Category Archives: Power

Pondering ONE

Jesus, in the Lord’s Prayer found in John 17, prayed, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (vs. 16-17).

Reading that passage in my younger years, my mind and heart always went to thought of the church being made one together in Father and Son. But today, in light of my pondering, I see something more, something deeper. I see in this passage the prayer for each individual that makes up the “they” of the church. As we each, individually, come into this unity Jesus speaks of, we are perfected in that unity, and yes, together we come closer to each other for a more unified body of Christ, the Church. But it begins with our individual relationship with the Father.

What led me to these thoughts?

I am at a place in my walk with Father that amazes my heart when I experience its reality. I am coming more and more into the realization of the Eternal.

Don’t get me wrong. I still struggle in areas of weakness of flesh. But more and more I am experiencing the perfecting power of His sure Presence. And as more and more I surrender to this unity with Him, this reality of His sure presence with and in me, trusting in Him, less and less is my struggle to conform to the transforming power of His Person with me. And as more and more I surrender to His Presence working in and through me, greater and greater is the increase of this peaceful, trust, increasing my assurance of His faithfulness to complete the work He began in me. He is faithful who will also do it.

And more and more, as I realize His presence with and work in me, less and less is the distance to the eternal. My now is no longer limited by time and space. It is empowered by Him who is all in all, beyond comprehension, boundless His dimensions. More and more I trust the words He places within me to encourage another, and I speak them with greater assurance and boldness of faith, realizing He is in them. More and more I trust Him to lead my steps and orchestrate my day, and I follow more surely without question of actions resource, knowing He will bring the faithful work to produce His desired results in His perfect time. Less and less does fear of failure or fear of being rejected hinder my walk with, in, and through Him. Surrendering more and more to meld into His reality, I find more and more of the real and true “me” He created me to be, and I am set free to know eternity with Him today.

Jesus sat the example for us with professions like “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing…” (John 5:19-20). Then in John 14:10: “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” We, too, can know and do the Father’s will, following His initiative, and speaking His words, as His eternal presence is made real to our earthly existence.

As sons and daughters of the Father through the Christ, the same love is there for us, ready to show us all things He Himself is doing. “I and the Father are one,” Jesus said, then prayed in later text, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one” (John 10:30; 17:22). He is talking about our here and now existence. Not just our heaven-bound, future reality. He is talking about our unity with each other as we come into our unity with Him, making us ONE as He is ONE.

More and more I see people who are whole heartedly seeking the Father, coming more and more into the reality of this unity that removes all separation from the Eternal. Our “now” is just a momentary instance within our eternal. Our “now” is not separate from the Eternal, it is partner with it. And the produce of our now existence being made one with the Eternal will be seen in the earth and in our eternity with Him as we enter His presence more and more until end of days comes.

How much easier it is to live godly in the now when the Eternal is real within us. When we realize our partnership with God through the Christ; when we understand our lives as being an extension of His own, Him at work in us to continue His work in the earth, bringing about all His good purpose and plan: with that realization the Eternal then comes to live within each individual of us and we see His hand move mountains as His power pours forth through our willing hands and feet, mouths and heart’s beat.

Sound charismatic? Sound New Age? It’s not. It is the living God and Father responding to the heart-cry of His Son as prayed for us by Him before His final translation to Glory at the right hand of the Father. If we are saved through Christ now, we are saved for all eternity, and our eternal existence is partner with our now as we surrender to His initiative. I’m not perfect in this unity yet, but I am growing in it and it in me. God, living and well within us, freeing us from the mortal so that the immortal can thrive to the glory of His name. Many, seeing this eternal reality springing forth in the lives of others, question its varsity, just as they did in Jesus’ day and ministry, because they do not understand its truth and they fear what they fail to believe.

Truth is found in the truth, beloved. Want to know the truth of what I am professing today? Dig into the Word of God, asking for His initiative to be made evident. It is truth that helps us to know truth. And it is truth that contrasts the false.

In every false religion that is functional and able to progress, there is an element of the truth that is stolen by the deceiver – that enemy of God at work to make the distortion of it palatable, leading many astray. We do not discern the false by studying the false. We discern the false by knowing the truth. Studying the false to try to learn of the false can cause one of two things:

* We can grow to believe the false and partner with it when we do not have understanding of the truth.

* We can grow to fear the false and become judgmental of people who practice truth we don’t understand because of a distorted focus on the false and failure to grow in our own understanding of the truth.

Want more of the eternal that God desires we possess? Chase after knowledge of the truth found only in Him, doing so without fear of believing Him and taking Him at His word. He contrasts the truth that is His from that twisted by the lie and used to deceive, helping us to find His truth perfected within us, drawing us more and more into the Eternal that influences and equips our righteousness and lifting us up to all He desires we be: the Eternal colliding with our now existence. That is power at work in God’s eternal beings, His sons and daughters, making us lights to lead many to freedom found only in the truth of Christ and unity with Him.

“…He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father” ~ John 14:9-12.

ONE: it is an eternal principle: Jesus in the Father who is in Him; them in me and me in them, and us in one another with Him, empowered and equipped by this Eternal for the greater works of God in our here and now existence. Great things come to ONE, Eternal with God, fulfilling His purpose in the earth.

Today is the first day of our eternity, beloved. Come into the Father with me and let us be busy about the Father’s business, having His power for salvation, before time runs out for those in need of this Eternal connection.

Pondering The Living Word ~ Power for Life

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” ~ Hebrews 1:1-2.

Hebrews is an awesome book, filled with word pictures that explain the Christ in detail, instructing in all He accomplished on our behalf, and giving meaty promises we can cling to for a life of peace and power, assurance and abundance. Many credit Paul for its writing, but I lean toward John as the author because he is the one most often to point out Jesus as the Living Word of God.

Today, as I read these first verses, my heart is full of the Power of God’s Word found and exhibited in Jesus, and passed on to us. As I read God’s word, it inspires my faith, strengthens my hope, enlightens my path, and empowers my efforts. God’s Word is our authority for life.

Here and in verses 9-10, the author points us to the fact that Jesus was the Word that Spoke and caused all things to come into existence. That point takes us back to Genesis 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then GOD SAID, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (vs. 1-3). With the spoken word, God caused all creation to come into existence. He speaks, and it is done. He watches over His word to perform it, always! Scripture inspires me to believe that His Word is as good as His Presence with us. We can clasp hold of His instruction to us and walk in the authority of His reality, present and effective through us.

John 1, speaking of Jesus, tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (vs. 1-3).

God’s word instructs us that His word is alive. It is a person, Jesus, the Christ. And in the power of His Spirit, it is living and active still today (Hebrews 4:12).

My heart is aflame with this truth today. Jesus is the Word. He is the Angel of the Lord who brought God’s word to those He was sent to in the Old Testament account of God’s interaction with mankind. He is the Word sent to us after 400 years of silence, bringing a new covenant of redemption to our reality. The Word is still living and active today in the power of the Spirit, teaching us truth: convincing of sin (what is a wrong path), righteousness (what is a right path), and judgment (giving ability to discern consequences for our choices) – (see John 16:8).

The thing that breaks my heart is when I see people reading God’s Word as if it is an archaic book that is no longer relevant to life. Seeing them read it as if God is not a big enough God to protect its translation through the ages, keeping it righteous and maintaining its integrity and application to life at any age. If God is not big enough to protect His word; if He is not powerful enough to make it relevant to our lives today, He is not big enough to be God.

You want power for life? Seek the Spirit of God to breathe life into you as you read His word. Seek Him to enlighten the eyes of your heart so you hear the Living, Life giving Word as He sent it to be, filled with power that is relevant for you today. Read God’s word, not as an archaic history book we are required to know, but as one inspired by the Word that lives and breathes truth to us, and you will receive power for life more abundant and full.

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power” ~ Hebrews 1:3a.

The Living Word of God is still alive and well today. When we press forward with His Word as our guiding light, the power of that Word will reveal itself to us as the living and active power of God, bringing all He speaks into existence. “Only believe!” (Jesus, Mark 5:21-42)

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.

Glorious Thunder!

God’s voice is glorious in the thunder. We can’t even imagine the greatness of his power ~ Job 37:5, NLT.

God has me meditating on this verse again today. For several days now He has used its wisdom to remind me that His voice booms out His glory in the midst of the storms of life. He is ever present in our situations, bringing good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). The question is, will we realize Him in the storm and trust Him for the outcome? Will we be open to what He is doing and wants to accomplish in and through us because of the things we learn of Him while in the storm?

thunder002Beloved, whatever you are going through today, be alert to God there, open to hearing from and seeing Him. Realize even in the midst of the storms of life that His power is beyond our comprehension. The storm that overwhelms us is nothing to Him. He will not be overcome, and He who loves us will fight for us to bring to pass the purpose for which He allows the storm to come (Romans 5:1-5; James 1:2-3).

Oh, for the fresh breath that comes with the passing of the storm: Watch for it. He who fights for you will not fail to accomplish His good purpose and plan, and we will be the better for it.

Lift Up Your Hands!

Hello, beloved. I am here today to share a pondering with you as I seek the Lord to “show me.” As those of you who read many of my writings may have guessed, I am memorizing a large portion of Psalm 63 in the NIV. This week I am working to add verse 4 and 5 to what I have thus far. Today, as I consider and focus on verse 4, I find myself wondering what might be applied to life through this verse. It says, and I quote…

“I will praise you all of my life, and in Your name I will LIFT UP MY HANDS” ~ Psalm 63:4, NIV.

Now I will look and make sure I quoted that correctly. Back in a minute…(tick, tick)….

Ah, man! I keep saying “all of my life” instead of “as long as I live”. Oh, hum. Well I am getting better. I was saying “with all that I am,” which Father told me “sounds good to Me”, but it is not what this version of this verse says. Anyway, I digress. It is a process and part of my processing today is spurred by wondering how, in His name, we might lift up our hands.

Now this, I am sure, is talking about worship, but we should worship God by honoring Him as God and Lord and Master in all things, so I am wondering how else we lift up hands in the name of the Lord. Searching “lift, hand” on Bible Gateway, this is what I discern as I seek the Lord for His answers. Now, note, not all of these scriptures will be specifically talking about what I discern from the input I receive from the use of lift – hands in a particular verse. But I believe the things God is revealing to me are scriptural, so open your hearts and minds to Him and get ready to say, “Amen!” or “Oh me.”

“Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him by the hand, for I will make a great nation of him” ~ Genesis 21:18.

When we take the hand of a child or someone younger than we are in order to train them up or lead or mentor them, we better be doing so in the name of the Lord, as best represents Him. It is our greatest work of praise, honor, and glory to God when we encourage and help others become all He sees in them.

“As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land” ~ Exodus 14:16.

What better way to honor and glorify God than, through obedience to Him, to lift hands in His name so as to be used of Him to make a way where there is no way for those who need to be set free. This requires faith to believe Him, take Him at His word, and do what He says.

“Then one of them shall lift up from it a handful of the fine flour of the grain offering, with its oil and all the incense that is on the grain offering, and he shall offer it up in smoke on the altar, a soothing aroma, as its memorial offering to the Lord” ~ Leviticus 6:15.

Lifting our hands to fulfill what is needed in giving an offering to God at the altar of sacrifice. When we do and give and work as an offering of sacrifice and service to God, we bless Him and honor Him as Lord. The soothing aroma created not only pleases and glorifies God, but it acts as a memorial to Him and to all who see.

“Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them” ~ Leviticus 9:22a.

Lifting hands in honor of God’s name, as representing Him and His interests in the earth so as to bless those around us brings great praise and glory to our God and King.

“Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank” ~ Numbers 20:11.

God often will bless those we lift a hand to serve in His name, even when we do it with a bad attitude or wrong motives. But as Moses learned, better to check those things and get right with God first.

“Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary” ~ Psalm 28:2 (Psalm 141:2).

We lift our hands to God in earnest prayers of intercession, supplication, and surrender; reaching to Him who is the answer in all things.

“And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes” ~ Psalm 119:48.

Here I see the lifting of hands as in a pledge of allegiance, committing self to the Sovereignty of God as Lord and to the fulfillment of our responsibility as citizens of His Holy Kingdom.

“Lift up your hands to the sanctuary And bless the Lord” ~ Psalm 134:2.

As I read this, I am mindful that God is our Sanctuary. When we realize that we are safest when in close proximity to Him, accomplished through faith, trust, and allegiance to obey Him, it blesses His heart and brings us into His security.

“Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins? Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord. We lift up our heart and hands toward God in heaven; we have transgressed and rebelled, You have not pardoned” ~ Lamentations 3:39-42.

Here I see lifting the hand so as to slap the knee—or the forehead, as the popular V8 commercial depicts—in realization of sin and sincere repentance of heart.

“Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension” ~ 1 Timothy 2:8.

We glorify, honor, and bless Father when we lift up holy hands in unity as Brethren in Christ.

And finally is the one that first came to my mind and heart as I anticipated this search.

Exodus 17: 8 Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. 13 So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner; 16 and he said, “The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.”

Beloved, the bottom line I am seeing is this. The Lord, our God, He is our Banner, our Support, our Strong Tower, our Storehouse of supply, abundant for every need. He is God, Lord, King, Savior, Hope, Help, Champion, Sanctuary. He is worthy for us to lift up holy hands in every possible way that brings Him honor. And sometimes we need the help of others to hold our hands up and to help us walk so as to make our ways straight. In Christ we are one with the One God who reveals Himself through Father, Son-Savior, and Holy Spirit-Presence-Power.

Father, I will praise you all of my life, with all that I am, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. In Jesus, make it so I pray. Amen.

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 3

Power Supply 

“Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” (Mark 12:24)

~*~

We covered in Part 1 my struggle and how God used it to grow my understanding of His Love-flow and the heartache it brings Him when that flow toward us is hindered. In Part 2 we looked at God’s love that reaches out to the lost and what it means for those who refuse it.

Now, in Part 3, before some of us who call ourselves “Christian” get haughty against our lost brethren in the realm of mankind; realize that some of us use Christ as fire insurance just as some of Israel did with the sacrifice of cattle. We profess Him with our mouths, but our hearts are not in Him.

Even some who truly are saved by grace through faith live lives that are less than our potential in Christ; His sacrifice has not been received as one that brings life to us, reuniting us with God in ways that change us from the inside out. We fail to tap into the power that He sends us for our supply in performing all His good will and way toward fulfilling His purpose and plan.

My Daddy told me a story the other day that illustrates our plight.

A man he knew bought one of the first Volker’s Wagons that came out on the market, understanding that it would get much better gas mileage than his big car. To his chagrin, it proved much less effective than he believed it would be, so, trying to save some money, he started filling it only half full. Over the next few weeks, he rejoiced with amazement over the great mileage he was getting. Then he learned that someone had been siphoning his tank, and that stopped when they could no longer reach the gas with their hose.

This is how we who profess Christ too often live. We become disappointed that God’s supply is not what we thought it would be for us when we first came to profess belief in Him and His promises. Little do we realize that we are being robbed blind because of a lack of understanding of our situations and the way God works in life. So we get rid of the “vehicle”, letting our relationship with Him slide to the wayside, thinking it a farce, or we go about life only half full.

As we said in part 2, some profess faith in Christ, but their profession is just for show, to fit in with the crowd. These are as those who bought the car because it was new and they would look good to others. They don’t really expect to get anything out of it. They may function well in the church and seem to have power in them, but their power is their own and their goodness is not that produced through relationship that is supplied by God. They are in a show-car, having no real ownership of it.

Some profess relationship with Christ strictly because they believe He will make life easy here and now. As soon as the worries of life and struggle of temptation hit to discourage their journey, they die off. The root of faith never sprouts to take hold in them, so they burn up and walk away from the experience. They are as those who purchased the car, found it lacking from what they expected, and discarded it as useless.

These two groups above, who profess faith in Christ with their mouths, never receiving the work of righteousness within them, are as lost as those who have yet to come to know that they have a choice in life. It is one thing to know of Christ; it is another entirely to be in relationship with Him. Even the demons believe He is the Christ, and they cringe knowing their end because they have nothing of Him within themselves. Take care that your faith is not that of the demon.

Those who truly profess Christ will be affected by Him in ways that change them from a sinner enslaved to sin, to the righteousness of God in action and deed, thought and desire. These are made righteous for eternity instantly by the finished work of Christ over them, and experientially as they grow in grace to live in obedience while on the earth.

Too often we come to faith believing that we will see instant change in our here and now lives, and life will be easy from then on. Our misunderstanding and false expectations leave us unprepared to deal with the flesh, the world and demons siphoning our tanks and discouraging our experience. Those who truly know Him but are not prepared for the struggle that can come as God’s Spirit works to bring the flesh and our will into agreement with the Father are those who too often run on half a tank. Unwilling to deal with the struggle full commitment brings and pay the price of the gas through obedience against all opposition, they settle for half the power potential God brings to life.

The Father loves the Bride fully. Through the Son, she (the body of Christ) enters into familial relationship with the Father, becoming His child; sons and daughters made whole in Christ. In the instant we come into relationship with God through Christ, we receive all His love and care because of that relationship; the blood of Christ, God’s gift of grace to us, covering our sin so the Father can relate with us one on one. And the ring of promise on our finger is the Spirit of God within us that seals the deal for all eternity. We are sealed in the Spirit, and that seal cannot be broken. Our eternity is made sure in Him, but our here and now is still influenced by fleshly understanding and desires / lusts, worldly wisdom, and demons who work hard to discourage us and feed us lies that keep us from knowing and living in God’s full supply. These syphon our tanks and make us weak from lack of realizing our full supply in Christ.

Our challenge as the people of God is to trust God’s supply. We must realize that we are in the world and the world and all that are part of it seek to steal our supply and drain our tanks so we do not see the full effect of God’s work in our lives. To have full supply and function in it, we must learn that though we are in the world, we are not of the world. We are already of the Kingdom of God having full access to its resources by faith, able to experience it here in our now living.

God is ready to supply us with all we need to walk in freedom from those who rob our lives of sufficiency and hinder our journey with Him. For that we have to put a lock cap on our tank; and that lock cap is believing-faith. Believing-faith opens us up in the Spirit, equipping us to recognize and receive God’s supply, no matter how hard the hill we have to climb. Believing-faith covers our supply spout with rested trust in God, knowing that all He allows has a purpose that is taking us to a better place in life. Our supply protected by believing-faith, we are equipped for obedience no matter the pit or curves the enemy of our journey throws into our path.

Believing His word to me all these years that the love pouring into me was from Him, His supply for service in meeting needs this man of God has in his ministry as a modern day Paul, and refusing to let go of faith despite my experience in my struggle with the experience of His love welling up in me is what kept me from running from a lesson that has taught me more about His great love than I would have known otherwise. Faith trusts in God fully and rests in Him despite circumstance to learn the things that change our perspective, bringing us in line with His thoughts and His understanding, making us more like Him; a conduit for His flow to reach our world and change lives. That faith shakes the snakes and vipers off the hand to press forward unharmed by its venom; leaving others standing in awe as they recognize God with us, working in our lives (Acts 4:13).

God desires to fill us up and spill us out to His glory. Sometimes that means taking us through difficult times of training that unclog the fuel system so our tanks are clear and ready to receive of His supply. In our journey with Him, supplied by His grace sufficient for every need and strengthened to face every challenge, God uses our circumstances to remove ugly roots and rocks of stumbling out of the way, where it cannot hinder our reaching His desired destination for us.

Are you going through a difficult time and wondering where God is in it? I was encouraged the other day when I read this picture that was posted on FaceBook: “When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during a test. Trust in the Lord” (See Psalm 37). Though God may be quiet for a time, and His hands may seem harsh at work in us while getting us into a place of pliability for His molding and shaping, He is always right there with us, doing a good work in our lives.

I hope this encourages you to face the time of struggle with greater faith when the enemy of God seeks to siphon your tank and make you think God’s supply is insufficient. Stand believing and see what the Lord will do. Though the road of your journey may be long and bumpy, He will not leave you disappointed with the outcome. What He will leave you with is a testimony for use in helping others to His grace sufficient for every need.

~*~

“I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8).

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 2

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” (vs. 3, AMP)

One day, when questioning Jesus, the seeker called Him “Good Teacher.” Jesus stopped right there, correcting with His own question. “Why do you call Me good?” He asks. Then He responds with His own answer, “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

Scripture teaches me that my greatest good is as filthy rags before our Holy God (Isaiah 64:6). Why? Because my motives and desires fall far short of those found in our Holy God.

And Jesus taught that no one is good but God alone. He emphasized for us that one cannot get good from the bad. “You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy, sound tree bears good fruit worthy of admiration, but the sickly, decaying, worthless tree bears bad worthless fruit. A good, healthy tree cannot bear bad worthless fruit, nor can a bad, diseased tree bear excellent fruit worthy of admiration” (Matthew 7:16-18, AMP). Good fruit has a flavor that is out of this world! It draws others to seek after it for themselves. And it lasts into eternity.

So how is it, me being one who certainly cannot be called good when my Lord refused the title, how then is it that I can do good in God’s eyes? David tells us right here in his Psalm: by trusting in, leaning on, relying on, and being confident in the Lord, I am then equipped to do good. With His goodness flowing through me, my evil nature is transformed and I am empowered to produce good fruit.

Jesus showed us the way as He spoke often of His own reliance on God and His seeking after Him:

“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. …I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:19, 30)

“So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.’ … Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.’” (John 8:28, 42)

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10)

God desires our good, but our good begins and ends with Him. Only as we follow Him with faith in Him as our confidence in likeness to Christ do we have any hope of doing a good He can approve. And we have the promise from God that as we trust in, lean on, rely on, and find our confidence in Him alone, we will “… dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.”

How is your faith, Brothers and Sisters? Are you trying in your own strength and way to do good? Without first aligning with God in full assurance of faith that believes and trusts in Him, obeying Him out of that faith, our greatest good is only filthy rags. And if we are doing good as in His name while failing to believe Him and follow His will for us in the good we do, our good is in our eyes alone, falling short of His glory. There is a difference between what we call good things and our doing the God-things that are truly good.

A friend of mine prayed the following the other day: “I don’t want You to go with me, Lord. I want to go with You! No more of Your permissive will for me. I want to walk in Your perfect will” (Brother Steve, PRAYHOUSE). That prayer so echoes my own heart desire as I realize daily with greater depth of understanding that God is my only true need and vital necessity for life.

God has spent the past year and a half calling me to greater faith and reliance on Him. He has brought me to a point where I know that I know that He is my only true need. Without Him, I am nothing and can do nothing. With Him I know that I can do all He leads me to, because He will make sure I have sufficient for every good deed.

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” What great faith! “ Trust in the Lord, my friend, and do good.

“…The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity…” (John 17).

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.

You Busy Yourself With My Every Step

God is working hard these days to assure my heart of His care, and instruct me in The Way. The title for this pondering comes from the Amplified version of Psalm 37:23, and the thought of its truth thrills my heart.

“The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].”

When God delights in our way, He busies Himself with our every step. God is a personal God, big enough to give full attention to each one who truly seeks Him with the whole heart.

Something else God impressed upon me this week tells me how to walk in a way where our steps are a delight to the Lord. A friend sent me a word of encouragement, written to the body of Christ, authored by Marsha Burns, wife of Bill Burns, Pastor of Faith Tabernacle in Kremmling, CO, sent out in his Spirit of Prophesy Newsletter. In it, she writes as God gave it to her, and I quote:

“Beloved, I am calling you to a higher and more concrete level of faith that will become the basis for activity and endurance.  Much of your spiritual function has been fueled by hope rather than faith and trust in Me, says the Lord.  I would have you come to a level of true belief according to My will and purposes.”

I need a light bulb coming on right here to picture God’s nudge in my Spirit as I read, “Much of your spiritual function has been fueled by hope rather than faith and trust in Me.”

You see, hope is the product of a type of faith. Hope is something for which we look to happen with faith that God will do it.  I believe God’s word that says Jesus is coming again, and therefore I have hope. Functioning out of hope is trying to live in the product of faith without putting forth the effort of faith.

In Hebrews 3-4, God makes it clear that the faith He delights to see in us leads to belief that produces obedience. Delight-producing faith is active, not passive.

You see, we don’t sit all day watching the east for Jesus to come, doing nothing with our time. If we do, something is wrong with our faith. God has a purpose for our being here. Like with Esther, God implores us, “How do you know that you are not here in this place where you are at God’s ordination for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b, paraphrased)

It is not an accident that we live in our here and now. God has a purpose for our being here. The question is, will we believe God with faith to obey His instruction? Will we trust by faith that He has our days numbered for His purposes and not one will be robbed from Him as long as we trust Him with obedient hearts that deny self in order to fulfill His purpose?

“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).

Hope alone waits to see what the Lord will do. Faith trusts the Lord to be Master and obeys through action in the wait.

Thinking on that good word of encouragement, I had to ask myself: Am I living by faith that believes God through obedience, doing things He calls me to though they may be difficult for me, showing myself of sincere belief that He is Who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do in and through me and my circumstances? Am I actively waiting with hope for Him to work in my circumstances while using me in the midst of difficulty? Am I living as He instructs me, out of belief that He is not only God in my circumstances, but Lord in my life?

Or am I living by a hope that sits on the sidelines waiting for Him to do the miraculous in my situations, as though I have no part or responsibility to Him in this life He gives me?

I have to admit, with many emotionally wrought excuses, I have been sitting on the sidelines of hope a lot lately, waiting for a miracle from God to end the challenge, remove the difficulty, and give reprieve. My excuses are all wrapped up in my fears and insecurities, my weakness and desire to run from the situations filling my mind’s eye; all of which blind me to the truth that God is bigger than my circumstances and situations. I fail to see the truth that His strength is only made stronger by my weakness being entrusted to Him who is able to make me stand.

No more of that. By faith, believing for His grace and provision, I say, “No more!”

Yesterday God gave me marching orders and geared my day to fulfilling that instruction. The doing of it was a blessing to me; not just in doing it, but in experiencing the provision of His strength for it. I don’t understand why He sent me where He did, other than it being an exercise of faith, but I trust that His purpose was fulfilled as He busied Himself with my every step of obedience, and hope in Him fills me with assurance while proof is yet to be seen.

This morning, as I write, I am up early because He called and I followed. And the minute I sat down to be with Him, His Spirit drew me to write this word. By His grace, faith to believe is renewed, and obedience is achieved, the product of it being hope that His purpose is fulfilled in the doing and His glory revealed.

Father, thank You for caring for my every step and for instructing my heart to walk in the care You have for me. By grace, I will live by faith, this day and each to follow, realizing it to be the basis for activity and endurance, trusting that You delight in obedience, and watching as You busy Yourself with my every step. As I press forward with faith to live as one in whom You delight, it is by Your grace that I pray with hope in Jesus name, amen.

Called to Bountiful Supply

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

Many times in the past few years of grieving over a life situation God has brought my heart hope through this passage of scripture. Always before He has highlighted for me the importance of my own prayers in the situation and those of others who pray with me to be filled with “earnest expectation and hope” in Him for His work in the situation, but not so today. Today He is highlighting for me the more important component in this equation: “the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Reading this with that portion spiritually highlighted, I recognize that it is not just my knowing how to pray with true, expectant hope that is vital for life. Every circumstance life presents to us brings with it the foremost need to seek after and rely on the Spirit of God: relying not only on His Spirit to work in the situation, but seeking His filling to equip us to deal properly with the challenge it brings.

Taking me a step further, God leads me to read the passage in the Amplified version of Scripture. Here I find that there are circumstances in life that require not only seeking the filling and work of the Spirit of God, but “a bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Bountiful – Giving freely and generously; liberal. Marked by abundance; plentiful, ample.

Ample – Of large or great size, amount, extent or capacity. Large in degree, kind or quantity. More than enough. Fully sufficient to meet a need or purpose.

Now I find myself asking why it is that I so often settle on what I can do – pray with hope. Yes, that is needful, but what am I seeking? A miracle that will remove the need to deal with the situation?

Yeah, I think that is what I have wanted, for God to remove the need to go through this pain. But what He wants is for me to seek Him, His filling, His supply, desiring Him and His glory above my freedom from pain. And the joy I realize in that truth is that the pain will be alleviated by the bountiful supply of all that is needful to courageously face the situation and walk through it in the power of God to the glory of His name.

Father, forgive me. I realize my need of Psalm 51 praying right now, as I seek Your bountiful supply that will equip me to give sacrificially to the glory of Your name. In Jesus, here am I, O God. I pray You, show me Your glory! Amen.

In the Strength of His Might

I often feel in my Spirit that verses 10 and 11 in Eph. 6 should be one sentence, like so:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord; and in the strength of His might put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

I sense that to be true because “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” and God’s armor placed on us without His strength doing it would be like David when he put Saul’s on. It would be too big and foreign to our experience. Only by His strength can we even begin to take it up.

Isn’t it interesting that there are 5 items we put on in some way, like the 5 stones David took up with hope in God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation, and the shields of faith, small ones on the shoulder and one worn on the hand and forearm to reflect blows. The last item, like David’s slingshot, is to be carried with us: the sword of The Spirit, which is the Word of God, against which no enemy can stand.

“Therefore,” Paul advises, “take up the full armor of God,” in the strength He supplies, “so that,” unlike David in Saul’s get-up, “you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” And stand we will, for God is able to make us stand.

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

The Answer

Are you in a season of struggle as I am?

I am in the deepest pit of oppressive despair as I have ever been in. Struggling in my health with issues that seem beyond my control; challenged daily with lack of energy to function because my internal clock is dysfunctional due to changes in our lifestyle that seem beyond me to fix; grieving as never before over a parent whose fear and paranoia is destroying his relationships; I could go on but you get the drift that all of life right now seems to be working to sap my strength and bring me into a depressed state of mind, draining of energy to function. And from the stories of other Christians I hear from daily, I am not alone.

I keep thinking, “If I will just love and care more for others, I will be able to do more.” But I do love deeply and I do care, yet I continue to struggle. Then I think, “Maybe I am in the wrong place. Perhaps I need a new church or a new job.” As I consider that, I know that though those things may be true, they are not THE ANSWER. We can run from one place to another, but our baggage always goes with us, and we often find ourselves in the same or worse, leading us to run again.

After considering these things and many others, I finally say, “Lord, I can do nothing apart from You. What is Your opinion?” And He graciously answers as I read, “The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]” (Isaiah 50:4, AMP).

I will have no need to fret over my love-walk as long as I seek first Him who teaches my heart to love. I will have no worry about where I need to be and what I need to do in any given day as long as I answer the call to awaken and seek Him first morning by morning. I cannot have love and care apart from Him, so seeking Him for the filling of His Spirit is the answer to love and care. Chasing hard after Him in each day has me ready where I am needed with a word, a hug, a ministry in due season.

It is not about “I”. “I” can do nothing apart from God. But with Him, all things are possible for me, for nothing shall be impossible with God.

Father, help me to seek You first and foremost, early, while You may be found, so I am made adequate as Your servant, empowered and equipped for the challenge of each day, filled up to the full with You who make me able. In Jesus, I surrender all anew, knowing that YOU are THE ANSWER. Amen.

Praying The Lord’s Model Prayer

I write at the unction of the Spirit, and there has been no flow there for awhile—feeling yucky physically may have something to do with that. However I love using the Lord’s Model Prayer as outline to follow in praying over my own life and others. Impressed to do so yesterday, I typed up the following and, sensing God’s leading to do so today, I share it with you. As you prayerfully go through these for yourself, I speak agreement with the Holy Spirit over you and yours today. May the Lord truly bless you as you pray. Hugs, Darlene

The Lord’s Model Prayer

As Prayed by Darlene Davis

Oh Father, how grateful I am that You who live in heaven—as the earth cannot contain You, You still choose to abide in me as I abide in You by the power of Your Holy Spirit. That is awesome to me, as I realize how Majestic is Your Name. You are too awesome to fully comprehend, and still You desire that I know You as an intimate friend who calls You by name, just as You call me by name.

How awesome it is to me that You desire Your will in the earth and work Your will in me, just as You have planned it beforehand, revealing the perfectness of Your will from the Glory found in Your Heavenly Kingdom. Let Your will be done in the earth, and especially in me, granting me to experience Your heaven on earth as I follow hard after You, and let it begin through my love walk.

Thank You, Father, that I can trust You to meet my daily need perfectly, for You promise in Your Word that You supply sufficient for my need, and abundance for every good deed. You are always true to Your word above and beyond what I can ask, think, or fathom. I look to You for wisdom in the use of Your supply so that I might help others along the way just as I am helped by You, for You are faithful.

Father, forgive me that I frequently fall short of Your glory. Your word tells me that Your grace is sufficient for me. I rest with hope in You. You tell me that You cast my sin as far as the east is from the west and to the depths of the deepest sea, never to remind me of them in a punishing way again, for we have no condemnation who are truly in Christ. I want to walk in Your forgiveness, Lord; not only to receive it to myself, but to give it as You do. Your Word through Isaiah 43:25 says You wipe out my transgressions for Your own sake—so You will continue to want to have a relationship with me. Help me to forgive others in obedience to Your example and command, and to do so for my own sake in likeness to You, so that my relationship with You is not hindered, and so that I can continue in relationship with those who hurt me. Make me an example of Your love and grace.

Thank You, Lord, that You do not tempt us to evil, but You deliver us from sin’s grip and Satan’s trickery as we draw near to You with a sincere and repentant heart. I trust You to make me alert to Satan’s schemes so that I do fall to strongholds of sin, dishonoring You.

Yours is the true Kingdom, O God and You are its King. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of Your people, a people for Your own possession.

Your power is beyond estimation, Father, and You are strong toward us who believe. Desiring to bring Your Own safe to Your enteral Kingdom, You fight for me as a Father for His child. Desiring that I take part in the building of Your Kingdom, empower me through Your mighty power that I may serve You well all the days of my life, so that others may see You in me and be drawn to know You for themselves.

All glory is Yours and is due Your blessed name. I long to see Your glory in the land of the living. Let Your light shine to and through me, and let me see Your Glory being revealed to the fulfillment of Your great Kingdom purpose.

As Jesus taught and in His name I do pray, believing. Amen—So be it!

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)

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.

That You May Be Filled!

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God…” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NASB).

The Holy Spirit at work in us strengthens us through His power in the inner person, making in us a place where Christ may dwell; and that, by faith. Note this: as we surrender by faith to Christ’s indwelling, we begin to grow to understand the depth and breadth of His love for us. The more we surrender to allowing Christ to continue to live in this life through His presence is us, the more we will grow in our understanding of His love toward us. The knowledge of that love enables us to be filled up to all the fullness of God. The greater our understanding and our receipt of His love for each individual of us, the more His Spirit will be housed within us.

As we understand and surrender to this love of God found in this vital relationship with Christ, we are prepped and equipped to be filled with His
Spirit; filled to all the fullness of God—all that He is, available and working in and through us to the glory of His name. Is that not an awesome truth to grasp! And what is the proof of His fullness at work in us?

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (5:1-2).

Love is the proof. And not just any love, but that unconditional love that is self-sacrificing; that love that will die to one’s own agenda in order to honor God in our love-walk through benefitting others through love; even when that love hurts or requires sacrifice on our part. It is through our example of Christ’s love that others around us can begin to comprehend the unfathomable love of God that allowed His Son to get on that cross where the sins of all time weighed down his shoulders. And our filling through understanding and receiving and giving that love becomes a fragrant aroma to the nostrils of our God, bringing rejoicing to His heart.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (5:16-18).

Our time is short in this life. There are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a month, and just 12 months to a year. And our years are truly just a breath in eternity. So few days to make a difference in the lives of those we say we love. There is no time to waste—which is what drunkenness is; whether that drunkenness is with wine, our own sense of self-worth and self-exaltation, the pursuit of riches in this life that are doomed to destruction; you name it. Any pursuit, any preoccupation that deadens our spiritual senses and robs our time from giving into the lives of those we love is tantamount to drunkenness. So we must choose wisely how we use our time, and we must have right motives in it all if we are to walk in the power and filling of the Sprit to make the most of our short time here.

“…Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NASB).

The Talents Revisited: Part 5

Read Matthew 25:14-30

“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.’” (:21).

God gives us His Spirit in trust, empowering us by first helping our choosing to believe through ever increasing measures of faith. Through faith He establishes in us His very nature, rebirthing in us the characteristics that bear the image of God in us. Then pouring forth from us, He touches the lives of others as we live His morality out into the earth, bringing the flavor of the Kingdom to life.

In any well run Kingdom, there has to be proper use of the talents and recourses of the people of the Kingdom, along with equipping and authority for organizing those resources for best effectiveness in increasing the Kingdom. The wise use of human resources brings cohesion to the society of man, thus we have our final produce of the Spirit rightly invested in our lives:

Produce 4 – “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

We are given by the Spirit these gifts of ability for use in the power of the Spirit to perform the work of service as ambassadors of Christ. We are given by Christ through His Spirit authority in the earth to represent His interests here, and are called to fulfill His role as Priests unto God, fulfilling Kingdom purpose in this foreign land in which we live. Gifts of service are given to each believer by God’s Spirit of Power to be used for the common good.

We are called of God to function as a body, each member using ones gifts in the position God has placed us. Each position is important and we are to be the best at our God-given role, as empowered by His Spirit at work in us. A hand that tries to be a foot will wear down quickly. A nose that tries to be an ear will be dysfunctional.

It is unwise, as members of Christ’s body, to knock out an eye, stomp on a toe, or treat as of no worth those parts of the body that seem of less importance, for a healthy body needs every cell functioning at optimal capacity, the great in cooperation with the small. To do otherwise breads sickness and can even cause death in the body. Failure to function in a healthy way that realizes the importance of every individual part is to fall short of love’s unifying work in bringing cohesion to the whole. A dysfunctional body distorts the image of God and brings destruction to His work in the earth. (1 Corinthians 12-14)

If you have never studied the gifts of the Spirit and come to know your place in the body, I encourage you to do so soon, for a mouth called to speak His truths, but functioning as a hand instead, is a waste of energy, misappropriating His Spirit and failing to walk in the obedience God desires. Here are links to get you started: http://www.kodachrome.org/spiritgift/, http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/.

Before closing this course of study, the master in our Matthew 25 passage told the wicked lazy slave that he should have at least put His money in the bank so he would have returned it with interest. What might the bank be for us as we consider the work of the Spirit in our lives as the treasure of our Master-Savior?

“For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). When we do not have confidence in ourselves, we can bank on the promises of God, choosing to believe, and seeing faith increased to us.

“Such confidence we have through Christtoward 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)

~~*~~

“…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.’”

OR

“…But his master answered and said to him, ‘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.’”

Which will you hear when He comes? It is not too late to move from wicked and lazy to good and faithful. As long as He tarries, we have time to receive His Spirit and cooperate in His work to the increase that pleases our Master-God and King.

“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. …” (Matthew 25:14-30).

The Talents Revisited: Part 3

Read Matthew 25:14-30

“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.’” (:21).

Thus far we have covered the fact that God gives us His Spirit when we receive His gift found in the sacrifice of Jesus; and we are called to let His Spirit increase in us. Yesterday we saw that God gives to us through His Spirit a measure of faith and expects it to grow like a mustard seed, producing a Kingdom harvest in the earth. Faith is vital to spiritual success in every area and endeavor of life, and we are told in Hebrews that without faith it is impossible to please Him (11:6).

Thus God makes provision for our success by leaving to our charge His Spirit of provision, equipping us in faith that pleases Him as we cooperate with the work of the Spirit in us. As we surrender ourselves to walk in the power of the Spirit through this faith, certain things will be harvested in our lives. Today we will cover the second produce in life as we continue our trek through to discover the ever growing work of God’s Spirit in us:

Produce 2 – “THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Scripture calls these character traits of God that are birthed in our lives “the fruit of the Spirit.” Note first that “fruit” is singular. The Spirit bears only one kind of fruit in our lives and that fruit pours forth all the flavors that make up the image of God. The fruit born is the rebirth of God’s image that was placed in mankind when creation took place.

As I look at each of these, I see heart issues that define those who possess them. These attributes produced within the child born of God through Christ is the restoration of the image of God in all His fullness so that we may BE like Him. Everyone who calls upon His name in Christ must possess this fruit and it must increase in them, making their very nature back into the godly character God intended for His image bearers.

Each of these characteristics listed here and others listed in passages like Colossians 3:12-17 express the many flavors found in the one fruit; again, that fruit being the very nature and character of God rebirthed in the heart of His created beings. Let’s take a minute to look more closely at some of these attributes that should be birthed out of the life of a true believer:

Love – the love spoken of here is the Agape love that defines God. God is love, and we are to be love as He is love. The scripture that keeps coming to my mind as I think about this attribute being our character is Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

Abhor the evil and cling to the good, along with the thoughts interjected in the remainder of this chapter, is not a separate thought, but instead it describes how this love works. Let me give you an example from my life right now.

I have a family member in-law who we have loved and cared for as our own for nine years. We love him and have looked up to him as a man of God. Then we learned that in the time with us he committed sin that Jesus said is worthy of a forced swim in concrete boots. Now I hate the sin he did, the harm to those he hurt that was caused by his sin, and the break in family ties that is the result and consequence of his actions, but I still love him. Even as I write this, thinking of him, a love sores in me for him, grieved though it is by the sin he committed.

As I read the remainder of Romans 12, I see that my fruit of love will hate the evil done, while still having love and gratitude for any good in him. We have good memories with him and I know he seeks after God, though he fell in this area. As I look back on some things, I know he was grieved over his fall as I realize, “That is why he seemed grieved in that conversation.”

Because of love for God and all concerned, including him, I can choose to withhold my own revenge against him, letting God use the government of human law in dealing with him; letting God be the avenger. Because of love being in me by the power of God, when he writes me or calls, I can take a deep breath to overcome the grief and hurt, and yes, anger over his sin against another beloved, and practice loves grace in dealing with him; thus I see in the remainder of Romans 12, not disjointed thoughts for right conduct, but a picture of love in action.

Each attribute listed in our focal scripture revealing the produce of the Spirit in us can be further defined for us in Scripture, just as this walk of love is given greater defining character by this passage in Romans and others, like 1 Corinthians 13.

Joy is ours despite life’s difficulty because it is based in our relationship with our God (Nehemiah 8:10). Peace comes to us even in times like my family is in now because it is God’s gift to us in Christ in the power of the Spirit to experience peace beyond comprehension (John 14:27). Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: all attributes that are common to man, but that are increased in us to work in our lives and situations with power beyond our normal ability as we tap into the Spirit, letting Him flow through us to effect the world around us.

Thus we see how this Spirit we are charged to be filled with and return to God with increase—for He is jealous for more and more of His Spirit in us—works to make us who we are in Christ (James 4:5). But there is more. See you tomorrow for produce 3.

Darlene Davis © 6/24/11

 

 

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

The Talents Revisited: Part 1

Read Matthew 25:14-30

“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money” (:14-18).

Who is the master Jesus is alluding to in this passage? I believe that He is talking about Himself. Knowing that He was about to leave us for a time, He is letting us know that He is leaving, but also that He will return one day. While He is away, He is leaving us with something valuable, and we are responsible to increase it so we return greater value to Him when the account is due. The question then becomes, “What is this valuable commodity?”

This passage is often used to speak on our responsibility to be accountable to God for the use of our possessions and finances, and that is a good application. But let’s look at it from a heavenly standpoint? What is the currency of heaven?

It is not gold. God uses gold in the place of asphalt and bricking materials. It is not jewels. They too are imbedded into walls for decoration and possibly even bricking. (Revelation 21)

What is the currency of Heaven? Could it be character?

In passages that give us a glimpse into the heavenly streets we are told that we will not use money to purchase our need. It tells us that what we need to obtain entry to the Kingdom and anything of Heaven’s supply is righteousness. It is the righteous who are allowed to walk the streets, eat of the fruit of the tree of life, and drink the cool water from the spring of Living Waters. Righteousness is the cornerstone of godly character.

With this thought, the question becomes, “How did Jesus leave us with this currency and how do we bring increase to it?” May I suggest the “talent” the Lord left us to increase in our lives and in the earth is the produce of the Spirit of God.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. …If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:1-18) .

Jesus promises to give us His Spirit, and Ephesians 5:18 makes it clear that we are responsible then to be filled with the Spirit. How do we increase the amount of filling we have of this Spirit of God? By the expenditure of the power that Spirit supplies for godly character and righteousness. How do we spend that power? Through allowing the Spirit to do His work and have His will in and through our lives. So what does that look like so we may know we are succeeding in being good stewards of this provision of God? And what does it mean when it says that He gave talents to them “according to their ability”? Hum? See you tomorrow. 🙂

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).

Grace Defined #4: Power to Perform

“According to the grace of God (the special endowment for my task) bestowed on me, like a skillful architect and master builder I laid [the] foundation, and now another [man] is building upon it. But let each [man] be careful how he builds upon it” (1 Corinthians 3:10, AB).

According to grace, we do our work in Christ. Did you see the definition? Here the grace revealed in this passage is “power to perform” our tasks in life and in our God-given work.

I am often struck by a passage speaking of Christ that says, “and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing” (Luke 5:17, NASB). Since noticing that portion of scripture, I pray to work in God’s “power to perform.” Now I see more clearly that His power for the task is a work of His grace toward us and it is awesome to behold.

Last segment we learned that God’s grace is not only unmerited favor and spiritual blessing, but it is power to overcome the things of life that hinder our growth in redeveloping and walking out of the image of Christ, and now we see that His grace empowers us to do all that He calls us to, all that is needful for us to do in this life.

Whatever task is required of us in our God given rolls for life here, whether it be the daily tasks and duties of our offices and stations in life, doing our work as unto the Lord, or whether it be tasks found in special called ministry opportunities, God is committed to pour forth through His grace all that is needed to empower and equip one fully surrendered to and trusting in Him for the task of His calling. Oh, if Moses had understood that from the beginning, what a difference it would have brought him when his call to service came. Exodus 3 would have been a totally different testimonial chapter, don’t you think.

And what about you and me? What difference does this truth mean for us today? For me it is a new assertion from the Father, saying to me, as He said to Paul:

“But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

There is no weakness we have in our flesh that can hold back one rested in and empowered by this grace of God’s supply. When we fail to remember this, putting our eyes on our weaknesses as Moses did in Exodus 3, we too insult the living, all powerful and trustworthy God who calls us. When God calls, “I can’t” does not belong in the vocabulary of one truly rested in His grace, trusting in Him.

So what will you do with this grace, now that you are aware of its power?

“And now [brethren], I commit you to God [I deposit you in His charge, entrusting you to His protection and care]. And I commend you to the Word of His grace [to the commands and counsels and promises of His unmerited favor]. It is able to build you up and to give you [your rightful] inheritance among all God’s set-apart ones (those consecrated, purified, and transformed of soul)” (Acts 20:32).

(PS: God added one more session to our study of grace. I am excited to share this and am heading now to write it out. See you back here tomorrow, by the grace of God’s power to perform.)