is The Practice of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.)

Caught in the Wake: Part 2a

Humble Enough to Draw Near

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

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

Now that we have looked at how the of wake sin forms around us and why a holy God would allow it, providing us choice as to whether we want to be with Him in relationship or against Him and separated from Him, what is one to do who finds themselves caught in such a wake?

Jesus 01 - water walkIt can be so difficult to walk out of a current of sin that is dragging us under with every attempt, but, dear one, “NOTHING shall be impossible with God”. He has provided the way for us to step out on stormy seas and walk on water (Luke 1:37; Matthew 14:22-33).

“Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’…” ~ James 4:5-8a.

First off, take hope if you, a committed Christian, have discovered that you are trapped in such a place as I describe, hit by waves of consequences for your own sins and that of others around you, wondering where God is and if, in your own sense of His absence, you have lost the saving grace you once possessed. Note that this scripture that is written to people in such a position as you, is written to those who HAVE as a possession the Spirit of God dwelling in them.

Christians still face choices every day that determine how close they follow to God, but they do not lose their eternal position when they deny God’s will and follow the dictates of the flesh; not if they truly believe in, trust in, rely on, and are confident in the saving grace of God received by belief in Jesus as the Christ come first to save. What they lose is that privilege of walking with the Father in the cool of the day. Just as Adam and Eve lost the privilege they had in the Garden of God’s presence, so do we when separated from God by currents of personal sin. (Note here the wording, “currents of PERSONAL sin” as we will look close at this important aspect of the wake of sin later).

Then, you may be asking, what’s the difference between the Christian and the eternally lost? If we can still fall to sin and experience loss of intimacy with God, what differentiates the Christian who sins from the sinner who is lost for eternity?

The Christian will, by the leading of the Spirit of God, recognize and turn from revealed sin. The Christian will grow stronger in the ways of God. The Christian will bear the fruit of the Spirit. Though the Christian falls from following God in some moment of weakness of flesh, the Spirit of God remains with us, a seal of our position in His eternal kingdom, and He does so as the teacher who convicts of sin, charged with instructing us with regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13, 4:30).

I love the Amplified version of this verse in James, which says, “But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).”

Just as Jesus is God in some way we do not fully understand, The Word and Message of God become flesh as the Angel of the Lord of old was sent, being empowered to relate with fleshly mankind in order to deliver the message sent by Holy Father; so the Spirit of God, though holy as God the Father is holy, has the ability to dwell among sinful flesh. The separation we Christians sense when sin hinders relationship with God is that holy essence of His fullness that cannot dwell with sin. Though we may still know He is with us in the midst of our sin by the grace that provides the indwelling Spirit, we also realize that there is an absence of intimacy with His essence, the fullness of His person. But the Spirit of God remains, and His work of grace upon grace brings us to conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment, leading us back to God’s will and way so as to reestablish our intimacy with God (John 14-16, esp. 16:5-11).

And God, according to this passage in James, is made jealous for the connection with us that Spirit provides here in the earth. Our intimacy with God is taken from us by sin, not our salvation, and Abba-God longs to reunite with us through the connection provided by His Holy Spirit within us.

So how do we regain that intimacy and come out of the surge of sin that is pulling us under? Just as Peter reached for the hand of the Master for help to walk on the storm tossed sea (Matthew 14:22-33), so must we who find the waves of sin’s sea thrashing around us. It takes humility to reach out to God and His saving grace found in Christ Jesus. It takes humility to admit one’s own part in the forming of a surge of sin. It takes humility to admit one’s need of the hand of God in the form of the Savior He provided. And humility comes as the Spirit of God does its work of instruction leading us to humbled stance in realizing our need of Him anew.

And how do we reach up to grasp the Master’s hand? See you here for the answer to this question on our next post.

Caught in the Wake

Introduction

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

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

God is Holy. What does that mean?

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

God IS and He IS Holy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 12

The Delightful Proof of His Nature Practiced

Read 1 John 3:

“…Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity)…” (1 John 3:4-24, Amplified version quoted herein).

The number one clue of our belonging to the Kingdom of God is seen in our practices stemming from His nature at work within us. It is a practice without hypocrisy. This practice of righteousness does not merely say what we believe then habitually walk off to do the opposite. It proves what we believe in our practices even behind closed doors with no one watching but God alone, because we love Him and what we believe is who we are in Him.

God delights in the righteous acts of His people, in a righteousness that is not just external for show and tell, but that begins in the sincerity of heart that is surrendered to Him for His use. True righteousness stems from the heart of who we are. The remainder of this chapter reveals ways in which we see this action in the lives of the people of God’s pasture. Those who delight in righteousness as God does, bringing delight to His heart in the sincere practice of it from a nature made one with Him will:

Practice the Keeping of His Law / Commands / Will:

“Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect—being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will)…” (vs. 4-10).

I have a wall hanging that quotes G. K. Chesterton as saying, “The only faith that wears well is that which is woven of conviction.” Keeping the laws and commandments of God, practicing them in sincerity and truth from the heart of our being, requires conviction in the veracity, integrity and credibility of God. If we do not trust Him to lead us in righteous paths for our good and His glory, we will say one thing and do another as if to placate Him and look good to others while going our own way. Completing the sufferings of Christ means to continue in His likeness of trusting fully the veracity, integrity and credibility of God, walking with God in His ways, even unto death, with hearts that are pure toward Him.

“…Boys (lads), let no one deceive and lead you astray. He who practices righteousness [who is upright, conforming to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action, living a consistently conscientious life] is righteous, even as He is righteous. [But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated the divine law) from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done]” (vs. 7-8).

The practice of righteousness through the keeping of the laws, commands and will of God comes natural and is of vital importance to the one who truly belongs to Him, having His Spirit residing within by the gift of grace through Christ. If this is absent from our lives, we have need to question whether we truly know Him, for “No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God” (vs. 9). The same is true when it comes to…

The Practice of Love Toward the Brotherhood / Sisterhood

“By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children and who take their nature from the devil and are his children: no one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action] is of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother (his fellow believer in Christ)” (vs. 10).

God is love. Him truly residing within us in the power of His Spirit will produce love in us as well, not only for those we call “brother and sister in Christ,” but for all mankind. We do not love the ways of the evil one that resides in those who do not know Him, but we do love the person with a holy love from God that desires them to enter into this union we possess. Thus we do good to all, especially to the brotherhood, and we do good to those who do us evil with hope that through acts of lovingkindness we may indeed win some (Romans 12).

“For this is the message (the announcement) which you have heard from the first, that we should love one another, [And] not be like Cain who [took his nature and got his motivation] from the evil one and slew his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his deeds (activities, works) were wicked and malicious and his brother’s were righteous (virtuous)” (vs. 11-12).

The world, on the other hand, will hate us because they do not have within them the love that can come only from God, living and active within.

Now realize that there are several kinds of love in this life: brotherly love, sensual love, self-love—these three being dictated by the object of ones affections and the fickle emotions within us. The love God speaks of in this passage we consider is the unconditional Agapé-love that is not destroyed by sin done against it. This love is not subject to its surrounding or physical emotions, but comes from within, from who we are in Christ by the power God supplies. It presses forward to do that which is best for the one loved even when the one we love sins against us. It is a love that can only be achieved when surrendered to the Father’s love flowing through us to those around us. Though this Agapé-love may be hindered for a time by our flesh warring against the Spirit within us, this love will eventually win out as the nature of God within us takes hold and has control, proving us to be one with God and working in His nature.

“Anyone who hates (abominates, detests) his brother [in Christ] is [at heart] a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding (persevering) within him. By this we come to know (progressively to recognize, to perceive, to understand) the [essential] love: that He laid down His [own] life for us; and we ought to lay [our] lives down for [those who are our] brothers [in Him]. But if anyone has this world’s goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him? Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity)” (vs. 15-18).

Thus, as we live the life as He lives, having a nature like His, we…

Practice Confidence Before God

“By this we shall come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate, and pacify) our hearts in His presence, Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For we are in God’s hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him]” (vs. 19-20).

Even when we are caught in any sin, we stand with confidence before a holy God in the grace gift He supplies through Christ, knowing that nothing can separate us from His love for us. God convicts of sin and brings us to repentance as He disciplines us as sons and daughter through Christ (Hebrews 12). Desiring to remain in His love, we come quickly to repentance and work to cooperate with His Spirit’s work of transformation within us. Equipped by Him to stand in confidence and without condemnation before our holy God as we desire, we work to…

Practice What is Pleasing to Him

“And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God, And we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we [watchfully] obey His orders [observe His suggestions and injunctions, follow His plan for us] and [habitually] practice what is pleasing to Him” (vs. 21-22).

Confidence in our eternal destination though Christ is ours to possess. And the possessing of it through the practice of His nature proves our relationship with Him, completing the work of Christ, who made a distinction between the hypocrisy of those snared to evil, refusing the work of God within. And He proved the nature of God within Himself by His habitual practice of righteousness and God-pleasing from a pure heart. We join in fulfilling His sufferings by proving the nature of God that frees from sin and His work in the world of men that is available through the sacrifice of Christ, as we live, breathe and move in the power of His Holy Spirit residing within us, thus destroying the work of the evil one with Him.

“And this is His order (His command, His injunction): that we should believe in (put our faith and trust in and adhere to and rely on) the name of His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and that we should love one another, just as He has commanded us. All who keep His commandments [who obey His orders and follow His plan, live and continue to live, to stay and] abide in Him, and He in them. [They let Christ be a home to them and they are the home of Christ.] And by this we know and understand and have the proof that He [really] lives and makes His home in us: by the [Holy] Spirit Whom He has given us” (vs. 23-24). This being true, we…

Practice Walking in the Spirit of God

“…But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh…” (Galatians 5).

Giving the Spirit full sway in our lives, trusting God to make His presence and leading surely known to us, surrendering to His lead so as to not quench the work of the Spirit within, this is the nature of Christ in us. He always lived to please the Father.

We carry on to completion His suffering against the flesh, the world and the demonic as, in the power of the Spirit, we stand against evil by walking “in the Light as He Himself is in the Light.” Thus “we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” and we prove ourselves to be in Him and He in us (1 John 1:7, NASB).

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 10a

Today we go deep as we begin to close out and conclude these truths we must realize if we are to be His lights, dispelling the darkness. I pray, not me Lord, but You. Only as He flows His Words of understanding through me with clarity can I share what I see in my heart.

In closing our study, we turn to 1 Peter 2:4-10; today covering through verse eight. I want to encourage you who walk in this present age with me, surrounded by darkness and often discouraged by it and brought to depression. We must remember who we are in the Lord if we are to overcome and persevere. We must be His body together if we are to see the darkness dispelled in our land and His hand moving to bless us anew.

Breaking our passage down into areas of thought:

“And coming to Him as to a Living Stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ …” (vs. 4-6).

Drawn to this passage, I asked God to instruct me in this thought of us being living stones. The first thought He brought to heart before building on it is:

Living stones of proclamation and announcement

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:28-44).

We are the living stones of God who cry out, proclaiming and announcing that the Messiah has come. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling the Kingdom of God now in our hearts, soon to return to rule in the earth.

Living stones birthed to Abraham

“Do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).

We are living stones, birthed through Christ into the household of Abraham: his children by a birthing through Christ that adopts us to God. No longer gentiles in sin, we are brought into the covenant of Israel, circumcised of heart, consecrated to God.

Living stones holding His commandments

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “ I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:1-3).

The first tablet of the Law was written on stone. The new tablet of the Law is written in the heart of true believers in Christ who seek His face and receive His word implanted.

Living stones in the Master Carver’s hands

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

In the Master Carver’s hands, we are being remade into His image, from one degree of His glory to the next, restored to His intended plan and purpose.

Now, just real quick here, let’s touch on this “predestined” thing. Who did God foreknow? All. God knows all things; He is not bound by time as we are, but sees the beginning from the end; and He foreknew each person who would ever be born. Who did He predestine? All are predestined by His desire and design to be His. And all actually are His if we get right down to it, because each person’s eternal destination is set by His judgment which is already passed through His Word. Those who walk with Him, having received His gift of freedom from the bonds of sin and death have eternity with Him; those who do not…. It is already judged and sentence set. It is our choice which way we go.

Jesus is the way to God, making us priests to God with Him; He is the truth of God, His Word Incarnate, explaining the Father and His ways perfectly and removing all hypocrisy; and He is the LIFE. When death came, separating mankind from God, the breath of Life in God left. Jesus restores that breath as seen in John 20:22.

So whom did He call? He calls to all, for it is His desire that NONE perish, but ALL come to repentance, and Jesus was sacrificed by God so that ALL may be saved. But not all hear so as to accept the call, and not all choose Him, refusing to believe that Jesus is the Christ, come first to pay the price and defeat sin and death before one day returning as King to rule God’s Kingdom. God’s word says we have the choice with good or evil, life or death, blessing or curse at every crossroad, and God cannot lie. To believe in predestination, which removes all choice, is to deem God a liar and the whole of scripture false.

So all are called, but not all respond to the call given through Christ to receive God’s gift of grace in Him. Those who do answer the call are justified through Christ, instantly perfected in the eternal realm, proclaimed set free of sin and death in Christ, and destined for eternity with God, living forever with Him in His Kingdom. These also are continually being perfected from one degree of glory to the next through the finished work of Christ’s redeeming blood as God carves us into His image, purifying us in the flesh and making us whole.

Living stones of memorial and remembrance

“So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:4-7. See also passages like Genesis 31:43-55 and Joshua 22, esp. vs. 26)

We are being built together by God to be a memorial of His story and to bear witness, bringing all to remembrance of God and His ways. We are to so know Him that though evil enemies burn all our Bibles, the story of God and His will for and ways toward mankind will continue in us.

Living stones for honor, commitment and consecration

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

“To love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33).

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

Because of Christ being the final and complete sacrificial Lamb of God, paying the full price to purchase back His creation, freeing us from sin and death, there is no longer need of blood sacrifice on an altar of stone. Jesus purchased rights to our lives, thus our lives, our bodies become the altar on and in which all sacrifice is achieved. As priests unto God with Christ, we bring the sacrifice of repentance, praise and adoration. As workers with Him, we give the sacrifice of consecration and sanctification in our bodies, committing our all to Him. Our lives—our bodies are a place of sacrifice to God, as we daily take up our cross of self-denial to follow Jesus.

Finally, for now, continuing todays focal passage:

Living stones of stumbling and offense

“This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,’ and, ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. …” (vs. 7-8).

Peter was “Petrose”: a piece of The Rock. Jesus is “Petra”: THE ROCK. Together, through unity in Christ with Peter, we become a piece of the rock of Christ—a truth we will go deeper into in my next series already in the works.

When people turn against us because of our belief in Christ, they truly turn against Christ, thus stumbling over the Stumbling Stone. When people are offended by our righteous stance in Him, they run into the Stone of Offence in Christ. So rest, precious ones, when people come against you because of your faith and faithfulness to God; it is not you they oppose but all He is and stands for, His living in you that they deny.

We are living stones in Christ, set in places where we are to proclaim and announce Him through our lives. We are living stones, birthed through relationship with Christ as children of Abraham, adopted into the family of God. We are living stones, making His commandments known in the earth. We are living stones in the Master Carver’s hands, being renewed and restored to His image as originally intended. We are living stones of memorial and remembrance, telling His story to all who will hear and bearing testimony of His presence in our lives, calling all to remembrance of His truths and His covenant promise. We are living stones, given to the purpose of committing our lives as sacrifice, consecrated in service to and with Him through Christ. And as we live in agreement with Christ, we are living stones with Him, bringing stumbling and offence to a world that is contrary to God.

Okay, people. God apparently had more to say than I did. My plan to finish up today continues into tomorrow as we run to the finish line.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 8b

“The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming. The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, to slay those who are upright in conduct. Their sword will enter their own heart, and their bows will be broken. Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord sustains the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance. But the wicked will perish; and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish—like smoke they vanish away” (vs. 12-20).

Yesterday we covered the first of three truths about the Lord that give example to us and resource that will brighten the light through us to dispel the darkness of evil around us. That truth covered is “The Lord laughs at the wicked, for He sees his day is coming.” We discovered that the wicked one that God laughs at is not the man or woman or child deceived by sin, but the evil spirit behind it. We, too, can find laughter when evil strikes, knowing that their day is coming. Today we cover in this passage the last two truths about God that we need to adopt in brightening our reflections of His light in dark places.

Two – “The Lord sustains the righteous.”

My first thought as I read this focus for today is that the Lord provides sustenance, meeting the need of those who walk in righteousness and right standing with Him. And that is true; the Lord blesses those who seek to please Him through righteous living. It can also be concerning to us when we consider the frequency with which we fall on our faces, hurled headlong by some sin that too easily entangles us. If it is true that God sustains the righteous, knowing that His sustenance continues through grace even when we fall on a daily basis, then there must be some deeper truth to be had here, right?

We are a people called to righteousness, yet still, I know of none who are without sin, even among us called “saints” through Christ. As we said before, our greatest good is as filthy rags before our Holy God, because apart from Him, we are incapable of doing good, thus true righteousness that honors God eludes our grasp as we traverse daily the path to righteousness found in His transforming grace at work in us.

Transformation can take place immediately in our lives, and I know some in whom that has happened, but it more often is a process over a lifetime, and too often we can find ourselves falling back into old ways when we least expect it. Paul, speaking of the people of the true circumcision in Christ, says:

“And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), ‘Let us do evil that good may come’? Their condemnation is just. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one’” (Romans 3:8-12).

We are told in John 15 that we can do NOTHING apart from Christ. That includes the practice of our righteousness. We are completely dependent upon the work of God in us through the sacrificial gift of Christ. Our light shines brightest in the earth when we stand in the light of His righteousness reflecting through our lives.

I love the exclamation of Paul as he debates his own struggle with sin found in Romans 7:14-25. Proclaiming his desire, Paul cries out, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do(in following the Spirit of God), but I am doing the very thing I hate (following the dictates of the flesh)” (thoughts added by author). Desire to do right in God’s eyes is often hindered by fleshly indulgences.

I struggle with this as did Paul, and as I am sure do you in some area of life. Right now I am coming against an addictive level sweet tooth, fighting for my freedom from that bondage. Things go well most days, then, wham! That tooth will flare up and, if I am not mindful to heed the Spirit’s lead in dealing with it, the next thing I know I am hurling headlong into a sweets-frenzy. In those times, like Paul, I cry, “O unhappy and pitiable and wretched (wo)man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? (AMP)” Then God leads me to remember with him, “O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!”

Concluding His discourse, Paul interjects, “So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” We are free from the eternal grasp of sin’s death through Christ, and as we stand firm with Him in this life we are able to walk away from it. But we must continually be mindful of the flesh and, taking care to lay aside every encumbrance, we must stand firm against the sin which so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1).

What is God’s instruction to us when we are hurled headlong into a stumbling fall to sin? We, who are in Christ, are free from condemnation, knowing that through Christ, “When (we) fall, we will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds (our) hand” (Psalm 37:24). Our God promises that He is able to make His servant stand (Romans 14:4). We are a work in progress, yes; “continually being perfected,” and during this process and all through eternity, the righteousness of Christ is imputed or credited to us, covering us even while He works transformation in us (Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26, 4:5; 1 Corinthians 1:30). When God looks at us, He sees the Righteousness of Christ all over us.

Realizing these truths will keep us from falling away in discouragement when stumbling comes to make us feel unworthy. We are unworthy: apart from Christ. So just get that settled now, and praise God for sustaining our righteousness through the gift of grace He provided through the sacrificial gift of God found the in Lamb who hung on the cross.

Three – The Lord knows the days of the blameless and their inheritance will be forever:

God knows the days of the wicked and laughs with joy that evil will be put away from influencing His creation on that day. And I believe He smiles with satisfaction over all who enter into His rest through their relationship with Him in Christ, God’s provision for our sanctification. Those who are in Christ, saints—yea, though they occasionally fall to sin—are covered with His blood sacrifice for all eternity.

Remember the “O thank God,” of Paul as he considered the struggle in his flesh even as strong as he was in Christ? The next verse in Romans 8:1, Paul resounds, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And for those who remain in Christ, this remains their truth forever, their inheritance with Christ assured.

So does that mean we can profess faith in Christ and carry on our lives as always? Remember what we covered earlier, the truth of our faith will be seen in the transformation of our lives that bears the fruit of the Spirit of God into the earth.

As many have been heard to say, “God loves us where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there.” If there is no change in our lives, no work of the Spirit through transformation, then there most likely was no sincere commitment to God through Christ. One sign that we are His is the hand of His discipline in our lives, working transformation in our person.

“…It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. …” (Hebrews 12).

True children of God through Christ are children forever, their eternity and their inheritance secure. There is no one, not even we ourselves, who can take us out of the hand of God and remove His love from us when we are in sincere relationship with Him through Christ. To think that every time we stumble as we struggle with sin, we somehow fall anew into condemnation and must be saved again, is to deny the power of God through the finished work of Christ. It is to think the words of Jesus a lie as He breathed His last and said, “It is finished!” Death and sin were defeated at the cross for all who will believe and enter into this vital, life changing, transforming relationship with Him.

So laugh with God in knowing the day is nearing when wickedness can no longer influence our lives; smile with Him in knowing that He sustains our righteous stance in Christ; and bow to Him as a son, rejoicing that He cares for you to much to leave you in the condition in which He found you. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 5b

Yesterday we looked at the fact that to “commit our way to the Lord,” we best accomplish this when we fallow the instruction of Romans 12 in surrendering all the we are, body, soul, and spirit; life, limb, and faculties, to God for His use. In so doing, we come into unity with God, who then is able to direct our paths and use our every gift, talent, ability, strength, weakness, power and authority, putting all that He is and His power into the mix to accomplish His purposes. Today we look again at the same passage in Psalm 37:

“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” (vs. 5-6).

Commit your way. God keeps bringing a thought to mind with this word, “way”, from another passage in which He showed me something long ago that I find interesting, and that fits our focus here. Turn with me to Exodus 33:

In Exodus 33, God is dealing with His wayward people: people He not only delivered from the hands of Egypt, but He brought them out with the bounty of Egypt’s wealth: gold jewelry, gold décor and utensils, jewels galore of every kind. Even still, when Moses was long on the mountain of God, the people decided he must be dead or never planning to return, so they chose to make a new god out of the golden bounty God caused their enemy to hand over to their possession, so they worshipped before a golden calf and did unspeakable things in honoring it over the One True God who loved and saved them, sinning against their God.

Now we need to realize something here: it did not take the forty days that Moses was on the mountain with God for them to become convinced he was never returning. It took time to prepare for melting the gold down; time to make the mold; and time for that graven image to cool so they could bow before it. We too easily give up on God when He is about to bless us beyond measure.

At the beginning of chapter 33, as part of their punishment, God told them to take the jewels from their ears as reminder of their sin. Then He told Moses the unthinkable: that Moses was to lead the people in to possess the land of Promise, but He would not accompany such an obstinate people. He would send an angel in with them, but He, Himself, would not be going with them.

This put Moses on His knees before the Lord, and Joshua with him. After leaving the tent of meeting, Joshua still on his knees before God, Moses told the Lord:

“‘See, You say to me, “Bring up this people!” But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, “I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me KNOW YOUR WAYS THAT I MAY KNOW YOU, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’

“Then he said to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.’”

How did Moses say that he could come to know God? By knowing His ways. And what did He say would distinguish them from other people? The presence of God with them.

My husband knows me so well, it amazes me. He is seldom surprised by how my day has gone, because he knows me, how I function, how I think, the things that wear me down, and how to build me up. He knows my ways, therefore he knows and understands me better than any other human on earth.

My closest friends that stand by me through thick and thin are those who know my ways. And we know God best when we learn His ways. Why is that? Because God is as He does as He is. There is no hypocrisy in God. Who He is dictates His thoughts, His actions and His person.

I believe that when God says for us to commit our way to Him, He is saying for us to trust Him enough to be real with Him. And not only trust Him enough to be real with Him, but also to trust Him enough to commit our ways of being and doing to Him for His transforming power.

He wants more than just a Master to slave relationship. He wants the love relationship of Beloved Master to bondslave. He wants more than just the Beloved Master to bondslave relationship. He wants a Father to child relationship. He wants more than a Father to child relationship. He wants the intimacy of Ishi (My Husband) to wife relationship (Hosea 2:16). He wants more than the Husband and wife relationship we picture from our limited experience of it with our mates or our parents’ marriage. He wants the Two to become One Flesh with Him in Christ.

God wants to transform us to the design intended from the beginning. We were intended to walk in His image, having a relationship of unity with Him. Committing our way to Him means trusting Him as we are, while also knowing that He will lovingly transform us to better than we could ever dream, and in that transformation process, He wants to bring us to greater intimacy with Him than we ever deemed possible.

What a beautiful picture, to so know God’s ways, all that He is, that we call Him by name with intimacy. And to be so known by God that He calls us by name in an intimate love relationship that makes us one with Him.

“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” (vs. 5-6).

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 5a

As God’s people in the earth, we dispel the dark of evil by being His lights. This is accomplished in us as we “trust in the Lord and do good,” knowing that He alone is good, and only with His goodness at work in us can we do good that He can count as such. Also we are light as we “delight ourselves in the Lord,” knowing that our delight in Him is best accomplished as we seek Him through the Mind of Christ that instructs us, granting us the heart of God, the character of God, and His desires of heart that He can give to us. Pressing forward in our study of Psalm 37 we find:

“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” (vs. 5-6).

“Commit your way to the Lord.” Too often what we tend to do is make a plan and ask God to bless it. Is that what this call means? Can we choose the paths we want to walk and expect God to make us successful in it? Then there is the understanding I have long had since learning the planning, then committing is not the way to go. That is that we seek the Lord for the plans we are to make, only following His lead, seeking His blessing from the beginning of our planning session to its fulfillment. But God took me to something even more than that.

As I sought the Lords counsel in where to go with this portion of our study, He called me to Romans 12:

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).

Could that be it? Commit your way to the Lord by presenting your body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, thus worshiping Him with our lives. Commit your body to the Lord by refusing to be conformed to this world order; instead letting Him transform us through the renewing of our mind so that we may know and approve His will, proving it to be good and acceptable and perfect as we walk it out with right mindset, motives and attitudes. Kind of removes the need of concern about whether the plan or the commitment of the plan comes first if we are committing all that we are to Him to start with, doesn’t it?

Verse 1 in the Amplified version adds the following to our understanding: “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a DECISIVE DEDICATION OF YOUR BODIES, presenting all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted, consecrated, and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable, rational, and intelligent service and spiritual worship.”

We are to set our minds and keep them set, making a once and for all decisive dedication of our bodies to Him. Here the Amplified adds that we are to “present all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted, and consecrated to God,” for this is well pleasing to Him.

Let’s break that down a bit: this is speaking to each individual in the body of Christ, each called to present the individual “members” of their personal body to God. I believe this is saying that all the parts and pieces that make up the physical housing called “my body” are to be committed to God. My heart, my lungs; my mind, my thoughts; my hands, my feet; my arms, my legs; my mouth, my ears, my eyes; all are His for His use. And if I am committing my members to Him day by day, He will direct my path for how they are to function for His use.

As we surrender our bodily members to God for His use, so we surrender our faculties. To discover the full meaning here, let’s look at part of the definition of faculty:

1. one of the inherent powers of the mind or body, such as reason, memory, sight, or hearing

Our thoughts, our emotions, our senses, all are to be surrendered to God for His use.

2. any ability or power, whether acquired or inherent

No matter how strong a person we may be in the physical, it is nothing compared to what it can be when surrendered to God. Any natural gifting is only made stronger when committed to Him for His use.

3. a conferred power or right

Any power, authority, or perceived right we think we have in this life is only partial and impotent until it is sanctified to Him for His use.

So we see that all that we are, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually must belong to Him for His use. Everything we do, every talent, gift or ability; all power or authority we are entrusted with in the earth, we are to give over to Him for His use. And the “rights” that we think we have truly belong to Him alone. When we commit our way to Him, He will accomplish in and through us all that concerns us. And in so doing, “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.”

But that is not all! See you tomorrow for more on this passage.

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4D

This is the final excerpt of our study of the mind of Christ and its dictates that bring us to the heart of God and right desires that He can respond to affirmatively. If these things live in us and are growing, we can know that we are in Him and He is in us. But this is only the beginning of the journey as we continue to grow in understanding the mind of Christ in us. Following this excerpt, God will continue to reveal to you what the mind of Christ looks like in the life of God’s children.

Continuing as we consider our passage in Colossians 3:

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a HEART of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:12-17, NASB).

Remember in the beginning of our discussion in considering the mind of Christ within us, we found that, like in our own body, the mind of Christ in us sends signals to the heart telling it how to function, and the heart pumps that food to the our mind, giving it needed nourishment for proper function as it dictates and directs all bodily functions. The heart nourishes the body as a whole and the mind dictates function. So it is with the mind of Christ in us. God’s heart feeds Christ the good He wants us to possess and walk out. The mind of Christ teaches our hearts, giving to us the very heart of God with the ability to be as He is. The heart of God then nourishes every part of our being, bringing us into the new life He has for us. And the mind of Christ dictates, instructing us in how to live that life. This passage tells us some of the attributes of the heart of God that the mind of Christ imparts to us. Breaking it down, we discover:

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a HEART of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience….” These are aspects of the fruit of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5. The mind of Christ, producing the heart of God in us, grows from us the fruit of Life in God; the godly characteristics that prove us to be in Him, sealed by the Spirit in relationship to Him. We are called of Him to put these on and wear them as our outer garment, revealing our inner beauty. We still have “choice” in Christ: will we follow the dictates of His heart desire or our fleshly wants? The proof of relationship is found in our choice. Choosing His ways, we put on His character.

“… bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. …” Unforgiveness separates. Forgiveness is an act of Agape-love that protects unity (1 Corinthians 13).

The mind of Christ at work in us equips us to live together with grace and unity, forgiving insult as God has forgiven us, and granting us wisdom in relationship. It equips us to love with God’s love, which goes beyond how a person acts to see and desire for them their potential in Christ. It helps us to truly discern that we are to owe nothing to anyone, but love, for love done God’s way fulfills the law. In owing nothing but love, we leave vengeance to God (Romans 13:8. See also Romans 12).

“… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body …” Have you looked at the peace of Christ? The peace of Christ was able to sleep rested in the arms of God through the worst of storms. The peace of Christ walked on water without weariness over the crashing waves. The peace of Christ faced His accusers, sometimes debating with them, even taking time to stoop down and doodle in the dirt while awaiting God’s response, often leaving them with truths to ponder. And sometimes, as at His final persecution, He stood silent knowing that no amount of talk would change their mindset or alter the path before Him. He trusted God, and it translated to peace that passed understanding, and that umpired His life. This is the mind He brings to us.

“… and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. …” Christ brings to us right thoughts and perceptions; truths and a hope that develops within us a heart of gratitude to God that can encourage the brethren in every circumstance of life. It brings to us a heart of gratitude that equips us to withstand the hardest difficulties with good temper (vs. 12, AMP), so that we can live life to the full in one accord with His purposes.

“… Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” As we grow in our ability to understand, comprehend and work out of the mind of Christ, we become His representatives in the earth, His ambassadors, able to fulfill His purpose. In this way, we share His sufferings and complete what is lacking in His afflictions by representing Him and His interests in the world (Colossians 1:24).

I hope this short beginning on discerning the mind of Christ in us will be the first steps to your discovering the greater depths of His mindset made available to us. It is awesome that God not only promises to give us the desires and secret petitions of our heart, but He makes provision for us so that we can have desires and deep seeded longings that He can respond to.

Delight yourself in Him, beloveds, drawing near to Him, listening to His heartbeat. Let His thoughts become your own, filling you with desire that brings His “yes” in Christ Jesus.

“But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (Christ) they are yes; therefore also through Him (Christ) is our Amen to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” (2 Corinthians 1:18-22, NASB).

All that we are is wrapped up in understanding all that He is and in receiving unto us the mind of Christ and heart of God that tells us all that we are and are able to be in representing Christ in truth:

“…But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (see 1Peter 4:1-10).

~*~

NOTE: A good place to go in continuing to grow in understanding the mind of Christ in you is Philippians 3:7-16, Amplified version. I pray the mind of Christ for you, my friend. May you grow to know God (Father, Son, and Spirit) as never before.

As a family gathering this weekend draws my attention, our study of Psalm 37 will pick back up on Monday. Tomorrow I will repost an old devotional I wrote numerous years ago that fits our theme of the study of our being light that dispels the darkness. Everyone have a great weekend break, filled with His glory.

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4Cb

“Do not lie to one another, for 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” (Colossians 3:9-10, AMP).

One of my favorite chapters of scripture, as you know who have read my materials long, is Exodus 33. In it, God calls Moses ‘friend’, Moses prays to know God’s ways that he may know Him, he asks to see the glory of God, and God tells him how to recognize His glory when he sees it, promising the presence of His glory to Moses…“…And the Lord said, ‘My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. … I will do this thing also that you have asked, for you have found favor, loving-kindness, and mercy in My sight and I know you personally and by name. …”  

The new in me knows and practices His ways, so that I may know Him personally and intimately, and He calls me by name. How sad it would be to come to the end of this life, thinking we are His, never having grasped hold of His ways to make them our own so that He may know us intimately, calling us by name.

Oh what joy it is to hear the Lord call me by name. It fills my heart with the flood of His presence and His ever present love for me. It sets me in awe of His person and causes me more and more to want Him, passionately, and it leads me to greater desire to be like my Father.

Beginning where we left off yesterday, we continue our look at Colossians 3:5-11, which describes for us the new creation we are in Christ, a rebirth that opens to us our opportunity to be a friend to God the Father, knowing Him and being known by Him.

“… It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. …” (vs. 6-8)

Remember, the “these things” that bring God’s wrath are the things of the flesh that produce idolatry: immorality, impurity, ungodly passions, evil desires and greed. These are the outpouring of the dictates of the flesh under the influence of the sin and death that the satanic produce in its offspring. And this outpouring of anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech are the fruit of a life lived in this idolatry.

Jesus said that those who practice such things, living the lie—which is opposition to God, who is truth—are the offspring of their father, Satan (John 8).

“… 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…” (vs. 9-11).

The new in us turns from the lies of the flesh, the world and the demonic to the truths of God. The new in us never behaves toward others in a way that would steal, kill and destroy through anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech.

“… 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—a renewal in which there is no distinction between…

“Greek and Jew” – we are adopted into the household of the Jewish heritage through Christ, therefore the distinction that separates us is removed in our new-life-relationship;

“circumcised and uncircumcised” – we are circumcised of heart who are true children of God, made right with Him having a heart after His;

“barbarian, Scythian” – these were considered to be the worst of the worst, telling us that even our worst deeds are forgiven, removed and changed forever in Christ. The “changed forever” is a vital component to our new creation life. Repentance requires turning from the old ways of the flesh to the new ways of following Christ in godliness;

“slave and freeman – slave in the earth is Christ’s freed man for eternity. We are instructed that slave / workman and master / boss who are in Christ are to treat one another with the respect due a brother, for though we may remain slave in the earth, we are free in Christ; though we may be boss in the earth, we too serve our Master through Christ. I will resist my soap box J;

“but Christ is all, and in all.”  (Vs. 5-11).

Christ, all and in all, removes these titles from us, no longer defining us as separate from one another. God makes us one together with Him in Christ. We are the body of Christ, a new creation, God’s workmanship, created in Christ for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Christ unites us as one, changing us from glory to ever increasing degrees of glory, continually perfecting us until the day of His return when all His fullness will forever complete this transformation we are in, returning us to the full and complete image of God in Christ Jesus. And the exciting thing to me is that God sees the completed product in us; thus He responds to us through Christ’s “it is finished.”

I love the teaching done by Beth More in her study titled, “Believing God.” It sums up this session of our journey to discover the mind of Christ in us, and if we will remember this, we will go far toward living victoriously in His mindset of our being made new as we realize with belief that:

“God is who He says He is.”

“God can do what He says He can do.”

“I am who GOD SAYS I am.”

“I can do all things through Christ,” including changing to the new creature of His design.

The impossible in our measure of things is the HIMpossible on His scale of measure. That said, whatever our humble estate in life, we can know that we are new creations in Christ with eternal purpose from God the Father for such a time as this.

All who are His in Christ are gifted and equipped to fulfill His purpose and He does not hide that purpose from us: becoming His likeness, meant for relationship with Him and others, a bondservant fully gifted to fulfill His purpose. He continually works in us to make us strong in the mind of Christ, renewing us in His image, equipping us to discover fulfill all His desire and design:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:10-22, NASB).

God can do what He says He can if it is in His will to do so. And child of the Living, Loving God, it is His will. So seek His face expectantly, searching for Him and the fulfillment of His will whole heartedly. He will do it; He will accomplish all that concerns you, transforming you to Christlikeness. And what does Jesus look like?

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.

“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?

“The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name (as presenting all that I AM; representing Me and My interests), that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:7-17, NASB and AMP).

More and more we look like the Father as we surrender ourselves with believing-faith to oneness with the Son in thought, desire and deed, becoming new creations in the power of His Spirit, renewed in the image of God.

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4-Aa

Do you realize that through our relationship with God in Christ Jesus that we are told in scripture that we have the very mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)? Not that we will get it in some eternal future. We have the mind of Christ living in us to direct us right now if we are in Him, and He in us, by the power of God’s Spirit.

Just as the heart in our body functions at the dictates of our mind / brain, and the heart works to feed nourishment to our brain, so also, having God’s heart-desire flows from being dictated by the mind of Christ, and God’s heart then feeds our mind good thoughts and desires.

How do we know and recognize we are working out of the mind of Christ? Can we say as some believe that our every thought is from the mind of Christ? Definitely not!

James warns us to be aware of the three false wisdoms that can enter in to influence our thoughts: the fleshly, the earthly, and the demonic (James 3:13-18). We must continually be on the alert to the signs given in that James passage that help us to discern the source and motive of our thoughts.

Now we must ask, what is the mind of Christ and how can we know it is living and functioning within us? We will begin to answer that question by looking at Scripture that points us to His mindset.

I say “begin” because scripture teaches of Jesus as it does the Father, that His thoughts are higher than ours. We can only begin to understand His mind this side of eternity. And we can only work with hope toward growing in that understanding. That said; let us begin where God sent me as first thought in finding the mindset of Christ.

Philippians 2:1-8

“…. 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” (vs. 5-8, NASB).

Jesus left His high position with God, leaving the comforts of home with all its benefits, surrendering all his authority to God—and we too have authority because God gives us right of choice.

I believe Scripture teaches that the hosts of heaven have authority of choice as well. Why? Because God is the same always: why would He give us right of choice and not them. And because without their having that authority, how would a war have risen up in heaven that led to the overthrow and casting out of Lucifer with 1/3 of the hosts of heaven. They had choice, and the part of God that came in the form of the Christ chose to lay His authority of choice down at the feet of the Father in order to accomplish His purpose. Do we fully understand with comprehension this truth? No. And we won’t until we join them around the throne where the partial will be done away so that the complete can replace it with full and true comprehension.

The thing we know for a fact is that Jesus laid it all down before the Father to pick up the authority of God in Him for the assignment He freely and willingly accepted. And humbling Himself to the point of putting Himself in our position, in human flesh, He fulfilled His assignment in the earth, giving us the perfect example of how to follow our Holy God in humility of mind.

Then He did the unthinkable. He laid down His very life on our behalf, trusting God’s promise that in doing so, He would rise again to victory over God’s enemy – death, bringing all who will believe with Him to join in His glory for all eternity. Jesus paid the ultimate price so that we might be free from the death of sin’s grip.

Now this is not the coming of Christ where He will overthrow Satan once and for all to rule in the earth as King for a thousand years. His assignment for this visit was to defeat death. But He will return as Messiah to win that final victory, ruling in the earth for a thousand years before Satan is unleashed again for a short time to test the heart of man. At that time, he will be defeated forever and cast away for all eternity.

~*~

I want to make note of this fact: Jesus surrendered His authority in the heavenly to take up the authority of God in fulfilling the assignment given to Him. He laid down His own desires and dreams to receive God’s as His own, and in the authority of God, representing His interests in the earth, He accomplished God’s desire, making what we would call “a dream come true”. This is the picture of what is accomplished in us when we choose the role of bondservant to God through Christ, humbling ourselves before a Holy God, emptying self of our will in order to take up His desires with His authority to see them fulfilled. It is what we accomplish when we pray and live and breathe in the name of Jesus. We represent Jesus in our humility that follows in His likeness.

We represent Him in the earth, completing His assignment of bringing the rest of those who would be numbered in God’s sheepfold into the gates of glory. How do we do that? By surrendering our own authority, in which we would accomplish our own desires and will, to God. Then, taking up His authority through our relationship in Christ, we accomplish His bidding as a bondservant, emptied of self so that He may live and breathe through us. In this way we become His light in the world, useful to God in dispelling the darkness.

This is the mind of Christ in us. I hope you will return tomorrow for part 4b on humility.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 1

“FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness (that which is not upright or in right standing with God). For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (vs. 1-2, AMP).

For over a week now, God has spoken to me, focusing my heart on the deeper truths of Psalm 37. I am excited to get into this passage with you as we begin this awesome study together in a day when understanding and living this passage out into our lives is vital to the Kingdom in our nations.

Last weekend I attended the baptism of a granddaughter. Staying for the service that followed, they showed an interview of Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn who wrote the book, The Harbingers. Here is a link to his message for us regarding the spiritual state of America and the signs of God’s discipline over our land: The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment, Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqWyIL_4kZY.

This morning, as I bowed in prayerful response to God over another passage of scripture, here is what He instructed my heart with regard to evil in our land and how we are to face these days. “FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness….”

As I begin this series of looking at Psalm 37, I recall that evil is depicted as darkness throughout scripture and righteousness is revealed to be as light in the earth. We are called to be light. So what does light do?

Light does not fret over the darkness in the earth. It penetrates and disperses it. Light is total opposite to dark, and it accomplishes its purpose by simply being light. That is what we are called to. We do not have to fret over and fight darkness / evil. We simply have to be light where God has placed us, being a people who live uprightly and in right standing with God: a people of integrity who seek the good for all concerned; a people after God’s own heart.

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the evildoers will be no more; though you look with care where they used to be, they will not be found. But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (vs. 8-11, AMP).

The question is, do we believe God? Then we must realize that fretting over darkness in the land tends only to evildoing. Fretting leads us to either lay down in depression, dulling our light, or it leads us to become like those who do evil, fighting them too often in ways that dishonor God. It leads us to address the darkness out of the dark thoughts of the natural instead of simply being what God calls us to be, trusting that the light He sends through us will dispel the darkness.  

Focus on God, realizing that He fights for us, and simply being all He desires us to be, looking to Him is the path He uses to make us bright with His Light. Contrasted against the night skies of our environs, we are equipped of Him to penetrate the dark places where we are and melt away the night sky in our midst.

Instead of fretting over evil in our midst, we must focus on our own practice of godliness, living life like a sunrise (or a Sonrise) where we are. Be bright to the glory of God. And pray with me over these next numerous days as we delve into this blessed passage that outlines for us the attributes and resources available to us who desire to be as He is, one who chooses good over evil and wins the day by simply BEing the person He created us to be.

Hum…I wonder if that is why He told Moses to tell the people that the God who sends him is simply “I AM”. May we daily live the image of “I AM” and see the night turned to light.

The Call

The following is long, but well worth the read. It is written by a minister of God in the land of His calling; a dear friend and fellow servant to Yah / God. He is the Under-Shepherd of a House of Prayer called PRAYHOUSE. And he is a witness likened to a modern Paul. As is his habit, the following is chalked full of insight through his testimony and encouragement to be a people of godly character, totally sold out and surrendered to the God we serve. With his permission to do so, I share the following in its entirety; nothing held back. Some of his longer paragraphs I seperated into smaller ones that, for me, end with a “Selah” moment: “Pause and calmly think about that. I pray that you too will see what I see in his word and be encouraged. Blessings, Darlene. (FYI: “Our” / “we” / “us” spoken of himself is Steve and the Triune-Godhead.)

The Call

Written by Brother Steve

A pastor recently told me that when I reach Heaven I will be judged on how many souls I bring with me. I replied, “I will be judged according to my obedience or disobedience.”

A lady having a very strong calling to evangelize the Jews stated I am in error if I am not evangelizing the Jews. Another lady who’s personal call was recently refined to seeking “the one” rather than the multitudes claimed I must be doing the same.

While we are all called to be involved in making disciples, we are not all called to do the same job in the making of disciples.

The reason I bring this up is because it is something we are seeing more and more: brothers and sisters defining and judging others and their ministries according to the specifics of calls that are not their specific and individual callings. Be careful beloveds! Do not be caught up in this!

As a new believer and follower of our LORD Jesus, GOD began using me very powerfully in evangelizing, teaching and discipling, so powerfully that even now it amazes me. Did you know that I have been blessed to personally pray with over 2000 individuals for salvation, been personally involved in healings and diverse miracles? Most of us do know this. All of us involved together in this ministry became accustomed to seeing testimonies of these things and we all more or less fell into the habit of using them as the factors determining whether this is a successful ministry.

Then the LORD did something different. He called me to our 1st long term mission, in Israel no less, something I had never sought. When people used to ask me whether I wanted to go to Israel and walk where Jesus once walked, my very truthful answer was that I was walking with Him now and had no need or desire to go to Israel.

GOD called me to come to Jericho, using a NGO/ministry that was then operating here to bring me and establish me here. He shifted me physically and also began shifting the specifics of His personal call on me and my life. He gave revelation that the 1st manifestation of PRAYHOUSE is a House Of Prayer (HOP) birthed in Jericho. This did not surprise me as much as some would think. From the very beginning of our walk together GOD anointed me as a man of prayer, one who delights in praying.

When GOD shifted me to Jericho and then to birth a HOP, His imperative / directives were/are so clear that there are only 2 options for me: either deliberately obey, or deliberately disobey.

His call is so clear that obedience, in the beginning, was an easy joy. GOD had seen to it that I was properly trained and accustomed to working in foreign cultures. I love praying to Him, hearing from Him and adore seeking His face. I had not been exposed to HOPs prior to being called here but GOD is a patient teacher, One who knows exactly what He wants.

GOD took a sinner, one who’d been addicted to alcohol, nicotine and things of the flesh for decades….. and called this man to become a saint, a sinner who had been saved by grace. In the process He transformed me into one who loves Him much. He gave me a heart to reach the lost, teach, disciple, to set captives free, and once His heart was firmly established He brought me here, to Jericho, a city in the desert, a dry place. He brought me here to be His tool, His vessel, to open springs of living waters in the desert. He brought me here to have my heart broken in compassion by the condition of the peoples. He brought me here to pray from the depths of my being with the heart He gave me. He tells me He trusts me to obey and love Him.

It is still a joy being obedient to GOD. There is a difference though. Now I have to fight and fight hard for my joy. That probably sounds odd but I rejoice in the battle. I am a priest/warrior. Even so, there are times I lose my joy. There are times I allow myself to think of things that undermine my effectiveness.

Sometimes I allow myself to dwell on the loneliness of this calling even though I am seldom alone. Sometimes I get caught up in murmuring that the fruit we are accustomed to seeing in/through this ministry are not visible at this time. There are times I allow myself to miss my family and friends to such a degree I wind up crawling into a spiritual cave for long or short term pity parties.

But GOD!

But GOD!!!!!!!!

But GOD drags me back out into the open, into the battle, into His arms.

YAH, GOD, reminds me of our victories, the ones we see and the ones we don’t see. Often we don’t see that victory and overcoming come with a price. Often we focus so strongly on the price that we miss seeing the win.

GOD often sends to PRAYHOUSE as many as four groups per week. All these get to hear some of the teachings GOD is giving stemming from Jericho. Many of those who come are in Israel with 3 month tourist visas and we are involved in diverse ways in their discipling. I get to watch as GOD touches many visitors through us. Just last Thursday, in Jerusalem, I watched a man weep as GOD used me to assist him in learning how to find a site that was on his heart for years, a small thing perhaps to us, yet something immense for this fine gentleman. Shortly after that experience the LORD had me pray over a young lady, speaking as He gave utterance. The tears of joy she wept were so huge that it appeared as if each one came from the entire eye rather than her tear ducts. In an instant her entire cheeks were awash and overflowing.

We have several Arabs that privately ask me to pray for them and a couple that will ask no matter who is around. We often have awesome conversations with IDF personnel and others. We are in a unique position in that both governments, Jericho and Israel, know we have a HOP in Jericho and that I live there and they both welcome us. The PA knows what we pray for the local people, community and region. Israel knows all this and even more… what we pray for Israel, the Land and the People. The favor GOD bestows on us grants us an annual visa, something most people will tell you is impossible for someone living in Jericho. But GOD!

Never forget! But GOD, the Holy One of Israel, is strongly showing His hand upon us. The Israel MOI (Ministry Of Interior) even told the PA MOI to relate to me what they, the Israel MOI, want me to do in order to be guaranteed another year next January. Only GOD could accomplish this!

My mom recently turned 75. I was in Jericho while she is in the States. I could have been blue but GOD shows me I love and honor my mom best when I love and honor GOD most. This is also true for each of you. I love and honor y’all best when I love and honor GOD most.

Some of you wonder when I am coming ‘home’. GOD told me before He moved me here that this is my home. How He plans this I do not know. I just keep believing His revelations. When will I visit y’all? I thought perhaps in August yet no confirmation has been received yet.

GOD has been teaching me more about seeking to live in His perfect will rather than His permissive will.

Our current laptop began showing a box last Dec stating the hard drive was in danger of imminent failure. I was foolish and spent too much trying to save it rather than ordering another hard drive from the States. So much has disappeared and been lost. The cursor jumps and types all over the page and sometimes not even on the page, a mystery. A beloved partner loaned us this one for a short time and another older one will be delivered this Friday. We won’t have wireless capabilities but this will carry us ’til the LORD opts for something else and it should be dependable.

I pray this answers any questions you might have. Thank you for your faithful prayer and financial support.

YAH bless Y’all!!!!!!!!

Brother Steve

Kora Elohim Israel

P.S. I’ll be in trouble if I don’t share my health news. The improvements in my health astound and amaze me. There is still a lot of room for improvement but I am able to do more than I’ve been capable in a long time. It is not uncommon for the LORD to keep me on the go for 24 or more hours straight once or twice a week. And this is while He is teaching me to say “no” prayerfully and “yes” prayerfully. Too many groups and individuals want to come than we can handle at this time. There are also those that want to come with their own agenda, doing things and going places that is not where the LORD has us at this time; so knowing how and when the LORD says “no” is imperative.

PRAYHOUSE needs more cleaning than I am capable of maintaining right now so I try to focus on the main worship area, the toilet, the kitchen plus whatever number of bedrooms are needed for the group. I have to have two ready by Friday so I will start cleaning little by little today as I am physically able.

GOD bless you!!!!!!!!

me

Leaving Our Baals Behind

The following was written to a group of Christian Women seeking to align our lives with the mind of Christ, having His thoughts and motives as we practice Christ-centered mindfulness in our life choices. Sensing I am to copy it to my ponderings blog, I pray God will use it in the lives of all who read…

Leaving Our Baals Behind

Jeremiah 8:22 was a discussion point with a friend not long ago. As I thought about the passage and sought the Lord, He reminded me of what He showed me years ago with regard to health issues. Knowing that we are trying to get our thought life to line up with God’s will and help us change bad habits so we can look and feel better, having greater strength for serving the Lord and ministry to family and friend, I think this thought process found in Jeremiah 8-9 fits here, thus I share with you.

Studying Chapter 8:22 – chapter 9, first I note that the questions of 8:22 are rhetorical. “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Yes there were balms ordained by God for specific ailments. “Is there no physician there?” Yes, there were physicians gifted by God for His use in Gilead. “Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?” Then God answers His own question in chapter 9: the two main passages being 9:13-15 and :25-26:

9:13-15 – The LORD said, “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice nor walked according to it, but have walked after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink.”

There are certain, basic laws that protect our bodies and keep it fit: healthy diet, plenty of water, fitness habits, and right thinking, attitudes, motives, and actions / reactions to emotionally charged situations, all of which are vital to the health of our bodies. We have failed to follow these laws, and so, here we are.

Each of us has our personal Baals that rule in areas of our lives; a ruling influence in areas of life that truly belongs to God. For example, when a stressor happens and we run to our favorite comfort food, that food is usurping the place of God as comforter.

Wormwood poisons the water and makes one deathly ill. Wormwood can be equated to the natural consequences of bad decisions we make, such as constantly eating sweets or overly processed foods instead of the foods higher in nutrients and lower in chemicals that are harmful to us. We can also put a sedentary lifestyle here, as never breaking a sweat hinders the body’s natural detox; as does failure to drink enough just plain water, or water with lemon—which aids in detoxing.

9:25-26 – “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised…for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.”

Here is what I understand from this passage: Going to a doctor as part of our seeking after God’s healing is not wrong. God uses doctors. The thing that kept the people from being healed is that they would go, receive the doctors instruction, and run back to do all they were doing before, getting sick all over again, or continuing in their sickness. They were looking for quick fixes that required nothing on their part, thus they were uncircumcised of heart, making few if any lifestyle and belief system changes.

God brought to mind the person who is an addict: whether to cigarettes, sweets, or drugs and alcohol. A drug addict is brought into the ER in overdose. We get him past the emergency and get him into a place where he can get help to find God and leave his Baal behind. Once he is strong enough to enter the world again, we tell him, “Now you have to get a new group of friends. If you go back to the old friends and the old hangouts where drugs are in use, you will come into temptation and more often than not, we see people back in here again; or worse, we bury them.” They agree with understanding, only weeks or months later, thinking themselves strong, they go out with an old friend and wind up in worse shape than they were before.

God is really using this right now to speak to me. He is telling me that I must be serious and sincere about this journey I am on, for a lot of my health issues are tied up in my diet. Sugar, more specifically sweets and pastries are among my Baals.

I know that I have refused a lot of the doctor’s advice as far as getting on certain meds, knowing that all the ads say that “with diet and exercise, this med will help.” I refuse the med knowing that to take the med without a commitment to diet and exercise is relying on the med to keep me alive and not being obedient to God in my healing. And I know that if I do the diet and exercise right, chances are I will not need the med. If, after a sufficient time of diet and exercise, I do see a need for that balm, then is when I take that script. But the script will do little good without the commitment to leave my personal Baals behind and walk with circumcised heart. To rely on the med for my life without commitment to change and healing is to refuse the circumcision.

My prayer for each of us, as we make this journey to a Christ-mindful, healthy lifestyle, is that we will recognize our personal Baals: those things we give ourselves to in the place of God, especially where our diet and exercise, mindset and dealing with emotional situations is concerned. I pray that we will allow Him to circumcise our heart through changes in our way of thinking and responding to these things, bringing us surely to His healing in our bodies.

Under Compulsion

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.’” (Exodus 6:1)

I see here the Fatherly example of dealing with the strong willed personality: make life in the things they insist upon so uncomfortable for them that they have a change of heart that changes their path.

The strong-willed child gets stuck on what they want to the point that they cannot see beyond that to care about those around them and the needful things of life. They have to be shown the err of their understanding in ways that tame the child without breaking the spirit. God has a purpose in this life for those strong of will, but they have to be trained to recognize the True God and surrender their will to His. If we as parents fail to train them as a child, God will do it when they grow up. We may think it is difficult to discipline the strong-willed child and give ourselves to the ease of giving in to them, but wait until we have to watch them under the hand of God. That can be even more difficult to watch.

Of course, with Pharaoh God had a purpose here where He egged the ego and will of Pharaoh on. Pharaoh believed himself to be a god. The Egyptians worshipped many gods, including Pharaoh. Each of the 10 things God did in forcing the hand of Pharaoh was to show the people that not only was he not a god, but each plague sent was to show the impotence of a false god served by them, thus revealing the greatness of the One True God of Israel.

From this verse and insights surrounding the story of deliverance I see two potential situations we need to be aware of when dealing with strong-willed people: one is what is God desiring to reveal to me about Himself through the things I see Him doing in His dealings with the hard-hearted. There is something about Him to be known. The other is to realize my need to be very surrendered to God in my own dealings with the person, so I become God’s instrument in helping the stubborn to recognize their need to surrender to Him. It takes a courageous person to care enough about those around them to allow God to use them in helping another get over themselves.

God is still in the business of dealing with false gods and delivering people from their influence. And, like Pharaoh, we and those around us can be enslaved to the most powerful of false gods: our own ego. When finding ourselves being dealt with under compulsion by God, we need to get our heads out of the sands of Egypt and recognize our plight. God loves us where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us here. He deals with us as with sons. When He finds a stubborn issue in our person or life, He is not opposed to turning up the heat in whatever way that is necessary to work the dross of falsehood out of us. The quickest way to relief from the compulsory discipline of God is to realize His hand and cooperate with His purpose. But whoa to the one standing too close to the strong-willed little Pharaohs of life. It can be a fearsome thing to watch when God decides to deliver from false understanding and stubborn strongholds. And whoa to the stubborn of will when God decides to go through them to make a point.

The question we each must ask self today is “Which am I? Am I pliable in the hands of God, surrendered to His Lordship; or am I stubborn of heart? Is there an area of life in which I have not surrendered?” I don’t know about you, but I can immediately see an area I have in my life where I am under compulsion. It is better to choose today to let Him be Lord than to continue in the compulsory discipline of God. He has shown me the way. I must choose to obey. How about you?

(Chart revealing gods attacked: http://www.dabhand.org/Ten%20Plagues.htm ).

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 6

 In our last excerpts we discovered how God created the great lights to distinguish day from night and give light to overcome the darkness. We saw how the Sun might represent God and the Moon, Messiah. We saw how all the bodies created revolve around the Sun and reflect its light. And we saw how the Moon reflects the Sun, overcoming the night, and showing the pathway through the night, just as Jesus lights the way to God. Then we saw that God scattered across the night skies more stars than can be counted (both planets and moons that reflect the light of a sun, twinkling in the night for us and true stars that generate their own light).

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The Stars: Realizing that many of the lights in the night sky that we see as stars give off their light by reflecting in the night the Light from the sun, we see that any cosmic body within reach of the sun’s rays will reflect its light. The sun, representing God in this analogy, is always there. It never moves. Planets, however, rotate as they fly around the sun, thus when we are on the side of the earth farthest from the sun and unable to see it, we are reminded of the sun’s presence by reflected light on planets and moons around us. God has placed the Moon and Stars to reflect the Sun, bouncing light to our path, reminding us on the darkest of nights that He has not moved. He is still there, beckoning us to take our cues from the Sun’s reflection off the Moon and the Stars we see in the night, so we can find our way in the dark. Like the sun, God can reflect Himself into dark places using any object, creature or being that crosses the path of His light.

We who believe and follow the guiding Light of the Moon—representing Jesus in this story I tell, are the star light, scattered, faces turned to the God we companion, reflecting Him in the darkness around us. When the Moon-Jesus is high in the sky, shining bright, He acts as an example for us in how to revolve around the Light of God and reflect His Glory, while simultaneously being in alignment with other beings near us who need the light reflected to them. Jesus gives off the brightest light in the night skies of this life. But, like the moon, there are times when we cannot see the light of Jesus. Remember and take courage that when we cannot see the Light of Jesus, it is because He stands between us and the heat of the Sun, interceding on our behalf. In the darkest times, when the moon seems to be nowhere, that is when God twinkles at us through the reflected light of others on a starry night.

Like the stars in the night sky above us, our light is lesser than that of the Moon, which has greater honor and rules the night, overcoming it through the sacrifice and service of His Love. And we are workers with Him, drawing near to God through Him, and, following His example, becoming a type of light in likeness to Him; thus we Stars are useful for piercing the darkness and giving light to help others find their way as well, by reflecting the light and glory of the Sun—the God of all creation.

But let’s not forget the example seen in the true stars, those other suns in the distance that have light within themselves. To me these flaming stars represent those who have the light of God within them. The Holy Spirit of God enters in to spark light from within. For these, even the darkest nights, when reflected light is absent, is overcome by the light residing within them. These are the people of God who can go through some of the most horrific things, and come through shining brighter than ever, because they have God at work within them, making them like He is.

Thus we have the great analogy of God seen in the sky. But there is more to learn from God’s pictorial.

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Notice now these Lights: the Sun that never leaves its position of authority and that cannot be overcome by the darkness, the Moon that revolves around and worships the Sun with us, the stars both the reflectors of light, and having it within us. The Moon, having overcome the night with its light, now reveals the path to right relationship with the Sun, revolving around and watching over us as victor in the world, showing us how to worship God and minister in His name, with the whole of life revolving around the God of its creation.

Now note that this passage says of these lights that they are all set in place “for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.”

God, like the sun, holds His place throughout the ages and His authority and reality is not hindered by lack of faith to believe. He is Who He says He is, and He can do what He says He can. He reflects Himself to us and reveals Himself through all creation, whether or not we recognize it. Unlike the moon, Jesus is fully God and one with Him. He, too, is throughout the ages. As example to us, His ageless testimony and sacrifice, follows every generation, beckoning us to follow Him in worship of and service to God.

Then there are the stars. Like the stars, we are in our positions as little lights—lamps, if you will—set here in this particular season of life, for a purpose.  

We’ve discussed the importance of the lamp before in other writings. Like the lamp, stars are scattered according to God’s will, placed in strategic places where their light is most needed. Some stars may seem dim to us, but if you get past the blanket of darkness to draw near, you will see the brilliance of their light, as they reflect the Sun. Our position in life: the age in which we live, the state of our condition, the destiny before us, is no accident. We are strategically placed where most needed for reflecting His light. You are not an accident. You are God’s creation, purposed to reflect His glory, and you are set on course with a plan. Like with Esther, God has a plan for your position in life. He is set to reflect His glory through you to light up the dark places in your path.

The story goes on to tell how God then created the fish of the sea and the birds of the air on the 5th day, with animals of all kinds following on the 6th. Paul, in the book of Romans, tells us that these too are a type of star as they are there to glorify, or shine the light of the Father that reveals the Creator God. But His greatest creation came, also on the 6th day, as God of all created beings worked in all His fullness to create man in His own image, able to know right from wrong and to choose right, thus being companions and friends of God.

We most reflect His glory when we follow the example of the Moon in revolving around the Sun. But notice something more here, as depicted in creation. As we revolve around the Sun—representing our entire being committed to relationship with God; God, in the form of the living Christ, God incarnate, the part of His being that can relate with humankind, seen in the action of the Moon, revolves around us, making all that He is available to us.

God’s greatest desire is for a relationship, a companionship with us. He watches over us in the night. He reflects His own light to us, making Himself knowable. He provides the path and gives light to the way for finding that relationship. He beckons us with His light, shining in the night.

 God can reflect Himself off of any object that gets in the path of His light. Many seem to shine with Him for a time, only to fall away when darkness comes. Thus, we need to note that the true star, the body that can shine light in the night even when something gets in the way of the Sun’s light, are those bodies that catch the flame of His Light. They are so in relationship with Him, that He puts Himself in them in the form of His Spirit, so they then can shine His Light in the darkest night, when the Sun is hidden from view. He grants to those who truly find the path of relationship and receive the gift of His Light within themselves the power to perform. He never leaves them nor can be hidden from them because He is within them. We are told in the Holy Bible that these are the stars that choose relationship with Him through the Sacrificial Lamb. Into these He places His Spirit to light up their life from within.

Over those who choose the position of the Star, those who choose to reflect and be filled with His Light, Creator God who ordained the night as well as the day looks on with a smile. With the beam of a proud Daddy, He says of His creation, “Wow. Attention, angelic forces! Attention all created beings. Look up. See it. It is good. Well done, though good and faithful servant.”

Shine on, beloved star of God. Shine on to light up the place where you stand.

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 5

“Sing praises to God, our strength. Sing to the God of Jacob. Sing! Beat the tambourine. Play the sweet lyre and the harp. Blow the ram’s horn at new moon, and again at full moon to call a festival! For this is required by the decrees of Israel; it is a regulation of the God of Jacob. He made it a law for Israel when he attacked Egypt to set us free.” Psalm 81:1-6, NASB

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There is one other thing about the sun that we need to know. It is too hot from its core for any living thing to survive in its presence.  

God had Moses build within the tabernacle a place known as the Holy of Holies. Moses entered into the presence of God when beckoned and communed with God, who called him “friend”. After that was ordained the call of the high priest for the year. God had Moses build within the tabernacle, the place where the “High Priests” of Israel entered once a year after a ritualistic cleansing to come before God on behalf of the people. To enter into His presence with any sin uncovered or without that invitation of God that stood yearly before those priests was to fall to one’s death, just as we would die if we drew too close to that sun in the sky.

Sin cannot stand before God. It and anything it is attached to burns up in the purifying heat of His holiness. When that High Priest entered the Holy of Holies, they tied a rope around his ankle so, if any sin was missed in his cleansing and he fell over dead, they could retrieve his body without putting themselves in danger.

There was a curtain between the inner court and the holy of holies, beyond which no person was allowed to go except for this once a year passage of the one called to stand before God on behalf of the people. It stood as reminder of the expanse that separates mankind from their Creator; that is, until entered the One who would bring down the curtain with His performance on our behalf.

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The Moon: Some might think this represents Satan in the cosmos of God’s creation, because it says that the moon rules the night and Satan is called the prince of the power of the air, ruler of the world forces of this darkness. But as I look at this passage with understanding that light represents God and His ways and darkness represents Satan and evil, I see that the moon represents the promised, Christ, the Messiah, the one I believe is Jesus, sent to rule as King, showing us the way through the night.

Looking at the portion of Psalm 81 shared above, speaking of the festival of Passover when God passed over the people of Israel as the angel of death took all the first born of the land in God’s battle against Egypt—a picture of the slavery of man to sin, we see reference to the moon. They were called to blow the rams horn at new moon and full moon.

It is awesome as we look at the cycle of the moon to see what that means. WikipediA says of this portion of the moons cycle, called the New Moon:

“In astronomical terminology, the new moon is the lunar phase which happens when the Moon, in its monthly orbital motion around Earth, lies between Earth and the Sun, and is therefore in conjunction with the Sun as seen from Earth. At this time, the dark (unilluminated) portion of the Moon faces almost directly toward Earth, so that the Moon is not visible to the naked eye.”

The new moon as defined here occurs when the moon stands between earth and the sun, as the mediator’s position of High Priest stands between man and God. Another definition for this phase of the moon is as the first sliver of the moon becomes visible in the eastern sky: a picture of the coming Messiah—the one who, in Christendom, is Jesus Christ. And we watch to the east for the coming Messiah, when He will return to set up His reign as King of glory.

I have shared before my belief that Jesus is God incarnate, being that part of God that has, all through scripture, been able to relate with man, bringing His message to those willing to hear. He is God, and yet, in His earthly existence, this part of God called the Messenger of God, the Living Word, the Angel of the Lord, chose to step down from His position with God to be the Living Sacrifice that would give example to man for a righteous life, while becoming the Sacrificial Lamb, slain for the sin of all mankind. Messiah is a lesser Light to God because He chose to step down from His high position to live in the lowly state of humankind as an example to us. God, the Father, is the Head, having greater authority than the God-man, Jesus. Jesus bowed to that authority throughout His earthly life, a life which revolved around the Father and His will, giving us example, and reflecting the light of God to enlighten every man. We see this authority differentiation as the Son bowed to pray, “Yet not My will, but Thy will be done.”

Jesus gained rule over the night because He overcame the world by walking in it as a companion to God, un-darkened by evil. He ruled over sin, becoming the Sacrificial Lamb that took upon His shoulders all sin for all mankind living then to now and beyond until the end of time. He ended the need for the sacrifice of animals by dying as propitiation—the full price owed for all that sin; and He carried that sin to hell where it remains today.

Our sin is already paid for and we are bought with a price, but until we acknowledge Him as the Lamb and receive His gift that covered our sin, we remain chained in slavery to that sin and destined to join it for all eternity. He is the Passover blood. Without His blood over us, we remain in slavery to sin, separated from God. The rams horn is blown at new moon, beckoning the strength of God to send His Savior to deliver us. When we face the Father, we can come into His presence without fear of death because Jesus, the Mediator, blocks the fervent heat of His glorious holiness.

The Moon overcomes the night, reflecting the glory of God by walking in His Light, reflecting it so as to show us the way to do the same, and making for us a doorway, lighting the path to our own relationship with the Father. By receiving His gift, following His example of coming into and walking in the Light, He breaks the chains of our bondage and frees us to live an eternity in that Light.

Now He holds that freedom from sin, paid for by His sacrifice, out to us as a gift to all who will believe; and receiving Him as our Sacrificial Lamb becomes the way by which we reunite with the Father. God has responded to the New Moon call of the ram’s horn. Through His obedience to God the Father, and His sacrifice for sin, He paid the price and became victor over the evil that worked death in us, otherwise known as separation from God the Father, brought about by slavery to sin. Jesus rules the night as victor over death and darkness, deliverance from bondage to slavery.

As we turn from Facing God to go into the world and live, we see the light of the moon, turning with us. The farther the earth turns from the sun, the brighter shines the moon as we see the sun’s glory reflected in the moon. Thus the ram’s horn blown at full moon is the call of the heart for Messiah to lead us, shining the way for us to live in obedience to God. God has given us the example of the Christ-man to follow until He returns to reign, when all who will have responded to His call to “choose today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

Jesus rules over the dark, standing as the brightest light seen in the night, beckoning all to His brightness and leading all who will come near Him by faith to reunite with the God of Creation for all eternity. Then He stands as Mediator between us and God: High Priest forever, who needs no cleansing before He can enter the Holy Presence of God Most High. Thus the curtain was torn away and we come freely through Christ to the Father.

Even the fact that the moon is a dead rock speaks of Christ, for those who do not believe think that He is dead, for it was “expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish”, said the high priest of the day as empowered by the Spirit of understanding. It only appears that He is dead for a time, His resurrection and asscension standing as a call to believe by faith, giving us a choice for life, for “blessed are those who believe while they do not see” (John 11:50, 20:19-29).

One day He will reveal Himself anew as the returning Christ who will rule as King for a thousand years, and then the eternal Kingdom. In the wait, through Him we are called to make our choice. The choice to believe Him means we choose that our lives revolve around the Sun of our eternal universe, becoming in ourselves a reflection of the Light of the God of creation. Thus we come to the next aspect of God’s creation.

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God, the creator of the great expanse of darkness, having a purpose of His own, He scattered star light across that great expanse. Still today, if you get out where the darkness is dark indeed, you will see them, scattered thick across that great expanse, twinkling their light in the night, bringing hope, and even giving clarity of direction to those traveling under those night skies. It is no accident that we are told that wise men followed a star to find that Small Child in Bethlehem. Stars are a vital part of God’s plan in revealing the great glory of the Sun, as we will see tomorrow.

 

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 4

“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so. God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day” Genesis 1:14-19.

There you have it: the insight I have worked to reach since beginning this series. I see here the absolute beauty of God’s creation purpose. Do you see it? God, in all His glory, places on His pic-ta-board the distinguishing marks of day against night, bringing light to dark places. Today we will begin to look at these distinguishing features, beginning with:

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The Sun: As I look at the sun in light of what I know / understand about our universe and how it functions, I am inspired to recognize that God, The Father, is represented in the Sun.

Revelation 21 says that the new kingdom to come will have no need of the sun we see in the sky, because He, the Father, will provide the light through His glory.  He rules the day because He is LIGHT in its purest form, “and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). When we are close to God, companion with Him, we walk in the Light of Day, literally. All darkness will be cast away and all that stands within that darkness will be revealed as we draw near to Him.

There is another thing I note here that is true of the Sun and depicts God. Everything in the vicinity of the sun revolves around it. The sun is central to everything in our galaxy. Without being in right relationship with the sun, the earth would be void of life. For every body that revolves around the sun, its positioning to it determines light, temperature, gravity, tidal waves (or lack of peace, if you will), on and on we could go; everything necessary for an environment friendly to abundant life is determined by the planet’s position to the sun.

Thus it is with regard to our position to God. All we need for life is found to be most fulfilled in God. Our abundance in life, our ability to be content and have our deepest needs met are dictated by that relationship. The life within us and our ability to bear the fruit of life is determined by our position to God. And whether we realize it or not, all that we are or ever hope to be revolves around Him and is determined by our position, our stance where He is concerned.

So, He is pure light, and the darkness cannot overcome Him, nor does it have any part in Him. He is pure, righteous Light, and He cannot even look on unrighteousness, because unrighteousness, when exposed to pure Light, is made clear. When He draws near to us, our unrighteousness is revealed as the darkness is pushed away by His light.

When darkness in our life is pulled away, revealing the hidden things within it, we recognize the void and enter the place of choice. We will recognize the unrighteousness hiding in our darkest places and will either give way to the light, being overcome by its power, and, entering into relationship with Light, thus allowing that evil to be burned away and purified and set in order; or we will choose to pull back from the heat of the Light, returning to the darkest cold, and giving self to all that is evil.

When we consider a relationship with God, we are made aware of the expanse, the void where no light exists in us. This flings us back to realize the expanse—the things that separate us from Him, and we will make our choice. The rays of the Sun reach out into the expanse looking for those who are ready to have a relationship with Him and who will allow His light to penetrate into our darkest places. His rays penetrate the cold of death, resurrecting life within, and bringing the warmth of His influence to our lives. Because of His search for those who will companion with Him, He gives the moon to rule the night until He rises anew.

~~*~~ Tomorrow ~~*~~

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 1

I love the story of Creation found in Genesis one. It is awe inspiring and thrilling to see that, however it was done, GOD did it. It was Him and His power behind it. Whether He brought each aspect of creation about in one 24 hour day or one day that, to Him, is as a thousand or more years is beside the point. And He can create a big bang with it if He wants to. That, too, is moot. The thing that matters to me as I read this story is that God did it, and with each aspect of His creation, He stepped back, looked at the results, smiled that big smile, and said, “Wow. Attention, angelic forces! Look up. See it. It is good.” He did this through all creation “days”; that is, except for one.

First, for the purpose of aiding insights to follow, let’s note that on day one, God created day and night, light and dark. We can each note from personal experience, and it is even noted in scripture, that in the light of day is when we tend to move about because we can see clearly. When it is dark, we tend to settle in for the night or seek out what little light can be found, because it is difficult to function in darkness. That fact is a safety issue in many instances, as the night and the dark is often the friend of predators.

God created light and dark, separating day from night, and said, “It is good.” He did so to make a distinction between light and dark that would separate day from night, providing a picture to explain the difference between good and evil. It is good to be able to recognize the difference found between the light and the dark, and to know to seek out the light.

Throughout scripture we see that night is often likened to evil or unrighteousness, and light to good or righteousness. Thus in God’s creation of day and night, light and dark, we see a picture of things to come, the battle between good and evil. As creation begins on this first day, I believe this battle was already in play in the heavenly kingdom as the angelic hosts began to have discord because of the influence of God’s commander of His armies, who was not satisfied with his high position, but was filled with lust and longing for God’s place. Thus we see that lust, dissatisfaction with one’s position in life, is the beginning of darkness.

Lucifer, the beautiful one, now known as Satan, wanted to be God. He was beautiful in appearance, appealing to the eye, and an influencer, with a way about him that led 1/3 of the hosts of heaven to be cast out of the realm with him. Thus we are warned in scripture that “Bad company corrupts good morals” and that lust is the beginning thoughts that lead to sin.

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. With the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:12-18; also see 1 Corinthians 15:33).

Thus is the separating force between light and dark, the battle between good and evil. Now hold that thought as we continue to pull all together … tomorrow.