Tag Archives: Choice

Know Your Enemy

“Abram replied to the king of Sodom, “I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’” (Genesis 14:22-23 NLT)

Wow. The commitment Abram had toward God, putting His faith and trust in Him, desiring to protect God’s image at all cost. Is my heart there?

This leads my heart to another scripture I read with note today:

“… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. …” (Matthew 6:19-24 NASB)

The desire of Abram for God and His glory was strong. Because of that desire for God and His work in his life, Abram’s eyes were set on having that desire met. He did not look away from God and the assurance He gave to him for the good coming from God’s hand. He knew any treasure of man could not compare to what God had in store, so he chose the treasure of heaven over that which his physical experience could grasp.

Abram proved faithful, having spiritual eyes full of the Light of Glory.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” (Genesis 17:1 NLT)

It was this focus on God that won Abraham the reputation of being a righteous man, a man of faith, one God called “friend”. Note what this verse says, because it contains the way, the truth, and the life: “Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.”

It is in faithfulness that we find the path of the blameless. The faithful keep their eyes on God, the Prize. The faithful have their desire set on God and His ways, being excited to see what the Lord will do. The faithful lay their treasure in Heaven. The faithful have eyes filled with God’s Light. The faithful trust God and follow His directives. The faithful protect God’s image at all cost. The faithful know their true enemy is their own fleshly , darkened eyes, set against God, His will, and His way.

“I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’”

How many of us have our senses so trained on God and godliness, that we can recognize temptations to rob God’s glory? Anything that is set to steal us away from the path of God’s desire for us, is set to rob and pilfer the glory of our God. That flesh eye, filled with darkness, is what opened Eve to temptation, leading to the fall of humankind. We don’t want to be on the wrong side of that line between Light and dark.

Father, this heart of Abram is also the heart of our Christ and King. Grant us eyes full of Light found in hearts set on Your glory, that we may stand with You and for You. In Jesus, amen.

Desires Fulfilled

Read this blessing of God to Abram, then consider the boast of Babel.

“The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”” (Genesis 12:1-3 NLT)

“Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”” (Genesis 11:4 NLT)

Do you see the similarities? The people of Babel wanted to settle down into a place of their own. They wanted to be a great nation of great renown. Then here comes Abram, following hard after God, and what does God promise to him? A territory of his own in which to settle down and grow into a great nation, with a name of great renown.

It begs the question: did God just pick something out of the blue to gift to Abram, or was this the deep desire of Abram’s heart? It was an obvious desire for the people of Babel. Was their desire wrong? What’s the difference between them and Abram? What do the answers to these questions say to us concerning our desires?

I believe God plant’s the seeds of His desire in all off us. The problem is what our minds and hearts do with those seeds. For example, God “wishes none to perish, but all to come to repentance.” The seed of desire for eternity is in most all of us. A desire for God resides there. Problem is in what feeds, nourishes, and waters that desire. Are we delving into Truth and searching for the Real with understanding that their is a Mind, a Power, greater than self to find and humbly tap into? Or do we see self or some other pathway as the solution?

God wanted the earth populated. He wanted all to find their place in the scheme of God’s plan. So He planted desires toward that end into the heart of humankind. I believe Babel was the result of God given desires being twisted by self-centered minds, aided by enemy potencies. They were working out of the wisdom of the flesh, the world, and the demonic. And fleshly weariness in the journey may well have been a factor. Seeing the area and liking what they saw, failing to seek God’s opinion and provision, they were willing to stop there rather than find the greater plan of God.

In Abram, on the other hand, we see the following:

“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.” (Psalms 37:3-6 NASB)

I believe this call on Abram’s life and the desires in him began with his father, Terah. The journey to Canaan began in the heart and at the leading of Terah, indications being that he was, at the first, following God.

However, along the way, Terah’s son, Haran, died. When they reached the city named Haran, Terah settled there. One, well known Bible teacher, (I’m thinking it was Beth Moore, but don’t quote me on that because my brain is unsure), but that Bible teacher made the observation that Terah got stuck in Haran out of his grief over the passing of his son, Haran, and he could not make himself go on, so God passed the baton to Abram. I believe that is true.

The difference between the people of Babel and Abram is their seeking after God. Abram fed off of his desire to follow God over all other desires. His willingness to please God earned him the reward of a promise for his heart’s desire to be realized. All that the people of Babel wanted, Abram wanted to, and his heart toward God as first place made the difference.

God places desires in our hearts: desires for good, for future, and for hope. Seeking Him, chasing hard after Him, trusting His lead is key to seeing our desires fulfilled.

A blogger, using Proverbs 16:3, advises that once we commit to follow God, then, and only then, does God order our thoughts to direct our path to His desires being fulfilled in us (David Fischer). What’s the desires of Your heart, Beloved? A friend of mine often said it this way, “I know the desire. I’m seeking God to know what the journey to it’s fulfillment looks like” (Missionary Steve Cook). God will establish our thoughts to understand the ways and means as we first commit ourselves to Him and seek Him for it.

“Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.” (Proverbs 16:3 NKJV)

Finding Favor

I love the story of Noah. He was good at everything I aspire to.

When everyone else catered to thoughts snared by mortal flesh, he held to thoughts of God and His ways. While everyone else catered to the ways of the world and fitting in with friends, Noah loved God and ran hard after Him.

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, being numbered by Him as “a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time”. And “he walked in close fellowship with God.” (Genesis 6:9 NLT)

Noah was so close to God that God not only let him in on His plans to destroy the evil, but entrusted to him the job of saving the good and preserving life. Noah’s relationship with God pictures everything I want my relationship with Him to portray. The last verse of Genesis, chapter 6, gives the clue needed for achieving this life goal:

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22 NLT)

We’re not told whether Noah questioned God. What we are told is that Noah obeyed. He TRUSTED God and followed His every dictate out of that trust. This fellowship with God is possible for you and me, too. God has provided for us to possess this relationship.

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

God gives us His Spirit so, through Him, we may fellowship with God. This Spirit empowers us to live lives that cooperate with God in accomplishing His will, His way. Our Spirit filled and led love work with God to convict the world of sin that separates from God, righteousness that unites with God, and the coming judgement that is already set against this world of sin. It is this knowledge imparted to us that led us to choose The Christ and receive the seal of His Spirit. And how does He do that?

Through the Spirits work in us, we learn of God, His will and His ways. And by that Spirit power, we choose obedience. We see it in this same work of the Spirit: granting understanding of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Once we understand our sin nature and God’s provision of righteousness in Christ, receiving that gift to escape the power of the judgment of sins death, the Spirit works in us for change and transformation. As we grow in fellowship with the Father in the power of His Spirit, the Spirit empowers us to look through God’s eyes at every choice that comes. He empowers us to discern the path of sin, evil, death, and the path of righteousness, goodness, Life. He imparts good judgment to us so we may choose the path of obedience to God. Our lives become a testimony to those watching this change in us, making us partners with God in saving some.

Beloved, who is your hero of faith. Like me, you may have many. Look at their lives and realize that God makes a way for us to follow their example. By grace, in the power of God’s Spirit, we, too, find favor with God in following hard after Jesus, empowered by the Helper Spirit of God.

The Right Helpmeet

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”” (Genesis 2:18 NLT)

I can’t recall what had me pondering this well known verse several weeks back, but it was probably some little annoyance that had me taking a thought captive: you know those proverbial socks. This is usually the verse I ponder in those moments as I thank Father for my precious man. On this occasion, however, a question arose in my pondering heart.

“What original word is used for ‘man’ here? Is it a word meaning ‘the male of the species,’ or is it like most occurrences where the word used means mankind, human, or humankind?”

Last night, as I again found myself pulling this sword of praise out in that proverbial battle, I remembered the question and looked it up.

The Word for man in this verse is the word “adam” (little a), meaning Man (cap M), mankind, human, humankind. It can also be translated “any, anyone”. God is saying that it is not good for any of us humans to be alone. We need each other. We need not only companionship, but a helpmeet – helper for Life.

For one, it is obvious that the propagation of the species requires a male and a female. God’s design is for each male to find the female that best suits him and him her. They are intended to commit themselves solely to one another in holy matrimony, a picture of God’s unbreakable commitment to us, and together, to make a family.

A woman cannot have a baby without a man. Not even today, with artificial insemination, can it be done without some male, somewhere, donating his part in that process. A man not only needs the eggs of a female, but a womb. A “he” cannot make a baby without a “her”. We need each other.

Then there is the need of each other in living life. In my experience with my man, we so perfectly fit each other. He is good at needful things in life that I either can’t do or have no inclination towards. And he frequently tells people that he does not want my job as homemaker and mom, and how much he appreciates all I do. Now, he is very good to help me with things when I need it, or just to be nice and get me on the sofa with him quicker. But he is very thankful for the many things I do that he has no desire for doing. And I have him as my most frequently lifted source of gratitude in my thankfulness for God’s provision. We need each other.

But there’s more to this story.

“So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:21-25 NASB)

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” This clicks into place better with the understanding that we each, husband and wife, are helpmate to the other.

Children look to their parents through their growing up years to help them with their needs. They are used to running to mommy and daddy when they need something. When we marry, that reliance is meant by God to transfer to our mate. We are no longer to depend on our parents, but on each other.

A wife who runs to daddy instead of her husband for every little thing she needs breeds jealousy in her husband, belittles him as a man, and hinders his growth as a husband. A husband who belittles the wife, berating her for failing to be and do like mommy, breeds jealousy in his wife, belittles her as a woman, and hinders her growth as a wife. Such habits breed discord and hinder the unification this passage reveals as God’s will for us.

When we marry, it is intended that we each bring the best of our family forming resources and experiences to make our own family life. Done well, we make a home for ourselves and our children that is very possibly better and stronger, not necessarily in comparison to our childhood homes, but in recognition of our individual tendencies and preferences. We mold our home life to fit “us”.

As we work together, rely on each other, learn each other’s strengths, and incorporate the best of our childhood family rituals and practices, we build our own family and make a home. It most likely will not look exactly the same as our childhood family because of the differences our individuality brings to the table, but as we seek God and become one together with Him as our glue, it will be a home that is perfect for us.

“… FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33 NASB)

Dangerous Assumptions

Read Genesis 3

Reading the account of the fall of mankind, my attention settles on the wording used in the discourse between Eve and the serpent-possessed. The serpent TRULY informs Eve that eating the fruit of the tree banned by God would give her “knowledge of good and evil.” To that, we are told that Eve sees “that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the WISDOM it would give her. …” (Genesis 3:6 NLT)

Note the false assumption. Satan knows how to use truth to lead us to false assumptions.

Knowledge is facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and GOOD JUDGMENT; the quality of being wise; THE SOUNDNESS OF AN ACTION OR DECISION WITH REGARD TO THE APPLICATION of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

We can have knowledge, but have no clue where sound judgement in its application is concerned. That comes with growth and maturity in the practice of righteousness, which is truly found in God.

Little did Eve know that, with time, those daily walks with God in the garden, would have produced in her great knowledge WITH wisdom that flowed from continuous and growing relationship with the Father of all creation, who is righteousness, truth, and wisdom.

Beware of making assumptions, Beloved. Be sure in this New Year to spend time in God’s garden, getting His opinion on the things we think we know.

Residing as Aliens

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” (1 Peter 1:1-2 NASB)

Peter addresses his audience as alien residents. These He addresses are physical aliens, scattered across foreign lands, away from their God-given homelands. But I believe he is also addressing them as Kingdom people, living as aliens in this world.

That being true, this letter is for us as well. We, too, are a peculiar people: being in the world, but not of it. We are strategically place in the earth, according to the foreknowledge of God, positioned for a work planned for each individual of us, prepared by Him before we were borne.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB)

We “are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood.”

The sprinkled blood both cleanses from sin and sets apart for special service, set apart and sanctified to God for His purposes: Chosen, for a sanctifying work of the Spirit. The Spirit of God in us is tasked with the work of sanctifying us to God, setting us apart to Him. This sanctification reveals itself as we grow in obedience in two ways: obedience that follows the dictates of Christ, who is The Word of God incarnate. An obedience that not only recognizes the authority of the Father behind the teachings of Jesus, but that recognizes Jesus as the example we are to follow in our acts of obedience. We obey best when we obey in the obedience OF Christ. Obedience done as Jesus would obey, in keeping with the image of God seen in Him, is our weapon of warfare.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NASB)

Learning to think as Christ thinks and take action in agreement with Him, chasing hard after God’s will and way, doing all as glorifies and honors the Father. This is the obedience of a sanctified life, proving the successful work of God’s Spirit in us, making us obvious aliens in this world, clearly defining us as Kingdom dwellers.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 NASB)

Year End Reminder

“But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NASB

The example of forgiveness given us by God is to forgive “for my own sake”, just as God did in Isaiah 43:25. In the midst of Israel’s sin, God chose to forgive for His own sake, and we are instructed to forgive as God forgives (Ephesians 4:32).

The main reason to forgive, expressed in this 2 Corinthians passage, is so that Satan cannot take advantage of the situation to do harm to the cause of Christ. Forgiveness “for my own sake” protects me from bitterness, anger, and a slew of other negative emotions that lead to my own sin against God, through lack of love, failure to trust God to tend to the offender, and other bad fruits born out of lack of forgiveness.

Our forgiveness does not free the offender from the consequences of their sin. It leaves those consequences to God, for Him to tend to, and frees us to go on with life, free of the influence those negative emotions can have on our bodies, minds, and souls. It frees us to live a life of peace that glorifies God and bears the fruit of righteousness.

Though forgiveness can aid in continuing relations with those we love, forgiveness does not mean we must maintain relationship with the offender. Bad company corrupts good morals, and wisdom let’s us know when we need to remove a person from our midst. Forgiveness simply lets go of the insult and let’s God tend to the offender.

What do you need to forgive today, surrendering it to God, so you can press forward in peace? Let’s not enter this New Year carrying burdensome, tattered, energy sapping baggage. Bow to God now, and lay it at His feet.

“‘Be still, cease striving, let be and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” Psalms 46:10-11, (multiple versions)

Love from the Heart

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart….” (1 Peter 1:22-25 NASB)

God’s Word to us instructs us to love each other from the heart, but what does that mean?

“Heart” in scripture most often refers to the core of our being: from all that makes us who we are as individuals. This core being is made up of our mind or thoughts, our will, and our emotions.

Loving from the heart of our mind means to possess right, true, and loving thoughts toward others.

In the love chapter, we are instructed that kindness is a love virtue. All actions begin in our thinking, toward God, ourselves, and others. Doing kindness begins with our thoughts toward each: God, self, and others. Patience, jealousy, bragging, arrogance, actions unbecoming to a Christ follower: all these and more in the outline of love actions are effected positively or negatively by our thoughts. So love begins with our minds, and requires our fervent practice of taking every thought captive in the obedience of Christ, following His example in the practice of love.

Love begins in our minds because true, Agape love, which is the “love” word used here, is a function of our wills. Will flows out of what we think and believe true, right, and good, which is dictated by who we are, our defining characteristics. As Christ followers, we are people of The Word, and we will seek wisdom from that Word in directing our wills.

God loves by choice, because He is Love, and He cannot deny Himself. His love is not led astray by wayward thought processes, nor does He willfully go against who He is. Everything He thinks, says, and does flows true to His character, being dictated by who He is, the main part of His nature being love. When He slew whole groups of people, it was not dictated by hate of those destroyed, but by love that desired to protect those adversely affected by some form of hate or rebellion in the ones slain.

Love is not self-centered, selfish, but God and others centered. It is considerate of those we love in all we choose. It does what most represents God in accomplishing His will out of love for Him. And it considers what is most beneficial and caring toward those within our sphere of responsibility. By choice of our will, we do all out of love, becoming love as God is love, and staying true to who we are in Christ: the image of God.

Though love is a choice of our wills as dictated by right and true thoughts within us, it is not devoid of emotion. Emotions are. Though we should not allow emotion to dictate, devoid of thought coupled with wisdom of will, emotions help our expression of thought or opinion when aided by right thoughts and wisdom bred will.

When my husband looks at me with love’s passion shining in his eyes, I see the depth and sincerity of his love for me. When a controlled outburst of anger rises up to get my attention, I recognize the need to take heed to the importance of the issue expressed by the one angered. Emotion aids expression when controlled by love and wisdom. But be forewarned about being dictated by unchecked emotion.

When emotions rise, it’s important to acknowledge the flare, weighing it on the scales of loving wisdom, and taking it captive to righteousness. Passion unchecked and without love’s focus can lead to adultery. Fear unchecked and without love’s focus is destructive to faith, able to drag us off in opposition to God and His ways. Fear breeds hate, as it is ill equipped to think righteously or choose what is best out of love for God, self, and others.

Note the order given as seen in throughout scripture: mind, will, emotions. Without right thinking, our wills will lead us astray. Devoid of will’s directive, emotions make us fickle.

Love seeks out right and true thoughts. Love takes action deliberately, with clarity of will, as righteousness and wisdom become clear. Love uses right thought and clarity of will to temper emotion as a vital communication and motivation tool. Thus, we knowingly, deliberately, and fervently love from the heart in likeness to our God, who IS love.

Scriptures referenced: 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Corinthians 10:1-6.

Gifts That Last

“I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you…!”” (Acts 3:6 NASB – http://bible.com/100/act.3.6.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.

Happy gift giving! Merry Christmas!

Finding Who We Are: Part 13

We Are the Children of God: Recipients of The Father’s Discipline

“… The Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. …” (Hebrews 12:5-15 AMPC)

Beloved, as people who are rebirthed into Christ, we are the blood born children of Holy God. He loves us completely and unconditionally. One proof of God being our Father who loves us is His discipline working righteousness in us.

Discipline gets a bad rap in our day. The ways of discipline are toned down, often calling actions common to discipline abusive. Spanking is taboo, yet God’s Word says that if we spare the rod (some define as a small switch for stinging the legs), we HATE our son (child). (Proverbs 13:24 NKJV)

The main reason that I believe “discipline” gets a bad rap is that many define discipline as harsh, linking it only with spankings, grounding, or other punishments given for wrong doings. But God’s discipline, though it does respond to wrong doing and may respond harshly, is always done out of love, and is much more than reactive.

The defining parameters of discipline is training in righteousness, that we may be holy as He is holy. The number one verse I run to when describing discipline, which speaks of the purpose and work of scripture, is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. This oft quoted verse uses words like teaching, reproof, correction, training, instruction, conviction. The goals of such discipline are to increase righteousness, to make adequate and fully equipped for good work; to train in discerning good and evil. So we don’t just get onto a child for doing wrong. We train them to understand why it is wrong and teach better ways and reasoning so they find value in righteousness. That is God’s purpose in all He allows to touch our lives.

God does not tempt us to evil, but as He trains us to know the difference between good and evil, He does grant opportunity to recognize and choose between them. The older I get, the more I realize that any choice between good or evil is actually a choice between God and not-God.

Scripture teaches to avoid bad company because desire to fit in with those we call friend, when they constantly lean toward evil, erodes at and corrupts our good morals. The Father practices what He preaches, another vital aspect of discipline, desiring us to follow suit. Our walking with corruption separates us from the Father. If we truly want a close relationship with our Father, we must run with Him and with those close to Him.

Training involves time. We cannot teach a child how to love on a puppy without hurting it and expect them to fully understand in that instant how to love and treat others. It takes time and practice with ever growing subject matter to bring us up in how to love and treat others. And those that learn fastest and easiest are those who have parents who are good role models. Consistency is a must.

Now, I know parents can be abusive, but instead of training parents how to discipline righteously, we are training them to coddle children, making for kids who are selfish, unable to truly care for others, making them targets for evil.

Beloved, as blood born children of God, because He loves us and desires us to be all He knows we can be, having a right estimation of ourselves, God disciplines us. This discipline aimed at helping us become all He knows we can be is the meaning of training a child according to his (or her) “individual bent” (Proverbs 22:6,AMPC). It means recognizing one, the type of discipline that works best in training the child without breaking their spirit. Secondly, it requires the parent to recognize their child’s strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents, and abilities, helping them grow and develop in line with who they are and can be.

When training a child to overcome their weaknesses, discipline helps them recognize resources that make them strong in weak areas. A child learns to hold on to things that stabilize them while growing strong walking legs. As we teach a child to walk by giving them our fingers to hold while we stabilize them, so we must help them learn to grab God’s hand and rely on His resources. The thing God wants us to learn and to pass on to our kids is this: where we help a child learn to walk, the goal being to eventually let go of us, God wants us to grow to know to never let go of Him. Our true weakness comes when we run in our own strength, forgetting that we still will do best by holding His hand. We are at our best when willingly surrendered to His care.

Beloved, we are the most BLESSed kids around, because our God loves us enough to care what we do and who we become. Because God loves us, He is always ready to forgive failure and, taking us by the hand, He shows us the still more excellent way of love, righteousness, peace, and joy, breeding heavens glory into all we are, say, feel, believe, and do, so we are the best “me” He created us to possess.

“My son, keep your father’s God-given commandment and forsake not the law of God that your mother taught you. Bind them continually upon your heart and tie them about your neck. When you go, the words of your parents’ God shall lead you; when you sleep, they shall keep you; and when you waken, they shall talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the whole teaching of the law is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:20-23 AMPC)

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMPC; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 5:14, 12:11; 2 Peter 2:14, NASB; Proverbs 22:6 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-A-1b

We are The Temple: Outer Court Part 1-b Saved, Or Not

As we look at our being God’s Temple and Priest, we see our first duty is to take those who enter our outer court area to the cross of Calvary, where sin is defeated and sinner is redeemed. That leads me to answer questions recently raised in a conversation with some who believe we can lose our salvation. It leads me to answer the questions, “Who are truly saved? And can that salvation be lost?”

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. There are many passages that appear to say salvation can be lost; and there are many that say, “No way!” I give my opinion, and I encourage you to be like the men of Berea and search it out for yourself.

The following passage is one that many use to prove salvation can be lost to us:

“… in the case of those who HAVE ONCE BEEN ENLIGHTENED and have TASTED of the heavenly gift and have BEEN MADE PARTAKERS of the Holy Spirit, and have TASTED THE GOOD WORD OF GOD AND THE POWERS OF THE AGE TO COME, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame..” (Hebrews 6:1-8 NASB)

There are three words we must understand to find the message here: enlightened, tasted (X2), and partakers.

Enlightened – having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook; spiritually aware; handed light; introduced to truth; made aware; made or enabled to see.

Enlightened says they heard and saw, and they may have even believed, but it does not say that they chose to receive and profess it as their reality. It did not become their who.

Tasted – to perceive or experience the flavor of; to eat so as to experience.

To me this speaks of curiosity: to get a feel for the flavor, try it out, see if it is desirable. They may have tried it out, but this seems to indicate that they did not take to it so as to make it their source of nourishment and life. They again did not choose it as their own.

Partakers (partake) – To take or have a part or share; participate; sharers; partners; companions.

All of these speak to me of a trial period, a participation and companionship that does not prove wholehearted commitment. They may have been sincere in desire to be part of the group, but their motive, intent, and purpose was not true – set on the same mark.

“…For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God…”

This part of our passage speaks of those who are committed and true. They bear vegetation that is useful to God because they received the Seed and the care that makes for growth. They are proven true of faith, believers with committed purpose, fruit bearing trees.

“…but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”

These are people who were sown with Seed from God, but they held to the seed of this world and produced the crop that proved alliance with the ungodly. This says they are “close to being cursed.” That says to me that the true Seed was still there, though dormant. These can still choose to receive that Seed and the nourishment needed to produce proof of a true salvation. I see this in people who are in love with this world and refuse to give it up. If they continue to refuse the true Seed, they will be burned with the rest of the thorns and thistles.

I believe the truth we must focus on in this debate on the loss of salvation requires a true measuring stick in determining who is saved. For that, we look at The Seed (Read Mark 4:2-9 NASB and 4:13-23 NASB)

“”Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow…”

The Seed is the Word of God, the Truth, which technically is wrapped up and made evident in Jesus. The sower of the Word is God. He uses us most of the time, but He can get the Word to people without our help.

“…as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up….”

The birds are Satan. These were given a taste of God’s Word, but they have no chance to decide they want to have it as their eternal nourishment as the enemy of God robs it away from their understanding.

“…Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. …”

These tasted, but their hearts were infertile and unable to do anything to sustain the seed. They had no depth of understanding, and no real desire for the commitment required. They may hear the Good News with joy, but they don’t want to be nourished so as to live by it. So the seed dies and they walk away.

“…Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. …”

These, too, may receive the Word with joy, and the Seed May even be able to put down some roots, but, as Jesus explains it, “the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” These May even stay with us, but they won’t truly be one with us, because their roots are shallow and their commitment is divided. They are a fruitless tree.

“…Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” …”

Here, The Seed finds good soil and will grow to produce much Fruit. They may have times of struggle, but it only leads to more growth. They may stumble, they may even be a prodigal for a time, but they always return home, and they never stop producing fruit.

This verse says some will produce 30 fold; some 60; and some 100. From my personal experience, as well as seeing and hearing the experience of others, we will most likely go through seasons of 30, then a hundred, then 60, and so on: but the fruit of a true and growing relationship with the Sower is always there. God’s desire is that we set ourselves to grow 100%, trusting Him for even the smallest of produce.

For this reason, speaking of knowing the difference between those who are true and those who are false, Jesus said, “So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-23 NASB).

If we are bearing fruit in keeping with righteousness, He who lives in us, keeps us and makes us stand as belonging to Him. No one and nothing can take us from His hand.

“…And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.””

Thus you have the reason I believe that one who is true in God cannot lose their salvation. Only the true are truly saved.

Realize, too, Beloved, that God made us to be people who bear fruit with its Seed in it. When we bear forth and drop fruit, the Seeds are planted in the soil sown.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18-20 NASB)

Beloved, we are not called of God to go and sow seeds to save souls. Too often I see people who live by the philosophy that we are in the business of saving souls, walk away and leave the Seed untended. We are not called to save souls – only God can do that. We are called to “MAKE DISCIPLES!”

Disciples are people taught to feed on the Word and grow strong in following that Word so as to bear fruit in keeping with the righteousness found there. An Evangelist, called to spread the gospel, must be careful to work with groups they know will be faithful to water and fertilize that Seed sown until disciples sprout forth. Never leave your Seed untended. Remember the wisdom of Paul who said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NASB)

Romans 8:37-39 NASB

Romans 14:4 NASB

A Lesson From Father’s Gymnasium

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalms 27:14 NASB)

Good morning, Beloved of God. I don’t know about you, but I needed this Word this morning. As I read it today, Father tells my weary heart, “Yes, wait on Me, but do so in strength with courage. Practice active waiting that carries on with life while watching for Me.”

This Word is not new instruction to me. This has been His Word to me from the beginning of our current journey. But tiredness often brings us to rest stops; and weariness requires directional reminders.

You see, God is stretching my perseverance muscles as never before.

In days past, Father has used hard situations and waiting moments to increase faith, hope, trust, and perseverance in me. Usually, He will cause my waiting to take me beyond the limits of strength to carry on, then relieve the tension and give rest until the next perseverance challenge. Just like working our muscles, we increase the amount of weight we lift a little at a time. As the weight becomes easier to lift, we add more weight.

Opportunities to persevere puts us in God’s gym, where faith and hope and trust are increased, strengthened, and stretched, and our character is built up and made strong.

I know you have been to His gym many times as well. No child of God can get out of that membership. It is a required course, for “… we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5 NASB)

The problem with this season my husband and I are walking through in his health challenge is that there are two potential outcomes, and it is not clear yet which way it will go. Will God allow him to continue life here with me, or will He take him to life in His Presence in glory? Will his healing be here, or there? There is a fork in the proverbial road we are standing at, hand in hand. Will we carry on together, or let go and separate?

As I type that, I realize where my thinking is off.

I am seeing us standing at the fork, the bifurcation acting as a roadblock before me. I must realize we aren’t truly there yet. My husband is doing well, carrying on with life. He is not in his death bed yet. That place of separation is somewhere down the path, not yet in sight.

I’m jumping ahead on the path.

What is it Jesus said? “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 NASB)

God is telling me to own THIS DAY, this moment, this breath He gives me to use for His glory. Looking ahead to try to face something I can’t truly even see yet is only robbing me of strength for my now reality.

Yes! I needed this Word today, Beloved. How about you?

“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. …“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Hebrews 10:24 NASB; Psalms 27:14 NASB)

The Narrow Focus

Listening to a Biblical meditation, the speaker directs to visualize looking as through the big end of a telescope, which makes the view through the small end very narrow in focus. Put that focus on God, refusing to move from gazing at Him. See a temptation come across your field of view, but keep focus on God; refusing to follow the object of temptation. Note that the temptation moves rapidly out of view.

That temptation God allows to float between us is a test meant by Him to prove and strengthen our resolve to keep the focus of our desire on Him. Temptation’s ability to grip and sway us is weakened by our straight and narrow focus on One true and righteous passion: God alone.

Practice keeping a restfully assured focus on Him today, Beloved. When you catch your focus drifting, turn quickly back to your narrow ended telescope, and let that distraction move out of site. Victory over temptation to sin is assured when we maintain that straight and narrow love for God.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. …” (Hebrews 12:1-4 NASB)

Temptation’s Lure: My Passion

A Comprehensive Look at James 1:14 (In context)

“Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” NASB

Temptation: we all face it at one time or another. It is even said of Jesus that He, too was tempted, even as we are, yet without sin (1). Truly, temptation is opportunity to choose whether we will do evil or do good. Jesus’s first, most vital desire in all things, at all times, was God.

Jesus was God incarnate, yes. Jesus was filled and empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, yes. But He was still a man who contended with human flesh. The thing about the desires Jesus surrendered Himself to, is His fear of, trust in, and desire to please God that kept Him on the straight and narrow path of always choosing good over evil, so as to always please His Father and bring Him glory. He was dictated by lusts, desires, passions set on God, His will, and His way, ONLY. He did not give leeway to His flesh.

As I look at this verse in several translations, I find understanding that can help us follow in likeness to the example of Christ.

“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” NLT

Lusts are focused on the attainment of all our hearts desire. If we are not watchful to keep our desires in line with God, His will and His way, those desires can not only be used to entice us to sin; those desires can grab us and drag us away from the paths of God’s choosing.

Have you ever committed to stay away from a desire, like sweets, only to find yourself running straight to it. I have! In that instant, not only do I find myself eating a sweet, I often fall into gorging myself on them. My lust, desire, passion, literally drags me away from my commitment.

The passion of the Christ was God: first, foremost, and always. That passion protected Him from being dragged elsewhere. Clue?

“Every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).” AMPC

Have you ever found yourself blaming the devil, the temptress, or anyone but self, because they sat the temptation in front of you? I have. It is hard to take the blame for our failures. But truth is, it is our own desires, passions, lusts, that cause our fall.

We alone are to blame when temptation comes and we fall away. We fail to keep our desires in line with godliness, and make ourselves a target. Not only do we make self a target, but we fail to have the right arsenal against the attack of our flesh by having evil passions under our belt. The only passion that can save us from ourselves is desire for God alone. Only then will we do the things that please Him, like studying His Word, so we have knowledge of truth under our belt.

“Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” NIV

It’s “MY”evil desire to blame. Each person is responsible for their own demise. The phenomenon of the individual falling into the group mentality of a chaotic mob is not the mobs fault. There is some desire in that individual that is responsible for their own fall from righteousness. They wanted something that joining the mob could feed them, so they chose the evil of the mob over the good of walking the other way alone.

“Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure them away into darkness.” TPT

When we give self over to the lusts of our flesh, failing to give self to godly pursuits, we leave the Light and walk off into the darkness. Our greatest aid against fleshly desires, lusts, passions, is the transforming of our minds that change the fleshly to the godly (God-centered) pursuits. The more we want Him, the more we want to please Him, the more we desire all He has for us and gives to us, the better off we will be and the closer to His Light we will stay.

“People are tempted when they are drawn away and trapped by their own evil desires.” GNB

We set our own trap, providing the cheese to lure us, when we fail to align our desires with God’s. The tempter knows what to put in his trap, because we give it to him.

One last fact I found comes from the Orthodox Jewish Bible, which introduces us to the “Yetzer Hara”:

“But each one is tempted by his own ta’avah (lust, yetzer hara), being dragged off by it and being allured.” OJB

“In Judaism, yetzer hara (Hebrew: יֵצֶר הַרַע‎) refers to the congenital inclination to do evil, by violating the will of God. … The yetzer hara is not a demonic force, but rather man’s misuse of things the physical body needs to survive.” (From Wikipedia – Also see Self Seduction by Jewish author Dr. Alan Morinis)

“Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” James 1:13-15 MSG

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who LOVE HIM. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. DO NOT BE DECEIVED, my beloved brethren.” James 1:12-16 NASB

1 – Hebrews 4:15

Incidental Temptation

I wrote the following one year ago, on the 12th of 2017. It’s funny, because as I read in Hebrews this morning, thought of writing about the temptation Christ faced every day of His life was brought to heart. Then here it is, in my memories, ready to post.

It’s long, but hopefully it is well written enough to help us know that, if our Savior faced temptation, we will too. As you read it, I pray you realize that He who successfully faced every assault the tempter threw, can surely empower our victory, too.

Incidental Temptation: Opportunity to Choose Good or Bad

Written 10/12/17 by Darlene Davis

Good day to you. I woke up feeling so great! Wow! I didn’t have any pain all night that I know of, then I got out of bed and realized that I am not there yet. Ugh.

It’s amazing how sapped of energy I felt with so little movement. For those who did not read my post yesterday, I went to the doctor with some weird symptoms and chest pain. They suspect Angina and are setting up a stress test. And I just got going good with Grow Young Fitness!

The PA noticed my weight loss as she evaluated my chest pain and, once she knew it was on purpose, she was pleased. She said that I may exercise as long as I am not hurting. The ache is still there, so I will have to take it slow today.

Isn’t that the way life too often is? We get our feet under us in doing something we need or long to do, and something happens to hinder us or test our resolve.

All this attack against my health is upsetting, yes, but it got me thinking about temptation and things God is teaching me. Temptation is much more than a plate of cookies on a table or a bottle of wine in the hand of the addicted. Everything in this life comes with temptation. With the chest pain comes the temptation to lay down and act sick even when I feel better, tempting me to give in to fear of causing more pain. It tempts me to give myself back to my habit of stress eating and give up on getting this excess weight off, giving up on the very thing this health issue needs me to do. Worse yet, it tempts me to question my God and His love and care for me.

All of that is just the tip of the iceberg of tempting things that go on underneath the surface of such times of challenge. Such times can have hidden beneath it the temptation to give up on life and lay down to die: the temptation to despair. They often tempt us to face the challenge in our own strength: the temptation to pride and self-will. Most often such situations tempt us to forget who God is, how much He loves us, and His faithfulness to fulfill His good will in us: temptation to rebel against the reality of God, and His right over me as Lord of all.

I could go on, but the point is all things present a type of temptation. Take Jesus as an example – He’s a good one to follow.

Starting out His ministry, He faced the temptation to forgo baptism in pride that He had no sin to confess or be forgiven of, as John proclaimed, “You should be baptizing me.” But He knew it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness, thus keeping Him from sin, so He pressed John to baptize Him.

Jesus resisted temptation of pride when the crowds wanted to crown Him before His time. He resisted temptation to the fear of the mobs who wanted to throw Him off a cliff, choosing instead to trust God that it was not yet His time and to press past the mob, going on to finish His work.

Jesus resisted worry and fretting so He could rest Himself in the bow of the boat. He resisted the temptation to take glory to Himself instead of glorifying the Father. On and on we could go throughout His days, revealing the temptation each account brought before Him. But He stood in the face of it all to fulfill the work He was here for, glorifying God, and making Himself a worthy Lamb for the ultimate sin sacrifice.

As you and I look at the things we face in this day, I pray we will be faithful to follow the example of Christ who only allowed Himself to give Himself to the temptation to do right and good, fulfilling the work He saw the Father doing, and bringing glory to His name. He only gave Himself to that which required Him to remember the character, nature, authority, power, and purpose of God, and join Him in it. Even when threatened with despair, as He prayed, “Take this cup,” His deeper heart cry was, “Yet not My will, but Thy will be done.”

Surrendering to God’s will, He refused the temptation to self-preservation, self-protection, and self-gratification. He faithfully refused the temptation to call the armies of God to deliver Him from His appointed path, though they were charged to His care and would have come had He called. He also refused the short-lived fame of a false crown in this life, offered by the multitudes ready to follow Him as King into battle to accomplish deliverance as they understood it; He withstood the temporal temptation in order to do the greater work of an Eternal King, preparing an eternal Kingdom.

Jesus stood for Righteousness in every temptation, following instead the temptation to do good, giving Himself to God’s will for the greater good and the greater reward. God does not tempt to evil, but He does stand in opposition to it, holding out to us the opportune temptation to walk His way.

That is the path we face with everything that comes our way. Follow the temptation to evil, rebelling against God’s will in order to do things “my” way.” Or choose the temptation to stay the course as a follower of Christ in fulfilling God’s good purpose, trusting Him despite the challenge, and doing so for Righteousness’ sake.

Look at all your going through today, beloved. What’s the temptation? Like Jesus, choose that which fulfills righteousness.

Whose Prisoner We Are

“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus…” (Philemon 1)

The thing that jumps out to me as I read Philemon is this understanding that Paul, captive in a Roman prison for the cause of Christ, considered himself a prisoner OF CHRIST, not of Rome. He knew why he was in prison, because God warned him and gave him clear understanding of the purpose for this season. He knew that he would not find release until the purpose of God was fulfilled. He also knew that he was there at his own choice in following God’s will, not at Roman or Jewish design.

He had a chance to choose to leave, twice – or at least three times, actually, as God seemed to give him warning with opportunity to choose to turn away from Jerusalem more than once, and as Roman authorized judges saw he was innocent and planned to release him. But he chose to walk the path God told him of, he called for the judgment of Caesar. THE POWER OF THE ENEMY TRYING TO DESTROY THE WORK OF GOD THROUGH PAUL WAS MADE IMPOTENT BY PAUL’S SURRENDER TO GOD’S WILL FOR HIS LIFE JOURNEY. He trusted that it was God, Himself, dictating His prison time.

Beloved, what situation are you in where you feel trapped, imprisoned, helpless? What situation are you walking into, knowing God’s call and refusing the naysayer? Could it be that surrendered trust in God, seeing self as the prisoner of Jesus alone, might well be the key to defeating the work of Satan?

If we truly believe that God is Sovereign in all, we have to know that whatever imprisons us is allowed by Him for a purpose of His own will and way. He is Whose prisoner we are: as we, who belong to Him, live this life with assurance that He cares for us affectionately and watchfully (1 Peter 5:7 AMPC).

God has purpose for all He does or allows. Ours is to trust and to seek Him in it, so as to cooperate and partner with Him in fulfilling that purpose. Just a slight change in view point, a clearer understanding of God’s power at work though our confined state, can well be the shift we need to come out victorious in Christ, bearing a testimony beyond comprehension.

“… I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. …” (Philemon 1:1-25 NASB (vs. 6))

Instruction in Godliness

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!

Titus 1:5-16 NASB

You Follow Me!

“Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”” (John 21:22 NASB)

Following the Lord as He dictates through the work of His Spirit within: that is a goal long practiced, and I am so grateful when the Lord graciously confirms the work of my hands. Especially so when I wonder if I’m doing things correctly or efficiently. Efficiency was my concern on this day.

Feeling so led, I Jerichoed around my town after dropping hubby off to work, one of my frequent ministries in the Lord, but on this morning I couldn’t keep my focus in prayer. Frustrated at one point, telling the Lord my focus issue – like He couldn’t tell 😂 – I prayed, “Lord, I don’t even know why I’m doing this!” Very clearly to my heart came “Obedience.”

That’s all I needed, to know that I was following the dictates of the Spirit to accomplish God’s will. I realized in that instant that, though my focus might be off, the work of God’s Spirit was spot on. Thus assured that He was doing something mighty even in the midst of my struggle, I continued on, knowing that whatever He was doing, HE was doing it.

What freedom of Spirit! To trust the Lord and simply obey. I believe that was one point Jesus was making with Peter. We may not fully comprehend or understand what God is doing in His calling and equipping us, but He is never confused or unfocused. He always knows what He is doing. All He needs from us is willing obedience and faith that trusts Him to be bigger than life in and through us.

Trust in the Lord, Beloved, and have a Glory day.

A Standard Set

“…When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19 NKJV)

I can understand the heart of a woman’s pain when watching a man she knows as “rapist” from her earlier days, seeing him very likely to be raised up to a position of authority in our highest court system. It must be excruciating to her. And more excruciating is the issue of not being able to prove her accusations to those same courts. But proof is necessary, and righteously so. Thus I feel her pain and I comprehend the struggle.

At the same time, I can comprehend the pain of a man who may not believe he is guilty in the way accused; or who has so greatly changed since then so as to no longer be that person. Fortunately, for him, we live in a society of law that lays the burden of proof on the shoulders of the accuser, counting the accused innocent until proven guilty. And I, for one, am very grateful for our system of law. It is, by the way, biblical, the scriptures making it clear that there must be at least two or three witnesses to a crime.

I am writing today, not to tell any woman they shouldn’t feel or possess their pain, nor to tell them they should not bring their accusation when their hurt was from so many years past. God knows your pain and He can lead you to have strength to stand up to the accused. But I am writing to share how God has so graciously freed me from my pain; the frequency of these cases constantly drawing me into a grateful heart toward my God who set me free indeed.

My experience is different from many of the women coming forward today against men; like that of Bill Cosby. I was not, to my knowledge, drugged. In cases where a man drugs a woman to have his way with her, that is RAPE in one of the ugliest forms. Though I was not maliciously drugged, I was drunk out of my skull, and some of my drunkenness was helped by the boy who raped me.

I was somewhere between mid-16 to mid-17 years old. Though I professed Christ as Savior at the age of 10, I was not raised up to know how to follow Him as Lord, nor to know the importance and freedom-producing purpose of doing so. On that fateful night in my life, I was terribly upset about something I do not even recall the details of now. Instead of turning to Christ for His help in the pain, I had opportunity to turn to liquor. And turn I did.

I chugged a huge gulp of wine, climbed on the back of my car in our secluded party spot, one of my gal-friends beside me, and was immediately surrounded by five or six boys. Someone nearby handed me some type of another liquor; not sure who as I was already feeling the effects of the wine. I took a drink and passed it to the next person.

Somewhere along the way, one of the boys got the others to hand the bottle to me every other turn. I was so drunk, that the details given to you now, to this point in my experience, are all I remember until numerous hours later when I began to sober up. I was passed out drunk in the back seat of my car most of the night, according to friends.

The next day my girlfriends told me what all happened that night. It included me winding up in the back seat with that boy who, in my memory, started the liquor coming my way every other time; which some might say was me being maliciously drugged. That’s a heart issue judgment best left with God.

I don’t know if anyone tried to stop me from getting in the backseat with him. I’m sure if they did, I didn’t cooperate. But I do know that no one fought that boy away from me. Thus, in the sense that I was incapacitated in my ability to make a knowing and wise decision, I was raped that night, the only memory of which that I have is the flash of his face over me.

Despite my lack of memory of the incident, I have never felt that I had no role in what happened. In the sense of culpability, I have always considered myself most to credit for the assault. You see, I knew the results of drunkenness from watching my alcoholic Mom. I knew better than to drink like that. If I didn’t understand its dangers before that night, I certainly did after, and never again drank that way.

I believe God led me to do four things immediately following that night that absolutely freed me from the pain of the experience. That incident has never stunted or harmed my ability to move on in life as a result of these actions.

  • First, I took responsibility for my role in the travesty, owning it, and I repented before my Lord for my actions that led to a drunken state that removed from me the ability to choose good over evil; and I repented the sexual sin that resulted because of my vulnerability in my drunken state, which I deliberately chose for myself. No one forced me to get drunk.
  • Second, I faced my rapist and, after apologizing to him for my part in allowing myself to get into such a state that I would do something with him I never would have done sober, I was able to leave his role in the rape with God for Him to handle. God empowered a forgiveness toward him for my own sake, so bitterness nor any other enemy to my mental health and well-being was able to bind me up. The incident had no talons with which to get hold on me.
  • Third, I both apologized to my friends for things I did that I do not remember doing, and I forgave them without their asking for it, for not fully recognizing my vulnerable state and fighting for me.
  • Fourth, I forgave myself for getting out of control like that and I learned from it.

Some would say that I should have turned the boy in, but truly, it did not occur to me that the incident was RAPE until years later, when we started seeing cases like this bombard our TV screens. In my day the rule was that drunken is as drunken does. I just thought of it as a night of stupidity and loss.

I don’t recall the name of that boy, not that I would share it here if I did. And I barely remember what he looked like then. I would not recognize that boy, now a man, today, unless he came up to me and told me who he was. Even if I did, I would not bring charges against him, not because I see myself as better than women who do bring a charge against a rapist long past, nor because I would be afraid to, but because, for me, it is done, settled, finished. God has it. He is The Judge and He will tend to it.

The only way I would ever even think about bearing witness to his actions in a court of law is as a witness in a case where more current rape victims bring charges against him: to help them make a stronger case, showing a long held lifestyle of raping women to this day. My hope is that God worked in his life and that he never again participated in such horrific acts against women. Until I see otherwise, he has nothing to fear from me.

Beloved, God raises up a standard over His children in our battle against evil, an evil powered by the demonic. For me, it was a standard of owning and repenting my role in the evil done. It was forgiving those who even inadvertently participated in the evil, including myself. And it is (and was) understanding of God’s grace and mercy that equips me to let the past go, and move on to the joy of a life worth living.

The Standard we have over us in Christ is Jesus Himself, His blood that sets us free from sin’s death, whether our own sin or that of others done toward us. I thank God for His mercy poured out to me. And I pray the freeing power of Mercy’s grace toward those hurt so badly by the evil sin of rape.

© Darlene Ingram Davis: 09-28-18

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.