Tag Archives: Cross Daily

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 3

Kindle afresh the gift of God within you. Apparently, according to 2 Timothy 1:6, when the exuberance of our ministry and the gift of God in us is dulled, there is something we must do to rekindle that fire: that zeal. To even begin to understand what Paul is speaking of, we need to see the context of this verse.

“I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith, the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness, a faith that first lived permanently in the heart of your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am fully persuaded, dwells in you also. That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the gracious gift of God, the inner fire that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands with those of the elders at your ordination. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. Do not blush or be ashamed then, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but with me take your share of the suffering to which the preaching of the Gospel may expose you, and do it in the power of God.” 2 Timothy 1:5-8 AMPC

Apparently seeing Paul’s experience of suffering for the faith, I’m sure coupled with his own experience of persecution, raised up a spirit of fear in Timothy that caused his faith to wax and wane, thus hindering the work of God’s Spirit in Him. We cannot tap into the power of God when fear and doubt get a grip.

Today, Beloved, we evaluate our ministry in Christ, our zeal of service and the fire of our gifting. Are we serving in the fullness God has for us, or has some fear, some hardship, or some worldly desire robbed our faith, our trust, our belief, thus dulling the work of the Spirit in us? Take time today to renew your commitment and flex those faith muscles that trust God for each step and every breath. Kindle afresh the gift of faith within you, the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but He has given us a spirit of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” (Vs. 7)

What to Do in the Long Night

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

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

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

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

A Word for Today: LOVE

“These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Our focal verse may seem not to fit the word for today, but bear with me a moment while I explain.

Remember the parable of Christ when He described the day all will stand before Father as sheep separated from goats. I had a dream years ago about that, in which God allowed me to experience the position of the goat.

As we were ushered in to His presence, upon seeing the Father, we all were overwhelmed and filled to the full with understanding of His essence. Many, knowing their vehement rejection of Him, instantly knew they missed the boat; others who trusted a false salvation were just figuring out that they were on the wrong side of the gulf. The thing that overwhelmed us all was full understanding of God’s pure love for us even in that moment, and that we were finally complete – made whole by His love.

We watched as the names of saints were called one by one, greeted by Jesus, and ushered into His Kingdom by angels. Then came the time when the goats were cast into the outer darkness. I woke with realization that the hottest flame in eternal damnation will be the knowledge of never knowing God’s great love so clearly again.

God used that dream to call me to two major foci in ministry: one being the importance of calling others to the Cross of Christ before it’s too late; the other being the importance of making God’s love known now, while there is time to make an informed decision.

God calls us to be love as He is love. God is the love we are to have and walk in, allowing Him to be love in us, so people can see while they still have a chance of changing sides. This is why Jesus warned us, “”You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (complete).” Matthew 5:43-48 NASB (author’s note)

The most dangerous prayer I have ever prayed is for God to be love in me, loving a person in my sphere of influence with His unfailing love. I say “dangerous” because when God answers that prayer – and He will do so to the sincere heart cry for it – no matter what that person we love does, our love for them does not stop. We keep knowing God’s love for that person as our own. We feel a portion of the pain God feels for those who refuse Him. Their rejection hurts, and it’s hard, and the love keeps pouring out for them with longing for a right and true relationship fueled by and filled with the unity that is only found in mutual relationship with the Father. Only the brave, with true love for the Father that desires His love be found by all who need it, can face the heart of rejection experienced by God’s love for all. Are you ready to love in Jesus’s Name? He will supply the power for it, if you are willing to walk in His love-supply for all.

My prayer for us today, Beloved, is for our Strength to go forth and love in Jesus’s Name and in the power of His supply before time runs out. The eternal clock is ticking.

The Lie Of A Misrepresented Truth

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB

Man, I have heard a smidgeon of this verse pulled out and manipulated into a demonic lie so many times, it is heart breaking. In fact, it was used on a TV program I watched last night. “What smidgeon?” you ask.

“…beyond what you can bear…”

The exact misrepresentation goes like this, “God will not give me more than I can bear.” Then I often hear it followed by the frustrated proclamation, “God must think I’m really strong.”

Beloved, this misrepresentation is a lie straight from the devil, intended to do two things:

⁃ it keeps us from relying on God as He desires us to do.

⁃ It makes us rely on self as we should rely on God, thus making oneself our own false god, in likeness to the sin of Lucifer that led God to cast him out of His Kingdom.

Three truths found in defining the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13:

1. God is addressing temptation to sin against Him.

2. God promises His faithfulness to not allow the temptation to be more than we can handle. And why is that? Because…

3. GOD provides for us a way of escape.

I have learned, and am learning in greater depths of understanding that the way He provides always focuses us on surrender to His Lordship and reliance on His provision for our success.

When Satan tries to lead us to rely on self, that is a temptation we must address quickly. Jesus used scripture as a sword to push demonic influence away. Truths I think of to counter a temptation to go this life on our own include:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 and…

“…Apart from Me, you can do NOTHING.” John 15:5

Beloved, repent self reliance and yoke yourself with Jesus today. He promises, “”Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

His is a training yoke, where He is the major load bearer. His yoke allows you rest while you learn how to bear your part of the load in reliance upon His partnership with you. And God promises that as we rely on Him instead of the riches found in this life, which includes our own strength, He will never leave us to bear the challenges of this life alone.

“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” Hebrews 13:5 AMPC

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” Philippians 4:13 AMPC

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” Psalm 37:3 AMPC

Free Indeed

For some reason, Lord, as I read this verse in Psalm 147, I think of repentance. How greatly we need You if we are truly to repent.

You, Father, see and know the heart to greater depths of understanding than we can even begin to fully fathom. Only You can help us know the true issue of heart that keeps us snared in habits of sin.

I keep thinking of how weak willed I am, frustrated in areas of struggle I feel powerless to change. The thing I discern right now is my need to stop striving against what I see in my struggle and begin sincerely seeking Your revelation of the heart of my struggle. I need You, Lord.

So search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful or grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

What freedom we possess when we trust in You, Lord. Oh, my soul, take a breath and rest in God.

In Jesus and for Your glory I pray, amen.

“Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NASB

Opportune Times

“It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony.” Luke 21:13 NASB

Speaking of end times, Jesus warns His disciples of the persecution coming to believers. Alerting them to the fact that they will be taken to court for their faith, he tells them to realize the opportunity they have in that situation to bear testimony of their faith.

As I read these words this morning, it speaks to me for the difficulties we face each day. Whether we face illness that threatens our now-life, or whether we are constantly challenged by bosses without integrity; whatever difficulty comes to our day, it brings opportunity to bear forth our testimony by a life of righteousness well lived. Though no one sees but the “cloud of witnesses surrounding us” (Hebrews 12:1), the things that test our resolve bring opportunity to bear testimony that tells the truth about our faithful trust in God.

“So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” Hebrews 10:35-36 NLT

“By your endurance you will gain your lives. … Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”” Luke 21:19, 34-36 NASB

The BLESSed Trust of Being His Light

“You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10 NASB

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

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

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

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

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

Propitiation Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are to love with Propitiation!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fully Vested

“Don’t divide your life into things you can do by yourself and things that require God’s help. Learn to rely on Him fully, even when you feel adequate for the task. This discipline will enable you to enjoy life more and to face each day confidently.” (Adapted from Sarah Young’s Devotional from “Jesus Calling” for October 10)

I still have the alarm on my phone set to sound off at 7:31 PM. 7:31PM is a ministry of Living Worshipers, a call to prayer. All participating have an alarm set—suggested to be on their cell so they don’t go off without and can include others when they hear it. The reminder is to take 1 second to 7 minutes every evening at that time to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, in our lives, in our nations, in the world and the whole of creation. He holds the plan of eternity in His hand and it is a time to acknowledge trust in His sovereignty. You may read the call at http://livingworshipers.org/731-pm/.  Though I may only bow for a second in the busyness of life to acknowledge His Sovereignty for life and its circumstances, I love when Holy Spirit gives thought to consider as I bow. This is one such thought.

In her devotional adapted above, Sarah addresses the tendency we often have to “project” ourselves into some anticipated future event with the purpose of making ourselves adequate for the situation while leaving trust in God on the sidelines, however inadvertently. From my own experience of this sin-struggle I know that, though I may be crying out for God to be in control, my hope is for my own sufficiency. Grant it, I know that comes from Him, but I want to be sufficient. In that instance I am so focused on being right, doing my personal best, and having all the right words that I wind up fretting over the situation instead of resting with trust in God.

This habit often leaves me wallowing in anxiety, self-pity, and other such upheavals that rob of peace and joy. It also too often robs me of my present and the opportunities to be had in my here and now.

One example God brought to my remembrance is my first and last women’s retreat speaking engagement. I was in just such a state as I traveled to and went through that time with those precious women. I so wanted to be great at this thing God placed in me to do for Him and His glory. I got wrapped up in my ability to perform and be that caring person that wins the hearts of the women and ministers to them just what they need. Not a bad desire. The problem was that I so wanted to be that person that I forgot that, to do so, I had to first and foremost be the conduit through which God could BE, reaching to them through me. It was not me who could do it, but Him in me. And with Him in me, fully trusting Him to be, what I wanted was assured by Him. I wanted to be that conduit, mind you. But I was so wrapped up in my ability, I missed out on His.

As I recall these things in light of current opportunities, it dawns on me that all I need is to Know my God and His truths. As I focus on Knowing HIM, He will make Himself known though me. I don’t have to fret it or try to be what I think I should be. Knowing Him who is Love will assure that Love flow to be my Artesian Spring of resource and equipping. That is what Jesus did. He KNEW the FATHER intimately and fully TRUSTED Him to make Himself known in and through Him, being in Christ the Living Water flow of His Presence to the people.

That is my greatest desire: to be fully vested in God; trusting Him and His sure supply with absolute commitment and without contingency. KNOWing Him as my Artesian Spring, readily flowing and gushing forth to supply every need, is my need for every opportunity.

Rested in Him, I can and will live today with full focus while trusting tomorrow’s journey to His care with full assurance that He, who is already there, has all made ready in His capable Holy Hands.

“My God will liberally supply and fill to the full your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” ~ Philippians 4:19, AMP.

So, I hope you will join us tonight as we bow in remembrance and in honor of His sovereignty in all things, and do so as fully vested vessels that “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” ~ Psalm 37:3-6, NASB.

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

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

So here is today’s blog share with you:

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Need of the Graphic

Since yesterday’s blog post, where I shared a peak into my youth and exposed a little of myself to you, I have been thinking about graphics.

I am sure you realize, Christian brothers and sisters, that we live in a terribly graphic society. Movies and even games get increasingly realistic. The more real the graphics appear, the better these do at the box office. The news shows us real life action of the storylines of our day. And our graphic society is made most evident in the live-action footage shared on U-Tube type sites where the day’s good and evil acts are posted for all to see: from beheadings, to our grandbaby’s birthday celebrations and their cute antics, all shone in brilliant, lively color.

We are a very graphic society, except where we most need to be.

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Jesus died graphically that we might be saved. Fear not living graphically that others may know.

As I have considered this topic, I realize that we, the church, are too often muted. I am not just talking about being too quiet. Some of us shout well enough, but we fail to speak the language of the day. I am talking about failing to be clear and real enough to be noticed. We fail to tell people the details of our lives and how God has moved to deliver us, often out of shame, and sometimes because we believe people see enough evil in the world without seeing “mine”. I’m not talking about play by play, gory detail, but enough detail so they understand and see our experiential understanding of the world they live in and the difficulty they face. Beloved, if we cannot match the graphics of the day, not as hanging our dirty laundry out there, but showing the detail of the dirt and contrasting the work of God in delivering us from it, how will we catch the attention of those who are captivated by a very graphic world.

I have often wondered how much stuff my children might have been spared experiencing if I had been more graphic in my instructing and teaching them. It is one thing to tell them, “Save yourself for the marriage bed.” It is another still to say, “1 Here is the mistake I made. 2 Here is how it affected me. 3 This is God’s way that I learned too late. 4 You learn it now so you are spared the mistake. 5 God is faithful and gracious, and here is how He has restored me. 6 But I wish I would have had someone to tell me what I am telling you today so I could be spared the shame and regret and the struggle. 7 I am thankful that God used the struggle to reveal Himself to me in this way. He is gracious, and I am set free. Live the freedom I am teaching you today and spare yourself the need of the grace to heal the wounds of the sin and shame.”

By the way, that I just stated as example is the outline for a graphic testimony. Hang the dirty laundry with the cleaned up version right beside it. Let the contrast be used of God to catch the attention of those looking for help in a world that seems hopeless. People are asking us, “How do you know there is a God.” In a world of graphic evil, destruction, heartache, sorrow, and many whoas, they need to see very graphic proof of God’s work in us.

First Corinthians 14:6-9 fits here, brethren: “Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you SPEAKING IN AN UNKNOWN LANGUAGE, How Would That Help You? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, That Will Be Helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.”

Paul is talking about speaking in tongues, but the same can be applied to our too often religious speeches. We must learn to speak the language of the people so they can understand. In a graphic society, graphic truth is needed, spoken loud and clear above the roar of the world. People need to hear how we know there is a God. Shout it out above the roar, beloved, by speaking clearly and distinctly so as to be heard and understood, and be not ashamed to show graphic proof of how God has made a difference in you.

“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” ~ 1 Peter 3:15.

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Seeking to please man instead of God, our fear of being found out may well be the weapon used against us that is hindering our providing another with the graphic proof of God that will save them the trouble of sin.

Take Up Your Cross – Trade With Christ

Cross2God is really encouraging my heart to realize the cross we are called to take up. It is not one of our own making, but one He gives us to carry in His name, just as He took ours in our name and bore our penalty of sin. My heart is soaring with renewed strength in realizing the cross I take up is one He trades me.

Jesus bore my cross and yours at Calvary, paying the full price on our behalf. We do not have to continue to bear the cross of sin, shame and sorrow any more. Once we receive His gift of grace, the cross of judgment’s condemnation comes off our shoulders and He hands us a new cross to bear. Here is what I see as I think on all God is revealing to my heart.

Jesus says to me, “Darlene, I want to use your communication skills to my glory. Now take up your cross daily and follow me to fulfill your purpose in my Kingdom.” Then he hands me His cross as my own, which like His yoke, is lite and easy to bear. How does He do that?

He says to my heart, “I give you the tongue of disciple, that you may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. I awaken you morning by morning, awakening your ears to listen as a disciple. Your tongue is Mine, the pen of a Ready Writer, useful to Me as a conduit of My word of praise, promise, warning and instruction” (Isaiah 50:4; Psalm 45:1).CrossDaily05

Receiving His word of instruction as promise, I take it up as my cross to bear by believing with trusting faith that He will fulfill it, and I follow hard on His heels, trusting my verbal and written tongue to Him. He flows surely and easily through my mind to fulfill His good will and purpose. The only requirement of me is my willingness to believe by faith, surrendering myself to Him for His use, and watch Him accomplish His purpose in me. You be the judge. Does He?

At times He gives me a difficult word to share with another, and He tells my heart, “Fear not for I am with you. Speak my word with boldness and it will accomplish the purpose for which I send it” (Example scriptures He might use with me are: Isaiah 12:2 and 55:11). So I do as He instructs, sometimes trembling, but always trusting, taking up the cross He gives me to carry. And He brings victory through the word to me in my obedience, and to all who receive it with faith, taking up their cross to walk out CrossDaily04His instruction, hard on His heels.

Like the yoke of Jesus, I am coming to believe His cross is ours to carry as we complete what remains to be done in the earth in His name. And like His yoke, His cross is not meant for us to carry the weight of it; it is a student cross where He, the Teacher bears the load and we learn as we carry the lite end. He carries the bulk; and we help by surrendered trust to do all He instructs us in following hard after Him as students of righteousness.

Thus I say to you, reader, take up your cross with faith, knowing the cross you bear is filled with promise that produces victory to the praise and glory of God.

Take Up Your Cross—Made Easy!

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith ~ 1 John 5:4.

God speaks so clearly to my heart today, and He does it through a picture search. My thoughts on “Take up your cross daily and follow me,” looking for just the right pictures to portray that thought, I come across two that add new meaning to my understanding. Before covering that, lets cover the usual thought people have in that and the understanding I have long held that was added to today.

Most people I hear from on the subject believe carrying our cross means accepting our lot in life and bearing up under it as pleases and portrays Christ. The problem I too often see with this ideology is the person bearing it most often hangs their head, shakes it, and says, “Oh, it is just my cross to bear.”

Now I have no doubt that ideology can be part of bearing the cross, but it falls short of God’s teaching in that passage we use as our instruction on cross bearing. The preceding ideology hears the words of Christ, “Take up your cross daily and follow me” while forgetting the rest of the passage, and they do so with a defeated spirit that oft does more harm than good to the cause of Christ. God taught me much about cross bearing through the rest of that passage, so we go there for my understanding to date and what I call cross bearing.

“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it” ~ Luke 9:23-24.

The clue to true cross bearing is the denying of self and the losing our life now so that we can gain it for eternity. It is to say as Jesus did, “Not my will, but Thy will be done, O God.” It is the practice of Philippians 2:1-8:

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Before today I would have said that this is cross bearing at its best. Then I ran across two pictures that added insight to my understanding of the best cross bearing, whether we are accepting our lot as Job did, or denying self as Jesus did.

Picture 1: Praise and Promise!

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Taking up our cross is made better than best when we take it up as one who is grabbing hold by faith to the promise and praiseworthiness of God, trusting Him despite our lot, knowing that as we deny self for the sake of others, He will meet us at our need and we will not miss our sacrifice for His name’s sake.

Picture #2: VICTORY!

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Taking up our cross means to walk out the challenges of this life realizing the victory is already won in Christ. No thing we face in this life can defeat us if we are bearing our cross in faith, believing Christ who says, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” ~ John 16:33.

Taking up our cross is not a drudgery to be born. It is not hard. Because as we learn how to take it up, it is done with hope of promise, assurance of victory, and joy of glory in Christ the King, and God our Father. So take up your cross daily, my friend, and press forward in faith with strength, believing.