Father, may our words always be founded on the good theme of godliness, righteousness, truth, and love, honoring You with every word. May our words flow from Your heart, knowing You are first to hear, know, and receive our every thought, bringing blessing or curse to Your name. I surrender my tongue to You as Your pen: the pen of the Ready Writer. May I be known as one belonging to You by my words.
Pour forth grace upon my lips, making Your message through me a blessing to those who hear, blessing me in Christ forever. Help me remember that the words of my tongue are a sword, piercing the heart of the listener for good or for evil. May I faithfully gird the Sword of the Spirit on my thigh, O Mighty One, using it properly for Your splendor and Your majesty! In Your majesty ride on victoriously, through my words from You and for You, for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness. Let the right hand, bearing the Sword of Your Word in the power of Your Spirit, teach me awesome things. In Jesus, amen.
“Be happy [in your faith] and rejoice and be glad-hearted continually (always); Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 AMPC https://bible.com/bible/8/1th.5.16-18.AMPC
Father God, thank You for teaching me the joy of a grateful heart. Thank you for instructing me to know that no one can take that joy from me, and that, even in grievous circumstances, the joy of a thankful heart flourishes, for that heart knows You. That heart believes the truth about You and Your faithfulness at all times. That heart trusts Your Word, believes Your promises, accepts Your ways, walks with You in earnest expectation and hope, knowing that You always work for the good of the one whose heart loves You and who is living a life that follows You with heart desire to fulfill Your purpose.
We can always give thanks from a truly grateful heart because You are the source and cause of our gratitude. It is You we give thanks for as we remember You in every circumstance, rejoicing over the potential and assurance of experiencing You in this life, through the troubling and the good. You never leave nor forsake us. You are for us and not against us. Even in hardship and tribulation, You grow us strong as we trust in You, making us ready for the fulfillment of Your purpose and plan, as You bring us to completion, made ready and adequately prepared for our Bridegroom and King. Thank You that You are always the one we can be grateful for in every circumstance.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for loving us all the way to the cross, and for showing us the way to take up our cross of obedience to God at all cost, and to daily follow You with every step committed to the Father’s will and way. Thank You for taking all sin onto Your shoulders and experiencing the turning back of God’s rejection for us, so we who believe and receive Your gift of eternal grace never have to know that fate. And thank You, Father, for loving us and desiring this Parent-child relationship so much that You gave Your only begotten Son to accomplish it. May we forever keep our eyes on You with grateful heart. In Jesus, amen.
God has determined our appointed times and the boundaries of our habitation, putting us in this life at this time in history for a purpose. He has a plan and a destiny for us.
Discovering His planned destiny for self requires us to first walk out His purpose in developing the habit of seeking Him. He desires us to seek Him as if, perhaps, we might actually feel around for Him and find Him, knowing that He is not far from each one of us.
It is in Him that we live and move and exist, and it is by His grace and provision that we discover and fulfill our God ordained destiny. He is waiting for you and for me.
“You are a chosen people, 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.” 1 Peter 2:9-10 NASB
“However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” – Romans 10:16-17 NASB
“God’s Word is always true whether people believe it or not, but without faith, the Word will not be activated.” (Patricia King)
I don’t like the word “activate” when it comes to God’s Word. The word “activate” gives faith a power it doesn’t have. God’s Word was activated the instant it left Him, and IT WILL accomplish its purpose because of Him. It is working all around us and even in us, whether or not we believe it.
But faith does APPROPRIATE God’s Word in our lives: possessing faith to believe, we open up to the effectiveness of God’s Word in us. And it doesn’t take much faith to invite God to have His way in our lives. Jesus said it only takes a mustard seed of faith. The smallest seed of faith that is capable of growth opens our lives to God.
We don’t power God’s work. He powers ours as even the possession of faith is given by Him (Romans 12:3). He portions out faith to us as He intends, granting us power to believe. It is our responsibility to receive and use it for His glory as good stewards in walking His Word out in life by faith that believes God.
As we accept the faith God’s Word raises up in us and stop fighting against it, God’s Word enlivens us, His Spirit gets a foothold, and our lives begin to align with Him.
“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” – Luke 17:5-6 NASB
My dad often told stories of the WWII coupons and sacrifices made for the war effort. I wonder if they felt like I sometimes do in these days of empty shelves and troubled happenings.
Reading other seasons of difficulty in history, I realize that to each generation seems to come a season of wondering if this is the end of life as we know it, or if this is the day the clouds will finally part and the long awaited Christ appear. The thing is that we don’t know – and we won’t know until this, too, is history. All we know is what is right now.
We can’t sit and worry about tomorrow or let fear rule. We have to look at what we can do in each day to be ready to face whatever tomorrow brings. Being grateful for what we do have; gratitude for skills we have, or can obtain and share that mean the difference to our ability to survive: this attitude of gratitude is vital for our sanity and hope.
Without hope, we perish. So look at what is in our now with a survival attitude that includes a focus on gratitude. Prepare for what may be, and cling to hope that when our now is history, we will have faced it with courage, wisdom, and strength to light the way for the days of challenge in the lives of those who read the history we are making.
We cannot serve God and wealth, but we can, and should, serve God with our wealth. God is the one who graces us with the ability to make wealth, and He instructs us to be good stewards of it as servants of His manifold provision. When we look to making money as the means of meeting our needs, chasing money takes the place of God. When we chase God and seek to please and serve Him with all He supplies, He opens doors for the provision of all we need.
The better we are at serving God and keeping wealth as resource in that work for Him, the more He trusts us to handle the riches of this life for His glory. He doesn’t promise that we will be rich in this life, as the world measures riches, but He does promise our true needs will be met as He opens the storehouses of His provision to our faithful service to Him as God.
Beloved, if we are truly in Christ, we have been crucified with Him; and it is no longer us who live, but Christ lives in us. The life we now live in the flesh we must live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself up for us. He is in us and for us, and we are made new in Him.
In Christ, all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form and that continues within us as we walk through life in Him and for Him. In Him we have been made complete, as all the fullness of deity dwells in us through Christ.
He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. By His grace, we are renewed in the spirit of our minds. Putting on the new self, we are in the likeness of God which has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. In Him we are holy and blameless before Him – chosen to be so in Christ.
By grace, we are sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit of the promise and we are enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, for in Him we live and move and exist. We, who have come to know and believed the love which God has for us, bear the fruit of all He is in us through Christ. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: these attributes and more live in us and make us who we are in Christ. Humble, meek, lowly – able to die to self for His name’s sake; abundant in the power of God and in His grace sufficient for us.
God is love. The one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, we also are in this world. Because of His great love, the Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. Therefore, we rightly represent Him as patience flows through us for love’s sake.
Beloved, if you are in Christ, you are a chosen people, 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. We do this best, not only through words, but through actions and reactions that reveal Him living and active in us.
Therefore do not become partners with those who refuse Him, those who walk in the darkest of darkness; for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, as you try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the useless 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, and light is what you are.
You are the salt of the earth. Remain in Christ, for He is the One who keeps you effective and flavorful, as salt must be. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are within it’s illumination.
God put you in the place and position you are in, for this season, in this age, and you are here with purpose. You are light, set in place to stand out in contrast to all the darkness around you. You are salt, to season, preserve, protect, cleanse, and flavor all He sprinkles you into. Let your light shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Let your saltiness fall on all, with hope of God penetrating their lives and preserving their eternal souls. Be as He is and watch what He will do in and through you in Christ.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
Many people see grace and mercy as being the same things, but they aren’t. Scripturally, grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin, distinctly different, and both necessary for redemption, sanctification, and the work of completion.
Mercy is what most use to define both. Mercy is unmerited favor. It is God’s work to protect, provide, and direct to good that we do not deserve – at all, nor can we. Mercy has nothing to do with our ‘do’ and everything to do with God’s ‘Who’. He loves us, therefore He gives us His mercy. He loves us, thus we experience Him deliver us from consequences our actions and choices deserve. When we are spared a just outcome to unrighteous choices and actions, that is mercy. Woo! The stories of mercy I could tell.
Grace is God’s power made perfect in our weakness, giving us strength and ability (2 Cor. 12:9). We cannot produce the fruit of God in our lives apart from His grace at work in and through us. We cannot serve God or know and do His will, His way without His grace powering it. We cannot even possess and work out of faith in God apart from His grace to power our faith. Mercy gifts us a measure of faith; grace empowers us to use that faith.
We cannot be saved apart from Mercy. And we cannot live Christ apart from grace. We cannot be right within ourselves without mercy; we cannot live outwardly the right mercy produces in us apart from grace pouring through us. Mercy saves. Grace sanctifies.
“… The LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out BOLDLY. …” – Exodus 14:5-9 NASB
God hardens Pharaoh to go after Israel just as He has successfully built them up in their faith and empowered them to go into their freedom BOLDLY. It is common for the enemy to attack us just as we get our BOLD going strong. Two things I see happening here:
One, God is not finished coming against the pride and arrogance of Pharaoh. God knows the heart of man and does all necessary to make Himself known in truth. Pharaoh was believed to be a god. He believed it of himself. The One and Only is making sure he and the people with him know that Pharaoh is not GOD.
Two, God is making sure His people know they can trust Him and warning them to not let their boldness become arrogance. We must be like Joshua and Caleb who put trust in God. Failing to do so, we will be like the other spies sent out by Moses. We will see the good of the land, but the formidable enemy will cause us to doubt God and be overcome by fear.
Arrogance has two sides. On the one it puts too much faith in self. On the other, it fails to know and trust God as the only sure source of bold victory. God chooses to use us to bring victory in life. But He expects us to realize it is Him by whom we are given every resource for victory.
Father, as we grow in our trust of You, we can stand and move with bold assurance of Your care and supply. Help us remember the foundation of our bold is You, in all Your glory and splendor. Like Your servants, Joshua and Caleb, may we be found in Your Presence, focused fully on You – Your power and supply, that we may walk boldly into the victory that is established by You. In Jesus, amen.
“Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMPC
Most of us have times of struggle to be in the Word of God, to even read it comprehensively, much less to have any depth of personal study in it. Why is that?
Scripture tells us that the Word of God is profitable to us. God’s word is the seed of God’s Kingdom, sent to establish us as His people (Luke 8:4-15). God’s Word is a mirror, helping us to look more like our Father (2 Corinthians 3:18, AMPC). God’s word is a sword, useful for defeating enemy assaults, and faithfully used by God in separating old man mentality and fleshly desire from the eternal purpose of making us the new creation we are in Christ (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12-13). And, as Paul tells us in 2 Timothy, God’s Word has purpose for us, instructing in the ways and will of God, convicting of sin, correcting error, disciplining us in obedience, and for training in righteousness (in holy living; in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).
All of this has the purpose of making us complete and proficient, being adequately equipped for the good work that God planned for us to accomplish. So, yes, our flesh, the world’s demands, and demonic influence (all being the false wisdoms of this life) is going to fight against our time in God’s Word. God’s enemy, Satan, does not want this profit produced in us. He does not want to admit his defeat.
Scripture is vital food for fruitful lives God can use. Think for a minute, asking the Father for inspired insight. What most often hinders you having time every day in God’s Word? Is there something you can do to thwart that enemy assault on your God given treasure?
Even a few minutes to grasp a portion of scripture to carry with you throughout your day, meditating on it, digesting every morsel of nourishment from it, will be life changing: increasing profit for the need of your life. Refuse to let the enemies of godly wisdom to steal one more seed of profit from you (James 3:13-18).
“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” (Romans 12:2 AMPC)
Be transformed – changed forever by surrender to God, who works to renew our minds, bringing into us the new ideals and new attitudes that line up with His. We become one with Him, being like Him, as we surrender to His transforming work in us.
Note the wording used here. It doesn’t say that He gives us new ideas, though He can and does do that. The word used is “ideals”.
An idea is a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action. An ideal is satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable. God changes our understanding of good, right, true, and the perfected best as our understanding of the ideal adjusts to meet up with His.
When our way of thinking lines up with God’s IDEAL, our IDEAS will flow from that understanding of what is perfect and most suitable. Our choices and decisions will be directed by the IDEAL He births within us. The more we seek to understand and line up with God’s IDEAL, the more of His character, nature, and image we will possess and live out into the world around us.
Seek God for His IDEAL today, and see your attitudes, actions, and reactions lifted to the greater heights of God’s glory and grace.
We, the people of God in Christ Jesus, are both fully perfected in Christ as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; and we are simultaneously continually being perfected until the day of Christ, when He is fully revealed in us.
Though we are eternal beings raised to newness of life in Christ, we still live in human flesh that tries to resurrect itself as a dominant force. We have earthbound thinking to overcome, bad habits to change, and a higher calling to walk into.
Long ago, I was impressed by God to stop setting resolutions to try to improve my flesh, and start setting my aim to reach the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. As I turned my attention to reaching for that prize, Father began showing me in scripture a mile marker for that year. My first prize assignment was to grow my knowledge of God in greater, ever increasing intimacy (Philippians 3:10-11, AMPC).
Growing intimacy with God requires time in His Word so He can point our hearts to the prize we are to reach for. My encouragement today is for a commitment to seek God in His Word, asking Him to show us the prize we are to reach for. Get into God’s Word, watching for Him to highlight the prize He has for you to attain in this coming year. Get your spiritual eyes on that prize and watch in awe as He opens His Word and opportunities to help your growth and position you for victory in grabbing that ring in victory.
“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. …” (1 Peter 2:1-5 NASB)
We don’t have to go into debt to give the perfect gift. Peter and John gave the gift of healing. My sweet husband gives me joy and laughter, love and encouragement everyday: like today, as He dawns my homemade, glove potholder like a hat. 😂🤪😂
There are two things mentioned in our Acts verse that is important to gift giving:
First give what you have.
Doing such huge gifts that it puts us in debt for a year is not necessary. It can cause stress that tears at the core of relationships. And it can rob of time with those we love as we work overtime to clear the debt in time for next Christmas.
Most of all, high dollar giving feeds cravings for this world’s goods and hinders growth in the importance of contentment with what we have. Thoughtful, loving, gift giving within budget, given out of love and care, will carry greater value in the long run, breeding a contentment that keeps us free from stress, debt, and greed.
Second, gifting in the name of Jesus, as represents Him, His ways, His love, carries eternal worth into the giving.
The greatest gift I received this year was the gift of three weekends from my granddaughter. She came to help me and be with me. That is priceless. She and her sister gave the gift of taking responsibility for the Thanksgiving meal, freeing me of stress and blessing with rest, love, and joy. My heart flutters still.
The top gifts in life: debt free, joy-filled, love. It ministers to hearts, heals, strengthens, forms strong bonds, and makes long lasting memories that uplift and encourage for ages to come.
“For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, ” YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.” … The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. …” (vs. 13-17; 23-25)
Jesus is Priest forever because of an indestructible life, in likeness to Melchizedek, servant and priest to the One True God. We, as servant-ambassadors of Christ and priests unto God through Him, enter into this indestructible life. Our days are eternal with Him, as is our priesthood. That should get a resounding AMEN!
Our life here is but a breath. It is ordained and dictated by the Father, who loves us. We can trust Him, whatever comes our way, for we know that He alone is good, and He desires the greatest good for us.
I believe that there are things we need to know and understand about our God, and those things can only truly be known by walking the hills and valleys of this life. Thus, God desiring us to truly know Him, allows a life here where hills and valleys reside.
As we learn and grow, we have opportunities to help others learn and grow. Jesus ever lives to intercede on our behalf so we can accomplish our purpose of knowing God and making Him known: the high calling of a priest in God’s court.
Our eternal existence with God in Christ started the day of our rebirth. Death, the eternal separation from God that was in us before receiving Christ, died to us when we united with Jesus. Our old life passed away. Behold! We are a new creation in Christ. And that new creation will live on, though these flesh bodies die. With our new life came the BLESSed opportunity to be the expression of Heaven on earth.
“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17 NASB)
Beloved, as we truly discern our eternal state and the life of Christ that dwells in and desires to continue through us as one with Him, that is when true righteousness can get hold of all we are. In that holy estate we find deep, abiding peace that umpires and stabilizes our souls. Out of that peace flows joy, true joy from the rivers of His Spirit, everlasting and indestructible joy in God alone. Heaven, expressed in the earth.
An indestructible life, that is what we are in Christ. Rejoice today, Beloved, and let no hardship rob you of the unity we have as His Kingdom people. Learn of God and be indestructible people of God.
Bear with me for a pause from Hebrews. Sharing with friends about having a bad attitude and trying to head it off, one replied, “I am working on my own attitude. I just read, “Instead of counting to 10, try saying the first 10 words of the Lord’s prayer several times.” Sounds good!”
I thought so too and began immediately! But I was led to add the next 14 words, 24 total.
“Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”
It dawned on me as I said those beloved words, that if we truly grasp what this first part of our Lord’s outline says, we are set for Life!
God’s Kingdom and His will is to Father us. That has always been true. His is not the role of any old dad, though. We can take the descriptions of all the greatest dad’s, add all we can imagine in the makeup of dad-greatness, and we will never come near to understanding and grasping that of our Daddy-God.
Not only is He truly the Father who knows (and does) best, but He is GOD. Our God is higher and greater than we can fathom, the one we can run to day or night. Even running into His throne room unannounced, with no greater desire than to sit on His proverbial lap and be near Him for a bit, we will always find His scepter ready to receive us in mercy and love, as the king did for Esther.
Beloved, I believe this is the greatest truth about our God that there is. His will and desire is and has always been that we recognize and honor Him as our true Father, our One True God, the Good Shepherd we look to and follow. That is Who He is. Think of all that those role-descriptive words imply and know God. When we grasp hold of this truth and choose Him, desiring all He has for us, the remainder of the prayer is unnecessary, for the rest of the outline is fulfilled in Him.
He is Daddy God, our Shepherd, ready, willing, and able to tend our every need to perfection, according to all He knows is best. He is also King, ordering our steps and giving us purpose. We can run with that, having no need to pray the middle, because His will is to take care of us, leading, guiding, and directing our path to His full supply. His desire for us far exceeds all we can fathom, deeper than our greatest thoughts.
When we can trust Him enough to be still and know God, we can skip to the end and worship His glory, honor, and praiseworthy Presence with us, fully satisfied in and by Him. Is this not the picture given us in Holy Writ of Heaven’s splendor?
Do not open the chosen passage linked below before reading my instruction to you, Beloved, for this passage provides a challenge for us. In it, Paul is instructing Titus regarding attributes to watch for in choosing Elders for posts he is charged to fill. Now, here’s the thought I want us to consider as we read this passage today.
In life, I’ve oft heard people express opinions about leaders in The Church that leaves the impression that our leaders are to be better people than the rest of us. I believe this is false understanding of the scriptures. I believe that God desires all of His children to live exemplary lives that make each of us ELIGIBLE for leadership positions. Thus, the instruction today as you read this passage is for each individual of us to apply these truths to self. How are we individually doing in our practice of godliness and our life witness?
Every descriptive passage that points to godly character should leave us asking The Father for His opinion of our progress in godliness. With that thought, Beloved, read on!
“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17 NASB)
We don’t see it with our all encompassing word, love, but in the Greek, 2 different words are used in this passage: agapao and phileo.
Most know this, but for those who don’t, agapao is God’s kind of deep, abiding love. Like the Father’s, it flows from who we are as empowered by Him and lands on all, whether love for God or man. It is not gifted by merit of the recipient, but flows freely because of who we are in Christ, thus it loves enemy as well as friend.
Jesus, in verse 15 and 16 uses agapao. The amplified version defines this love as being “with reasoning, INTENTIONAL, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father.” Thus, this love functions solely out of devotion to God who imparts His nature to us, then serving Him out of love as a bondservant, we love others in like fashion.
Throughout this passage, Peter uses “phileo”, which is the affectionate care one has for a good friend. Problem is that this love is too readily subject to the merit system, and does not extend to anyone that is not considered a friend. This love is too easily flesh led and dictated.
Again, the AMPC version defines phileo as “deep, INSTINCTIVE, personal affection, as for a close friend.” Jesus is telling Peter, “ If you agapao me, feed my sheep (“out of that love,” I believe is implied).” But Peter can’t comprehend an Agape’ type love: not yet, anyway. So Jesus, in verse 17, brings it down to Peter’s level, asking, “Do you phileo Me?”
This tells me that Jesus, who agapaos us, loves us enough to accept the love we give. But what joy it is to Him and what benefit to us and others, when, in the power and provision of the Spirit, we possess agapao. How much easier it is to serve God and man when this God-love flows to and through us like a river of life.
Father, empower our love today, making us to be love just as You are love. In Jesus’ mighty name and authority we pray, amen.
“And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”” (Mark 1:7-8 NASB – http://bible.com/100/mrk.1.7-8.nasb)
Boy! What a statement, Beloved. John, the baptist, understanding the person and purpose of the coming Christ, overwhelmed by his own flesh nature before Him, pronounces himself unfit to even minister to Jesus’s feet.
The lowest of servants were given the nasty task of cleaning feet at the end of the day. The feet were covered by whatever muck and mire walked through that day. It was a dirty job, cleaning people’s stinky feet. So when John says he is unfit to even unlace the shoes of the Christ, he is referring to himself as being lower in worth than the slave charged with feet cleaning.
Then Jesus came: The Propitiation for our sin, and by that gracious love, He pronounces the true believer, “Fit!”
After reading this passage the morning I wrote this blog, I was still thinking about it when I sat on my stool before my husband to put his socks and shoes on for him. Since his hip replacement surgery, years ago, it has been my joyful task to help him dress his feet. As I bent over to kiss the tops of his beautiful, hard working feet, BLESSing them for this day, thought hit me, “What we do to the least of these, we do to Christ.”
Since Johnny’s cancer entered our journey in life, the weight gain from the treatments makes it hard for him to clip his nails. To me, clipping another’s toenails is the worst of jobs. I hate doing it, but willingly do the best I can out of love for him. With this revelation of Johnny’s feet being the feet of Christ to me, the task is much more palatable to my soul.
Thank you, Father, for opportunity to bless Jesus and serve You through our care for one another. In Christ, Amen!
“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17 NASB – http://bible.com/100/rom.5.17.nasb)
Think about what this says, Beloved, for it is freedom for us. With the fall of mankind, sin took over flesh to rule through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.
When we surrender to Jesus, He frees us to reign with Him in Life: this life as well as in the eternal; the abundant life He desires for us.
Reliance on grace sufficient and the righteousness of Christ, alive and well within us, empowers us to stand firm against the flesh, the world, and the demonic, to reign with His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and SELF-control that is sufficient against sin in Christ’s sufficiency.
Take up the crown of life God gives you today, and, trusting God’s grace, go forth to the victorious life Jesus bought for you.
“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ” YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ” YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and PUT ON THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Romans 13:8-14 NASB)
We covered the Light of God found in our love relationships with God first and foremost; that love then flowing through us to fellow Light Dwellers. Love unites us, fulfilling the will of God in response to the prayer of Christ that we should be ONE. However, Love does not stop there.
Our Romans 13 passage instructs is to “put on the armor of Light.” This instruction is right in the middle of love’s successes and failures, leading me to the conclusion that Love is this Armor. (Love = Agape = perfect love: perfect meaning “to fulfill, accomplish, or complete its predestined course.”)
Love protects and defends us, wrapping us up in God, Who is love, where we are equipped to be true to Him and to self. Thus, enabled through love of God and a righteous self-love, we love others.
The practice of this Love as Armor requires love to be our only debt, as we owe nothing but love, and that debt is to our God Who, out of love, redeemed us. Out of indebtedness, we owe God a life that honors Him in our love for others.
Love is the fulfillment of God’s Law, because love does no harm to another. Thus, Love reaches beyond the fellowship of faith to all around us; and beyond that, even to those tho would be called “enemy” (Matthew 5:43-48 NASB).
The successes of our walk of love as Armor against sin is seen in the good we do that considers what is best for all concerned. Failure goes in opposition to do harm through such things as drunkenness, sexual promiscuity and sensuality, strife and jealousy. When we fall to things such as these, the chinks in our Armor are evident to the harm of self and others in the breaking of Law.
In breaking the Law of Love, we expose ourselves and reveal our lack of circumcision of heart. Breaking the Law of Love reveals a heart that falls short of wholeheartedness to the Father. Exposed skin opens us to enemy assault. Thus, a repeat is called for:
“…let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and PUT ON THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Let us behave properly as in the day…”
“Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light.” (Luke 8:16 NASB)
Jesus came as Light to a very dark world. While He was here in flesh, He was the Light of God, revealing through word, deed, and action the truth of the way of Life in God. (John 8:12 NASB; John 9:5 NASB)
Those following Him walked in His Light. But Jesus did not come just to shine God’s Light. He came to make Light on the earth, a Light that would remain.
“You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14a).
Jesus proclaimed His true followers, those who truly received His Light in ways that dispelled their darkness, sparking a flame of growing light within, to be Light as He is Light. They entered in partnership with Him to BE LIGHT in the world, thus carrying on His work of dispelling darkness and leading others to enter that Light. We are the product of those early beginnings. Thus, Beloved, as a true worshipper of God through Christ…
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (14-15).
God intends for us to stand out and be on display as Light, set in strategic places where darkness dwells. We are not intended to be like everyone in this world. We are different, called to be like Jesus, a true Light that dispels darkness.
I had an experience once that causes me to hang my head in shame’s embarrassment, but leads to rejoicing in the lesson learned and in a testimony that came out of it to help others avoid the same error.
When I was in nursing school, God had hold on me in a mighty way that stood out to others. Talking with a friend and another classmate during a break, the classmate used some foul language. Blushing, she nodded her head toward me and apologized. My friend said, “Sorry to her! What about me?” The classmate replied “Well, yeah. But SHE’S DIFFERENT!”
The thought that hit my head in that instant was, “Oh, Lord! I don’t want others to be uncomfortable and afraid to be themselves around me.” That enemy assault started me on a downward spiral that dulled the Light in me and did harm to my witness.
Love, the devil doesn’t want us shining brightly into the night, because he knows that the Light in us will destroy his kingdom on earth. He will use whatever trickery he can that will cause us to fall to the flesh, because he knows that as long as we remain as Light, he will lose those trapped in his darkness. If he can trick us into dulling our light so we fit into this world, his dark trap remains strong.
Beloved, God intends us to be DIFFERENT. He does not want our Light dulled by fear of standing in stark contrast to the world and it’s ways. He does not want us to let sorrow for those that are made uncomfortable with there dark ways to cause us to find ourselves spiraling into the pit they are trapped by. Satan sees our weaknesses, mine being fear of rejection, and he plays on those areas to cause us to stumble and fall. God wants us to realize this fact and draw closer to Him for protection.
Wherever the Lord has you, Beloved, you are His lamp for His glory. We are intended to shine bright with His attributes until the world becomes uncomfortable in its own worldliness and turns to enter the Light. We’re not to fear the dark places, for the Light in us dispels darkness: killing it and moving it out of the way so that blinded eyes can see the Light. We are to SHINE where we are without fear of being different.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NASB)
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.” Habakkuk 3:19 NLT
Wow! I am so excited for this Promise from God. What a glorious Word for us who desire more than anything to please our God.
Think about it. Scripture teaches that though we make our plans, it is God who directs our steps (1). His Word instructs us to know that He assures our heart (2). Then this verse assures us that our God makes us “SUREFOOTED”!
~ Surefooted – unlikely to stumble or slip. CONFIDENT and COMPETENT. ~
Wow. Through faith in God, who directs our path and assures our hearts, we can press forward with surefooted fervor, confident and competent to accomplish the glory of God in the path of His choosing.
Through faith’s assurance, we can press on in Christ, despite the accuser who would cause us doubt and fear, whether demon or those who work as Satan’s advocate. Beloved, from experience, I know this assurance of heart that comes when my foot is where God wants it. So can you. Seek Him in faith today, then press forward in trust to do the good He inspires in you.
“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” (Hymn – Trust and Obey, written by John H. Sammis)
“…All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:12-17
The Truth of God’s Word, rightly known and understood, makes us adequate and equips us for good works. Since even our greatest good is as filthy rags apart from the work of God in us, the work of the Spirit in bringing truth of the Word to life in us, transforms our filthy rags to good works that honor God as Lord, fulfilling His purpose in and through us.
Dig in Beloved and feast yourself on The Word of God, seeking the Teacher for understanding. Be made new through the inspired Word of God that is profitable for training in righteousness.
“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them….” 2 Timothy 3:12-17 NASB
Kindle afresh the gift of God within you. Apparently, according to 2 Timothy 1:6, when the exuberance of our ministry and the gift of God in us is dulled, there is something we must do to rekindle that fire: that zeal. To even begin to understand what Paul is speaking of, we need to see the context of this verse.
“I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith, the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness, a faith that first lived permanently in the heart of your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am fully persuaded, dwells in you also. That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the gracious gift of God, the inner fire that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands with those of the elders at your ordination. 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. Do not blush or be ashamed then, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but with me take your share of the suffering to which the preaching of the Gospel may expose you, and do it in the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:5-8 AMPC
Apparently seeing Paul’s experience of suffering for the faith, I’m sure coupled with his own experience of persecution, raised up a spirit of fear in Timothy that caused his faith to wax and wane, thus hindering the work of God’s Spirit in Him. We cannot tap into the power of God when fear and doubt get a grip.
Today, Beloved, we evaluate our ministry in Christ, our zeal of service and the fire of our gifting. Are we serving in the fullness God has for us, or has some fear, some hardship, or some worldly desire robbed our faith, our trust, our belief, thus dulling the work of the Spirit in us? Take time today to renew your commitment and flex those faith muscles that trust God for each step and every breath. Kindle afresh the gift of faith within you, the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness.
“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.” (Vs. 7)
Sometimes our “tired” is due to sitting too much. This happens to me. When I’m I’m stressed or depressed, and overly tired, I tend to sit too much, desiring to meet my need of rest. The thing is, sitting too much can actually hinder the body’s ability to rest well or to sleep well, and it increases depression. Thus, the encouragement of God’s Spirit to give focus to exercise is good wisdom.
Beginning with prayer and worship:
Prayer and the worship of the Triune God is a spiritual exercise that works wonders in a tired, body, mind, heart, spirit, and soul. Leaving issues at God’s feet lifts weight off of weighed down shoulders and stressed knees. Praise and worship strengthens the heart, lifts and eases the mind, and brings renewed vitality to life.
Work that body:
God made our bodies to move, lift, walk, bend, stoop, and work. When we fail to do that, a sundry of disease processes move in: inflammatory diseases, bone and joint maladies, heart, lung, and vascular disease, to name a few. Then we can add to that depression, appetite issues, insomnia, and more. And let’s not forget the excess weight, increased fat stores beyond the need of a healthy body, and decreased muscle mass and tone.
Exercise works our bodies, putting a good stress on it that strengthens function. A good work out and frequent movement increases endorphins that lifts mood, curbs hunger, and increases energy. Thus it makes sense that the Spirit of God would instruct me to get serious about this area of my health journey in this difficult season of life.
I cannot tell you the number of times hunger and out-of-control appetite has quieted or completely stilled with a good, brisk walk. Exercise actually increases energy levels and aids sleep. So, exhausted friend, let’s “Keep it moving!” (Deron Buboltz, Grow Young Fitness Motto)
Yesterday we covered my need for surrender. I am a stress eater and one stressor is tiredness, which is created and exacerbated by stress, good or bad. Vicious circle, I know. Today, a major area in need of my surrender to the Lordship and reliance on God is in my way of eating.
Diet (beginning with God’s Word).
God’s Word is what led me to realize that surrender is my number one need. God’s Word constantly and consistently instructs and encourages my perseverance, even when I’m tired. Exhaustion tends to hinder ability and desire for God’s Word. Remaining faithful to Him, trusting His ability to get through the fog of exhaustion and to help us is key to our ability to seek and find this vital nutrient. So feasting on God’s Word is my first dietary need, for it keeps me close to God, in a position of pliable-surrender. There, I am best able to deal with…
Diet (the things we physically eat)
The diet we need is not some fad thing that may take weight off, but be of no benefit to our body. These types of diets are generally unsustainable, leaving us to put the weight back on quickly. These fall into the category of things that have no benefit against fleshly indulgence (Colossians 2:23). We go on such fad diets, usually with the simple goal of losing weight, often with little thought toward working long term change in our appetites and desires. We go on “diets” with full intent to return to “normal eating” when we’ve reached our goal.
God led me long ago to the conclusion that “diet” simply means the things we eat. We are all on diets. The question is, are we eating to feed our flesh its desires? Or are we eating to provide fuel for a healthy, well functioning body?
When we eat to fuel our healthy function, our way of eating or diet becomes our way of life; it becomes our new norm. We don’t start it only to finish it and return to old ways. It’s not here for a time; it’s a habitual way of eating that is here to stay. It does not feed our flesh its indulgences. It feeds our body its need. We lose weight naturally by simply feeding our body it’s functional need. We keep it off the same way.
My struggle with stress eating leads me to feed my flesh its indulgence, instead of feeding my body its functional need. Surrender is vital to my freedom from the dictates of stress eating. Surrendering whatever is stressing me to God’s care brings peace to mind and soul. Surrendering my desires to God allows Him to form a good appetite within me and to energize my follow-through. In this way, proper diet strengthens my body, while God empowers my faithfulness to overcome fleshly indulgence. This, my friend, is the best, most freeing diet I’ve ever possessed.
“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB
This morning God led me to Jericho our town, praying for myself and others who are in a very deep seated exhaustion. As I did, He gave me thought for 7 areas of focus to empower rest and heal energy. Thus, the first of what will likely be seven posts outlining these things that are necessary for a life of strength.
First and foremost, I must live a surrendered life. Specific areas He pointed out include:
Concern for family and friends.
We have many family issues that are outside the realm of my control; and I am walking with several friends who are in the same boat. Only God can do anything about these things.
Worry and fretting drains energy. Though I don’t perceive worry and fret very often, my grief for loved ones is deep. I must take care to watch against enemy incursion, bringing these things up in ways that hinder surrender.
Diet! “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
I’ve been really working to surrender myself to the Lordship of the Father, bowing to His will and influence on my appetite and eating habits. He tells us through Paul’s experience that He desires to perfect His power by that power finding it’s place in our weak areas, thus doing its work in strengthening us. Power that sits, doing nothing, is wasted energy, unable to complete its course.
I am learning this surrender. It is a hard lesson, realizing that my greatest strength is truly my weakest vulnerability without surrender to God’s power perfected in me.
Wise use of time and energy.
I can’t stand seeing things around my home so neglected. It really bothers me. It’s oppressive, robbing of joy, which robs of strength. This is another area in which I simply must surrender to God, trusting my times and epochs to Him (Acts 17:24-28).
Right now my time and energy is needfully focused elsewhere as I take care of my husband, whose greatest desire is for me to take care of me. I simply must surrender the dust to God, knowing He empowers time and energy for all things in due season. Stressing it only wears me out and robs of true rest, the joy of the Lord, and enjoyment of my husband in these days.
“How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house; And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.” Psalms 36:7-8 NASB
Wow! Last night God pointed me to this passage for us to consider this morning, and as I looked at it again, seeking Him with my, “What?” – all I can say is “WOW!”
If we could live by faith under the wings of God, trusting His desire for us without getting all wrapped up in our own wants, what would “drinking from the RIVER of His delight” look like on us? I can’t even fathom the richness of the things that delight God. I can’t even fathom the joy of such a discovery, but, WOW! …to discover the beauty of drinking from His delights. …to KNOW Him more by learning to receive it. Wow.
Father, bless us today to begin this journey of crawling in under Your wings, drinking our fill of Your abundance, and receiving with comprehension Your supply from the flowing river of Your delights. In Jesus, amen.
“These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” 2 Thessalonians 1:9 NASB
Our focal verse may seem not to fit the word for today, but bear with me a moment while I explain.
Remember the parable of Christ when He described the day all will stand before Father as sheep separated from goats. I had a dream years ago about that, in which God allowed me to experience the position of the goat.
As we were ushered in to His presence, upon seeing the Father, we all were overwhelmed and filled to the full with understanding of His essence. Many, knowing their vehement rejection of Him, instantly knew they missed the boat; others who trusted a false salvation were just figuring out that they were on the wrong side of the gulf. The thing that overwhelmed us all was full understanding of God’s pure love for us even in that moment, and that we were finally complete – made whole by His love.
We watched as the names of saints were called one by one, greeted by Jesus, and ushered into His Kingdom by angels. Then came the time when the goats were cast into the outer darkness. I woke with realization that the hottest flame in eternal damnation will be the knowledge of never knowing God’s great love so clearly again.
God used that dream to call me to two major foci in ministry: one being the importance of calling others to the Cross of Christ before it’s too late; the other being the importance of making God’s love known now, while there is time to make an informed decision.
God calls us to be love as He is love. God is the love we are to have and walk in, allowing Him to be love in us, so people can see while they still have a chance of changing sides. This is why Jesus warned us, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (complete).” Matthew 5:43-48 NASB (author’s note)
The most dangerous prayer I have ever prayed is for God to be love in me, loving a person in my sphere of influence with His unfailing love. I say “dangerous” because when God answers that prayer – and He will do so to the sincere heart cry for it – no matter what that person we love does, our love for them does not stop. We keep knowing God’s love for that person as our own. We feel a portion of the pain God feels for those who refuse Him. Their rejection hurts, and it’s hard, and the love keeps pouring out for them with longing for a right and true relationship fueled by and filled with the unity that is only found in mutual relationship with the Father. Only the brave, with true love for the Father that desires His love be found by all who need it, can face the heart of rejection experienced by God’s love for all. Are you ready to love in Jesus’s Name? He will supply the power for it, if you are willing to walk in His love-supply for all.
My prayer for us today, Beloved, is for our Strength to go forth and love in Jesus’s Name and in the power of His supply before time runs out. The eternal clock is ticking.
Seeking Holy Habitation, seated at God's feet (Exodus 15:13).