Tag Archives: equipping

Trusting God’s Faithful Plan

“O Yahweh, you are my Elohim. I will highly honor you; I will praise your name. You have done miraculous things. You have been completely reliable in carrying out your plans from long ago.” ~ Isaiah 25:1 NOG

Has God given you a vision, a heart desire to strive for in service to Him. Trust in the Lord who is proven in power and faithfulness. His word never fails, though His way looks different than our visual acuity can anticipate. He will accomplish His will in His higher ways.

Leave room for God’s glory to be revealed. We can manipulate our way to the vision as we see it, but we do ourselves, our God, and the Kingdom we profess a disservice when we force our way. We must realize the difference between pushing for some idea we hold that falls short of God’s ideal, and faithfully following God’s lead with refusal to be deterred. Growing our ability to recognize and trust God’s lead is a must.

It takes great faith to wait and let God show His might that is beyond our comprehension, as He opens strategic doors that grow us and prepare us for our future. And the practice of waiting-well most greatly prepares us to accomplish God’s will in the work He gives us to possess, as we receive His training as preparatory in the season of waiting.

Now, in this period of waiting on the Lord, we find opportunity for us to show ourselves to be good stewards in our now life of service to Him. Living well as representatives of God, accomplishing His will where we are in this Today, is the key that opens our glorious Tomorrow in serving our God. Go forth, trusting the vision to Him who holds the fullness of it, and be His righteous, loyal bondslave with this day. You will not be sorry for the time of waiting when you walk into the glorious unfolding of God’s will for you.

The Cleansing Coal

One of my favorite songs, recorded by Kutless, is “Take Me In (To The Holy of Holies)”. My enjoyment of it is especially true in these days of God teaching me the greater depths of our role as His Temple. On one particular day, as I sang along with it, revelation dawned on a truth needed.

The lyric is of one seeking Father to, “take the coal, touch my lips, here I am.” Those words usher in thought of two scripture passages, the first being the source of that lyric.

“…Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”” (Isaiah 6:1-7 NASB)

Isaiah has just gazed upon the glory of God, seated on His throne. Instantly, Isaiah not only confesses his sin and the sin of all the nation’s people, but he also expresses deep, abiding surrender to God’s will: “Here I am.” With Isaiah’s recognition of the fire of iniquity fueling that sin, my mind goes to the second passage risen up within me, found in James.

“…if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” (James 3:2 NLT)

We cannot help, when in the sure and pure Presence of God, but to realize how unworthy we are to be there. When God heard Isaiah’s repentant plea, God sent the angel with the burning coal to touch his lips and cleanse Isaiah’s entire being. In doing so, not only was Isaiah cleansed and purified, but He was set apart and anointed to use that mouth in service to God. He spent the remainder of His day’s doing just that as a prophet of the One True God to the people of Israel.

Looking at both passages, we can recognize that our mouths are a major hot spot in our journey to please God. James states it clearly. Ability to control the tongue equips one to control their entire being.

Reading on, James warns, “…the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6 NASB)

Think about it. We too quickly speak, only to find ourselves on roads of endeavor God never intended. We make a rash commitment that forces us on a path to destruction; or we speak thoughtlessly, only to back out and fail to keep our word. Or we respond too quickly to falsehood, insult, injustice, dispute, only to find doors of opportunity and relationship closed; and further access denied.

Then there are hurting people who constantly hurt people. There’s prideful people who overestimate themselves and bite off more than they can chew. And there are insecure people who fearfully fail to trust God and refuse an opportunity He sends that would not only grow faith and security, but allow them to participate in a work of God beyond their comfort zone, bringing them up higher in their walk with God. And, lest we forget, as stated by James, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” (James 3:9-10 NASB)

But God cleanses and God sanctifies, putting a new fire in our tongues, flaming from a bit of His choosing, controlled by the reins His Hands direct. With surrender to His bit and bridle, He leads us to walk the streets of His desire, design, will, and purpose.

With these insights, I have to ask what we can learn from the analogy of the bit and bridle. We will look at these in the next post.

Faith Made Whole

“… Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. …” (James 2:17-26 NLT)

Faith is made complete when it leads to agreement with the Father, producing actions of obedience that accomplish His works and glorify His Name. We know that “in the mount of the Lord it will be provided” because Abraham’s faith produced obedience out of trust in God’s faithfulness and provision that revealed The Lord our provider (Genesis 22). Faith works with God out of a trust that takes the opportunity to reveal God’s faithful character. Thus faith is made whole through actions that flow from trust that God will take His opportunity through our faith to show off His glory.

Father, increase our understanding that faith is a muscle. Faith not flexed disintegrates. Faith is made strong, mature, complete, whole, as trust moves it into action. Let our faith move us to where it sees You working. May every spark of faith press us forward to join You in making You known as You reveal to all Your faithfulness that will not deny Yourself. Open our eyes to see opportunities You give us to flex our faith muscle. May we be complete in Christ, who saw where You were working and joined You there to produce Your glory in the earth. In Jesus, amen.

God’s Righteous Right Hand

“’Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:10 NASB)

This excites me! Look at what this says.

  • There is no need for us to fear, for God is with us.
  • We don’t have to be anxious when we know that He is our God.
  • He strengthens us and helps us.

And the really exciting one!

  • He upholds us with His righteous right hand.

The thing that makes this so exciting to me is the clear flash of revelation that attached itself to my mind’s eye of understanding as I read it this go round. You have heard the adage, “right hand man”, right? WHO sits at God’s Right hand?

JESUS!

And what did Jesus do for us in the name and authority of the Father?

PROPITIATE!

He paid the full price owed for us in our sin. He became for us, our…

KINSMAN REDEEMER!

Because of Jesus, NOTHING can take us out of our Father’s Hand. We are safe, secure, rescued and restored. And God has…

“raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

We are the body of Christ, held up, stabilized, and made strong in The Father’s Righteous, Right Hand.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)

“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4 NASB)

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25 NASB)

Desires Fulfilled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday.” (Psalms 37:3-6 NASB)

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Watchful Care

Which is God? Scattered and Divided? Or Together and United? Both or Neither?

“At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.” But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.” In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.” (Genesis 11:1-9 NLT)

It appears in this passage that God is being mean, working against the people to scatter them, bringing division to them. He actually is looking out for their best interests.

First, they express desire to stay in this place, stopping the movement that was scattering them across the earth. This plan was in opposition to God’s command, given both to Adam, and again to Noah.

“…“Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. ….”” (Genesis 1:27-28 NLT)

“Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1 NLT)

In scattering the people, God was both protecting His plan for populating the earth, and He was protecting the people from sinning against Him. It’s like when we have a small child that keeps reaching for something they don’t need, something we know will hurt them. Giving them a new focus or breaking their focus away from a harmful pursuit so they choose a better and safer way is a wise solution in training them.

Another problem these faced should they have succeeded in their plan is the loss of understanding their need of God. Note The Lord’s assessment, “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!”

Working together, not only were they successfully sinning against God’s will and way, but they were setting themselves up as their own gods, adequately equipped for ever growing sin. The problem being, they could never out grow God as a god. They could, however, push Him to have to delve out a harsher response to their rebellion. And they were succeeding at leading each other astray from Him. So He took action to protect His children from straying further. Note here that this is the sin of Satan, who desired to be God and swept a third of the heavenly hosts away with him in his rebellion.

There’s something else to see in God’s assessment, “”Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!””

God’s enemy, Satan, works hard to stop God from being accepted for Who He is: The Lord, The All Mighty, The All Sufficient and only ONE. Satan knows his end, and he desires to take as many of us with him as he can persuade. This enemy knows that if he can unify a group against God, or against His will, he can get far in leading them away from Him and from their destiny with Him. This work of Satan is what we see on our TVs when a protest march turns into a riot with bodily harm and looting.

Satan also knows something else. He knows that a scattered people is a dysfunctional people. This is what we see in the divisiveness of The Church and in the splitting of individual fellowships. He stops up the effectiveness of The Church by scattering us so we cannot come to one heart and mind for greatness in the work of God.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

Following God’s will is our good. Cooperating with His plans is our purpose. The path to the future He has for us is our hope. Together as His people, united as one with Him, nothing shall be impossible for us.

“The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!”

God spoke a truth over the people of Babel that with Him as our desire and guide is a good thing. Only in going in opposition to God and His will is our unity a thing for our God to stand against and protect us from. Anything that is in opposition to God is Antichrist, backed and empowered by Satan, who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us, robbing us of our eternity and the fulfillment of our God ordained purpose.

God is not opposed to unity when coupled with allegiance to Him and His ways, which are good and accomplish good. God is opposed to Antichrist. He watches carefully over His plans for us and the eternal destiny He has for His creation. By His power, He unites us to His purpose and separates us from Antichrist.

Finding Favor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Right Helpmeet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there’s more to this story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dangerous Assumptions

Read Genesis 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

Residing as Aliens

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reach for the Prize

We, the people of God in Christ Jesus, are both fully perfected in Christ as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; and we are simultaneously continually being perfected until the day of Christ, when He is fully revealed in us.

Though we are eternal beings raised to newness of life in Christ, we still live in human flesh that tries to resurrect itself as a dominant force. We have earthbound thinking to overcome, bad habits to change, and a higher calling to walk into.

Long ago, I was impressed by God to stop setting resolutions to try to improve my flesh, and start setting my aim to reach the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. As I turned my attention to reaching for that prize, Father began showing me in scripture a mile marker for that year. My first prize assignment was to grow my knowledge of God in greater, ever increasing intimacy (Philippians 3:10-11, AMPC).

Growing intimacy with God requires time in His Word so He can point our hearts to the prize we are to reach for. My encouragement today is for a commitment to seek God in His Word, asking Him to show us the prize we are to reach for. Get into God’s Word, watching for Him to highlight the prize He has for you to attain in this coming year. Get your spiritual eyes on that prize and watch in awe as He opens His Word and opportunities to help your growth and position you for victory in grabbing that ring in victory.

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. …” (1 Peter 2:1-5 NASB)

Philippians 3:7-16 NASB

Love from the Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 14

Back to the Temple, to the Holy Place, Where We are The Church

When I finished up the section covering who we are as the Temple of God, I felt that I did not adequately emphasize a vital aspect of our being that is found in Holy Place life. In the Holy Place, where only the priests can enter, all who are true followers of Christ being Priests unto God in His Royal Priesthood, life in the Holy Place is Church.

We are The Church. We wash each other’s feet through encouragement and love as we enter together. We fellowship around the Showbread Table, Light each other’s lamps at the lampstand, and worship through prayer and song at the table of incense.

I was kicking myself for missing or failing to emphasize that, praying about doing an addendum, when God advised my heart to not worry about it. Now I know that He knew the last chapter.

So here we are, the final post of our trip through Hebrews, looking at who we are as the people of God in Christ. Until now, we have focused most on each of us individually. We are each tasked as priests, standing ready at the altar of sacrifice, poised to give an account of the hope we have and share with those who want it. We are responsible to watch with care for the image of God in us and encourage it in others as we wash holy feet. We enter the Holy Place on behalf of others, yes, but also in living our lives as honors God, fellowshipping with His people at the showbread table; checking our light and lamp oil at the Lamp Stand; praying and worshiping as incense at the table of incense. There we find our entry into the Holy of Holies for very personal time with the Father.

In the Holy of Holies, we visit with our Father about His Word, growing our personal understanding and surrender to His ways. We know and are reminded of His healing from the bite of sin’s serpent of death. We remember His loving care that meets our need as manna from His storehouses, all while being acutely aware of His mercy seat where Jesus ever lives to intercede on our behalf. Here, in our individual, very personal time with the Father through Christ, we are rested, revived, and replenished to return to The Church in renewed strength for ministry.

Now we see in chapter 13 who we are corporately. We are The Church. As I read Hebrews 13, the words speak to me, giving an excellent picture of what “Church” looks like. As I read these words, here is what stands out to me for us to realize about being part of The Church.

In Verse 1, we find our first, most vital responsibility as members of The Church: unfailing, unconditional love. We are to excel in living out the Agape love that flows from Father, through Son, to and through us individually, to each other. And guess who gets the first dose after love of God in all His forms? “ME!”

As we love God, His love flows to us to empower us to fully and truly love Him more. In this exchange, we come to know His Agape for us individually, as His beloved Child. His love for “me” empowers our love for self to be a love that rightly evaluates self, frees from self hate and self worship, and empowers a humility that equips our ability to truly love others. It is a love that does not fail as God’s righteous thoughts toward “me” and those in “my” sphere of influence equips our right relationships.

This love extends to empower our fulfillment of verse 2, “Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood–being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Thus, we open our homes for fellowship, bible studies, overnight guests, etc., giving hospitality out of Love’s flow.

Love is gracious, merciful, humble, and giving. True Love, as God defines it, motivates and empowers everything we think, feel, say, and do. Thus, Love’s “…hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. ….” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 AMPC)

Out of love, we recognize our fellow countrymen and women, feeling the plight of those in persecution of every form. As The Church, we pray for and do all we can to help those imprisoned because of their faith (Verse 3)

As The Church, we recognize that our relationships are a picture of God’s Kingdom, beginning with the marriage bed. We hold human marriage in highest honor, knowing that as the Bride of Christ, our marriage in this life is to emulate that BLESSed union.

We know that adultery and any infidelity breaks the heart of God, as it mimics the separation of sinful man from their Holy, Creator God and His loving desire for our best good (Verse 4). Infidelity is the same sin toward our mate as idolatry is toward our God. It robs from our mate that which belongs only to them, and gives it to another. And this infidelity, though usually given to another person, can be given to things, just as an idol can be a thing or a pursuit that robs what belongs first to God or our mate.

As the people of God we hold God and His nearness as greatest value, knowing He who will never leave us, meets our every need. We do not give His glory to the monetary temptations of this world or hold any other treasure above Him, who cares for us affectionately and watchfully (Verse 5-6). This, too, fits the marriage bed, as we are called to cherish and nurture our mates.

As The Church, we work together to grow in our relationship to Triune-God, learning to truly love, honor, cherish, and nurture that Holy Union with God. ”So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?”

As The Church, we pray for and support the leadership of our assemblies. We call them to accountability for righteousness in their leading, and we follow their holy example, imitating their faith as we grow by their example, a faith that leans the entire personality on God to become the real individual He wants of us (Verse 7-8).

Verse 17 adds instruction to “Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them continually recognizing their authority over you, for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account of their trust.”

Their “trust” is from God, the responsibility given as shepherds of their flock. We are charged to do our part “to let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you either.”

At the same time that we are to follow our leaders, helping them lead victoriously, learning and growing faith because of their example, making sure we do not become a source of hardship and sorrow by bucking their authority, we are to be watchful for false teaching. Verse 9-15 warns that there should not be alien traditions added to God’s Word of instruction. Nor are we to trust any other altar of sacrifice for sin than that of God’s Son. “It is good for the heart to be established and ennobled and strengthened by means of grace (God’s favor and spiritual blessing) and not to be devoted to” unnecessary rituals and sacrifices.

As The Church, we care about others, meeting the needs of others (Verse 16). We pray for the work of The Church, its ministries, evangelists, preachers, teachers, etc., ministering to their needs (Verse 18-19). Following these guidelines, we accomplish the fellowship of Holy Place ministry.

“Now may the God of peace, Who is the Author and the Giver of peace, Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood that sealed and ratified the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), strengthen, complete, perfect and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; while He Himself works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it). …” (Verse 20-25).

(Hebrews 13:1-25 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 12

The Testimony of Kingdom Coming: The Testament of God

“… Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God. … Urged on by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise. … These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth. Now those people who talk as they did show plainly that they are in search of a fatherland (their own country). …” (Hebrews 11:5, 8-9, 13-14 AMPC)

Chapter 11 of Hebrews brings hope to many people of faith as testimony of people of faith through the ages rolls across its verse. Reading through these precious words today, I see mere humans, lauded for a great faith that led to actions bearing testimony of their faithful God. Several things I note as I read:

First these are people of faith who trusted the same perfect God of promise, but these are not perfect people. Abraham fell more than once to fear: faith’s biggest enemy. Moses, a Christlike leader of God’s people, struggled with anger issues that led to doing things his way instead of God’s way. David, the mighty warrior with a heart for God, committed adultery, then tried to cover it up by committing murder. Yet, though they did not behave perfectly and had to repent more than once, these made the faith hall of fame as recipients of God’s faithfulness.

Second, every promise given is fulfilled, but none saw all fulfilled in their lifetime, and some we still wait for we know as finished in the eternal though we still do not see it. This fact is a picture of faith. And this walk of faith we live bears a testimony of God.

Beloved, we who believe God and trust by faith are His living, breathing, testament, adding daily to God’s faith hall of fame.

“And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised, Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].” (Hebrews 11:39-40 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 11

People of Conviction

“For still a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay. But the just shall live by faith – My righteous servant shall live by his CONVICTION…” (Hebrews 10:37-39 AMPC)

Beloved, as God’s righteous servants, we are God’s People of Conviction.

People of conviction are fixed: strong in their belief, not easily swayed from the course of following and growing strong in Him. These have received God and His Word as full truth and are convinced by Him that all He is and says is true. There is no turning us from our course, for our full trust is in Him. We believe! We are oak trees, having roots set deep and ever growing in the soil of God’s Kingdom, constantly refreshed by His River of Living Water. Having set our minds, we keep them set on the things above where God resides; the higher things (Colossians 3:1-4 AMPC).

Our Hebrews 10 focal passage goes on to say that, as people of conviction, we respect “man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it.” Many passages of scripture make it clear that we human Christians are in a state of constant growth. As long as we live in this world, our experiences will work maturity in us, helping us to know God better and come into stronger conviction of faith.

Romans 14 warns us to not put one another down for the faith we have, siting the faith for or against the eating of food sacrificed to idols. Respecting each other’s faith in truth, we are to be considerate of one another’s sensibilities, not condemning each the other’s degree of faith.

Faith begins as a mustard seed. It takes time to grow into a mighty, fruit bearing tree. One may be strong and mighty in an area where I am weak and frail; but I will likely have great faith in something they are just coming into. Realizing we are all at different levels of faith according to our level of maturity in Christ, we are tasked to accept each other without condemnation or becoming a cause for stumbling.

“The faith (based on truth) which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14:22-23 NASB (thought added by author)

As I consider our being people of conviction, living the faith we possess, looking at it in context with the chapter it resides in, I note an exciting truth we can possess with sure conviction. The thing that jumps out at me from Hebrews 10, verses 1-2, sets my heart aflame. What freedom will be ours who hold to this sure conviction.

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, CAN NEVER, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, MAKE PERFECT those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, WOULD NO LONGER HAVE had CONSCIOUSNESS OF SINS?” (Hebrews 10:1-2 NASB)

Did you see it? IF the previous sacrifices fully cleansed, they would have no consciousness of sin.

Beloved, Jesus fully cleanses. (SELAH!!! Pause…and calmly think about that.)

This does not mean freedom to sin, but freedom FROM SIN and the ultimate consequence of death (eternal separation from God). When we sin, we have a sure place in Christ for forgiveness and cleansing that frees from condemnation. No sin can ever again get a deadly hold on us because Jesus paid the full price of all – ALL – sin. We who receive, believe, and cleve to Him can never be lost from Him again. So, though we sin, we can run to our loving Father who will wash our holy feet so we shine in Christ again. This conviction is ours to possess. Praise the Lord!

Beloved, if you are truly in Christ, having received by faith this precious gift of Mercy’s grace, that guilt trip the enemy of righteousness keeps goading in your mind’s eye is destroyed by a sure conviction of God’s powerful grace. Lean yourself fully on Him through trusting repentance that sets free from condemnation. Grow strong in Your sure understanding of God and His ways, being fertile soil for faith-filled fruit bearing. In this way we live a life of conviction, with a freedom that draws the longing desires of those in need of what we possess.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-C

Into the Holy of Holies

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B2

Holy Place, Part 2 – The Lampstand

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B1

Holy Place, Part 1 – Showbread Table

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-2b

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

So, from what we have considered thus far, I would say that the Laver experience is very personal to each of us. It is us, deliberately reaching for the heights of godliness. And it is God, reaching for us, privately, in response to our reach, and corporately as we let Him live through us to minister to each other.

Today, we look at one thing about the Laver experience that absolutely thrills me. No one really knows exactly what the Lavers looked like, but the following gives a hint of one probability.

“Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.” (Exodus 38:8 NASB)

All translations I read reveal the use of the bronze frames of mirrors as they gathered the material for this project. The fact that the command of God was for this basin and stand to be made of pure bronze supports the understanding of the extraction of the bronze from the mirrors. However, some translations and commentaries say the following:

“Bezalel made the bronze washbasin and its bronze stand FROM bronze mirrors donated by the women who served at the entrance of the Tabernacle.” (Exodus 38:8 NLT)

Some believe that the mirrors were kept intact and used to form the basin. This meant that when the priest leaned over it to wash their hands and get water to wash their feet, they saw their reflection in the basin.

Wow! That possibility speaks volumes to me. As priests unto God in Christ, we are called and equipped to represent Him and His interests in this world. Each hand and feet washing session gives opportunity for the priest to check their image as a Christ follower. Are we bearing forth the image of God? As we leave the altar to go into the Holy place, did we rightly and truly represent Christ in that altar encounter we just had?

As mentioned, an altar encounter may be with someone in need of meeting Christ as Savior, or it may be with a fellow Christian in need of recognizing His Lordship and righteous teachings in some area of struggle. In that encounter with a struggling Christian, our responsibility is to help them grow in their commitment and understanding of dying to self and self interest so He may live stronger in us. Whichever we are dealing with, we must check our stance and be sure we minister to the need as bearing forth fruit in keeping with righteousness.

We are not judge and jury. God’s Word is. As long as we stand in truth on the Word of God, we do well, but we are to take care to speak, act, and react in line with full truth.

The Laver, for us, is coming to the Wellspring of Living Water after any altar encounter, to cleanse ourselves in Christ. To pray for those ministered to with a view to our own lives, recommitting self to purity in that area of our lives, so we are not tempted away and caught in the same snare.

Also at this time, looking in the Laver mirror for the image of Christ in us, we take a moment to evaluate ourselves in the way we behaved, repenting any sin revealed in us through the ministry encounter. This preps us to enter into the Holy Place for the needs of others, which we will begin looking at in our next post.

Then, as we leave the Holy Place to return to outer court ministry, we wash again, asking whether we truly represented Christ in our service to God done in the Holy Place? And at this time, we seek to put on Christ anew in preparation for our next service opportunity. These are the checkpoints we have at the Laver of our life and ministry.

Today, as then, God is approached by way of the blood and the water. Jesus is our blood sacrifice and we stand in Him. Jesus is the living, life giving water, and we live, breathe and move out of the flow of His provision, as represents Him. Thus, the Laver represents our reliance upon and reception of His every provision in our lives and ministries.

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

One final thought here: if I’m understanding correctly, in the Old Covenant, the priest washed his own feet and hands. In the New Covenant, Jesus teaches us to wash one another’s feet. As I think on this, I see where both are important for us to know and do.

We don’t always have a fellow believer nearby to help us evaluate our life and practices. We need to be able to practice self-evaluation and cleansing: bringing self into alignment with Christ’s likeness throughout our day. What was it that Paul asked in Romans? “In teaching others, do you not teach yourselves also?” (Romans 2:17-24 NASB)

While we need to be able to teach and evaluate ourselves, we also need to recognize that we are one body in Christ, and there are times when we need the aid of others.

This completes the outer court ministry area of our lives as the Temple of our Living God. Because of His Presence in and around us, it is holy ground and part of our Temple of God reality. Wherever we are is holy in Him and we are to behave as the holy people of God.

Next blog post we enter the Holy Place. Until then, I pray you have a very BLESSed Thanksgiving.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-2

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

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

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

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

After the altar, we find the Laver.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-A

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

We are The Temple: Outer Court Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 9

Read: Hebrews 8:1-13 NASB

“For finding fault with them, He says, ” BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH; NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT…”

Jesus came to enact a new covenant with Israel. By grace, after establishing this covenant with His chosen tribes, He graciously extended His Holy Hand to us Gentiles, making us one as His covenant people.

God Himself takes us by the hand in the power of His Spirit, and walks us out of slavery to sin. It is as God speaking to us His promise to Israel, “’Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:10 NASB)

The New Covenant in Christ imparts the righteousness of God to us. He makes us to stand before Him, fully clothed and in our right mind.

“…FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.”

When we receive Christ, being filled with His Spirit, the seal of promise, we are gifted to possess the very mind of Christ.

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

The mind of Christ instructs is. With the mind of Christ comes not only the knowledge of the letter of the Law, but understanding discernment of its true intent. Our responsibility is to receive, recognize and fully possess the mind and thoughts of Christ living in us.

Remember the warning of James in chapter 1, verses 5-8?

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

As I’ve shared before, this double mindedness is the battle between the mind of our flesh and the mind of Christ within us. The New Covenant of God in Christ assures us of the Hand of God to lead us, and the mind of Christ, bringing right and true thoughts of truth that frees us INDEED.

“…AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘ KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. ” FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”” (Hebrews 8:8-12 NASB)

As the hand of God leads us and the mind of Christ frees us, the mercies of God clothes us in His own Righteousness: a deep, abiding relationship with God that embodies the very image of God. This clothing is the pure, undefiled birthday suit God intended from the beginning. Instead of hate, we dawn love, mercy, lovingkindness, compassion. Instead of unrighteous pride and arrogance, we put on garments of praise, humility, zeal for God and His ways, desire for His glory.

Besides all this, through Covenant in Christ, God stands us on the broad place of stability in Him Who is able to make us stand because He holds our hand. I can’t recall which Bible teacher pointed this out, but unlike the intent of man to train a child to one day walk on their own, God never intends us to let go of His hand. We need Him. Like a pic on Facebook said in response to the words, “Why I need God,” The man in the pic replies, “Life is a chess game. I don’t know how to play chess!”

Along with standing us on a broad place with Him, God seats us on the throne of grace in Christ, as one in His body; intimately united with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; one in thought, intent, and purpose. Thus scriptural covenant in Christ promises, “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)

We stand by remembering that we are covenant people. As such, we stand wholly united in Him as One, clinging tightly to the hand of God, seated with Christ, being in our right mind, fully clothed, and, empowered by it all, we stand firm.

Finding Who We Are: Part 8

Read: Hebrews 7:1-28 NASB

“For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, ” YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.” … The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. …” (vs. 13-17; 23-25)

Jesus is Priest forever because of an indestructible life, in likeness to Melchizedek, servant and priest to the One True God. We, as servant-ambassadors of Christ and priests unto God through Him, enter into this indestructible life. Our days are eternal with Him, as is our priesthood. That should get a resounding AMEN!

Our life here is but a breath. It is ordained and dictated by the Father, who loves us. We can trust Him, whatever comes our way, for we know that He alone is good, and He desires the greatest good for us.

I believe that there are things we need to know and understand about our God, and those things can only truly be known by walking the hills and valleys of this life. Thus, God desiring us to truly know Him, allows a life here where hills and valleys reside.

As we learn and grow, we have opportunities to help others learn and grow. Jesus ever lives to intercede on our behalf so we can accomplish our purpose of knowing God and making Him known: the high calling of a priest in God’s court.

Our eternal existence with God in Christ started the day of our rebirth. Death, the eternal separation from God that was in us before receiving Christ, died to us when we united with Jesus. Our old life passed away. Behold! We are a new creation in Christ. And that new creation will live on, though these flesh bodies die. With our new life came the BLESSed opportunity to be the expression of Heaven on earth.

“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17 NASB)

Beloved, as we truly discern our eternal state and the life of Christ that dwells in and desires to continue through us as one with Him, that is when true righteousness can get hold of all we are. In that holy estate we find deep, abiding peace that umpires and stabilizes our souls. Out of that peace flows joy, true joy from the rivers of His Spirit, everlasting and indestructible joy in God alone. Heaven, expressed in the earth.

An indestructible life, that is what we are in Christ. Rejoice today, Beloved, and let no hardship rob you of the unity we have as His Kingdom people. Learn of God and be indestructible people of God.

Finding Who We Are: Part 6c

“Concerning Him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:1-14 NASB)

As Priests unto God in Christ, heirs with Him as the children of God, we are to grow to full maturity. This passage says two things about the maturity we are to attain.

First we should grow in knowledge and understanding of the oracles or Word of God. This doesn’t only mean the written word, the general knowledge of what it says. It means growth in ability to apply God’s truths to life in our age. It also means ability to seek God and discern His true response.

The author of this passage points out that he is not seeing the growth there should be in the specific people he addresses with this letter, because they have become dull of hearing. We have the same problem today. People deem the word as archaic and refuse to hear. Others claim it’s words were for that people group addressed and can’t apply to us today. And, as has been the norm with mankind from the beginning, we fail to hear because we want what we want, and listening with receptive ears might rob us of having our desire.

Secondly, as priests unto God, part of our responsibility is to speak, teach, share, and live the truth of scripture. The author, whom I believe was Paul, points out that, because of our failure to hear the oracles of God, we fail to grow in our role as teachers. As mature Christians, we should be able to help the learning and growth of others.

Maturing in our ability to know the truth as God defined it, we should have senses trained to discern good and evil. When we know not only the oracles, but God who ordained the Word, drawing ever nearer to Him who is good, righteous, and true, we more readily recognize things in opposition to Him.

As priests unto God, it is vital that we be people of The Word, not only knowing the Words themselves, but having personal knowledge of the Eternal Orator who spoke His good Word into and through the hearts of men like Paul. We are people called and equipped to know God intimately, drawing ever closer to Him. And we are charged to be people He can use to encourage, instruct, and mature others.

Finding Who We Are: Part 6b

Jesus “has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father-to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:6 NASB)

Walking through Hebrews, looking both at the example of Christ to us, and at the specific instructions to us found there, we are seeking to discover clues to who we are in Christ. In chapter 3 and now in chapter 5, we are looking at our role as priests unto God. Thus far we see the purpose of God for the suffering priest, and we see the changing of our sacrifice as priests because of Father making His Son the last blood sacrifice on our behalf. No more need for the spilling of blood, Jesus leaves us to make gifts and sacrifices of praises to God, coupled with thanksgiving.

Now, in verse 7 of chapter 5, we see in Jesus what I would call the surrendered, reverent heart of a prayer warrior. Bombarded by every enemy’s false wisdoms, “He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.”

All the world of mankind around Him was coming against Him as He faced betrayal, false accusations, desertion, and denial of His reality as King and Savior, ending His earthly existence on a cruel cross at the hands of those He came to save. Along with the world’s assault, the fleshly body of Christ was coming against Him. The screams of His body was so severe, scripture describes His emotional and mental state as being distressed, troubled, in agony, a despair of such magnitude that He sweat blood from bursting capillaries.

Knowing how the devil can trouble me with his lies and accusations, though there is no clear witness of it in scripture, I believe Satan and His minions were surely, busily working his best deceptions in their attempt to turn Jesus from His appointed course.

Scripture says He was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Demons ever live to tempt mankind away from God and His ways for us, away from belief and trust in God. I have to believe they were working hard to tempt our Savior away from trust in God, adding to His turmoil. The death that would come if Jesus turned from His appointed course would be the end for all mankind. Knowing this truth, with love for The Father and for us, He cried out for strength to persevere and drink His cup. God responded through ministering angels.

“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Matthew 5:8-10, NASB)

Jesus continues His Priestly role as Prayer Warrior as He ever lives to intercede on our behalf. We, too, are called and equipped to pray without ceasing. The thing I feel led to point us to in our role as Prayer Warrior Priests unto God, comes from what I discern from The Lord’s Model Prayer in Matthew 6.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. …” Stop there!

This beginning of what Jesus outlined in teaching the people how to properly approach the throne of grace tells me the humility of heart and frame of mind needed before we even think of laying at the feet of God what we see as our needs. The first thing we must do as prayer warriors is recognize the way-above-my-head greatness of our God, which, in turn, causes us to realize our first need to be that of aligning our hearts with God’s will, with full realization that He knows our truest and greatest needs; and He understands the perfect solution and timing in meeting each one.

We are too small, insignificant, and selfish to truly know what our need is apart from Christ. We cannot realize what the truth of our need is, until we stand in agreement with God’s will on earth as in Heaven. Jesus knew the will of God for His life, and He sweat blood in seeking to align His desire and strength to achieving God’s will, God’s way.

Jesus exemplified this Truth in His prayer, “Yet not My will, but Thy will be done.” Jesus spent His hour crying out to God in order to refocus His heart to accomplish God’s will on earth as it was already seen as true in Heaven.

Beloved, we are priests unto God, according to the order of Jesus, The Christ, called and equipped to cry out to Him who saves us, seeking for His will on earth as it is in Heaven. We war against the enemy of God as we learn well the way of prayer. “To God be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Finding Who We Are: Part 6a

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

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

~ Our inherited appointment (covered today)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 5:1-14 NASB

Finding Who We Are: Part 5

“While the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it], lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it. For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard and did believe.” (Hebrews 4:1-2 AMPC)

We are a people of faith, believing God and trusting Him with every fiber of our being. That is what God expects from those who are His. That faith to trust and believe God leads us to a life of peace that reveals His rest at work in us.

We are a people who put our trust in the work, will, and way of The Triune God, finding our rest in Him as we lean our entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness. True, abiding faith to trust God unites us with Him in thought, word, and actions.

Thought: all true thought is wrapped up in the Father, the God-head. True thought and true wisdom is from Him, who knows all things, even the date and time of the last day, and He makes truth known, revealing Himself, His will, His ways, to those who wholeheartedly seek Him in earnest. Thus, He calls us to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” and to “think on these things, the higher things that are true, right, pure, lovely, excellent, worthy of praise” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Philippians 4:8-9).

Word (Jesus): Jesus knows and always, from beginning of time, speaks the true Word of God, coming from the very thoughts and intentions of Father, the God-Head. I believe that Jesus has always been the Angel of the Lord, God’s visible manifestation, bringing the Message of God to His people. He always speaks the truth of God, revealing the intent of God, and He came as our Incarnate Lord God to correct our understanding and show the true way of Life in unity with God’s perfection. He is our example, the Lord of our lives, and we are expected to be as He is, following in His footprints.

The Spirit of God is that part of Him that equips and empowers right and true discernment, leading to productive and eternally effective action. We are instructed to be filled and overflowing with Him, cooperating with Him so that His power and affect flow through us.

Surrendering to The Triune in the power and leading of His Spirit, we become one in thought, word, and actions, just as did Jesus. This is the path of ONE, the achievement of the desired unity between The Triune and the Body.

Father led me to look at Philippians 1:6 in The Passion Translation the other day. I love it! The way it reads seems to say that He will keep working in us until He can unveil us to reveal the very image of Christ in us! That is the desire of The Triune for us and it is the desired end of the work of God’s Spirit in us. Love that. Make it so, Father. Grant us faith to persevere and fully cooperate with the work of Your Presence set to overflow in us.

“I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Philippians 1:6 TPT)

Finding Who We Are: Part 4

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

I’ve written many times about our being the Temple of God, housing His Holy Presence on earth, fully equipped to represent The Triune and His Kingdom interests in our daily lives. As I looked at this last night and began praying about what I am to cover on this common topic, a list begins to form revealing truths of God’s Temple.

1 – The Temple of God is holy, and that is what you are! And as I often say, wherever we are, we are on holy ground, so behave accordingly. (1 Corinthians 3:17 NASB)

2 – The Temple of God is a house of Prayer, and that is what you are. So pray, realizing that prayer is communion with God, and can – and often should be – more listening for His opinion, heart, instruction, than speaking.

James says we do not have for we do not ask; and we ask and do not receive because we ask with wrong motives so we can spend it on OUR PLEASURES. Having God’s heart and unity with His opinion on life issues is vital to prayers well prayed: prayers I believe will make His heart sing. (Matthew 21:13 NASB; James 4:1-10 NASB)

3 – The house God is making out of us is a place of worship, and that is what you are. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NASB)

4 – The House of God is a dwelling place, and that is what you are. The Spirit of God’s Presence dwells in and with us. He wants to live with, in, and through us in active, visible ways that can be seen by all we associate with in any way. God is making us into more than a place to be: He is building a place to live to the full, abundantly, impacting the world around us. (1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB)

We are called to be a dwelling for God alone, there is no room for another. He wants to fill every nook and cranny; clearing and cleaning every closet and all dark corners.

As we willingly decrease to allow more room for Him, He fills us up and frees us to be more ourselves than we ever knew we could be. As He cleanses and clears away debris, He finds us, the “me” God intended from before time: a son – a daughter, holding fast to our confidence, the boast of our hope made firm until the end.

“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NASB)

Finding Who We Are: Part 3

“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18 NASB)

Listen to what this says and, considering who we are in Christ, take heart.

Jesus came in flesh so that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, having experienced life as we know it. This leaves the impression that He came to know hunger, thirst, hurt, pain, and all the issues of human flesh so that He would understand in a way that grew His mercy muscles and increased the nature of His faithfulness, all of which was already perfect.

I don’t believe He did so because He did not know and understand; after all, God is All Knowing. I believe His need of personal experience of life in flesh was more so we can know with assurance that He understands. His suffering increased His ability to serve as High Priest, being better able to sympathize from a stance of personal experience.

The New Living Translation of verse 18 says, “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.” No one can look at Him on judgement day and say, “But, God, you don’t understand!” When we know someone does understand from experience, we more readily receive their encouragement. Beloved, we can know that God Incarnate understands.

Do I fully understand passages like this that speak as if Jesus had to grow. No, it blows my finite mind. I have spent two days trying to write this so as to explain the indescribable. Here’s the point I see that we need to grasp and understand as we grow into who we are in Christ.

Jesus, called and equipped as High Priest, suffered in human flesh in part to strengthen His ability to fulfill His role. We, too are called to a priestly role as part of the Royal Priesthood Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 2:9. Just like Jesus, we must realize that some of the things God allows us to suffer will be to increase our ability to serve in that blessed ministry.

Going through a hardship makes us better able to sympathize. In those seasons, we learn what is helpful and what is not. We gain a right to speak into the lives of others and a credibility that helps others hear. Sometimes suffering is simply purposed to make us God’s comforters to the hurting.

Are you going through a hard time? Know it has a purpose and, in Christlikeness, become a willing student so you can be a godly Priest.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Colossians 1:24 NASB)

See also 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NASB.