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Parent with Discipline and Instruction

Today’s Bible Gateway scripture grabbed me with a different-than-usual understanding.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” Ephesians 6:4, NLT.

Reading that well-known verse, just as I started to delete it, a different instruction from it grabbed my heart and stopped my hand as pondering began.

Usually this verse says to me the truths commonly taught by others: that the father, or parent, is to train the child in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord; to teach them the word and ways of God. This is true, but today it grabs me with understanding that Paul is teaching the way of disciplining the child so-as-to not provoke anger. He is telling the parent to develop within themselves the disciplines of God, receiving His instruction on how to be a parent to their particular child, so that child can grow strong in a teachable spirit.

This scripture specifically singles out Fathers, but we should receive it as good instruction for both parents. Usually in a family, there is a main caregiver and disciplinarian; and that is not always the dad. It is often the mom. Moreover, in today’s society, single parenting is too common. Therefore, I write this with parents in mind, not just the dad.

The first instruction given a parent in this passage is to train up the child in ways that do not breed anger in them. Anger produces bitterness and resentment that makes a child grow into a hard-hearted, unteachable adult. Such a heart attitude makes it difficult for a person to be open to God’s instruction and training in life. They often develop the traits found in their parent that produce the anger, and thus become a parent like their own, producing anger in the next generation. Resist the urge to be a hot-tempered parent.

“Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself” ~ Proverbs 22:24-25

A child cannot easily leave the company of a hot-tempered parent. They quickly learn to give themselves over to angry outbursts of their own, carrying on the tradition when they become parents who are harsh, hard, sharp and pressing. We can learn a lot as parents, following the example of Christ in Matthew 11:25-30:

“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne” ~ AMP.

As parents following the example of God in discipline and instruction, we yoke with our children, being an example to them, training them up in godliness to be the people God created them to be. We set an example that trains them to realize they have purpose and skill as people of His Kingdom, able to make this world community a better place for those around them.

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” ~ Proverbs 15:18.

Controlling one’s temper as a parent instructing the child is a vital discipline to develop, benefitting both the relationship of parent to child and setting an example that trains the children in the way and importance of controlling their own emotions. It is vital that a parent learn to take a time out when angered, giving themselves time to get their temper in check and decide on a godly course of action in training the child out of a place of wisdom, love and spiritual discernment.

Parent, it is never too late to apologize for being hot-tempered and to make the adjustments that calm the heart of dispute and set a better example, bearing the fruit of the Spirit into that relationship (Galatians 5:22-23). Though it may take time for the adult-child to believe, receive the apology as sincere, and realize the change in example, it will take hold and bring healing as you persevere in walking out your change of temperament.

A second parenting instruction comes to mind, found in the Amplified version of Proverbs 22:6:

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

This instructs in several important parenting skills to develop. One is to realize how each child best receives instruction. Some children are rigid and require a more firm hand; while others are easily bruised and require a gentler tactic. It is vital to learn the type of discipline the individual child responds to best. Whatever works best, all need discipline that is free of anger. Never discipline when angry. Send the child to the bed until a clear and cool head prevails in the discipline given.

Another instruction found in this wording of Proverbs 22:6, training according to the child’s “bent”, is to realize the gifts, talents, skills and abilities of each child and train them up in a way that helps them develop, becoming strong in the good things that make up who they are as people created by God for a purpose. It also means to recognize their individual temperament and help them know how to use the good qualities they have for benefit. They also need training in how to cope rightly with the more negative aspects of their personalities.

For some of us, our parents did not train us with our gifts and bent in mind, so we may have to seek God’s instruction for how to train ourselves up in these areas so we can better help our children develop their gift and personalities. God is the ultimate Father and He is always ready to help us grow strong as the people He planned us to be. His word teaches that His work of developing and perfecting and bringing us to full completion is a continual work that only ends when Jesus takes us home (Philippians 1:6). Realizing this for ourselves as we grow to be the parents God desires of us will help our patience with self in the process. It is also a vital truth to teach the child, helping them to cooperate with God and know how to work with Him in developing stronger skill and character throughout life.

A third instruction I think of concerning discipline and instruction to us as parents comes from the description of the Proverbs 31 wife:

“She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks. …She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat. Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying], ‘Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all’” ~ vs. 15, 26-29.

Training our children in the word of God is not the responsibility of the Sunday School teacher alone. They should be additive to the teaching the child receives at home. Realize that children learn more from actions than words, so make sure you practice the things taught them from God’s word, training by example as well as word.

This entire discourse in Proverbs 31:10-31 is that of a Mother setting a good example of how to be a godly wife – woman. The same is true for the husband, setting the example of a godly man. Our exemplary life is vital training for the child. Thus, we must know how to be godly people ourselves if we are to pass that quality on to our children.

Here the mother “assigns her maids their tasks.” Children need to learn how to function as vital participants in community life. They need to know how to keep their area of responsibility in good order. They need financial and economic training. Children learn how to be good citizens of the Kingdom – nation – community – by first learning how to be good family members as stewards of all the good gifts of God. We must not neglect to give our children a sense of responsibility as citizens in life.

Note also that this mother, in her parenting example to us, “opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law (teaching) of kindness [giving counsel and instruction].” Not only is the parent to give the child wise counsel and training in kindness, but she is to do so by practicing wisdom with kindness. A godly parent sets the good example, looking well to the ways of the home and family, not feasting through thought and actions on “the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity)”. Such a parent earns the reward of children who bear the testimony of having praiseworthy parents.

Parents, “do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Grow strong parenting skills, learning the discipline of character God instructs us to possess.

This article barely touches on the things we can learn from God’s instruction to us that will make us noteworthy parents that produce godly children who will make the world a better place as they grow to be good citizens, skilled as good stewards in community life. Insights of this article are good starting points for growth as parents to children, but God waits at the ready to help each of us in our areas of specific growth needs. He promises, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart’” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

No matter how old our kids grow to be, as long as we live there will be opportunity to yoke with them in their journey to becoming all God planned. Once we are one, though the nature of our role may change, we never stop being parents. Choose today to be a parent of noteworthy character, an example worth following, yoking with God in readiness to learn good parenting skills that allows you to yoke as partner-teacher on your child’s journey through life.

These Things Revealed

Pulling it together

John 16:1-15

These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them.

These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

Life is hard. Have you figured out that, too often, life is hard? When we seek to follow the Father and live the life He desires, there are a hundred different things that vie for our attention and seek to pull us from the path He designed us to walk. Therefore, Jesus spoke with purpose.

He spoke so that we may have peace in knowing Him, realizing His great love for us and growing to be His friend who walks with Him to accomplish His purpose. He spoke so we can possess the Kingdom purpose He has for us, bearing the fruit that works that purpose in the world around us, making this a better place to be and shining a light that draws others to join our journey on the straight and narrow path of God’s making.

Jesus spoke so that we may truly and fully believe, receiving all that He has for us.

Top of the list of His desire for us to possess is His indwelling Spirit, for He still has “many more things” to say to us today. Jesus still calls out and speaks to His Sheep today, and those who know His voice follow Him. They will not follow a stranger because they do not know the voice of the stranger. God gives His Spirit to every believer, and He speaks clearly, telling us of God and His purpose and plan, so that we have all we need to walk the straight and narrow path of His eternal purpose for each individual of us. (John 10)

In our focal passage, the work of the Spirit that Jesus tells us will come to help us is this: that we may understand sin, righteousness and judgment.

The Spirit instructs our heart to know sin, wrong paths, all that goes against the ways of God. In addition, Jesus tells us that sin reveals lack of believing-faith in God, His word, His ways, and His promises. His Spirit is here to help our understanding so that we may have faith to believe.

The Spirit instructs our heart to know righteousness, right paths, all that accomplishes the will, way and purpose of God.

This work of the Spirit fulfills the promise of Christ that He revealed when He instructed us through John 14:12, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”

When we learn the voice of God that comes to us in the power of the Spirit, we accomplish the purpose of God who created us for good works. We do so knowing that “nothing shall be impossible for us who believe, for all things are possible with God and I can do all things through Christ, my Lord.”

As we said, life is hard. It can be hard some days simply to get out of the bed. The works we do are the greater works because we are not God. We who believe are men and women of God, empowered by the Spirit, yes; and every good work we do and accomplish in that Spirit power is nothing short of a miracle. Every day that we overcome the flesh, the world, and the demonic is because we possess the Spirit that possesses us and works this miracle of God’s overcoming power in us. Wow. That is awesome to my heart and inspires me to realize the miracle worked when I hear His voice and simply follow Him.

This faith to trust the Spirit to lead us to the will, way, and purpose of God, thus doing His work, accomplishes the great things of God in our day to day living. Representing Him in all we do, fills up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions (Colossians 1:24). The work of Christ in the earth continues in us as we become His lights in the world, glorifying Him in all we do – great and small, as good stewards of all He supplies. The Spirit helps us to realize that all we have in this life, all we go through whether good or difficult, all things are ours to possess and use for His Kingdom purpose: nothing wasted.

Lastly, Jesus tells us of the promised work of the Spirit in us so that we can know judgment, consequences, and potential outcomes.

This understanding of judgment He gives to us leads to good judgment for living. He gives understanding of His judgment in the power of the Spirit in order for us to know that there are two kingdoms at work in the earth and our actions and choices accomplish the purpose of one or the other.

As believers in God through Christ, the godly Kingdom is the one we seek to represent as we follow the dictates of the Spirit to fulfill the good works God created us to accomplish in such a time as this (Ephesians 2:10; Esther 4:14). The ungodly kingdom is the one dictated by the evil spirit of Satan, and its desire is to destroy the work of God in the earth. Thus, it is vital that we learn wisdom ~ the ability to have functional understanding of sin, righteousness and judgment that helps us to make right decisions so that we fulfill Kingdom purpose in all we choose to do.

In verse 25 of John 16, Jesus adds, “These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father.”

We have the whole of scripture and the power of the Spirit so that we can understand the plain and simple truth of God and His eternal purpose. Jesus gives us the Spirit of God so that we can understand, believe, receive His truths, and walk the path He has for us to walk.

Beloved, we too often try to make this plain and simple truth harder than it is, seeking to find some magical ingredient that will make life here easy. The fact is that life here is hard because there are two kingdoms vying for our affections, and we have four sources of wisdom seeking to influence our decisions. The plain and simple is this: “Choose today whom you will serve”. Which spirit will you possess and follow? Which voice guides you? “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)

“…this we also pray for, that you be made complete. …rejoice, BE made complete, BE comforted, BE like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will BE with you” ~ 2 Corinthians 13:9-11.

~*~

I thought I was finished with this series, but the “Wow” moment is coursing through me with greater depth of understanding that we will cover in the next post of Ponderings. Thank you for your faithfulness as patrons of this blog spot.

Things Leading to Perfect Peace ~ Part 5

Called Friend ~ Deepening Relationship

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another” ~ John 15:12-17.

Hear these words of Jesus, beloved. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

What did the disciples have that made them friends instead of slaves? They possessed a vitally growing relationship with Christ. This reality of growing in relationship with God that makes us friends He shares His life with is ours to have and possess in Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit working in and through us. That reality begins with understanding this love that God has for us, a love that lays down His life on our behalf. That love is the perfect love that casts out all fear.

Think about your most trusted friend. What is it about your relationship with that friend that helps you know that wherever you go, whatever you do, that relationship will always be there? For me that ingredient that makes for true and lasting friendship is trust in the love they have for me and me for them.

walking-with-godI have three friends who moved off many years ago. These friends stay in touch through our marvelous technologies that span space and time to bring us closer together. I can be who I am with these friends and know they love me as I am, even when I am not my best self. We may not see each other often, but when we do, it is as if we never parted company. We may not always like what the other does, but we love each other anyway. And we know that when we struggle, there is always the other to reach out a loving hand to help us to come up higher in life as God’s chosen friend.

That is another thing I look for in a human friendship. I look for a growing relationship with God. I want people around me who know Him and are able to encourage my walk with Him. One reason for that is not only that these friends have a growing relationship with God that makes them ably equipped to counsel me from His perspective, but they possess His abiding presence, being available instruments to Him, allowing Him to reach out and touch me through their lives: and me to them. Just now I received a text from one of them that I do not hear from often, but she knows when she is in need, I am here for her, just as she is for me.

Beloved, that is what God wants with us. This desire for a relationship that is vitally growing and available, able to encourage and help to rise up to greater heights is not foreign to God. It is His image at work in us. God is love. Love’s most vital need is someone to give itself to and for; and its greatest desire is to find that love returned in kind.

When we have this growing reality at work in us, knowing God and being known by Him, mutually loving and giving self to bring the other higher, Him lifting us to higher ground as we lift Him to greater glory, shining ever brighter, we have friendship with God and a love that casts out fear.

Fear cannot reside where true love’s trust abides. God loves you. You can trust that even when you are in a pit of despair because of poor decisions that caused you to fall away for a time. He reaches out in love, desiring to grab your right hand and help you to higher ground. When we move away from Him, He is still there, waiting to hear from us andJesus 01 - water walk reach out His hand of love, help and companionship.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing means NOTHING! Not even the bad decisions we make in falling away from Him can remove His love from us. His sacrifice of love remains even in our darkest days. Though He hates where we are and what was done to put us in such a state of affairs, He still loves us and longs for our presence. So reach up and trust His love to grab you and help you be your best self to the glory of Him who loves you more than life itself.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another” ~ John 15:12-17.

Oh, beloved. What great peace it is that comes to the heart of the one who truly understands, receives, believes, trusts and grows strong in this friendship found in a deep and abiding love relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son in the power of the Spirit abiding within us. And we know this love abides in us as we come to desire His will over our own, laying down our lives by picking up His desire for us and making that our possession for a life of abundance with Him.

Praise the Lord! For June 8, 2015

We have just come through a very busy three weeks, chocked full of challenge, stress, joy and peace. Good things and not so good; easy things and things that took energy; it was all good because:

“Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, You are God” ~ Psalm 90:2, NLT.

From the beginning to the end, God is still God. He is in control of all things. He has purpose and plan to get us safely from point A to point Z, whole, complete, and continually perfected in our work as His image bearers. We can trust our God who is still God no matter the challenge this life brings to us. So praise the Lord in the good and the not so. Remember that God is still God with a purpose and opportunity central in every thing that comes to us in our day. And have a blessed day.

~*~

NOTE: I hope to press forward soon to finish the last two blogs for our series on peace.

 

Things Leading to Perfect Peace ~ Part 4

Love’s Abiding

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer ~ yes, take courage; BE CONFIDENT, CERTAIN, UNDAUNTED! For I have overcome the world: depriving it of power to harm you, having conquered it for you.” ~ John 16:33, AMP.

These past few years have been hard, wrought with one difficult situation after another. I am sure you know from experience that this world can be difficult to live in as one assault comes too quickly on the heels of the next. As we walked through our troubled waters, God used the time and experience to solidify in me a deep and abiding assurance of His love. It is this deepening understanding of my God that fulfilled this promise of God: “I have overcome the world: depriving it of power to harm you, having conquered it for you.”

Did we suffer loss in some of our troubles? Yes. Did that loss bring us to destructive harm, robbing us of hope in God and the ability to get up and press forward? No. Why can I say that? Galatians 1 begins with a greeting Paul often used that describes this peace I learned of, the peace we have when we fully trust God’s love for us that deprives the world of it power to harm us.

“Grace and spiritual blessing be to you and SOUL PEACE from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” ~ Galatians 1:3, AMP.

As we face each new assault of trouble in this life with understanding of God’s love that is for us and not against us, a love that never allows anything to take us from His hand of care, we find a “soul peace” that is not shaken by rough seas. The soul is our mind (thoughts, beliefs, understanding), our will (decisive choice and sense of purpose), and our emotions. Our soul that makes us who we are as individuals, remains stable and secure, able to function despite rough waters in life, when we know and trust the love of God.

“God is love.” This is what His author tells us in 1 John 4:8. Love is not just an emotional high for God. It is not just something He does when He feels like it. It is who He is. Love flows from Him because it is His nature and He cannot deny Himself ~ He must be who He is: no guile, no façade. That adds deeper dimension to the fact that He calls us to love as He loves.

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

This call to love means that love has to indwell our very nature and flow from us out of who we are rather than from emotional highs. Our next abiding place that assures us of “perfect peace” is this deep understanding that God is love, He loves us despite flaws and failures, and His love will not allow ultimate harm to win when trouble comes; it will accomplish His purpose in us. That understanding equips us for a lifestyle love that helps us to cope with and face life issues with a love flowing to us and through us that overcomes the darkest night.

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” ~ John 15:9-10.

Abiding love, living constantly and consistently in this understanding of God as Love, having His love living and active in us equips us to abide in the love Jesus calls us to possess. It is the love and loyalty of a child to a respectable parent or of a soldier to an honorable General and Chief. No matter the trouble faced, when we know God’s love for us and have love for Him, we easily and readily follow His instruction.

Love always has a good, right, and true purpose in the things it allows. Though the things God allows to touch our lives may be difficult, they possess great worth as each challenge provides us with opportunity for growth. Trouble provides a chance to experience God and grow in greater depth in understanding His nature, how He thinks and functions. Through such challenge, God provides doors of divinely appointed ministry to help others know His love that flows through His people as He grows us to possess the image of God, having His nature living and active in us.

Just as Jesus came to do the will of the Father, knowing that hard times would come as allowed by God for Christ’s fulfillment of His purpose, so we must realize that same love brings doors of opportunity for us to fulfill the purpose God planned for our lives. No trouble comes to us without the love of God toward us purposing good to come out of that trouble. It is through loving obedience to follow God’s will in God’s way that we come to the other side of trouble with overcoming power and success.

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” ~ John 15:21.

Spirit-fruit2Love’s abiding assures our ability to grow in our knowledge and understanding of God. With increased understanding of God as Love, I no longer question God’s love for me when trouble comes, and I am more deliberate in my desire to emulate that love to others. I realize more readily God’s good purpose granting me opportunity to make a difference in this life, thus glorifying Him through cooperation that accomplishes the good He intends. Love’s abiding produces peace that prevails within my soul, helping me to see the path ahead and choose the good God desires for a life that honors Him and that reveals His overcoming power in me. This is His desire for each of us who call on His name with faith and hope for eternity with Him. Enter love’s abiding and find soul peace to help in times of trouble.

(Note: Reading Matthew 5:1-12, especially considering the meaning of the word “blessed” given in the Amplified version of these verses, I see Love’s abiding working to produce the good in each situation addressed. I believe this is the blessing that comes to those who know and trust this loving nature of God. Our lives will bear the fruit of those so blessed despite the trouble faced.)

Things Leading to Perfect Peace ~ Part 3

Fruitful Abiding

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer ~ yes, take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted! For I have overcome the world: depriving it of power to harm you, having conquered it for you.” ~ John 16:33, AMP.

In our busy couple of weeks, we saw friends come in for a visit, followed by traveling on a rush weekend trip to see family. Busy lives: all revealing issues difficult to deal with, threatening to rob of peace. Even preparing for company and to travel became a threat against peace. BUT GOD! He used the situations faced to reveal Himself as He responded faithfully to each need, accomplishing great things in and through us and on our behalf.

In our time with friends and family, the opportunity revealed the hand of God at work: bringing healing to some past issues; providing opportunity to bear fruit into the lives of those we love and care for as we ministered His comfort into current situations. We overcame all the threat against our ability to live in that place of perfect peace provided by God by believing in Him and walking with Kingdom perspective. Through that we were able to bear fruit in keeping with righteousness into each situation.

That is the next thing taught by Jesus that helps us abide in the place of His peace:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” ~ John 15:1-8.

Spirit-fruit-bOur abiding in Him is the ingredient necessary for our bearing fruit for His Kingdom. Here I just noticed that Jesus referred the disciples back to their feet washing session. It is constantly letting the Lord our Savior wash our feet that secures us as a fruitful branch on His vine. When we spend time with the Lord, allowing Him to speak into our lives and train us up in righteousness, rebirthing in us the image of God He intended we possess, we live in vital connection with God. That connection feeds us and grows us to be strong fruit-bearing branches.

In Matthew 12, Jesus makes an important point that tells us why fruit bearing is important:

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit” ~ verse 33.

The fruit we bear into life, whether good or bad, godly or worldly, reveals the tree from which we receive our nourishment. James speaks of this as he talks about our wisdom for life. Our wisdom for decision-making and action-taking either comes from our fleshly nature, worldly philosophy, demonic influences, or God and His truth. Wisdom from the first three sources mentioned produce bitterness, jealousy, selfish ambition, arrogance, falsehood, disorder, etc.: producing every kind of evil. Wisdom that is from God produces purity, peacefulness, gentleness, ability to yield that makes one reasonable, being merciful and able to bear good fruits which are unwavering and without hypocrisy. Then James adds:

“And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” ~ James 3:13-18.

When we see our ability to bear fruit in keeping with righteousness, thus producing godliness into our daily lives, we have peace of knowing that we abide in the true vine of God’s supply.

The Nature of Light

“All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” ~ Ephesians 5:13.

Ponder the nature of light for a moment. What does light do? We use light to penetrate darkness and expose things hidden there. Light helps us walk through dark places without stubbing our toe, caught unaware by dangers lurking in the shadows. Light is the exposer of dangers in the night. That is a good thing, right? Then why, when God, the true Light, exposes something hidden in our dark places, do we run from the truth revealed as if that exposure is the thing that will hurt us?

My experience of the nature of God’s Light revealing a dark corner of my life, is this: that revelation exposes something that puts me or others in danger of falling away from the path God sits before us. God’s revelation of the dark place presents me with opportunity to clear out the things that cause the darkness, bringing the full splendor of Light’s glory to my living places, and setting me free from harm’s way.

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” ~ Ephesians 5:6-13.

Every dark dwelling exposed by the light makes that place light when we address the issue as children of Light. Seeing the things hidden in the dark is opportunity to choose goodness, righteousness and truth. Light’s revelation is opportunity to own our sin and walk free of it. However, what is it that too often happens?

Instead of seeing the opportunity God is giving us to come clean and walk free of our sin, we get self-protective and try to turn the spotlight on contributing factors. We return to the root of sin found in Adam and Eve, who, instead of saying, “Yes, Lord. That is what I did.” They said, “Yes, I did it, but that woman YOU gave me tempted me and, therefore, made me do it.” Or, “That serpent, the devil YOU allowed to enter my garden area beguiled me.”

Too often, when sin is exposed, the offender becomes defensive, putting the offended on offense, drawing the battle lines. Relationship destroyed, the true issue goes unchecked; that true issue being the thing in each individual that opens them to temptation’s snare. God reveals things hidden in the dark for a purpose: to deliver those snared from the thing within them that makes them a target for temptation. Delivering us from the root of sin, sins death no longer has hold on us, bringing glory to Himself and to His children as they follow Him in bearing the fruit of the Light.

When we become defensive, pointing fingers at contributing factors, laying blame anywhere but with our own choice made, refusing to work to recognize the thing within that snared us, we fail to own up to our responsibility. True repentance cannot come when we hold to blaming others. We may not even own our tendency to blame another, but that tendency reveals itself every time we choose to site their part in our excuse.

Blame hinders our ability to discern the pain of the one we blame. Often the things we point out as “cause” of our choice have an underlying factor to it that makes the offence we feel unreasonable. Blinders on, we fail to see the pain of the one who caused us pain. Example:

A husband, looking for an occupation he will enjoy and want to stay with, refuses to get a job digging ditches so he can provide for his family in the interim of finding that perfect position he longs to have for himself. The wife, needing security, increases her workload trying to fill in where hubby is failing. The scenario and frustration of financial issues increasing stress on the wife, she loses faith to trust hubby, no longer respecting him as head of family. Failing to meet her need for security, the husband’s need for respect goes unmet.

Worn out from work and family life, struggling to meet her family’s need, having to get up early to do all again the next day, wife goes to bed, a stress headache and exhaustion destroying libido. Hubby, frustrated at his intimacy needs going unmet, turns to pornography for his gratification. Then one day God shines His Revelation Light, unshrouding the pornography. Wife, trust and her sense of security further assaulted, tries to address the issue without the respect needed to aid her attempts. Hubby blames wife for his addiction, citing her failure to meet his need. Further attack on her sense of security, destructive words fly to ears that cannot hear, as he feels no love or respect. With one storming out the door, clothes in hand, a marriage lies dead in the dust.

Add to that a common scenario in our day: a woman in a second marriage, whose first husband hurt the children because of his addiction to porn. Fear and anger take hold, turning wife into a protective momma-bear. Only perfect love can overcome such fear. Do they have it?

Light shines in the dark places of our lives to reveal a problem. That revelation is our opportunity to own our sin and repent of it, not leaning on any crutch of blame or expectation of the other person involved seeing their part in it. True repentance is between self and God alone. It is saying, “I did it. I chose wrong and sinned against my Holy God and those I love. Forgive me and help me enter into restoration, never to turn that way again.” We will not have the right attitude of heart to repent to those we harmed or address issues with them until we first come into a right relationship with God. Only then can repentance do the things needed to correct the course.

The husband realizes he failed to meet the wife’s need, having put her into a stress that she was ill equipped to handle. He gets a job and corrects his error. The wife, trust and her sense of security growing, gets back to a work and home lifestyle that is manageable. Her security growing, respect starts the trek to full restoration with each day the hubby proves faithful. Next thing he knows, she is the one pursuing intimacy.

The Light has purpose. It is never for harm, but is always set to produce righteousness, goodness, and truth. In order to get the full benefit of God taking the time to shine a light of revelation into our darkness, we must realize the purpose of His Light.

Light protects from dark things overtaking our lives and leading us off the path to a road of destruction (John 12:35).

Light grants opportunity to show oneself strong as a follower of Christ (John 8:12).

Light reveals those who are people of truth, having the fellowship of a right relationship with God and with each other (1 John 1:6-7).

Faithfulness to walk in the Light prevents stumbling and protects us from running away from good things, offended and defensive (1 John 2:10-11).

Beloved, God’s Light reveals the problem He desires to address. The solution for situations such as the one sited in this article is this:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal” ~ John 12:24-25.

The solution is simple ~ unconditional, incorruptible love that dies to oneself in order to meet the need of those loved. True love accepts full blame for sin committed despite the part of the other that spurred bad choices set in hidden places. There is a time to address the contributing factors, but the time of sins revelation is not it. That moment is time for the one caught in sin to own their sin. If one truly loves the person they desire relationship with, they will take up the cross of self-denial and sacrifice their own desires to do what is right, good and true, restoring relationship and meeting the need of those we say we love.

True love is choice. Love is action taken for the good of the one we love, even though it leads to one’s own harm. A husband, seeing the wife’s struggle, realizing her need of security, will dig ditches 12 hours a day to meet her need. A wife, seeing her husband’s frustration, will do her part without stepping too quickly to meet her own need, giving him opportunity to step up and be the man she longs to respect. Both will do their part to meet the need of the other while trusting God to open doors of His storehouse, bringing them closer to their heart’s desire for true security and a well-deserved respect.

Light has a nature. Its nature is revelation of secret or hidden things in dark places that threaten harm to those who come near without light for their path. Its purpose is to provide opportunity to clean the dark corners of life and increase a life producing the fruit of the Light. Therefore, beloved, when hidden things are revealed by the Light working in your life, “Walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”

God’s Light is restorative, not destructive. When our reactions to a dark corner revealing our humiliation is to lash out, we bring more darkness into play. Darkness destroys; but take courage, beloved. God’s light dispels darkness, pushing it back so it does not overcome us. Trust His Light and walk the path it reveals with faith in Him for the good He desires for us as He delivers us from temptations snare and the sin that too easily entangles us because of roots that are not set deep in the foundation of God, our Rock.

“While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light’” ~ John 12:36a.

The Very Works

Reading John 10 this morning, waiting on my husband to finish reading his newspaper so we could visit before his leaving for work, verse 25 stands out to me for today’s focus:

“Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me.’”

“Jesus answered them, ‘I have told you so, yet you do not believe Me [you do not trust Me and rely on Me]. The very works that I do by the power of My Father and in My Father’s name bear witness concerning Me [they are My credentials and evidence in 425109_135478716573009_812090474_nsupport of Me]’” ~ AMP.

I am reminded of two things this morning. First, I do not have to concern myself with what others believe or do not believe about me. The fruit of my works will bear witness of me, just as they did for Jesus. They are my credentials and evidence in support of me too, so trust in the Lord and do good.

Second, do the works that I do by the power of God and in the Father’s name, as an obedient servant of God. Then my fruit will bear a good testimony of my life in Christ, and I will have no fear of humankind.

~*~

“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…” ~ Psalm 37:3-7.

 

Believe Also In Me

Sunday morning, standing in front of the East Door as a greeter awaiting people’s arrival, The Spirit led me to turn in my Bible to John 7.

“After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. Therefore His brothers said to Him, ‘Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ FOR NOT EVEN HIS BROTHERS WERE BELIEVING IN HIM” ~ John 7:1-5.

I tried to read on, but God returned my focus to “For not even His brothers were believing in Him.” As soon as I finished rereading that, the Spirit of Jesus said to my heart, “Darlene, what would have happened if I failed to believe in Myself?”

Wow!

Many did not truly believe Jesus was who He was. Many challenged Him and sought to discourage His progress. Jesus had to know within Himself who He truly was, or fall to the opinion of man, just as we must do.

If Jesus did not believe that He was the Son of God, miraculously birthed to Mary and Joseph, what would have happened? Many rumors floated around about Jesus: that Mary and Joseph fell to sin and He was truly the son of Joseph conceived out of wedlock; that Mary committed adultery; that Jesus was the product of rape; etc. If Jesus believed the many rumors floating around about Him, how would He have developed the heart to be busy about His Father-God’s business as He did, finding the work God truly intended Him to fulfill? If He failed to believe that He is the Christ, sent to do the will of God, what would He have accomplished? If He believed the testimony of other men about Himself, would His ministry on the earth to train and raise up Apostles to begin His church have happened? Would the result of that work continue today?

What if Jesus failed to believe that the prophets of old spoke of Him when they wrote, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Might He have chosen to take the offer given during the temptation in the wilderness when Satan offered Him the world? Failing to realize that He is already King of God’s entire Kingdom, which includes and transcends the world, would He have chosen the lesser, thus failing to accomplish the greater?

What if Jesus failed to understand that God was the One who established and protected His path: would Jesus have so fearlessly walked in and out of mobs of people, many set against Him and purposing harm to Him? Would He have stood still, quaking in His sandals, while the mob from His own town threw Him off the cliff, instead of boldly walking out of their midst, unharmed, knowing His time had not yet come and He was under God’s protection until the hour set for Him?

If Jesus failed to believe Himself to be the Son of God, God incarnate, having full access to the resources of God’s Kingdom: would He have healed anyone? Would Lazarus have remained in his tomb on that fateful day? Would the disciples have drowned when Jesus failed to cause the storm to cease?

069Now, what of you and me, beloved: do you believe what God says is true of you as His beloved, chosen child, equipped for good works? God tells us corporately who we are in Scripture, but if we fail to believe it, how will we walk in that truth? God also speaks to us individually, instructing us concerning who He created us to be and telling us all He created us to accomplish in this life. Fail to believe and receive that which He says is true of us, and we will fail to walk in the power of His provision.

In fact, any failure to walk in His power that exists within us now is due to our failure to believe all that He says is true of us. Are you beat-down by life, left curled in an infantile ball, useless in the hands of God? Beloved, check to see what God says is true of you. Find where your faith has failed so you can unfurl and soar in the strength of His supply. Find where the taunting lies of life’s trouble has injured you and come into the healing balm found in believing God over one’s circumstances.

God may touch one every time they read about things like the woman who fell to the feet of Jesus and washed them with her tears. Their heart may be that of worshipping Him and laying the hardships of life at His feet. Failing to believe they can touch the feet of Jesus, will they reach His heart and move His hand as God intends? The enemy uses our circumstances to lead us to doubt God in the very things He calls us to trust and believe concerning our call and equipping through Christ.

For me, my heart is continually grabbed by words that speak of writing or speaking His word:

“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. …” ~ Isaiah 50:4, AMP.

“…Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things. …” ~ Psalm 81.

“…And we are now writing these things to you so that our joy [in seeing you included] may be full [and your joy may be complete].” ~ 1 John 1:2-4, AMP.

Writing and speaking the truths of God I know, feeding all He is and all He does into the lives of others, this is my calling and equipping. It is in me, making me who I am, forming my desire for my occupation and the work to accomplish. God uses my mouth and calls me to be His disciple, equipped and enabled to disciple others. He uses the ponderings within me to form posts meant to encourage you, helping you come up higher in your faith, and empowering you to move through life with increased power, resolve and assurance of faith. Any success achieved is because God said it and I believed it so-as-to obey.

In reverse, the enemy of God uses every frown of disapproval, every harsh word of refusal, every rejection to cause me to forget who I am in Christ and fall away from the path God has for me. The struggle that comes to my flesh as I grow in these things so that I have experiential knowledge to share with you often tempts me to believe I am unworthy of passing these things on to you, despite God telling me repeatedly that I am chosen and not rejected. My inability to see beyond my here and now struggle and receive God’s eternal proclamation concerning me will beat me down and destroy the work He desires to accomplish if I fail to hear, believe, receive, and trust God’s opinion as my own to possess.

Beloved, when I fail to believe what God says of me, I fall to the wayside, giving my mouth and words to worldly endeavors, swayed by every frown of disapproval or the opinion of humankind. In that instant, I do not accomplish the will of God or the work He equips me to do. Instead of helping you and others to know Him better, I become an instrument to push you away. Thus, I must be careful to take captive the thoughts within me and make them believe God so-as-to obey Him.

The world wants us to conform to its image. Those of the world don’t want to feel they fall short of glory, so they want us to look and act like them in order that they may feel better about themselves. Our flesh, the world, and demonic forces want us to doubt God, His existence, and His word, so that we do not reach the full potential He places in us to accomplish His purpose. They taunt us and assault us, just as they did Jesus, making light of the calling and equipping of God in us. They will point out every flaw and the smallest of stumbles and tell us that is who we are. Thus, it is vital we believe God who says we know His voice and follow Him, simply refusing to follow the voice of a stranger.

Our own minds can imagine all sorts of evil and instruct our hearts to deny God’s word and trust our frail, fleshly heart-attitudes as proof of who we are. Failing to believe God, we will walk in the lesser of life and fail to accomplish the great works of God, prepared for us by Him who equips us and makes us able, causing us to stand approved and successful as His servant (Ephesians 2:10; Romans 14:4).

Jesus said something that keeps rolling around in my head for me to speak of self as He did. He said, “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me” (John 14:1).

“Believe in God, believe also in Me.” Jesus believed He was who God said He was and He lived, breathed, spoke and moved out of that understanding.

070Beloved, we, too, must come to a faith that says of self, “Believe in God (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). Believe also in me, that I am and can be and do fully all that God deems true of, for, and from me.”

As we believe all God tells us is true of us, His image bearers, transformed into His likeness, we can take up the gauntlet Jesus passed to us and be His representatives in the world. We can possess the fullness of who we are in Christ and we can do all He says we can do if we will only believe what God tells us about ourselves.

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Healing Balm for Appetites: Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Last night as I got in the bed, I again prayed healing for my appetites. Immediately Psalm 37 came to heart as a healing balm.

“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…” ~ Psalm 37:3-7.

God told me early in January to occupy this journey to a healthier lifestyle. This healing balm instructs that I am to occupy the land of my dwelling, cultivating faithfulness, having my delight in the Lord who will not only give me my desire, but will direct me to desire good things He can bless.

One word that stands out here as important to my ability to occupy this journey is the word “CULTIVATE”: I am to cultivate faithfulness.

  1. a. To improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops; till.
  1. b. To loosen or dig soil around (growing plants).
  2. To grow or tend (a plant or crop).
  3. To promote the growth of (a biological culture).
  4. To encourage or foster: cultivate a respect for the law. See Synonyms at nurture.
  5. To acquire, develop, or refine, as by education.
  6. To seek the acquaintance or goodwill of; make friends with it.

As I commit to the Lord in my dietary desires, He will do it, bringing forth my righteous judgment as a light. That begins with RESTING in the Lord and waiting PATIENTLY upon Him, giving Him opportunity to have a say in my desires. Accomplishing that rest requires that I refuse fretting: not allowing my thoughts to be stuck on a desire of the flesh. Allowing my mind to stick on a fleshly desire makes for struggle on this journey and too often leads to a fall. Allowing God to be God of my appetites, taking every thought captive in obedience to Him, I walk in freedom from that which would rule my appetite in His stead. Healing comes to my appetite as I cultivate faithfulness in waiting for Him to inspire good desire.

My part is to cultivate faithfulness to God as God of my journey, wanting Him and His desires above all. One thing stands out: “make friends with it”. My healthy lifestyle is not an enemy. It is a friend. A healthy friendship includes respect: respecting my body as God’s temple; respecting God as resident in it – knowing He always works for my good and not for harm, giving me hope for my final outcome; thus, respecting His desire for my nutritional needs and the foods that fill it. In developing that friendship and respect, I prepare my heart for the healthy desires God has for me, nursing and cherishing my desire for Him above all else.

I think of Daniel’s diet. His diet being vegan is not the important thing. The important point in his story is his commitment to faithfulness to God revealed in him eating only what the Lord prescribed. Daniel is one who listened to Jeremiah’s word from the Lord and obeyed. He surrendered to Babylon in obedience to God; and he continued to seek the Lord from the land of his captivity. He chose God first in all things, and God met his needs.

Healing of my appetites will come as I give myself fully to want of God, cultivating faithfulness and receiving God’s heart in forming my desire. And the promise: “…those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land” ~ Psalm 37:9b.

Marked for Life

Listening to Ezekiel 9 the other day, verse 4 catches my attention. In it, God sends His angel out to “mark” the foreheads of those whose hearts are grieved over sin. Asking the Lord, “Why the forehead?” the question came to mind, “What is behind the forehead?” With thought of the frontal lobe of the brain, I look online at the anatomy of the brain:

The frontal lobe of the brain occupies almost half the space taken by the brain. It is associated with reasoning, motor skills, higher level cognition, and expressive language. At the back of the frontal lobe lies the motor cortex. This area of the brain receives information from various lobes of the brain and uses this information to carry out body movements. This is the area where we process knowledge and understanding for use in reasoning, decision making, expression and movement.

Years ago, God helped me to understand with greater clarity the work of the Spirit of God that helps us to discern “sin, righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8). He inspired me to understand that this work of the Spirit is not just empowering our understanding of the gospel message and our need of a Savior. It is empowering our ability to recognize right from wrong and discern consequences for choices. The Spirit works with the frontal lobe to help us choose between life or death, good or evil, the blessing or the curse.

Behind our forehead is where that takes place. This gives new importance to our cooperation with God who says through Paul, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect”  (Romans 12:1-2).

Beloved, as we cooperate with God in the renewing of our minds, it marks us as His and equips us to bear fruit in keeping with righteousness. This is the reason it is vital that we not only write His words on our hearts, but on our “foreheads” allowing Him to change our minds. The greater our understanding of God and His ways, the more we think like Him, live like Him, and produce good works in keeping with righteousness and sound judgment.

“Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end” ~ Hebrews 3:5-6.

The Spirit working in us, training our minds with God’s thoughts and ways that are higher than our own convinces us and equips us to walk in unity with Him. It gives us confidence in the hope we possess because He marks our foreheads with sound reasoning and cognition. It empowers us to stand firm of faith, not easily swayed by every wind of doctrine. It is why we believe so firmly and stand so confidently in the things we believe.

Thus, by the power of the Spirit of God that marks us, “…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 10:1-7.

The Priestly Order: Part 3-d

Wilderness times in life are difficult. The first step in traversing it is to realize where we are and draw near to God Who can lead us out to the cool of His garden place. I pray you discovered any wilderness places in your life, beloved, and that this first step is behind you. The days ahead, journeying with God to the end of the Wilderness Road, is full of glory that God will reveal as He leads you forward. Though it is a hard road to travel, the end result is worth the trouble. I am excited for you.

Be warned, the path ahead will most likely be rough, and you need to make sure to keep eyes on God, hand in His. You will know the instant you lose connection with Him, as confusion, fear, and weakness overtake your life. When it happens, stop where you are and wait. You will find Him faithful to reconnect with you as you wait patiently for Him, watch for His hand, and listen for His whisper, “This is the way; walk ye in it.” Sometimes what seems to us a delay is actually God providing a “Selah” moment: an Oasis where we rest a bit and calmly think on the things He is showing us while He refreshes us and prepares us to go forward. Though it may take time, be faithful to stay close to the side of your Good Shepherd and you will soon find yourself…

Walking in the garden in the cool of the day.

SOS1: “Awake, O north wind, And come, wind of the south; Make my garden breathe out fragrance, Let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits” (SOS 4:16).

When time on earth began, God set a garden within it where His chosen ones thrived. In the cool of the day, He came into the garden for a leisurely walk with His beloveds. We can still have that walk with Him today. In Song of Solomon, several things stand out that instruct us concerning time in the garden.

Here in chapter 4 we see that the wind of God’s Spirit comes into the garden and breathes out the fragrance of His presence and the scent of fruit bearing. He flows through the lives of those who know how to commune with Him in His garden, like the fragrance of the finest spices, ministering to us at the area of our need. From His garden, of which we are to Him, as He is to us, He enjoys its produce and bears it forth to nourish those around us.

Beloved, the fruit born out of our lives because we know how to abide in the Secret Place of God and walk with Him in the cool of the garden pours in two directions. First God pours to us as nourishment and through us to feed those around us. Then we flow out of that fruit bearing to produce a fragrance that blesses the Lord, causing His heart to rejoice over us.

Coming out of a wilderness experience is not the only garden God provides for us. God is an Oasis along the wilderness path. With Him at our side, we have frequent garden experiences, pauses on our wilderness journey where He feeds us and refreshes us so we may press onward and upward. Even out of our wilderness areas, His produce comes out of us to touch those around us and bring Him glory and gladness.

SOS2: “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved? Beneath the apple tree I awakened you; there your mother was in labor with you, there she was in labor and gave you birth. …” ~ SOS 8:5-7. Selah ~ Pause and calmly think on that.

The wilderness is a place where we discover complete reliance on our Beloved. We leave the wilderness leaning on God who is our companion, bringing us safely to the garden. Beneath the tree of life, He awakens us. Hardship and struggle, like a mother, have birthed new life in us, giving us a ministry to use on His behalf. God never wastes the wilderness, but works in us to make us ready for the next phase of life as part of His Royal Priesthood.

SOS3: “…Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised” ~ SOS 8:5-7.

From wilderness’ starting point to garden’s quickening, the ultimate purpose is our unity and commitment to the Beloved and our coming to understand His for us. Walking with God as our first most vital love, we realize our need of Him and are fully committed to Him, sealed shut to any other would-be god. Having our Beloved’s scent upon us, bearing the fruit of His love, He marks us with the seal of His image, making it clear to all that we are His.

Marked by the assurance of this love, we know that no other love will satisfy like His love, none else will fill the banks of our being to produce the flow of love that we have with Him. Any attempt of some other suitor trying to break the seal of our commitment to our beloved and lure us away we despise. We have danced with our beloved in the garden having come through the wilderness victorious, and no one can steal us away.

SOS4: “‘We have a little sister, and she has no breasts; what shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver; but if she is a door, we will barricade her with planks of cedar.’ I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace” ~ SOS 8:8-10.

Breasts are instruments of nourishment. The little sister represents those still young in their faith who have yet to find the Secret Place of His presence, giving their full commitment to Him, seeking sustenance only from the garden of His provision and pleasure. As the young in the Lord find their relationship with God and keep it pure, not giving self to another god, they make of her a “dowry” or “battlement” of silver.

Transcripts that translate the Greek word to “dowry” give rise to instruction that such a person has something to give to the Beloved: something to add to their union. Battlement speaks of security and trust. One whose life is a battlement has no other God. Kept safe behind the parapet of Love’s rampart, they live fully satisfied. Such love is greatest treasure, worth protecting at all cost.

The young who are loose, like a swinging door, easily swayed by every passing whim, God encloses for their own protection. God often will hedge us in until we mature in our relationship with Him.

Once mature, we enter fully into our union with God and rise up as a tower where love is secure, treasured and made to thrive, being lit up for all to see. There God’s peace is the produce for life. Safe in the arms of our Beloved, fear and insecurity gives way to love made sure and pure. No matter what goes on around us, we always have our tower made bright with love’s unity, useful in drawing others attention, desiring to see what powers the Light within us.

SOS5: “Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; He entrusted the vineyard to caretakers. Each one was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit. My very own vineyard is at my disposal; the thousand shekels are for you, Solomon, and two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit. …” SOS 8:11-14.

As with the woman of our text, it is our choice how we use our garden and whether we keep it for Him alone. Solomon, in our analogy, represents God. God has a vineyard in the world: our lives. We are the caretakers of our area of His vineyard. He expects to receive the produce of the vineyard.

We are each responsible for our vineyard: it is our choice whether we cooperate with God and glorify Him with our lives. We do so by bearing fruit that makes us breasts of nourishment: first to God, feeding His need for our love through relationship: giving praise, worship, our attention and commitment to Him. Second, to others who, like babes in arms, are in our sphere of influence. Together we help and encourage one another to find our Secret Place with Him and to come to His garden where fruit is born to His glory.

Note that God’s due from our vineyard is five times that we are to give to others. The majority of our attention, focus, and energy must go into our relationship with Father. He is our life, abundant and full. He is our joy and delight, bringing strength to our existence. He is with us and for us 24/7. We must be with and for Him in kind. Then we will have what we need to live fully with surplus to give to others in helping them at the point of their need.

SOS6: “… O you who sit in the gardens, My companions are listening for your voice—Let me hear it! Hurry, my beloved, And be like a gazelle or a young stag On the mountains of spices” ~ SOS 8:11-14.

Beloved, Father longs for us and seeks after us, desiring us to be His beloved in a one on one, personal and intimate relationship that cannot be broken. Are you watching for Him, listening to hear His voice; calling out “Come quickly, my beloved”? If we will faithfully seek after Him, He will come to us in the fullness of His glory. With the fragrance of His essence permeating us, He readies us for life and ministry as part of His Royal Priesthood, making us productive of the fruit of His garden.

Pondering Tempest’s Calm

“He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” ~ Mark 4:39, NKJV.

“Peace, be still.” That is the phrase coursing through my mind as I think on this past weekend. A family we greatly love was in for a visit. We were so excited for their arrival, and so exhausted when they left. What exhausted us?

The male head of that family is a man of hot temper. He loses his temper easily, being gruff of speech and very impatient with much frustration coming from his tone of voice and mannerisms. As a result, there was constant fussing among them, bad attitudes in kind from the others of that family, and I felt it within myself at times. Scripture instructs us to avoid men of hot temper, and this rippling of the waters of peace is why we are so warned.

“Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself” ~ Proverbs 22:24-25.

It was exhausting to experience; I can’t fathom living in that day after day. Oh, wait! Yes I can.

As I ponder this issue, I remember my younger years and some days since, when my own temper flared in like manner. I too was raised in a home by a hot tempered mother. Thankfully, as I discovered that temper within myself when my children were young, God worked with me to change my ways.

I learned that such temperament is often a bad habit that can be retrained. Learning a new way where temper is concerned begins with “Peace, be still.”

When my children were little and I found myself sounding too much like my mother, I began seeking the Father for a change of temper. “Peace, be still” is the first step revealed to calmer waters of existence. “Be still and KNOW that I AM GOD” (Psalm 46:10-11). I learned to draw near to God and let Him have control of my temper.

Selah ~ Pause and CALMLY think of that.

I learned to send the kids to their room or sit them in a chair or simply say, “be quiet for a bit”, giving me some time with the Lord to calm down. Disciplining when my temper is flared is never a pathway to peace and cooperation. I may elicit obedience with my temper, but not obedience that is coupled with a right attitude. You know what? Heart attitude is vital to true obedience; and we teach our children obedience to God by the way they obey us.

My husband learned to practice this with me and, in doing so, helped me to change my temperament. When an argument rises between us, he will go out to work on some project giving us each time to cool off. Later we can sit calmly together, being able to truly hear what each has to say, and we can come to agreement without arguing and yelling. The important thing is to make sure we come back together to deal with issues in need of attention. Neglecting to do so can breed bitterness as the problem continues unchecked.

Time out allows me not only to get my temper under control, but it also allows me to rightly evaluate the situation. Sometimes I might realize that the real problem is that I am overly tired to the point that kids being kids is that proverbial straw on that proverbial camel’s broken back. That is truer of me now that I am older and no longer used to having children around. I have to be very careful that my being tired does not cause me to sound off in ill-tempered fervor. If that is the case, the time out itself often fixes the problem. I talk to the kids about mom (or now, “Meeme”) being overly tired and in need of them to do something quiet that will allow me to rest. Voila! Peace is restored and we are in good relations again.

At times when a real issue needs to be dealt with, time out calms me enough so we can discuss the issue in ways that allow us to come to an understanding of the right and better way of things. Discipline (training in righteousness) dictated by calmer minds helps the child and parent or husband and wife adjust their way of thinking and doing. When my temper is under control, I am better able to listen to them and understand what they want or need; and I am better able to express my will and reasoning to them in ways that foster cooperation. With a child, when spanking is in order, it is better done in love with reason when calm is the driving force.

Dealing with a child when frustrated and hot tempered breeds frustration and rebellion in the child. It is what scripture refers to when it says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Colossians 3:21 ~ this applies to mothers as well). Children – and mates for that matter – who are always assaulted by ill-temper and a bad attitude become people of ill-temper and bad attitude. It is exhausting to live that way because it is like fighting the wind. You know not where and when ill-temper will come, how fierce it will be, or how long it will last. One wind rises up a clashing wave of resistance that hits another and another until the seas of our lives are rolling so hard that destruction is imminent. Scripture rightly warns:

“An angry man stirs up strife, And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression” ~ Proverbs 29:22.

Temper usually comes when we demand our own way, often unreasonably. It is a god-complex that is sin, demanding always to be in control without thought of God and His ways, and without practicing love toward others, caring for one’s own needs and desires over those of others.

There is hope for us as we learn that “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, BUT the slow to anger calms a dispute” ~ Proverbs 15:18.

A hot temper is a bad habit that becomes a snare to all touched by it, robbing of strength, energy, love and relationship. But it can be overcome as we “seek first His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). When we choose to take a time out with some deep, calming breaths, forcing our mind and heart to be still and know God, seeking Him for wisdom, He calms and quiets the storm within just as He did that stormy sea. When we are calm, we then have the capacity to see, hear and know truth, and we can speak wisdom with peace that not only trains up those who hear to walk in righteousness, but it trains them in how to deal with their own temper issues.

Josh McDowell said it well, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” But relationship spawned out of peaceful waters will produce cooperation that calms the tempest. Which do you want for your relationships?

“Peace, BE STILL!”

Pondering the Hard Places of Life

I have learned much in my 60 years of life. God used many people to train me up. From my daddy, I learned faithfulness and frugal living. From Aunt Peggy and Aunt Shirley I learned how to care for a home. From Aunt Maxine I learned the importance of Scripture to daily life. From Aunt Edna and Uncle Bobby, I learned the importance of living those Scriptures through a faithful, Christian walk. In the power of His Spirit, God has used His Word to instruct me, His Church to build me up, and His people to encourage and help me. God uses many things in this life and in our situations in order to grow and mature us. Today my thoughts are on the hard places He takes us to for His purposes and our good.

Why am I thinking on such and side tracking from my pondering of Hebrews? Two reasons:

During what I call my “Prescription walk” I am currently listening to the book of Jeremiah. In it, over and over again, God uses Jeremiah to warn the people of Israel and Judah of His hand coming against them, sending them into captivity. Over and over they are told to give themselves freely to their captors or suffer destruction. With each warning comes promise that if they will willingly surrender to God’s will and put themselves under the taskmasters He is sending to enslave them, that in their time of captivity they will find their lives fully restored.

That’s one reason I am pondering our subject today. And these words catch my attention for the second reason.

I have a friend who is facing a very difficult decision, one in which he has to choose whether he will surrender himself to captivity, or fight to see if he can win his freedom. I don’t envy his decision one bit: in fact I grieve it for him and all involved terribly. Nor do I know the answer. Only God does. But as I think of his situation in light of the words in Jeremiah, this I do know:

In any situation we face where the choice is to surrender ourselves to go through a very hard place in life or fight to see if we can win our freedom, the opinion of God is vital. He knows which direction is our ideal soil for growth, maturity, service, obedience, and the glory of the Lord. He has a purpose in the mountains, and He knows which way will bring true freedom.

Sometimes God calls us to go around a mountain and avoid it at all cost. Sometimes He leads us to go over that mountain and defeat it by fighting our way to the other side. And sometimes He calls us to go through that hard ground to the other side, trusting His hand for us.

If we choose to fight when He says to surrender, we fail to trust His hand and His purpose, and we find ourselves actually fighting Him. So discernment of God’s will is vital. If we are called by Him to surrender to a challenge or enemy force, it is truly Him we surrender ourselves too. And God is faithful. He will see us through those difficult places and bring us through with greater understanding of who He is and how faithful He is to us who choose to trust Him. If we choose to fight when He says “surrender”, we may find ourselves facing the very terrors we fear.

In my times of surrendered trust in God, as He took me through the middle of my hard places in life, I found these reasons for His doing so:

Sometimes it takes the crushing things in life to remove those deeply imbedded, huge roots of sin that we often do not even realize we have. God is always at work to make us into the image of God, and if that means captivity for a time so that we can be made truly free, that is what He requires. Cooperation with Him is the only way to survive such experiences.

Sometimes there are things and people in our lives that we value more than God, making them an idol. God will take us through hard places in order to lead us to trust Him alone, to relinquish our idols, and to more fully bond with Him as our first, most vital necessity. These are the times He calls us to realize Him as our greatest desire above all else, choosing first His Kingdom and His righteousness. And once we make that choice, we find more of all the good things in life, only they are rightly prioritized, having no power to pull us from Him as the One possessing first place in everything. Having Him first and foremost as our greatest desire makes everything else taste sweeter.

CrossDaily05And then there is the reason of His need of our special gifting and life experience to bring light into dark places. Sometimes our captivity is nothing more than a mission field and opportunity to bring Him glory.

Many of us have hard decisions to make from time to time. Before balking at a place that looks like enemy captivity that will harm and destroy you, stop to ask the Lord His opinion. Get His heart for the situation. Hear His promises for the call of the captive. If He is there, in the hard place before you with some purpose of His own in hand, your only choice is whether to surrender to Him there and have His help for the journey, or fight against Him where you are. Whichever side of the issue God is on, that is the safest place to be. Discern where God is standing; enter into His rest through faith-filled, believing obedience; and follow Peace to the pastures of His choosing.

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” ~ James 4:10.

Pondering Restful Pastures: 2

Read Hebrews 4

“To whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” ~ Hebrews 3:18-4:2.

Yesterday we looked at the keys found in Jesus’ example to us for living a life of obedience that leads to our entering into and remaining in the restful pastures of God’s provision. Today as I read Chapter 4, which continues the teaching on living in God’s rest, I am impressed with the connection obedience to God has with faith in Him.

Our level of obedience is directly related to the degree of faith we have to trust Him and take God fully at His Word. So when restful pastures elude us, the first place to look is to our faith: Are we fully believing God, taking His word to us to heart, and walking it out to completion with complete understanding of the intent of His Word?

I think to fully grasp this in a fallen world where trouble is promised to us and seems to rob of rest we need to discern this rest that God speaks of: what is God’s rest?

“For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this passage, ‘They shall not enter My rest’” ~ verses 3-5.

Here is what I discern as God’s rest, beloved. God spoke and it was done, fully and completely, nothing of His intent lacking. So on the seventh day, He looked over all His works with the satisfaction of knowing it was complete. There was nothing more to be said, nothing more to accomplish but to enjoy the view and watch for the fruit to bear out of the finished product.

There are things He has spoken that we are waiting to see fulfilled in the earth through the bearing of the fruit of His Word, but when God speaks it, it’s intent is finished. We can take His Word to the bank knowing it is sufficient for every need and will bear fruit into our lives as we walk in faiths obedience.

When we have faith to believe God, even while waiting to see the fruit of His instruction and promise to us, obedience flows freely to complete the task with assurance of faith for the fulfillment of all things in Him. His Word is finished in us when our faith is complete, even while awaiting the fruit of it. So while waiting to see all He says come to pass, when we fulfill all obedience with faith, we can look over all that is before us and smile even in the midst of a storm tossed sea, knowing the produce of God’s word will be seen in due season.

“Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” ~ verses 6-10.

Joshua did well in leading the people into the Promised Land, becoming one of our patriarchs of faith, but he fell short of full obedience in several areas and, therefore, did not succeed at leading the people to the promised rest. I.e.: they too frequently fell short of their call to destroy all God told them to, so their enemies remained in their midst to cause hardship for them, tempt them away from God, and hinder the rest God desired for them. The people of Israel suffer the consequences for this shortfall still today, as does the whole world set in chaos by terrorism.

We too often forget God’s instruction to us or fall short of understanding its intent: thus we fail to fully believe and take His word seriously, and fall short of full obedience with faith. Such half-hearted obedience is what keeps us from the rest God desires for us.

The other day I found my rest and peace greatly disturbed in the area of my struggle with feelings of rejection. I wrote several weeks ago about that struggle and shared all God instructed me with regard to that issue, and I have walked in great freedom and peace since then. But approaching a friend after church to share something with her, I was left feeling she was uninterested and like I was bothering her.

Now I realized she was tired and that I stopped her as she was heading someplace to do something. I too have trouble relating with others when my mind is set on a course. I realized this quickly and set it aside as a non-issue, but peace and rest remained disturbed within me.

As I asked the Lord why I was feeling such unrest, with that spirit of rejection rearing up anew, He instructed me again that He is the one who gives me favor with man. When He told my heart that, I discerned two things: I was failing to fully trust God’s promise to me in that moment and peace was hindered by lack of faith; and desire for favor with man can become a God to me if I am not careful to realize God’s instruction that I am to seek His favor, not mans.

WALK-WITH-GOD“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” ~ Galatians 1:10.

The intent of God for me / us is to seek after His favor, not concerning self with pleasing mankind. Full obedience for me in this area is to keep focus on the favor of God, walking in it, and not concerning myself with favor from man. When I fail to fulfill the intent of God’s word through obedience to seek the favor of God alone, I leave the restful pastures and am disturbed and hindered by every appearance of the lack of favor.

“Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” ~ verse 11-13.

God sees our hearts. He knows when we are truly and fully following Him in obedience of faith. And He is ready with His Word to help us discern what is hindering our remaining in the restful pastures of His presence and peace. Not only that, but He assures our hearts through Christ for those times when we falter and fall:

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” ~ verse 14-16.

Jesus is the fulfillment of all things through God, beloved. He understands the fleshly, worldly, and demonic battle we are in and the weakness of our flesh, how easily distracted and forgetful we can be. He knows we are a work in progress this side of heaven’s glory.

Beloved, in Christ, God’s word concerning the work of Christ and Him crucified has completed His work in us already as far as eternity is concerned. But in our earthly reality where war with God’s enemy is in play, we are a work in progress. The blood of Christ has completed the work of our eternal cleansing. The Spirit of God is doing the work day by day of purging the sin from our earthly existence. Thus it is vital in cooperating with the purging work of the Spirit that we heed His promptings and follow quickly in obedient faith so as to experience today the restful pastures of God.

Jesus is fully aware of the reality of our weakness. Thus, because of the Word of promise fulfilled in Him, we always find grace when we, being reminded of His word to us, bow at the foot of His throne in order to rise and walk in full obedience of faith anew.

Unhappy in your marriage, beloved? Bow down and seek Him for His word for your relationship. Unhappy in your job, beloved? Bow down and discover what is lacking of faith filled obedience to God.

God’s word has fulfilled all its good will and purpose, and it bears fruit in the earth to become our reality as we walk in faith-filled obedience to the intent of God. Such living allows us to kick back with God at the end of each day and rejoice in the work well-done even while watching for the fruit of it.

Pondering Our Privilege of Right to Restful Pastures

Read Hebrews 2:14-3:19

Focal passage: Hebrews 3:7-11

“Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways”; as I swore in My wrath, “They shall not enter My rest.”’

Again today, I am in awe as I think on what God is speaking to my heart, beloved, and I pray I can paint the picture I see for you to capture as your own. It’s not new truth to me. It’s just the fresh winds of God’s breath reminding me of the fullness of His provision for us, which always produces awe of Him in me. So bear with me while we approach His glory.

Our chapter begins by pointing us back to chapter two:

“Since (Jesus) Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession” ~ Hebrews 2:18 and 3:1.

Like sheep, beloved, we too easily turn to grazing on our heart’s desire and go astray from the pastures of the Good Shepherd where His provision and rest are found. Even the godliest of us have times of “going astray in their heart” and failing to know God’s ways. Temptation to stray from the pastures of God is common to mankind (Romans 3:10; 1 Corinthians 10:13. Link to Scriptures on sin’s death).

Scripture tells us that even Jesus, who came in flesh, was “tempted in all things as we are”. Yet He faced temptation without sin and became our example to follow on our journey to freedom from this death – separation from God. (Hebrews 4:15)

For us to realize the truth of Jesus’ temptation, we must realize that His flesh was fully flesh, like our flesh, responding to temptations just as we do. This being true, we must understand that when he saw a beautiful woman, for example, His physical hormones responded as any man’s would. But He did not give Himself to those fleshly impulses.

I believe the picture God is giving me today about our heart’s path to restful pastures is the reason for Christ’s success that makes Him our example to follow. Thus following the instruction of this passage, we “consider Jesus” as we look to find the solution to those times when our desire tempts us away from the restful pastures of God’s presence. The following passages hold the KEYs I see that leads to our victory:

“(Jesus) was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but CHRIST WAS FAITHFUL AS A SON OVER HIS HOUSEWHOSE HOUSE WE ARE, IF WE HOLD FAST OUR CONFIDENCE AND THE BOAST OF OUR HOPE FIRM UNTIL THE END” ~ verses 2-6.

We are the temple of God, the body of Christ, being built up in Him. As such, beloved, we have full access to both the mind of Christ, who is the living, life breathed Word of God, and to the very heart of God, where the ways of His desire is made clear.

KEY: Jesus succeeded in walking in the righteousness of God by always maintaining the very heart of God within Himself. He has built us up into the House of God as the body of Christ, in which the very heart of God resides. When we “go astray from (our) heart”, this is the heart from which we stray.

Yesterday we pointed out in our pondering of our authority in Christ that Jesus always walked in His authority. How did He do that? Let’s take a peek:

When Jesus was called to fast in preparation for His earthly ministry, Satan tempted, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” In response, Jesus kept the heart of God by remembering the Word of God: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” ~ Matthew 4:3-4.

KEY: Jesus always held in the forefront of His mind the word of God as His spiritual weapon of choice against the whiles of the enemy of God: an enemy that includes the wisdoms of the flesh, the world, and the demonic (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; James 3:13-18).

This enemy is alive and well today, hard at work to lead God’s people astray. In following the example of Christ, the mind of Christ is ours to possess and access as our first line of defense, grabbing hold of the Living, life giving Word and wielding it with deadly accuracy at the head of that which comes against us to tempt us away from God (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Matthew 4:1-11 is the most common passage used by preachers whose teaching I have sat under when talking of Jesus’ way of handling temptation. Hebrews 4 tells us that Jesus was tempted in all things as we are. Though I have heard pastors use Matthew 4’s temptation account to say that His temptation there covered “all things”, the question of a student in one of my Bible studies tells me we need to show His temptation more clearly than that. She rightly observed that the temptation Jesus faced in His wilderness experience did not touch a lot of the things that led her to be tempted. As I sought the Lord for a response to this students inability to see Matthew 4 as an account of Jesus being tempted in “all things” as we are, God revealed to me how Jesus’ entire life journey reveals His temptation and shows us how to remain in the Heart of God in our own journey of facing the tempter. For example:

When Jesus wound up by a well alone in John 4 and a woman of ill repute showed up there with Him, his flesh had opportunity to be tempted to sin, and I sense in the Spirit that this was the intent of Satan. No one was there. He could have taken advantage of the situation to feed His flesh. But what kept Him from it? I believe we get a glimpse in the words of this passage that reveal His heart for the situation:

“Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat.’ But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples were saying to one another, ‘No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?’ Jesus said to them, ‘MY FOOD IS TO DO THE WILL OF HIM WHO SENT ME AND TO ACCOMPLISH HIS WORK. Do you not say, “There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest”? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest’” ~ verses 31-35.

KEY: Jesus always maintained the heart of the Father for the work He was to accomplish, having His purposes in mind, holding it as the most needed food for life.

I could go on to talk about the times when Jesus was tempted by the push of the people to make Him King or to throw Him off hills to an early death rather than face a cruel cross: opportunities refused by Him who (KEY) trusted God’s timetable and His way. We could talk of the temptation to act the Pharisee by refusing to dine with sinners or be touched by them so as to please the spiritual leaders of the day, but Jesus countered that temptation by (KEY) remembering that it was for these He was sent. As the Apostle John said, the whole world could be filled with the books we can write of all Jesus did while He was here on the earth, setting the example for us.

The point to our discourse, Beloved, is that we fail to enter the rest God provides for us when we go astray in our hearts. We do that when we fall to the desires of our fleshly heart and fail to realize that we have the very heart of God beating within us in the power of the Spirit, through Jesus, the Christ.

God is always at the ready to direct us to His desires through the mind of Christ that is ready to breathe the Living Word into our being. He, the Living Word, is the Bread of Life, feeding every pore of our existence with right desires that accomplish God’s purpose, having knowledge of His ways.

Realizing these things equips us to remain in our right Heart, being a people after God’s own heart, believing in Him and desiring Him above all else. Believing God, taking Him at His word, living and breathing His purposes as fed by His very heart beating within us is the KEY to keeping our heart and remaining in the restful pastures He provides for our fulfillment.

“They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways”. This does not have to be the truth of our reality when we realize the Heart that beats within us, and hold tight to the KEYS that feed us truth and righteousness. Only believe!

Pondering Subjection-Authority

Oh wow. I am seeing something in chapter two of Hebrews this morning that I have knowledge of in my head, but I think that knowledge is about to take deeper root and move about 18 inches south of my brain. Bear with me a minute and pray I can get there.

To begin, this passage tells us that “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” ~ Hebrews 2:1. Now the author is talking about our hearing the whole truth of God sent through the Christ, but it prefaces that call with “for this reason.” So let’s take just a second to review “this reason.”

In chapter one, we see that Jesus is the Word of God, not only revealing its power, but revealing the life that is in the very real and living Word of God. The Word is a person, it is Jesus. Therefore God’s Word is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword even today because Jesus not only was, but He IS. That Word is given to us with all the power it possesses. When God speaks His truth to us in a personal way, it becomes our own, passing to us the responsibility for its use and the authority to walk it out with power, assurance, and boldness.

Jesus, having fulfilled all God’s good will and purpose, is lifted to the throne of God’s Kingdom, having full authority as King of kings and Lord of lords. He has a name that makes Him greater than any other of all God’s creation because He fulfilled His purpose in accord to the Word of God. What was the purpose He accomplished? Off the top of my head:

  1. He brought the Word of God, imparting to us the full message of God He was charged to bring.
  2. He corrected all false teaching and understanding, giving us not only the letter of the Law, but its intent of Heart.
  3. He did not come to destroy or do away with the Law, but to perfectly fulfill it, setting the example for our obedience.
  4. In fulfilling the Law, He set the example we are to follow, not only showing us how to live a life that honors and glorifies God as the One and Only, but showing us how to walk in the fullness of our authority as a child of God, possessing His power for all things.
  5. He paid the price of sin, being the perfect Lamb of God, so that through Him, we may believe and receive the inheritance of salvation.
  6. He took His seat at the right hand of God, receiving unto Himself the full authority of King of all God’s Kingdom and all His creation, being empowered to impart to us His power for life and living that belongs to us as the heirs of promise.
  7. He ever lives to intercede on our behalf until His return, which is soon, and very soon.

Having these facts under our proverbial belt, beloved, now we come to verses 5-8:

“For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, ‘What is man, that you remember him? Or the son of man, that you are concerned about him? You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of Your hands; You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ FOR IN SUBJECTING ALL THINGS TO HIM, HE LEFT NOTHING THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO HIM. BUT NOW WE DO NOT YET SEE ALL THINGS SUBJECTED TO HIM.”

Here is what I know and have known for a while: Adam and Eve had full authority from GOD, who subjected all the earth to them, but they did not walk in the authority God imparted for them to possess. Thus came the fall of man as sin entered in, bringing death to us. Death came because we did not realize and walk in the Living Word to possess the authority we had for life. So instead of subjecting the world by possessing the authority God gave mankind, we fell to being subject to the laws of nature. Death entered, and we surrendered to that taskmaster. Then in walks Jesus (verses 9-15):

“But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. …Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

God gave all to mankind, but mankind fell to the lie that there was “more and better” to be had; that God was somehow holding back from us and keeping us from having it all. So separation from God and from His authority and power entered into our lives, death, bringing us to a meager existence indeed. Fear of death took hold as powerlessness ruled, subjecting us to slavery to sin, robbing us of all God’s ideal best for us. Thus Jesus came in flesh of man, contending with all its weakness, but rightly possessing the full authority of the Word of God. Setting the example for us, He subjected all things to Himself, as was intended by God from the beginning, fulfilling the perfect will of God, thus becoming for us the sacrifice that frees us from death.

“For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (verses 16-18).

Because of Christ, we who hear His Word are standing at the threshold of eternity. When we enter into the Kingdom with and through Him, we again stand as a people charged to subject all things to the authority of God’s Word. Through the practice of that faith, death no longer has a hold on us. We can let go of fear of death, no longer walking in separation, and receive the power and authority of God as one with Him who rules over all things through Christ. We king-jesus4bfully partner with Him to rule through obedience to Him who subjects all things under the feet of the Body of Christ, of which we are.

The question is, will we receive and walk in the power we have to possess? What fear holds you back, beloved? Receive the Word implanted and walk in the authority of God by way of the Help He supplies through Christ, the mediator.

“For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, GOD ALSO TESTIFYING WITH THEM, BOTH BY SIGNS AND WONDERS AND BY VARIOUS MIRACLES AND BY GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ACCORDING TO HIS OWN WILL” ~ Hebrews 2:2-4. Bear the fruit, beloved.

Pondering Church, Body, Bride – Setting Sights on Intimacy with Christ

Today I am pondering our position in Christ as the people of God. As I do so, I recognize three pictures of our position that we find expressive of us in Scripture: Church, Body and Bride.

As the Church, we know that a building does not a church make. We can have buildings used for the purpose of gathering, but it is not a church until the people come into it. And wherever the people gather, whether in a building designated for such, around a dinner table with family and friends, or on an isle at Walmart, we are the church, called and equipped by God to encourage the Body of Christ, equipping that Body to function as it is intended to by God. A church can only be a church where two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus.

The body of Christ is the collective of the whole of all who are His, saved by grace through faith, and surrendered to Him for the work He has planned before hand for each of us to do. Collectively we work together in the world to accomplish God’s purpose and to fulfill His ministry as light to the world, drawing others into His saving grace. We are His hands, His feet, His mouth, His spleen. Each individual member of the body has its function, but we need one another to be all God desires and fulfill all He planned. We are the body. One malfunctioning part can hinder the whole, and without the help of all, one is hindered. Thus Body and Church are dependent upon each other or we are not Body and Church.

Finally, we are the Bride of Christ. But as I ponder our relationship as Bride, I am struck by the individuality of that. Though we all make up His Bride together, our relationship with Him is dependent on our individual relationship with Him. I cannot make you a Bride and increase your intimacy with Him. It is up to you; and mine is mine alone.

I don’t know if this makes sense, but what I am seeing is this: The work of the Church is to build up and equip the Body, all working together to accomplish this. The Body is made up of all who are Bride to Christ, each individually part of the whole, all needed for full and proper function of that called “Body of Christ”. But each who are “Bride” must come into their own personal relationship with God in Christ.

We can come together as the Church and help the individual grow in their relationship with the Bridegroom, but being Bride is a personal choice and a personal, completely individualized journey for each one called “Bride”. And only when each individual of the Bride comes into their own as Bride can they function fully in their role as part of His Body and His Church.

Question: How real is God to you? How alive is His Word to your Spirit? How PRESENT is His Spirit of Power in your understanding and function? If we struggle in any of these areas, we have not yet come into our own as His Bride, able to fully and intimate relate with Him. As we come into this New Year of life, I pray the heart of Paul for us today.

“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, in the hope that if possible I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body.” (Philippians 3:8-11, AB)

In marriage, the two become one flesh. That is what this heart of Paul says to me. I want to know Him more intimately and personally with every breath of every day. Through knowledge of Him comes my resurrection to life made new, full and abundant every day; life not bound by time, but empowered by the eternal.

Jesus-Bride001Such intimacy knows the heart of the Beloved, rejoicing when He rejoices, grieving when He grieves, and giving one’s all: one’s own life to see all His desires fulfilled, thus suffering in likeness to His Own. Such intimacy with the Beloved makes it possible for me to attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body. I transcend this mortal when vitally united with the Immortal.

This level of intimacy requires of us the dying to oneself Jesus spoke of when He instructed, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” ~ Luke 9:23. It is the death Paul speaks of in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Are you there yet, Beloved? Are you acutely aware of your position as Bride and sold out to “one flesh” intimacy with Him?

I have come a long way, baby. But I am not there yet, not fully. Come join me in 2015 as we seek to grow in our intimacy with Christ, to be one with Him individually so we can have power and provision needed to be the Church and fulfill our role as part with them in His Body.

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” ~ Philippians 3:12-16.

The Christmas Story Revisited

Pastor Marshall shared the Christmas story yesterday from Luke 2, giving details that truly speak great significance into that beloved account. I share it in my own words here, hoping to inspire Christmas in you and yours.

Luke 2

Mary-Joseph02“1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

First point: Caesar thought he was in control of these events. He did not realize that truly it was God pulling the strings in order to bring about the fulfillment of events which long ago prophesied that the Christ would come out of Bethlehem, of the house of David. So God inspired events leading to the taking of the census.

And what were those events? Corrupt government and overspending that led to the need of increased taxation, leading to the new census so they could both collect taxes and know what the taxes would produce. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. Could it be true for us now as for these back then that God is pulling strings for a purpose all His own?

Thus God led Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem so that Jesus would be born there.

Then note the meaning of these events:

Bethlehem means “House of Bread”. Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life. The manger is believed to have been a feeding troth. Nativity 03The Bread of Life was laid in a manger inside a hill in the House of Bread. Jesus came forth from the House of Bread, heir to the house of David, king of Israel, destined to take the throne of David and rule for all eternity. Jesus, the Christ Messiah, King of kings and Lord of lords, calls to us, beckoning us to come and feast ourselves in Him, who feeds us with lasting life from the House of Bread and the Father’s table.

And the cave in a hillside? Belief in Jesus is an issue that must reach the very heart of our being. This is a story that must tuck itself within us, reaching the core of our being, if it is to feed our lives for all eternity.

“8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’”

good_shepherd2A shepherd was considered a low life individual in their culture: They stunk of sheep and were not even allowed in the temple because their job required them to do things that made them “unclean” and, thus, unable to enter the temple without first going through ritual cleansing. These shepherds not only had responsibility for the care of the common cattle, but they were responsible for the care of the lambs used in the temple sacrifices. They were keepers of the sacrificial lambs and, I am sure, longed for the Messiah to come and remove their need of that job.

In this time of history the people of God had not heard from God in 400 years. But I can imagine that, despite the growing evil that is mimicked in our own day, the people who most often thought of the eternal would be the ones caring for the sacrificial lambs being readied to take away their sin. How true of God to go to the lowliest and give them the honor of being first to hear the good news and see the Lamb of God enter the scene. I wonder if they transferred their role as keepers and caregivers to the Lamb of God, helping Joseph and Mary to look out for Jesus as He grew. I know that if I were in their shoes, I can see myself wanting to be by Mary’s side as much as possible, helping with the care of the one the angels announced as the Lord’s Messiah, come in human flesh. As Mary did then, today we ponder these things and rejoice with the angels.

“13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“14 ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”

Pastor pointed out that the day before this day these angels were stationed around the throne of Heaven, worshiping the God of all HeraldingAngels04Creation. And now they continue their worship around the same God who has miraculously come in human form to show us the way of truth and pay the price that paved the way of our salvation. They rejoice as they see the plan and purpose of God birthed into the earth.

“15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”

Umm, yum, yum. Taste and see that the Lord is good. God sends the message of Good Tidings to our hearts, then feeds us in ways that give us firsthand experience as we go in search of Him. He promises that those who seek Him with whole heart will find Him (Jeremiah 29:11-14, especially see the Amplified version). May we hear the good tidings, then go to see it for ourselves, finding Him faithful to make Himself known.

Mary034“17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”

Like the shepherds, we have to respond to the message of the Christ, go to the House of Bread and eat of the Bread of Life receiving that life for ourselves so that we may then go and tell others of His work on our behalf. We are called to recognize the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And when we receive and believe Him we are sent out with responsibility for the care of His pastures.

Hear the Christmas story, beloved, and respond today. The Lamb of God and the Bread of Life call us to a feast where Living Water is the drink of choice, springing up in the recipient as an artesian well bringing life to those we touch in His Name. Rejoice, beloved, then go and tell the good news!

Firm in Faith – Firm in Stance

Yesterday God highlighted for me Isaiah 7:9b…

“If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all” ~ ESV.

“If you will not believe, you surely shall not last” ~ NASB.

Looking at verses 1-12, we see Ahaz facing three kings who are out to destroy him and take his territory over. Ahaz starts out to gain the aid of Assyria, but God sends Isaiah to stop him and encourage him to trust in the Lord instead.

This passage so hits home for me in so many areas. I feel God’s call to do something, then, when it gets hard, I want to elicit others help to do what I am called to do, often so I can back out altogether. Many of us desire to do right: work at a job God opened for us, reach a goal, obtain a dream, minister to another in our sphere of influence; but when obstacles get in the way and the road gets rough, instead of trusting in and relying upon God, we wimp out, back pedal, or look to others besides Him for our solution. God may send His word of assurance through many avenues, telling us it will be okay if we will just stay the course and trust Him, but we don’t like pain, so we run in fear, and fail to hear or believe. When this happens, we rob ourselves of the opportunity we have to participate in the great work of God and experience Him as never before.

See self through God's eyes.
See self through God’s eyes.

Here in Isaiah 7, God tells Ahaz that the army coming against him will not succeed. He does not tell him that the battle will not come. Nor does He tell him that his victory will be easy. What He does say is, “If you trust and believe Me, you will be able to stand firm, withstand the battle, and come through to its completion having your kingdom and your crown in tact. BUT if you will not believe, you will not last, but will fall away.”

I read a devotional thought today from SparkPeople.com that spoke to me on this issue. The quote they used is from Frank Tyger, saying, “Most barriers to your success are man-made. And most often, you’re the man who made them.”

Regarding this thought, the author of the devotional writes, “What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to stick to a fitness plan so that you will look great this summer? Are you trying to improve a relationship with a friend or loved one? …Whatever you are trying to do, think about a time when you’ve allowed yourself to think, ‘I can’t!’ Why did this happen? Most of the time, it is because of a barrier that you yourself created.

“It is completely natural for you to have this reaction in life. For most of us, when things get tough or when we start to fail, we try to find ways to justify our actions instead of trying to find ways to get over the hurdle. …”  (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/quotes_translation.asp?id=262).

I remember a time when I said to myself, “I can’t do this anymore.” It broke something in me and, for a time, it robbed me of my ability to cope with my daddy’s paranoia issues and minister to him. It even hindered my ability to relate with many others – for a time. When I realized the enemy assault in those words that were not based on truth in Christ and that robbed me of faith in God who equips me for all things, I began the slow road to healing and got back in the proverbial saddle of life again.

We must take care when the hurdles come upon us that we keep our eyes on and our faith in God, or we will be easily knocked off our horses and off the path God has for us. Life is hard, but God is faithful. Seek His face for the assurance needed and stay the course that will get us to the finish line, having accomplished all His good will and purpose. The center of His will is often hard, but it is the safest, most blessed place to be.

Know the True Battle Lines

“Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?’” ~ John 18:10-11.

Jesus knew His hour of glorification was at hand. Peter did not understand fully what was to come, so he drew the sword to fight for the life of the One he loved, and found himself standing in opposition to the Christ. Jesus, on the other hand, understood the evil coming at Him was from the Father for the fulfillment of all things good and glorious. Fighting against drinking that cup would be fighting against Father. Fighting against the very will and way of the Father would keep Jesus from fulfilling the purpose for which He was sent into the earth.

As I read this today, I am reminded that we must have this insight within us that Christ had for His hour of Glory’s opportunity. Every hard thing that comes at us, though the enemy of God intends it for evil, we must realize that God intends to work good out of it. And there are some hard things that come for God’s purpose that are not sent by the enemy of God, but are sent through that evil by God for a purpose that may be beyond our comprehension at the time. Seeing the glorious purpose of God fulfilled requires us to cooperate with Him in addressing our life circumstances. (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20)

Take the Patriarch Joseph as example. He suffered much hardship because of what looked like the cruelty of his brothers. But God laid out the plan in which He trained Joseph and put him into position for the dreams sent him by God to be fulfilled. Though Joseph did not fully understand why he had to go through such hardship, he kept faith and trust in God, cooperating with Him by making the most of each situation. As a result, those very things suffered were used of God to grow his faith and his gifting in preparation for his ultimate role that fulfilled the purpose of God in saving his people in the time of famine. Just think what might have been if Joseph fought his captivity instead of making the best of it?

Thus I find myself asking today what situations I am in that are God’s road for training and equipping me for the opportunity ahead that will allow me to work with Him in fulfilling the glory He has planned for my life.

We all go through days of difficulty, beloved. Sometimes those hardships come because of our sin: Father’s disciplining hand reaching down to deliver us from those tendencies that too often lead us astray of His will and way. Beloved, when it comes to God’s desire for a right and eternal relationship with us, He is not afraid to break our leg as a good Shepherd would do to a wayward sheep, putting us into a position where we will seek Him and where He can have quality time with us, gaining our undivided attention. He would rather put us on our backs now to keep us from eternal damnation and separation from Him than see us perish for all eternity. He uses such times to increase our faith, enabling us to fully trust Him who is making us into the person of His design, ready to fulfill His purpose.

Most often the evil one sends difficulty meant to knock us off kilter in an attempt to stop the work of God in and through us. The devil hates God and he hates us who follow him. Lucifer wants to be God, and he wants as many as he can possibly deceive to be with him in his eternal punishment. So he works overtime, doing all he can to hinder the work of God in and through us who are his witnesses and his chosen vessels meant to help others come to Christ. If Satan can lead us to destroy our testimony so we are useless in the work of helping others to discover the truth of Christ, he wins a battle. If not that, he will work to get us so wrapped up in our hardships and difficulties that we have no time or energy to minister to others, thus bringing us to defeat.

Then there are the times, like with Christ and Joseph, when God is the one who sends those things into our lives that bring difficulty and are hard to understand. He uses such hardship to train and prepare us for some work ahead that may not be evident yet. Or those very difficult things may very well be the very path that gets us into position for God’s very glory to come forth and accomplish His very purpose for our very lives. It is the “verily, verily” of God’s very truth.

Joseph, like Christ, chose to not allow evil to win, but to cooperate with God’s goodness in the midst of the hardship faced in order for God’s purpose to be fulfilled for the good of all concerned. These are examples to us in our own times of difficulty. No matter the source of the evil, cooperate with God. Don’t put self in a position of fighting God. Know the true battle lines and turn to face the frontlines with Father.

The question for us today is, will we fall to the will of the evil one who is out for our destruction, or will we cooperate with God? Choosing cooperation with God for the good He desires is vital, lest we find ourselves fighting against the One who is doing us good, and not harm meant for evil. God is always working in us to give us a future and hope for our final outcome. And He may even use hardship to put us into a place of being His resource for the salvation of others (Jeremiah 29:11).

Sanctified “For Their Sakes”

“As you sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. FOR THEIR SAKES I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:18-19).

Sanctification – being set apart with a purpose. We are set apart BY God for His use in His intended purpose. He is creating for Himself a Kingdom of people, and we are part of that, if indeed He is our God and us His people. We are set apart by God for His purpose, and we are set apart TO God by right of our choice. He gives us choice, the right of determining to bow the knee now, and to work with and for Him in fulfilling His glory in the earth and bringing His Kingdom purpose to pass.

Jesus was Sanctified and set apart by God to be our Savior. Jesus here lets us know that He was set apart to God by His choosing to follow God’s will for the sake of us who are the object of His desire. Because He loves us, Jesus wants us, and He wants us to be sanctified in truth, therefore He chose to live a sanctified life in fulfilling the purpose of God for Himself so that we, too, may be sanctified in truth.

As I read this today, Father instructs my heart that this is my call and purpose as well: to be sanctified, set apart, fully consecrated by God for His purpose; and to choose sanctification through cooperation of obedience for the sake of those in my sphere of influence, so that they too may find, know and enter into their sanctification in truth and righteousness. For me this truth and call of God in this day is instructing me to have right priorities in all I choose to do and say, so that I may be His vessel, fully surrendered for His use in making Him known in the world.

My life is too scattered right now. I have felt that for a while and have prayed, seeking the Father for right priorities and focused living, for Him to aim me at the target of His design so I do not fail to fulfill His purpose. This teaching through the life example of The Christ comes to me as God’s answer, to focus my choices on “sanctification for your sakes” so I have right priorities in these last days.

What about you, beloved of the Lord? Who have you sent out into the world today? Did you sanctify yourself in your encouragement of them so that they have an example of set apart living? As you live as in the world, though not of it today, choose now to live in such a way as to encourage and give example to a life dictated by sanctification to Father God through Jesus The Christ.

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

(For a biblical definition of sanctification, read http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/sanctification/)

God is Building His Temple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Other signs currently happening include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

BLESSings, Beloved One!

Darlene

King’s Daughter

 

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

Chosen, Not Rejected Part 3

Here is part three of God’s instructing my heart in this area of my life. Thank you for reading my often long blogs! BLESSings.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=5809245

Chosen, Not Rejected

Hello, friends. I have written two blogs lately on another site that I thought I would point you to. They deal with my struggle with feelings of rejection and what God is teaching me. I you are one of God’s children, struggling in this area of your life, perhaps there is a word for you in the following posts:

Secret ID and Super Hero Moments that Makes is a response to a team I am on with SparkPeople: http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=5808225

Today’s blog is a response to yesterdays titled “Off the Mask and Cape; Dawn the Heroic Robe. As I attended a ladies night at church last night, God spoke to my struggle address in the above blog. Find His answers for me at http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=5808649

Thank you for your patronage. May The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace. (Numbers 6)

Propitiation Love

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” ~ Matthew 24:13-14, NASB.

Endures what? Lawlessness? No. The endurance we must possess is to persevere against the assault to one’s love-walk that lawlessness produces.

Love is key to our survival in these days. As lawlessness increases, giving love can be challenged by frustration with those who sin against us; defeated by a spirit of discouragement toward those we see as never changing from the evil that ensnares them. Key to our love-walk in such times of difficulty is the fact that God loves because He IS LOVE: and we are to BE as HE IS. Grab this key, beloved and meditate on it today as you deal with those who stress and strain love. And as you do, consider the following:

Never turn away a loved one because of frustration with their sin without first seeking the Father for the best love-action that needs to be taken. Sometimes leaving the person to wallow in the mire is the greatest love we can give them, so they learn to hate their own sin and to long for the good they can have with the Father they have experienced, hopefully through us. Other times, surpassing frustration to meet a physical need is the love act that expresses God’s care to them and shines the Light that draws them in. But only the Father knows their heart and which is the avenue of destruction to sin that frees them. So we must seek His discernment in our love-walk. Teacher-Test

Unfortunately, in this life with the evils we deal with daily, we also have to consider the protection of innocence, turning from those through whom sin touches us in order to protect the innocence affected by it. Thus knowing how to rightly love requires God’s wise discernment. His love will prevail to accomplish its purpose if we seek to follow on the heels of LOVE-Persona.

While studying for a Bible Study lesson the other day, I discovered an interesting truth about our love walk and what it should be. To endure lawlessness with a spirit of love toward those who do wrong against us, I believe this truth is necessary for us to consider.

In 1 John we are told that Jesus is “propitiation” for sin (2:2). He fully satisfies the payment required by GOD’s Law for the sin of all mankind, the whole world of us! Even ISIL right now, Jesus paid the price of the atrocities they are committing right now; but blinders hinder their receiving His gift of grace, freedom from their sin, and the eternal life they think they are fighting to acquire. Think of missing the very thing you think you are achieving through your works that are sin against the one true God, because you cannot see that God as reality or His propitiation love as true in the Christ you deny. That is sad indeed, a pitiful situation.

We are the people of God if we have chosen Him in Christ just as He chooses us through the same. Though we continue to struggle against sin, because of Jesus this propitiation love of God for us does not hold our sin against us. John 3:16 tells us that God gave Jesus to this role because He loves us—ALL of us, thus the gift purchased reaches out to the whole world, even those ensnared by philosophies like that of ISIL. This is God’s love for us all, the whole world of us. He wanted us with Him for all eternity so much so that He sent His son to pay the full price for sin for all mankind everywhere. And He holds that Christ out for all to see as The Way by which we receive that eternity as a gift, paid for by Him.

That is not news to me, beloved, as I am sure it is not to you who believe as I do, but the following grabbed me! 1 John 4:10-11, NASB, instructs us:

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the PORPITIATION for our sins. BELOVED, IF GOD SO LOVED US, WE ALSO OUGHT TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”

We are to love with Propitiation!

Through love we desire to be His light to a world that needs our Savior. Love growing cold hinders our desire and ability to share Christ. Love growing cold hinders our desire and effectiveness in making sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel. Being propitiate toward those who are unworthy of love from our standpoint means to love them despite sin, not holding their sin against them so as to become cold hearted toward them and fail to hold out to them the ONE they most need to achieve the goal they so greatly desire. Propitiation-love seeks to love fully by continuing even in the face of atrocities done to us, to be God’s light and a conduit of His love toward them with hope of their salvation.

To desire that others know the one who loved us enough to give His all on our behalf, especially those who sin against us, is Propitiation-love. There is no room for self-centeredness, self-preservation, pride, greed, resentment, grudge and anger THAT HINDERS our love-walk and keeps us from giving our all in order to share our Christ with the least of these. If we as God’s people in Christ are sitting in their torcher chamber, this love and Light should prevail against the dark; and by His grace at work within us, it can and will, but we have to understand the call and trust Him who is able to make it so.

Does that mean we never fight against evil? No. We are called to expose unrighteousness and stand firm against it (Read Ephesians 5:6-21; 6:10-20). To fail to do that is to leave those who can be reached with the love of God ensnared by those who would never allow their exposure to the love God has for them in Christ. Thus we fight the good fight of faith, doing good wherever we are able, and routing out sin wherever it seeks to destroy the Light that is there.

One of the hardest things I have ever experienced came when I asked God to fill me with His love for another; and He did, fully. Love you still! I know you are reading this. Receiving that love for the beloved was easy. But when they committed what for me was an unspeakable, unfathomable sin, that love did not quit, and the lesson concerning the fullness and power of God’s love began. To be so hurt and disgusted by sin, but still to love and long for a right and good relationship is hard; it is beyond comprehension to me who is still hindered by flesh. And to have such sin form a wall of hindrance to the full experience and expression of Love is heart breaking.

This is God’s love for us. It is the hurt I believe God bears for those He longs for every second of every day because of the gift of Jesus, but who cannot see or walk in truth because they are blinded to Jesus and ensnared by sin. When we are covered by Christ, that covering brings low the walls that divide so we can continue in relationship with Him. But when we refuse the covering, His love for us does not die. It just goes unfulfilled, and don’t you know, that hurts!

This is a picture of the Propitiation-love we are to have for each other. Love never fails. It puts the sins of the past in the past and works to go forward, not adding up the sin to keep using it against the one loved. Though sin may separate us because of the walls that fly up as created by the sin, love does not die, but continues to desire and seek the best for the object of its affections. God sends rain on the just and the unjust because, though sin hinders relationship, love continues.

There are many “Walking Dead” in the earth, beloved. Those who refuse the gift of propitiation love found in Christ are dead in their trespasses and sins. Only as we grow to love others as God loves us will we endure the days of lawlessness ahead of us so that we can continue to reach out into their darkness as His Light. And only as we get understanding of this Love He has for us and calls us to have for others can we truly be a conduit of that love to the unlovable in our midst.

Warning! CHURCH – Do not fear.

Led to read John 1 in the Message Bible today, I was struck by John’s words, “I knew nothing about who He was – only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize Him as the God-Revealer.” Before God revealed the truth of who was Messiah, John knew his calling and purpose, to get Israel ready to recognize Him.

Many people are talking a lot these days about the signs of end times that seem to be unfolding before us with ever increasing fervor. I am one watching closely with understanding of the times we live in. And if you have read my posts long and of late, you know I write to the body with regard to our readiness in these days. As I read John’s statement regarding himself, I know that my main purpose right now is to put out the cry to the Church in Christ: Are we ready? We must live in readiness.

A couple of my nieces have asked me to meet with them and one of my granddaughters on a monthly basis and one of their main concerns are the signs of our day. I am not one well versed in the prophetic discernment of Revelations. I can’t tell you what the hidden message of Revelations is without much digging and study under someone who is well versed in that area. Though I have studied it and I know what to watch for, and though I have facilitated groups in the study of the signs of end times, it is not my personal specialty, and it is not what God has called me to. But I do know this: the day is drawing ever nearer, but it is NOT Here Yet.

There is much unfolding before us and, as I have said before, the spirit of antichrist is growing ever stronger in the earth, but the signs are not full and complete yet. There is still much to come, and though it can and most likely will unfold quickly when it comes, it is NOT Here Yet.

For example, my sister expressed concern about the chip they have developed that goes under the skin of a person and monitors their health. Yes, this is the growing signs of the coming tribulation and the mark of the beast that will be required of mankind, but this is not the sign yet. This is not the mark.

The mark of the beast will require the bearer to express allegiance to the antichrist’s embodiment of one man who is yet to be revealed to the world. Without expressing allegiance to him above God, you cannot have the mark and without the mark, you cannot buy, sell, or trade, therefore you do not legally eat and live. So though this sign shows technology getting closer to being able to monitor mankind in such a way as to control commerce, it is not there yet. This is not the sign – the mark, it is a step toward it.

So if you want or need your health monitored closely, receive the technology without fear and with gratitude to God for its right and true use. The day the governing body of man says that you cannot have or keep using that technology until you pledge allegiance to “Mr. Antichrist Persona” cut it out and refuse the pledge and the technology.

My calling and equipping for ministry in my writing and teaching during this season is this, to quote Jesus and the apostles in telling you the signs to watch for and those not there yet. Jesus said such signs are birthing pangs of what is to come, but they are not to be feared (Read Matthew 24 *:6*)!

Here me, do not fear. Fear is enemy to FAITH. Fear can cause us to fall to the very thing we fear because we fear most the pain and hardship. It is easier to give in to the fear than to press forward in faith and face pain and hardship. Fear is dangerous to us, so do not fear! Did you hear me? Do NOT Fear. ONLY BELIEVE, TRUST, AND OBEY GOD!

Jesus is coming back, beloved, and we are called and equipped to face the days that will come as signal to us of His soon arrival. We have the Holy Spirit within us, uniting us as one with Christ the Messiah and God the Father. The Spirit teaches us all things so we will not be caught unawares, and He equips us to Stand Firm! He will never leave nor forsake us. The days ahead are precarious, but we can face them with strength, hope and assurance because our God is faithful.

The question is not When or Whether? Jesus is coming, and the signs of it grow ever riper, readying to birth there fruit into the earth. The question is, “Will we, Church – will YOU, Believer – be ready at His coming?”

We must BE REAL in Christlikeness, for the birthing pangs grow ever stronger. We must BE SURE of His calling and choosing us, for the day of His return is coming closer still. We must be busy about the Father’s business, being the God-revelators of our day, for there are many who still do not know that He is, and that He is COMING!

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

I wrote the following for my Spark page blog and thought I would share it with you here. SparkPeople is a free healthy lifestyle community I am in. If you struggle to eat right and exercise, it is an excellent site providing resource materials, tools for a successful journey, support from other members, and teams to challenge our journey forward. Whether you are young and relatively healthy, handicapped and in need of support, or older and in need of encouragement to change long held habits, their is a support system for you at http://www.sparkpeople.com. (If you join SparkPeople, tell them TRANSFORM-ABBY  sent you and it will link us as friends. Then be sure to tell me who you are.)

So here is today’s blog share with you:

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

Scripture encourages us to Choose life. That phrase hit my heart this morning as I reread my own status, and I wondered with regard to our Spark journey, “What does that mean anyway?”

My first thoughts went to the passage itself for my answer (Deuteronomy 30). In that passage it tells us to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. So to choose life on this journey is to:

Do good toward ourselves and, in the doing, to do it for those we love as well. When we eat right, we are doing good for self. And providing good things for self generally will make that same provision available for those we love so they, too, wind up eating better. When we do good toward ourselves by moving our bods and making sure we get needed activity it is good for us, yes, but it also provides an example worth following for our children and grandchildren, and even opportunity for them, our mates and other loved ones and friends to join us. So choosing life is to choose the good by doing what is best for ourselves with that good having the potential to impact those closest to us. And doing good for self adds strength to our days so we are better able to do for others.

Choose blessing: I have a note up on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Choose the things that matter most.” Choosing blessing is to have right priorities so that we are blessed in life, enjoying the good things in it, and so we are a blessing in life, giving self and giving our best to others. The example that came to mind is to know when spending time with that grandbaby that is visiting is more important than making sure the furniture is dusted. And which is more important? A baby that feels loved and safe, or harping at them in anger over the fingerprints left for us to clean? Choose blessing by having right priorities.

There are so many thoughts in scripture to direct us in how to choose life: “set your mind and keep it set on the things above, the higher things” (Colossians 3, AMP); “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…do not merely look out for your own personal interests” (Philippians 2); “treat others as you would like to be treated”. And Luke 6:31-33 brings me full circle as it instructs:

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Agape love loves others as we love ourselves, doing good to them, having their best interests at heart. It is not based upon a system of reward only for those we feel deserve it. It is based on who we are. And love for others begins with a love for God that knows how to love oneself, and love others in kind. If I will not do something to or toward myself because it would not be good for me, I must not do that to others. If I do good for another, but fail to do the same for myself, I have committed self-neglect. I cannot take proper care of others if I fail to meet my own needs so I have strength and energy to care for others. Thus we are right back to the point of fact that to have life abundant and full, we must do good toward ourselves and others.

Choose life, beloved, and this journey will be a true blessing that makes a life-journey worth taking.

Possess Your Own Vessel (Body)

“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to HOW YOU OUGHT TO WALK AND PLEASE GOD (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, YOUR SANCTIFICATION; that is, that you ABSTAIN FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY; that each of you KNOW HOW TO POSSESS HIS OWN VESSEL in sanctification and honor, NOT IN LUSTFUL PASSION, like the Gentiles WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD; And That No Man Transgress And Defraud His Brother In The Matter Because The Lord Is The Avenger In All These Things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, HE WHO REJECTS THIS IS NOT REJECTING MAN BUT THE GOD who gives His Holy Spirit to you” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.

Sexual immorality is rampant in our day, even among those who belong to God. Adultery, fornication, incest, pornography, homosexuality, rape and molestation of innocence: all these are addressed in God’s Word as being against His will for us, and we see it all in our day, in ever increasing prevalence, even among the people of God. I believe all these perversions of God’s ideal way sicken the heart of God who calls us to sanctification that has a vital purpose.

The institution of marriage and the act of marriage, as God intended it to be, is a picture of what our relationship is supposed to be like with our Holy God. It is the giving of oneself fully to one person, able to so greatly trust that person that we can be “naked” – fully exposed before them. Such intimacy is not meant to be shared with any other than the one we are intended for, the one we are to spend our life with. In likeness to our relationship with the One True God, we are to be saved and kept for the one we are meant to be with for all time.

Even to look on another so as to lust after them, which is the business of pornography, is to sin against God and against His holy institution. Premarital experience and fleshly lust rob of experiencing God’s best for us in our relationships and it hinders our ability to trust each other, which is vital to true intimacy. I know this for a fact, not only because of what the Spirit has taught me in God’s word, but unfortunately because of personal experience.

I was sexually active in my youth, not having anyone to teach me these things. I married unwisely to get out of that lifestyle and that marriage ended in divorce. When God brought my husband into my life – and He did! He has made this clear to us in many ways through our years – I struggled over my past as I began to learn the truth of God’s ideal. It hindered our intimacy for a long time, until God healed me of the consequence of my sin, delivering me from the guilt and shame, and set me free indeed. It is my hope in sharing these things that I can spare some of you the pain and struggle.

The pre-marital impurity done by or to those still waiting for their mate-in-Christ is the commission of sin against our Holy God and that intended mate. It is also sin against one’s own flesh, and I am not just talking about STDs or out of wedlock pregnancy.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases and the potential for pregnancy are just part of the consequences we can face. Sexual intimacy with another gets into the depths of our being. When we do find our mate, flashbacks of previous experiences can hit our hearts to bring us to shame. It can keep us from satisfaction with our mates and hinder our healing from that past.

With every act that is not sanctified and set apart in keeping self for one’s future partner, we do harm to these vital relationships as it affects our very personalities and expectations for marital relations. Needing to “practice” so we will be ready for our mate, knowing how to satisfy them, is a lie straight out of hell.

No two people are alike. What one likes and expects, another will abhor. If you “practice” with one and like certain things, then marry another who does not like those same things, you will be constantly dissatisfied with your mate, ill-equipped to satisfy them, and frequently tempted to go back to where your desires can be met. Sexual relations is one area where ignorance is bliss. If you come together in innocence and learn to please each other, you will be satisfied together. When you grow in your intimacy together, learn what each likes, and minister to each other’s needs, that very intimacy satiates desire and makes you one flesh together, protecting you from desire for another.

Realize, beloved one, that until a couple marries, they do not yet know that they will be married. Anything can happen to stop our plans for marriage between the proposal and the “I do”; so “we are getting married” is not a license to take to ourselves the privilege of marriage before we are legitimately wed together. TRUE LOVE WAITS! This false belief that “engaged” is the same as “married” has ruined the gift of purity for many young couples. From the instant of that first kiss of longing that makes one want to touch, all the way to the actual penetration, all of that act of intimacy is sex! It is a gift to be given on the wedding night, AFTER the “I do” is done. Scripturally, marriage does not begin until the parents give the bride to the groom and all human legalities that define marriage are fulfilled.

The next portion of our passage, “That No Man Transgress And Defraud His Brother In The Matter Because The Lord Is The Avenger In All These Things” speaks to me of the insult we do to others through failing to possess our own vessels in sanctity for our marriage partner.

Defraud: to use deceit, falsehoods, or trickery to obtain money, an object, rights or anything of value belonging to another. From the premarital encounter that destroys the gift of purity meant for another, to rape, sexual immorality done with another’s mate or against one’s own mate, any sin of immorality that is done by force against another ~ all of these are transgressions that defraud another. And all of these defraud God, for in that instant we insult the One who loves us most and rob Him of our wholehearted intimacy with Him as God and Lord.

If we are His child, such acts grieve and quench the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Since God is always with and for the believer, we cause pain to His Holy Presence, who is made to experience our sin by virtue of His intimate knowledge of us. Such acts do great harm to our relationship with Him. And it is an act of blasphemy, as it gives God’s name in us, “Christian”, a bad reputation.

I believe the “brother” in this statement toward those we defraud could be translated “brethren,” which would mean: our brothers and sisters in Christ; our family and those we are kin to; those of the same people group; any people whose lives are touched by our sin. Even the angels in heaven who are watching God’s people and the triune-God with whom we are one are adversely affected by our sin.

When we commit adultery, we sin not only with the person we partner with in the act, but we sin against their present or future mate, their children, and all who will be touched by the pain of the consequences brought about by the sin done and exposed to light. And what does it say? “The Lord is the avenger in all things.” So the consequences that come against us because of our sin come from the very hand of God. STDs that destroy our bodies; out of wedlock pregnancies that sideline our plans for the future; marriages ended because of hurt and lack of trust; these consequences and more are allowed by God because of our sin. HE WHO REJECTS THIS IS NOT REJECTING MAN BUT GOD.

Pray as God leads you today for yourself, those you love, and all God brings to your heart today. If you have committed these sins already, repent, stop what you are doing, get right with God and seek godly council to help you correctly deal with the sin done.

Pray for the body of Christ to be sanctified and set apart in purity, delivered from perversion, and to know how to possess their own body in obedience to the Father. It is better to be a eunuch by choice than to commit acts of such sin and face the wrath of our Holy God.

Jesus-Bride006If you are one who has been hurt by such sin, forgive for your own sake, so that you can be in right standing with God, able to get His perspective on the issue, and seek godly council to help you find healing and strength to carry on. Unforgiveness, bitterness and anger will hurt you! Do not hold on to these but seek the healing power of God to equip you to entrust these hurts to Him.

Whichever side of the insult you are on, beloved, whether the sinner or the one sinned against, God will heal you. He will enable you to love and to trust again as you seek His face and His grace, which is sufficient for ALL THINGS. And, as I can attest to, His healing can establish your ability to experience true intimacy with your mate, renewing the gift He intended you to give to each other alone.

The Stand ~ Hillsong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV5iZBTNYrk&list=PLfiEjLIYhJ9BycuYe34CTDe-q9HZzszNs&index=4

Destructive Heart Issues

I miss my daddy. I have missed him for a long time. You see, my dad was the most loving, caring, giving man I have ever known. He would give the shirt off his back if it would help. And he was often trusting of others to his own harm. He tried to see and think the best of people.

It was not until his elder years that I was also introduced to his insecurities and hurts. He had many hurts in his heart because of things others did or did not do. And those hurts sat there, hidden, until he could hide them no longer.

In his latter years he became increasing less trusting, and the bitterness that came of the festering heartache became more evident. For those closest to him, his bitterness and anger and suspicious nature became difficult to see day after day. His lack of ability to trust and his bitterness that came out more and more incessantly through his words, facial expressions, and actions began to erode his relationships. It was the saddest thing to me, to see this very sanguine tempered, outgoing man, close himself off more and more from life and from people who loved him.

Such is the way of anger, bitterness, and contention. It is destructive, and it robs us of life and love and joy and peace. And, as we observed with my daddy, it robs us of who we are and always have been. Bitterness and anger robs of the ability to see things as they truly are. Lack of trust leads to slanderous statements given out of obscured observations. The one who is hurting becomes the one who hurts.

I am not telling you this to put my daddy down. I love my daddy. Father took him Home last November and freed him from the pain and heartache he carried. And Father graciously removed the pain and heartache that has such potential to rob me of the memory of the man I knew my daddy to be. He has replaced the hurt and heartache with memories of the good days, freed me through His Spirit-given ability to forgive. And in the areas where daddy’s obscured accusations crushed my heart, God has filled me with understanding that He knows the truth and I can stand before Him with confidence when my day comes to meet Him in the air.

I do tell you this to bring you to alertness over your own heart. Hurts and heartaches need to be dealt with in right ways that free us from anger and bitterness. Having courage to address issues with those we are hurt by; having ability of Spirit to forgive “for My Own sake” as Father forgives, so we can let it go and continue on in relationships unhindered by bitterness, anger, etc. (Isaiah 43:25): These are vital skills to develop in our day.

I urge you, if you are one snared by such destructive heart issues to seek sound counsel from godly people who can help you grow past the hurt to healing in Christ. In the words of Paul, I implore, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” ~ Ephesians 4:31-32.

Relationships can be hard work, but broken relationships brought about by inability to forgive and show grace are destructive to all concerned, and mostly to the one bearing the grudge within themselves. If you are in such a state, I pray the Lord will equip you to love, forgive, and live life to the full in good relationships with those who so long for that love connection with you.