Tag Archives: Christ

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-C

Into the Holy of Holies

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“…Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:2-4 NASB)

Lifting up the incense censor of personal relationship with Jesus, who has gone before us as a cloud to fill the mercy seat, we do something no ordinary, secondary priest has been allowed before. The old curtain torn away, we enter, having access through Christ to the Holy Presence of the Father, entering safely into the Holy of Holies, our sin covered: set free indeed.

I can sense the awe, the wonder, the reverential, holy fear and abandon that causes me to fall on my face in worship and surrender, acknowledging of His worthiness and sovereignty. Daring to lift eyes to look around, I see the Ark of covenant laid open before us, for our consideration. We are in the Presence of the Holy One. In this instant, nothing else matters as the glory of His Glory rises in us.

As I am there, I realize a familiar place I have been to and been touched by many times in my LifeWalk in Christ: an absolute, undeniable unity with this Holy.

Even now, Beloved, prostrate together with you, I realize that God has already answered the prayer of Jesus for us to be one with them as He and the Father are one. We just have to recognize, trust, and walk out this union. In these days of my life experience, I grow stronger daily in this realization. The rested assurance of being one in Christ: of being part of His very body. His very thought flowing to and through me as every neuron in me connects in surrender to my place in Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect at it yet, and I, too, frequently fight on the battlefield of the mind with the weapons of war that God provides. Taking every thought captive in likeness to the obedience of Christ, daily I grow stronger roots into my eternal reality. And I believe that every breath of this reality that I realize, makes up an undeniable experience of this Holy that will, on the day I fully stand before Him, make this familiar a true homecoming.

As I look at the Ark, open to view, I see the things of God that make this Holy our living reality today: the Ark of the covenant with its mercy seat and covering angels; the golden jar of manna; the budding rod; and the tables of the covenant.

The Ark of the covenant with its mercy seat and covering angels is full of symbolism, a reminder of truths we can still cling to, today. Because of Jesus, us being His body, and Him our covering, we see the faithfulness of God in the Ark before us. We know we can trust His mercy toward us because of Christ in us, the place where Jesus stands between our sin nature and God’s wrath, freeing us from the bonds of death.

The Ark is a visual for the faithful Presence of God, Who is with us and for us so that none can be successfully against us. As He went before the people of Israel, making a way for them, so He does for us who believe and trust His direction and protection.

The Golden jar of manna is assurance of God’s faithful provision. Reminder that we can trust Him with our physical need. No need we face in life is beyond God to meet according to His riches in glory.

The budding rod was proof and reminder to Aaron and God’s people that Aaron was the chosen high priest of there day. It ended all dispute for the people, and it squelched any insecurity in Aaron. He WAS chosen.

For us, Jesus is The Chosen and Eternal High Priest. We, too, are the chosen tribe of Jesus, representing His Priesthood before The Father and in the world. We are set apart in Christ, by God, as His Temple on Earth and in service to it for His glory.

We never have to question God’s calling and choosing us. As people of God in Christ, we simply must possess our position as Priest unto God, trust the sign of the budding rod before us, know our role in His Temple, and do our role. Because of Christ, our time with the Father in the secret place of His holiness provides that budding rod of assurance for us.

As for Israel, the tables of the covenant bear constant reminder to the people that God alone is God. There is no other. His ways are simple and straightforward, and we are to follow in His ways. The laws given provide the measuring rod that leads to repentance. Jesus is the embodiment of God’s Holy Word, making Him the measuring rod by which we are to live, breathe, and find our being, all of which we accomplish by the strength producing grace of God through Christ.

Beloved, as I think on these things, rejoicing in Christ, bowed here before my God and King, I realize that, in the new covenant of Christ, our procession through the temple worship starts and ends here. While Israel started at the door to the outer court and the sanctifying sacrifice at the Altar of Sacrifice, making atonement for themselves before continuing on through the temple service, being stopped at the door of the Holy of Holies, we begin and end our day in the Holy of Holies: in the very Presence of God in all His glory. Only as we start our day here can we press forward in full provision for service.

We start by remembering God’s law and the sacrifice of Jesus that sanctifies and sets us free. We praise God for His calling and choosing us in Christ, possessing and committing ourselves to that service. We entrust all our need to His provision and rest ourselves in His constant and sure Presence with us: in His faithfulness to lead us.

Stepping out in and through Christ, into the Holy Place, we light the incense altar from the fires of our Christ, filling the Holy of Holies with praise and gratitude for God’s loving care, lifting the known needs of others to Him. We stop at His Lampstand, check our Oil, and make sure we bear His Light. We feast ourselves at His table, filling ourselves with the milk, honey, bread, and meat of His Word.

Departing with Christ all over and in us, we enter outer court service. Stopping to check our face in the Laver of cleansing, we wash our feet and the feet of those with us. Prepared for service, we stand at the altar to await our first arrival. Busying ourselves with the good work and daily cares that God entrusts to us. We move freely throughout the rooms of the Temple as need and as opportunity presents itself to us, going in and out of the Holy of Holies as needed to replenish ourselves throughout the day.

At end of day, we reverse course, stopping at the cross to thank God for His sacrificial gift to us. Checking our face in the mirrors of God’s image, we take time needed to wash feet. Entering through the veil of the Holy Place, we feast from God’s table, trim the lamps and check our oil. We light the incense with gratitude for God’s work in our day, offering prayers for the needs before us. Then crossing that blessed threshold into the awe inspiring Presence of our God, King, and Father, we find our place of rest in Him and settle in where personal replenishing takes place, making us ready for the morrow.

Beloved, we are the Temple of our God, and we recognize that the new and vital Holy of Holies is our personal place of meeting with God: the secret place of communion where we fill up with Him. Enter into His service and glory in our God.

“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” (John 16:26-27 NASB)

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B3

Holy Place, Part 3 – The Table of Incense

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:2-4 NASB)

This passage in Hebrews makes it sound like the altar of incense was inside the Holy of Holies, but it wasn’t. However, as we will see, it is so vital to service in the Holy of Holies that it makes sense they would see it as part of that glorious room. According to God’s instruction to Moses in Exodus 30:1-10, the altar of incense was placed in the Holy Place, in front of the entrance to the Holy of Holies. God’s instructions for Arron, the High Priest, are as follows:

“Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; he shall burn it every morning when he trims the lamps. When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations” (vs. 7-8).

Perpetual is never ending or changing. It is to occur repeatedly; so frequent as to be endless and uninterrupted.

Two things to note: One, that no one was to enter the Holy of Holies except once a year on the Day of Atonement. That tells us that the altar had to be outside the curtain, because the High Priest tended the incense daily, in order for it to be perpetual before the Lord.

Second: no other sacrifice was made on this altar, with the exception of the ritual of blood on the Day of Atonement. There was prescribed incense that was for use on this altar. Exodus 30:34-38 gives specific instruction for the incense, a special blend that is holy to the Lord only and not to be used in the same proportions for personal pleasure. It is the Lord’s. God also warns in verse 9 of Exodus 30, “You shall not offer any strange incense on this altar, or burnt offering or meal offering; and you shall not pour out a drink offering on it.”

Other facts gleaned about the incense altar include the fact that the fire for the incense is taken from the hot coals of the sacrifice, beginning with the sacrifice for the priests given each morning, and being part of the ritual with many offerings, such as the peace offering.

Commentaries, along with scriptures describing the Day of Atonement rites, tell us that the smoke and scent from the incense altar wafted up and moved through crevices around the heavy curtain covering the Holy of Holies. On the Day of Atonement, after the sacrifice, the priest was to burn the incense before entering the Holy of Holies. The scripture specified that the cloud of smoke from the incense altar would “fill the mercy seat”, making it safe for the priest to enter. (Leviticus 16:13)

Another telling passage to note is the story of Korah’s rebellion. Korah committed the sin of Lucifer (Satan), that of the pride of thinking more highly of himself than he ought. (Numbers 16:1-50 NASB)

Jealous of Aaron’s position, Korah came to Moses claiming to be righteous and worthy to hold the High Priest’s office. He led 249 others to follow with the same claim. God instructed them to come before Him, bringing censors with burning incense before the Lord. You can read the account of God’s choice of Aaron and Moses and the demise of Korah in Numbers 16. But it is the rebellion of God’s people on the following day that gives a vital picture of the purpose and significance of the altar of incense:

“But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD’S people.” It came about, however, when the congregation had assembled against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tent of meeting, and behold, the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” Then they fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!” Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. HE TOOK HIS STAND BETWEEN THE DEAD AND THE LIVING, so that the plague was checked. But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the doorway of the tent of meeting, for the plague had been checked.” (Numbers 16:41-50 NASB)

Note the tendency to blame anyone other than those who did the deed. Sound familiar.

Beloved, the cross of Calvary is our coals of sacrifice. Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, is our incense; and He is the one who floods the mercy seat, ever living to intercede on our behalf. By Him, we enter the Holy of Holies into the very Presence of God. Through Him we intercede for others, as He takes our prayers and praises to the Father, a fragrant aroma, pleasing to God.

One important thing to note from the rebellion of Korah against the chosen: the difference between them was their heart attitude and surrender to God’s will. We, as priests unto God, chosen by Him in Christ, must bear this heart of humble surrender to Him in our service on behalf of mankind. We must take credit due us for our sin, own it, and, with wholehearted fervor, be quick to repent. We can stand, assured of our priestly rights, when we hold the censor and trust our Altar of Incense in our serving.

As Jesus takes His stand between the dead and the living, we serve as His representatives by standing in intercession for those of this world in need of a Savior. We stand for the needs of those in the body of Christ. We stand in service at the pleasure of the Father because Jesus takes His stand for us. Because of Christ, that heavy curtain is torn asunder, and Christ, the Savior, ushers us into the presence of the Lord God, our Father. Trust in the Sacrificial Lamb is the incense we burn before the Lord. He is our Seed of sacrifice. Bow down and worship the Lord for His glorious gift to us!

“For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11 NASB)

AMEN!

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B2

Holy Place, Part 2 – The Lampstand

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“You shall set the table outside the veil (covering the Holy of Holies), and the lampstand opposite the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; and you shall put the table on the north side.” (Exodus 26:35)

The lampstand of God’s Temple is located in the Holy Place, deeper in the Presence of God. Remember, the outer court is holy ground. It belongs to God and He is there. The outer court is where ministry to others happens. But only the priests are allowed into the Holy Place. As we will cover, the Holy Place is where intimate relationship with God happens.

We are His Light to the world, so in one sense, we are His lamp. But we are also His Temple. Within us as His Temple, we find a place in us that is the Holy Place. As we look at this reality, I discern with increasing clarity that the Holy Place in us is where we commune with God. And in that place is His lampstand that illumines our lives before Him.

God’s Lamp sheds light that illumines our personal darkness first, helping us to come more and more into His Light, where we receive ever increasing fullness of His Spirit, Who lights us up as His Light to this world. It happens in the Holy Place of God’s Presence. Let’s take a look at that earthly tabernacle to discern what the Holy Place looks like in us.

The tent of meeting and God’s Holy Temple built by Solomon was positioned to face East, facing the direction of the coming King. They didn’t know who their coming King was, and, in many cases, they still don’t. But we in Christ do know who He is, and we watch with expectant anticipation.

Stepping into the Doorway of the Holy Place, the table and showbread are on the right (north side), the lamp on the left (south side). Pictures show them about midway of the wall.

The lampstand was shaped to represent a tree: from root to branches. Jesus is our tree of life. I see the Lampstand as representative of our connection to the Eternal we have through Christ. We live through Him.

The lampstand set in the Holy Place was made of pure gold. The purification of gold by fire is likened to the work of God in purifying us as His servant representatives.

Scripture also likens our connection with Christ to trees and vines, Him being the root and us the branches through which His fruit is borne with it’s seed in it. For me, the lampstand being of pure gold speaks to the reality of our cleansing, already complete in Christ. Our eternal life is secure in Him, who is able to make us stand. He is our Light, leading us to God. We are His Light, illuminating Savior and King that all may see and know Him.

The tree shape is a picture of the tree of life that feeds us and produces the fruit of life in us. Jesus is the tree of life in us who are sealed with His Spirit. It is vital to our lives that we realize our connection to Him as the tree of life in us. Only as He feeds us like the root of a tree to branches producing leaf and fruit, can we produce any fruit or be His Light on the earth.

“”You are the light of the world. … Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NASB)

One purpose Father designated the shape and position of the lampstand to accomplish is that the lamps “light up the space in front of them” (Exodus 25:37 NASB)

Reading the complete Matthew passage above, Jesus reminds us that we don’t hide a light, but we strategically place it where it’s light can be seen. As His light to the world, God has us strategically positioned. As part of His Temple Lamp, it is vital we understand that there is a purpose for our position.

One thing we covered in the outer court passages is that, when someone walks into our sphere of influence, it brings opportunity for ministry. We may find ourselves introducing them to Jesus, or aiding their understanding of His Lordship. Wherever we are in any given day, our lives should spotlight our Savior and King.

I find the wording of Exodus 25:37 interesting: to light the space in front of the lamp. If we are not careful, our focus drifts. We get stuck in the past, on things and regrets behind us; or we get distracted by sideline issues and minutiae. God intends our focus to be on the opportunity right in front of our eyes.

Most often throughout scripture, the lamp or light, with or without the stand, represents the light of God’s Presence. Thus He calls us to be His Light: Jesus as the Light of the world, commissioned us as His light to the world, the work of His Spirit in us being the fuel for our lamps. We can accomplish God’s purpose best when we trust His supply of oil as His Light, and when we face forward to tend to things in front of us.

In Revelation, the lampstand, complete with lamps, represents the Church as a whole and its angel or leading minister (see chapters 1-3). If our church is full of dry bones and dark corners, having no power to draw those into it from outside, that church has a problem. And that problem begins with members that are dulled of senses and content to be as they are.

God seats us on The Lampstand of Christ, the root of David, His life force flowing to and through us as we are vitally united with and through Him. A lifeless, darkened, and fruitless assembly has lost touch with its root and died or is near death.

Applying this to our being the temple of God and it’s effect on our daily walk in life lived as being within the gates of the Holy Place, our lamp is our relationship with God in Christ, our obedience to Him bearing the fruit of relationship with Him, making us to be as He is. Our union with Him grows stronger in the purification process, connecting us more securely to the trunk and root of the tree of Christ, through which is our spiritual nourishment. Our ministry and life-song as bondservant and ambassador, and, more importantly, image bearers who look like their Daddy, shines His Light, bearing the fruit of a life in His Light. Only from here can we worship and obey God, and minister to and empower others. Only through personal time in our Holy Place, communing with God in front of His Lamp, can we hope to be a vital and thriving asset as His light to the world.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B1

Holy Place, Part 1 – Showbread Table

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. ….” (Hebrews 9:1-5 NASB)

I pray your thanksgiving was greatly BLESSed. Ours was. As it has been several days since our last post, please bear with me for a bit of review.

As the new temple of God, the residence of His Holy Presence on earth, all together we are the earthly sanctuary. Thus far we saw the One Doorway into the outer court, Jesus. We, ourselves having our personal experience of His saving grace, entered that door and decided to stay. That decision made us priests unto God in Christ, bondservants, charged with temple service: we, ourselves, being part of His Temple on earth, in the New Covenant of Christ.

Thus far we discovered that, as we found the altar of Christ, we now help others to the altar for saving grace, and for ever increasing surrender to His Lordship as disciples of Christ. The instant someone enters our presence, they step on Holy Ground. As the new Temple of God, we are always on Holy Ground, charged to behave accordingly. People should begin to experience God in us. Thus, our being as He is makes it vital that we watchfully possess the very image of the nature of our God. That leads us to God’s provision of the Laver

We discovered the Laver of cleansing set in front of the Doorway to the Holy Place, very possibly having mirrors in which we look for the image of God in us. Any scarring or marring seen must be cleansed and restored by the washing of our feet at the Laver of cleansing. We wash our own feet through repentance. We wash the feet of others believers through forgiveness, and through encouragement in righteousness. We bear that image in the outer court as we minister to the needs of those allowed into that area by God in Christ. And we check that image, making it clear and sure, before entering deeper into God’s Presence, found in the Holy Place.

The Holy Place is that area in which only the priests could go. In this large room, they had daily duties to tend before God and on behalf of the people.

The Holy Place, like the outer court, has only one entrance. What I see here is Jesus, beckoning us to deeper intimacy with God in Christ.

Crossing that threshold in our seeking after God and ministering to Him, the first thing to catch our attention is a golden table covered with bread. Twelve loaves, to be exact: evenly spaced with six loaves lining the length of each side of the table. In the Old Testament, these represent the twelve tribes of Israel, laid out in the forever and always Presence of God.

In the New Testament Temple, ours is The Living Bread of Life, Jesus. He entered the eternal dwelling ahead of us, representing our interests before the Father as He ever lives to intercede on our behalf. Because of our Living, Life giving Bread, Jesus, we are enabled to enjoy intimate relationship with The Father.

Eating around the table has long been a place where relationships happen and are strengthened. There’s love, encouragement, strengthening, training, bonding, and more in that time around the table. It pictures face to face time, in intimate relationship with God.

In the physical world, families who keep the dinner hour, seated together around a table, without TV or technology to interfere, are stronger, closer, and more united. In this spiritual sense, we should never leave the Showbread Table where vital nourishment to see us through our day is found. It’s an attitude of relationship that should be a constant, allowing quick access to feast on that precious Bread, Bread which only the priests were sanctioned to eat.

As stated, the Sacred Bread is twelve loaves, lined in two rows on the table, representing each of the twelve tribes of Israel, set as in the presence of God. These are unleavened bread, representing sinless lives in total surrender to God.

In the New Covenant, Jesus is our Bread of Life, our life source Who is forever interceding for us in the Presence of God. Because of Him, we stand sinless before God. We, considered as the body of Christ, are in God’s Presence with Him by association as His body.

Jesus, our Bread of Life, sustains us, empowers us, ignites us, meeting our every need for Life abundant and full. He is our ALL. We can do nothing apart from Him. Because of our relationship with Him, we can come boldly to the throne of grace to find our every need met.

When we enter the Holy Place, our first duty is to do intimate relationship with God, feasting ourselves on Him. Then, receiving His fullness into ourselves, we carry that fullness with us to the outer court of our daily lives and ministries.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-2

We are The Temple: Outer Court Part 2 – The Laver 1

“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14 NASB)

Looking at ourselves as the Temple of our living God, thus far we walked through the one doorway from which we enter the outer court to find the altar of sacrifice, which for us is the cross of Calvary and Jesus, the Christ. It is our privilege as priests unto God to recognize opportunities to lead people to the altar and point them to the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Anyone who crosses the veil into our lives must be viewed as an opportunity for altar ministry. However, that is just the beginning of our role, as Jesus did not call us to make converts, but to make disciples. An altar opportunity may be to help people to the Savior; or it may be to help a fellow believer grow in surrender to His Lordship.

After the altar, we find the Laver.

“You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing; and you shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it.” (Exodus 30:18 NASB)

Positioned between the altar of sacrifice and the Holy Place of meeting with God, we find a wash basin called the Laver. Every morning, when the priests entered the outer court, they first sacrificed for their own sins. Before they could serve God and minister to His people, they had to repent for themselves through the blood of sacrifice. Then they were required to wash their hands and feet at the Laver.

The Laver was a basin and stand made of pure bronze. The priest not only washed after his morning sacrifice, but before every entry into the Holy Place, and after every exiting from the Holy Place.

Remember, the priests were dealing with the sins and fleshly needs of the people all day, which continually exposed them to the world’s soiling. Thus, frequent cleansing was required. That leads my thoughts to the last supper and Jesus, dawning a towel to wash the feet of the disciples.

Recall here, Peter, being Peter, baulked at his Lord doing something for him that is normally the job of the lowliest of slaves. Jesus warned him that if he would not allow Him to do this cleansing for him, that Peter had no part with Him. So Peter, being Peter, tells Jesus to not just do his feet, but his hands and head too. What was it that Jesus said?

“…He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is COMPLETELY CLEAN…” (Vs. 10 of John 13:1-17 NASB)

The sacrifice of Jesus completely cleanses us from all sin. We don’t have to make a new sacrifice every day; we just have to realize, gratefully trust, and walk in The One. But we, too, deal daily and all day with a sinful world that makes our feet dirty. So Jesus enacted the Laver washing for us, telling us as disciples to wash each other’s feet.

Now, for one, this speaks to our need to forgive each other so we can walk together in peace and unity as the body, bride, and church. But it also has another very important responsibility. For the disciples, this was preparatory for those who would step into their priestly roles after His departure. But what of today? Is it still needful today? Does the following command from Christ extend to us? I believe it does, and that it is a vital ministry opportunity we too readily fail to practice.

“…Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. ….” (Vs. 12-15 of John 13)

Have you ever experienced a foot washing session? It is beautiful to experience. My first experience was at a ladies retreat. Each person had a turn at having feet washed, and then at washing another’s feet. The last one whose feet were washed then washed the feet of the first, so it went full circle.

Note in Jesus’s command to wash each other’s feet, He called Himself the Lord and Teacher. To me that gives instruction for two main purposes in feet washing: we are to lead people to His Lordship in their daily walk; and we are to take the opportunity to teach His truth over our daily struggles.

This is pictured perfectly in the foot washing sessions I have experienced, as while washing the feet, the servant and the served visited together. It is a very intimate time of addressing common struggles and encouraging their righteous stance, especially for those who know each other, as they can be specific with their encouragement in addressing issues.

Note here that, in truth, Jesus is the Laver of Living Water. We don’t necessarily have to wash physical feet to perform this ritual, but oh how beautiful and intimate it is when we do. The action of physically washing feet transports us to this moment with Jesus. The more Christlike we are with each other, the more we realize His Presence in it.

This is a good pause point in this lengthy discourse, so hold these thoughts to be continued tomorrow.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-A

“… we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. ….” (2 Corinthians‬ ‭6:14-18‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

We are The Temple: Outer Court Part 1

Before looking at the thoughts for today, I want to emphasize again that the purpose of this trip through Hebrews is not to delve into what this author is teaching. I thought that is what I was to do when the Spirit inspired this journey. Instead, I find Him highlighting topic matters that we can delve into with the goal of “Finding Who We Are” in Christ.

That said, chapter 9 is discourse regarding temple worship and the priestly sacrifice of Christ. That leads me again to our priestly role and our responsibility as the very Temple of God in our days.

I’ve spent days here trying to make one blog out of the topic of our being the New Covenant Temple and our priestly role therein. However, the topic is vast, my thoughts full. I decided yesterday that it would take several posts to cover properly. Then, this morning The Spirit woke me with discernment that I was starting at the wrong door – the door to the Holy Place; thus, I was missing some important insights on us as The New Temple of God and our priestly role here.

The Temple complex has the outer court where sinner and saint, priest and laymen, could all enter in. This yard is outside the actual Temple, which includes the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, each having only one, covered entrance.

Once a person took care of their business in the outer court, the priest assisting them had to continue the ritual for them, entering the Holy Place on their behalf. Then, as we know, once a year the High Priest, after proper cleansing for his own and all the people’s sins, entered the Holy of Holies on The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

As I woke this morning, I realized there are important aspects in the outer court that are contributions to understanding who we are as The Temple and Priest unto God in Christ. The outer court is in us as part of the Temple of God through Christ, just as in the first Temple.

When people came to the Temple to worship and tend to business with God, they found only one entrance. Jesus is and always has been the way, the truth, and the life. No one enters God’s Presence without going through Him. The first doorway leads into the outer court, where the unclean is cleansed. Each doorway leading us deeper into God’s Presence requires passing through the Christ. Through Christ, often using one of us, The Father draws those in need of grace. That grace is found in the outer court.

A thought that hits here: as a temple of God, people cannot come near to us without passing through Jesus to get there. If God allows a person to come close enough for us to effect one another’s lives, it is God ordained for eternal purpose. Be alert to the opportunity.

Once a person responds to God’s call, they step through the curtain of Jesus to find a priest, one of us, standing at the altar of sacrifice. The instant they step through the curtain, they step onto holy ground as they are entering the very presence of God.

I realize as I write this that this aspect of Temple service is why the image of Christ in us is so vital. We are the face of this doorway. When people enter our presence, they enter the outer court. What they experience in us either rightly or wrongly represents God.

Our Temple posture is to be one of holiness, revealing a quality that leaves the world and reveals God’s Presence. Our priestly role is to be a conduit of God’s love, wooing people to the altar where the covering of Mercy’s grace is found.

Beloved, we are the Temple and the Temple includes the outer court encounters with people of the world. Wherever we are, we are on holy ground. Wherever we are, we are in our priestly robes, called and equipped by God to perform our priestly duties. The first duty is to lead people to the altar of sacrifice, which for us is the cross of Calvary.

When a person entered the temple of Moses’ day, they had sacrifice in hand. They would take it to the altar, which was near the entrance as first order of business with God. The priest was ready and waiting to make sacrifice for them.

In our bodies as His Temple, Beloved, Jesus has already provided their sacrifice and ours. We stand as priest in representing Him and His interests. Jesus in us makes His appeal to draw people who need Him to the altar as they see His Light – His work in and through us. He does so through us as we remember that we are His priests, having our holy feet set on His Holy Ground, living holy lives as the holy people of God.

“The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered WHICH CANNOT MAKE THE WORSHIPER PERFECT IN CONSCIENCE, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, HE ENTERED THE HOLY PLACE ONCE FOR ALL, HAVING OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, CLEANSE YOUR CONSCIENCE FROM DEAD WORKS TO SERVE THE LIVING GOD?” (Vs. 8-14 Hebrews 9:8-14, 27-28 NASB)

The outer tabernacle was the Temple made with hands that a person had to attend often. It did not fully cleanse, but was a temporary solution until the time of the Christ. When Christ came, His sacrifice entered the eternal Temple, cleansing us for all time. This is the Temple in us, the Temple we are: the eternal temple in the heavens with God. We are cleansed forever in Christ, made holy as He is holy. That holiness sustains us, cleansing conscience from dead works to serve the living GOD.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Vs. 27-28)

Before we leave the altar of sacrifice leading to salvation in Christ, this seems a good time to breakaway and answer two commonly debated questions: Who are saved? And can one’s salvation be lost?

Finding Who We Are: Part 6a

In Part 3 of this series, we covered Christ’s Priesthood, how His sufferings were purposed by God to grow Him in His ability as a Priest on His way to possessing His place as the eternal High Priest. We spoke of His experience being an example to us who are called to the priesthood in Christ. We, too, earn the right to share our comfort with those in need through the experiences of suffering we possess.

Today, looking at chapter 5 in Hebrews, we begin the journey to uncover it’s instruction on the priestly role we are called to possess, as exemplified by Christ. Breaking it down, we discover:

~ Our inherited appointment (covered today)

~ some of the duties of our priestly role (beginning today and continuing tomorrow)

“The High Priest is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.”

Jesus gave Himself, once for all, as the sacrificial Lamb, never having to offer such sacrifice again. He was called of God to this role, and through Him is our call.

Since there is no longer the need of a sacrifice for sin, our role as priests unto God is now to offer gifts and sacrifices of praise with thanksgiving for the freedom the gift of Jesus provides us.

Jesus “deals gently with us” out of His understanding of the battle in human flesh. As we learn and grow in our priestly role through lessons of suffering, we learn mercy and grace towards others who struggle with sinful flesh.

“No one takes the honor of the Priesthood to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.”

Jesus is blessed with the call of God to His Priestly role “in the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek was King of Salem and Priest of The One True God, said to be without beginning and without end. Jesus, too, is from before the beginning of time and without end. He, too, is King and Priest. He, however, exceeds Melchizedek because He is also God Incarnate.

Jesus being High Priest forever, we are called and equipped through our union with Him to that order in the line of the King and Priest of Israel, of the lineage of Judah in Christ Jesus, the Son of David and Son of God. Through our High Priest we have our being as the sons and daughters of God, The Father, being of the Royal court, of the Holy heritage and priestly order.

We will stop here today. Next post will continue from here to look at more in Chapter 5 of Hebrews, where we find more clues of our priestly heritage and responsibilities through Christ.

Hebrews 5:1-14 NASB

Finding Who We Are: Part 1

Do you ever have moments of forgetting who and Whose you are in Christ, and because of that, inadvertently resurrecting the old you? I’m sad to say that I do. The enemies of righteousness, the false wisdoms of flesh, world, and demons, know just how to enliven old nature issues like insecurity, fear, pride, and on and on we could go, ad infinitum.

Jesus walked in victory, partly by refusing to forget Who He was. That strength flowed securely from assurance of WHOSE He was; and by the purpose of His life, set in Order by The One He called Father. Jesus came to set things straight, not only revealing truth and becoming our Kinsman Redeemer, but also to set the example we are called and equipped to emulate.

As Jesus lived, so must we, by knowing who and Whose we are. To do that, we look at Jesus.

Hebrews 1:3, 8-9 NASB gives us an excellent starting place. In searching for truths we must apply, we find in verse 3:

“He is the radiance of His glory”

Jesus ever lived to radiate the glory of God. His goal was to always be an expression of God’s nature. He, the Son, looked like the Father, leaving no doubt that He was God’s Son.

When we see a child that is the spitting image of a parent, we say, “Boy! You can’t deny that one!” Jesus lived a life that proved Him as Son. As children of God in Christ, we are tasked to do the same. We must grow in the knowledge of Him, becoming so much like Him, we cannot be denied as being His.

I think of a friend who, in the midst of a life threatening heart attack, was found so calm that the doctor questioned it. The nurse, in response to the doctors stunned query, said, “I’ve seen this before! You’re a Christian, aren’t you?”

We are to live our faith out so brightly that the curios onlooker sees the resemblance we possess in Christ.

“…and (He is) the exact representation of His nature….”

Watching a young child following a parent around can be enjoyable as we observe the child working so hard at being just like daddy or mommy. The child does so by watching the parent’s actions, listening to the inflections of voice tones, embracing the parent’s likes and dislikes, adopting their desires and passions.

We do the same as we look closely at scripture passages like this; closely observing the pictorial passages that describe God in all His forms and fashions.

We also grow to understand Him as we learn to follow the dictates of His Spirit in us, Who stands as intermediary, tasked with bringing out the image of the Father through us, making us one with Him. Just as Jesus is One with the Father, thus is His desire for us.

“…and upholds all things by the word of His power.”

Jesus walked in unity with the Father, being One with Him, because of His assurance and faith to believe. Having strength of character and resolute purpose because He believed in and possessed the Word of the Father, He walked in strength and power. What God proclaimed true of Him, what He authorized His Son to accomplish, Jesus took to heart and walked in the power of that Word. When He spoke, He expressed what He heard from the Father, knowing it to be a powerful and unstoppable truth.

God our Father has given us His Word. In the power of His Spirit, He gives that Word life, empowering it to be living and active in our day and in our daily lives. It cuts through all barriers to inspire our lives, opening to us the life giving morrow, instructing us so that we, too, may possess the abundance and victory He has for us today.

His word is never out of date because His breath is in it. By the power of God’s Spirit in us, we inhale and exhale the truths and wisdom of God found in His Word. As we fully possess His opinions as our own, speaking as best represents Him and His interests, we walk in His power just as Jesus showed us to do.

As we seek God’s power living in us, giving Him full sway to grow and mature us, we, too, can be an expression of the radiance of His glory, rightly and truly representing His nature, being empowered to make full use of His Word to us, fulfilling His purpose in the strength of His supply, to the glory of our God, Father, and King. In Jesus, Lord, make it so!

Temptation’s Lure: My Passion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Hebrews 4:15

LIVE!

“… “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. IN THAT DAY YOU WILL KNOW that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. ….” (John 14:16-31 NASB)

One reason for the resurrection of Jesus and His 40 days of visitations was to assure the disciples that He was still with them and in them through the power and provision of His Spirit. Still today, we are each, individually one with Father and Son by the power of the indwelling Spirit of Triune God. And in our fully living that out, we are one with each other, the prayer of the Christ fulfilled (John 17). We have the mind of Christ and the heart of the Father within us because of this miraculous union.

I have long believed this truth, yet never as I do now. Father has spent the last few years calling me to deeper, more intimate understanding of this reality: that “I”, ““I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer “I”, I who live, but Christ lives in me (also); and the life which “I”, I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved “ME” and gave Himself up for “ME”.” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

The hour Jesus cried out for the cup of His suffering to be removed, I believe one thing heaviest on His heart was the understanding that, in the instant all our sin was piled on His Shoulders, He would, for the first time ever, know life without the Father’s Presence. He took all our sin with the destitute abandonment of a God who cannot abide evil, so we, NOW, can enter into our eternal unity in the Spirit.

No temptation can overtake the one who abides in The Triune, Who abides in us. Holding our Abode as of most vital importance and greatest treasure is our way of escape from sins grip. Though we may slip or stumble and need our feet washed, we will not go down for the count and fall away from victory in Christ.

So enter into the Beloved, sweet friend, then go forth and conquer with every breath of your days in Christ. Nothing can steal that joy from us, the joy of unity with the Eternal, when we live and breathe it in our now-day.

ABIDE!

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Old Church Choir

Zach Williams

http://youtu.be/-cRh8NqmXoE

We Live Christ

“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”” (John‬ ‭10:37-38‬ ‭NASB‬‬ – http://bible.com/100/jhn.10.37-38.nasb)

Our lives should be a clear expression of this truth concerning Christ. We are His ambassadors, priests unto God, bearing forth His Light to the world around us.

So then, if I (Darlene) do not do the works of My Father, in likeness of my Savior, Jesus, do not believe me; but if I do them, though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father through Jesus Christ, my Lord who lives in me.

Amen????

Clothed and Ready: Part 1

“Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, WHO KEEP THEIR CLOTHING READY so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” (Revelation 16:15 NLT – http://bible.com/116/rev.16.15.nlt)

Never to feel exposed and ashamed. How glorious it is to have confidence in Christ and live equipped to hold heads high, with no need of shame. This scroll of Revelation caught my attention and called me to check my manner of spiritual dress. It promises that by keeping our clothing ready, we will not be caught in shame at Christ’s return. Sounds like a great time to take a look in the proverbial mirror of our lives and be sure we are fully clothed.

The first garment we need to make sure we dawn and check for any repair needs is the cloak of Christ. The most clear picture of what that cloak looks like when properly worn is found in Colossians 3, starting with verse 9.

“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him – a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:9-17 NASB)

These garments reveal Christ in us as we represent Him in life today. Look at all the colors that should be visible in the cloak of Christ on us: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience – bearing with one another, forgiving each other. Beyond all these, love – God’s kind of pure, unmerited love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And peace from Christ that rules the heart, coupled with thankfulness to Him Who clothes us by grace through faith.

This first part of our garment makes evident to all that we are made one with God in our following hard after Christ, empowered by gratitude for His grace to live free of shame. Tomorrow, part two.

A Focus On Light: The Qualified Heir

“… joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. …” (Colossians 1:9-14 NASB)

Here’s the Good News, Beloved. If you and I are sincerely and wholeheartedly walking with God in His Light as brought to us in Christ, we are saints in Light, and through that walk, we are qualified as joint heirs with Christ – qualified to receive our part of the inheritance that is set up for the children of God.

Often, we as mere mortals hear the word “inheritance,” and we think possessions and position. That is part of it, Scripture tells us so. Jesus has gone before us to prepare for us a place in which to dwell forever more. There we will have no more darkness. The gold, silver, and precious stones we value highly now will pave the streets and make up the walls and doorways. We will no longer hunger, thirst, get sick, cry sad tears, or die. We will dawn the riches of God and rule with Christ. That’s an inheritance beyond belief. But our inheritance is MORE THAN THAT. It is “PERSON” – PRESENCE.

God is our first, most vital need and necessity. We were made for Him to love and enjoy forever; and we were made to love and enjoy Him. In Him we are perfected, made complete as our person and purpose are fulfilled, finished, made whole in the fulfillment of His desired end. So our greatest inheritance is our forever union with the Triune: made One, complete in Him.

What is it that God says we can’t see or have in this life? We’ve covered it before: probably many times. In Exodus 33, Moses asked God to show him His glory. God agreed, telling him what to watch for: His goodness, His Names proclaimed before him, His graciousness and compassions, all of these reveal His Glory. Then He allows Moses to see His haunches once He passed by him, while he was carefully tucked into a crevice behind the Master’s hand, for he could not look Him face to face and live.

I believe that, for us to see God’s face is to see Him as He is, full strength, and our flesh senses would be overwhelmed by His pure, full-on glory. Seeing God as He is in our flesh bodies would cause such a rush of adrenaline, it would overwhelm our delicate chemistry, killing us instantly. Thus God holds us back until we are as He is, enabling us to handle that excitement.

Right now, we see God as if “in a mirror, dimly” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NASB). We know Him from afar with a finite mind that struggles to comprehend the incomprehensible. But one day, Father will lift His Holy hand, and we will see Him face to face, just as He is. That is the inheritance I look forward too.

Beloved, God is our fulfillment. All we long for is realized in Him. Hungry for love? No need to look for it in all the wrong places. God is Love. Draw near to Him with all that longing, and see your need met as never before – and know we see but a fraction, imperfectly in this life. The full, comprehensive, understanding of His love awaits the heirs arrival Home.

“I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time-He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and DWELLS IN UNAPPROACHABLE LIGHT, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:13-16 NASB)

Feel impoverished and in need. God is our greatest riches, and we are heir. If we have Him, we have our NEED. One day, that unapproachable Light will open up to us who are practicing now to be children of Light -children of righteousness.

“So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. HE HAS ENABLED YOU TO SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE THAT BELONGS TO HIS PEOPLE, WHO LIVE IN THE LIGHT. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,” (Colossians 1:9-13 NLT)

Thus concludes our study on this subject. I pray we each go forth and prosper in the Kingdom of His true, pure, and glorious Light.

Fruit Bearing Truth

“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.” John 15:5 NASB

Throughout my life, this passage has brought teaching on the fact that we cannot bear eternal fruit apart from our union with Christ. This is a very true teaching that is vital to understand. But as I look at this today, my mind settles on the promise of this verse.

The one who abides in Christ and he in the one, that one bears much fruit! Period. The end.

If we truly are in Christ and Him in us, there will be eternal fruit evidenced in our lives. If there is no fruit – the ever growing and glowing image of God shining forth from us as born out of the Spirit – there is reason to question our true alliance.

The Surrendered Mind

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

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

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

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

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

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 4

BE STRONG IN THE GRACE that is in Christ Jesus.

Wow. Chillin’ over that! God’s mercy and His grace makes me excited.

Mercy!

Mercy covers us, a blanket of Jesus’s blood flowing over every part, parcel, nook, and cranny. Jesus paid the price we owed and the blood that flowed covers us who believe and receive Him, covering the ugly of sin so God the Father can look on us and we can have a relationship with Him. God’s mercy through Christ makes us the righteousness of God in Christ.

Grace!

Grace is the power of God. That power flows to us through Christ, granting us strength and ability to do righteousness. With that defining parameter, note Ephesians 2:8-10.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB

God sent his grace to empower us with faith to believe, so that by the faith powered by Him, we might receive the free gift of mercy in Christ. It is not something we can boast about obtaining, for it is all powered and provided by God, who has a work to accomplish through us as recipients of grace.

This call to be strong in God’s grace is two fold. We are to be strong recipients of His grace, strong in our personal relationship with Him, which is by grace. And we are to be strong in the work God desires to accomplish through us as His witnesses, His ambassadors, His bond-servants.

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NASB

Realizing our need of God, we surrender to Him who grants grace to empower our righteous deeds and actions.

“”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.” John 15:1-5 NASB

Thankful for Freedom

Good morning! Today I rejoice in knowing Jesus, Who lived, died, and lives again to set us free-indeed. It is an awesome truth, worthy of daily attention from grateful hearts.

My heart also rejoices today in the knowledge that we are so greatly BLESSed here in The USA to live in a nation that cares about our lives and our freedom. Our leaders fight to protect our freedoms and keep us safe. Our nation’s armed forces fight, and sometimes die, first gaining our freedom to be an independent nation so many years ago, and from then to our now, they keep us free and safe.

Then there is our internal security and emergency response forces. Our emergency response crews in our drought dried area put their lives on the line just yesterday to protect us from wild fires that are made worse and more challenging to fight in the high winds moving them forward at breakneck speeds.

Praise God today for the freedom He so graciously supplied through those willing to give life and limb for us, and for those who protect our lives and do all they can to save our properties.

Have a BLESSed Saturday enjoying the freedom we have, and pray for those less fortunate, living under regimes that take the lives of their own people at the drop of a hat. Sometimes we don’t realize how good we have it. Because of that lack of recognition, we too readily fail to appreciate God’s gracious provision to us who are privileged to live safe and free in these United States.

Pray protection over our unity today, Beloved. A house divided quickly falls. On that day, the freedom and safety we too readily take for granted will be lost. So rejoice in our freedoms today, beginning with the free-indeed found in Jesus. And let us come together anew as ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Faith: Secure and Sure

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” John 5:39-40 NASB.

Be careful where you put your faith.

Look carefully to where your faith for eternity lies. In Jesus’ day, many let their faith slip off of the Word Giver and land on the word given. Without God behind it, the word is nothing.

We, today, see faith slip off of God to many things:

– a continuance of the Old – placing faith in His word instead of in Him;

– in our own righteousness instead of in Him, Who is our righteousness;

– in the church we attend;

– in the strength of our faith;

– in the baptism we receive.

All of these are part of our faith walk, but, apart from Jesus, they are nothing! Make sure that your faith is standing firm on God in all His fullness, not on the things of God.

Make Disciples

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

“And Ananias said to Paul ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’” Acts‬ ‭22:14-16‬ ‭NASB‬‬
This Matthew call to go and make disciples still speaks today. Note: it does not say, “Go and make converts.” A convert, untaught, will too easily fall away (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23). The work has only just begun when a person turns to Jesus, as it is more than telling about Jesus. The true call is to help each seeker grow to become a true disciple-believer, learning and growing as a Christ follower that bears His image and stands the test of time. 

We are to help others become a disciple maker. In so doing, we will one day see the Righteous One face to face. As we fulfill this call, knowing it as God’s will, our hope is to hear His voice say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Be more than just a believer. Even the demons knew Jesus was the Son of God: The Very God incarnate; one with Father and Spirit, but their belief did not change them. We must be a disciple, continually being made new as we grow strong in Christ.

Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” ~ Matthew 4:19

“Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. ~ Matthew 9:9

And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me. ~ Matthew 10:38

Possess That Perfection 

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” Philippians‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A FB friend wrote a post on this Philippians passage encouraging us to possess the full treasure of God’s grace and provision to, in, and through us, (see link below). My thoughts in giving an example of possessing all that is ours through Christ, flows out of hers. I’ve probably posted similar before. In this day and age, with the trouble we see in this world, I cite Paul:“Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.” 2 Peter‬ ‭1:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On to our example of possession: 

We are called to love as God loves. If we are to love others as He loves us – unconditionally and incorruptibly, then we must fully possess the love He provides us to walk out. 

God IS Love. He loves out of who He is. His love is not dependent on who we are or what we do. It depends fully on the fact of who He is; thus, Jesus paid the full price for ALL and the grace available through that sacrifice of love is held out as a gift to receive and possess as one’s own. 

The only thing about God’s love that is dependent on us is the degree to which we choose to receive it. Once we receive His Love, He has provided for us to possess that same love ability as our own through His Holy Spirit. As we possess and work out of that fruit of the Spirit expressed best in Galatians 5:22-23, we love as He loves, out of WHO WE ARE IN THE SPIRIT we possess for ourselves as He possesses us. 

He provides love for our possession so we may BE LOVE on His behalf, being His love to those He places in our sphere of influence on any given day. Thus, love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is not something we have to learn. It is something we possess as our own, flowing out of THAT which flows into us. And we possess it by letting God’s Holy Spirit fully possess us. 

“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, “GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.” Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” James‬ ‭4:6-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

When we possess Him who possesses us, things like bitterness, hate, and unforgiveness find “no room at the inn” of our heart’s dwelling place.

Michelle Gray

Better to Stand Alone

““And you will, even of yourself, let go of your inheritance That I gave you; And I will make you serve your enemies In the land which you do not know; For you have kindled a fire in My anger which will burn forever.”

“Thus says the LORD, “Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind And makes flesh his strength, And whose heart turns away from the LORD. For he will be like a bush in the desert And will not see when prosperity comes, But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, A land of salt without inhabitant. 

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD And whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, That extends its roots by a stream And will not fear when the heat comes; But its leaves will be green, And it will not be anxious in a year of drought Nor cease to yield fruit. 

“The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.” Jeremiah‬ ‭17:4-10‬ ‭NASB‬

After this revelation from God, Jeremiah cried out in verse 14, “Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; Save me and I will be saved, For You are my praise.”

God’s wrath remains kindled against sin: all that stands against God, denying His Lordship, and refusing His way, which is found in relationship with Jesus, who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. Each person is judged by God’s standard, according as He sees to be their individual heart toward Him. A nation is judged according to the culmination of the judgment against its people. Thus it is better to stand alone with a right and true heart before God, than to follow the crowd into chaos. Seek the Lord through the saving grace of Jesus, the Christ, and let your heart be healed.

The Son of God Appeared for this Purpose

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

When a storm produces destruction, we see one of two things come from those effected: 
Some come out to take advantage of others out of selfishness and avarice. 
Others come, even out of their own extreme poverty, to help those in need and to build anew. 
I read a devotional that eluded to this passage of scripture and the purpose for Christ expressed here:
“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 
“No one who ABIDES in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who PRACTICES righteousness (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice out of love for God and allegiance to Jesus) is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who PRACTICES sin (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice, which is rebellion against God and His chosen King) is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. 
“The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil (sin and all that stands in opposition to God, His will, His way, His sovereignty). No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John ‭3:4-9‬ ‭NASB‬ (my understanding)
The storm is not evil or good: but the force behind it and the spirit it brings can produce great evil, or healing balms of good through the actions and reactions of people effected by the storm. A person reveals his heart in such seasons. 
Jesus came to destroy the work of Satan that leads people to do the evil seen in such times. With Job, when His children were killed in a tornado, the purpose of Satan and the trap of temptation set by him was to prove Job would lose faith in God and rebel against Him. That is what Satan seeks to accomplish through the storms of life. 
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John ‭10:10‬ ‭NASB‬
To die, in God’s value of things, is to turn away from Him in lack of faith to trust Him in the storm. It is to rebel against Him out of anger, self-centeredness, pride, greed, or any number of evils that get a controlling hold on our hearts and lead us to turn against God’s way. 
Life, in God’s economy, is this relationship with Him from a heart that trusts and follows Him despite the tricks of the devil. We don’t easily and habitually give in to temptations to sin out of fear or because of stressors to faith in God. We stand with God and for God, no matter the length of our waiting for His hand to move, and we find Him faithful. This is the Life, abundant and full, that Jesus provides. 
The abundance Jesus provides is peace beyond measure; joy unrelated to circumstance; faith fed by deep pools of belief’s hope; and a River of love flowing to and through us, all fed by God, who is love. Evil that seeks destruction cannot win when God’s people stand firmly planted on Him. 
“Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.” Psalms ‭37:1-9‬ ‭NASB‬
“My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs ‭3:1-8‬ ‭NASB‬
‭Yes, Satan used a storm and other devastations in Job’s life, intending it for evil; but God allowed it, knowing it would produce the good He desired. The question is, on which side of the equation will we stand? ‬

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 1

In 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, God’s word instructs us on the weapons of our warfare, telling us they are “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses”. Following that, verse 5 points to a particular battlefield that, left unchecked, is the opening through which enemy forces can strike in gaining access into areas of our lives where they can set up strongholds of sin and oppression. That area of battle is in our thoughts. Verse 5 instructs us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

One frequent stronghold in my life is in my eating and health practices. Realizing that I am too quick to run to food in certain situations, I focus this month to put a check on my stinking thinking, realizing that taking stress filled thoughts captive and making them bow to the Sovereign and His opinion is the pathway leading to overcoming such strongholds.

As I seek the Father to adjust my thought life, bringing all in agreement with His teachings, following the example we have in Christ, my heart turns to the teachings of Paul found in Philippians 4. There I find a treasure-trove of wisdom to help me on my journey of capturing stinking thinking that hinders my Life practices. Beginning with verse 4, I will spend several days considering the truths found here and how they apply to my journey of capturing wrong thinking and bringing it into agreement with Scriptural principles.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! …” ~ Philippians 4:4-14.

As I begin looking at this focal passage, I see several areas of life-practices that can influence our way of thinking and, when we fail to practice these truths, it makes us vulnerable to thought processes leading to a downfall. The first is this need to find our joy in the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the joy we find in God – in who He is, in our relationship with Him, and our following after Him – is what gives us strength for life.

“Then he said to them, ‘Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”

The enemy of God loves when he can rob us of this true joy because it weakens us. It is easiest for him to do that when our joy is misplaced. Finding our joy in the things of this life is easily disturbed when those things that bring us joy become difficult, are out of our reach, or fail us. Placing our joy in God protects us, as our ability to face hardship abounds in Him who is our source of true strength and security. Nothing in this life can overcome our joy when it is set securely in Him who is trustworthy and faithful. Such trust in our God and the joy of relationship that trust brings to us empowers us to face difficulty with the strength of two, as He faithfully helps us surpass our weakness.

Rejoicing in the Lord despite circumstances greatly helps our perseverance. A heart attitude of joy in the Lord is a weapon against the doubt and fear set to take our thoughts captive and lead us to a fall that rises up as a stronghold in our lives. Rejoicing in all we know of our God breaks that cycle of doubt and fear.

When your thoughts are disturbed within you, the first thing to do is rejoice in the Lord. Let all that He is and the benefit He provides be your focus, beloved, and rejoice. Again I say, “Rejoice!” and find your Strength.

Difficult Things 2-A ~ Faith That Moves Mountains

In the first “Difficult Things” post, speaking of truly trusting God, we mentioned that the disciples were unable to heal the demon-possessed boy brought to them by the man who came with a small seed of hope that Jesus “can” heal. We talked about what Jesus said to the man, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”

Jesus spoke straight to the point, both to the man seeking healing, and to the disciples, standing by, wondering why they could not perform the healing. The man’s “if” revealed how small his faith, but the man was not the only one struggling with faith…

…and “small faith” was not the true problem. …

We see this fact in the response Jesus gives the disciples when they seek answers.

In Matthew 17:14-21, we see the same story told by Mark in the Mark 9 passage covered two posts back. Here Matthew tells us that the disciples come to Jesus afterward and ask, “Why could we not drive it out?” Jesus replied, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’ …And He said to them, ‘This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer (Mark 9:29).’”

Difficult thing 2: How much faith does it take before we see a mountainous issue thrown aside?

Jesus said the disciples problem of faith was in its “littleness”.  Was He talking amount or size of faith? I don’t believe so, because Jesus then says it only takes a mustard seed sized faith to move mountains. The mustard tree seed is one of the smallest seeds there is: reportedly, the smallest of seeds known by man at the time Jesus spoke this analogy. Use of the word “littleness” was not talking about size.

I believe the “littleness” Jesus speaks of implies the seeds maturity. There is a point in the life of a seed when it is not of sufficient maturity to germinate, therefore it is incapable of producing fruit. Jesus is not talking about having great faith, but a faith that is capable of growth: a faith that makes us fruit bearing trees in God’s eternal purpose.

In the analogy used by Jesus, we see that faith does not have to be big to grow, but it does have to be capable of resting in God and receiving the nutrients He gives that springs forth life in Christlikeness, producing the fruit of that Good Tree. Where do I get the need to rest the seed in God from Jesus’ analogy? From His remark that told them they were not prayed up enough.

What is it that resources our spiritual growth of faith? Where does that seed have to be in order to grow? That seed must fully and completely rest in hearts that fully and completely rely on God: trusting His resources as we cooperate in His work, seeking His instruction, and watching for the great things He can do in response to our faith. The disciples had faith, but the One they looked to for instruction and equipping was not with them when the man came with his “if you can” hope. Jesus, out doing a work of God’s choosing, unavailable to help them, they apparently did not think to go to the Father for themselves and plant the seed in the soil of hearts relying on Him. All it takes is a mustard seed of faith, the smallest inkling of trust to believe God, seeking Him to meet our need, but in order to get that, we have to seek Him.

There lies the key: He meets our need, whatever it is, however great or small, once we seek Him with a faith ready for growth. He grows our faith from glory to glory, here a little, and there a little more. The “can you?” of a hope filled seeker, and “I know You can, if You are willing,” sprout from the smallest of seed, mature enough to search for Him and find Him.

No matter how small our faith, if it has maturity for growth, it will find God ready to nourish it, growing our faith with ever-deeper roots into the One who moves mountains. But realize too that our eyes may be sighted on the wrong mountain. What do I mean? See you in our next posting for the answer.

 

Listening Prayer (Part 5) ~ The Purpose

Listening prayer is a lifestyle of ceaseless communication with God; making every step and every breath an act of obedience flowing from a living and active relationship with Him as our Lord, our very breath of life. This lifestyle is vital to our function in this age in which we live and to our ability to overcome the challenges of a world that is daily moving farther from Him. In closing out this focus today, I am reminded of the purpose and goal of such a vital, God-breathed lifestyle of prayer.

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

The goal and purpose of listening prayer is to make all our being and all we do and think acknowledge God as Lord, knowing that He is our first and most vital need. He is our Treasure: our eternal Inheritance. To be still within, lifting every breath to Him, the One in whom we place our trust, acknowledges His right as God over us, and our need of Him in all our ways. Here in Proverbs, God promises that, as we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will make our paths straight.

As I read this proverbs passage today, I found myself praying for God to reveal anything at the heart of my life that fails to acknowledge Him as Lord; anything hindering my seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Shortly after that prayer, a book I am reading led me to Deuteronomy:

“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” ~ Deuteronomy 30:6.

Circumcising the heart is the removal of all that separates us from complete allegiance to and relationship with God. God reveals the things we lean on or want more than we do Him, and He begins the work of removing from our lives all that hinders our relationship with Him. Some things God graciously removes with hardly any notice of it or work on our part. We just suddenly lose all desire for that thing that interfered with our communion with our Beloved. However, there are some things where God will reveal the interfering offender and then tell us, “Circumcise your heart” (Deuteronomy 10:12-21 *vs. 16). Some things God requires us to do the work; He wants us to choose Him as much as He chooses us.

God holds us as the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). He loves us so much that He made a way for us to have relationship with Him by sacrificing His Son on our behalf (John 3:16). God’s desire is for us, not wanting ANY to perish, but ALL to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Repentance means to let go of one’s own way, aligning self with God and His ways, so that we walk beside Him in unity of mind and heart, fulfilling His purpose and plan. That requires us to love and desire Him as He does us.

The question is, do we hold Him as the apple of our eye – the center, most prominent treasure we seek to obtain and hold dearest to our heart when possessed? Do we desire relationship with Him so much that we willingly deny ourselves, and, taking up our cross of self-sacrifice daily, determine to follow Him at all cost (Luke 9:23, see AMPC)? Do we truly see God in all His triune essence as our first, most vital need and necessity, so that we choose Him above all else?

The goal and purpose of this call of God for us is that we may grow to love Him and desire Him above all else, fully possessing the eternal relationship He purchased for us. The love He calls us to grow in our possession of as we practice a living, life-giving, listening-prayer life that fully relates with and works alongside Him is best expressed in these words of Paul:

“Grace (God’s undeserved favor) be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying and INCORRUPTIBLE LOVE” ~ Ephesians 6:24, AMPC.

Loving God with a love so strong and sure, eternally binds us to Him. Nothing can draw us away from relationship with Him, corrupting our walk, when we come fully into this living, breathing walk of love with Him.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

Listening Prayer (Part 3) ~ The Trustworthy Mind of Christ

“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:14-16.

Here, Paul tells the reader that we have the very mind of Christ within us, available as a resource, to instruct us and help us have right thoughts and understanding within us. The Holy Spirit is God, living and active within the believer.

Have you ever had sudden comprehension of how to pray for a situation or how to respond with the wisdom or instruction needed by a friend. This is the thought of God coming to us through the Mind of Christ in the power and leading of the Spirit. It is not our own, but His.

“…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…” ~ John 16:13.

The Spirit speaks to us and instructs our hearts with the very will and thought of God. The Spirit hears the thoughts of God from the mind of God and brings those thoughts to us. This power and work of the Spirit was in Jesus while He walked the earth in flesh form. He was not double-minded, but He always worked out of the Mind of the Lord, in the leading of the Spirit who gives discernment for a single-minded life. This same resource from God living in us is why Paul says that we have the very mind of Christ in us.

This mind of Christ within us equips us to know the voice of God when He speaks. It helps us to remember the instruction hidden in our hearts by the work of His Spirit. This mind is the provision of God that helps us to discern when thoughts are foreign to His will, way, plan, and purpose, so we have adequate supply to take every thought captive. We see this mindset in several testimonials from Christ, revealing His own obedience in following the will of God out of the mind of God.

“…‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ …‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’” ~ John 4:32-34.

“My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working. …Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. … I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. … But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me” ~ John 5:17, 19, 30, 36.

Oh, to do the works of God with such confidence; oh, Mind_Christ03to come to the Father in prayer knowing we are on the same page with His heart. It is possible for us, because we have the mind of Christ in the work of the Spirit.

Then there are Jesus’ words to Peter when He said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matthew 16:23). The mind of Christ helps us to live, walk, speak, and pray the very interests of God. We must learn from Peter’s experience to follow the teaching of Paul in 2 Corinthians:

“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 10:5.

Some translations of scripture word the above passage to read that we take our thoughts captive to obey Christ. That is true, but I find greater depth of understanding in those that tell us to take our thoughts “captive to the OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST.”

The wording “obedience of Christ” says to me that we take thoughts captive, surrendering to the mind of Christ so that we may obey God as Jesus obeyed God. Christ, our example, gives us the Spirit of God so we can have the thoughts of God from the mind of God, in order that we may obey as Jesus obeyed.

I am sure you have read before the teaching of James on seeking God’s wisdom. Note here the instruction given in that oft quoted and preached passage:

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” ~ James 1:5-8.

As I sought God on, getting His heart for writing this piece, my desire was and is to take us to the place of realizing, believing, trusting, and functioning by faith in the fact that we have the very mind of Christ. Once we have and function out of this faith, we can live, breath and pray, trusting that we have His thoughts available to us. As I prayed and pondered these things, God led me to this James passage. Looking at in light of our focus, these words took on deeper meaning, “For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, BEING A DOUBLE-MINDED MAN, unstable in all his ways.”

Double-minded: we are double-minded when we fail to believe, trust, live, walk, obey, and pray as one directed and dictated by the mind of Christ. Our own thoughts getting in the way, bringing doubt that destroys faith to believe and trust the understanding the Spirit gives us as He hears the Father and Son on our behalf, and speaks that to us, makes us double-minded. We must grow into the single-mindedness exemplified by Jesus.

It is vital that we learn to discern the mind of Christ working within us: our every thought, our every action, our every decision, our every prayer dictated by that one mind. It is vital that we trust Him at all cost, refusing to be swayed by competing opinions brought to us by the flesh, this world, and the demonic.

Standing on the Promises

“By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” ~ 2 Peter 1:3-4, NLT.

The promises of God my King, Savior, Champion, Companion. We are in a season that has me leaning heavily on God and His faithfulness.

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post. In that time, we busy ourselves with life as we go through the beginning of what may bring us to a long medical challenge in my sweet hubby’s life. He has a biopsy coming up to determine if his issue is cancerous, so we stand, waiting, to see what the Lord will do. (Prayers appreciated)

That said, I am so grateful that, though this life has its twists and turns that can throw us for a loop, we stand fixed and stable because of God’s faithfulness. Here in our focal passage, the author instructs us that we can share the divine nature of God as His image bearers and escape the world’s corruption caused by fleshly desires, by standing, firm in faith, on the promises of God.

God’s promises come to us by His grace alone, but most all we enter into by way of some act of obedience. Jesus promised us His Spirit to guide and equip us for life abundant and full in Him, but that Spirit comes only as we choose to believe the truth of Christ and His life, work, and sacrificial death. Most promises have something we must do to take our stance on that Rock.

This week, as I contemplate what life holds for us in these days of 102facing whatever we may face with Hubby’s health issues, God speaks to me through 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. Through this passage, God reminds me that His promise to reveal Himself through me comes to pass as I go about my daily life, keeping my hands busy with the tasks at hand. Through this season of unknown challenges ahead of us, standing firm on God means doing what comes next with hope in Him to accomplish His will through even the most mundane of tasks.

God promises strength in our weakest hours as we make Him our greatest joy and song (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 13:4; 1 Corinthians 1:27; Hebrews 12:13; Nehemiah 8:10). Knowing God’s promises, receiving His instruction, we take our stance on the Rock of our salvation, fully trusting that God will reveal Himself to and through us in this season we enter in to possess for His glory.

~*~

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” ~ 2 Peter 1:5-8, NASB.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” ~ Hebrews 10:23, NASB.

Convinced of This: I Can Do All Things Through Christ!

“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” ~ Philippians 4:12-13.

Beloved, I ask you, have you come to the place in your relationship with God where you truly and fully know that you “can”? No matter the storm; no matter the hardship; no matter the challenge; no matter the duty; no matter the appearance of weakness and insufficiency: do you knowingly proclaim in full assurance “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”?

God grows me daily to understand that “I can.” Is it always easy? Is it always pleasant? Is it always with courage? Is it never accompanied by struggle or pain? Of course the answer to all is a resounding “no!” However, God continues to teach me truths that make the struggle worth the growth pains. Today I share one with you that only recently formed in me. Before I do, let me preface this word with one truth you must understand. I am NOT, in what I am about to tell you, saying that we can be God or take His place in any way. Know now that is not what I am telling you, or you will miss what I am saying and the power for life it gives to fully believe, “I CAN do ALL things through Christ!”

Reading John 5:16-18, these words grab me: “(Jesus) calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” The Scribes and Pharisees raged at Jesus, angered by this connection, but this is true of Christ like it can never be for us. Jesus is God incarnate. Jesus came to show us the Father and make Him known to us. Jesus came with the calling and equipping of God to make us one with Him in Christ. Now bear with me.

As I contemplated that thought, “Making Himself equal with God”, asking Jesus what He wanted me to see, He spoke, “Our Father, who art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Instantly I realized Jesus, instructing my heart that our ability to know “I can do all things through Christ” requires we find this same expression of unity with the Father for a life of power. He must be “FATHER” to ME. The thing the Pharisees accused Jesus of, He instructs us to seek the Father from that very stance: we are the image of God.

Jesus, our example, tells us in John 14:7-15, “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” Jesus, in John 17, prays that we will be one with Him and the Father as He and the Father are one (vs. 22). If Jesus prayed it, it must not only be possible, but expected. We are the people called of God, equipped through Christ, beloved, to be one with the Father, expressive of His glory in Christlikeness. This is our position in Christ.

“Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. 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” ~ John 14:11-12.

Jesus calls and equips us for greater works, beloved. He empowers us to express the reality of the Father: His person, character, nature, and power in the earth. That comes with authority and full provision for the task. When we grasp hold of our unity with Father through Christ and fully possess it as our own reality, knowing He plans for our success in fully accomplishing His good will in His good way, pouring Himself through us to do so, then we will know beyond doubt the “I can do all things” that God holds out to us in Christ.

Braving the Raging Waves of the Political Seas

In my time with the Lord today, two things spoke to me for our nation and the political seas raging around us.

Matthew 7: 24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. 26 Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. 28 When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; 29 for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.”

Following the principles found in scripture, our forefathers built and established the United States of America on God’s rock. Many want to deny this fact. To do so is to tear down our foundation that is solid and has held us stable for over 200 years. Those seeking to do that, work to place our foundation on sand. That sand will shift with the storms raised up at the whim of every person who thinks they have a better way.

It is vital in this election that we choose someone who realizes what is going on with the foundation of our nation; someone who knows God and whose life is founded on that Rock; someone focused to rebuild the ruins under US. This one will not be a perfect man, but he will be a man, perfected in Christ, made ready and fully equipped for service. Choosing well requires us to make our choice in the authority we have in Christ, led by Him, possessing faith and in full assurance of God’s controlling influence.

As I read John 6 today, God instructed my heart to understand that Americans are looking for a Savior and are going by throngs to the one they think looks to fit that need. Fear causes us to panic and act out of a desire to save ourselves and join with those we think can deliver us. To those of the body of Christ, we already have a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. We need no other. What we do need is to walk by faith to support the candidate that most resembles Christ and is clearly led by Him with feet set firm on His holy foundation. Only that one is His chosen leader to take us back to our foundational roots and make our nation strong again (1 Kings 19:9-15a).

walking on water02In John 6:20, Jesus says to those watching Him coming on the storm-tossed sea, “It is I; do not be afraid.” This storm that is raging around us belongs to God for His use in helping us to refuse to focus on the wave; instead, turning our attention to the Savior who is walking toward us. There is but one boat He will climb into with His chosen, but we have to brave the seas with Him, get on that boat with Him, and watch for Him to calm the storm. Verse 21 says, “So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.” When we get on the sea with Jesus, He will help us find our boat and get us to the shore of His choosing.

I struggled for weeks, watching every debate I could, listening to news releases, searching info online for each candidate, perusing their websites and the list of issues they have a heart to address. I settled on one several times only to find my ears assaulted by voices proclaiming all his faults, as they see it, thus being set out to search anew. The constant fighting, arguing, and character bashing between them readied me to throw up my hands up in defeat of finding the one. The minute God showed me that the bashing of character going on was raising fear in me and I needed to realize even this storm is under God’s control, peace came and I knew my candidate.

Are you, like me, struggling to find the chosen? Join me today in thel109149486 boat with Jesus, the author of our salvation  and perfecter of faith, who chooses our leaders before we do. He will lift up in your heart the one He has chosen, and peace will immediately return despite the waves on the political seas. Search the candidates out to know their heart, yes, but do so looking for the boat Jesus is in. Once you reach shore, having found your boat, “trust in the Lord and do good” by placing your vote (see Psalm 37).

Look to the Light, Then Cast the Vote

“Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God” ~ 3 John 1:11, NLT.

I don’t know about you, but I am struggling to find the candidate for the litstep1Presidency that I believe to be God’s chosen leader for such a time as this. About the time I think I found my candidate, they do or say something that sets me back to the hunt again. Crying out to God for His revelation of that person, today He instructs me to “Look at their example.”

Recently, I warned a friend to focus on the light of God rather than the darkness he is facing. We humankind have a tendency to look at all the bad and evil where, failing to find any hope there, we become confused, disoriented, and disparaging. Encouraging my friend, I cautioned him to keep eyes on God, the source of light and hope. Only there will we find help to see us through the darkness all around us.

As I consider my struggle to find a candidate to support, I realize that my eyes keep focusing on the darkness. With that, “Physician, heal thyself”,Christ-inside06 comes to mind. I realize instead of looking at the individual and sizing them up, I need to look for the character of Christ, the Light of God emanating from the person. Those who sincerely seek after and follow God, behaving in likeness to Him as His ambassador, representing His interests, are the most qualified for the job. Anyone doing less than that will fall under the weight of the position they seek to fill.

Yesterday I wrote the article on being part of the welfare of the nation by pChrist-inside016participating in the freedom we have to vote for our leaders, taking full advantage of God’s provision for us in this place. Today, as I consider the difficulty I have finding God’s choice for President in this season, the thought to follow Jesus—looking at those who most exhibit His character and choose them, helps me. That narrowed the field greatly for me in several positions up for appointment. With this instruction, discouragement and frustration is replaced with hope of seeing and doing my best as one ordained to help in increasing the potential for our nation’s well-being.

Join me in looking for those candidates who are obviously in Holy Habitation with God. Look for Jesus and choose Him.

(See also 1 Corinthians 11:1; Philippians 3:17; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9; Hebrews 4; 13:7)