Category Archives: Provision

God’s Gives Inspiration …

So We Can Be Smarter Than the Dog

WP_000003-bOur pastor once correctly reminded us that when we are puzzling a problem or trying to deal with an issue and a sudden jolt of inspiration comes to direct us to success, that is God at work. Don’t fool yourself: every bright idea and every good thing comes from above, from the Father of Light.

Today I had just such a moment. Simple as it sounds, I decided it was time to bathe our house dogs: one, DawgBuddy Jasper, part Jack Russell, Part Chihuahua; The second, the alpha dog, Missy Roo Popcorn, a bright and intelligent Toy Fox Terrier. Buddy being easier to dry, I got everything in order then grabbed him up. Missy, eyeing me intently, I thought proceeded to follow us to the bathroom as her tinkling tags sounded behind me.

Shutting the door, I bathed Buddy, dried him, and turned him out to run. Prepared for Missy next I go to get her. She is nowhere to be found. Looking with hope that she went to her bed to hide with no such luck, I knew she was hiding under a bed somewhere and the battle of wills was on. I dreaded having to lure or drag her out from under some bed, but as I headed that way to start the challenge, inspiration struck, “Aha!”

Going to my favorite chair, I sit down, recline it, get my laptop desk and wait. It was not long until she came trottingDSCN0730b in and jumped up beside me, looking guilty and concerned as to whether she escaped the dreaded tub. I got her in my lap, loved on her a bit, and we went to the bath.

James tells us, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting…” (1:5-8).

It is wisdom God gives as inspiration for settling a problem, fixing something, taking care of a need. We awaken in the morning and ask God to give us wisdom for the path, then we go through our day led by Inspiration. We go to sleep at night, musing some difficult situation, praying for insight; waking the next morning with a sudden jolt of creative resolution that solves the problem. God is faithful to bless us with wisdom. May we be found faithful to acknowledge when he does, whether great or small, and give Him glory.

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 5

God’s Expectant Produce 

 “Let me sing now for my well-beloved a song of my beloved concerning His vineyard. My well-beloved had a vineyard on a fertile hill. He dug it all around, removed its stones, and planted it with the choicest vine. And He built a tower in the middle of it and also hewed out a wine vat in it; then He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produced only worthless ones” (Isaiah 5:1-7 – vs. 1-2).

God has done an awesome work in the lives of His people, if we will only recognize it and walk in it faithfully. He plants us where He wants us to produce good fruit for His glory, and He provides everything needed for us to be productive vines, sweet and aromatic as the best of wines. He leaves nothing to chance. All that is needful is available to us.

“…And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, Judge between Me and My vineyard. What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones? …” (Vs. 3-6).

The question is, are we recognizing and rightly using His supply to reach our potential in Christ? As I consider this question for myself, I know that in areas of my life where my faith is strong in Him and where I am surrendered to His work in my life, I am very productive and seeing good fruit bear forth. In other areas where there is struggle to believe and, thus, to surrender, the fruit born is less than desirable. Why is that? Verse 7 suggests a few things to consider.

“For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress.” (Vs. 7)

He looks for justice: are we producing that in life? Our idea of justice is not always the same as God’s idea. We see this in Romans 12 where we are advised:

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Vs. 14-21).

Herein is justice: to trust in the Lord’s justice, doing good to all men wherever it is in our power to do so, even when they do harm to us. That does not mean we never back away from those who harm us. In His hometown, Jesus walked out of the crowd that threatened life and limb, and I do not recall that He returned to that place again during His ministry. He told the disciples to knock the dust off their feet as they leave a people who refuse their message and work among them, a testimony against them. We are to trust God to deal with the injustices through the means He provides. Leaving the insults done to us in the hands of the righteous Judge who sees and knows the heart of every man while we trust Him to deal with the injustice; trusting Him to judge righteously so that we may continue to do good, reaps a reward we cannot bear out through our own vengeance.

To seek our own vengeance, repaying harm done to us perpetuates sin. It does not work the righteousness of God. He has provided avenues and laws through which punishment is given to those who do evil. Trusting God to use the rule of law is not vengeance on our part, but His rod of man used for discipline (2 Samuel 7:14). Desire for vengeance will only keep us crying out in distress. But a focus toward doing good to others despite harm done to us while trusting in and waiting for the Lord to intervene keeps us producing good fruit to the glory of His name.

The ingredient I see in all of this that assures good fruit? “Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” (Psalm 37). Hum, looks like a return to the Psalm 37 study.

Father, equip us to rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; to not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Empower us to cease from anger and forsake wrath; knowing that fretting leads only to evildoing. Evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while, Lord, and the wicked man will be no more. Though we look carefully for his place, he will not be there, for You either will have removed him or changed him by Your grace. You promise that the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity. This is our hope and song as we look to You in faith, knowing and receiving Your provision to produce good grapes that bring pleasure to You, even when being crushed in the wine presses of life. In Jesus, show us Your glory. AMEN

The Call

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

The Call

Written by Brother Steve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But GOD!

But GOD!!!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YAH bless Y’all!!!!!!!!

Brother Steve

Kora Elohim Israel

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

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

GOD bless you!!!!!!!!

me

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.

For this Reason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At just such a time, when God was threatening to destroy obstinate Israel and begin a new people for His possession through Moses, Moses requested of God, “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people,” laying the problem at God’s feet. And God said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33). Lordship accepted.

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

Greener Grass?

“You can picture a million lives and never have one of your own” (Character on CSI).

Wow, that line hit my heart whenever I heard it. Not that I don’t have a life, mind you. I have lived dreams. But that line made me think of times when dreaming can take over and lead us to discontent with the now we have to the point that we lose the life set before us.

I wonder, are you — like me — one who needs someone on occasion to give you a good boot and say, “Wake up! Smell the roses where you are”? We have to realize that though the grass may be greener on the other side, it can also be bitter with a hidden poison that will destroy the deceived and weary grazer.

“…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. …” (Philippians 4:11-13, NASB).

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.

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 4

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 has provided for us His Spirit as a trust to be expended into our lives in ways that bring Him increase. The Spirit increases faith in us so we can please God in all things. He increases in us the fruit of character that rebirths the image of God in us. How else does this treasure of God produce increase to us that we can hand over to our returning Master-Christ?

Produce 3 – “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and
in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you” (2 Peter 1:2-11).

Look at these “qualities” that are ours and are expected to increase in us in the power of the Spirit. How do these “qualities” differ from and work with the fruit we bear to increase?

The thing I note here is fruit’s character is internal and personal to each individual member of Christ. It is what makes us who we are. These qualities are the equipping of God for us, enabling us to take the fruit we bear and use it as we give into the lives of others in ways that effect His Kingdom purpose in the earth.

These qualities equip us to know how to put the fruit to use in our dealings with others and in our external practice of our internal character. I have a Bible study on this passage that is in depth, but here let us take a brief look, breaking down what Peter is telling us in this passage.

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” Grace and peace is multiplied to those who know Him in truth, granting to us by His grace this divine power found in His Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit is granted to us for the purpose of teaching us to know Him in all His fullness in greater depth of understanding, and to impart in us His character that makes us more and more like Him, from one degree of His glory to ever increasing glory.

“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” It is increasing faith granted by His Spirit that equips us to recognize His promises and have hope in them. As His promises are fulfilled in us in the taking on of His divine nature, we escape corruption and are empowered to walk out His nature in the earth, unhindered by its lusts. But this does not happen as if by magic.

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence…”  We are called to apply diligence to faith that supplies moral excellence. There is a gifting in our faith, yes; but the gift is dependent on our choice to believe. Remember, the Master gives to each according to his ability. As I am able to believe and practicing diligence in that ability, God supplies faith to help my belief, and that faith works to equip my moral excellence. This is important, so I say again, as I choose to believe God, He pours forth a measure of faith to help my belief. As I see faith fulfilled it becomes easier to choose to believe, and God increases the measure of faith to me, producing in me moral excellence.

“…and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.”

Do you see the progression?  Choosing to believe what God says and act on it, the Spirit empowers me through faith to succeed in ways that bring moral excellence. As my moral excellence grows, so does my ability to know God and to understand His ways. That knowledge increases my self-control to persevere in godly character that reaches out to others in brotherly kindness that expresses God’s love to them.

Godly character produced in us in the power of the Spirit is the goal and we noted in our first session of this study that righteousness is the cornerstone of godly-character. Righteousness is this ability to know God and His ways, accept within self the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit that make us Christlike, then allow that Spirit to empower us to express that fruit in external ways that make for moral excellence. The righteous are the only ones who have access to the heavenly kingdom, and as we saw in a previous study on experiencing heaven on earth, righteousness is one of those things we will walk in now. But there is more about this moral excellence that reveals righteousness.

As I read the rest of Matthew 25, when the King of kings calls for the sheep to be separated from the goats, what are the sheep called? “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’” (verses 37-40).

It is dangerous when we fail to practice diligence in expressing godly character, giving self to attributes like fear, anger, bitterness, or any other thing that will hinder God’s work in us, destroying the increase of the Spirit. Someone who never has any increase needs to ask if they have truly received God’s gift of grace that imparts His Spirit to us.

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. …’” (verse 34). Those of us who have increase, but also have areas of struggle where we fall short in our diligence to take every opportunity to minister to Jesus through our ministry to one another need to realize that with failure to take every opportunity we step out from under and miss His blessing. The blessing of God comes to our obedience, granting to us many crowns with which to honor our King when we are presented to Him in eternity.

“…For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you”

Thus God equips us to be His hand reaching out to others. But not only to reach out to one another. Note that in the fulfillment of seeing this produce in our lives, we take the first steps into His Kingdom. The internal produce of God pouring out equips us to begin experiencing Kingdom living even while in this life.

That leads us to our final point, produce 4. See you tomorrow.

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. 🙂

Hear Then the Parable of the Sower – Part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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).

GraceDifined#2: Spiritual Blessing

Returning finally to my focus on grace, in our last session we defined God’s grace that is found in His unmerited favor. That unmerited favor is “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness” expressed toward us because of who He is and because of His purpose toward us. This grace is “unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing.” It is the mercy of God toward His chosen people, chosen for a sincere love relationship with Him and to be useful in the accomplishing of His good will and purpose in this life. It is His provision of spiritual blessing and saving grace through Jesus Christ; and by it He gifts us for service (Romans 3:24, 5:20-21; 1Peter 5:12).

This review of the first blog on grace as unmerited favor reveals one aspect of God’s grace as being spiritual blessing. In the Amplified Bible, several passages use the term spiritual blessing, divine blessing or divine favor as the defining characteristic of God’s grace. That definition qualifies the grace spoken of as originating from God in the power of His Spirit. When we truly walk in the knowledge of that grace, being affected by its work in our life, that grace is coming to us from God. It is only through the flow of grace from God to us in the power of the Spirit that we can give true grace to others.

One thing I note as I look at these passages is the expression of that grace found in the recipient. We often see Paul and others write a greeting that expresses hope for those receiving their word to walk in God’s grace (spiritual blessing) and peace. Peace accompanies this grace in the life of the recipient of God’s spiritual blessing and divine favor. One verse stands out to me in which we find this union of spiritual blessing with peace, as it defines this work of grace in the recipient.

According to 1 Peter 1:2 in the Amplified Bible, those who walk in the spiritual blessing and divine favor of God experience Christ in ways that bring ever increasing measures of His grace with peace. This grace mixture at work in our lives is expressed in us through many degrees of freedom: freedom from fears; freedom from agitating passions; and freedom from moral conflicts being listed in this passage. When we are walking in constant fear, constantly struggling with ungodly passions agitating our souls, wavering on moral issues, most likely it is because we fail to fully receive by faith this grace mix in ways that cause us to walk it out.

What is there about this grace that allows us to walk in peace and freedom? First Peter 1:13, Amplified, says it is hope, but hope in what? “…the grace (divine favor) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed.”

It is hope in the Divine favor of God found in the work of Christ’s completed ministry in us, faith in the finished work of His coming again to rule for all eternity, that brings this grace with peace to work freedom in us. It is trusting that whatever is tempting us to leave our freedom is there with a purpose that will make us more Christlike. It is such a faith and hope in our eternity with God through Christ that no threat to our freedom can cause us to waver in fear, ungodly passion or moral conflict. This verse instructs us to brace our minds on this hope, being sober, circumspect, morally alert to the returning Christ and His work in us as we wait. Our hope set wholly and unchangeably on this provision of God’s grace found in Christ is what allows us to receive His grace with peace that sets us free.

The following quote fits here to explain this truth. Speaking of Christians, Rev. Rick Parnell said, “In this life you and I live by promises, not by explanation.” We must trust God’s promises, taking Him at His word if we are to walk in the full freedom of His grace.

Speaking with regard to suffering brought to us by the work of God’s enemy, 1 Peter 5:10 tells us that by this spiritual blessing and Divine favor found in Christ’s work in us, God Himself uses our suffering to complete and make us what we each ought to be, establishing and grounding us securely, strengthening and settling us into this grace more fully and surely.

And in passages like 1 Peter 5:5 we see the coupling of humility with this work of God’s grace. God’s grace comes to the humble. The humility called for is pictured for us in Christ, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Christ chose to be of lower stature than the Father in His triune manifestation, showing us the way of God’s work of grace to the humble.

As I read that description of Christ, realizing that we are to walk in the same spiritual blessing He had—that grace of God that provides peace and freedom from fear, ungodly passion and moral conflict—we too can be loosed into bond-service that can face any insult, even threat of death, with God’s power in play. We can walk in victory, because of the hope of grace sufficient to overcome every difficulty.

Dying to self and living to Him, we find grace, sufficient and working in us to bring us into His glory and peace. May we each find God’s saving grace working freedom in us to the filling of His purpose and plan at work in us (1 Peter 1:10).

GraceDefined #1: Unmerited Favor

Using the Amplified version of scripture in her sermons, a verse used by Joyce Meyer stands out to me one day, as it brought greater refinement to my understanding of what God’s grace is and how it works. Hearing that verse read aloud started me on a personal journey to discover the greater depths of God’s grace toward us. Digging out every scripture I could find using the word “grace” in the Amplified, what better place to start than with what is already known.

The most common definition of grace I know of is “unmerited favor.” It is undeserved favor that God chooses to give, not because of who we are or what we do and don’t do, but because of who He is and because of His own desire toward and for us. God is the giver of grace.

This grace is spoken of in such passages as 1 Peter 3:7, where husbands are called to honor their wives, realizing that though they may be physically weaker, they are joint heirs of equal standing in God’s grace. Paul says in Romans 12:3 that it is because of this grace, this unmerited favor, that he is able to give warning to others against thinking more highly of self than we ought. It sounds to me like this “unmerited favor” is important for us to understand and possess so that we can rightly relate to one another, and so as to think correctly about self and others. But what exactly does “unmerited favor” mean?

According to the angels words to Mary in the Amplified version of Luke 1:30, this unmerited favor means “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness.” This grace toward Mary is what made her worthy of being God’s chosen mother of the Christ Child. This chapter of scripture states no particularly outstanding attributes that Mary had to make her favorable beyond the fact that she was a pure virgin. It was God’s grace toward her that chose her for the honor of service as the chosen one for birthing the King of kings and Lord of lords into this world.

John 1:17, Amplified, defines this grace as “unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing.” It is the mercy of God toward us that honors us as His chosen people, useful in the accomplishing of His good will and purpose in this life, providing us spiritual blessing and saving grace through Jesus Christ; and by it He gifts us for service (Romans 3:24, 5:20-21; 1 Peter 5:12).

So that means no worries, beloved, if you feel unworthy and inadequate for God’s use. God has you covered by grace—His unmerited favor and lovingkindness that gives to us the spiritual blessing of partnership with Him in His purpose and plan. One thing I noted that accompanies our receipt of this grace of our God is the heart-peace to walk in it (2 Timothy 1:2, 9-10). So go forth in peace and prosper the Kingdom. God’s grace has you covered.

“By Silvanus, a true, loyal, consistent, incorruptible brother, as I consider him, I have written briefly to you, to counsel and urge and stimulate you and to declare to you that this is the true account of the grace (the undeserved favor) of God. Be steadfast and persevere in it” (1Peter5:12).

Join me in my next blog session for more on grace.

(PS: My blogs have a tendency to run words together, when pasted in. Sometimes I forget to proof for that before posting. Please forgive when that happens.)