Tag Archives: discipline

Power to Enjoy

“Every man to whom God has given riches and possessions, and the power to enjoy them and to accept his appointed lot and to rejoice in his toil – this is the gift of God to him. For he shall not much remember seriously the days of his life, because God, Himself, answers and corresponds to the joy of his heart – the tranquillity of God is mirrored in him.” Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 AMPC

I see this truth in Johnny as he works and puts energy into his life’s calling. He has done what God placed in him to do, and the joy of his labors outweighs any challenges those labors bring. And I experience this truth myself, as I find joy and contentment in caring for him, in being his wife and helpmeet.

Thinking back on my life, on both the good and the difficult, the joys far out-way the sorrows, the good memories dimming and deadening the hardship. And in each season of my life, the labors there, the work I found for my hands to do, made much of the joy of my days, each in its season.

What better legacy to leave our children than our exemplary life of serving our God out of His provision of our Power to enjoy our labors with love for Him and each other.

“TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven…

“I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. He has made everything beautiful in its time.

“He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds, a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages, which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy, yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be glad and to get and do good as long as they live; And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor – it is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-13 AMPC)

The Son of God Appeared for this Purpose

Are storms evil?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reigning in Life

“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17 NASB – http://bible.com/100/rom.5.17.nasb)

Think about what this says, Beloved, for it is freedom for us. With the fall of mankind, sin took over flesh to rule through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.

When we surrender to Jesus, He frees us to reign with Him in Life: this life as well as in the eternal; the abundant life He desires for us.

Reliance on grace sufficient and the righteousness of Christ, alive and well within us, empowers us to stand firm against the flesh, the world, and the demonic, to reign with His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and SELF-control that is sufficient against sin in Christ’s sufficiency.

Take up the crown of life God gives you today, and, trusting God’s grace, go forth to the victorious life Jesus bought for you.

Christ Lives in US

“Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” (Colossians 3:10-11 NLT – http://bible.com/116/col.3.10-11.nlt)

Paul is talking to those true believers, who have entered into the truth of Christ, recognizing their death to flesh, world, and the demonic, and fully entering new life to God through Christ, in the power and equipping of The Holy Spirit of God.

In Christ, we have died to sin, so that we may live to life eternal. Our full calling and work is to put off the old self and put on the new as a true example that rightly represents Him and His Kingdom interests. Like dawning a fresh suit of clothing, we are to put on Christlikeness as a cloak. It requires a complete change in our way of thinking, speaking, being, and doing, taking up God’s ways as people after His heart.

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And SET YOUR MINDS AND KEEP THEM SET on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. …now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it. ….” (Colossians 3:1-17 AMPC)

Soul-Dance

“Make glad the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” (Psalms 86:4 NASB)

Soul: our mind with it’s thought-life, beliefs, and comprehensive understanding; our wills, going after what we want in disciplined fervor; and our emotions, too often dictated by our raging hormones and the rush of our bodily chemistry. God desires us to love Him, live for Him and serve Him with ALL OF OUR SOULS. Yet, sadly, many people frown and put down those who let the surge of emotions soar free for the Lord.

God gave us emotions so we can “feel” His Presence and worship Him with exuberance: meeting with Him in the truth of all that we are, overflowing with eager enjoyment or approval. We see it in David, when his joy over the ark of God’s Presence caused him to dance the streets in worship, dressed only in a loin cloth. It took hold of Miriam, who took timbrel in hand and led the women in the excited dance of worship to the Lord, for He delivered them from Pharaoh’s grasp.

God wants our all involved in worshiping Him. He is not ashamed of our dance when done in wholehearted sincerity and in trueness to who we are as an individual. A quiet person, in their quiet, private self, worshipping in silence with whole heart is precious to the Father, Who meets them in the quiet. An emotionally, exuberant person is just as precious to the Lord, and He meets them in the dance flowing from the true of heart.

Beloved, true fellowship with the Father, flowing freely out of sincerity to the true inner person He created us to be is a must in worship. Fearlessly giving our all in love to God is a biblical mandate (Mark 12:29-30 NASB).

“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalms 86:11 NASB)

Here David asks the Lord to teach him truly, asking Him to unite his heart in fear’s reverence toward Him. In verse 4, the word in original Hebrew that is translated “soul” is lebab. It means: inner man, the mind, the will, and the heart (the essence of the person that includes one’s emotions). The word used in verse 11, translated “heart” is nephesh. It means “a soul, living being, person, with all their desires, passions, appetites, and emotions.”

The soul. It is the sum of what makes us who we are, and God wants us to use all of it to His glory, even – and I believe especially- our “feelings” – emotions. Like David and Miriam, we’re not to fear getting excitedly emotional over the joy of the Lord and His work in our midst. God loves our exuberance for Him.

So, Beloved, if you are emotionally exuberant in your worship, FROM A TRUE HEART, let no judgmentalism from mankind shame you into silence. And if you, being just as emotional in your quiet way, worship God with your all, let no one make you ashamed of your quietness. However, and here comes the warning for us who are exuberant, be careful that you rule your emotional outbursts.

David marched in the procession, worshipping God WITH OTHERS. Miriam led the PROCESSION of worshiping dancers, with song, everyone joining in with her. These were all worshiping together in timely fashion. There is an appropriate time for exuberance, dancing, and loud merrymaking.

However, we are not to be controlled by our emotions. We must control our emotions, knowing when to express them and when to control the expression. Running around, whooping and hollering while the pastor is trying to preach WILL be used of the enemy to distract the heart of man for the purpose of keeping some from hearing and receiving the Word.

Fear not, Beloved, the expression of true and sincere worship. But do fear getting in God’s way through uncontrolled, emotional outbursts. Tongues is an excellent example. God’s Word says, in the absence of an interpreter, keep the tongue between you and Him (1 Corinthians 14). From my understanding, those who believe they have no control over their audible prayer-tongue are mistaken. It is not to be a constant, loud raucous that can be used by the enemy of God to rob Seed from the heart of others who are deafened by the distraction.

God frees us to be who we are, but He also blesses us with the fruit of self-control. Use your freedom liberally in the controlling power and wisdom of the Spirit of God, and bear much good fruit to His the glory of His awesome, praiseworthy Name.

Kingdom Currency

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

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

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

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

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

Inhale Life

“The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NASB)

“For the word of God is living and all-efficient, and much sharper than a double edged sword, and it pierces to the separation of soul and spirit and of joints, marrow and of bones, and judges the reasoning and conscience of the heart.” (Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

The Word of God is truth that is described as a double edged sword. It is said to separate joint and bone from marrow.

Bone is a stabilizing foundation. It holds the body together and aides one to stand and sit, their joints allow ease of movement; but bone is also a type of dead, petrified material. The marrow, which is housed inside the tube of hollow bones, is the source of blood cells that enable us to utilize oxygen and other nutrients, thus giving us life. Out of death comes life!

The Sword of the Word separates or reveals in us that which brings, gives, and aides life, from that which is or produces death. That process, Beloved, often hurts, because it requires us to die to our mortal self, so we can live eternally in Him. God’s Word works God’s good in us by increasing, stabilizing, and vitalizing Life in us.

The Word of God is His Breath of Life to our mortal souls. Inhale often

Going Home

Listening to the song “Home”, by Chris Tomlin, got me to thinking about our journey to get there. The life we are living right now is that journey. We’re on the road, and God’s Word is the map.

Every step, every breath, every heartbeat, every thought, every word and deed: each one puts foot on the next brick in our path. Our choices in each step determines whether we walk with God in each moment, and the type of deposits to our eternal treasury.

The cool thing about life with God is His provision for us when we miss step, make bad decisions, and get off track with Him. My husband has a saying for times when a wrong turn or a missed exit finds us lost or looking for the way back. He says, “It’s okay. All roads lead home.”

No matter how lost we get, a series of correct turns (right choices) will get us where we need to be. It’s the same with God. As soon as we realize that we walked away from Him on our journey home, repentance includes making right choices that get us back on course with Him.

We all get off track from time to time. Thankfully, God does not allow baggage in heaven’s gates. All the wood, hay, and stubble will be burned away. We can’t take it with us, Beloved. But the closer we stay to Him, the more treasure we will find waiting there for us. Every day is a day to sing glorious traveling songs by a life lived well, as we are going Home.

https://youtu.be/YIb4NC5ikYo

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 5

As we seek the transforming power our Father desires for us, we began where all healing begins, by seeking a right relationship with God, making sure we walk, live, and breathe with a clear conscience. While doing that, we must do a faith check, making certain we are walking in Christ with sincere faith. Third is our need to realize our part in kindling afresh the gift God placed in us for His purpose and glory. With that, we must realize, receive, possess, and fully live out the grace of God in us. Next we must understand the Word of God and know how to apply it’s truths to our daily life.

“Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” 2 Timothy 2:7 NASB

When we first begin to grow, we learn a lot through the teaching of others. But for every child of God, there comes a time when He expects us to grow in our ability to learn from and through the Spirit of God in us.

The Spirit, in all His fullness, is given to each individual in Christ. The full work of the Spirit lives and breathes in us: from convincing us of right vs. wrong, to comforting, teaching, and empowering us, the Spirit does His work. And this work of the Spirit thrives in the soil of a surrendered heart that seeks God, with a whole heart that is pliable, and ready to grow in Christ.

This truth is vital in a world where false teachers and false teaching is its destiny. We must be like the men of Berea, who did not just receive the word spoken to them, but they searched out the scripture for themselves, confirming the message before receiving it as truth (Acts 17:10-12).

If we truly desire the transforming power of God in our lives, we must be people of the Word of God, able to receive the teaching of the Spirit and discern truth for ourselves. And we must pray the word for those we desire to see transformed.

Seven Healing Balms for Exhaustion – 4

Healing for the exhausted begins with a life surrendered to Him as Lord. It requires an adequate diet that feeds the body its need rather than feeding its fleshly indulgence that is set to steal, kill, and destroy an effective life of surrender. And the body needs to move. Exercise aides ones ability to truly rest. Today, as we continue our look at the seven healing balms to heal the exhausted, we see our need of restful sleep.

Sleep! Oh how it seems to elude us when we need it most. It sounds weird, but exhaustion can actually hinder ones ability to sleep. One, it makes us feel like we can’t sleep, our mind being unable to relax. And exhaustion messes up the body’s chemistry, truly robbing our ability to sleep. Two, exhaustion robs our desire to cook or to eat in healthy ways, causing bodily issues that hinder sleep. And three, it robs of energy to move, causing us to sit too much, which makes our bodies ache, and robs our ability to enter the type of sleep cycle that aids restoration.

Sleep is important, and the lack of it makes one dysfunctional. I don’t know of much worse than being so tired, I can’t function, and I am that a lot these days. Like with food, the right type of sleep fuels the body’s needs. During sleep is when everything from cells to organs, go through a time of recuperation, rejuvenation; the old goes out, behold, new things come.

With Johnny’s schedule (working 8 or 9 AM to 9 or 10 PM, Monday through Thursday), coupled with his health issues that threaten his life, leaving us to desire to spend as much of our precious time together as possible, we go to bed late and get up early. However, sleep is necessary for health and healing, and the type of sleep needed begins with entering God’s rest.

God calls us to His rest, which is necessary for health and healing. We sleep best when we are good at entering that rest. Entering God’s rest requires two things of us (see Hebrews 1-4): the first necessary thing on our part is faith that flows out of trusting belief in God. Second is our obedience to Him that flows out of our love for and faith in Him. When we fail to enter this rest, that is when we most frequently fall prey to an uneasy conscience, worry, fretting, questioning, plotting, and planning that robs of restful sleep.

We must be still and know that God is God. Then we must go to bed. Father is showing me my need to not allow myself to be the cause of our staying up later than is necessary. When it is necessary to be up late, a nap the next day is a good habit to follow.

Sleep is necessary, and the right type of sleep that cycles normally through all the stages of sleep is vital to healing rest. Our body cycles through wakefulness, light sleep, deep sleep, and REM (Rapid Eye Movements), where dreams occur. All that we have covered thus far aids and fuels that healthy cycle: a surrendered life that enters his rest protects the mind so it can sleep. Right foods that feed the body its need protects from discomfort that hinders sleep. And moving the body through exercise and rewarding work heightens our body’s ability to enter a restorative rest cycle. All we have covered thus far works together as allies to restful, restorative sleep; and sleep may well be the greatest, most needful healing balm for the exhausted mind, body, and soul.

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.

Better to Go Willingly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch Your Peace-o-meter

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

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

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

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

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

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

So here is today’s blog share with you:

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Possess Your Own Vessel (Body)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Prophetic Warning

I sat down to get into God’s word and opened my Bible to Judges because I committed myself to reading through it while we are studying Gideon with Priscilla Shirer. My mind did not go to anything else for my time this morning, so I started reading. Then I clearly discerned, “You did not ask Me where I want you to read this morning?”

“Okay, Lord. I will finish this chapter and then ask,” I foolishly reply. A couple of verses later, I knew that was silly and it was not working for me, so I stopped: “Okay, Lord. Where do You want me to read this morning?”

“Hezekiah.”

*!&^%, = confusion. “Lord, there isn’t a book of Hezekiah, is there (looking to make sure)? Am I supposed to do a word study on him? Where do You want me to read?”

“Hosea.”

So I go to Hosea, and there is Hezekiah as confirmation. Hosea prophesied for God during the days of numerous kings, one of which was Hezekiah. Here I find God speaking to me for our nation who is walking in the ways of Israel, just as they did in the days of Hosea.

The things God speaks to Hosea for those of his day are being spoken to the people of our land in our day. Here is what I see:

Our land, as in the land of Israel in Hosea’s day, is guilty of “flagrant harlotry,” forsaking Jehovah-God as LORD. Even in the church, many of us hold to a form of godliness, but deny its Power (2 Timothy 3:5). In all of history, Jehovah has not sat still for such behavior. He will not tarry long when we fall to following after other things as if they are our God and the one who blesses our lives.

Our nation, whether or not we want to hear and believe it, is under the disciplining hand of Jehovah-God. People don’t often like to hear that, but God disciplines those He loves, especially those who are sons. That is scriptural (Hebrews 12). All that we are going through, and that which is yet to come our way, is being allowed by God for the purpose of getting our attention and allowing us opportunity to see that all those other gods and / or the people or resource we look to as in the place of a god have failed. We have walked out from under the protective cover of God as a nation.

There are two ways I know of in which we come out from under the protective cover and provision of God: one is to walk out from under through sin and refusing His will in our lives. The second way we find ourselves outside the protective cover of God is for Him to lift His hand away from us for some eternal purpose of His own. With these, even though we walk out of the hedge of His protection by our choice, there is most often still a grace cover that limits the consequence of our coming out from under our Protection. As example, we see this in the book of Job and in God’s work of deliverance for Israel, taking them from Egypt to the land of promise, and in the cycle of Israel found all throughout the book of Judges. But with sin issues, where we deny Jehovah as the one and only true God, the hedge is removed more and more until we repent, as God releases us, giving us over to our own way. Right now God’s hedge is greatly removed from our land, and, as in the land of Egypt in Moses day, God is removing the hedge in areas where we rely on false gods, revealing their inadequacy and His supremacy.

Through the book of Hosea today, here is what God is revealing to me:

God is “removing the bow” – the power – of our nation. He is sowing weakness in us until we realize Who our true Power is and return to Him. We are not strong in ourselves as a nation. We are strong because of Jehovah-God’s grace to us. Until we realize and return to Him who is our strength, our bow – our economic and military power in the earth will be weak.

God has also removed His hand of provision from us as a nation. Crops will continue to fail us as a nation. Our clothing needs will go unmet more and more. I have found myself lately, as I shop for new clothing, making sure I buy things I will enjoy wearing for a while, things I sense will last me.

As our power fails, we will not find pity from God or others. God is the one who has given us favor in the earth, but we continue to show signs of thinking we earned the favor and position we have in the world. Others have looked up to us because God has given us favor as a people who believe in Jehovah-God through a faith that walks that belief out and reveals itself through integrity as His people. We have walked out from under God’s favor and He has lifted His hand of grace, therefore we will find no pity nor aid from those who would normally have compassion toward us because of God’s favor.

We, who have been known as a godly, Christian nation, now are being called, “not My people”, not because that is what God wants, but because we have walked away from serving Him alone as God. We as a nation are not walking as His image bearers, fully trusting in and committed to Him. As a nation, we are taking away the right of the people of God to serve Him, express Him, and be what we are called to be, and this is being done for the sake of those who serve other gods, or profess no god at all. And God’s people are too often cowering under the pressure of laws and regulations that deny Him as God and require us to be silent in our beliefs and faith. A government entity who professes many gods or no god, leads a nation to the same.

As in generations past, God has kept a remnant for Himself and that remnant in our nation is growing and making itself known, taking its stand on godliness that obeys Jehovah’s will and pleasure above that of man. God’s hand of provision and grace remains with the remnant. But as a nation, we have left our first love, giving ground to false gods who are rising up to greatness in the land through the numbers who are following them. We have removed Jehovah from government and schools, and are being pushed to remove Him from society as a whole. Thus, Jehovah-God is removing His hand of grace and favor from us as a nation.

This fact is seen on the news every day. There are signs in the news that consistently reveal that we have surrendered to being a nation of many gods. Jehovah will not give His glory to another. Thus His hand of discipline is upon our land and God says to us, “You are not My people and I am not your God.” We are no longer a godly, Christian nation. The covenant with and alliance of Jehovah in our nation is broken as we see other gods given power in our land, and see our land weakened, God, letting the seeds of weakness have full sway in the land, His hand of power and grace removed from us.

Even so, people-of-God, Jehovah leaves to us hope in Him. He tells us, who are of the remnant to remind one another that we ARE His people and we are pitied—given grace with mercy—and to do so with hope filled assurance that God will succeed in turning our nation back to Himself. No matter how hopeless it looks to us, hope in God to do the impossible sustains us, so we must earnestly, expectantly hope in God and work toward seeing hope fulfilled. Like for Israel in the day of Hosea, as God lifted His hand from the nation, He did so for the good of the nation, to lead them back to reliance on Him alone, and He let Hosea know early in his ministry that they would turn back to Him to be called “His pitied / graced people” anew.

The difficulty that is upon us is there to reveal to all the land that our false gods over us are impotent. God will use the remnant to reveal His power, glory, and sufficiency. God’s hand of protection will be powerfully and recognizably over those of the remnant; His grace sufficient will be recognized as our obvious supply; and His peace that passes understanding will cause us to stand out as we remember our God and put our trust in Him alone.

As I read on in Hosea, these things stand out to me:

God will hedge the way of the harlot with thorns so she cannot go on the paths she desires, but will be herded into the paths of His design. This stubborn stance we see going on in congress that has our government shutdown is a hedge of thorns. Pray the thorns of God will stand firm so as to be used of God to take us as a nation where we need to be, to that place where He is found waiting for our return to Him as God-alone.

If you, like I, have loved ones who are chasing after the false gods of the day: happiness, wealth, mother earth, or more, take courage. Those who are running after their false gods will find no satisfaction. Their dissatisfaction will turn them back to the Faithful One anew.

One thing I note is that our nakedness as a nation will be revealed. All those things we do in secret and try to hide will come out in the open and our lewdness will be found out from the top down. No one will be able to rescue those ensnared in God’s hand of discipline, and that which is our “gaiety” will be removed. There will be no happiness in our ungodly pursuits; only discontent, discord, and dissatisfaction until only deprivation, destitution and deficiency remain to those who refuse Him His rightful place in our life and land.

Even the righteous who truly seek after Father-Jehovah are being led of God to tell their darkest secrets and how God led them to repentance and victory over sin. It is not easy to do, but as we get real with God, with ourselves, and with others, God is revealed, and those in need of Him, see Him as He is and realize their only true Help is in Jehovah-Yeshua.

This post though separate from the focus on who we are in Christ fits with it as it introduces our next stop on the road of discovering what those belonging to God as His possession look like. We are “real”. See you in the next post of Darlene’s Ponderings.