I read this and ask God, “Do I fear You as I should? What does fearing You mean?”
How would you define “fear of the Lord”? I don’t quake before Him. Hebrews says I can come boldly before the throne of grace. He is my Father. I enjoy His presence. There is not a quaking fear there.
I look around at things going on in the world and quake at the fate of all involved in it when God moves against it. Do I quake enough to reach out a warning hand ready to pull them out of their pit of destruction? Is my fear of the Lord the righteous fear He calls for, expects, and is worthy of receiving? A fear that acknowledges His worthiness, respects His authority, and recognizes His justice and His right as the true Supreme Justice?
Holy Spirit, You come teaching me of sin, righteousness, and judgement. Is the understanding of these truths and humility it brings that causes my heart to crumble before Him “the fear of the Lord”? If this is it, I am there.
Father, I acknowledge Your worthiness, respect Your authority, and recognize Your right and responsibility to delve out justice. I quake at the thought of an eternity without You, Your love, Your mercy, Your grace, Your presence. Father, I need You and I cry out for those wallowing in the pit of a world set against You.
Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner in need of Your merciful grace. Let this “fear of the Lord” cause me to recognize the difference between the path of sin, the path of righteousness, and the consequences that come with Your judgment. I bow to You, my Daddy-King Jehovah in the name of my Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, our Jehovah-Tsidkenu. Amen.
“You caused sentence to be heard from heaven; the earth feared and was still– When God arose to [establish] judgment, to save all the meek and oppressed of the earth. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! Surely the wrath of man shall praise You; the remainder of wrath shall You restrain and gird and arm Yourself with it.”
Psalm 76:8-10 AMPC
￼To my understanding, this says that when we have righteous anger, anger fed by God’s anger over an evil, it is a praise to His ears. He restrains and dictates that anger for His purpose, arming Himself with it for His use.
Father, I’ve experienced righteous anger, restrained and used by You. Thank You for that experience. I surrender my anger to You and trust You to use me as You will, to deal with every evil. Make me Your victorious weapon against evil. In Jesus, amen.
He holds the hearts of kings.
“This is what the Lord says: “The people of Israel have sinned again and again, and I WILL NOT LET THEM GO UNPUNISHED! … Does disaster come to a city unless the Lord has planned it?” (Amos 2:6a, 3:6 NLT)
We tend to forget that God is still Sovereign over all. We forget that He holds the hearts of kings in His hands to turn them the direction of His will for His purpose. An enemy attacked us on 911 and God sent us to fight that enemy. He used us to deliver a nation from an evil overlord. That is how He Works.
We are told that “God is patient toward us, not wishing any to perish, but all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We see that fact in God’s words to Abraham as He tells them of Israel’s future slavery and their return to take the promised land. The Lord says, “After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction” (Genesis 15:16 NLT).
God gives the Amorites time to turn from evil, but knowing they won’t, He sets the day when their opportunity to repent is gone. We see God direct the heart of kings against a sinful, unrepentant people over and over in scripture. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We must take His sovereign rule to heart and recognize His hand in our day. And we, as a nation, must repent before God says, “Enough!”
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.
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)
“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.
A Comprehensive Look at James 1:14 (In context)
“Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” NASB
Temptation: we all face it at one time or another. It is even said of Jesus that He, too was tempted, even as we are, yet without sin (1). Truly, temptation is opportunity to choose whether we will do evil or do good. Jesus’s first, most vital desire in all things, at all times, was God.
Jesus was God incarnate, yes. Jesus was filled and empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, yes. But He was still a man who contended with human flesh. The thing about the desires Jesus surrendered Himself to, is His fear of, trust in, and desire to please God that kept Him on the straight and narrow path of always choosing good over evil, so as to always please His Father and bring Him glory. He was dictated by lusts, desires, passions set on God, His will, and His way, ONLY. He did not give leeway to His flesh.
As I look at this verse in several translations, I find understanding that can help us follow in likeness to the example of Christ.
“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” NLT
Lusts are focused on the attainment of all our hearts desire. If we are not watchful to keep our desires in line with God, His will and His way, those desires can not only be used to entice us to sin; those desires can grab us and drag us away from the paths of God’s choosing.
Have you ever committed to stay away from a desire, like sweets, only to find yourself running straight to it. I have! In that instant, not only do I find myself eating a sweet, I often fall into gorging myself on them. My lust, desire, passion, literally drags me away from my commitment.
The passion of the Christ was God: first, foremost, and always. That passion protected Him from being dragged elsewhere. Clue?
“Every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).” AMPC
Have you ever found yourself blaming the devil, the temptress, or anyone but self, because they sat the temptation in front of you? I have. It is hard to take the blame for our failures. But truth is, it is our own desires, passions, lusts, that cause our fall.
We alone are to blame when temptation comes and we fall away. We fail to keep our desires in line with godliness, and make ourselves a target. Not only do we make self a target, but we fail to have the right arsenal against the attack of our flesh by having evil passions under our belt. The only passion that can save us from ourselves is desire for God alone. Only then will we do the things that please Him, like studying His Word, so we have knowledge of truth under our belt.
“Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” NIV
It’s “MY”evil desire to blame. Each person is responsible for their own demise. The phenomenon of the individual falling into the group mentality of a chaotic mob is not the mobs fault. There is some desire in that individual that is responsible for their own fall from righteousness. They wanted something that joining the mob could feed them, so they chose the evil of the mob over the good of walking the other way alone.
“Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure them away into darkness.” TPT
When we give self over to the lusts of our flesh, failing to give self to godly pursuits, we leave the Light and walk off into the darkness. Our greatest aid against fleshly desires, lusts, passions, is the transforming of our minds that change the fleshly to the godly (God-centered) pursuits. The more we want Him, the more we want to please Him, the more we desire all He has for us and gives to us, the better off we will be and the closer to His Light we will stay.
“People are tempted when they are drawn away and trapped by their own evil desires.” GNB
We set our own trap, providing the cheese to lure us, when we fail to align our desires with God’s. The tempter knows what to put in his trap, because we give it to him.
One last fact I found comes from the Orthodox Jewish Bible, which introduces us to the “Yetzer Hara”:
“But each one is tempted by his own ta’avah (lust, yetzer hara), being dragged off by it and being allured.” OJB
“In Judaism, yetzer hara (Hebrew: יֵצֶר הַרַע) refers to the congenital inclination to do evil, by violating the will of God. … The yetzer hara is not a demonic force, but rather man’s misuse of things the physical body needs to survive.” (From Wikipedia – Also see Self Seduction by Jewish author Dr. Alan Morinis)
“Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” James 1:13-15 MSG
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who LOVE HIM. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. DO NOT BE DECEIVED, my beloved brethren.” James 1:12-16 NASB
1 – Hebrews 4:15
“These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.” (John 16:3 NASB)
Do you ever wonder what’s going on in a world gone crazy, amazed at how people are behaving? Jesus reminds that such things are done by those who do not truly know the Father or His Son.
Why are we so shocked to see people of a lost world acting worldly? Scripture teaches that evil in the world will continue to increase, being at its worst as we draw near to the Day of Christ’s return. Things are crazy and people out of control because we draw ever nearer to that day. The enemy of God gains ever-increasing control as people refuse God, and as hearts grow cold and unable to truly love.
What should we do?
– Keep our lamps lit through the continual filling of God’s Spirit and stand ready.
– Draw ever closer to God.
– Be ready to bear witness of His grace and to speak wisdom, truth, righteousness, love, and peace wherever we can.
– Don’t waste breath on those who will not hear, nor cast the pearls of God’s Word before swine.
– Keep your heart from hate and your steps from foolishness.
– Remember that bad company corrupts good morals.
– Live the Light of God in all you do.
– And remember the true battle, while involving humans possessed and deceived, is a spiritual one against an evil enemy army. (Ephesians 6:12 NASB)
– Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith.
That Great Day is dawning, Beloved. Stand ready!
“… I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.” (John 12:35-36, 44-46 NASB)
God is Light and there is no darkness in Him. Jesus came as God’s Light to us for the purpose of pulling out of the darkness us who believe in His Light. Beloved, one sign that we are God’s Children through Christ is our deliverance from darkness that makes us part of God’s Light.
Our journey to dive deep into His Light so as to understand that Light with comprehensive recognition leads us to it’s defining attributes, beginning with…
“… he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”” (John 3:19-21 NASB)
John 3:19-21 tells us that God’s Light is first of all Truth: Truth as God sees it, not as this world sees it. God’s Truth is absolute, well defined, and beyond reproach.
Jesus came as the Light of God to pull us out of the lie and into the Truth. Those who believe God in Christ will seek after Truth with whole heart. Those who do not know God will run and hide from God’s enlightenment, for fear that the the lie of his ways will be exposed.
“There it was–the true Light [was then] coming into the world [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] that illumines every person….”
The purpose of Light is to illuminate things that are hidden in dark places. This is the purpose of Christ’s coming. Jesus, the Living Word of God, shines Truth on hidden things in and around us, giving us opportunity to deal with sin issues and come into the Light of agreement with The Truth. Standing in agreement with God’s Truth, as He reveals it to us, proves our reception of Him / His Light and our entering His Light with Him empowers us to BE His Children of Light.
“…to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name.” (John 1:9-12 AMPC)
God’s Light shining into the darkened places of life does not frighten the child born of His Light. They desire to know and deal with the truth of things uncovered by His Light. They recognize the freedom and deliverance God’s Light works for those in love relationship with Him. No darkness in or around us can hide for long. Nor can that darkness (falsehood, evil) overpower His Light in / with us. Darkness cannot put His Light out or absorb it.
Nor can His Light be appropriated (stolen, bribed, or bought). Surrender to Truth is the only currency that can obtain God’s Light and it’s work in its recipient. (John 1:5 AMPC)
Darkness (falsehood, evil, stubborn will) is unreceptive to Light. It takes humble, surrender to Truth (Righteousness, Goodness) for God’s Light to rise up and absorb us, making us one with Him, Who is Light.
“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5 NASB)
One final, extremely vital point from this 1 John 1:5-7 passage that links with today’s Matthew 6:22-23 passage: God has no partnership with darkness.
When we receive Christ as Savior, committing to follow Him as Lord, the Spirit brings the Light of God’s Presence to live in us. We become the Temple of the Living God, sanctified and set apart to Him. There, the Spirit Light dispels the dark within us, making us fully righteous: the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
Eternally, this happens instantly, but mortally, there can be and usually are areas of our lives that take longer than others giving way to the Light. This scripture teaches that our journey to the Kingdom takes us through fire that burns away wood, hay, and stubble, leaving the precious unsinged. (I.e.: our impatience will give way to the godly fruit of patience, but may have to take us through the fires of testing to get there.) God patiently works with us in these areas, but His work requires our cooperation. That cooperation begins with recognition of the entry point darkness uses to gain access to our lives.
“”The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23 NASB)
Our eyes are the entry point for light and dark. Scripture tells us that the world caters to our lustful desires, seeking entry into our lives with its darkness.
“…all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. ….” (1 John 2:15-17 NASB)
The darkness of this world gains place in us because of our flesh, eyes, and pride, but the access point is the eyes. We see something appealing, our flesh immediately wants it and our pride has to have it. The desire enters through our physical and spiritual eyes.
At times, our fleshly mind will think of some desire as seen by our internal eyes, and our physical eyes will start looking for it, while our pride eggs it on. (I’ve got to have it! I deserve it!)
To clarify our eyes, clearing them of lustful desires, we must seek first the righteousness of God and His Kingdom purpose. Trading our desires in so we can possess His protects us from every lust.
Now note Matthew 6:23.
“If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”
This reminds us to beware the false light. Our flesh, eyes, and pride can be tricked into believing a lie to be true. Thus, we see that it is vital for us to draw near to God, so that His Light in us can reveal and dispel the dark that is disguised as something that looks right and good, but falls short of God. God can and will grant us discernment so we can know the difference, but we must get our eyes on Him and draw near.
Keeping our eyes on God as our top priority and first, most vital need and necessity, is vital to our possession of His Light. This requires that we remember that we are the Temple of God, Holy and set apart as His place of residence. Every time we give in to sin, refusing God and His Light, we treat the holy as inconsequential. (“…the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:17)
Through our eye that sees the Holy as insignificant, a darkness enters that can quench the Spirit of God. We can push the Spirit back, out of the way, to have our will. It’s called “choice”, the right of which is a gift from God. We are free to choose good or evil, blessing or curse, His Light and Truth, or the world’s dark and falsehood.
It is vital in this moment, and with every breath hereafter, that we learn to seek God for His true Light, so we can see clearly to evaluate the light that is in us, knowing that if the light in us is dark, proving to be false, that light is indeed dark. I believe the reason for this is because a truth is more difficult to receive when a falsehood must first be rejected and cast away. Pride and flesh will fight it. Therefore we must be diligent and determined.
A few questions to aid our evaluation of the Light that is is in us: What is your eye set on? Does that stir the fires of your flesh, or the Spirit of God within you? Is your pride lifted up and made haughty? Or are you awestruck and humbled before The Father? Do the work, Beloved, and SHINE!
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light.”
Are storms evil? No. Storms happen because they are keeping the law. There are laws in nature that determine when it rains, snows, hails, when the wind blows and how hard, where the lightening strikes or tornadoes form. These things, in themselves, are not evil, though they can bring great destruction; nor are they necessarily good, though they can bring good and needful things to the earth. However, storms can be used for evil, or they can lead to great good.
When a storm produces destruction, we see one of two things come from those effected:
Some come out to take advantage of others out of selfishness and avarice.
Others come, even out of their own extreme poverty, to help those in need and to build anew.
I read a devotional that eluded to this passage of scripture and the purpose for Christ expressed here:
“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.
“No one who ABIDES in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who PRACTICES righteousness (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice out of love for God and allegiance to Jesus) is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who PRACTICES sin (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice, which is rebellion against God and His chosen King) is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.
“The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil (sin and all that stands in opposition to God, His will, His way, His sovereignty). No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:4-9 NASB (my understanding)
The storm is not evil or good: but the force behind it and the spirit it brings can produce great evil, or healing balms of good through the actions and reactions of people effected by the storm. A person reveals his heart in such seasons.
Jesus came to destroy the work of Satan that leads people to do the evil seen in such times. With Job, when His children were killed in a tornado, the purpose of Satan and the trap of temptation set by him was to prove Job would lose faith in God and rebel against Him. That is what Satan seeks to accomplish through the storms of life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NASB
To die, in God’s value of things, is to turn away from Him in lack of faith to trust Him in the storm. It is to rebel against Him out of anger, self-centeredness, pride, greed, or any number of evils that get a controlling hold on our hearts and lead us to turn against God’s way.
Life, in God’s economy, is this relationship with Him from a heart that trusts and follows Him despite the tricks of the devil. We don’t easily and habitually give in to temptations to sin out of fear or because of stressors to faith in God. We stand with God and for God, no matter the length of our waiting for His hand to move, and we find Him faithful. This is the Life, abundant and full, that Jesus provides.
The abundance Jesus provides is peace beyond measure; joy unrelated to circumstance; faith fed by deep pools of belief’s hope; and a River of love flowing to and through us, all fed by God, who is love. Evil that seeks destruction cannot win when God’s people stand firmly planted on Him.
“Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.” Psalms 37:1-9 NASB
“My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:1-8 NASB
Yes, Satan used a storm and other devastations in Job’s life, intending it for evil; but God allowed it, knowing it would produce the good He desired. The question is, on which side of the equation will we stand?
“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” ~ Matthew 24:13-14, NASB.
Endures what? Lawlessness? No. The endurance we must possess is to persevere against the assault to one’s love-walk that lawlessness produces.
Love is key to our survival in these days. As lawlessness increases, giving love can be challenged by frustration with those who sin against us; defeated by a spirit of discouragement toward those we see as never changing from the evil that ensnares them. Key to our love-walk in such times of difficulty is the fact that God loves because He IS LOVE: and we are to BE as HE IS. Grab this key, beloved and meditate on it today as you deal with those who stress and strain love. And as you do, consider the following:
Never turn away a loved one because of frustration with their sin without first seeking the Father for the best love-action that needs to be taken. Sometimes leaving the person to wallow in the mire is the greatest love we can give them, so they learn to hate their own sin and to long for the good they can have with the Father they have experienced, hopefully through us. Other times, surpassing frustration to meet a physical need is the love act that expresses God’s care to them and shines the Light that draws them in. But only the Father knows their heart and which is the avenue of destruction to sin that frees them. So we must seek His discernment in our love-walk.
Unfortunately, in this life with the evils we deal with daily, we also have to consider the protection of innocence, turning from those through whom sin touches us in order to protect the innocence affected by it. Thus knowing how to rightly love requires God’s wise discernment. His love will prevail to accomplish its purpose if we seek to follow on the heels of LOVE-Persona.
While studying for a Bible Study lesson the other day, I discovered an interesting truth about our love walk and what it should be. To endure lawlessness with a spirit of love toward those who do wrong against us, I believe this truth is necessary for us to consider.
In 1 John we are told that Jesus is “propitiation” for sin (2:2). He fully satisfies the payment required by GOD’s Law for the sin of all mankind, the whole world of us! Even ISIL right now, Jesus paid the price of the atrocities they are committing right now; but blinders hinder their receiving His gift of grace, freedom from their sin, and the eternal life they think they are fighting to acquire. Think of missing the very thing you think you are achieving through your works that are sin against the one true God, because you cannot see that God as reality or His propitiation love as true in the Christ you deny. That is sad indeed, a pitiful situation.
We are the people of God if we have chosen Him in Christ just as He chooses us through the same. Though we continue to struggle against sin, because of Jesus this propitiation love of God for us does not hold our sin against us. John 3:16 tells us that God gave Jesus to this role because He loves us—ALL of us, thus the gift purchased reaches out to the whole world, even those ensnared by philosophies like that of ISIL. This is God’s love for us all, the whole world of us. He wanted us with Him for all eternity so much so that He sent His son to pay the full price for sin for all mankind everywhere. And He holds that Christ out for all to see as The Way by which we receive that eternity as a gift, paid for by Him.
That is not news to me, beloved, as I am sure it is not to you who believe as I do, but the following grabbed me! 1 John 4:10-11, NASB, instructs us:
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the PORPITIATION for our sins. BELOVED, IF GOD SO LOVED US, WE ALSO OUGHT TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”
We are to love with Propitiation!
Through love we desire to be His light to a world that needs our Savior. Love growing cold hinders our desire and ability to share Christ. Love growing cold hinders our desire and effectiveness in making sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel. Being propitiate toward those who are unworthy of love from our standpoint means to love them despite sin, not holding their sin against them so as to become cold hearted toward them and fail to hold out to them the ONE they most need to achieve the goal they so greatly desire. Propitiation-love seeks to love fully by continuing even in the face of atrocities done to us, to be God’s light and a conduit of His love toward them with hope of their salvation.
To desire that others know the one who loved us enough to give His all on our behalf, especially those who sin against us, is Propitiation-love. There is no room for self-centeredness, self-preservation, pride, greed, resentment, grudge and anger THAT HINDERS our love-walk and keeps us from giving our all in order to share our Christ with the least of these. If we as God’s people in Christ are sitting in their torcher chamber, this love and Light should prevail against the dark; and by His grace at work within us, it can and will, but we have to understand the call and trust Him who is able to make it so.
Does that mean we never fight against evil? No. We are called to expose unrighteousness and stand firm against it (Read Ephesians 5:6-21; 6:10-20). To fail to do that is to leave those who can be reached with the love of God ensnared by those who would never allow their exposure to the love God has for them in Christ. Thus we fight the good fight of faith, doing good wherever we are able, and routing out sin wherever it seeks to destroy the Light that is there.
One of the hardest things I have ever experienced came when I asked God to fill me with His love for another; and He did, fully. Love you still! I know you are reading this. Receiving that love for the beloved was easy. But when they committed what for me was an unspeakable, unfathomable sin, that love did not quit, and the lesson concerning the fullness and power of God’s love began. To be so hurt and disgusted by sin, but still to love and long for a right and good relationship is hard; it is beyond comprehension to me who is still hindered by flesh. And to have such sin form a wall of hindrance to the full experience and expression of Love is heart breaking.
This is God’s love for us. It is the hurt I believe God bears for those He longs for every second of every day because of the gift of Jesus, but who cannot see or walk in truth because they are blinded to Jesus and ensnared by sin. When we are covered by Christ, that covering brings low the walls that divide so we can continue in relationship with Him. But when we refuse the covering, His love for us does not die. It just goes unfulfilled, and don’t you know, that hurts!
This is a picture of the Propitiation-love we are to have for each other. Love never fails. It puts the sins of the past in the past and works to go forward, not adding up the sin to keep using it against the one loved. Though sin may separate us because of the walls that fly up as created by the sin, love does not die, but continues to desire and seek the best for the object of its affections. God sends rain on the just and the unjust because, though sin hinders relationship, love continues.
There are many “Walking Dead” in the earth, beloved. Those who refuse the gift of propitiation love found in Christ are dead in their trespasses and sins. Only as we grow to love others as God loves us will we endure the days of lawlessness ahead of us so that we can continue to reach out into their darkness as His Light. And only as we get understanding of this Love He has for us and calls us to have for others can we truly be a conduit of that love to the unlovable in our midst.
Led to read John 1 in the Message Bible today, I was struck by John’s words, “I knew nothing about who He was – only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize Him as the God-Revealer.” Before God revealed the truth of who was Messiah, John knew his calling and purpose, to get Israel ready to recognize Him.
Many people are talking a lot these days about the signs of end times that seem to be unfolding before us with ever increasing fervor. I am one watching closely with understanding of the times we live in. And if you have read my posts long and of late, you know I write to the body with regard to our readiness in these days. As I read John’s statement regarding himself, I know that my main purpose right now is to put out the cry to the Church in Christ: Are we ready? We must live in readiness.
A couple of my nieces have asked me to meet with them and one of my granddaughters on a monthly basis and one of their main concerns are the signs of our day. I am not one well versed in the prophetic discernment of Revelations. I can’t tell you what the hidden message of Revelations is without much digging and study under someone who is well versed in that area. Though I have studied it and I know what to watch for, and though I have facilitated groups in the study of the signs of end times, it is not my personal specialty, and it is not what God has called me to. But I do know this: the day is drawing ever nearer, but it is NOT Here Yet.
There is much unfolding before us and, as I have said before, the spirit of antichrist is growing ever stronger in the earth, but the signs are not full and complete yet. There is still much to come, and though it can and most likely will unfold quickly when it comes, it is NOT Here Yet.
For example, my sister expressed concern about the chip they have developed that goes under the skin of a person and monitors their health. Yes, this is the growing signs of the coming tribulation and the mark of the beast that will be required of mankind, but this is not the sign yet. This is not the mark.
The mark of the beast will require the bearer to express allegiance to the antichrist’s embodiment of one man who is yet to be revealed to the world. Without expressing allegiance to him above God, you cannot have the mark and without the mark, you cannot buy, sell, or trade, therefore you do not legally eat and live. So though this sign shows technology getting closer to being able to monitor mankind in such a way as to control commerce, it is not there yet. This is not the sign – the mark, it is a step toward it.
So if you want or need your health monitored closely, receive the technology without fear and with gratitude to God for its right and true use. The day the governing body of man says that you cannot have or keep using that technology until you pledge allegiance to “Mr. Antichrist Persona” cut it out and refuse the pledge and the technology.
My calling and equipping for ministry in my writing and teaching during this season is this, to quote Jesus and the apostles in telling you the signs to watch for and those not there yet. Jesus said such signs are birthing pangs of what is to come, but they are not to be feared (Read Matthew 24 *:6*)!
Here me, do not fear. Fear is enemy to FAITH. Fear can cause us to fall to the very thing we fear because we fear most the pain and hardship. It is easier to give in to the fear than to press forward in faith and face pain and hardship. Fear is dangerous to us, so do not fear! Did you hear me? Do NOT Fear. ONLY BELIEVE, TRUST, AND OBEY GOD!
Jesus is coming back, beloved, and we are called and equipped to face the days that will come as signal to us of His soon arrival. We have the Holy Spirit within us, uniting us as one with Christ the Messiah and God the Father. The Spirit teaches us all things so we will not be caught unawares, and He equips us to Stand Firm! He will never leave nor forsake us. The days ahead are precarious, but we can face them with strength, hope and assurance because our God is faithful.
The question is not When or Whether? Jesus is coming, and the signs of it grow ever riper, readying to birth there fruit into the earth. The question is, “Will we, Church – will YOU, Believer – be ready at His coming?”
We must BE REAL in Christlikeness, for the birthing pangs grow ever stronger. We must BE SURE of His calling and choosing us, for the day of His return is coming closer still. We must be busy about the Father’s business, being the God-revelators of our day, for there are many who still do not know that He is, and that He is COMING!
I wrote the following for my Spark page blog and thought I would share it with you here. SparkPeople is a free healthy lifestyle community I am in. If you struggle to eat right and exercise, it is an excellent site providing resource materials, tools for a successful journey, support from other members, and teams to challenge our journey forward. Whether you are young and relatively healthy, handicapped and in need of support, or older and in need of encouragement to change long held habits, their is a support system for you at http://www.sparkpeople.com. (If you join SparkPeople, tell them TRANSFORM-ABBY sent you and it will link us as friends. Then be sure to tell me who you are.)
So here is today’s blog share with you:
Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?
Scripture encourages us to Choose life. That phrase hit my heart this morning as I reread my own status, and I wondered with regard to our Spark journey, “What does that mean anyway?”
My first thoughts went to the passage itself for my answer (Deuteronomy 30). In that passage it tells us to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. So to choose life on this journey is to:
Do good toward ourselves and, in the doing, to do it for those we love as well. When we eat right, we are doing good for self. And providing good things for self generally will make that same provision available for those we love so they, too, wind up eating better. When we do good toward ourselves by moving our bods and making sure we get needed activity it is good for us, yes, but it also provides an example worth following for our children and grandchildren, and even opportunity for them, our mates and other loved ones and friends to join us. So choosing life is to choose the good by doing what is best for ourselves with that good having the potential to impact those closest to us. And doing good for self adds strength to our days so we are better able to do for others.
Choose blessing: I have a note up on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Choose the things that matter most.” Choosing blessing is to have right priorities so that we are blessed in life, enjoying the good things in it, and so we are a blessing in life, giving self and giving our best to others. The example that came to mind is to know when spending time with that grandbaby that is visiting is more important than making sure the furniture is dusted. And which is more important? A baby that feels loved and safe, or harping at them in anger over the fingerprints left for us to clean? Choose blessing by having right priorities.
There are so many thoughts in scripture to direct us in how to choose life: “set your mind and keep it set on the things above, the higher things” (Colossians 3, AMP); “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…do not merely look out for your own personal interests” (Philippians 2); “treat others as you would like to be treated”. And Luke 6:31-33 brings me full circle as it instructs:
“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”
Agape love loves others as we love ourselves, doing good to them, having their best interests at heart. It is not based upon a system of reward only for those we feel deserve it. It is based on who we are. And love for others begins with a love for God that knows how to love oneself, and love others in kind. If I will not do something to or toward myself because it would not be good for me, I must not do that to others. If I do good for another, but fail to do the same for myself, I have committed self-neglect. I cannot take proper care of others if I fail to meet my own needs so I have strength and energy to care for others. Thus we are right back to the point of fact that to have life abundant and full, we must do good toward ourselves and others.
Choose life, beloved, and this journey will be a true blessing that makes a life-journey worth taking.
Since yesterday’s blog post, where I shared a peak into my youth and exposed a little of myself to you, I have been thinking about graphics.
I am sure you realize, Christian brothers and sisters, that we live in a terribly graphic society. Movies and even games get increasingly realistic. The more real the graphics appear, the better these do at the box office. The news shows us real life action of the storylines of our day. And our graphic society is made most evident in the live-action footage shared on U-Tube type sites where the day’s good and evil acts are posted for all to see: from beheadings, to our grandbaby’s birthday celebrations and their cute antics, all shone in brilliant, lively color.
We are a very graphic society, except where we most need to be.
As I have considered this topic, I realize that we, the church, are too often muted. I am not just talking about being too quiet. Some of us shout well enough, but we fail to speak the language of the day. I am talking about failing to be clear and real enough to be noticed. We fail to tell people the details of our lives and how God has moved to deliver us, often out of shame, and sometimes because we believe people see enough evil in the world without seeing “mine”. I’m not talking about play by play, gory detail, but enough detail so they understand and see our experiential understanding of the world they live in and the difficulty they face. Beloved, if we cannot match the graphics of the day, not as hanging our dirty laundry out there, but showing the detail of the dirt and contrasting the work of God in delivering us from it, how will we catch the attention of those who are captivated by a very graphic world.
I have often wondered how much stuff my children might have been spared experiencing if I had been more graphic in my instructing and teaching them. It is one thing to tell them, “Save yourself for the marriage bed.” It is another still to say, “1 Here is the mistake I made. 2 Here is how it affected me. 3 This is God’s way that I learned too late. 4 You learn it now so you are spared the mistake. 5 God is faithful and gracious, and here is how He has restored me. 6 But I wish I would have had someone to tell me what I am telling you today so I could be spared the shame and regret and the struggle. 7 I am thankful that God used the struggle to reveal Himself to me in this way. He is gracious, and I am set free. Live the freedom I am teaching you today and spare yourself the need of the grace to heal the wounds of the sin and shame.”
By the way, that I just stated as example is the outline for a graphic testimony. Hang the dirty laundry with the cleaned up version right beside it. Let the contrast be used of God to catch the attention of those looking for help in a world that seems hopeless. People are asking us, “How do you know there is a God.” In a world of graphic evil, destruction, heartache, sorrow, and many whoas, they need to see very graphic proof of God’s work in us.
First Corinthians 14:6-9 fits here, brethren: “Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you SPEAKING IN AN UNKNOWN LANGUAGE, How Would That Help You? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, That Will Be Helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.”
Paul is talking about speaking in tongues, but the same can be applied to our too often religious speeches. We must learn to speak the language of the people so they can understand. In a graphic society, graphic truth is needed, spoken loud and clear above the roar of the world. People need to hear how we know there is a God. Shout it out above the roar, beloved, by speaking clearly and distinctly so as to be heard and understood, and be not ashamed to show graphic proof of how God has made a difference in you.
“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” ~ 1 Peter 3:15.
Seeking to please man instead of God, our fear of being found out may well be the weapon used against us that is hindering our providing another with the graphic proof of God that will save them the trouble of sin.
This series started as God spoke to my heart things I need to remember and put into practice as I see things in our day that disturb the heart and have me watching more steadily to the East for the Rising Son. Then, as I shared in our intro, the Spirit led to realization that something coming upon the earth will happen soon, causing the hearts of even the elect to quake. In preparation for knowing how we are to face such days, this study began.
By way of review, our study began in the intro with a call to remember that God is God and we are not, therefore we must trust in, lean on, rely on and be confident in Him. As the Architect and Builder, He holds the plans for all eternity in His Holy hands. He alone has the full blueprint. We see in part and know in part, but He sees fully with full knowledge. We must trust Him in these days that even the chaos and the quaking yet to be revealed are birthing pangs leading to the great things of God. (See the intro)
In our days together, we have covered many Words for Life that will see us safely through the birthing process. To come through this time of new birth, we must to ACTIVELY ABIDE in all that God’s word instructs us to abide in, especially in His Light. As things around us grow steadily dark, signaling the passing of the old and the birthing of all God’s design and desire, it is vital that we remain in His Light and be His Light to dispel the dark and draw those in who are open to the truth. (See blog post 2 of this series)
One reason we must be faithful to abide in His light is because darkness can cause even the elect to question whether He even exists and if His saving grace is real. God is weeding and pruning in these days, revealing those who say they have faith, but, having a head knowledge of God, do not truly believe from the heart (see 1 John 2:18-19; John 15:6); and pruning off branches from those who do truly believe, but still hold to the old that hinders fruit bearing (John 15:1-8).
In the Light of God we are able to know that He is faithful and His Saving Grace through Jesus is true; the full payment – propitiation for sin. To weather the coming storms, we must TRUST THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD AND HIS PROVISION for our eternal destiny. And we must trust with believing hearts that JESUS IS OUR ADVOCATE, forever and always interceding before the throne of God on our behalf, day and night. (See blog post 3 of this series)
Blog 4, “Sanctified – Set Apart”, reminds us that, like Esther, we are here for such a time as this. God has a purpose for us to fulfill in working with Him as builders on His eternal project. To fulfill our purpose we must have our minds and hearts set on the things above, the higher things of God’s eternal purpose and plan.
A major aspect that is needful for our living Sanctified – Set Apart lives is learning that we are called and EQUIPPED to BE as He is (blog 5). We are given His Spirit whose number one work in us is to restore the IMAGE we were meant to have: that of being like God in all aspects of our character and nature, will and purpose, thought and emotion / desire, deed and action. Scripture calls us the Body of Christ. We are to be an extension of all that He is, able to complete the work of Christ in the earth as His hands, feet, heart, mouth, etc. It is vital in these days that we find our place in His body and become all He desires us to be for His use in these days.
Then the blog posted yesterday on “Kingdom Reality” (blog 6) calls us to realize if we haven’t already, that our eternity began the day we said “I do” to Jesus, becoming part of His bride that is being made ready for Him. In that instant, we became citizens of the Kingdom of God, having authority and responsibility as part of the Royal Court to fulfill Kingdom purpose in this world. Like Queen Esther, we are here for a purpose. If we truly know Jesus as Savior and the triune Godhead as Lord, we are now and always will be of God’s Kingdom, and not only of God’s Kingdom, but of the Royal Court of Christ, working out of His authority. So act like it. Remember it. Let that reality direct our decisions and actions, our thoughts and desires, and our way of treating others.
In this final blog, I must remind us, as John did, “Children, it is the last hour,” and antichrist is alive and well in our day (1 John 2:18-23).
The war of terror brought by “radical Islamists” is the spirit of antichrist. People like one of my nieces, who say, “no god is my judge”, is ensnared by the spirit of antichrist. All who come against Christendom and the Jewish population out of which the Christ was birthed, whether a people group or a philosophy, that true enemy force is antichrist. All that seeks to lead God’s people from their faith and the truth we are to live is antichrist. Thus it is vital in our day that we:
Test our faith (2 Corinthians 13:5): *1 John*; Romans; *Galatians* – Colossians; these are excellent texts to read, praying for the Spirit to bring us to true and right evaluation of ourselves as to our hope in Christ and whether we are of true faith (Romans 12:3).
Just believing that Jesus is, is not enough beloved. Even the demons believe and they shudder (James 2:19), but their faith is not that of one who is saved for all eternity, one with Christ in His Body and part of the Bride – citizen of His Kingdom. There is more to it than just believing Jesus is / was. If our faith in Him does not bring His Spirit to possess us (1 Peter 2:9; John 16) and change us from the inside out to be as He is, producing the fruit of God in us (Matthew 7:15-23), we need to make sure of our position in Him. Today is the day of salvation, beloved, for JESUS IS returning at an hour we do not know, and on that day it will be too late to make that decision. Be sure of His calling and equipping you for all eternity.
Test the spirits (1 John 4:1): “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” ~ 1 John 4:1-6.
Beloved, I can’t say it better than that. If the Spirit of God resides in us, He testifies with the truth. If what I have shared is truth, the Spirit of God in you has done summersaults within you, confirming for you that these things are of God and convicting our hearts that these truths are to be heeded with understanding and with determination to do them. Even testing to see if we have the Spirit of God can be done by simply asking, do I truly believe all that Jesus says about Himself and all that others of scripture profess as truth concerning Him and is that understanding effecting the way I live, think, and prioritize life?
When we do doubt, and even the strongest can have moments of weakened faith, the Spirit quickly rises to assure the heart of the one who is truly His through Christ. If the Spirit within confirms our faith, we have hope of eternity and are called and equipped to become as He is, the very image of God, bearing the fruit of it. If we have doubt that remains, today is the day of salvation!
“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning (the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth). IF WHAT YOU HEARD FROM THE BEGINNING ABIDES IN YOU, YOU ALSO WILL ABIDE IN THE SON AND IN THE FATHER. This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.
“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing (Spirit) which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing (Spirit) teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him (in God by the Spirit of God)” ~ 1 John 2:24-27 (Authors notes of understanding).
BE Strong and Courageous:
“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, THAT WE WOULD BE CALLED CHILDREN OF GOD; and such we are.
“For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. …”
Antichrist is all that does not know or acknowledge God in all His fullness, especially the Christ who is our propitiation. The “world” is all that is dictated by the wisdom of the spirit of antichrist. That world sees that we are the Children of God because of our faith in Christ that brings to us the hope of eternity with Him, making us to be as He is; and being convicted, they hate us because they hate Christ because of the spirit of antichrist within them. That world spirt will come against us more and more as the day of Christ’s return draw near. Therefore we must be strong and courageous, drawing ever nearer to God, assured of the Spirit and the faith that is in us, filled with His Spirit, and ready to give an account for the hope that is in us, in season—when it is popular, and out of season—when it is not popular.
The birthing pangs we are experiencing are those of the coming tribulation that will usher in the 1000 year reign of Christ and the final and forever defeat of Satan and his evil. And, unfortunately, it will bring the destruction of all who are enslaved by the spirit of antichrist and fail to turn to receive the Spirit of Christ. But 7 years of tribulation will lead into that final hour of judgment and condemnation of antichrist in all its forms.
I am of the belief system that we who are now in Christ will be raptured out at the beginning of the tribulation period. Scripture seems most to teach that philosophy. But there is precedence for a later rapture time, and we must be ready for either scenario. We must test our faith and the Spirit in us to be sure that we are ready when He comes to go with Him, ready to stand before His throne with confidence in Him and His advocacy for us. And we must be strong and courageous, so if we are part of the tribulation saints who will suffer those days, we will have the ability to stand firm in our faith even when antichrist comes to kill us. That spirit of evil is doing and will do all he can to destroy those who truly and sincerely believe with whole heart.
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” ~ 1 John 2:28-3:3.
Cling to the Hope that is within you, and let no one and no thing steal IT from you or you from IT! Realize these are the last days, and many are perishing because of the spirit of antichrist that rules the world and it philosophy / wisdom. Be bold and courageous to share your faith wherever you are able, with hope that the Spirit of God will use it to deliver yet another ensnared by sin before it is too late.
“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,
for the Lord our God is holy!”
Did God, who is Holy, allow the sin, which is not? Is He the author of it? Why or why not? These are the questions we seek to address today.
My answer would be “yes and no”. How can that be?
Throughout scripture, here is the picture I see. God has chosen to have a vital and growing relationship with mankind. He has chosen me, and, whether or not you choose Him, He chooses you. He gives His all to the growth and development of this relationship He desires and designed to be. But “relationship” is two-sided. There is no relationship without both parties giving themselves to it. Therefore, in order to have the relationship of His heart’s desire, God had to make a way for man to choose Him as He chooses us. For choice to be true, there must be something else from which to choose. Thus God planted two trees in the earth.
The first tree, known as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, supplied us with choice. The second tree, that upon which the Savior hung as the sacred Lamp of God, provides us assurance in our choice. The choice of those who had it in the beginning was to choose the tempting fruit of the lie over the truth of God and unhindered relationship with Him. Before going to our focal passage in James, let’s take a quick look at Adam and Eve.
In the story of Adam and Eve’s fall found in Genesis 3, first enters the serpent. The serpent back then could speak, and it says that he “was more crafty than any beast of the field.” He came to the woman, asking, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman replies, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”
Now my question, before we go further, is why did the serpent approach Eve rather than Adam? I believe we get a clue in the response given by Eve. Her response is that of second hand knowledge. God told Adam, “Don’t eat that or you will die.” He never said, “Don’t touch it.”
How often do we see someone who has been warned of danger carry the warning of “do not taste” to a level of “don’t even touch it.” Eve was not even around when God gave warning to Adam. To our knowledge at this point in the story of God, she did not have this one on one instruction of the Lord in her experience, from what we are told in scripture.
I don’t know about you, but for me it is much easier to believe a truth from God when we are instructed on it personally by Him. So the serpent came to Eve, who most likely, as many of us would do, was wondering about the truth of the warning because the fruit of that tree just looked too good to be harmful. And what did he do next?
“You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (vs. 4-5).
Now we know that this serpent is being instructed in what to say by Satan, most likely possessed by him, because we are told of Lucifer’s desire to be God in Ezekiel 28 and other passages. He often works to lead others to desire to be their own god, and he does so by causing us to question the truthfulness and integrity of God. Satan, through the mouth of the serpent, caused Eve to doubt further the truth about God she was taught by Adam, and caused her to question the veracity of her God. The fruit of that tree being appealing to the eye, and the words of the deceiver sounding good to the ear, she was tempted and did eat. The serpent, being the pawn of evil, lied to Eve, who believed the lie and she made her choice regarding relationship with God.
She, then, carried the lie further as she offered the fruit to Adam. We are not told what occurred between Adam and Eve in that moment, but I can just hear it now, can’t you? “Look, Adam! It is luscious. I did eat, and I did not die! God lied.” So Adam, enamored with Eve and always desiring to please her, as is often the case in male-female relations as we seek to please one another: Adam forgot his God, and seeing Eve still breathing, doubted God’s veracity and he ate.
Note something important here, the eyes of their heart did not open to the knowledge of good and evil until Adam bit the proverbial bullet and it exploded. It was Adam that God gave charge to in the Garden to tend it and care for all living creatures in it. He had not only the authority to rebuke the serpent, but I believe that if he had grabbed the hand of his wife and dragged her running to the Father, things would have been different. Instead he too, fell, and their eyes opened to see evil.
Death was not the expected instantaneous death from life, though their bodies began the process of decay in that instant—aging little by little, leading to that final breath in this life to enter eternity with, or without, God. The death experienced in Eden was worse than instant cessation of the life of their body. Instead the death that came was instantaneous separation from intimacy with God. As the voice of God came to them, Him searching the Garden for their presence, I believe because He sensed the disturbance of their intimate connection that occurred, hearing Him calling, Adam and Eve knew they sinned against God and were afraid, so they hid themselves. In an instant, their relationship with Him was never the same.
Thus we find ourselves in the wake of sin still today. Sin is deceptive, leading to belief of lies that destroy relationships. Unlike Adam and Eve, we come into this world in a flesh of sin with the seed of sin ruling, causing us to doubt the truth and trustworthiness of God. From the day we are born, unless our parents or someone else tells us of Him, we do not know there is a God to acknowledge. We are separated from Him, knowing only our own fleshly desires as ruler and master. And sensing the emptiness left by His absence, though not knowing what is missing, we run to our lusts for fulfillment.
James 4:1-5 ~ “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD IS HOSTILITY TOWARD GOD? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’?”
Our intimacy with God is our spirit united with His Spirit. Yet even today our lusts and desire for the pleasures of this world wage war within us, drawing us by the lie away from the Truth. That pleasure we seek says to us, “Take me and you will be satisfied and made complete. If you can just have me, you will have all you need for life more abundant and full.” But only One can fill that place in us.
Note the Capital S in this verse, “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.” James here is speaking to Christians who have chosen God through the second tree. This second tree, the tree of Calvary, where the Savior gave His life to purchase all who will believe, gives us assurance of eternity with God, as we take the fruit of that tree with faith to believe Him who provided it. Even Christians, who have trusted and believed Him, receiving His Spirit that quickens our own to bring Life to us again through eternal relationship with Him, even we can be drawn away by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the boastful pride of life. Look at verse 5 in the Amplified version of scripture:
“Or do you suppose that the Scripture is speaking to no purpose that says, The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love?”
As long as we are in weak flesh that is perishing, living in a weak and alluring world of deceptive desire, we can be tempted away from the sincerity of our relationship with God. Though we do not lose our relationship with Him as before, the intimacy can still be hindered, weakening us as His witnesses, His ambassadors, His holy priesthood in this life. We must grow day by day and opportunity by opportunity to continue to choose relationship with Him over the ways of this life.
Our spirit is made to unite with His. It is our choice whether we will believe God and choose Him over the fleeting pleasures of sin’s lie. Anything that brings separation from intimacy with Him destroys all we can be and have in this life. Still today the serpent of old robs us of our abundance by way of his lies that lure us to choose other things over the goodness and glory of our God.
So yes, God allows the opportunity for us to choose to sin against Him, because every opportunity to choose sin comes with opportunity to believe in and choose God. However, no, evil is not set before us by God, nor is it created by Him. God is truth and always deals with us out of His integrity. But there is loosed upon the earth His arch enemy whose desire is to destroy all God cares for. God cast him out of His kingdom and he allows him to tempt us so that we have choice, the lie, or The Truth. Sin, first in the fall of Lucifer, and then in the fall of man, unleashed evil in the world and in the flesh of every person, making it slave to its lusts. God is not evil and no evil comes from His hand, but He allows evil to reach out to us so that we have choice in our relationship with Him.
Choose truth, Beloved, and walk with God in unity of faith to believe Him over the lie before our eyes. God gives us the plumb-line of His word. If the desire of our heart does not stand up to the truth of God’s word, it is sin, and sin separates, hindering a right and true relationship with a holy God.
“Choose life, that you may live, you and your children with you” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19.