Category Archives: Sanctification

God is Building His Temple

The following article appears to confirm what we were told in church last night concerning the probability of a very soon Israeli Temple Mount build and the reestablishment of Levitical worship laws is rumored to be in the works.

http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/13091/build-young-israel-temple-mount/#2ff6igTrQezg2TRp.97

The stated projection for the build given us last night was 18 months, but according to the speaker, the rumor mill has it that they already have everything prefabbed and the build could be within a month of the start of the project.

Could this possibly be the sign of the times I am waiting to see come into view? I am not sure that a “synagogue for prayer” is the same as that of the Temple of God prophesied, but I am no expert in these things. The potential is certainly there and the other signs given by Christ are certainly being seen in the earth today, including such things as:

1 Revealing of antichrist: The spirit of antichrist is already active as more and more people turn from the teachings of scripture to go their own way, making the breeding ground for takeover by the one to come who will soon be revealed as the antichrist—the one who will lead the world to fight against and destroy all things Christian. Already many of those who have turned to their own way not only shun those who believe in Christ, but actively come against all things Christian. This too is the spirit of antichrist revealing the birthing pangs of the man to be revealed.

2. The world of science has the means in place to set up “the mark”: a mark or chip of some sort used to mark those who give allegiance to antichrist. That mark will be required for all who want the right to buy, sell, and trade. Those who take that mark will be forever doomed to separation from God and His kingdom as they make their choice to serve another god, which is what antichrist is out to be.

3. Jerusalem surrounded in war: I am watching the war with ISIL very closely because I see them as having the force and potential to unite Islam against God’s chosen people. My understanding of scripture is that the church will be raptured out before that war. And Jesus warns those still around to see it that when they see antichrist standing in the temple and war surrounding Israel / Jerusalem, that is when those seeing it better run to the hills, because things really get bad then.

4. Other signs currently happening include:

* Plagues in the earth. My youngest daughter researched EBOLA recently and learned it is only one of several plagues currently active in the earth. So far the USA has been spared, but as more and more of the people of this great nation turn to antichrist that can quickly change.

* Natural disasters. These have increased drastically in the past several years. And more and more asteroid “near misses” point to the arrival of the one called “Wormwood” in scripture that WILL NOT MISS.

* Lawlessness! Watch the news. You can’t miss it. But this does not only mean those breaking the laws of man. It is the breaking of the laws of GOD. Look around you. Even those who profess to be people of God are snared by pornography, sexual sin of every kind, lack of integrity, and so on. I could write a book just listing the laws of God that are broken by those professing to be His every day. All struggle with fleshly impulses, but those who are actively pursuing God will deal with those faults and failures quickly. It is the habitual sin that we must realize: those lawless deeds that we fail to address with God and actively stand against must be dealt with. And those who refuse to deal with habits of sin need to look at #1 in the list below.

* Love grows cold. As lawlessness increases, our ability to give and receive love is hindered. We become weary of reaching out to those in need as we feel taken advantage of more often than not. Fear of strangers and their intentions keep us from opening our doors or our hearts to those in need. Whole families are destroyed because increasing sin destroys trust and our ability and desire to express love.

All of these things are warning for us who know Christ to be ready for His SOON return. Jesus teaches that we are not to fear these things, but we are to recognize their significance and be ready for Him. Our speaker last evening pointed out that we who belong to Christ are the Temple of God that He is building. It is vital that we possess for ourselves all that God desires of us as His temple, for that is what we are as the houses in which He makes His Spirit to dwell. Following are the things God is instructing me are necessary for readiness:

WALK-WITH-GOD1. Our relationship with God through Jesus Christ and our commitment to Him MUST be in good order. Do you know that you know that you know that you WILL be with Him in Glory. Scripture says that we can KNOW what our eternal destination is. That ability to know for sure requires that we get ourselves in tune with and surrendered to God the Father and His work in us through His Spirit’s indwelling that makes us into the image of God.

The way we can truly say that we KNOW we will be with Him in the Eternal Heavenly Kingdom of God is by the bearing of the fruit of His Spirit in our lives. If you do not KNOW what that means, get with someone who does before it is too late. This fruit bearing is the proof Jesus says reveals those who truly know Him and have His Spirit within. The Spirit of God is His mark on His people and that mark is made known through fruit bearing.

Beloved one, whether days, weeks, months or years, Jesus is coming! The signs that are revealing themselves today speak sooner rather than later to us who are alert. No one knows the day or hour of His return, so every day must be seen as potential to His arrival, and we must be found in readiness, being busy about the Father’s business at His coming.

2. Fear not, but live out His Love, Light, and Peace. Don’t go out and sell all you have and check out on life. Jesus is not here yet and there are still many who do not know Him. We are to continue to live with faith in God, setting a good example with our lives, having right priorities so that we are being His Light to the world and His love to those around us. It is our example that they will see, and that requires that we live with faith and hope every day, continuing on our course until Jesus takes us away.

3. Be good stewards of all that you have. God is the one who provides us the means to earn a living, and we are to use all He supplies us with wisdom, giving first to our local church the full tithe for use in meeting the needs of the house of God in carrying out the work of God where we are. God tells us in Malachi that in keeping the tithe we have His promise that He will destroy the devourer. All that drains our funds and robs us of the ability to meet basic needs will be removed by Him as we are faithful to supply His houses of worship and His work from our FIRST fruits. My understanding of the tithe is that it is the first 10% of gross income, and Malachi tells us that the devourer comes because we rob God of His full requirement. Be sure you are giving the full tithe and God says to test Him in this and we will see Him pour out His supply for our need.

Jesus warns us to not throw away His supply on useless pursuits that will be good for nothing, but instead to lay up our treasure in Heaven by being good stewards of His supply. Paul tells us in His letters to the Corinthians that God gives supply to meet our NEEDS. He gives supply for every good deed. And He sends surplus for use in meeting the needs around us. It is okay to have fun, but make sure you do not do so as a waste while a need or good deed goes unmet. That means we must be Spirit led in the use of God’s supply. Grabbing funds to blow on wants without His release to do so may find us facing a need with no supply because we spent it frivolously. When you fail to seek wisdom from God and find yourself facing a need with no supply, be quick to repent and learn to do better with your next opportunity to seek His will for your spending.

Use of God’s supply also includes the use of our time, energy, and priorities. Are we wasting our days, or are we being there for our family, for the work of the Lord, for time with Him personally and corporately, for time with others who need us to be an example of Light and Love, etc. All we are and all we have is His. Seek Him for every use of funds, time, energies, supplies, resources, gifts, talents, abilities, etc. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all else will be added to you. Realize that the greatest fun and fulfillment is found in Kingdom living as the joy of the Lord becomes our hope, help and strong tower.

Bible0014. WORD: do not neglect God’s word. The reading and meditation upon His word is Bread of Life and Living Water for us. In it we learn of God. Through it we find direction for our paths. In keeping it we become His image bearers. These days are hard, and they will get harder between now and the time Jesus comes. It is through God’s word working in us in the power of His Spirit that He reveals Himself as the lifter of our heads, the confidence of our hearts, and the assurance of our feet and hands.

5. Do not neglect the reading of the Word and the assembling together with other believers. It is gathering with other believers that give us opportunity to help and strengthen one another through corporate Bible study, prayer, and encouragement. We need each other in this season. A house divided will soon fall. Find a place and people of like faith that you can unite with for mutual support: and the FIRST place that should be, husbands, wives, and parents of children, is in the home. Do not neglect to teach God’s word to and encourage your family. The use of our spiritual gifts should begin there as well.

Realize that it is the lone sheep that fall prey to the wolf and the lion. The enemy of God works hard to separate us out from those of like faith, knowing that if he can get us away from our strong support system of family and church, he can destroy us and keep us from a vitally growing relationship with God, the fulfillment of His purpose in us, and the glory He desires to shine to and through us. Thus it is important that we not only find those strong, Christian support systems, but also that we watch out for those who are wandering off. When we see a family member or friend leaving the safety of the fold to delve into the ways of the world, we must move in to surround and help them find their way back.

Beloved, my heart is full for you today. If you are reading this, I am praying for your assurance of faith and the fulfillment of God’s purpose in you. The hour is short. The Day of Christ is near at hand. Like Jesus, we must be busy about the Father’s business, realizing that the day is coming when no man may work for antichrist is active in the earth to bring righteousness and goodness and godliness to an end. Today is the day of salvation. The Father wishes none to perish, but all to come to repentance. Now is the acceptable time for all mankind to know and serve the Living God of truth and righteousness who sends grace to us through Jesus the Christ. But it is only ours when we reach out in faith, believing all that is written of Jesus the Messiah, and receive it as our own possession.

Thus I continually pray “to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places], {in the place of authority} far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come” ~ Ephesians 1:17-21, AMP.

 

BLESSings, Beloved One!

Darlene

King’s Daughter

 

Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house; then the King will desire your beauty; IF HE IS YOUR LORD, BOW DOWN TO HIM ~ Psalm 45:10-11.

Word of Life: Sanctified – Set Apart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Word of Life: Prophetic Alert and Series Introduction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You are our letter, written in our hearts, KNOWN AND READ BY ALL MEN; BEING MANIFESTED that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:2-3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Journey to Self Control: Part 7 of 7

Self-control: The Path to Spiritual Wholeness in all things

Spirit-fruit

“[The] women likewise must be worthy of respect and serious, not gossipers, but temperate and self-controlled, [thoroughly] trustworthy in all things. …” ~ 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 1:8; 2:4, AMP.

Our ability to live with restraint of passions in the practice of self-control touches every area of life and greatly determines whether we are people of trustworthy character. I have heard it said that if we are out of control in our diet and health practices, it will translate to other areas of life as well. Chaos breeds the chaotic. Thus a focus on self-control will translate to breed peace and victory over chaos.

As I practice self-control in this area of life, I am seeing other areas in which to apply all that I am learning. Life as a whole is improving. And I am praising my God who leads me.

“For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward and appeared to us for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind. It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness and worldly-passion and desires, to live discreet, temperate, self-controlled, upright, devout, and spiritually whole lives in this present world, awaiting and looking for the fulfillment, the realization of our blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus” ~ Titus 2:11-13.

Living devout, spiritually whole lives in this life, what an awesome, godly goal to attain to, and as I readSpirit-fruit3 this passage, I realize that is the journey “self-control in the power of the Spirit” has me on. A devout, spiritually whole life begins with taking the step to live discreet, temperate, self-controlled lives of uprightness that grows out of the grace of God within, leading to a devout life of spiritual wholeness. As I consider living a life of love coupled with self-control, all powered and equipped by the Spirit of God, I can see how that practice of loving self-control and temperance holds in place joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness, to make one whole as a spiritual being in all areas of life.

Joy and peace come to the heart and mind of the person who, out of love for all concerned, is walking in self-control that protects from guilt, condemnation, and struggle. A self-controlled person, surrendered to God and persevering in faith, understands the need to practice patience on the journey; patience with self and patience in all things that would hinder our journey if we did not persevere with patience to overcome the struggle.

Those who are self-controlled by love’s work within are not easily led astray from acts of kindness and Spirit-fruit2goodness. Faithfulness to live lives of self-control that flows out of love produces a gentle soul who also possesses strength of character that is not always understood by those who are not on this journey as well. I realize this truth as I discover that there is not much that is able to shake my resolve as I give full focus to the Spirit-fruit of self-effort (my choosing to take needful action) empowered by the Spirit of God giving control to my fleshly soul that is beyond the natural means of mankind.

I continue to grow strong in maturity as I work toward being self-controlled in all things out of love for God, love for you, and a right love for self that chooses what is best for all I love, faithfully taking action in the power God supplies for doing so as a victor in Christ. And you are in my prayers as you, too, journey this way with me.

Journey to Self-Control: Part 6 of 7

Training the Eye

I am rejoicing today as I survey my recent journey and feel the strength flowing into my being. My diet is much improved. As suspected, setting my mind to stop the night time eating has greatly diminished the number of excess, low quality calories. The numbers on the scales drop .2 – .5 lbs. most every day. (Daily weights help me see when I have eaten something that is causing inflammation. The constant drop reveals success.) My heart and my journey are strengthened, and I am encouraged as I continue my current path for the next several weeks.

That is one thing I am learning: stay the course. Don’t add more to my proverbial plate until I am able to live with what it already holds. I could easily say, “Man, I am doing well. So let’s add such and such goal to my journey.” I have done that sooooo many times. But I am finally learning that moving forward to new foci too quickly pushes the old off my plate. By end of April, the habit should be well ingrained. Then I will pick a new focus. If I find myself ill-prepared, I will continue where I am awhile longer.

This is a slow journey for me, and I am learning that success for me is in the changes from bad habits that I make, little by little. Success truly is a journey, not a destination. Victory is in the eye of the beholder and I am training my eye to see the victory I am walking in.

I learned the importance and freedom of training my eye long ago, when I learned how to use the eye to measure my food. There is a trick I learned to use in training the eye with regard to measures. Put the portion on the serving dish to the point I believe to be the correct measure. Then measure my portion to see if I got it correct. If not, add to or take away as needed and place it back on the serving dish, letting the eye learn what that serving looks like. I still check my eye from time to time and retrain where I need; but most often I am right on.

Training our eye is important to our journey. Training to recognize the correct serving size protects from over eating when unable to measure—not to mention, setting one free from measuring cups and scales. Training them to realize success is just as vital. I am walking very successfully on this month’s journey, determined to reach my goal, and it feels good.

Self-control thought for today:

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control” ~ 2 Timothy 1:7, AMP.

This one verse pulls everything I have learned thus far about self-control together and adds to it “courage”. Self-control God is teaching me is a work of His Spirit’s power, motivated and flowing out of love that leads me to action, protected and directed by a spiritual calm that does not give way to emotional onslaught. It is well-balanced, temperate, and disciplined by a will surrendered to God. Thus we have self-control, and I am training the eye of my mind, heart and desire to realize it and walk in it.

Now I add to my journey the courage to walk it, not being timid or cowardly, falling to craven, cringing, and fawning fear. You see, I know I can be self-disciplined. I have done it many times, for short periods of time. It is staying the course that scares me. Too often I have begun strong, only to have my perseverance challenged. Falling back, I struggle again to return to self-control. So, realizing the need of courage to help me persevere in my journey to self-control in all things, I continue my journey with you.

Victory and success is in the eye of the beholder. To me, my eye says I am a victorious success on this journey to walking in Spirit-filled, self-control; and I will, by courage and steadfast determination, persevere to the finish, step by step.

Journey to Self-Control: Part 5 of 7

Restraint That Sets Free

I am seeing progress in my journey to self-control, as I continue to fill my mind and heart with determined purpose to practice walking out this fruit from within. Though the challenge at times is fierce, God is empowering my concerted effort to practice this part of His nature. Signs of success to date:

  • My mind quickly goes to the practice of self-control when challenge comes.
  • I am 8 out of 9 days victorious on my journey to stop eating after dinner, and I feel the strength and resolve to end each day strong growing within me.
  • I am averaging 6 days per week without having ice cream—as opposed to the 5-6 days per week that I was eating it. Ice cream’s draw on me is waning.
  • The sweet or processed foods I do have are greatly diminished and diminishing.
  • The scales remain down and continue to drop daily as I weigh to encourage myself and to use the tool of the scale as a measure for when I have eaten or done something to flair inflammation.
  • I am feeling better physically with greatly diminished inflammation.
  • I am getting in over 3000 low-end, lazy-day steps per day, despite the limitations my foot injury is bringing to the table. I have 2 days over 5000 before I decided the cardio walking was causing harm and hindering healing. So I am getting up several times per day to get 300-500 steps in at a time until goal is met or exceded. By end of day my foot is making it known that enough is enough, but I am being disciplined and deliberate in my resolve while being wise in my limitations.
  • My alertness to God’s presence with me on this journey has already doubled.
  • Hope for victory is reviving.

As with previous months of focus this year, the challenge now is to persevere and end with the strength I began in. In an effort to do that, I felt led to find scripture that specifically address the issue of self-control and will end each blog with one and what it says to me for my current emphasis.

“But if they have not self-control (restraint of their passions), they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame [with passion and tortured continually with ungratified desire]” ~ 1 Corinthians 7:9, AMP.

Boy, do I see the truth of this in my love affair with sweets. Here is what it looks like in me:

I see or think of or hear about some favored sweet delicacy. My passion for its delectable flavor and texture makes my mouth water. Despite efforts to push it out of mind, ungratified desire burns within me as it batters the door to my mind and appetite. Suddenly, often with unfettered passion, I run into its waiting arms.

One thing I have rediscovered in this week of focus on self-control is the need to take every thought captive, denying my mind the privilege of holding the thought of some sweet passion. Now I am not completely sweets free: but what I have resolved is that any sweet allowed will be home made, eaten with control, and only eaten immediately following a meal. My understanding—and experience is that eating a lower quality carb with protein and a high quality carb will curb the desire, and the body goes for the higher quality first. If passion still flares, I sit on my hands and put my mind on other things. Before I know it, the desire is gone, and I carry on.

Joyce Meyer is correct in her saying that the battlefield is truly in the mind; and I would add, in the passions. Thus, taking every thought captive for any ungodly passion I face, I restrain my passions, so that I may walk free from bondage to them and the things that inflame them. Each step of victory in this challenge increases hope to me that I will one day have more passion for the victory of obedience and the presence and pleasure of God than I have for the taste of the delectable; and that the joyful flavor of the pleasure of God will make the taste of the sweet abhorrent. As I typed that last statement, hope and joy at the thought of such freedom soared within my soul. I know that by God’s grace, I will get there if I faint not in the way of self-control.

Now, for you here, I thought that I was finished with the sharing of my SparkBlogs on this subject of self-contro and the restraining of passions. But it seems that there is at least one more to come. BLESSings to you on your journey. Thanks for reading my blogs and praying for my victory. Back here with you tomorrow.

Journey to Self-Control: Part 4 of 7

To Self-Control, add: My journey continues!

“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” ~ 2 Peter 1:5-7.

“Now for this reason”…What reason? Verse four answers my query, telling me that because I am among those who are recipients of the promises of God, I am, by His promises, to apply the following so that I can “become a partaker of the divine nature.”

There it is. I am on this Spark Journey for the purpose of experiencing God. And I am to experience Him as I walk with Him to develop within me the fruit of His Spirit found in the practice of self-control. This passage God led me to adds understanding to my path.

To DILIGENCE, in faith—faith in what? God and His promises.

God's Promise2

Practicing diligence with faith in God and His promises, I am to supply moral excellence—the immoral man sins against his own flesh (1 Cor. 6:18). I must realize the importance of this journey anew as I recognize my body as the very temple of Holy God, and be deliberate in behaving in ways that are beneficial to the health and well-being of God’s abode.

To moral excellence I add knowledge. That means I must study to be approved so I know what I am doing on this journey.

To knowledge I must add—and there it is—self-control: my deliberate effort to do the good empowered by God.

To self-control is added perseverance. God does not always change us in an instant. More often than not, He does His work here a little, there a little. To become discouraged is to fall away. If I truly want this, it will require me to persevere.

Persevere3Through this cycle we find godliness—His nature, alive, well and working within, which produces brotherly kindness, and well-springs with Love—God is love.

After God started speaking to me, reminding me of this lesson learned long ago, my self-control bounced off the wall of exhaustion and fell into a bowl of ice cream about two hours after dinner last night, breaking my “No ice cream” streak and my “Stop eating after dinner” streak. Because of God reminding me that to self-control we add perseverance, I did not fall to discouragement, but was immediately able to get back up, dust off, and carry on. As the result of not falling into a binge, but immediately getting back on track, the scales were up only two tenths of a pound this morning. Today has been strong again.

Two words that stand out to me for adding to my practice of self-control:

  • Perseverance – Steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose; steadfastness.
  • Diligence – Earnest and persistent application to an undertaking; steady effort; assiduity (??). Attentive care; heedfulness.Persevere6
    • Assiduity – Persistent application or diligence; unflagging effort. Constant personal attention and often obsequious solicitude (??). Devoted attention.
    • Obsequious solicitude – essentially “as a servant seeking the aid of her Master.”

Thus, my journey continues as I determine to be diligent in my efforts to persevere, not raising the white flag of surrender in my journey to have victory in the area of self-control, but by the power of the Master to whom I cry out as the supply needed to win the goal, I stand firm and press forward.

(One more blog point to follow and our journey to self-control is finished…for now 😉

The Journey to Self-Control: Part 3 of 7

To Walk In His Presence

“… And so, since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or approve of Him or consider Him worth the knowing, God gave them over to a base and condemned mind to do things not proper or decent but loathsome” ~ Romans 1:11-12, 28, AB.

Wow. Struggling with sin, giving oneself over to it, is a sign of lack of interest in KNOWING God on a personal and intimate level. Ugh. That thought and understanding is deep and it strikes me to the heart of the issue. My absolute surrender to laziness and lack of self-control on this journey stems from inadequate desire to do the very things that God has inspired in me as of utmost importance: a goal to be reached—that I may know Him (Philippians 3:8-11, see yesterday’s blog).

This struggle truly strikes a defeating blow to the second of my life goal scriptures I am to apply to this journey of experiencing the greater depths of God on my Spark Journey: that is to know His presence with me. My second life goal passage is found in Acts 2:25-28, where the words of David are quoted, describing to us his life-practice that led him to one victory after another. In this passage, David is credited as having said:

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

I seek daily to know and walk in the presence of God Almighty, being directed and empowered by Him; yet daily my fall to lack of the practice of the fruit of self-control hinders the fullness of this experience.

In the last post, I mentioned the analogy I was taught long ago of picturing the Spirit-fruit flavors of love and self-control as bookends to all the rest. If one of these bookends is broken and dysfunctional, all the rest fall to the wayside.

falling-books-bookends.pngAs I looked for a picture to show the books falling because of failing bookends (I think this one is way cute and very depictive of this thought)…anyway, while finding the picture above, I saw bookends that were made as one unit and it hit me: because of God’s love in me equipping me to not only love others as He does, but to love Him and to love self, I practice self-control in all things so that I may know Him more and have a stronger love relationship with Him.

The two ends must become one unit: love combined as one with self-control to facilitate strength of structure that holds all else securely in place. When that occurs, it translates into a stronger love-walk that is exhibited through joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and yes, self-control that loves me enough to maintain a life that loves God and His ways first of all, and that, because of love, lives an exemplary life that encourages and helps others out of love. Love and self-control not only are the bookends to hold all the rest in place and in proper order, but they are connected to each other, one unable to function properly without the power and influence of the other.

Without self-control, how can I experience to the full the presence of God, Who IS Love.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” ~ 1 John 4:7-8.

Because I have not loved fully as God loves: loving Him of first importance, then you as I love myself, my self-control has fallen, broken away from that which gives it strength. I pray to see that changed from here on out. Already, as I deliberately focus to practice the Spiritual fruit of self-control—applying my purposed effort with faith in God’s equipping for victory—I am feeling strengthened, experiencing His pleasure and His presence, and reaping the reward as I see the numbers on the scale drop again.

“For I am yearning to see you, that I may impart and share with you some spiritual gift to strengthen and establish you; that is, that we may be mutually strengthened and encouraged and comforted by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” ~ Romans 1:11-12, AB.

We can do it as, through faith, we walk together in love with self-control to bear all the fruit of the Spirit to the glory of God in our victorious lifestyle.

(To be continued)

The Journey to Self-Control: Part 2 of 7

Continuing to share my SparkPeople journey to self-control:

Feeling Good About Me in the True Victory!

SparkPeople community moderator Denise says: “Don’t let the scale tell you how to feel about yourself!”

As I sought the Lord about where to begin on my journey to experience Him through my journey to improved health, He pointed me to the flavor of “Self-Control” found in the fruit of the Spirit’s produce in us. I know that flavor is a vital bookend to the fruit of the Spirit, Love holding things together on the one end, and Self-Control on the other, but that is the flavor of the fruit of God’s presence that least enters my mind when I seek His flow in the day. Yet it is there, a bookend to all the others, signaling me to the need of my deliberate effort in surrendering myself to His controlling power of life if I truly want His Spirit flow.

So I began, and as I prayed to discover a starting place for my journey to experiencing Him through self-control, He led me to start anew the goal to eat nothing after dinner unless it is something lite and healthy in response to true hunger. I made it through last night, day 1 on this renewed journey to the goal of overcoming night time eating, and it showed on the scales in a big way this morning.

Now I know that extreme changes in diet—and this is a biggy for me—will result in water weight loss, so I am not letting that loss determine how I feel about myself in this victory. It is not the scales that are the true success, but the success in standing firm in faith to practice self-control, calling on the Lord for strength as my husband had his snack, and seeing success in staying the course and winning the day. That is cause for rejoicing: increasing my nature of self-control as a faithful, faith-filled child of God.

On this journey to discover how I can experience God through my weight loss and lifestyle change efforts, I promised to look at two of my life goal verses, sensing there is wisdom to be gleaned there. The first is found in the Amplified version of Philippians 3:8-11.

“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege, the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly. …

“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness, even to His death, in the hope that if possible I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body.”

Self-control means to die to something, denying self in order to enter into the controlling power of God’s Spirit, bearing the fruit of life in the earth. As I learn to walk in the power of dying to self, I experience more of Him through His power that resurrects true life in me.

Wow! To God be the glory. I think I will mull on that one for a while. See you back here in my next post.

The Journey to Self-Control: Part 1 of 7

Sensing God’s leading to share my current SparkPeople journey with you here, I will be copying a current blog series from my Spark to these pages here until the season of instruction ends. I hope that some here will be helped with their walk of faith in God in some area of your life.

Blog #1: Founded and Built to Last

SparkPeople’s Coach Nicole says: “Every day is another chance to turn things around.”

Two of my teams are studying the book, Made to Crave. In chapter 5, the thing that struck me and brought a gasp of inspiration to my heart was the thought that not only does God want to be a part of our journey, even in the things that seem mundane to us, like our dietary struggles, and not only does He desire all that we do—even this journey—to be done for Him and His glory, but He wants this journey to be another avenue in life whereby we experience Him and His presence and personal desire for relationship with “me”. That is awesome to me, again! So as I think about today being a day of second chances, I begin a journey of considering what this thought in chapter 5 of Lysa Terkeurst’s Made to Crave means to and for me.

In future posts on this subject, I will be looking at some of my life verses that fit this thought, making the connection between them, the experience of God, and how to deliberately bring that to my Spark Journey. For now, in my scripture reading this morning, the following passage really struck me as the place to begin as I consider how to bring the experience of a stronger relationship and walk with God into my Spark.

“According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. IF ANY MAN’S WORK IS BURNED UP, HE WILL SUFFER LOSS; BUT HE HIMSELF WILL BE SAVED, YET SO AS THROUGH FIRE.

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise”  ~ 1 Corinthians 3:10-18.

I am wowed as I realize anew the connection of this call to recognize our body as the Holy temple of God and its introduction following on the heels of how we build on a foundation. Our care of our body is not unimportant to God. It is vital to our relationship with Him as we realize we are His temple, and we are building on and maintaining His residence. And what does this passage tell us that fits with our walking this journey with realization that we are in company with God Almighty as we travel this path?

The first thing I note that I must realize is important to God and vital to my experiencing Him in this journey is, “no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” There are foundations to every work that must be laid, and when that foundation is cemented in Christ, it will withstand every quaking challenge to its stability. The foundation of my healthy lifestyle is vital, and Jesus—God with us (Immanuel), God incarnate, the One through home salvation comes—Jesus must be the cornerstone.

The thing that came to heart right off as I consider this is the realization that all that I do is to be done in ways that honor Him as Lord and bring glory to His name. So seeking Him before I bite, making Him part of my dietary and exercise regimen, seeking His appetites and His instruction for activity is vital to my ability to experience Him in this journey; and vital to my ability to do that with greater realization is for me to understand that this journey is as important to Him as my relationship with Him and my Kingdom experience. He must be the foundation, and His teachings can direct me to firm up the foundation of my journey to health and a healthy lifestyle as a part of my Kingdom journey.

The second thing I note is the material I use to build my healthy lifestyle is vital to building a healthy body with lasting results that will not burn up and fall apart when touched by the fires of life’s challenges. I will know God’s presence and work with me in this journey as I begin to seek Him to help me discern the gold, silver, and jewels that I need to use to replace all wood, hay and stubble in my current practices. To see the better choices set before me as God’s gold, silver, and jewels, and to choose them over the wood, hay and stubble that may seem easier, quicker, and more appealing enlivens my journey, seeing God at the core of every decision for healthier living. Any decision I face, I need to look at with a view of discerning which is the jewel in the hand of God; and the greatest building material of all is my attitude and motive in the decision made. By lining my attitude and motive for this journey and its choices up with God’s, I experience Him on the path to health and well-being.

Thus begins my journey to experience God in this journey, taking it from the mundane must do, to the glory of the eternal path walked deliberately hand in hand with the Father.

I am looking for a new body of health and strength which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Who De Judge?

Read John 3:16-21

The judgment of God can be confusing. Why does Jesus say He did not come to judge the world, while in other passages saying He does judge? Why is God the Father the Judge, and yet He has left all judgment to Jesus? Why are we told to not pass judgment, while in another Breath of His Word we are told to judge righteously? I don’t know if I can help make sense of it, but this passage calls me to try. Thus we will break it down and talk it through.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. …” (vs. 16-18).

Jesus IS the Word of God, incarnate, living, and active. He somehow, fully understood by God alone, is the power through which God spoke all into existence. He is the Messenger, I believe the One called the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament who delivered God’s message to man pre-Christ, and now anew as Christ. He is the Word lived out fully before us as an example to us for life more abundant and full. He spoke only as God instructed Him, so every Word given is God breathed through Him from beginning of days to their end. The Word of God is the judgment of God already passed, by which we are already judged.

Jesus is the Word of God come to live as an example and die as propitiation; thus He says rightly that judgment is already passed through Him who is the incarnation of the very Word of God so that those who believe are already judged as righteous in and through receiving His gift of sacrifice and following Him; and those who deny Him are already judged guilty as they refuse the gift of God in Christ and the Lordship He has bought as the living Word of God to direct our life. (John 1:14; John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Luke 4:32; John 6:68; 1 John 1:1-5; John 18:37; John 5:30; John 8:28; John 12:48-50; Romans 2)

Thus Jesus did not need to judge the world, because the world is already judged by the Word. The Word is God and is in perfect alignment with all God is and desires. Anything standing in opposition to His Word, stands against Him and is judged guilty. Any in agreement with the Word stand with God and are adjudged righteous through Christ. So Jesus was not sent to judge, because judgment is already defined and passed. But when He is required to pronounce judgment, He does so as the Word of God, expressing the dictates of God that are already set.

We are told to not pass judgment as our right to do so, for in such an attitude we too often judge according to our own ideology of right and wrong. Thus, in doing so, we set ourselves up as a god in His place. He has already judged, and His word is His judgment, set in place to show us how to live in righteousness.

Another reason we are told not to judge is because we too easily look at the external without thought of the internal or the underlying issue of the heart. Only God knows the true intent of the heart of every man, and only He can justly and by right pronounce judgment and pass sentence.

However we are called to righteous judgment. This can only be achieved when we first judge ourselves against the Standard of God’s word and make sure we are in right relationship with Him. We can only fully judge self, with God’s help, as He reveals to us the true intent found in our heart. This is because the heart of our flesh is deceptive and we too easily fool ourselves.

We see this principle as Jesus kneels down to scribble in the dirt, then stands to tell a crowd, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, all dropped their rock and turned to walk away. Jesus knew their desire to stone the woman caught in sin was unrighteous on several plains of thoughts: one – they only brought the woman, leaving the man behind as if he had no part in the sin. The law they were partially following says to bring “them” out for stoning who are caught in adultery, not “her”. Two – He also knew that the heart desire of those leading the unruly crowd was to test Him to see if they could catch Him in sin. I have no doubt that a wrong response from Jesus, and the stones would have been aimed His way. And three – these were forgetting rule one, righteously judge yourself and remove the plank from your own eye so you can see to help another with their splinter. Many in the crowd were more deserving of stoning than our adulterous young woman. Many probably just had yet to be caught. (Read John 8)

We are to judge others only in accord with God’s Word as we can physically see them standing in disagreement to It; and then only as we ourselves are walking in agreement with that area of life in Him. I know someone has committed the sin of stealing when I see them steal, I judge them guilty of stealing because God’s word ordains, “Thou shalt not steal.” And I can rightly address that issue with the person when I do so realizing it is God’s judgment based on His word, and I stand before Him in the cover of His grace, doing the best we can to walk with Him in agreement with His Word, will and way. None are perfect in flesh yet; we are perfected in Christ and we are continually being perfected. So righteous judgment can only be done when we do all we can know to do to be in right standing with God, and as we have a heart attitude that we, too, are but flesh apart from Christ.

“…This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (vs. 19-21).

As we consider the heart issues involved, only God can fully comprehend the intent of the heart of any man. Only He can reveal that intent. And only He can divvy out righteous justice or decide for grace. Our righteous judgment toward self or any other can only truly happen as we realize these things and seek the heart of God to know the truth and follow His will in passing judgment. Because of this, people will either love the Word of God, and run hard to practice it, or they will hate it.

People who hate the word of God most often do so because it is His light to reveal to us our own hearts, whether we stand righteous or guilty. They avoid it for fear that they will have to change their ways, being unwilling to do so. And they don’t like feeling their guilt, so they baulk at His word and our pronouncements of His judgment.

Those who love the Word love it because they realize that it teaches them Christlikeness that restores the image of God to our hearts. Jesus gives us His Spirit to help us choose to love the Word and to instruct our understanding, granting power to follow through with its dictates. Thus we must choose to believe His life, example, and sacrifice, taking it fully to heart and making it our own, so that we may be saved unto eternity and live a life after God’s own heart.

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 4

Spirit and Fire 

Isaiah 4:4-6 “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”

It was interesting to me to find this passage after a recent conversation with a friend about another passage that I would say goes hand in hand with this. In it, John the Baptist says of Jesus, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). From these two passages we can glean a little discernment of these baptisms from the Father through the Christ.

First of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of judgment, Jesus says that the Spirit He will send us will “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Here we see that the baptism of the Spirit comes to those of the world who receive within themselves this conviction that brings understanding of their sin, God’s righteousness and that sent through Christ on our behalf, and the judgment to come that will be determined by whether or not we believe and receive. This baptism is the baptism of rebirth that brings our spirits fully to life with His, making us one with Jesus and part of the Kingdom of God. After this baptism of rebirth, the work of the Spirit of judgment continues as He teaches us to recognize the source of the choices we have in life, whether they will produce sin or righteousness and wisdom to discern the consequences of our choices. Without this work of the Spirit in us, we cannot walk with God in truth.

Second, this first baptism of the spirit of judgment leads to the baptism of fire or burning. As we grow in our maturity as people of God, His Spirits begins to burn within us to reveal sin habits and patterns that must be surrendered to God and transformed to His likeness. This can be an arduous process to go through, much like burning away our flesh with fire would be difficult to live through. The more we fight the change God calls us to make the more fierce the fire burns through consequences meant to move us toward Him and away from the evil we run after to easily. This fire is not only burning away the rule of flesh in our lives, it is removing the desires and pursuits that make up the dross that hinders His image from reflecting in our lives.

God will do what it takes to make us into His image because He loves us and no unrighteousness can enter the gates of the eternal. The more we work in cooperation with the Spirit of God, the less of the burn we will experience. So be quick to hear and believe; and receive and press forward in faith. Then the fire of God can impassion us for the things of God, empowering us for good and glory as never before.

Father, we cry out for the baptism of Christ to do its work in us, making us a reflection of Your glory, grace, and love. Holy Spirit, have full sway to the glory of God’s name. In Jesus, amen.

The Dream – Part 2

Ploy Uncovered 

Yesterday the battle was revealed, the enemy of the Groom seeks to cut the legs and reproductive canal off the body of the Bride, hindering the bearing of the fruit of Righteousness into the earth. How does he do that? Is it through sin? Yes and no. What do I mean?

Unrepentant sin habits stunt the growth of a Christian and hinder the intimacy of their union with the Groom. But remember in the dream, this is the Bride who intimately loves the Groom and seeks with all her being, even to the loss of her life, to birth healthy righteousness into the earth. So I would say that this is not a professing Christian who is walking as an unrepentant, wayward child of God, never fully developing the intimacy that He intends. This is the mature and growing Bride who desires right and intimate relationship with the Groom at all cost, and she seeks to protect the birthing of the child into the earth, even if it has to be by C-section. So I do not see sin itself as the issue that hinders and disables this Bride, but some attack from this enemy of God that cripples and disables, leading to a sin struggle beyond one’s ability to cope apart from the grace of the Divine. Why?

Because as a mature Christian, this Bride is vigilant against sin and seeks quickly to turn back to the Father to walk with Him in His way. She understands that her sins repented of are covered by the blood of the Son, her Groom. So what do I see that Satan is using to lop the legs and ability to bear off of this mature, vital and productive Bride?

~*~

Guilt / Shame:

Satan can trip up even the mature: that is clear. This Bride, mature of faith and growing, recognizes her sin—generally very fast, and repents quickly. When Satan cannot lop off our legs by leading us into a life of habitual and continuous sin, he will try the next best thing, snaring us in guilt and shame. “How can ‘I’ go forth to bear Righteousness when ‘I’ am so worthless,” he says to our minds. Stunned by some fall, though we got back up and turned to the right path, if we are not mindful to the voice of the Father, we will believe this suitor’s lie spoken as our own thought. Though we press forward when so snared, our gait is slow, the path arduous, and we too often hit a gap we cannot cross because we receive the thought as true and forget the Cross of our Groom.

So let’s just put that one to bed right now. Guess what? We are worthless—apart from Christ. Even our greatest good is as filthy rags before our holy God. Thus enters the Groom to grab our hand and remind us of His covering. We are set free indeed through Christ. When God looks at us, He sees us as righteous because He sees us through the covering of the Savior.

We are worthless in our own right. But to God? By His grace, we are PRICELESS; so priceless and desirous that He loves us, and He loves us so much that He gave His Son on our behalf, the propitiation for our sin. In Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). So, in the name of Jesus, as representing Him and His interests, tell the devil where to go, forgive yourself, and get on with the bearing of the righteous seed within you. Otherwise you risk…

~*~

Discouragement / Despair:

When we cannot forgive ourselves, trust the covering of God, and speak truth to counter the lies of the enemy-suitor who wants to turn the grace of God to foolishness that is useless to the nurturing of the righteous seed within us, discouragement and despair make that seed sickly. Jesus is our Righteousness. He covers us with His blood of cleansing and He has put His Spirit within us: the seed of righteousness. That seed will bear forth if we faint not in the battle because the seed is the source of our ability to bear the produce of God’s Righteous Lot. The seed, the Spirit of God in us, will grow and bear its fruit if we will only believe and surrender to its work. Realizing where our righteousness comes from will protect us from guilt and shame that brings discouragement and despair.

Are we to live righteously and be righteous? Yes. But we can do nothing apart from Christ at work within us. And when we fall only to get back up and press forward anew, we can trust the cover of Christ that reveals His righteousness on our behalf. So don’t give up and don’t give in to discouragement and despair over your own struggle with the enemy suitor. That only leads to…

~*~

Fear / Unbelief:

One of the enemy suitor’s greatest instruments of destruction is fear. If he can lead us into fear, he can trap us there in unbelief. Fear is rooted in and fed by unbelief. If we believe God truly loves us purely, we believe He can and will supply all we need to succeed in fulfilling His intent and purpose, and we have courage and confidence in Him to press forward to reach the goal He sets before us knowing that He will protect His purpose and plan in us. Fear and unbelief are vitally linked in order to destroy our ability to trust that we hear from God or that He will supply us to have what it takes to get the job done.

God’s word in John 10 promises that those vitally linked with Jesus know His voice and follow Him and the stranger’s voice they simply will not follow. Part of what makes one mature in Christ is growing faith in knowing His voice and following Him. He speaks to us in ways we can recognize. The enemy suitor, the antichrist, wants us to doubt the voice of God and fear moving forward. Getting us trapped in this cycle of fear fed by unbelief leads quickly to …

~*~

Self-preoccupation / protection:

Oh my! This one slipped up to grab me and I am still fighting this battle, unsure really how to walk free. But I know God has the answer…God IS the Answer.

I have shared many times about the paranoia my dad is trapped in. He accuses those who love him most of doing things to and against him that they would never think to do, and there seems to be no changing his mind on what he believes to be true. After many years of dealing with this and watching it get worse, one day I heard the lie spoken as from my own thoughts and physically felt something in my psyche snap like the pop of breaking a stick in two. By way of reminder, this is the way it went:

“‘I’ CANNOT do THIS (deal with daddy) anymore.” SNAP!

To which I, replying to what I believed was my own thought, said, “That’s right! I cannot do this anymore.” Agreement. Two or more in agreement has power, whether for good or for harm.

I have struggled with stagnation and hindrance ever since, trapped in all kinds of fear and anxiety over the issue, some reasonable, some ridiculous, but all leading to a discouragement and despair over the situation that has me absolutely snared by self-preoccupation and self-protectiveness. “I can’t deal with it anymore.”

And you know what, that is true. “I” can’t. I am worn out from it. I am so grieved over daddy’s struggle and accusations that I cannot bear to hear it any more. It is beyond me. And there is where my thoughts are trapped and snared up in the line of one “I can’t” after another.

Trapped by a long line of self-preoccupied and protective statements, I struggle to press forward in that area of life, and it affects my ability to press forward in other relationships as well. Where dealing with daddy is concerned, I can do no less than to grasp the hand of the Beloved who reaches out to walk with me in bearing forth Righteousness into the situation. I cannot move to function without Him. The enemy suitor of self-preoccupation and protectiveness fights against my grasp constantly. When the Beloved gets through to grab hold on me, I go forth with power to perform that is all and only that of my Beloved’s working through me; and the victory of it lifts me for a time. Then, unwittingly, I slip back into self-preoccupation and protectiveness, my legs lopped off to half of the pelvis, and the battle begins again.

Preoccupation with self and protection of one’s own in this way quickly can lead to…

~*~

Disunity / Starvation:

For a long while in this struggle I found it difficult to be around others. I could read God’s word, and somehow He always spoke to me through it, but my focus was off. I know His loving, caring presence constantly, ministering to my hurt, but often still I find prayer illusive—deliberate, focused prayer that is. In this struggle with my pain, though God is very near me and I am acutely aware of Him, I see two major ploys listed above in play:

Guilt and shame over the fact that I cannot deal with daddy and do what I feel I should be doing as his eldest daughter. Worried about what others think of me as I feel I have deserted daddy and the rest of the family.

Then there is fear: fear of my family turning from me in their own struggle with anger brought about by this situation we are in. They appear to understand my struggle and often comfort me in it, but still the fear of losing them is there. And finally, social anxiety with others: feeling that if my own daddy cannot see who I really am and that I would never do the things he thinks I have done, how can I trust anyone else to love me and know me?

This guilt, shame and fear have led to “feelings” of disunity, being unable to relate comfortably and confidently with family, friends or church family. I am not feasting in the food found in relationships with others, and am starving for companionship as a result. This struggle has at times led to…

~*~

Procrastination / Misappropriation:

I procrastinate on things I need to do, but that put me into a vulnerable position. When opportunity to gather with others comes, social anxiety leads me to hide out, wasting the energy God gives on fretting, worry, and what amounts to my own unrighteous judgment of the hearts of others I fear are judging me. When it is time to plan family gatherings for some special occasion, I drag my feet, if I move at all. Time and attention I should be giving to friends in need and family indeed, I give to anything that will protect me from having to deal with the situation. The worry and fretting over having to deal with others wears me out, so I wind up behind in everyday things that keep the house in order and me ready for meeting together with others. Thus I procrastinate and misappropriate my time and energy when I am deep in my struggle with this family situation. That, then, finds me in the midst of…

~*~

Distraction / Busyness:

I either struggle with distraction, lacking focus to get anything of significance done, or I get myself to a place of being too busy to have time for dealing with such difficult issues. If Satan cannot slow us down in our pursuit of God and His ways, he will throw us into a season of distraction and / or busyness.

~*~

Well, that took an unexpected turn into a personal testimonial that I did not intend. But I trust God did, and that somehow, as you read my personal struggle, you are helped to see and understand your own disabling, enemy-suitor attack, and the path it too often takes us.

Now, let me tell you, I am getting better, and God has used this season to grow me in areas and ways I am not sure I could have learned as well in any other way. So, to keep this from being way longer than it is, next post will cover things God has taught me and how He is growing me through this struggle. God never wastes anything. He lovingly uses it, as a smelter uses fire to remove dross and as Vine Dresser uses pruning shears and manure fertilizer to promote growth. See you back here for the rest of the story.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 12

The Delightful Proof of His Nature Practiced

Read 1 John 3:

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

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

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

Practice the Keeping of His Law / Commands / Will:

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

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

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

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

The Practice of Love Toward the Brotherhood / Sisterhood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Practice Confidence Before God

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

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

Practice What is Pleasing to Him

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

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

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

Practice Walking in the Spirit of God

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

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

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

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 1

Introduction

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24).

“Lacking in Christ’s afflictions”? The day that statement from Paul caught my attention, I began a quest to understand what it means and how it is that we fill up that which remains to be done. I mean, after all, Jesus on the cross shouted, “It is finished!” In His prayer in John 17, He said to the Father, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (vs. 4).  What is there that remains lacking?

There are several passages that speak of the sufferings or afflictions of Christ, such as Paul’s proclamation in Philippians 3:10-11 talking about his ultimate goal in life being: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Considering these words from Paul, we can surmise that fellowship with His sufferings is part of the process that makes us one together with Him. It is part of the recipe that resurrects in us the Life of Image Bearers that God intended we have.

In this study, which looks like it will take a couple of weeks to cover unless God has more to say than I do, we will see what we can discover about the afflictions of Christ, what they are, and how we have fellowship with His sufferings as we walk with understanding in this journey to filling up what is lacking.

Our text for this study will be the book of 1 John, in which I see many thoughts that give us a picture of our responsibilities that accomplish this call of Paul given to us through his example. Like with so much of the teachings found in the word of God, this study will be a good start to our journey of discovering God’s will for us as people called to this fellowship.

I hope you will join me these next two weeks as we look at this subject. The words “afflictions” and “sufferings” I know do not make this an appealing subject, but I believe you will be pleasantly surprised at the things God has shown me as we consider this vital aspect of our walk with Him. Looking forward to getting started, I anticipate seeing you back here tomorrow as we begin to look at 1 John and find that this work of suffering with Christ truly is cause for rejoicing as we see the fruit produced in it.

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

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

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

Breaking our passage down into areas of thought:

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

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

Living stones of proclamation and announcement

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

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

Living stones birthed to Abraham

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

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

Living stones holding His commandments

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

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

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

Living stones in the Master Carver’s hands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living stones of memorial and remembrance

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

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

Living stones for honor, commitment and consecration

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

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

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

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

Finally, for now, continuing todays focal passage:

Living stones of stumbling and offense

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

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

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

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

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

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 9b

Yesterday we began looking at attributes of the righteous lot found in the remainder of Psalm 37 and forming for us a good review of the majority of the study, adding some to our thought process as we go. In it we covered the attributes of 1) graciousness; went in depth on 2) the giving heart that wisely uses the provision of God; touched on 3) the assurance of heart that comes to those established by God through Christ; finding that the righteous 4) delight the heart of God by delighting in His ways, thus; 5) departing from evil in order to do good. Today we finish up the review as we cover these last verses:

“The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.The wicked spies upon the righteous and seeks to kill him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged. Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found.  Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him” (vs. 30-40).

6) The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice:

The righteous who continually seek the Lord and grow in Him are often called by Him to speak or write His word in ways that add understanding to the heart of the reader. Those righteous speak a wisdom that points to justice, instructing us in the way we should go.

All of the righteous lot are called of God to “go to a friend” and talk with them about the path they are on. We are all to bear witness of our faith and the work of God in our lives whenever opportunity presents itself. These will couple their words of truth, justice, and wisdom with love, knowing that without a heart of love, the words come across as a clanging cymbal to the ears of the listener. Whichever way we are called of God to use our wisdom, whether friend to friend or publically, we must remember to couple our witness with love.

Let’s take a look at what the word of wisdom and justice looks like by turning to two key passages that give us a clue:

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:7-8).

Jesus promised that when He went away to be with the Father, He would not leave us alone, but would send the Helper, the Spirit of God charged with teaching us wisdom and righteousness and empowering us to walk it. This passage tells us that part of His role as Helper-Teacher, is to convict or convince us of sin, righteousness and judgment. He does this in two ways:

1) He reveals the sin we are practicing, He instructs us in the righteous path needed to correct our lives, and He warns us of the judgment of God against such sin should we choose to continue in our own ways, refusing the work of our transformation in the power of His Spirit. This is the work of discipline accomplished by the Spirit in the life of a wayward child of God.

2) He grants us wisdom to discern right from wrong and understand the potential consequences for our choices so we can make right decisions that keep us on the righteous path. In other words, He helps us to weigh the pros and cons of a crossroad point of choice, equips us to discern the potential outcome, and gives us wisdom to make the right decision.

When people keep coming into our lives, telling us the same thing about what we should be doing and why; we would be wise to realize that the Spirit of God may be using those who love us to convict of sin, instruct in righteousness, and warn of consequences. Remember, the Father disciplines those who are sons and daughters through Christ. It is not a disgrace to enter in to a season of discipline that removes sin from us. It is an honor that proves we are His child.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).

Here James contrasts for us the false wisdom that comes from the fleshly, the worldly, and the demonic; putting it up against the backdrop of true wisdom that comes from God’s Spirit at work in us.

False wisdom produces bitter jealousy, selfish ambition of heart, arrogance, falsehood, disorder and every evil thing. Sounds messed up, doesn’t it? God is orderly and full of peace and love. Evil dwells and rules where there is discord, disorder, and chaos. So let’s contrast the false wisdom with true wisdom, breaking it down some to explore each characteristic found there. True wisdom that is from God is:

First pure – true wisdom will be based in good, godly motives and desires that protect and produce purity.

Peaceable – true wisdom handles things in peaceful ways that most often bring peaceable results not lending to an atmosphere of chaos.

Gentle – true wisdom has strength of resolve that comes across with gentleness.

Reasonable – true wisdom knows how to reason things out so as to lead to truth and unity.

Full of mercy – true wisdom recognizes the limitations of the immature and of those without the Helper, so as to grant mercy and deal properly with those of opposition to sound judgment.

Good fruits – most of what we have covered as traits proving wisdom are on the list of the Fruit of the Spirit, thus we conclude that true wisdom produces the Fruit of the Spirit in us. But we also see that following true wisdom brings about good results.

True wisdom is also unwavering: one who has true wisdom receives with it a heart of assurance and conviction that helps them stand, firm and resolute in the course laid out.

It is without hypocrisy: because true wisdom produces the fruit of God’s character in us and leads to the paths of His choosing and the heart of His purposes, it will always line up with a flow that comes from who we are in Him, and it will stand in agreement with what we profess to believe. We will not say one thing while doing another when dictated by wisdom.

“And the SEED whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

I think “seed” should be in caps here, as scripture teaches that the “seed whose fruit is righteousness” is Jesus, the Messiah King, Lord of lords, and Saving Grace. This Seed of righteousness in us is sown in peace and produces peace, the first in the list of flavors found in the Fruit of the Spirit. One Fruit—many flavors, all restoring the image of God in us.

Thus wisdom flows from the peace of God to bring peace to us that allows us to walk in wisdom with purity, being peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. We cannot have true wisdom without first surrendering to receive the Seed of Righteousness, Jesus Christ the Savior. Why?

Because His ways are higher that our ways; His thoughts are higher that our thoughts. We can reason in the flesh and come up with wisdom that sounds good to us and is agreeable with the wisdom of others, but we cannot discern right and true motives, or discover the higher road of His purposes without His righteous wisdom.

7) The Righteous Holds God’s Law in his heart to direct the sure step.

Oh, my. Don’t ‘cha know that to those of us who possess the Seed of Righteousness—being filled with His Spirit, seeking His wisdom—His Word is precious to our hearts? We long for the Word as our bread of life and living water. We don’t just grab it, finding what looks good to us and making it our own, for use often to promote and give excuse for ungodly ways. It grabs us. And by the power of the Spirit of God at work in us, His Word is used of Him to make us His very own possession.

The passages that affect me most and have done the most to change my life forever reached up off that page and grabbed my heart of flesh, circumcising it and kneading it into His own heart, filling me with desire for their proof to be in me, and making me one with Him in belief, desire, and purpose of action. Many of them continue to grab me and revitalize my commitment.

When I read “For my DETERMINED purpose is that I may KNOW HIM…”, my heart soars anew with increased resolve to grow ever stronger in this relationship (Philippians 3:10-11, AMP).

When I recall “Set your mind and keep it set! …” I get excited and check my course to be sure my focus lines up with His (Colossians 3:1-2).

My heart often cries out with Moses, “Show me Your glory” (Exodus 33). My life has changed forever, watching for Him with “earnest expectation and hope” (Philippians 1:19-20).

My boast is forever in Him, looking to Him for my approval as I remember that “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”, for I realize that I “can do nothing apart from Christ,” but “I can do all things through Christ who is my strength” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, John 15:4-5; Philippians 4:10-13).

“Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. 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. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 3:11-16).

Through Jesus, we enter the presence of God through the Grace He supplies, and hiding His word in our hearts, we find our protection from sin, being transformed into His image anew.

8) The righteous rests in the shelter of God’s protection, trusting His judgment and advocacy when assaulted by accusation.

There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. When we hide His word in our hearts, letting Him tell us who we are, heeding His instruction for life choices, receiving the assurance of His promises by faith, we are protected from the false prophet and from the lies of the enemy who would beat us down and hinder our progress of faith.

By hiding His WORD in our heart, we know that through Christ we are saved by grace through faith, being adopted into the household of God, having right of inheritance with The Son as the adopted through Christ: and knowing this we know that when we commit sin, the Father of lights then disciplines us as children (Ephesians 1-2; Hebrews 12).

As children of God who seek the Father’s pleasure, we come in under His protection where no evil can eternally harm us. And when accused, He who does not condemn us helps us to know truthfully whether we are guilty of sin—equipping us to correct that area of life; and if we are not guilty, He assures our heart and has given us an advocate in Christ who “ever lives to intercede on our behalf” (Romans 8:31-34; Hebrews 7:25).

9) The righteous waits for the Lord while keeping His way.

While waiting for God to move in our lives, defending us from assault, changing us from one degree of His glory to the next, delivering us from trouble and sorrow, we do not wait as those without hope, but we keep doing what we know to do until He changes our course. No matter the difficulty, by faith in God, forgetting what lies behind, we keep pressing forward to the goal through righteousness in Christ. Not taking our own revenge, we leave that to God and choose rather to “…overcome evil with good” (Romans 12), knowing:

10) The righteous is a person of peace because they take refuge in God:

God, through grace found in Christ, is our hiding place and our secure tower. Through Him we can have peace and walk in peace knowing that no matter what goes on in the earth, we, His children, have a posterity protected by God, an inheritance held secure in the heavens with Him.

Through His provision we have strength to face each day. Because He loves us, we do not fear facing any struggle or challenge, trusting that by the power of His Spirit, we are helped by God to face each day with His comfort in us. And because of the Christ who paid the price as propitiation (full and complete payment) for sin, bringing those who truly believe from their heart into the kingdom of God, we know we have deliverance from death through God.

There is no sin that can keep us, no trouble that can stop God’s will for us, no sword that can come against us to keep us from our appointed course, when we live the righteous life of faith in God: rested in Him, trusting Him, serving Him with a willing spirit of obedience and coming quickly to repentance when we fall.

“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. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no [filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming;] but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.’

“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” (Ephesians 5:1-17).

Tomorrow our concluding thought.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 9a

By way of review we will finish our study of Psalm 37 today and tomorrow in Part 9a and 9b as we cover attributes seen in the righteous lot; then we will have Part 10 in another passage to conclude our study of Dispelling the Darkness. This excerpt of our study is long as I seek to finish this series this week. Hang in there with me. We are almost at the conclusion.

“The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, but those cursed by Him will be cut off. The steps of a (righteous) man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, and his descendants are a blessing. Depart from evil and do good, so you will abide forever. For the Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” (vs. 21-29).

The remainder of Psalm 37 reveals attributes seen in those who practice His righteousness in likeness to Christ. Our righteousness is the product of a life surrendered to God for His use in the earth. God’s light shines bright through those who willingly surrender in obedience to His ways, portraying Christlikeness in all they do. Here in the remainder of this passage of Scripture today and tomorrow we learn 10 attributes that will bear out of the life of the righteous as fruit from the Spirit of God at work in them.

1) The righteous are gracious:

One fruit of a righteous life is the ability to be gracious. As I think on what graciousness looks like, I see that it requires the practice of Agape (Godly love), for the act of the gracious is to give grace. Grace requires forgiveness of wrongs done against us and it requires us to be able to relate with those forgiven with a spirit of graciousness.

This fruit of graciousness practices patience toward others. It portrays kindheartedness even toward those who hurt us, not being arrogant or vainglorious, and it does not act unbecomingly through rudeness and unmannerly ways. Graciousness is not self-seeking or self-centered; it does not merely looking out for one’s own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). All that is found in 1 Corinthians 13 is part of a gracious heart.

I am not going to go back over forgiveness again (see my blogs on that subject). I am going to say this. God hates broken relationships, because it is contrary to His desire for His creation and it misrepresents Him and His harmonious nature of unity. He desires our unity with Himself and with one another. But He understands that sin exists in the earth, and though we may forgive someone for a harm they do to us or another we love, that does not mean we will have a heart to go back to the same old relationship. That is why Jesus said that God allows divorce, because of the hardness of our heart.

Our ability to relate is adversely affected when trust is broken. Even God has shown this to be true of relationship with Him. When we break trust through sin against God, it brings a separation in our ability to have relationship with Him. But even in relationships that are broken by sin done toward one another that destroys trust, the practice of graciousness can and should be the trait of the righteous in Christ. There is still a relationship potential with those we forgive. It just may be hindered and changed by a wall of mistrust. If that is the case, the only thing short of a miracle from God that will heal the breech if for trust to be restored, and that takes time that often changes the dynamics of the relationship.

2) The Righteous are Giving:

As we said before, the righteous in relationship with Christ through saving faith have already inherited the land: we are part of His eternal kingdom and one way we experience His kingdom on earth is through our righteous practices. As the children of God, we are promised that we will receive of His supply: sufficient for every need, sufficient for every good deed, and surplus to help those who are in any need.

God graces us with His supply, giving us the ability to work and make a living. He supplies for us through the inheritance of wise parents who saved so as to take care of themselves in their old age and to have some to pass on as inheritance to their children and grandchildren. And He supplies for us in miraculous ways. All of His supply to us belongs to Him and is given to us for our wise stewardship. The principles of God are as stated above, and if we practice them well, we will find His provision in abundance. Read the following passages of scripture, and then I will give my opinion in the matter of our finances and wealth:

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

“I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it (collect an offering). But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality—your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality” (2 Corinthians 8:10-14).

God supplies us sufficient for our need. He calls us to give to others “according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” He does not expect us to go hungry or let our children be without necessities while we give it all away to others. God expects us to meet the need of our families and to pay our bills—beginning with the Tithe to God through our home churches. It is obedience here in the use of our finances for our daily needs that shows God we can be trusted with more. As we show Him we will not fritter away our supply on our lusts, but will respect and follow His principles for their use, He trusts us with surplus.

Once we prove faithful with the little, He begins to call us to do good deeds, and He supplies extra, sufficient to cover the good deeds He leads us to. His heart desire and goal is that we grow strong in our stewardship in these areas so that He can then pour out abundance to us above and beyond the need and the good deed. Out of that abundance we are called to help in meeting the need of others “so that there may be equality.”

But it is our choice whether we prove faithful in the use of His supply or not: that should not fall to government. Governments take these passages out of context, thinking that no one is to be wealthy in this world’s riches while others are poor. Jesus said, “The poor will ALWAYS be with you” (Matthew 26:11). So what is it that we are to work at bringing to equality?

I believe it is that needs be met: that none be in desperate need while growing in their walk as stewards of His supply. If a man loses his job, we are to help him feed his family while he seeks another. If a woman’s husband leaves her and the kids, we are to help her get on her feet. Are we to give to all who have need? NO!

“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

God desires those who are His to grow to be good stewards of His supply, and He supplies through our ability to work. “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

Ephesians 4:28 says, “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” This tells me that God desires us to grow through these stages of stewardship in our wealth, working up to a level of faithfulness that brings His abundance, so He can pour out His blessing through us to meet the need of others from the abundance He gives us. That is the call of every believer, and this giving heart will be seen in us as the fruit of righteousness springs forth.

Now there is a problem in our day, not only of people who take advantage of the welfare system and the benevolent organizations, stealing what could help another when they are either unwilling to work or are unwise in the use of their finances. There are also those who steal from the funds that should be used to pay their bills, “sowing” into God’s work as if to bribe Him for more so that they can spend it on their lusts and make more bills. This is backwards from what I see in scripture. God expects us to pay our bills, to owe nothing to anyone but love, and to be wise in what we deem to be a need.

Does that mean we should never get any of the niceties or things that bring us pleasure? No, but it does mean that we must seek the Lord’s opinion and bring our desires in line with His first, making sure He is wanting to bless us in that way and that we are not spending funds intended for meeting a need on our greed. If His peace is not umpiring the transaction, best to step back and wait awhile.

“For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12). All have a responsibility to learn how to live in sufficiency, recognizing and meeting their need, being content with what they have and not robbing the surplus that could be used to meet another’s need. The wealth God gives is His, trusted to us as stewards of His kingdom for our use in ministry to our own needs and the needs of our family, and to His church through the first fruits of the tithe, then to meet the need of others around us. And when we do help another, we should help them to realize their role as steward of the gracious gift of God, helping them on their journey to abundance.

Do you think this principle explains why scripture says more than once that the children of the righteous will not be seen begging bread? I do. If we are setting the good example of stewardship and righteousness, we will raise up a righteous lot of good stewards. But if they do come into any need, they will find the family, godly friends and their church standing at the ready to help them get back on their feet, and they will seek after and find the faithfulness of God to supply them with ability to again make wealth.

3) The steps of a (righteous) man are established by the Lord

The righteous seek the Lord for their step by step instruction for living. They trust the Lord to direct their path and establish their course. They also know and trust that when the path takes an unexpected turn, it is at the Lord’s bidding for a purpose of His own: whether as consequence for some sin, as pruning and refining our lives, or as a door of opportunity with some eternal purpose.

The righteous realize that they are secure in Christ with an eternity made sure. Any difficulty along the way to the eternal has Kingdom purpose, either to work something wonderful in their lives, or to help them on their path to transformation to Christlikeness. When the path takes an odd turn, ours is to seek the Lord for the next step and to discern the purpose, knowing that we are in the place we find ourselves for a reason.

Knowing that we are established for all eternity through Christ, “WHEN we fall, we are not hurled headlong, for God holds our hand” to keep us from undue harm. We are eternally perfected in Christ; but we are continually being perfected in our earthly existence. There are times in all our lives when we stumble over some root sin, or stone of temptation. God will allow it only as far as is necessary to get our attention and lead us in dealing with the root issue that makes us vulnerable to stumbling. But He never lets us go so as to lose us from eternity with Him.

Even if we die as the consequence of a momentary sin, being unable to repent for that particular sin, if our faith and belief in Christ is active and working in us, we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, secure with Him in the eternal realm.

Realizing that God only allows me to stumble in order to promote my growth in righteousness helps me to get back up, dust off, and be transformed to His likeness. And you know what causes that goal to be important to me?

4) The Righteous Delight the Heart of God

The righteous man seeks to know the ways of the Lord so that they may know HIM, and so they may walk in the way of the Lord, growing stronger in relationship to Him. This process of growth in the knowledge of God is important and vital in the life of the righteous who desire to be known by God, called by name as a friend of God.

5) The righteous, when he discovers sin within, departs from evil to do good in order to show His delight in the Lord and to bring delight to God. I have shared the following in my writings many times, but it bears repeating here:

Years ago, I was reading God’s word and, coming upon one of the passages that speak of us getting a new name from God in eternity, I sensed a familiar prayer to know mine well up in me from the depths of the Spirit of God as never before. And just as I thought I would burst with desire for the answer, I heard clearly in my spirit, “Abigail.”

Knowing God had something awesome for me to discover through that name, I pulled out my concordances and other books I have that show the meaning of words and names. In my study I discovered that Abigail has a twofold meaning, like the flipside of a coin. On one side it means “One whose heart rejoices in God.” On the other it means “One in whom the heart of God rejoices.”

This is the call of all who would be the Righteousness of God. We are to so greatly rejoice over the Lord and our relationship with Him that we will do anything to protect the relationship. And as we do that, He finds rejoicing of His heart in us.

Thus is the call of this study, be sanctified, set apart to God as never before. Be Abigails in the Kingdom of God on earth.

Scripture teaches that the sins of the parents are visited on the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. I believe that not only means that they will suffer from the consequences of our actions, but it provides a loophole in the law that gives Satan permission to set up stumbling stones before them, tempting them in the same area of sins we have fallen too. But the descendants of the righteous shall see the lovingkindness of God to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 20:4-6)! And we are told in our passage today that the descendants of the truly righteous – the children of us who delight the heart of God, will be a blessing.

We want our nation to rise up from the ashes? We want the prosperity of our children protected? “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Beloved child of God, seek righteousness, it is the only cure for our land and the best hope for our children. Sanctification begins in Christ, covering you with the blood of the Lamb of God, and making you His delight. And your righteous sanctification is perfected as you seek God wholeheartedly, desiring Him first and foremost, having no other gods before Him. As we in this way become the delight of God, the apple of His eye, He will heal our land.

Tomorrow, more on righteousness.

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

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

“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” (vs. 5-6).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. any ability or power, whether acquired or inherent

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

3. a conferred power or right

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

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

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

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

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

Continuing as we consider our passage in Colossians 3:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

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

In our last excerpt of this study we looked at the humility of Christ that comes to us through the mind of Christ. Today we continue looking at this vital aspect of walking in the dictates of His mindset as we consider the first half of our scripture passage.

Philippians 2:1-8

 “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. …” (vs. 1-4, NASB)

You know, I think the thought of humbling ourselves too often frightens us because we do not truly understand the heart of humility. Humility is linked with meekness and many mistakenly believe that to be humble and meek of spirit is to be a rug under the feet of those who would take advantage of our humble estate. This is so far from the truth of what I perceive it means to be humble and who it is we humble ourselves to.

Jesus never bowed to the wishes and whims of man. He always did as He perceived the Father doing. His obedience was always to God first. He only did what God instructed Him was in God’s will for Him. Therefore, as a mob tried to throw him off a cliff, he walked away because it was not yet His time to die and it was not the way in which death would come to Him. When His brother’s tried to goad Him into going into the city and revealing Himself, He stood in the will and authority of God to refuse their demands. When those came, mistakenly believing that Messiah would come to rule and deliver them physically as king before first delivering them spiritually as the Blessed and Beloved Lamb of God, He did not allow them to crown Him knowing God had a bigger plan in heart.

Also, when He saw men doing evil against God’s will and way, He took a stand against them as God instructed His heart to stand. He stood against the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He did not cower under them or give Himself to their wishes.

And then there is the episode in the Temple. With whip in hand, He overturned the tables of the money changers and ran those selling livestock and other goods for use in sacrifice out of the temple, because they were defiling the purpose of the temple, which was to be a house of prayer.

There is a verse where Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39. See also Isaiah 50:6-7). People too often think that we should back down in a fight. Do you think Jesus backed down in that day when He cast the seller of goods out of the temple court? Do you think that no one of those selling their goods tried to stop Him? Who or what do you think He used that whip on? The cattle alone? Or do you think a few men left the temple with whelps on their person as He stood firm despite their fists flying?

Scripture teaches us to stand firm in the things we know to be God’s will and way; to stand firm in godly righteousness. I have come to understand that turn the other cheek means to stand ones ground in the authority God gives us to stand, even if it means we will be hit again.

The humility and meekness God desires is rug to no man. It is surrender to the authority of God in and over us. That surrender often puts us under the authority of others, but only as far as is God’s will and as is in agreement with God’s way.

Yes, there are some in life who are given authority over us. Giving self to God’s authority in those instances is to bow to the authority of those who are in authority at His ordination for the purpose of harmony and peace—the boss at work, our mates, the governing authorities, etc. But never do we bow to any authority that tries to force us to come out from under the authority of God over us. God and His way is our check and balance. He has first rule and right in our lives, and our surrender is always to Him above all. The mind of Christ humbles itself to God first, and then to others as God leads.

That said, we are to pay our taxes, because God ordains through the example of Christ that we give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is His. We are not to kill abortionists because God tells us “Thou shalt not kill,” and Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, showing us the way to live and providing a righteous sacrifice for sin. We are not to burn down their clinics, because God tells us to obey the laws of the land which are in place at His ordination in raising up one leader over another and setting the laws by which good is rewarded and evil is condemned.

How do we then, stand against laws that fail to surrender to God’s Law? By our being faithful to vote the heart of God: doing all we can to vote into office godly leaders and laws that agree with His ways; and by teaching and promoting truth in raising up those godly leaders.

God gives to every person of mankind the right of choice. It is the choice of the individual to decide whether they will obey God, or walk in the will of the flesh.

By making sure each person has full understanding of the choices before them and the consequences their decision will bring according to God’s viewpoint, we give them the knowledge needed to make their decision. By praying for their wisdom and ability to bow self to the authority of God and take up His authority in doing His will, we help them make a better choice. Do this sufficiently, and we remove the need of the abortionist and their clinics. By letting the abortionist live, we give him opportunity to see the light and enter into the gates of God’s paths for life, knowing that God desires that none should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Humility bows to God, always. It is through bowing first to Him that we are equipped to meet the needs of those around us, knowing when to put them before our own need and desires. Humility stands on God’s Right, not my perceived rights. Humility has His purpose in heart for every person we deal with and every decision we make. Humility stands firm on His truth and denies the will of any flesh, whether my own or that of others over me.

Thus we begin our journey to discover the mind of Christ in us. Wow. What a beginning this has been for me. I hope it has blessed your heart as well. Our next excerpt will move on to discover other passages that reveal the mind of Christ to us.

(Passages referenced in this excerpt: Luke 4; John 7:1-13; John 6:15; Matthew 23, Mark 12:13; Matthew 21; Matthew 22:15-22; Exodus 20; Matthew 5:17; Romans 13:1-8; Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 2 Peter 3:9.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philippians 2:1-8

“…. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (vs. 5-8, NASB).

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

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