Tag Archives: Choice

LOVE or Love

“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.

John 21:15-17 AMPC

The Son of God Appeared for this Purpose

Are storms evil?

No. Storms happen because they are keeping the law. There are laws in nature that determine when it rains, snows, hails, when the wind blows and how hard, where the lightening strikes or tornadoes form. These things, in themselves, are not evil, though they can bring great destruction; nor are they necessarily good, though they can bring good and needful things to the earth. However, storms can be used for evil, or they can lead to great good.

When a storm produces destruction, we see one of two things come from those effected:

  • Some come out to take advantage of others out of selfishness and avarice.
  • Others come, even out of their own extreme poverty, to help those in need and to build anew.

I read a devotional that eluded to this passage of scripture and the purpose for Christ expressed here:

“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who ABIDES in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who PRACTICES righteousness (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice out of love for God and allegiance to Jesus) is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who PRACTICES sin (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice, which is rebellion against God and His chosen King) is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.

“The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil (sin and all that stands in opposition to God, His will, His way, His sovereignty). No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:4-9 NASB (my understanding)

The storm is not evil or good: but the force behind it and the spirit it brings can produce great evil, or healing balms of good through the actions and reactions of people effected by the storm. A person reveals his heart in such seasons.

Jesus came to destroy the work of Satan that leads people to do the evil seen in such times. With Job, when His children were killed in a tornado, the purpose of Satan and the trap of temptation set by him was to prove Job would lose faith in God and rebel against Him. That is what Satan seeks to accomplish through the storms of life.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NASB

To die, in God’s value of things, is to turn away from Him in lack of faith to trust Him in the storm. It is to rebel against Him out of anger, self-centeredness, pride, greed, or any number of evils that get a controlling hold on our hearts and lead us to turn against God’s way.

Life, in God’s economy, is this relationship with Him from a heart that trusts and follows Him despite the tricks of the devil. We don’t easily and habitually give in to temptations to sin out of fear or because of stressors to faith in God. We stand with God and for God, no matter the length of our waiting for His hand to move, and we find Him faithful. This is the Life, abundant and full, that Jesus provides.

The abundance Jesus provides is peace beyond measure; joy unrelated to circumstance; faith fed by deep pools of belief’s hope; and a River of love flowing to and through us, all fed by God, who is love. Evil that seeks destruction cannot win when God’s people stand firmly planted on Him.

“Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.” Psalms 37:1-9 NASB

“My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:1-8 NASB

Yes, Satan used a storm and other devastations in Job’s life, intending it for evil; but God allowed it, knowing it would produce the good He desired. The question is, on which side of the equation will we stand?

The Cloud

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I saw this plant come into view, and my heart leapt! It was just beautiful to me.

These carbon black plants have been here for multiplied-decades, the last remnants of many more that used to be here. I remember momma stepping out to see which way the wind was blowing before daring to hang laundry. And heaven forbid the wind to change directions!

Through the years I’ve heard people express joy in the smell of laundry, dried on outdoor lines. I never understood that. Ours always smelled of carbon and fossil fuels. LOL

As I look at these stacks and the criss-crossed sections of pipelines darkened by decades of carbon soot, I note the mostly white steam escaping the shoots, and my heart rejoices in the Hope of Christ.

You see, no matter how many decades of sin and shame covers our lifespan, we are not beyond the reach of His saving grace. And even in the earliest stages of our surrender and commitment to Him, His Spirit moves in, fills us up, and begins the lifetime work of cleansing, purifying, and transforming us to be the vessel God planned from before time began.

Even in our earthen vessels marred by passing sin, the glory of the Lord seeps out of us who are His, like steam rising to draw the eyes of others in need of a fresh view of Splendor’s beauty and grace. The greater our surrendered commitment to God through Christ, the purer our cleansing flow will be. Rising up as testimony of our relationship with God, His cleansing, Life-giving flow reaches out to touch others in need of His grace, sufficient for them too.

We each choose daily the steam flowing forth: either the dark stench of sin, or the purifying flow of Love’s grace at work in us. Which do you want those you love to be covered by when they are near to or up wind from you?

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15, AMPC

“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19-20‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

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

Heart Check: Hope Rightly Focused

“But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” (Psalms 146:5 NLT)

Take a minute for a heart check, Beloved. Where is your Hope? If we are not careful, our hope can slip away from God and onto our own ability to have faith. People unrighteously accuse, “Well, it hasn’t happened because your faith is not strong enough.” Jesus said, “with a mustard seed of faith, you can move a mountain.” The smallest seed of a faith planted in the right soil where it is capable of growth is all it takes. That soil is totally rested on God trusting Him.

Hope can slip to land on our idea of what the best outcome should look like. More still is that hope can truly be settled on our own strengths and abilities; or on that of someone or something else we see as hope’s solution.

True hope in God rests on Him with understanding of His care. It trusts His sovereignty. Trust’s hope does not put God in a box made up of our expectations and ability to dream.

God’s Word says that He, by His power that is at work within us, “is able to carry out His purpose and do SUPERABUNDANTLY, FAR OVER and ABOVE ALL that we dare ask or think, INFINITELY BEYOND our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams” (Ephesians 3:20 AMPC).

We cannot even begin to think of the great things of God. When we limit our hope to our expectations, we can miss what God is doing. Because our eyes are set to see what we think will be, we can fail to follow God to the abundance He truly has for us. We essentially box Him into our finite thought, and when we refuse the path of His leading as a result, we put a lid on the glory to be seen.

So, where is your hope, Beloved. Because of God’s grace, “Rethink Possible” (ATnT commercial).

God’s “Good” vs. Humankind’s

“A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘ DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”” Luke 18:18-27 NASB

This passage has long captivated my attention. That Jesus, the very Sod of God, The God in flesh, does not number himself with God as a good person, is intriguing.

I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people that, to me, are a defining parameter for the place of a “good person.” That opinion is gauged by human standards. Jesus corrects that understanding with His pronouncement that “only God is good.”

Have you ever had The Spirit pop a question into your head, immediately followed by an answer? That’s exactly what happened as I read this familiar passage today.

The question: “What makes the difference between God’s‘good’ and our ‘good’?”

The answer: “Motive and source.”

God IS good. He doesn’t need a reason to be or do good. Good is what He is, and thus, what He must do. He doesn’t need an incentive to do good. He doesn’t have to receive some return before He will continue to be good.

There is no external source for His good. He is good. Goodness resides in and flows from Him. Good is what He does. That’s why Scripture says that every good and perfect gift comes from Him. He is good and the source or resource for every good.

We are not as He is. We have incentives to be good, most often out of necessity. We too often fall away from goodness when our good never meets a return. And, according to Scripture, without God, who is the source – resource for all good, we cannot be or produce good.

Another difference between us and God, is that we too easily grumble about doing good. God does not. He may get upset with our ungrateful response to His good, our never being satisfied with what we get and always wanting more, better, greater, but he never grumbles about an opportunity to do good or the inconvenience of the needs timing.

Even Jesus, being in the flesh, took no credit for being good. He, too, as example to us, relied on the Father for any good expressed through Him.

For me, this understanding makes the discourse that followed make better sense. The ruler wanted eternity, and, as implied in the passage, he did all the good he new to do, hoping for the reward of the eternal. Yet he lacked one thing, to die to self, having no other desire or motive than to follow and please God alone.

Some long ago commentary says that Genesis 15:1 is more accurately translated, “Fear not, Abram, I AM your Shield, your abundant compensation, and YOUR EXCEEDINGLY GREAT REWARD.” This is the only, truly-needful motivation for Christlike goodness and it’s resource is God alone.

Kingdom Currency

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23 NASB)

This verse compares the “weightier provisions” of God’s Law with the currency of the tithe. I am struck by the NASB’s wording regarding these weightier things, calling them God’s provision for us. The combination of wording and the object of comparison makes one think that the currency of God’s Kingdom is the weightier things of God’s Law: justice, mercy, faithfulness, love, righteousness, grace, goodness, etc.

The actions of the faith lay up treasures in heaven for us, Beloved. God has given these to us for our use. These are not to be hoarded, but produce the greatest treasure when liberally spent / applied to life.

Where do you need to overcome fleshly tendencies and spend a little Kingdom currency today? Hear that! The register of the Father, chiming heavenly sounds of rejoicing with each deposit to your account.

“”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)

A Focus On Light: The Fruit of Love

“…I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. ….” (1 John 2:7-11 NASB)

One thing we find in the Light is fruit born of the Spirit. When we are in the Light as He is in the Light, Light is what we are, and what is seen is the image of God: His nature, His essence, His glory. The fruit brought into view through this passage of Scripture is love.

By way of reminder, the first thing to know is that God IS Love. He loves us, not because of what we do or who we are. God loves because love is His WHO. To fail to love would be for Him to be untrue to His very nature, which would be to live a lie. God never lies. Lying is evil and evil cannot remain where God is found. Therefore, all He thinks, feels, and does toward us is out of love: an action of love.

Even in His discipline, God wishes none to perish, but for all to come to repentance; into relationship with Him. Father loves us so much, He sent His very Son to die for ALL so we may repent and find Life in Him. When discipline comes, it is His love leading us to repentance, so we become incompatible with evil, just as He is.

When we receive Christ, all of God’s Who comes in the power of His Spirit to reside in us. He grafts His Who to our who, empowering us to BE as He is. We can be His Light by possessing His Who as our own. We possess Him by allowing Him full possession of us. Our surrender allows the grafting to take and come to life, uniting our who to His, thus, making us one with Him, able to bear His likeness.

The proof of our true and abiding relationship is seen in the fruit we bear to His glory, thus revealing us as the Children of God. That glory is the Light of His Presence shining through us, and the first fruit produced is Love, for that is who God is. The grafting that gives us Life makes Love our who, too, so we look like our Father. Therefore we cannot say we abide with Him in His Light, but hate the brother that abides there with us. To do so is to live the lie. And that is evil.

If we are in Christ, grafted into God, we possess True Light, and Love is who we are. Love NEVER fails, falls short, or falters in reaching its intended destiny.

Surrender your all and watch God come to Life in you.

A Focus On Light: The Holy Lamp

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5 NASB)

One final, extremely vital point from this 1 John 1:5-7 passage that links with today’s Matthew 6:22-23 passage: God has no partnership with darkness.

When we receive Christ as Savior, committing to follow Him as Lord, the Spirit brings the Light of God’s Presence to live in us. We become the Temple of the Living God, sanctified and set apart to Him. There, the Spirit Light dispels the dark within us, making us fully righteous: the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

Eternally, this happens instantly, but mortally, there can be and usually are areas of our lives that take longer than others giving way to the Light. This scripture teaches that our journey to the Kingdom takes us through fire that burns away wood, hay, and stubble, leaving the precious unsinged. (I.e.: our impatience will give way to the godly fruit of patience, but may have to take us through the fires of testing to get there.) God patiently works with us in these areas, but His work requires our cooperation. That cooperation begins with recognition of the entry point darkness uses to gain access to our lives.

“”The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23 NASB)

Our eyes are the entry point for light and dark. Scripture tells us that the world caters to our lustful desires, seeking entry into our lives with its darkness.

“…all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. ….” (1 John 2:15-17 NASB)

The darkness of this world gains place in us because of our flesh, eyes, and pride, but the access point is the eyes. We see something appealing, our flesh immediately wants it and our pride has to have it. The desire enters through our physical and spiritual eyes.

At times, our fleshly mind will think of some desire as seen by our internal eyes, and our physical eyes will start looking for it, while our pride eggs it on. (I’ve got to have it! I deserve it!)

To clarify our eyes, clearing them of lustful desires, we must seek first the righteousness of God and His Kingdom purpose. Trading our desires in so we can possess His protects us from every lust.

Now note Matthew 6:23.

“If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

This reminds us to beware the false light. Our flesh, eyes, and pride can be tricked into believing a lie to be true. Thus, we see that it is vital for us to draw near to God, so that His Light in us can reveal and dispel the dark that is disguised as something that looks right and good, but falls short of God. God can and will grant us discernment so we can know the difference, but we must get our eyes on Him and draw near.

Keeping our eyes on God as our top priority and first, most vital need and necessity, is vital to our possession of His Light. This requires that we remember that we are the Temple of God, Holy and set apart as His place of residence. Every time we give in to sin, refusing God and His Light, we treat the holy as inconsequential. (“…the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:17)

Through our eye that sees the Holy as insignificant, a darkness enters that can quench the Spirit of God. We can push the Spirit back, out of the way, to have our will. It’s called “choice”, the right of which is a gift from God. We are free to choose good or evil, blessing or curse, His Light and Truth, or the world’s dark and falsehood.

It is vital in this moment, and with every breath hereafter, that we learn to seek God for His true Light, so we can see clearly to evaluate the light that is in us, knowing that if the light in us is dark, proving to be false, that light is indeed dark. I believe the reason for this is because a truth is more difficult to receive when a falsehood must first be rejected and cast away. Pride and flesh will fight it. Therefore we must be diligent and determined.

A few questions to aid our evaluation of the Light that is is in us: What is your eye set on? Does that stir the fires of your flesh, or the Spirit of God within you? Is your pride lifted up and made haughty? Or are you awestruck and humbled before The Father? Do the work, Beloved, and SHINE!

“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”

Finding Our Independence Day

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15 NASB

Forgiveness is very important to me. Since the day God showed me that my choosing to forgive another is for my own sake, just as we see Him choose to forgive Israel in Isaiah 43:25, He has called me to be a voice, encouraging true forgiveness. Choosing to forgive protects who we are, preventing our becoming something we don’t want to be, and it secures the course of our life for the good we are set to achieve.

Today, as I read this passage, Father brings to mind the movie, Independence Day. In it, we find a character portraying a military veteran who is believed crazy because of his story about once being kidnapped by aliens.

In the movie, our veteran is the hero who gives up his life to bring down the alien enemy. Before that, what we see is a man who is eat up by his experience. Drunken most of the time, he loses work, becomes the laughing stock of the town, and is near to losing his eldest son who is embarrassed and fed up with his dad’s drunken inadequacies.

When it comes time and opportunity for our hero to prepare to be part of the fighting force against the alien attack, we discover the true reason for the man’s drunken failure, as he announces that, since his kidnapping, he’s been looking for opportunity to delve out some payback. This fictitious character is a perfect example of why it is important to forgive “for my own sake,” which truly works for the sake of everyone around us.

Unforgiveness does great harm to our ability to have good relationships. It can hinder our ability to be the people of worth God desires for us. It can and will destroy our effectiveness in life, making us of little use to a God of Love. Unforgiveness can cut our life short in our pursuit of some sense of retribution. And, the thing I learned from God is that choosing to forgive protects us from falling short of loving others in sacrificial ways.

In our story found in the Independence Day movie, the thing that led our hero to sacrifice His life was less the want of payback he professed desire for and spent many drunken days looking for. Sobering up so he could do the job required of him, in those final moments, it is not desire for payback that leads to his decisive sacrifice. Instead he found the desire to protect the lives of those he loved.

That is what I discern in the proclamation of God found in Isaiah 43:25. He forgave for His own sake so that He would stay the course of protecting the people out of which His Christ would come. For the sake of fulfilling His purpose in providing saving grace for the world, He chose, for His own sake, to forgive Israel, even though their sin against Him begged for payback.

God may get us to the right motive for our last breath effort to love others, but what a waste that comes from the moment we choose unforgiveness to the detriment of our character, hindering our path to the fulfillment of the purpose of our life. Don’t let unforgiveness steel your in-between opportunity for a life worth living. Choose the love that forgives for one’s own sake, and find in that your Independence Day victory over bitterness, anger, drunkenness, etc.

God’s Parameters of Protection

I hear people all the time saying “God works all things together for good,” and they stop there. These often get a deer in the headlights look when the parameters for God’s good work is pointed out.

Don’t miss the “to those” of this promise. God works good in all things “to those who love God”; and, “to those” who are walking out His purposes according to His calling. If we go outside of God’s calling and purpose, or if we act without love for God, we step outside of this hedge of His protection.

With most of God’s promises there is a parameter, a hedge that sets the boundaries for remaining in His field of promise. Step outside of that, we face consequences God’s hedge is set to spare us from suffering. Don’t get caught in the headlights of danger, Dear. Watch for the parameters set by our loving Father.

The Surrendered Mind

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a DOUBLE-MINDED man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:2-8 NASB

One with thoughts being tossed by the wind, causing one to struggle with doubt and fear, is said to be “double minded”. This struggle of faith to follow the wisdom God sends for our need comes when our fleshly mind argues against the very mind of Christ indwelling us.

“For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16 NASB

The mind of flesh is haughty, daring even to argue with God. The mind of Christ receives and surrenders to the higher thoughts of the wisdom of The Father-head. The mind of Christ ALWAYS cries out, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Like 21:42

The mind of Christ in us empowers our surrendered living. Bow down, Beloved.

PRAISE FOR THE ONE

Praise tells the cosmos that God is sovereign, almighty, worthy, victorious, right, good, and on the throne of the heart of the one who praises Him alone as God. Praise increases hope, enters His help, dawns His glory Lives His story, and fills His worshipers with Himself, His power, His authority, His surity, bringing the unity of ONEness with Him in the Christ who bridges and the Spirit who teaches, bringing all into the Divine Will.

Oh how beautiful the Glory that makes ONE as God continues His Life story through those who believe, receive, and become His worshipers. How BLESSed we are to be His worshipers, Beloved.

Go forth in the Spirit of Truth and Shine, with every breath, every step, every move, every desire honoring our Father as Sovereign in us, giving way to the Spirit of the Triune, who alone can empower true worship in us and who alone can protect that peace-filled abundance, undisturbed by any thief who would dare to steal, kill, or destroy the voice of True Worship.

(c) Darlene Davis

6/22/18

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 6

“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

I don’t know about you, Beloved, but I believe that the goal of life on earth for the Christian should be to be this “vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” According to the scripture, attaining that goal requires we be “cleansed of these things.”

Paul begins in verse 14 with the charge for Timothy to remind those he is ministering to of the truths found in verses 1-13. I recommend reviewing those encouraging words. Then verse 14 begins a list of specifics we must seek God’s cleansing from, things that determine whether we are vessels for honor or dishonor.

1. Don’t wrangle about words. Some beliefs in the Christian faith are not worth fighting about, only serving to cause dissension and separation in the Family of God, leading “to the ruin of the hearers”. (I.e.: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 and Romans 14) Instead we are to behave in a manner approved by God, accurately handling His Word.

2. Next we are warned to “avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,” which spreads like gangrene. A hot topic I believe fits here is to speak against our national leaders, as if God had nothing to do with their appointment, having no purpose for their appointment. We go against God when we assault their character and purpose, as it is God who raises up one and brings down another for His purpose. Such rhetoric can upset the faith of the immature in Christ, causing them to stumble or fall away.

3. Then Paul advises that “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Wickedness is any word or deed that goes against God, refusing His Lordship, or setting a bad example, thus defaming His Name through rebellion against His will and way.

4. Paul concludes chapter 2 with the encouragement to “flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.“ We are to “refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”

The goal of the vessel of honor is to be filled up with and to spill out the Spirit of God, so that God may grant to those receiving our witness repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth. The hope is that others “may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

Beloved, our own freedom from sin and liberty in righteousness frees others who watch with desire for the same. “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. …”

2 Timothy 2:14-26 NASB

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 3

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)

Seven Healing Balms for Exhaustion Part 3

Exercise

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)

13 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

Seven Healing Balms for Exhaustion: Part 2

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

What to Do in the Long Night

First Timothy 4:12 is vital instruction at any age, especially in a Long Night Season. A long night can leave a person feeling lost and without direction, not knowing what to do in the situation or in life. This is the answer! Pray these things.

“Let no one look down on you.” Job made it known to his friends that their opinion had no basis in truth. We must know ourselves before God, keeping His opinion in mind when accusation comes.

Continue to be a godly example in speech (the way we talk), conduct, LOVE, faith, and purity. When we don’t know what to do, do these things and we will come through shining like gold.

Believe! Cling to faith in Father. Know Him, trust His promises, take Him at His Word despite what eyes see, emotions say, and the deceptive heart feels.

Seven Healing Balms for Exhaustion: Part 1

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.

SURRENDER!

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.

Next post, part 2, Diet.

Better to Go Willingly

Today is Missy’s bath day. She is too big to bathe in the sink, and too heavy for me, getting her out of the tub: plus, my knees don’t handle that well any more, so off she goes to the vet for a spa day every 2 weeks.

Getting her ready to go is not a problem. She hears her leash come off it’s hook, and the excitement is on. She loves a good road trip and pulls me readily to the car. Seated happily in Johnny’s lap, she eyes every site and takes in all the smells.

This morning, as I pull into a parking spot, she starts sniffing the air vent like crazy. Obvious recognition in her eyes, her happy face drooping with every breath, she glares at me, “I don’t like where you parked!” I know that’s what she said.

Getting her reluctant body out of the car, I sit her down and the battle is on. She wants back in the car immediately! When that doesn’t happen, her goal becomes that of getting me to change course. Fighting her over the threshold, she wearily follows me to the desk. While I take care of business, she stands like a pointer, leash taught, making sure I know where the door is and begging, “Please! Help me.” Little does she know that she stinks, and my nose keeps me pointed toward her bath.

This morning, as our ritual dance at the desk plays out, she suddenly grabs my attention with some extra exuberant tugs on the line. Looking back, she points intently at the door. A woman, just stepping to the door, reaches the handle and pulls. Missy’s excited eyes and joyful tug scream, “Hurry! The door is open. Now’s our chance.” 😂

Missy is a lot of laughs for us. She is so expressive and so smart. But there are times when we know what is best for her, so we fight to get her where she needs to be. It is the same with God and us mere mortals. We so often tug against something God is leading us to, not liking the discomfort of getting there. I wonder if He laughs at us like we do Missy.

Jeremiah 29:10-11 “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'”

I don’t know if you have ever read Jeremiah. It is worth the read, if not. In it, God calls His people to willingly go into captivity, promising those who do will find His faithful presence and provision while going through a designated timeout from their destiny because of corporate sin. Many, the prophet Daniel being one, went willingly and found God’s faithfulness. Others, like the King of the day, refused to willingly follow God’s path. Most of them lost their lives. The King lost his eyes, his freedom, and his throne. Kicking against goads God sets in our path only hurts our feet. And, as Missy will tell you, fighting the Master’s pull only chokes us down. Better we go willingly into the Father’s plan.

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”

That’s a promise. God is faithful to His Word. Question is, do we believe and trust Him, even when the road gets rough? If we choose faith and a willingness to walk His way, we will find ourselves shining like gold and smelling like a rose on the other side of the difficulty we dread.

Delight: the Secret Pathway of Perfecting Grace

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord…. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.” Psalm 37:3-4 AMPC

To delight is to take great pleasure or joy in something. God wants to be our greatest delight. That’s hard to do if we fail to realize and experience Him in our day by day, moment by moment. Thus, I believe verse 3 is vital to our ability to delight in God to any degree of His desire for our delight; and verse 3 is best expressed in the AMPC Bible’s defining parameters for Trust being to lean on, rely on, and be confident in Him who is our delight.

When we truly trust in the Lord it is easier to know Him in our day. Trusting in Him as He desires means we LEAN on Him as our greatest support for all challenges faced in life, beginning with each breath we breathe. We RELY on Him, not only for supply of every resource and energy need, but for the very timing of His provision, knowing that He will increase perseverance to us as we await His provision with hopes assurance. And that perseverance flows out of our CONFIDENCE in Him, knowing that He will not fail us, but as we patiently wait with trust in Him, He often does above and beyond our ability to desire, or even to discern the need. In times of waiting, He is working a growth in us that increases our discernment of Him and His ways, so faith grows stronger and relationship more sure.

This growing, vital relationship of delight works completion in us. We were made for this vital, love relationship with God and we are incomplete apart from Him. Not only that, but scripture teaches that God’s Power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9 AMPC). That does not mean that God is somehow weakened without us. I believe that it means our God has chosen us for vital union: that He desires to delight in us as we delight in Him, being made complete together. He chooses that our relationship add strength to both He and each individual one of us as our union becomes all He planned from the concept of time.

I see God’s Power being perfected in us to be like flexing muscles. God’s Power is perfect because He is perfect in Himself. But power that sets doing nothing is useless. The strength of His Power defines and fulfills itself when in use. So as we delight in Him above all else, fully choosing to act on our great need of Him, trusting in, leaning on, relying on, and being confident in Him, our need completes His provision as He completes us, thus accomplishing perfection in the actualization of His eternal plan for a relationship with us, His people.

When we feel like there is something missing, Love, and the desires of our heart go unsatisfied, the first place we must look is to check the source of our greatest delight. Delight in God trusts Him with a fervent surrender to our need of Him that leads to perfection.

It Begins in the Heart

“Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. …The LORD will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. So all the peoples of the earth will SEE that you are called by the name of the Lord… The LORD will make you abound in prosperity… The LORD will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand; and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. …” Deuteronomy 28:1, 9-14 NASB

A promise to the nation of Israel, yes; and we come under it through the bloodline of Christ. As a nation that has professed Christianity, making us one nation under God, we trust the promises of God are true for us who believe. In that faith, the world has long known us as a Christian nation and are shocked when they see we struggle as they do, and sometimes much worse.

Drought in large portions of our nation; fires bringing great destruction; some of the largest disasters in our history; and the political atmosphere, economic issues, cultural division, and ever rising national debt! Our scripture tells us that others “see” that we bear the name of the Lord by the obedience we give to His will done His way, thus, reaping the blessings He sends. Suffice to say, our nation is symptomatic of one who no longer understands the nuances of bearing the name of the Lord.

This passage in Deuteronomy 28 (above) and the call to prayer in 2 Chronicles 7 (pictured and quoted below) make clear the expectation God has in us being known by His name, but what does that mean? It is obviously something that can be observed by others. What does that look like?

Second Chronicles 7:14 reveals that those called by His name sincerely seek Him with repentant hearts that turn away from wicked ways. Repentance flows out of a heart after God’s own heart, desiring Him above all and choosing to follow His will instead of our own. This heart is the soil from which the image of God grows and matures, bringing about the bearing of the fruit of His Spirit in us.

That fruit born out of relationship with God blesses us first with increased strength in that vital relationship. Keeping God first, our love relationship with God sustains us. That relationship empowers all else: right and blessed relationships with others – mates, children; parents, siblings; employers, co-workers, employees; neighbors, friends, strangers, and other nations. Right and good relationships reveal God and His BLESSings in a people and their land.

God promises that He blesses those who abide in relationship with Him in this fruit bearing way. He supplies weather conditions that produce crops to feed us. He supplies work through which we gain wealth. He provides strength, wisdom, and prowess that makes our nation strong against any would-be enemy. He blesses the nation and its people, so they may lend, but never have to borrow.

If we want our nation to stand strong again, it begins in the heart. And that begins with knees bent in surrendered repentance to a Holy God we want and know the need of above all other desires.

“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.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB

Watch Your Peace-o-meter

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Colossians‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Why would Paul link thankfulness so closely with peace? I believe it is because peace requires contentment, and contentment cannot be achieved where grumbling and complaining rule.

Thankfulness toward our trustworthy God is the counter to a heart of grumbling and complaining. Today, if you find peace of heart disturbed or stolen, look quickly to see if thankfulness is missing. Find something in the situation to turn the frown upside down, and watch peace walk back in as trust in the Lord’s goodness restores contentment.

A Word for Today: ONE

Vital message! Please read and make ready.

Most of you do not know me, but if you posses and know the Spirit of the One and only living God, you will know of Him, if the following message is His voice coming to your ears through His mouthpiece. Father, grant discernment of truth to every ear, I pray. In Christ, amen.

Beloved, it is vital that we, the Body of Christ, be ONE in Him, the fulfillment of His John 17 prayer. Our differences and petty squabbles MUST be set aside. Any discord that separates brethren in Christ, great or small, is petty compared to what is ahead. A devastation is about to hit that will work a glorious good, and it requires our unity.

So get your heart ready, Beloved. Our unity with one another is vitally linked with each of our spiritual health in Christ. We must each be found walking as one with Father, Son, and Holy Presence, for our unity in His body to possess the necessary cohesion.

Trust in the leading of Christ is vital today. However strange the Spirit’s lead is, willing and effective, step-by-step obedience is vital to our readiness.

“…to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:1-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Father, lead us. We are listening with ears set to hear.

My Lighthouse, by Rend Collective

Journey to Freedom

“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.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Love is the first flavor in the fruit of His Spirit that God used to teach me how His strength works best in my surrendered weakness.

God is love. We are told to love as He loves, which means we have to surrender to BE love as He is, and in likeness to Him. We can only do that when He, who is love, becomes love in us.

Our love is weak and insufficient apart from Him, never able to measure up to adequately represent Him. Only as we surrender ourselves to be a living vessel for His love to reach those around us can we truly love as He loves. And when we truly rest our effort in that truth, loving even the greatest of enemies becomes easier and more effective.

Knowing this, I don’t know why it has taken me so long to realize that the same principle is true of His fruit flavor known as self-control / self-discipline. I learned it easily with peace, joy, and goodness; finding a greater challenge in my surrender to His patience in me, but finally beginning to get there. I guess the holdup on learning this truth in the bearing of the flavor of self-control is that little word, SELF.

I expected God wanted me to do it on my own, by choice; which didn’t make sense when Scripture clearly teaches that I can do NOTHING apart from Him. So finally, I am walking in the truth that the “help” I constantly cry out for in this need of self-control only fully comes when I surrender to the truth that I am too weak to do it. That He who lives in me and wants to live trough me in a process that makes us truly one is key to fruit bearing in all His flavor.

Thus, I must allow His strength to live it’s perfection through this area of my weakness: not struggling to have some part in the controlling of self, but fully surrendering with trust in Him to empower control.

I finished my 21 days of fasting prayer, quickly discovering that the things practiced during this time of commitment are to be my new way of daily living Christ into the world around me. Today is the first day of the rest of my life – which is eternal in Christ.

Welcome to the new me, which is, by the way, another pound lighter. YAY!!

Our Portion

I am starting my year following the daily scripture focus for January, put out by BibleStudyTools.com. Today’s Scripture focus is that well known Lamentations passage in 3:22-23 pictured above. But my focus falls to what comes after.

I know so well those two beloved, frequently quoted verses, I shamefully forget what follows.

“”The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.” ‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:24-25‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God is our portion, our great reward and most precious treasure. Our greatest calling is to seek Him for those reasons alone. Knowing and striving toward that, our waiting for Him is made easier, for we can know His goodness will come forth to meet our need.

And the next verse says, “It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.” Lamentations‬ ‭3:26‬ ‭NASB‬

We don’t have to have words for Him who is our portion, reward, treasure. As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us, and His faithfulness is sure to meet our every need.

Sometimes the great needs we face are to help us realize that our only true need is the Treasure of Heaven. When we possess that, our waiting is eased as we know the wealth of His supply will come out of His faithful love for those who treasure Him above all else.

BibleStudyTool.com January Scripture Focus Challenge

God’s New Year Resolve

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1, Paul encourages the reader to “excel still more” in their Christian walk and desire to please God. Reading that at this time of year brings my thoughts to the yearly habit of New Year’s resolutions.

I stopped years ago hopping onto that see saw. I’m not good at sticking to those. However, that doesn’t mean I stopped the work of changing my habits in the areas that need work. God simply inspired a different focus for me to practice in seeking to make progress in bettering those habits that are not the best. His way, with His help, works much better for me. I’ve shared it before, but here it is again, with hope of inspiring others like me.

Each year, for many years now, God has highlighted some verse or passage of scripture regarding an area He sees that I need to grow in. Last year (2016) was the need to strengthen my practice of “Holy habitation” with Him, a work of sanctification (Exodus 15:13). This year’s focus is a continuation of that: to realize and surrender myself to the fact that my old life is crucified with Christ, and that my new life requires cooperating with His work, allowing Him to live on in me (Galatians 2:20). For 2018, God if leading me to a much narrower focus on this sanctification He is working in me.

Through Hebrews 12:1-13, God is instructing me to excel still more at surrendering to His discipline. Most specifically my charge is found in verse 11-13:

“All DISCIPLINE for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it YIELDS THE PEACEFUL FRUIT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:11-13 NASB

Throughout my 2017 journey, God has constantly brought to my attention that all sin is sin because it refuses those things that please Him. It is refusal to acknowledge His Lordship and seek Him first in our choices.

God is calling me to excel still more in strengthening my hands and feet for straight paths by making decisive resolutions with every breath to do what pleases Him as His disciple. Healing will come to areas of struggle with bad habits as I receive His discipline that keeps my feet on the straight and narrow.

Beloved, I encourage you today to get God’s focus for you in this new year. Don’t just reach out and grab something. Watch for the Spirit to grab you with the word from the Father for you. He knows best what you need, and Him being at the center of it is the power that accomplishes the good He desires.

When you receive His focal passage for you, write it out. Read it in many different translations. Carry it with you and refer to it often. Meditate on it. Keep a journal of experiences and other passages God uses to instruct you on your subject matter. You’ll be amazed as He directs your path this year to thoughts and opportunities that grow you in the area of HIS RESOLVE.

Repentance That Works

There are two types of repentance: worldly repentance and godly repentance. Godly repentance works the will of God, and that is what we want.

Worldly repentance is:

Self-centered – repentance flowing out of worldly concern (must change before I lose my job…my ministry…their love/respect).

Insincere – having a hardened heart to sin, repentance is only for show.

Insecure – believing God delivers from the penalty of sin, but we are still enslaved to the sin nature with no hope of freedom in this life.

Godly Repentance is:

Relational – concerned about pleasing God and protecting relationship with Him; and because of right relations with God, desiring to protect relationships with others.

Transforming – knowing that we not only possess the righteousness of Christ in the Spirit, but that the Spirit is with us, to empower our righteous acts accomplished through surrendered lives.

Eternal – knowing that God loves us at all times and will bring us into His eternal Kingdom because of Jesus, while also realizing that we are His representatives in our here and now, called and equipped as His image bearers to reveal Him to the world. Godly repentance truly desires to surrender to God’s work of making us into His image.

True repentance comes to those who know that God has a good work for us as individuals, beginning with us being His image bearers. Surrendered living with sincere effort to conform to His transforming power leads to accomplishing His purpose.

True repentance surrenders to eternal purpose through trusting faith that knows “nothing shall be impossible with God”, who so greatly desires a love relationship with us that He gave His only begotten Son to have it. And have it, He will, for His Word succeeds at accomplishing His purpose.

Take God at His Word and repent from a godly stance of faith made sure in Him.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:12-13 NASB

The BLESSed Trust of Being His Light

“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.” Ephesians 5:8-10 NASB

If we are setting a bad example where we are, why do we tend to expect God will give us a position where we can lead others to be twice the hypocrite we are being?

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” Galatians 6:7-10 NASB

God does not often put us in the position we desire until we are being that person, living the level of integrity required for it, in the place we currently hold. You want to come up higher? Live the degree of faithful, integrity required now.

“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” Colossians 3:23-25 NASB

The Subtle Nuances of Persecution

People have said in my presence many times that we in America don’t know what persecution is. That very statement proves it – especially of the one speaking. What they are saying is we have not had our lives threatened by people wanting us to openly denounce our God. With that definition of persecution in mind, they are correct. We do not often see that in the USA, though, in recent days, we are seeing a rise in that type of attack. But that narrow definition of the parameters of persecution causes a failure to recognize that all face persecution in some way every day.

“How is that?” you may ask. To respond fully to the how, the question we have to answer is, what is persecution? What is its purpose? What is its underlying resource? One of the oldest texts in scripture answers all these questions and gives them definition through the more subtle attacks we see there, and in our land.

What is persecution and its resource?

We find this answered in Job 1, in the discourse between God and Satan. God points out Job, his righteous life and careful care of his relationship with God, seeking always to please God. Satan questions that loyalty, accusing God of having Job so protected and cared for that he only sought to please God for what it brought to his life. He goaded God, “Remove all his blessings from You and let me at him, and he will curse You” (Darlene’s paraphrase).

Persecution, whether that seen in the life of Job, or that intended when people say we, in America, do not truly know persecution, comes through the resource of Satan, who hates God. It is his attack against God, his attempt to destroy all that God holds dear. Some is the obvious persecution we recognize as we see those who refuse to deny God having their heads removed by those through whom Satan sends his attack.

Thus, in response to the third question, what is its purpose, we see that best defined by the words spoken through Job’s wife in chapter 2:10, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!”

Satan’s whole desire is to get us to curse God, deny Him as God and Lord, and to enter the death that comes when we refuse to fully trust Him.

That brings us to the subtle aspects of persecution that we too often fail to recognize as that. The things Satan did to Job to try to get him to fall away from his “integrity” by cursing God and turning from faith in Him came in the following ways:

  1. The death of loved ones.
  2. The removal of wealth, bringing him to poverty.
  3. Assault against his health, threatening his life.
  4. The voice of a wife who fell, in her grief, to give voice to his persecutor, Satan, goading him to curse God too.
  5. The accusations of friends, convinced that some hidden sin and failure to repent was the cause of all his trouble, thus attempting to lead him to doubt his assurance in God.

Any of this sound familiar? I see it every day in our land. In fact, my thoughts today flow to this long understood truth, not only because of my husband’s battle with cancer, but also because of learning of a young, dearly loved woman who is fighting stage 4 colon cancer. She is still raising her children, two of them young teens. Her battle against this unseen enemy that wants not only to steal her life, but hopes to steal her faith in God, is well under way. My prayer for her and for her family today is for faith to trust God more. As Job said to his wayward, grief stricken wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?”

Trusting God for me in my husband’s battle means trusting God’s hand of healing, whether it is experienced in this life or the next. It means trusting that God will continue to minister to my needs even if He takes my husband, who is our bread winner. It means trusting that He will help me face the days ahead with strength of faith and assurance of hope.

For my young friend, it means trusting that God has a purpose in all this. That He will help her face these days with courage and peace, joy and hope. That, if He takes her home, He will remain with her family to help them. That He will take up with her children where she leaves off, to help them be the men of God she desires. That He will help her husband stand firm of faith and be the daddy her kids need; and that God will meet him at his greatest needs.

We all hope healing in the here and now for her and for my husband. But true trust acknowledges that we cannot know all God sees in what He is doing and allowing. Trust knows that His purpose is eternal good, and His plan will succeed in accomplishing what is best for all concerned.

Our journey, whatever the struggle that comes, is made easier when faith stands firm on trust in God. That trust wins the battle against all the enemy can throw at us. That trust is what our loved ones need to see most of all, so whichever way God’s plan takes us, they are helped to have the resource of our example to help them carry on. May we be found faithfully trusting God.