Category Archives: Overcomers

It Is Time To Grow Up

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:1-3.

The theme of the thoughts God is giving of late to encourage those who read these blogs is focusing us on what we need to realize and walk out in these days we are living. More and more, people are watching the sky to the East, expecting Jesus’ soon return, wondering how bad things will get and how much tribulation will touch our lives before He arrives.

In our wait, life in this world grows ever more difficult for the child of God. Like Job, whose righteous heart-felt tormented by the evil of his day, it is difficult to see the ungodliness rising up all around us. The struggle we have in our own lives and the struggle we see in the lives of loved ones tempts our hearts to worry and fretting, robbing of faith to believe and trust God in all things. In our passage today, God reminds me that it is vitally important for us to seek the Lord for spiritual growth and maturity, so we have the wisdom needed to weather the storms that are coming our way.

HUG (2)Beloved, how often are you in the word of God, seeking Him for understanding, allowing Him to transform you by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-3)? The symptoms Paul saw in the church in Corinth reveals their immaturity through the “jealousy and strife” they were walking out into life. When we seek the Lord for understanding of Him and His ways, He changes our way of thinking, drawing us to understand His purpose and plan, granting us realization of our unity with Him and our part in His work. When we focus on God, His will, way, purpose and priorities, we understand that we are one in Christ, each having our part, all of which works together to fulfill God’s plan. There is no need of jealousy and strife when we are one in Christ, with mind set on the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of the Father (Colossians 3:1-17, AMP).

It is vital in this day, Beloved, that we grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:9-16). Galatians 4:1 tells us that, as children, we are not much better off than slaves until we grow up to full maturity. We are owners with Christ of everything, our inheritance as the children of God, but we cannot possess all we have available to us or use it wisely and rightly until we grow up into Him who is the head.

Beloved, if you are still a child in your understanding of the things of God because of lack of time in His word, seek Him for Jesus-Bride009understanding so that He may transform you into His image, granting you understanding through your possession of the mind of Christ in your way of thinking and being. It is time to grow up! The days ahead are troubled-waters. Our only hope to weather these storms is through understanding of God, His ways, His purposes, His plans and priorities.

~*~

“Sound the alarm! The enemy descends like an eagle on the people of the Lord, for they have broken my covenant and revolted against my law” ~ Hosea 8:1, NLT.

“But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths” ~ Ezekiel 33:6, NLT.

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.

The Cure For Destructive Fretting

One thing God’s Spirit said to me this weekend that I sure wish I had written His wording down, goes something like this: “Just because someone is busy with life does not mean that they are free from fretting while they do it.”

072The thing I understood immediately upon perceiving that thought from Him is this: we can push ourselves to get busy in an attempt not to think about the things that bother us, the things we are trying to surrender or think we successfully surrendered to God, believing thinking about other things ends the fretting. However, when the stress over the things we are concerned about dictate or fuel our actions or eating, we are truly in the heat of destructive fretting.

I am one who stuffs my face when stressed and fueled by fretting. A friend cleans and scrubs everything in sight: TWICE. Her activity would appear more healthful than my eating would, but both are destructive. They do not alleviate the stress, but often add to it.

Our Pastor’s wife tells us that when she is stressing something, the best place she can be is working in her garden. Tending to her flowerbeds help her to get peaceful. Therein lies the difference between my friend and my habit during stressful times and our Pastor’s wife. Her activity leads her to embrace peace, aiding her to let the stress go, refreshing her and strengthening her to deal with the trouble. My friend and I feed the stress with our frenzy, wearing ourselves out, weakening our bodies, leaving oneself ill-equipped to deal with our issues.

I am so grateful God spurred this pondering in me. Life is hard on several fronts right now, and though I am trusting God’s promises for the things going on, quickly turning to Him when tempted to fretful thinking, watching earnestly for His hand to move, the stress has me out of control in my diet. Since hearing the word behind me instructing, “This is the way, walk in it,” my diet is better, my activity more peace oriented, and I feel better (Isaiah 30:21).

Beloved, what are you stressing? If it is something for which God is giving direction for addressing, do the things He says and watch to see what He will do. If it is something that you can do nothing about, check the power behind your actions. Is the fuel behind your activity an agitation that just increases the stress? This too is fretting. Fretting is destructive enough without adding fuel to the fire through our activities.

God’s word in Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” (NLT). Rejoicing 073with confidence in the hope God gives and learning patience as we wait on the Lord increases peace and destroys fretting. Find that place where distraction leads to peace.

I’m not talking the local pub for too much ale, nor any other place where addiction is fed; this too is a destructive action fueled by fret’s stressing. Where are you able to live life to the full, enjoying where you are in peace, while trusting the Lord with the things that are hard. What helps you leave things with God while continuing a life lived in His peaceful pastures? Let that be the place from which you watch for the Lord to deal with the issues that tempt you to fret.

Word of Life: Review and Final Word of Encouragement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BE Strong and Courageous:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Word of Life: Kingdom Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Word of LIFE: 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.

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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.

Word of Life: Prophetic Alert and Series Introduction

“…what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ” ~ 1 John 1:1-3.

Yesterday, excited to get ready for church,  I woke early with a beautiful and powerful song flowing through my mind over and over – not an uncommon occurrence, but this day’s episode was different. As the words flowed through my heart, reminding me that God is and He alone is God, I began to discern that there is a reason the Spirit is singing such to me. In the car for a leisurely, peaceful drive to church where quiet and stillness allowed for hearing, I discerned that something devastating is about to hit. I do not sense this to be a personal warning, but national-global / global-national – it is for all of us and not just me and mine.

Now this is not news to us. Most all who know and follow closely to God are watching as we see end-time prophesy unfolding every day. But as this beautiful song coursed through me, I realized what God was saying to me through that song and in my quiet time reading that morning. The thing He wants me to tell you is this:

As we see things unfold and the devastation hit, it will make many hearts quake and put us in a panic. The only thing that will protect us from reacting in ways that will do more harm than good is to remember that God is; that He is God; that He is for us and not against us; that He is doing a good thing in the earth; and that He will be with us in the storm. With eyes on Him, we will come through to His glory.

These days are already testing the hearts and faith of God’s people. I see many already falling away because of feeling that, “A God of love would not allow such travesties in life”. Some are young and unexperienced in the ways and presence of Father. Others are trapped by fleshly, worldly, and demonic wisdom, with thoughts of feeling that there is “a better way”. These fail to realize and remember that God is God, the Architect and Builder who is working an eternal plan, building a people for the place of His eternal dwelling (Hebrews 11:10).

Let’s consider this on an architectural standpoint. Say an architect or engineer draws up plans for a huge, building. He carefully and strategically positions each support beam in his blueprints, placing each beam and wall where it will not only be most functional, but where the support is most needed for the building to stand, firm and secure on its foundations. Then a worker, charged with following the blueprint to build his section, thinks, “That looks awful placed there. The wall will be prettier and the room bigger and better if that beam is moved here.” He fails to follow the instructions, feeling he has a better plan, not considering weight bearing or the end result. What happens next? The building falls in on that section.

Beloved, we must begin now to realize and remember that God knows where all the support beams need to go, and He has the end product in mind. He is the only one with all the pages of the blueprint at His disposal. We only have bits in pieces and are only able to see in part what will be the end result.

Consider also the construction of a building. My In-laws live in an area that is growing, with new builds popping up around them. As we watch each building go up, for the longest it is difficult to even imagine what it will look like, and it even looks plumb ugly for a time, all those beams and pipes sticking up, followed by ugly, green walls. But suddenly it begins to take shape and we can tell more about what it is going to look like and just how big and beautiful it is going to be.

We are in a building phase in God’s plan that is looking pretty ugly right now, and it is vital that we remember that Father-God is the Architect and Builder of a city in which to dwell for all eternity. It will be huge and beautiful, filled with all good things. But to get there, fields must be cleared and leveled, forms poured, and beams set in place. And we, beloved, who trust in Him, are the workers. We have to decide whether or not we will trust the Architect and do it His way. That is what this series will cover. How do we live life in these days?

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, CONCERNING THE WORD OF LIFE—and THE LIFE WAS MANIFESTED, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us…” ~ 1 John 1:1-3.

God did not leave us without a blueprint to follow. We have the Word of Life, not only written in His Book, but manifested to us through Christ. We have His Word, written in our hearts:

“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 3:2-3.

If you have the Spirit of God living in you, He has testified with me in your heart, confirming the truth of the things I say now and am about to say through these days of study. If you have the Spirit of God living in you, and if you are alive in this season of time, that is no accident. You are not here to suffer through what is about to be a time of trouble in the world, but you are here for a purpose as a worker, following the blueprint set by the Architect, observing the instruction of the Builder of all things good and glorious, so as to become the manifestation of His glory in our day.

We are here in this season, chosen and set apart for such a time as this, in order to manifest the foundation found in Christ. We are here to manifest the beams and walls that are set in Him. We are here to show others how to build using precious stones, silver, and gold that will stand the test that is coming to us. We are here to observe and manifest within ourselves the WORD OF LIFE that sustains and empowers us to live life to the full even – and especially in times of trouble and hardship. And it begins with realizing experientially, in the depth of our being, that GOD IS GOD! And we are not. Our first decision to make as we begin this journey together is, WILL WE TRUST HIM?

It was awesome as I got to church yesterday morning and received the word given by our pastor, all of which confirmed for me that I am hearing correctly concerning the coming storm and our need to firm up our foundations and make sure the support beams are in the proper place. He talked about our need to “HOLD ON” and get ready for God, ‘cause when the storms of life hit, God is getting ready to do something great.

One thing he covered in his message to us was the time when Jesus said, “Let’s go over to the other side.” He and the disciples climb in the boat and head that way. A storm rises and these veteran fishermen become afraid as it appears to them that the boat is sinking.

You remember the story: they cry out to Jesus, finding Him ASLEEP in the stern of the boat. He was unwearied by the tossing waves; and He was unafraid because He had said, “We are going over to the other side.” He knew that is where He was to go; it was God’s calling and God’s timing; so He knew they would reach the other side and fulfill God’s purpose (Mark 4:35-40).

When God calls us, beloved, He will get us there. What He tells us to do, He will provide for us to do it. We will not perish one second – one breath – one instant before it is His time for us. The thought that hit my mind when the pastor was talking about Jesus sleeping in that boat was this, “UNTIL JESUS PANICS, THERE IS NO NEED FOR ME TO.”

The time will come when Jesus will say to this storm coming upon us, “HUSH! SHUT UP! Be peaceful, still and quiet.” Until then we can find the place of the eye as spoken of in the series on Ponderings linked below, and we can live the Word of Life that will make us workers with Him in this season, bringing about the completion of all things in our time.

Are you ready, beloved? Prepare your hearts to hear with an attitude made ready to follow the manifestations of Christ for our day, becoming His hands, feet, and light in the world.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock” ~ Matthew 7:24.

Pray for me, beloved, as I seek the heart of God in writing the things He is showing me to give you by way of teaching or reminder, as we prepare to weather the soon arriving storm. “These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” ~ 1 John 1:4. See you in the next post.

You are God! ~ Katinas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE-IdstEdTI&index=2&list=PLfiEjLIYhJ9D1tHHJ_Ep1m340430xSaMe

(For wisdom on weathering the storms of life, read the series, “In the Hearing of the Lord” beginning with the intro to that series and following the links to each part for that 6 day study: https://darlenesponderings.com/2014/03/25/in-the-hearing-of-the-lord-series-introduction/).

Raised Up and Seated

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Ephesians 2:4  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

Note the past tense in the words “raised” and “seated,” beloved. The spirit of your being, united with God’s Spirit in Christ Jesus, is already raised up and seated with Him. When the flesh, this world, demons, the stress of this life, and whatever else, tries to make you feel distant from God, don’t you believe it.

I am reading the book by Tony Evans, titled “The Battle is the Lord’s.” In the first chapter he points out that we may physically be here on this earth; but spiritually we are already raised to a position of victory in Christ, in the heavenly places with Him. So when we battle the spiritual battle in this life, we cannot fight it from a stance of physical position and win. However, if we remember where we are in Him spiritually, victory is assured. Why? Because we are translated to the position of a soldier in the Lord’s army and, as part of His army, we are assured everything we need.

First Corinthians 9:7 records these words, “Who at any time serves as a soldier at his own expense?” A soldier is provided all his needs by the government under which he serves. So it is with God. He supplies our food, our clothing, our weapons for war, and our ammunition. All that is needed, He supplies, even our strength. And strength is greatly plussed when we remember that though our bodies are of this earth for now, our spirits are already raised up and seated with Him. We are part of His army. And He supplies all we need for victory in the war of the heavenly places.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 13

Rejoicing in Sure Revelation Knowledge of the Truth

“Beloved, do not believe (put faith in) every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world…” (1 John 4).

As we begin this focal thought on our work of completing what remains to be done in fulfilling the sufferings of Christ in our age, we must consider revelation knowledge of the truth of God. Here John, in the leading of the Spirit, warns us to beware the false prophets, instructing us to “prove or test the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God.” Why would he instruct us to “test the spirits”?

Think about what a prophet is. A prophet, no matter the religious philosophy they come from, is believed to be one endowed with some special power or insight from some higher power that enables them to have revelation knowledge from that god. The god the person represents, even those of no god at all, receive their knowledge from a spirit, whether God’s Spirit, a demonic spirit, or the spirit of flesh. We must realize whether the prophet we follow is truly and rightly representing our God in the power of His Spirit.

This chapter of scripture gives us clues regarding what to look for that will tell us for sure whether the spirit behind the prophet is our God’s Spirit. Where does his or her revelation knowledge come from and how do we test the spirits to know?

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (vs. 2-3).

One of the best ways to know whether the spirit behind the prophet is from God is to discover what they have to say about the Christ. Now this statement of discovering whether the spirit confesses that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” is deeper than it sounds. It is not just that the prophet believes Jesus was, but that he truly knows and confesses who He was: the Son of God, Immanuel, somehow very God with us, the promised Christ, the seed of Abraham, the true and rightful King of kings and Lord of lords.

All that scripture says will be in the Christ is found in Jesus. Any prophetic spirit that denies any aspect of Christ’s person is a false spirit of antichrist. What brings me to this conclusion? For one thing, James, based on experiences seen with Jesus as expressed in Matthew 8:28-34, speaking of faith in Christ that is active, said, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19).

Another found in Luke 4:41 says, “Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.” Demons know who Christ is and will say who He is, but they will not confess Him as Lord. They will not bow the knee in surrender to Him.

Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

The Spirit that truly professes who Jesus is will lead us to live a life that reveals Him to be our one and only Lord of lords and King of kings. It will empower us to wholeheartedly bow the knee in habitual and willing practice of obedience. The person following the true Spirit of Christ will not only know the triune God, but will be known by Him because they are in vital relationship in every way. Though they slip and fall, the relationship being of vital importance to them will lead them quickly to repentance.

“They (those under the influence of the false spirits) are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (vs. 5-6).

Another key to testing the spirits is unity of spirit. When I meet a brother or sister in Christ, my Spirit in me jumps for joy in agreement with the Spirit of God in them. When that connection is absent, chances are great that there is a spirit of error or of antichrist in play.

I.e.: many under the influence of a false spirit are grumbling under their breath right now with the very talk of there being spirits at work in the world today. They do not believe in such, though the scriptures clearly reveal their existence and ability to affect our thoughts and our lives. A false spirit can have greatest sway in the life of one who refuses to acknowledge their existence. Beware, beloved. The word of God is either all truth, or it is not true at all. We can’t have it both ways. What kind of god would be worthy of our following if he could not even protect the veracity of His professed word? If God cannot profess truth to us I in all it fullness for us to follow, and protect that word of truth, we cannot trust His word and, therefore, are fools for believing.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (vs. 7-8).

It is impossible for a person to truly love as God loves without the Spirit of God in them. We can tell by the love walk of the man whether the Spirit of God is in them. The absence of this love signals that a spirit of error is in play.

Many false prophets speak words of love while leading the flock astray from righteousness. True love always works to do what is best for those they love. We can know we are following a spirit of error when it leads us to err against God.

“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (vs. 9-10).

We cannot confess the fullness of the love of God that was expressed through the Christ without the Spirit of God in us. Such love is beyond our ability to fully understand, much less work out of, apart from the work of God’s Spirit bringing revelation knowledge and understanding of that love and its ways to us.

There is a story of a man who, out boating with his family, winds up jumping into the brink to try to save his Christian son and one of his son’s friends who did not know Christ, when they fell overboard. Realizing he could only save one, he swam past his son to reach his friend who would spend eternity separated from God if he died that day. Making such a choice requires revelation knowledge that understands the love for us that it took for God to allow His son to die as propitiation for our sins. Thankfully that young man came to know Christ and is a testimony of love beyond understanding today.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. …We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (vs. 11-14, 19-21).

A person who has a spirit of antichrist in play cannot rightly portray or express the love of God. Those who profess Christianity under the guise of a false spirit can and will lead those around them to false understanding that can cause them to miss the Christ and chance eternity separated from God if they are not reached by the love of God miraculously or through a true believer. Without understanding of God’s love for us and the work of the Spirit to help us love as He loves us, we cannot make His love known in truth. And if we cannot love others on His behalf as He loves them, how can we truly be in love with God? Love cares about the things that are important to the beloved.

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (vs. 15-18).

Being in sincere relationship with God, having His Spirit to lead and empower us, we are made one with Him, having Spirit lead revelation to understand how great the love of God is toward those who believe and receive His Son with understanding of who He is and what He accomplished on our behalf. Through Christ we are made one with God, never to be separated from that love relationship again. Once we fully understand the depth of God’s love for us, having assurance of His desire and care for us, we enter into understanding of His pure love that protects us from fear tactics.

One major weapon in Satan’s arsenal is fear. If he can cause us fear that doubts God’s care for us, leading us to question the assurance of our eternal relationship with Him, Satan can defeat us and rob our strength. Full understanding of God’s love for us assures our heart of His care and provision for our here and now and for our eternity. Fear no longer can grip so as to defeat the heart of the one who has revelation knowledge of the great love of God. Understanding that love increases faith that God is for us and not against us; that He is in control of all that concerns us, working for our good, to give us a hope and a future. Thus we realize fully…

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (vs. 4).

Growing in our relationship with God through the power of His Spirit equips us to have revelation knowledge of the truth of who Christ is and His work on our behalf even now. It equips us to know and rightly express the love of God in the earth, having assurance of His faithfulness toward us that protects from fear tactics. And it grants us eyes to see and recognize the spirit of error and the spirit of antichrist in our midst, enabling us to give warning to those who may be fooled by the imitation, including warning the elect—the righteous lot of God who are failing in any given moment to be watchful in the power of the Spirit of God within them.

Brother and Sister in Christ, I warn you, we are heavily into the days of the spirit of antichrist, as many, even big names in the Christian realm, profess as true beliefs that make the work of Christ small and insignificant. Beware the spirit of error in our day.

 ~*~

 My grandson had to have an emergency appendectomy last night. I will be helping with him as needed, but if all goes well, I hope to have the last excerpt of this study posted for you tomorrow. If not, it will be next week. BLESSings, and thanks for reading my blogs. I pray that this study will be used of God to help us grow strong in our work of completing all Jesus left us to do on His behalf.

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 4

Door Jambs

I thought I was finished with this when I put the last post up; then the refrigerator door jammed open.

Prayerfully considering my options for lunch, I settle on a Spinach Scramble. The Spinach prepped and the skillet heating, I reach into the fridge for the remaining ingredients needed: eggs, cheese, and butter. Setting all down on the cabinet, turning to plop a little butter in the skillet to melt in readiness for the Spinach to go in next, I realize the fridge door is still wide open. It hung on the drawer the cheese was in; left open wide, it jammed the fridge.

Laughing at myself as I shut it, I thought, “Well, there ought to be a devotional thought in that.” Little did I know that God was adding a continuation to this thought on Love So Pure, but as I consider the thoughts that door jamb brought to me, here I am again with part 4.

Thinking on the open fridge, I realized that our lives are food storage pantries and refrigerators to our God. He feeds us through His Word the good things needed to sustain us personally, providing fuel for a life of abundance. But He also supplies for us to be used of Him to feed others out of the storehouses He entrusts to our care as testimony of His work in our lives and our day.

One day along our journey we see God fling open a door of opportunity for us to share sustenance, breaking the Bread of Life with someone in need. As we consider the door before us, held open by the very Spirit of God, suddenly we realize our refrigerator door is ajar, jammed open by some hidden drawer of our life in which we hold to food that hinders and hurts us: we’ll call these the junk-food drawers.

This is when we find ourselves to be a whole lot like Moses, in whose life God worked mightily to provide for him and show His love for him. God had a plan for his life that would make him a conduit through which God could make His love and provision clear to Israel, freeing them from every form of bondage. But Moses fridge was ajar, held open by drawers well stocked with the junk food this world and our flesh feeds us:

Fear: “Oh no, Lord. If I go there, Pharaoh will kill me.” Or ours may sound more like, “Oh, God, I couldn’t possibly do that! I am too shy,” just another way of saying, “I am slave to internal fear of what others may think of me or the unexpected thing that might happen to harm me.” In other words, we do not trust God in affective ways that make us one with Him and His supply.

Inadequacy: “Not me, Lord, for I am slow of speech.” “Lord, I am not talented enough to do that.” “Lord, I am too immature. Sally knows more than I do. Send her,” not realizing that Sally grew to where she is by jumping in feet first to see what the Lord would do, jumping in faith from the exact same spot we find ourselves in now.

Insecurity: “I am not good enough, O God. How can I do something like that?” We fail to realize that God can scarcely use those who feel good enough in themselves. He is looking for willing vessels that will let Him use them beyond their personal ability. Those who think they have it all together usually want to do it themselves, having a junk food drawer full of self: self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, self-reliance, self-preoccupation in abundance. When we know we can’t do “it” without God, we are the perfect one for the job.

Self-Condemnation: “Lord, they know me. Who am I to instruct them? And why would they listen to such a sinner as I.” Who better to instruct others from your position of understanding where they are? It helps me to understand that a “testimony” is “evidence in support of a fact or assertion; proof.” What better proof than that of a life changed forever by His supply? And what better one to tell of it than one who knows and is grateful for the work of God in delivering them from sin’s grip.

On we could go with drawer after drawer placed in our lives by fleshly, worldly, and demonic wisdom that keeps us from sharing all God is doing for us with those who need to see and know His love and supply that is available to “whosoever will believe.”

God fully supplies us out of His love for our good and His glory, giving us a testimony to have ready to share in due season: we are His living proof, living stones of testimonial about His current work in our age. He gifts us to have a comfort to give in comforting others. In this way, we share His love and help others to freedom from captivity.

Beloved, this I give to you from my pantry of supply and my fridge where the clean foods reside. I have to feast on this morsel of Grace sufficient often: “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

Be filled up with Him, beloved, and trust His supply for you. There are lost people, dead in their sins, all around us. Our junk-food drawers work hindrance to His ability to pour His love fully to and through us. We must be willing vessels, cleansed, filled to over flowing and rested in His hands for His use in pouring out His glorious presence, power and love through us to those we love, like or run across for a moment in time.

When a drawer hangs open to provide opportunity for the enemy to discourage or dissuade you, yes, look to see what is in there, but also look to see what God has placed in storage within you for use in overcoming the temptation to the junk food being offered. Then seek the Lord to help you clear out that drawer and remove that foothold of satanic forces from your life, making the space available for His supply.

~*~

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

“…Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass…” (Recommended reading: 1 Thessalonians 1-5).

Mighty Within

Colossians 1:24-29, NASB

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

What was the “sufferings of Christ”, the afflictions to be completed? May I suggest that it was facing the challenges of each day by living life and addressing those challenges so as to show us the way of life lived to the glory of God? We complete His sufferings when we follow His example in following God to the full despite all this life might throw at us.

When we practice love in the midst of hate, speaking truth in love, taking action with love at its core, doing the best for the object of our affection, setting the good example in righteousness and light, we share the sufferings of Christ and fill up what is lacking in His afflictions, spreading God’s glory to the end of the age, making Him and His ways known to all who see.

Each of us is a minister of God according to our stewardship from God, called and equipped for the benefit of all in our concentric circles of concern. It is vital that we discern our ministry and fulfill it to the full, just as Christ did in fulfilling His afflictions to the end of the age, for the glory of God. He followed God all His days, making full use of the power to perform given Him. This is our calling and equipping, to fulfill His afflictions. Thus I am often called of God to share the ugly struggles in my life so that the Beauty of His Glory at work in the affliction may be contrasted to reveal His light in the darkness.

This is the “mystery” among us today, Christ within us, the hope of our glory to God as He imparts His ministry to us and through us in the power of His supply, to the glory of His Name. Just as He worked in and through Christ to accomplish His glory and fulfill His purpose in the earth through Him, God desires to work through us in like fashion and has provided for us to be His instruments to complete the work began in Christ through the purpose He planned for us before we took breath. We are complete in Christ, fully equipped for every good deed, able to perform with the power of His supply.

Thus, in agreement with Paul, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

Mighty within…through Him: The things that God allows to enter your life, you can face with strength and resolve, for He never allows what He will not equip you to fulfill in Christlikeness. The ministry He calls you to do is made sure; for all that He proclaims for you to do, He also supplies so that you may complete it in Christ.

Christ is the fulfillment of all things, so when we live, breathe and move in Him, all things are possible for us, for nothing shall be impossible with God; and every difficulty is opportunity to experience Glory as we proclaim “the power of God mightily works within me” – sometimes by faith, but always by His grace, sufficient for every need.

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 3 – Understand with Discernment

Yesterday we looked at the need to know. Yes, we need knowledge of not only what the disease process is doing in us, but how it affects us on a personal level. And we need to recognize the resources available to us in dealing with the issues brought to life by the ailments that attack us. But mere knowledge alone is of little use unless it is coupled with wisdom from God to understand with discernment how to use the knowledge gleaned to our benefit in setting up boundaries that put us in control of the diseases ability to intrude in our lives. As I consider the things I know from my experience, I have come to understand with discernment some key truths that I must put into practice on a daily basis.

~*~

“I am me” sings to my heart. God only made one me. Understanding that “I” am “me” – the only “me” that “I” am, and I am not exactly like anyone else, is vital to my ability to discern my struggle and the resources I have for dealing with it. My disease experience may be common to man, but it is affected and made my own experience by the person I am.

I need to realize that the way fibro works and affects me is individual to me, because I am not like everyone else. My ability to cope with the pain and fatigue is different from others I know. My pain level is not the same as that of others on any given day as the effects of the pain on me are directly linked to my personal ability to cope with the pain. The causes of my symptoms may differ and my ability to deal with the source of my struggle is limited by my resources at hand, my ability to recognize my resources, and my faithfulness to practice the use of the supply available to me. Therefore I must understand myself and discern my own strengths and weaknesses, along with the resources available to me for fighting the good fight against my enemy.

That enemy recognizes these things about me and will attack me, forcing me to surrender my territory. I must know my enemy and myself, and with that understanding, discern my own resources and my best way of fighting my enemy. Though I can learn things from others, encourage and be encouraged by them, I have to know how my enemy works against me personally and realize my actions and reactions that give fibro its place in my life. Then I have to do the things that fit me and my life best, flowing out of my personal strengths and considering my personal weaknesses, in taking back the land the enemy stole. Then…

~*~

Discerning My Limitations I must set the boundaries

There are true limitations that come with living with fibro. I need to consider what those are, how they affect me, and what I need to do to take control of this life God gave me to possess in dealing with and living to the full while being mindful of the limits. Not limits set by the fibro, but those set by me in addressing and overcoming those dictated by fibro out of control.

For example, I know that too much stress will flare me, so where I can control the stress in life, I need to do that. And in areas where I have no control over the stress life brings, I must lean on the supply of my God. God revealed that to me more clearly this weekend as we wound up with three major events planned within a 2.5 day span.

I was in full blown flare because of that medication I told you about, taken for a sinus infection. Since discovering that steroids remove the inflammation in the body for a time, but once the regimen is finished, the inflammation builds back fast and fibro jumps into high gear, I now realize the need to make sure we do not needlessly plan things around the time of their use. I will also share this issue with my doctor and seek to find other means to deal with my sinus issues. But should I have to take a steroid again, this is a fact about my enemy-disease that I must remember and a plan I must put into action.

As the day of cement pouring grew closer with the planned feeding of the friend who helped and his wife, as a thanks for helping that evening, I really started to stress that the house was a mess and I was not able to do anything about it in the two days before the start of those events. That mounting stress over the house was robbing needful rest and making the symptoms worse.

Then, as I shared earlier, God reminded me of Martha, always wanting to do more than was needful, in my case, so as to not be embarrassed when guests come in our mess. He reminded me that she was going all out to impress and honor Jesus, when all He wanted was a simple meal and Martha’s company. With that reminder, cleaning the house took back seat to me feeling good enough to cook the meal for our guests and enjoy their company, and hopefully they, mine.

Now today, as I write this, the cement is pouring and I have the meat in the cooker, I am feeling better. I got several things done for the meal yesterday evening—my only focus for that day of pain, and the rest of the meal will come together with peaceful ease. Meanwhile, feeling better, I will do a few things in the main part of the house, but the rest of it can wait, and I will not worry with the floors at all.

My husband usually pushes the vacuum, which is hard for me to do as it does not “propel” well, so rather than tire out and flare from tired, I will leave the floors as they are. No longer stressing over the house, but resting in the here a little, there a little, trusting that by God’s grace, the house will be pleasant and peaceful, though not perfect in my scale of measure, is a limitation I set for myself to control the fibro. And that is okay.

God’s enemy uses health issues to stop the flow of God to and through us. We can cooperate with God’s enemy by failing to set limits on self that help our health and allowing the diseases that attack our body to dictate and define our lives, or we can learn how to set our own boundaries, getting control over our health issues. It is our choice. I choose limits of God’s design for a life of God’s abundance. And those limits come to us through His wisdom that equips us to discern and understand how to live in the power of His supply.

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 1 – The Intro

About a year ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia – lovingly known as Fibro: a disease seen most in those who suffer chronic inflammation and believed to be the breakdown of normal pain reception, causing the sufferer to feel pain more deeply and constantly. The constant sensation of pain wears a person down, too often dictating and defining their life experience. Overwhelmed by unceasing pain and the quest for relief, they often topple to the experience, all of life dictated by their level of pain.

One thing I have discovered and decided in my journey with the diagnosis of Fibro is “that is not the life I want.” I do not want to be dictated and defined by my pain, so I have thought a lot the past several days about the problem of being “defined by my diagnosis” – a phrase used in conversation with a friend one day, and what that phrase means to me and for me.

That phrase, “defined by my diagnosis”, has come to me so many times since my lunch with Betty, my friend I came to learn has dealt with fibro for numerous years. She shared that she used to do all the research for her fibro and join all the support groups and try to follow all the advice. Then she got tired of being “defined by my diagnosis”. Thus she decided to stop all that and live her life defined by the love and pursuit of God.

That is where I am right now: being defined and dictated by my diagnosis. So over the past several days of that phrase flowing to my heart, I have sought the Lord, seriously considering what being defined by fibro means and how to change it. For the next few days I will share here the things God is showing me. Perhaps others who have health issues will be helped through the comfort and instruction God is giving me. As I introduce this subject, I join Paul’s heart in praying for those of us who have health issues that tend to dictate life, praying:

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

Seeking God’s direction and inspiration in determining what I need to realize and address in changing this thing that is trying to define my life, the things that come to mind and that I will cover beginning tomorrow include:

  • Know the enemy – what is this thing that is trying to define me and my ability to live? – Not so much the science “what” but the personal, experiential “what”? Realizing that…
  • Know the truth – What are lies about the disease that I am catering to? Lies about myself and my ability to cope? What is the truth of the matter, from God’s perspective? And how do I live in truth? Then…
  • Understand that I am me – the only me that I am. My disease experience may be common to man, but it is affected and made different by my own experience of it and my ability to cope with it in accord with the person I am and choose to be. In that understanding…
  • Discern my limitations – Instead of letting my experience of the disease set the boundaries, I must learn how to protect from its limitations by setting my own, realizing what I can do when and knowing when it is okay to push the envelope and when it is time to rest. Finally…
  • With these truths and insights under my belt, I can live life to the full knowing that truth sets free indeed, wisdom directs the path, and faith, hope and love abide: and the greatest of these is love.  

Even if you are currently in good health, I hope you return for the remainder of this series so you can store up any insights gleaned to share with others, and for use should an enemy assailant strike you.

For this Reason

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go’”’” (Exodus 9:13-17).

As I read this passage, I see two reasons that respond to questions I have often heard God’s people ask in time of trouble, “Why does He leave us here? Why not just kill us now?”

God allows things to happen in our lives that cause us—and especially those who refuse to believe—to know that there is no one like our God in all the earth. He keeps us alive when we think “we should surely be dead by now”, in order to show forth His power and in order to proclaim His name throughout the earth.

Now what is God’s glory? Exodus 33:18-19 tells us in God’s own words: “Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’”

Even when hard times come to us, God’s purpose is to reveal Himself as Lord of all and to make His glory evident in the earth. Why? So those, whose hearts are pliable and open, can see His glory, believe His Lordship, and turn to follow Him.

If you are still alive, He has power to reveal to and through you. If God could not still reveal Himself to and through you, you would lay down and die under your load.

Then we see that the best way to weather the turmoil that can rise up when God is making a point in the earth is to die to self-will and self-exaltation. I put a word up yesterday that hit my heart in the thoughts of the day: “Rest all worries and woes at God’s precious feet. They are thorns to us. But they are crowns to Him.”

Worries either weigh us down, often making us dysfunctional, or when faced without first laying them at His feet, they lead us to self-will as we try to deal with them and self-exaltation, making us our own god. Laying them at His feet removes them from our head, and places them under His Lordship. Laying our worries at His feet crowns Him as Lord over them and over self. Truly laying them down at His feet bows us to His authority, giving Him opportunity to direct our path and to empower us to deal properly with any situation. And often time, when we lay them down, refusing to give rule to worry, He just nails that thing to the footstool being made for Jesus’ feet, and writes, “It is finished!” across that plank (Hebrews 10:13).

“I will send all My plagues…so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.”

At just such a time, when God was threatening to destroy obstinate Israel and begin a new people for His possession through Moses, Moses requested of God, “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,” laying the problem at God’s feet. And God said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33). Lordship accepted.

God’s glory is revealed in our day to day lives when we surrender all to Him, trust Him with the details, and see Him move to reveal Himself as Lord in our situations. So bow down with that load, lay it at His feet, and “Only believe” that you will see the power, provision and presence of God (Luke 8:40-56).

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 ).

Worth My Knee

Reading through John and pulling thoughts chapter by chapter to help me celebrate Jesus in this season of rebirth and renewal, John 18 speaks:

Jesus asked, “Whom do you seek?” (“Who are you looking for?” – NLT). “…When He said to them, ‘I am He’, they drew back and fell to the ground. …Put your sword in its sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it? …You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

It is very interesting that, as I go through John, remembering and celebrating Jesus, I come to these thoughts on this first day of 2012. My focus for spiritual growth in this year is to grow in my surrender to His Lordship, giving Him all that I am for His use in whatever way He desires. There are three things I see here that will help me as I begin this journey of the Spirit in this New Year:

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Realizing, remembering and hearing within, by faith, that He is the Christ, He is the one we look for, will bring me to fall before Him in acknowledgement of His glory. He is God’s chosen King, the Christ, the One we look for.

I have always been amazed by this passage. I don’t take it as a mockery toward Him that they feel down. It is almost as if all who came to take Him to the death that would come to this One who so loved the world that He willing gave His own life, His love covering a multitude of sins; they realized in that instant that this was the One worthy of bowing before. He was worthy of their knee.

I think the fear of the Lord God, the Father, struck their hearts and put them on their knees before His Son and King. This is the heart attitude I must have as I begin this year of growing stronger in giving myself to His Lordship. I must come into greater depths of realization that He is the Chosen King, and He is worthy of my knee in worship and acknowledgement of His rightful position in my life. He is King of kings, and Lord of lords.

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Next, as I read His word to Peter when Peter tried to protect his Lord, I see the example set by Jesus as One who is surrendered to His Lord, “This cup I am to drink is from my Father. How then shall I not drink it?”

Jesus never gave us false hope. He never told us that God WILL heal every disease and keep us from suffering in this life we now live; that all things will be well with us at all times while here in this earth, ruled by the father of lies and lord of sin. That promise of complete healing and total safety is truth and can happen in the here and now, but it is for the life to come, perfected in eternity because of the sacrifice of Jesus in this world, saved for those who believe Him and given to those who receive Him as Lord now, through faith believing even though we do not yet see it in the physical (Hebrews 11:1).

So what did Jesus promise? He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. EACH DAY HAS ENOUGH TROUBLE OF ITS OWN” (Matthew 6:34). He called us to face today’s trouble with His power and leave tomorrow to Him. Grace is promised to be sufficient for each day’s trouble. Wasting that energy on worry over what MIGHT come tomorrow only weakens us and makes today’s trouble unbearable, having insufficient strength for today because we spent our strength yesterday on worries that may never come to pass. And if they do come to our life, we often find that we drained our strength through worry, having little reserve for dealing with it now that it’s here.

He did promise, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” Then He added, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Heart-trouble and fear are products of worry and fretting, often over the ‘what-might-be-s’ of life. To warn us to not let our hearts be troubled or fearful in life but to receive and live with peace of heart as He has gifted us to do says to me that there will be cause for us to have troubled and fearful hearts, and resting it in His care, receiving His peace to persevere is the solution that overcomes the troubling of the heart, preserving strength for overcoming.

Also He advised us, “These things (His words of warning, promise, hope and instruction) I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. IN THE WORLD YOU HAVE TRIBULATION, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Following Jesus will mean cups of trouble and tribulation that must be drank with understanding that as we walk through trouble in life with the peace and grace He supplies, we too will be overcomers. As such, we will be used of Him to help others to find relationship with God and His supply through Christ for dealing with troubled lives. Just as His sacrifice for us covered a multitude of sin, He uses our experiences in this life to help others who struggle as we have in knowing how to find hope, peace and restoration in their similar situations.

Someone I love dearly is going through a very troubled time right now, trouble that is too common to our world, the consequence of sin in life. He wants to see God’s mercy as His hand reaching down to remove those circumstances. I cannot seem to help him understand that God’s mercy keeps him in the hand of God, saved by grace through faith for an eternity in His presence, but mercy does not always remove consequences from our here and now. What mercy does do is supply grace sufficient to help us walk through the consequences with peace of heart and hope for eternity as we wait for restoration. And restoration will come; if not here, then there. It can come here. But experience tells me it does not usually come until we say, “Shall I not drink of this cup set before me by my Lord?”

So what is God telling me? He is reminding me that following Him wholeheartedly will not always be easy, but it will always bear kingdom fruit. As I grow deeper in my relationship with Him and as He uses the way I walk through trouble to help others in their struggle, it will make me an example of one who is an overcomer with Him. One cannot be an overcomer without first being one who has overcome, and we overcome by walking in His grace provided to us because He drank the cup and overcame the world, Satan, sin, death, and troubled flesh. We enter into Him who has overcome, receiving within us the hope of His promise and provision, so that we can walk through as overcomers.

~~*~~

Lastly, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

The surrendered life requires that I recognize that He is the King, promised by God, and that I listen for and heed His “voice.” John 10 promises that those who are His hear His voice and follow Him. It also promises that the voice of a stranger will not be followed.

God taught me long ago to trust that He can make His voice clear to me. I trust Him to speak and move quickly to obey in faith that I hear my Shepherd-Master and am expected to follow without hesitation. When doubt enters, I begin to ask God if the voice I am hearing is that of the stranger, or if I am hesitating out of fear and disbelief, which leads to disobedience. And I am learning to seek the Lord to help me so greatly to know His voice that the knowledge of it keeps the stranger’s voice strange to me.

Who is the stranger? The stranger is my own flesh, which wages war against me, opposing God’s work in me; the world, which stands in opposition to God and His ways; and Satan, who desires to be God. These three, the flesh, the world and demons—which are the armies of Satan, are called “wisdoms” by James in James 3. These constantly speak a wisdom to us that is in opposition to truth.

As I begin this New Year with focus on growing stronger in follow-ship, in complete surrender to His Lordship, giving all I am to Him for His use, He reminds me to count the cost and realize that though it will be with challenge that I follow Him, He will help me bear it, and through me He will bear fruit for eternity that will make all worth it one day. No matter what this year holds, it is His voice that will lead me to choose life, and live it with abundance that glorifies His name, accomplishes His purpose, brings His eternal Kingdom to my reality, and bears fruit in me that makes me an overcomer through Christ: my Example, my King.

~~*~~

As we begin this New Year, I pray for us to know the King of kings and Lord of lords. May we walk in His provision to overcome the world. May we have courage to drink the cup He sets before us, and come out of it having born the fruit of righteousness through resurrection power.

Get Up, Let Us Go From Here

“So that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here” (John 14:31).

Through this Christmas and New Year’s season, I am putting up portions of scripture from John on my Spark and FaceBook status in celebration of the Christ for which I observe the season. There is so much meat in John 14, I want to put the entire chapter up on my status bar this morning. But with the New Year coming, this small portion seemed best of all to share.

Look at these words. Don’t they seem a good place to begin in preparing for a New Year? Jesus is our example for life, and what better place to end one year and prepare for another than to check our relationship with the Father.

Through John 14, Jesus tells of His leaving to prepare a place for us. He instructs that He and the Father are one, and we can see the Father by looking at Him – not His physical appearance, which is not truly known, but His character and actions, the things He gives focus to and the preoccupations He sets His mind on. Then He tells that we, too, can be one with Them, Father and Son. How is that accomplished? By following His example, developing like character, and doing as the Father commands us, setting our focus and preoccupations on the things that are important to the Father—on truth as He sees it.

As we draw a close to the year 2011, I must ask God how I have done at developing godly character and in following in Christlike obedience. In this evaluation, it doesn’t matter what I perceive that others have done to me. God is dealing with MY own character and actions right now. He judges me on the merit of my own choices, not what others did that may have led to it. Our relationship with the Father, the building of His character in us and our obedience in following the example of Christ is the true gauge of success or failure.

I first typed, “ask myself”, but our hearts are deceptive. We can fool ourselves into thinking we are better than we truly are. And we can also beat ourselves up pretty bad, beating ourselves down to a point of being useless to God, ourselves and others in the days to come. So let’s ask God for His opinion. God looks at the heart and He is not deceived. He will lead us to truth and work with us to increase righteousness and make us like Jesus, who is like the Father.

As we draw near to 2012, I must ask God what areas of life I need to give focus to in developing godly character; and I must recognize if there are specific instructions God is giving me for following Jesus.

I have a long road to go this coming year as I deal with Fibromyalgia and work to change habits of a lifetime that affect that health issue. It will not happen overnight. I did not develop the habits overnight, and unless God works a miracle, which is not happening yet, it will take time and work to change the habits. But nothing shall be impossible with God. As long as my heart is set on that as fact, there is hope. He will help me, and His patience toward me is unfathomable.

How about you? What challenge do you face this year? God has given me the following passage to encourage my journey. Perhaps it will encourage you as well.

“…Behold, I will make you to be a new, sharp, threshing instrument which has teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest or whirlwind shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the Lord, you shall glory in the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:8-16, AMP). Wow! There is a whole other blog in that.

Father, as I consider this passage, I realize change will not happen overnight. I see this fact clearly as I consider this passage. A sharp threshing instrument which has teeth has to chew the mountain down one bite at a time. It will take work on my part, hard work, and deliberate effort. I pray for each of us as we face our mountains that we will have Your patience and endurance, Father. May we see our progress through Your eyes, and rejoice in Your work in our lives, giving You the glory due Your name. In Jesus, amen.

A Conversation with God

Recalling a promise God spoke to my heart from a Bible Gateway daily scripture that came to my inbox, I go through my deleted file looking for it in preparation for a trip to a large conference that had my social anxiety quaking in my proverbial boots. As I searched, I grabbed all the Bible Gateway mailings that spoke to me for the journey ahead. Following is the conversation I discovered once I had all God highlighted for my fright-filled heart. These words carried me through the week with a confidence I have not had in a long while. For this I give Him the glory due His name; and I pray this conversation to fill the heart of all who would profess faith in Him while pressing into life despite fears grip.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. …You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. …I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. …You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word.”

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. …The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. …The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. …So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

You have shown me Your glory, O God! I will not fear, for You have revealed that You are with me. I will not be dismayed, for You are my God. You have strengthened me and helped me; You uphold me with Your righteous right hand. With Your help, my heart will recall these things and I will draw near to You in hope of faith, believing Your promise so as to walk free of the grip of fear all the days of the life You have ordained for me. In Jesus I pray You, show me Your glory.

(Psalm 121:1-2; Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 46:4; Isaiah 48:17; Psalm 16:8; 119:114; Isaiah 41:10; 40:31; Psalm 121:7-8; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:35-36)

Proven Faith

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8).

My study Bible’s footnote points out that Jesus, the Son of God and very God incarnate, “learned obedience through maturing and proving.”

The word “proving” reminded me of some things that God has been rolling around in my head with regard to Job and his suffering that has helped me to understand why suffering comes though there is no sin-cause. Do you realize that Job is reported to have been righteous in God’s opinion, and that it is God who pointed him out to Satan as an example of faith in the earth?

God allowed Job to be tested, not so Job could prove his faith: God already knew his faith; but so that God could prove his faith. When Job began to struggle under the load, that is when God stepped in, stopping the test, and giving instruction to Job for his maturity in righteousness. The hedge went back up as soon as God had proven to Satan the resolve of Job’s faith.

What load are you bearing that tests your faith? Realize that God knows your heart just as He did Job’s. Press forward with faith that proves what God sees in you, trusting with heart-knowledge that He will step in when the load becomes a burden, for “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Kindle Afresh His Gifting

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline” (2 Timothy 1:6-7).

I still haven’t made it past verse seven as I read God’s word this morning, trying to press through the reading of 2 Timothy. God continues calling me to realize the role of self-discipline in my walk of healing from social anxiety and the stressor that brings it on. But today He highlights verse six for me. Did you note that to “kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you” is our responsibility?

God is giving me opportunity right now to do just that as He has called me to volunteer some time each day at the college where my husband works, using my organizational and administrative gifts in working his office and taking care of secretarial needs there. To do so requires me to trust God’s power to equip me to overcome the struggle with social anxiety. Persevering in faithfulness to be there requires that I know His love and be a conduit of that love in caring more about meeting this need than I do about the fear that so easily assails me. And the practice of self-discipline to treat this as a responsibility to God and man and to do my best work without caving into fear is a must.

In hearing and responding to God’s call to fill this need, I had to choose to kindle afresh the gifting of God within me, trusting that He who empowered me in times past to fill such a role would do it again. Trusting His love to care for my every need and choosing to love Him and my husband enough to do this, I discipline myself to go forth and conquer the emotional onslaught that comes against me. In doing that, God graciously reminded me of a prayer practice taught by Dr. Jesse McElreath in his book, The Believer’s Confession Guide. In his book, He covers the confession we have as believers in Christ—knowing who God says we are because of that relationship. Then he covers numerous categories of
sin natures and all their various aspects to help us in our walk of repentance. Lastly he gives the following hedge prayer, giving a prayer for each wall of the hedge.

North wall – The Escape Prayer (1 Corinthians 10:13):

“Lord, I realize that no temptation has overtaken me that is not common to man. I confess that you are faithful and will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able. Thank you for providing The Way of Escape that I may be able to endure any work of the enemy.”

East wall – The weapons Prayer (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Philippians 4:7-8):

“Lord, I ask you to move into my circumstances and pull down all strongholds and false reasonings raised up against the knowledge of God and bring my every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. I pray that the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension shall guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Help me to think on things that are honorable, right, pure, lovely and attractive.”

South wall – The Armor Prayer (Romans 13:14, Ephesians 6:10-17):

“I pray that the Lord Jesus Christ will wrap himself about me and that I would make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. I believe that the strong strength of the Lord and the full armor of God will enable me to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. I gird my loins with truth, and put on the breastplate of righteousness, and cover my feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace. I take up the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation and hold forth the sword of the spirit which is the word of God. With my armor in place, ci come against the ruler and powers of darkness which would seek to take me captive and I bind them in the name, power, and blood of Jesus and place a protective hedge about my life.”

West wall – The Position Prayer (James 4:6-10, 1 John 4:4, Revelation 12:11):

“Lord Jesus, I submit myself to you and resist the devil knowing that he has to flee. I cleanse my hands and purify my heart and confess godly sorrow for any sins committed against Holy God. I draw near to you and place the blood of Jesus between myself and all principalities, power, and rulers of darkness. I humble myself in the presence of the Lord, knowing that God is opposed to the wicked but give grace to the humble. I claim the overcoming grace of God in my life, knowing that greater is He that is in me that he that is in the world. Thank you for the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit which enables me to overcome because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of my testimony. In the strong name of Jesus, I pray, amen!”

May God empower us to overcome in the strength He supplies, through the provision and practice of love, and with the temperance of a sound, disciplined mind, kindling afresh the gifting of His grace and provision, making us useful to His kingdom and as His witnesses and workers in the fields where we live.

Like the Son of a King

“Rise up yourself, and fall on us; for as the man, so is his strength” (Judges 8:21, NASB)

Gideon won a mighty battle against the kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna. Standing before him, Gideon asked them what sort of men it was that they killed at Tabor. They replied, “They were like you, each one resembling the son of a king” (vs. 18). Gideon, who began in fear, led by God became like the son of a King; and that is what we are.

“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:20, NIV).

As we realize to whom we belong; as we relinquish all to Him and choose to honor Him in our bodies, we become men and women of strength. Whatever enemy we face today, we can face our Goliaths knowing that the same God who turned a wimpy, trembling Gideon into a man of valor, like the son of a King, is with us to help us stand against our enemies with strength. There is no battle too great for Him, and He allows no battle in our lives that is without purpose and glory to His Name, in preparing us and others around us for His Kingdom. Whatever giant you face today, realize to Whom you belong, and go forth with faith, believing.

“But my horn (emblem of excessive strength and stately grace) You have exalted like that of a wild ox; I am anointed with fresh oil” (Psalm 92:10, AMP).

Thank You, Father God, as this all goes together to make an awesome meditation for my day.

A Suitable Administration

“In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth” (Ephesians 1:8b-10).

The footnote says of this administration that God is working all things to bring in the millennial kingdom, so that He might head up all things. He is bringing in His Kingdom where He is ruler of all.

As I look at this, I see the inner workings of this ultimate work, as God places His people into positions in life for the purpose of accomplishing the work of ringing this millennial kingdom into completion. We each are His instruments, having an administration in this age we are in, a place in life where we have a calling and equipping from Him, that He is using to accomplish in our day this work of building His kingdom. It is the Esther principal: “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

Where does God have you right now? Is it a hard place to be? Are there things going on where you are that give opportunity for God to use you to make a difference for His Kingdom purpose? Have you sought Him to discern why He has you where you are in this season of life? Who knows whether you have not attained this position with a view to an administration for such a time as this?

Out of The Wilderness

“Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (1 Corinthians10:5-6).

As I read God’s word in my quiet time, God’s highlighting stops me here. I feel like I am laid low in a wilderness. Now, granted, we are dealing with a grievous situation in our family right now, and I am at the end of the tunnel where the light is before me, leading me out of the pit that grief put me in. But still, it seems that I have been in a wilderness place a lot lately. If their wilderness happened as examples for us, so we would not crave evil things as they craved, I have to ask what evil I am craving that is laying me low in this wilderness.

My immediate thought as I think of things I choose to do is that I crave positions of authority—to be in control of things in life, and when I feel out of control, it lays me low. I crave positions of honor, and when I feel that others look down on me in my own life struggle, it lays me low. I long to be recognized as a godly woman of character, and when I feel some accusation, whether true or false, compromises that, it lays me low. Knowing these truths immediately as I read this passage, contemplating my own issues, I know that I must evaluate my heart before God, repent, and make sure I am doing what I do as His servant, called of Him, equipped by Him, and desiring only His glory, honor, authority, and recognition.

Am I the only one who struggles with wilderness issues from time to time? Well, I hope I am not the only reason for Jesus getting on that cross, but only each individual can judge for oneself. Thus, let’s do that. As I evaluate myself using the insights from these following verses, hopefully it will help others to do so as well.

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Verse 7: “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.’”

I noted in the previous passages I read this morning that the idol is only a god of any authority because our minds make it to be such and give it that place in our lives. The idol is anything in life that we give power to in excess of the power God has to dictate us. We surrender to it instead of following the dictates of God’s leading.

I know that there are things that I give myself to in this wilderness I find myself stuck in and that hinder my coming out into the broader places of light and life that God desires for me. I too often bow to fears, frustrations, laziness, even health issues that I surrender to instead of trusting God’s promise:

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed….” 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

If I truly believe that God’s grace abounds to me so that I always have what is needed to do the good He calls me to, then why bow to these things that rob me? How many times have I marveled at those who struggle in their health, and how faithful they are to do things that go beyond their physical limitations? If they can tap into God’s sufficiency, so can I; by remembering the God I trust.

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Verse 8: “Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.”

When I think of immorality and seek to evaluate if any immoral thing has slipped into my life, I think of the verse that seems to define this sin: “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).

What am I doing that stands against my own body? For that matter, what is “my own body”?  Obviously this shell I live in is my body, so anything I do that hurts my physical shell needs to be dealt with if I want freedom from this wilderness. Self-care is an important issue to evaluate, as we are called to love and care for self as God’s creation, God’s temple, and in knowing that we can only love others as well as we love ourselves.

Then comes to mind these words: “the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31). My husband and I are one in Christ. Is there any immoral thing in that part of my body?

Also comes thought: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21).

“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

We are one body with God in Christ, and we are one body with God’s people. Is there any immorality in me that is sin against any part of my own body?

  ~~*~~

Verse 9: “Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.”

Trying the Lord—putting Him to the test: This was a temptation thrown at Jesus during his 40 days in the wilderness. What was His reply? “Jesus said to him, ‘On the other hand, it is written, “YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST”’” (Matthew 4:7).

We are not to use the promise of God toward us as excuse for sin. Yes, God’s grace is sufficient for us, but only when we are walking the path He desires for us in the way He requires of us. We cannot say, “I am going to do this thing over here that looks good to me and is a good work. Though the Spirit in me is saying ‘not this way,’ I trust God to give me sufficient for this good work because that is His promise to me.” Such is a misuse of God’s promise. If we are not following the dictates of the head, which is Christ, we bring dysfunction to our body and cause harm to our flesh, bringing on that wilderness experience.

In the same way, we cannot sit in our wilderness licking our wounds, saying, “God understands that I am but flesh,” refusing to get up out of our place of struggle and walk free by faith in God’s supply. This, too, tries our God, misappropriating His promise for our own desire. Thus I ask myself, am I trying the Lord?

  ~~*~~

Verse 10: “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

Paul wrote, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:10-13).

Too often we grumble against things in life, being dissatisfied with our lot. When we are grumbling, we are not praising God or being thankful for His good toward us. Job puts it into perspective for us as he speaks to his wife’s grumbling, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” To which God’s word comments, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10)

What grumbling has me snared?

  ~~*~~

Can the sins, failures, and struggles of those around us knock us into the wilderness? Yes. As Paul says, “God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).

My daughter’s suffering at the hand of her husband’s sin can bring suffering to me and to all who love her; as she is flesh of my flesh, and she is one with me in Christ, so I hurt with her. But I do not have to let her suffering keep me in the wilderness, nor should my struggle bring her down. We each must evaluate where we are and why so we can walk out of this desert place and maybe even help the other through on our way. Thus I must ask self, am I using my grief as an excuse to lay down in my wilderness, or am I setting an example that she can follow?

And what about these health issues I struggle with: is it sin for them to keep me down? No. Sickness and poor health happens to the best of us when we least expect it. There are times when health issues are a legitimate hindrance. The trick is to find where that legitimacy starts and our wilderness ends. That is where I have to evaluate whether I am doing all I can to help my health improve. It is where I have to evaluate my faith and God’s call: do I trust God for the strength to meet Him at His call? It is also where I have to evaluate the call and discern God’s voice from the Pharisee in my ear.

A true call to service from God will come with the power to perform. It is vital that I recognize His voice and walk out His will when He leads me. But we also have to have wisdom to discern that there are those who would have us start an epidemic rather than miss church and thus break their idea of what it means to “fall to forsaking the gathering of ourselves together.” And we have to realize that sometimes our sickness and need of others to minister to us is God’s call to those He desires to use in visiting the sick and ministering to them.

God will equip us with strength to do what He calls us to. When we are sincerely ill, doing all we can to recover, and the strength is not there to go and do what we or others think we should, we do harm to our body by pushing ourselves, and risk the destruction of our health. Thus, am I walking in the wisdom God gives, cooperating with Him in my healing; or am I—because of my tendency to want to be in control or to live in ways that others see as godly—pushing myself in ways that are against His will and destructive to my body?

“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come…” (vs. 11-15).

Thus, as I consider this testimony concerning those who have gone before me, I find the starting place for evaluating my own struggle, and the strength to walk out of it. Are you in a wilderness? Come. Go with me. The promised land lies ahead of us.

Darlene Davis © 7/30/11

Navigating Tribulation

“After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:21-22).

In the past numerous months I have become acutely aware of so much heartache and difficulty in our day:  As an instructor in a college welding program, my husband trains up welders for the fields of metals. Many of those who come into his school for this training are people who are or have been enslaved to methamphetamines.  Their ability to function has been severely impaired and it takes them three times longer to learn a skill than it does for non-meth effected students.

He also sees a lot of VETs come through, just back from the frontlines of war, devastated and hindered by varying degrees of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They so long to develop their skill, but the noise in a weld shop brings on flashbacks and intrusive thought that hinders their ability to remain in the class, thus they struggle to get back into normal life.

Recently, our family has been devastated by a person we trusted being wrapped up in addiction to porn that lead to the harm of one of our children. It has crushed us as we watched what we thought was a good marriage disintegrate before our eyes, and as one we loved and respected became reprobate to us.

Then, as always, I think of those like my sweet daddy, falling to such things as paranoia, Alzheimer, and other age related mental issues that rob those they love of the person they knew, before their time.

So much in the world is crushing to us, bringing trouble to life, proving the truth of Jesus’ promise that “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage” (John 16:33).

In the world we have tribulation, Jesus tells us, but, look at the full verse:

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

He has overcome the World, and through Him we can live as overcomers. Here in our focal passage, we get a glimpse of how we can overcome, as Paul points us to realize that through tribulation, we enter His kingdom. We have studied Kingdom living before as we looked at “Walking the Street of Gold on Earth” (https://darlenesponderings.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/walking-the-street-of-gold-on-earth/ ). But today as I look at Psalm 37:3-7a and 34, a passage I meditate on frequently, I see more we can glean from Gods word to help us walk through difficulty in life:

“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him….  Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land”.

In every difficult situation in which it is hard to know what is best, we are to trust in the Lord in ways that keep us focused on doing good in life. We are to dwell in the land in faithfulness, cultivating our own faithfulness to God in the way we dwell there. We are to delight ourselves in God, knowing that the things we need will be accomplished by Him in due season.

We can trust that in our doing of good, practicing faithfulness, and delighting in Him, He will bring forth our righteousness as the light and show our judgment to be true. But if we fail to do good and practices faithfulness in Christ that flows out of delight in God and a desire for a right relationship with Him, we cooperate with “tribulation,” inviting more to come. Recognizing this and putting these things to practice in every situation, we can rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him to reveal truth. As we wait for the Lord, keeping His way while trusting His hand, we can know that He will exalt us to inherit the land in which He has placed us to possess it for His glory.

Easy? Not always, for as I said, some things we go through are hard to know what is His right path; like the situation with our son-in-law. Do we trust his cry of repentance and work for restoration that could put our little ones in harm’s way again; or do we protect our little ones, as pearls we refuse to cast before swine and see a marriage dissolved in divorce, knowing that God hates divorce (Matthew 7:6)? Should my daughter have to live with the intrusive thought of him with her daughter every time he reaches for her in intimacy? Is it true love for him to expect it of her? Or is she free to leave him in light of Jesus’ condition of immorality? And if she leaves, is she free to find love elsewhere? Is our forgiveness true, though we want nothing to do with him anymore: as Robert Jeffress says in his book, “When Forgiveness Doesn’t Make Sense,” chapter 6: “I forgive you, but I don’t want to have dinner with you (or breakfast or lunch for that matter)”? Some things are difficult to know, but one thing I do know, whatever we do must be done in faith, trusting God to lead, and living the days ahead in righteousness that reveals God as God. And He who is God will make our righteousness known and prove our judgment to be from Him.

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

May we be found facing tribulation in faith, believing the overcoming power of our Holy God and Christ.

 

The Talents Revisited: Part 2

Read Matthew 25:14-30

“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master….’” And likewise did the slave with two talents (:19-23).

Yesterday we were informed in the beginning of Jesus’ account of this well-known parable that each was given that which they received “according to their ability.” What “ability” might this be for us, as we consider our character, empowered and equipped by God’s Spirit as our “talent,” charged to our responsibility of care?

I would suggest our ability is determined by our understanding—our comprehension—that brings us to belief. According to our ability to believe, we are given charge.

When I heard of the promise found in Jesus at the age of 10, I had childlike faith to believe in the degree of my ability to comprehend. As I grew in my ability to understand this awesome gift of Jesus, my grasp on the importance of this gift and the responsibility that comes with it grew stronger. With growing ability to believe, I began to use the “talent” God charged to my responsibility, expending it in ways that brought increase, making me ready for the returning Christ.

How do I know this increase in my life to be true? By the produce seen that points to our success as servants given charge of the wealth of our Master. What is it that is produced in me and in you who hold in trust the resource of our God? This week we will look at four ways our expenditure of God’s resource will produce a harvest worthy of His trust, beginning with:

Produce 1 – “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).

When we believe God about any facet of His work or desire to work in us, He grants to us a measure of faith to help us succeed. Faith, along with the Kingdom of God, is two things that Jesus described as being like a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6; Mark 4:30-31). The significance of the use of this analogy is seen in the words of Christ describing the mustard seed in Mark 4:31-32:

It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.”

The Spirit sows within us this seed of faith, which begins to grow in measure with our ability to believe. As we expend faith through belief, it grows stronger and bigger, producing a harvest of faith-actions. Each experience of faith fulfilled increases our ability to believe, and thus, our measure of faith. But there is an arch enemy of faith we must be alert to. What is it?  I believe we see that enemy of faith in the account of the third servant of our parable.

“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘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’” (:24-25).

Because of fear, this one the Master later calls worthless and lazy hides the “talent” of His master in the ground where dead things belong. He never does anything with or for it that would cause growth and a harvest. Any growth that might come to one dictated more by fear than faith is then smothered out by the weeds of life.

One cannot walk forward to productive living while being dictated by fear and faith at the same time. Either fear will win, bringing stagnation in growth, or faith will win. And faith must win for increase to come that makes us good stewards of God’s supply. Faith empowered by the Spirit must prevail.

Consider then the truth that God gives supply to us for the purpose of producing a harvest. He expects increase. That being true, did this worthless slave return to his Master all that was His?

Over and over in Scripture we see the provision of God in the power of the Spirit that is given to those who profess to believe. It is expected that our understanding of these truths will cause a work that will grow the provision of Spirit into a harvest, one beyond our natural ability, thus glorifying God and increasing His Kingdom. When we fail to show this increase, we rob God of the full return.

Now, with faith in place and growing, let us continue to the next aspect of the Spirit’s produce. See you tomorrow.

 

Darlene Davis © 6/24/11

Hear Then the Parable of the Sower – Part 4

“And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matthew 13:18-23).

Many years ago, after the death of his mother, my husband’s grief came out in ways that made marriage difficult at best. In fact, if it was not for God, I wonder if we would have made it through those days. What happened to change my Sweetie in that time? Not much really, his change came after the fact; but as I sought God for strength to persevere, a lot happened to change me.

The first thing God did was grab my attention through Isaiah 43:25. Here is where God taught me the truths shared with you in my Ponderings posted in April, titled “Forgiving God’s Way: Parts 1 & specifically 2” (found under archives in April 2011). Learning that forgiving every perceived insult “for my own sake” would deliver me from anger and bitterness, and leaving my husband to God for Him to deal with would free me to love him unconditionally and incorruptibly made all the difference in my ability to bear the fruit of perseverance and forbearance while God returned my husband to me.

Another thing God led me to in that season was 1 Corinthians 13:1-8. Every time something was done to bring hurt and heartache, God would lead me in several different versions to look at that passage and find the attribute of love that was needed to be practiced in that situation. As I did so, I learned love and grew stronger in bearing that fruit out in my life.

Another passage that spoke clearly to me was Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” As I read that verse one day, God spoke to my heart to find something good in my husband each day and to dwell on that. As I obeyed that instruction, my attitude toward him changed, and that change came out to him through improved words and deeds toward him.

Early in my practice of dwelling on the better things, God inspired me to purchase a two-year pocket calendar. He instructed me that for one year I was to write down something good about my husband that I saw in each day. Thus I did at the end of every day. I asked, “So why a two-year one? Why not just one year?” To which I heard in my Spirit, “You will see.”

So I purchased that two year—plus a few months—calendar and began my project just before thanksgiving. Everyday I would think of something I noticed in that day. Some days were easy. Others, not so. Some days all I could think of was something like, “I love the color of his brown eyes.” At the end of one year, as I read through that calendar, I was amazed to find that not one day was exactly like another. I had 365 reasons listed that I found good about my man. But the greatest thing I found is that my attitude toward him was 180 degrees different, my love for him stronger than ever, and I learned true grace toward others that sets them free to be and me free to rest in being my best with them.

Then God told my heart, “Now, I want you to wrap it and give it to Johnny for Christmas.” I did so, little knowing what God had up His proverbial sleeve. My sweetheart carried that calendar in his lunch box for five years, and has it put up in safekeeping still today. During those years of carrying it, he read it often, and he took it to heart. The good things I saw in him, he wanted to do even better at, so God used that calendar to inspire good in my husband that is still producing its crop today.

Scripture working to direct our lives and bearing its fruit within is only one side of the coin. On the flip side, I once went through a season of receiving great words of truth, instruction for living, and encouragement for the practice of faith, but God was not having me write about it, I felt longing to speak it. I longed to share the things God was giving me, knowing that as they benefited me, they could help others as well. Called of God to go on mission to Ukraine, as I was packing, the Spirit nudged me to grab my notes on those lessons. When on mission like the ones I go on, it is sometimes difficult to get a good quiet time in, so I thought God was sending those for me to use for meditation while there.

In these trips, we go to work with churches of the area. The Project leader came to me and said, “Darlene, we are short people. Do you mind going to a church by yourself?” Now I told God I trusted Him to put me where He needed me and make me able, and God reminded me of that as I opened my mouth in response. “Sure.” The church I was posted to was in a small town outside of the main area being worked and the church had hoped for a preacher. They got me.

That first Sunday morning service, the pastors all formed a circle as we prepared and began to talk seriously with my interpreter. Directly she asked me, “Darlene, can you preach.” Good little Baptist woman that I am, I said, “If you mean, can I share an encouraging word from scripture, yes” (My pentecostal friends giggle at that). I shared those words of encouragement through nine sessions that week, two Sunday mornings and every night between; and God had me ready with outlines drawn up. That church did not bring into the services large numbers of those who did not know Christ. They kept the services for the people of the church and were hungry for words of encouragement. God used His word to bear fruit of encouragement in the lives of the church there.

During each day throughout my time there they took me to many who did not know Christ, where I shared with individuals and groups in their homes. Fifty-seven people turned their lives over to Christ that trip through another teaching God gave me for use in sharing the cross of Christ with them.

Am I sharing all this to brag on me? No. But all of this testimonial word gives a clear picture of all the ways God’s word bears fruit: in us personally as we walk out His instruction with faith to believe, in other Christians as we share His word as encouragement, and in those who need deliverance  as we share the message of Christ.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Only as we study God’s word with open heart to receive it, understand it, believe it, trust it, live it—in good times and in bad, can we see it bear fruit into and through our lives. And when we do so faithfully, we can know beyond doubt that it will produce a harvest of true and eternal treasure in this life and the next. So go forth and prosper, my friend. I am praying for your understanding to grow strong in the Lord.

Hear Then the Parable of the Sower – Part 3

 “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. …”(Read Matthew 13:18-23 and Exodus 3).

Take a look at this picture, because I believe this shows what happens when we let the worries of the world and deceitfulness of wealth or sin into our lives.

Do you see the conversation of God with Moses here? What about conversations you have with God—or self as if to God (Luke 18:9-14 – note who the Pharisee is said to be praying to)?

Note the large, flattened stone under all the boulders of doubt and fear. I may have it so covered up that you can’t see it, but pressure with heat on a stone, the wear and tear of good soil being washed away, makes for these large, flat boulders that absolutely cover the good soil of the earth—or the heart, hindering the good seed from reaching the soil where it can sprout forth to grow. This is what we do to ourselves when we choose fear over faith, doubt over believing God; when we look to self without considering who our God is and the might He has within Himself to work His will in our lives.

Note the little eyes, peering out from its hiding place. This was me for two years as Complicated Grief Disorder took hold, capturing my focus in all the deceptive thoughts, attitudes, and disbelief that took hold on me. Is it you? Is this the picture of your life, or of portions of your life?

Also take note in our focal verse that this person is able to hear the promise and instruction of the Lord. They know it is from God. They know Him, His power. They are His chosen instrument. But their focus, like Moses, is on their own ability without consideration of God’s equipping. Their fear and anxiety see the limited power of the forces in life and they pull away in fear without considering with belief the almighty and unlimited power available through the God above all. Thus, because of failure to focus with faith on God and His promises to those who believe, bedrocks of doubt form becoming obstacles that hinder God’s good seed from taking root: producing nothing.

For years now God has given me focal verses to meditate upon for long periods of time, sometimes for years, meditating upon them at least weekly until I fully comprehend and receive the truths there as my own bedrock of belief. One such scripture I am focused on this year, being reminded of it often, bears testimony of Abraham as spoken of him by Paul in Romans 4:19-22:

“Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness.”

Note that Abraham recognized his andSarah’s own weaknesses and the seeming impossibility of it all. But what did he set his heart to believe? The promise of God, who is fully able to accomplish in us all He proclaims. He believed God would be God in his life.

The difference between thoughts of concern that lead to bedrocks of doubt and that of recognizing what is while waiting with hope for what is to come is the focus of our belief. Where do we rest our faith? Are we like the Pharisee who looks to self so much so that his prayers are seen by God as being self-focused, never touching the heart of God? Whether through self-righteousness or self-preoccupation, this is a danger we must realize. Or are we like Abraham and the Tax Collector, realizing our own limits and flaws, but knowing that with God, nothing shall be impossible?

And what about fear: where should fear be? What was it that saved Joseph, and even Jesus from the deceitfulness of sins lure? When tempted by Potipher’s wife, what fear saved Joseph? “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).

And Jesus’ temptation? “Then the devil took (Jesus) into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, “HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU”; and “ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.”’ Jesus said to him, ‘On the other hand, it is written, “YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST”’” (Matthew 4:5-7).

Do we fear God enough to trust Him? I don’t know about you, but I would rather believe for a miracle from my Miracle Making God of all power and live with hope, believing, producing the fruit of faith, than spend one more wasted day in the grip of ungodly fear, worry and deception.

“NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. …And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:1, 6, AB and NASB).

Walking in the Wind

“Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’ And He said, ‘Come!’ And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’  When they got into the boat, the wind stopped” (Matthew14:28-32, NASB).

People who have read my materials long know that I have struggled the past two or three years with almost agoraphobic social anxiety because of Complicated Grief Disorder (CGD – a type of PTSD) brought on by some things going on in life right now. It makes doing things I normally love doing very difficult if it requires me to get out of the house and move among others. There have been times when I have lost the battle: fully dressing for an occasion, grabbing my purse only to find myself unable to put my foot out the door. Since God revealed the problem with which I struggle, I am slowly doing what is needful to heal; which is to deny the fear and press forward in faith to do the things I fear. Every victory makes the next occasion easier to face, though there are times of regress, like today.

Often times a call will come to “go and do” that I know is God’s will for me. He speaks to my heart that I need to be there to participate with family and friends or fellow believers. Looking with faith to Jesus in the instant of that call, I commit myself to the task. That faith to trust in God who calls us is the first move toward stepping out of the proverbial boat that often depicts a false sense of security.

Often I take that step with joy, believing; but quickly the enemy of my soul, desiring that I sink in the mire, points to the wind. Doubt enters about my own safety in the place where God has called me, forming worries over “what ifs” into a resistance against my faith, and waves of worry and fretting begin to overtake me. Because of the messed up brain chemistry brought on by CGD, my own body’s false wisdom, the messed up chemistry that brings unreasonable “fright or flight” into play, works against me with that wind, making the battle of faith over fear fierce.

This passage reminds me this morning that when such happens, it is vital that I keep my heart turned toward God, knowing that I am safest in the midst of His will. To walk out of His will into disobedience is when I am in the truest of dangers. When with Him and trusting Him to get me to the boat of His leading, I walk safely forward as I deny fear’s assault.

Note that both boats are in the water, storm tossed; but in the presence of God’s will, empowered for obedience, protection comes; and when finally in that place of obedience, the winds die. While on the water, heading toward obedience, focus on Jesus keeps me in peace with Him despite the storm tossed seas that threaten me. Finally reaching the boat, the destination of God’s desire for me, the waves stop as I busy myself about the business of service in that place, whether that service is some work I committed to, or just that of being God’s light to encourage family and friend. And every time I succeed at finding that place of peace besideJ esus and walk in it, the experience rewrites the brains proper chemical response, bringing healing from CGD. (Just as an FYI here, every time we choose fear over faith, the body’s chemistry that puts us in “fright or flight” overtakes us and we help to write within our brains a stronger lean toward social anxiety, fear, paranoia, OCD, CGD, PTSD and many other such things.)

God never takes us to a place without a purpose, so as long as I am mindful that I am there as His instrument to love and encourage others, I do alright. But if I allow my mind’s tempest to get hold, making me a wall-flower in that place; I find myself clinging to the side of the boat, just outside of God’s will and robbed of His protective cover and power to overcome and perform.

As I read this passage in Matthew and am impressed with these thoughts, I do so while under attack by fear’s worries right now as I think of going to a baby shower I know I am to attend. This timely passage reminds me that I can keep my eyes on Jesus, knowing that God has a purpose for me in that place, and all will be well. As I do so, peace enters in with God’s grace that is power to overcome and to perform flowing to me. I am feeling better now about going and will persevere by the grace God supplies. As I do so, I pray to remember this lesson with every opportunity to step out of my personal place of false security. And I pray for those reading, for whom God had me post this pondering, that you too will be empowered by faith in God to walk free of debilitating fear.

Here am I, O God. Your servant is listening.

Grace Defined #5 – an annonym: The Idol Lie

“LABORING TOGETHER [as God’s fellow workers] with Him then, we beg of you not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them—do not receive it to no purpose]” (2 Corinthians 6:1).

I have a very dear friend that I love greatly, who, in a season of trouble, was going through a very difficult time of life. I wanted so to be there for her and walk with her to its conclusion, but she turned to fleshly things and began running in ways contrary to God’s ways. Sitting with her, trying to encourage her to trust the Lord and stay close to His ways, she quickly informed me, “God understands that I am but flesh, and He will forgive me.” Is that truth? Yes. But is it truly applied? No.

My friend continued on her path, and God instructed my heart, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). I was not allowed to walk with her in her season of trouble as she walked quickly into the consequences of her sin.

This morning, as I visited with the Lord, He led me to see that the philosophy spoken of by my friend is a lie about grace. That lie is used of Satan to set up a type of God’s grace as a false idol in the lives of those who would be God’s people, and it works to defeat them because they do not fully know, understand and acknowledge the truth of who God is in all His fullness when they practice that idolic grace. In leading me to understand this truth, God took me to some Old Testament passages.

“Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me. An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand’” (Isaiah 1:2-3).

So what is it that we must know and understand if we are to avoid falling to this idol lie?

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23-26).

Four things we must know about God in order for Him to protect us from falling to this idol lie about His grace:

FIRST, God is LORD. If we truly know His grace, we must not only call Him LORD, but walk in ways that reveal His Lordship in our lives. That walk in His Lordship comes day by day, in good times and in bad. The practice of that Lordship is what brings us into the obedience of Christ, who says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23, NASB). What does it mean to take up ones cross?

I have many times heard people say of some illness, “It is my cross to bear,” but is that what Christ is speaking of here? No. That may be their thorn in the flesh, but it is not a cross. When I hear of bearing a cross and think of choosing to pick it up, I think of the example of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, when, facing His own cross, Jesus cries out, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42, NASB).

Our pastor pointed out the other day that this cup Christ speaks of is not that of taking up the cross. The cup was bearing the sin that would bring separation from the Father. Jesus never once in His life of ministry had to face anything without God’s presence. He knew that taking up the cup meant separation from the Father in the moment of His bearing our sin. For us, to take up our cross, we must lay down the cup that separates us from God.

In every situation where we are caused to cry out, “Lord, not my will, but Yours be done,” as we press forward in obedience to His will and way, we lay down the cup of separation to take up our cross and follow Christ in His example of obedience to God. Thus, through obedience to God’s will in every circumstance, we successfully remember His Lordship so as to walk in His grace, trusting His power to perform the requirements of the path God sets before us.

SECOND, God practices lovingkindness toward us: God is love and He always acts toward us out of that love, giving grace as unmerited favor and spiritual blessing in His lovingkindness toward us. That is the part of His grace that covers us through Christ-crucified, bringing us into salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB).

But the truth of that Ephesians passage continues on in verse 10 to say, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

God expects that His work of grace in us will bring us to be the living image of God revealed to us through Christ’s earthly ministry. When we receive His gift of grace through Christ with thought that we can go on our merry way and do what we want without fear of eternities death, we walk quickly out from under that cover of His lovingkindness in Christ to this idolic grace that deceives us. In so doing, we commit the sin Paul speaks of in 1 Timothy 3:1-8:

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, HOLDING TO A FORM OF GODLINESS, ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE DENIED ITS POWER; avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

True knowledge of God’s grace brings with it the power to overcome evil and perform the good works of God. When we deny that power, we believe a lie about grace and set it up as an idol we bow to as if we have no call or responsibility to live righteously in the earth. When we walk away from God in this way, we quickly find the next characteristic of God for ourselves, for love always does what is best for the one loved, in order to bring them to good and glory. But some choose to learn the hard way the next truth about God’s character.

THIRD, God is just and He delves out justice to those who sin against Him.

Now that sounds horrible, and it is for the one who is not truly in Christ, for they are doomed to an eternity without God. When I see people walking in this false-belief my friend has about God’s grace, I have to wonder if they truly know His salvation, for scripture teaches that the tree is known by the fruit it bears, whether good or evil (Matthew 7:15-23).

For those who are truly in Christ, yes, we have a tendency to fall to the flesh from time to time, but sin is not a habit we willing run toward. What does scripture say to assure our hearts of God’s grace to work in our lives when we as His true children do sin?

“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 12:7-11).

This brings us to our FOURTH truth about God: God is righteous. For those who are true sons, understanding the power of grace as well as its favor, He disciplines us as sons in order to develop His righteousness and holiness in us. What is “discipline”?

In 2 Timothy 3, Paul, teaching Timothy about God’s way of training His children says the following, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (vs. 12-17).

Thus, the true child of God is trained by God through the teaching of His word that they may know truth, through reproof that points out sin’s stain, through correction of wrong doing and believing, and through training in righteousness, thus equipping the true child for good works.

 Jeremiah 9 ends with the following:

“‘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.’”

God works in us as sons to circumcise our hearts, removing from us the flesh-man and making us new creations in Christ, image bearers who are wholehearted toward God. As He removes the flesh from our hearts, He establishes us to be Spirit led, seeking Him first in all things, trusting His power to work in us the glory of God’s grace, sufficient for every need even in difficult times. That work of His Spirit changes us from glory to glory, making us to be more like Him day by day, perfecting us until the day of Christ’s return. For those who truly know and surrender to God, they do not deliberately and rebelliously walk away from God and test Him by taking advantage of His grace in ungodly dissipation. Instead, we long for Him, to be clothed in His righteousness, thus we are quick to repent and remain in fellowship with Him in Christ.

Am I better than my friend who fell to sins grip? No. Scripture warns, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).

It is dangerous to think too highly of self, for “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” as the old testament King James passage says (Proverbs 16:18). But what does God’s word promise in the 13th verse of 1 Corinthians 10?

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

What is the way of escape? Grace in all its power! We can trust God to empower us to walk in the victory of His grace: unmerited favor and spiritual blessing with power to both overcome evil and perform what is good.

Is my friend beyond help? How about your loved ones who walk in this falsehood? No. Grace can minister healing to her still, and when grace moves in to do so, I am here. “Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:6-7, NASB).

God would not let me walk with her into destruction, but He has me ready, willing and able to walk with her as His hand of grace and love brings healing from sin. Before I can, there must be proof of sincere repentance and understanding of these truths of grace, otherwise the crushing pain of watching helplessly as she falls again will be the experience, for those who set grace up as an idol constantly fall away to follow the flesh of their heart.

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (1 Peter 3:14-18, NASB).