Tag Archives: Example

Power to Enjoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What I Do Now

“… So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” …” (John 13:1-11 NASB)

There is a lot going on here as we watch God incarnate gird loins with towel and go to work doing the job normally given the least of slaves. He removed clothing because it is a dirty job, washing mud and more off the feet of those He served out of love.

The main point we tend to focus on here is the fact that we too easily soil ourselves while walking through life in a lost and dying world. Jesus graciously and lovingly keeps our feet clean. That is a glorious truth for which we must be grateful. But I want to look at something else I see that is going on here.

Do you think Peter was the only one Jesus talked with as He washed the feet of His disciples? I don’t. What I see here is our Lord, taking time to spend with each one as Jesus washed their feet.

He knew each of them: the way they think and react to stress; the fears and insecurities they each struggle with; their beliefs, hopes, and dreams; and He knew the obstacles ahead for them. Jesus chose this time of personal, willing, and loving service for one on one time of ministry to the deep needs of these loved ones, getting them ready for things to come.

Our church does this from time to time. Participants are given time, both in the chair and in the towel. It is a glorious opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by our church family.

Whether we dawn a towel of service, or share a tea time, Beloved, we are to wash proverbial feet as we go through our days, pointing out truth that encourages and lifts to higher ground.

We Live Christ

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

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

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

Amen????

The Cloud

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I saw this plant come into view, and my heart leapt! It was just beautiful to me.

These carbon black plants have been here for multiplied-decades, the last remnants of many more that used to be here. I remember momma stepping out to see which way the wind was blowing before daring to hang laundry. And heaven forbid the wind to change directions!

Through the years I’ve heard people express joy in the smell of laundry, dried on outdoor lines. I never understood that. Ours always smelled of carbon and fossil fuels. LOL

As I look at these stacks and the criss-crossed sections of pipelines darkened by decades of carbon soot, I note the mostly white steam escaping the shoots, and my heart rejoices in the Hope of Christ.

You see, no matter how many decades of sin and shame covers our lifespan, we are not beyond the reach of His saving grace. And even in the earliest stages of our surrender and commitment to Him, His Spirit moves in, fills us up, and begins the lifetime work of cleansing, purifying, and transforming us to be the vessel God planned from before time began.

Even in our earthen vessels marred by passing sin, the glory of the Lord seeps out of us who are His, like steam rising to draw the eyes of others in need of a fresh view of Splendor’s beauty and grace. The greater our surrendered commitment to God through Christ, the purer our cleansing flow will be. Rising up as testimony of our relationship with God, His cleansing, Life-giving flow reaches out to touch others in need of His grace, sufficient for them too.

We each choose daily the steam flowing forth: either the dark stench of sin, or the purifying flow of Love’s grace at work in us. Which do you want those you love to be covered by when they are near to or up wind from you?

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15, AMPC

“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19-20‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Visual Acuity

“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.”” (Isaiah 6:5, NASB)

God is perfect and His ways are perfect, perfectly fulfilling every intent and purpose.

We’ve talked a lot about all that God is: love, good, light, etc. All His thoughts are pure, His Words are Life, His actions and reactions are dictated by all He is, being intent on pure and eternal purpose. Beloved, God is all that we aspire to and need for ourselves and from ourselves. It is only as we draw near to see Him as He is that we can be the people of His desire and design.

Here through Isaiah, we see that the clearer our view of God, in all His glory, the more we realize our own inadequacies. Only then can we bow to seek Him in ways that make us the people of His design.

Thus, it is vital that we, who are called by His Name, draw ever closer to see Him as He is. Paul tells us, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34, NASB)

We are intended to draw near to Him, to see Him as He is so we may become like Him, His image bearers. This is vital, for through Isaiah’s testimony, I discern that, only to the degree that we see God as He is, can we fully discern our lack of godly likeness. People need to see God to know there need of Him, and that is the purpose of God’s desire for us as His image bearers.

We are called to be His revelators, making Him and His ways known by living in stark contrast to those of this world, so those watching can see God in us, recognize their destitute estate, and bow in recognition of their own need of Him. What they need is not constant taps on the head, beating them down for things they can’t fully see without first seeing what can be. That just makes us look like them, being judgmental, unloving, uncaring. They need to see clearly the pure Love, bright Light, true Good that gives visual acuity for realizing their own destitute need of One True God. And we are the portrait God chooses to reveal Himself through.

Take stock, Beloved, draw near, and move out where God’s Light in you is visible to all. Distinguish yourself from the world, so those trapped there may have light for their path to saving grace.

God’s “Good” vs. Humankind’s

“A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘ DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”” Luke 18:18-27 NASB

This passage has long captivated my attention. That Jesus, the very Sod of God, The God in flesh, does not number himself with God as a good person, is intriguing.

I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people that, to me, are a defining parameter for the place of a “good person.” That opinion is gauged by human standards. Jesus corrects that understanding with His pronouncement that “only God is good.”

Have you ever had The Spirit pop a question into your head, immediately followed by an answer? That’s exactly what happened as I read this familiar passage today.

The question: “What makes the difference between God’s‘good’ and our ‘good’?”

The answer: “Motive and source.”

God IS good. He doesn’t need a reason to be or do good. Good is what He is, and thus, what He must do. He doesn’t need an incentive to do good. He doesn’t have to receive some return before He will continue to be good.

There is no external source for His good. He is good. Goodness resides in and flows from Him. Good is what He does. That’s why Scripture says that every good and perfect gift comes from Him. He is good and the source or resource for every good.

We are not as He is. We have incentives to be good, most often out of necessity. We too often fall away from goodness when our good never meets a return. And, according to Scripture, without God, who is the source – resource for all good, we cannot be or produce good.

Another difference between us and God, is that we too easily grumble about doing good. God does not. He may get upset with our ungrateful response to His good, our never being satisfied with what we get and always wanting more, better, greater, but he never grumbles about an opportunity to do good or the inconvenience of the needs timing.

Even Jesus, being in the flesh, took no credit for being good. He, too, as example to us, relied on the Father for any good expressed through Him.

For me, this understanding makes the discourse that followed make better sense. The ruler wanted eternity, and, as implied in the passage, he did all the good he new to do, hoping for the reward of the eternal. Yet he lacked one thing, to die to self, having no other desire or motive than to follow and please God alone.

Some long ago commentary says that Genesis 15:1 is more accurately translated, “Fear not, Abram, I AM your Shield, your abundant compensation, and YOUR EXCEEDINGLY GREAT REWARD.” This is the only, truly-needful motivation for Christlike goodness and it’s resource is God alone.

A Focus On Light: The Lamp of God

“Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light.” (Luke 8:16 NASB)

Jesus came as Light to a very dark world. While He was here in flesh, He was the Light of God, revealing through word, deed, and action the truth of the way of Life in God. (John 8:12 NASB; John 9:5 NASB)

Those following Him walked in His Light. But Jesus did not come just to shine God’s Light. He came to make Light on the earth, a Light that would remain.

“You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14a).

Jesus proclaimed His true followers, those who truly received His Light in ways that dispelled their darkness, sparking a flame of growing light within, to be Light as He is Light. They entered in partnership with Him to BE LIGHT in the world, thus carrying on His work of dispelling darkness and leading others to enter that Light. We are the product of those early beginnings. Thus, Beloved, as a true worshipper of God through Christ…

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (14-15).

God intends for us to stand out and be on display as Light, set in strategic places where darkness dwells. We are not intended to be like everyone in this world. We are different, called to be like Jesus, a true Light that dispels darkness.

I had an experience once that causes me to hang my head in shame’s embarrassment, but leads to rejoicing in the lesson learned and in a testimony that came out of it to help others avoid the same error.

When I was in nursing school, God had hold on me in a mighty way that stood out to others. Talking with a friend and another classmate during a break, the classmate used some foul language. Blushing, she nodded her head toward me and apologized. My friend said, “Sorry to her! What about me?” The classmate replied “Well, yeah. But SHE’S DIFFERENT!”

The thought that hit my head in that instant was, “Oh, Lord! I don’t want others to be uncomfortable and afraid to be themselves around me.” That enemy assault started me on a downward spiral that dulled the Light in me and did harm to my witness.

Love, the devil doesn’t want us shining brightly into the night, because he knows that the Light in us will destroy his kingdom on earth. He will use whatever trickery he can that will cause us to fall to the flesh, because he knows that as long as we remain as Light, he will lose those trapped in his darkness. If he can trick us into dulling our light so we fit into this world, his dark trap remains strong.

Beloved, God intends us to be DIFFERENT. He does not want our Light dulled by fear of standing in stark contrast to the world and it’s ways. He does not want us to let sorrow for those that are made uncomfortable with there dark ways to cause us to find ourselves spiraling into the pit they are trapped by. Satan sees our weaknesses, mine being fear of rejection, and he plays on those areas to cause us to stumble and fall. God wants us to realize this fact and draw closer to Him for protection.

Wherever the Lord has you, Beloved, you are His lamp for His glory. We are intended to shine bright with His attributes until the world becomes uncomfortable in its own worldliness and turns to enter the Light. We’re not to fear the dark places, for the Light in us dispels darkness: killing it and moving it out of the way so that blinded eyes can see the Light. We are to SHINE where we are without fear of being different.

“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)

A Focus On Light: Light’s Proof – Truth

“… 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…

Truth

“… 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.

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, BUT WILL HAVE THE LIGHT OF LIFE.”” (John 8:12 NASB. See also John 9:5; 11:9-10)

Finding Our Independence Day

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15 NASB

Forgiveness is very important to me. Since the day God showed me that my choosing to forgive another is for my own sake, just as we see Him choose to forgive Israel in Isaiah 43:25, He has called me to be a voice, encouraging true forgiveness. Choosing to forgive protects who we are, preventing our becoming something we don’t want to be, and it secures the course of our life for the good we are set to achieve.

Today, as I read this passage, Father brings to mind the movie, Independence Day. In it, we find a character portraying a military veteran who is believed crazy because of his story about once being kidnapped by aliens.

In the movie, our veteran is the hero who gives up his life to bring down the alien enemy. Before that, what we see is a man who is eat up by his experience. Drunken most of the time, he loses work, becomes the laughing stock of the town, and is near to losing his eldest son who is embarrassed and fed up with his dad’s drunken inadequacies.

When it comes time and opportunity for our hero to prepare to be part of the fighting force against the alien attack, we discover the true reason for the man’s drunken failure, as he announces that, since his kidnapping, he’s been looking for opportunity to delve out some payback. This fictitious character is a perfect example of why it is important to forgive “for my own sake,” which truly works for the sake of everyone around us.

Unforgiveness does great harm to our ability to have good relationships. It can hinder our ability to be the people of worth God desires for us. It can and will destroy our effectiveness in life, making us of little use to a God of Love. Unforgiveness can cut our life short in our pursuit of some sense of retribution. And, the thing I learned from God is that choosing to forgive protects us from falling short of loving others in sacrificial ways.

In our story found in the Independence Day movie, the thing that led our hero to sacrifice His life was less the want of payback he professed desire for and spent many drunken days looking for. Sobering up so he could do the job required of him, in those final moments, it is not desire for payback that leads to his decisive sacrifice. Instead he found the desire to protect the lives of those he loved.

That is what I discern in the proclamation of God found in Isaiah 43:25. He forgave for His own sake so that He would stay the course of protecting the people out of which His Christ would come. For the sake of fulfilling His purpose in providing saving grace for the world, He chose, for His own sake, to forgive Israel, even though their sin against Him begged for payback.

God may get us to the right motive for our last breath effort to love others, but what a waste that comes from the moment we choose unforgiveness to the detriment of our character, hindering our path to the fulfillment of the purpose of our life. Don’t let unforgiveness steel your in-between opportunity for a life worth living. Choose the love that forgives for one’s own sake, and find in that your Independence Day victory over bitterness, anger, drunkenness, etc.

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 6

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:21

I don’t know about you, Beloved, but I believe that the goal of life on earth for the Christian should be to be this “vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” According to the scripture, attaining that goal requires we be “cleansed of these things.”

Paul begins in verse 14 with the charge for Timothy to remind those he is ministering to of the truths found in verses 1-13. I recommend reviewing those encouraging words. Then verse 14 begins a list of specifics we must seek God’s cleansing from, things that determine whether we are vessels for honor or dishonor.

1. Don’t wrangle about words. Some beliefs in the Christian faith are not worth fighting about, only serving to cause dissension and separation in the Family of God, leading “to the ruin of the hearers”. (I.e.: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 and Romans 14) Instead we are to behave in a manner approved by God, accurately handling His Word.

2. Next we are warned to “avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness,” which spreads like gangrene. A hot topic I believe fits here is to speak against our national leaders, as if God had nothing to do with their appointment, having no purpose for their appointment. We go against God when we assault their character and purpose, as it is God who raises up one and brings down another for His purpose. Such rhetoric can upset the faith of the immature in Christ, causing them to stumble or fall away.

3. Then Paul advises that “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.” Wickedness is any word or deed that goes against God, refusing His Lordship, or setting a bad example, thus defaming His Name through rebellion against His will and way.

4. Paul concludes chapter 2 with the encouragement to “flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.“ We are to “refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”

The goal of the vessel of honor is to be filled up with and to spill out the Spirit of God, so that God may grant to those receiving our witness repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth. The hope is that others “may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”

Beloved, our own freedom from sin and liberty in righteousness frees others who watch with desire for the same. “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. …”

2 Timothy 2:14-26 NASB

The BLESSed Trust of Being His Light

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

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

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

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

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

For Joy, Endure

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB.
 
Reading this passage, the fact the Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” grabs my attention, as it has grabbed me many times before. Jesus took up a cross that truly belongs to such a wretch as I, for the joy it would lead to. As I read this today, three questions come to heart for me to ponder:
 
1. What “joys” might have been on the heart of Jesus as He took up that cross?
2. What life challenge or sin that so easily entangles am I in that requires me to take a stand of endurance against it?
3. What joys lie before me that, fixing my eyes on them, will strengthen my endurance?
 
In this passage alone, I see hint of several things that may form some of the joys Jesus looked to.
 
1. Joy in the cloud of witnesses that would come forth because of His endurance.
2. Joy in the victory His endurance would produce in us as we overcome the cumbersome trouble this life too often holds.
3. Joy in the deliverance from sin His endurance would provide us.
4. Joy in the endurance we would possess as we set our eyes on His example to us.
5. Joy in the relationship with each of us that would come to Him and the Father because of His endurance.
6. Joy in the gift of grace available to us because He despised the shame and bore the cross in our place.
7. Joy in the fulfilling of the Father’s purpose, leading to His privileged position at God’s side.
 
There is much more we can add to this list of joys that had the focus of Jesus, strengthening His endurance. I don’t know about you, but there are many troubling situations and temptations to sin that I need this walk of endurance for, if I am to overcome and press through them in fulfilling God’s purpose and accomplishing His desire for me. Today, following Christ’s example, I set my sights on the joy before me that will strengthen my endurance, to the glory of His Name and the fulfilling of His purpose.
 
Assignment: Reading through Proverbs this month, I turn to chapter 3 and find there the call to persevere in several areas, followed by promised joy for successful endurance. Read Proverbs 3 and note there the call to stand firm. What “joy” do you see as a focus to aid endurance in the successful practice for each area of instruction? Now do this with your own life: List areas where your endurance is challenged. Next, list benefits of endurance that you can look forward to attaining as the joy set before you.

Look to the Light, Then Cast the Vote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

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

So here is today’s blog share with you:

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Need of the Graphic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Radiance of God’s Glory

“And He (Jesus) is THE RADIANCE OF HIS (FATHER’S) GLORY and the exact representation of His (Father’s) nature, and upholds all things by the word of His (Father’s) power. When He (Jesus) had made purification of sins, He (Jesus) sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (The Father), having become as much better than the angels, as He (Jesus) has inherited a more excellent name than they” ~ Hebrews 1:3-4.

This week on Living Worshipers Rally Point, we are praying this passage for the Body of Christ. It seemed good, as I considered the example we have in Jesus, to write accompanying devotionals to go along with each day’s focus. Yesterday, as I did not get back to this as planned, we looked at the radiance of the Father’s glory that is exemplified for us in Christ.

WALK-WITH-GODJesus radiated the glory of God for us, so that we could see what that looks like. Thinking of that, I recall Moses in contrast. The people were afraid of Moses because of the light in his face that shined forth the glory of God found in the intimate relationship with Him that Moses possessed; so for the sake of the people, Moses covered his face. Jesus, on the other hand, let it all hang out—or shine forth, if you will. And He calls us to follow His example by doing the same.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 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.

Like a lamp, we are placed where we are in this life for the purpose of lighting up the area. The closer we walk with God, the brighter our light. We must not be ashamed to let the light out. Nor are we to cover it up so-as to make others more comfortable. That defeats the purpose of light.

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” ~ Ephesians 5:6-10.

We are to be in direct contrast to the dark things of this world. Our light is made known by a life of goodness, Parhelia Diamondsrighteousness, and truth. There is no truth in shrinking back so the darkness can have its way. Light dispels darkness. The very purpose of light – of glory, is to shine forth into the night.

I have night lights scattered throughout my house. When I wake too early and walk out of our room, made extra dark for sleeping, I am immediately greeted by lots of light throughout each room and across every walkway, making it easy to traverse the night. That is the job we have as His light. Dispel the dark so others may see to find The Way.

“We who first hoped in Christ [who first put our confidence in Him have been destined and appointed to] live for the praise of His glory!” ~ Ephesians 1:12, AMP.

Father, we are here to radiate Your glory: not hiding it from onlookers, but living as pleases You in all things so that others may see and know You. As we lift the Body of Christ to You today, O God, I pray that each individual one of us will follow Christ’s example and be the radiance of Your glory in the place You have placed us, no matter how dark and difficult. May we be found faithfully fulfilling our call in Your name and to Your glory. In Jesus, amen.

For further thought, read “Be Parhelia”. Then press into your day and SHINE! ~ https://darlenesponderings.com/2012/07/13/be-parhelia/