Tag Archives: faith

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 1

Introduction

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

“Lacking in Christ’s afflictions”? The day that statement from Paul caught my attention, I began a quest to understand what it means and how it is that we fill up that which remains to be done. I mean, after all, Jesus on the cross shouted, “It is finished!” In His prayer in John 17, He said to the Father, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (vs. 4).  What is there that remains lacking?

There are several passages that speak of the sufferings or afflictions of Christ, such as Paul’s proclamation in Philippians 3:10-11 talking about his ultimate goal in life being: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Considering these words from Paul, we can surmise that fellowship with His sufferings is part of the process that makes us one together with Him. It is part of the recipe that resurrects in us the Life of Image Bearers that God intended we have.

In this study, which looks like it will take a couple of weeks to cover unless God has more to say than I do, we will see what we can discover about the afflictions of Christ, what they are, and how we have fellowship with His sufferings as we walk with understanding in this journey to filling up what is lacking.

Our text for this study will be the book of 1 John, in which I see many thoughts that give us a picture of our responsibilities that accomplish this call of Paul given to us through his example. Like with so much of the teachings found in the word of God, this study will be a good start to our journey of discovering God’s will for us as people called to this fellowship.

I hope you will join me these next two weeks as we look at this subject. The words “afflictions” and “sufferings” I know do not make this an appealing subject, but I believe you will be pleasantly surprised at the things God has shown me as we consider this vital aspect of our walk with Him. Looking forward to getting started, I anticipate seeing you back here tomorrow as we begin to look at 1 John and find that this work of suffering with Christ truly is cause for rejoicing as we see the fruit produced in it.

A “Selah” Wow! Moment

“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3).

~*~

This morning, as my computer started up in preparation for my quiet time, I was greeted by this picture on my “prayer wall”. Immediately to my heart came prayer for my God to be the lifter of my head, which led me to look up the verse containing the phrase as quoted above. Led to read the eight verse chapter, what a “wow!” of a “Selah” moment greeted me when verse two caught my attention as if truly seeing it for the first time.

“Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God.’ Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” (Amplified Bible)

“No deliverance for him IN GOD!” Really. Excuse me. Is anything too difficult for GOD?

In that instant my head lifted up to look at my God as He began the process of bringing to the light situations and circumstances that have me feeling “there is no help.” God’s enemy—Satan—and ours—fleshly, worldly and demonic wisdom—loves to whisper in our vulnerable ears, “There is no help for you” with the “in God” implied. These enemies love to convince us that our God is impotent and we have no real hope in the earth. But is that truth?

In my “Selah wow!” moment, I realized that I have fallen to discouragement, helplessness and hopelessness in several situations. In that instant, many questions come to mind that I must ask myself as I consider this state of mind:

Am I truly trusting God to be God in my situations; trusting Him to work through them for my good and the good of others involved and for His glory?

Am I in sin that is hindering His hand? Or is there sin in the life of others involved that is the obstacle?

Is there a life lesson that God is trying to teach me as His child that I am not getting and giving myself to receive?

As the answer to these questions comes, how can I better pray over each difficulty?

Am I praying and standing firm of faith with earnest expectation and hope?

What promises has God given me specific to the situation that I can stand on as a broad place of security in my waiting time?

My head is lifted up today as I remember that nothing is impossible with God. I just need to make sure I am standing with Him and not against Him, and that I am trusting His hand to do a work that is beyond belief.

Father, “Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” In Jesus, show us Your glory. AMEN! (vs. 8)

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 4

Door Jambs

I thought I was finished with this when I put the last post up; then the refrigerator door jammed open.

Prayerfully considering my options for lunch, I settle on a Spinach Scramble. The Spinach prepped and the skillet heating, I reach into the fridge for the remaining ingredients needed: eggs, cheese, and butter. Setting all down on the cabinet, turning to plop a little butter in the skillet to melt in readiness for the Spinach to go in next, I realize the fridge door is still wide open. It hung on the drawer the cheese was in; left open wide, it jammed the fridge.

Laughing at myself as I shut it, I thought, “Well, there ought to be a devotional thought in that.” Little did I know that God was adding a continuation to this thought on Love So Pure, but as I consider the thoughts that door jamb brought to me, here I am again with part 4.

Thinking on the open fridge, I realized that our lives are food storage pantries and refrigerators to our God. He feeds us through His Word the good things needed to sustain us personally, providing fuel for a life of abundance. But He also supplies for us to be used of Him to feed others out of the storehouses He entrusts to our care as testimony of His work in our lives and our day.

One day along our journey we see God fling open a door of opportunity for us to share sustenance, breaking the Bread of Life with someone in need. As we consider the door before us, held open by the very Spirit of God, suddenly we realize our refrigerator door is ajar, jammed open by some hidden drawer of our life in which we hold to food that hinders and hurts us: we’ll call these the junk-food drawers.

This is when we find ourselves to be a whole lot like Moses, in whose life God worked mightily to provide for him and show His love for him. God had a plan for his life that would make him a conduit through which God could make His love and provision clear to Israel, freeing them from every form of bondage. But Moses fridge was ajar, held open by drawers well stocked with the junk food this world and our flesh feeds us:

Fear: “Oh no, Lord. If I go there, Pharaoh will kill me.” Or ours may sound more like, “Oh, God, I couldn’t possibly do that! I am too shy,” just another way of saying, “I am slave to internal fear of what others may think of me or the unexpected thing that might happen to harm me.” In other words, we do not trust God in affective ways that make us one with Him and His supply.

Inadequacy: “Not me, Lord, for I am slow of speech.” “Lord, I am not talented enough to do that.” “Lord, I am too immature. Sally knows more than I do. Send her,” not realizing that Sally grew to where she is by jumping in feet first to see what the Lord would do, jumping in faith from the exact same spot we find ourselves in now.

Insecurity: “I am not good enough, O God. How can I do something like that?” We fail to realize that God can scarcely use those who feel good enough in themselves. He is looking for willing vessels that will let Him use them beyond their personal ability. Those who think they have it all together usually want to do it themselves, having a junk food drawer full of self: self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, self-reliance, self-preoccupation in abundance. When we know we can’t do “it” without God, we are the perfect one for the job.

Self-Condemnation: “Lord, they know me. Who am I to instruct them? And why would they listen to such a sinner as I.” Who better to instruct others from your position of understanding where they are? It helps me to understand that a “testimony” is “evidence in support of a fact or assertion; proof.” What better proof than that of a life changed forever by His supply? And what better one to tell of it than one who knows and is grateful for the work of God in delivering them from sin’s grip.

On we could go with drawer after drawer placed in our lives by fleshly, worldly, and demonic wisdom that keeps us from sharing all God is doing for us with those who need to see and know His love and supply that is available to “whosoever will believe.”

God fully supplies us out of His love for our good and His glory, giving us a testimony to have ready to share in due season: we are His living proof, living stones of testimonial about His current work in our age. He gifts us to have a comfort to give in comforting others. In this way, we share His love and help others to freedom from captivity.

Beloved, this I give to you from my pantry of supply and my fridge where the clean foods reside. I have to feast on this morsel of Grace sufficient often: “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

Be filled up with Him, beloved, and trust His supply for you. There are lost people, dead in their sins, all around us. Our junk-food drawers work hindrance to His ability to pour His love fully to and through us. We must be willing vessels, cleansed, filled to over flowing and rested in His hands for His use in pouring out His glorious presence, power and love through us to those we love, like or run across for a moment in time.

When a drawer hangs open to provide opportunity for the enemy to discourage or dissuade you, yes, look to see what is in there, but also look to see what God has placed in storage within you for use in overcoming the temptation to the junk food being offered. Then seek the Lord to help you clear out that drawer and remove that foothold of satanic forces from your life, making the space available for His supply.

~*~

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

“…Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass…” (Recommended reading: 1 Thessalonians 1-5).

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 3

Power Supply 

“Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” (Mark 12:24)

~*~

We covered in Part 1 my struggle and how God used it to grow my understanding of His Love-flow and the heartache it brings Him when that flow toward us is hindered. In Part 2 we looked at God’s love that reaches out to the lost and what it means for those who refuse it.

Now, in Part 3, before some of us who call ourselves “Christian” get haughty against our lost brethren in the realm of mankind; realize that some of us use Christ as fire insurance just as some of Israel did with the sacrifice of cattle. We profess Him with our mouths, but our hearts are not in Him.

Even some who truly are saved by grace through faith live lives that are less than our potential in Christ; His sacrifice has not been received as one that brings life to us, reuniting us with God in ways that change us from the inside out. We fail to tap into the power that He sends us for our supply in performing all His good will and way toward fulfilling His purpose and plan.

My Daddy told me a story the other day that illustrates our plight.

A man he knew bought one of the first Volker’s Wagons that came out on the market, understanding that it would get much better gas mileage than his big car. To his chagrin, it proved much less effective than he believed it would be, so, trying to save some money, he started filling it only half full. Over the next few weeks, he rejoiced with amazement over the great mileage he was getting. Then he learned that someone had been siphoning his tank, and that stopped when they could no longer reach the gas with their hose.

This is how we who profess Christ too often live. We become disappointed that God’s supply is not what we thought it would be for us when we first came to profess belief in Him and His promises. Little do we realize that we are being robbed blind because of a lack of understanding of our situations and the way God works in life. So we get rid of the “vehicle”, letting our relationship with Him slide to the wayside, thinking it a farce, or we go about life only half full.

As we said in part 2, some profess faith in Christ, but their profession is just for show, to fit in with the crowd. These are as those who bought the car because it was new and they would look good to others. They don’t really expect to get anything out of it. They may function well in the church and seem to have power in them, but their power is their own and their goodness is not that produced through relationship that is supplied by God. They are in a show-car, having no real ownership of it.

Some profess relationship with Christ strictly because they believe He will make life easy here and now. As soon as the worries of life and struggle of temptation hit to discourage their journey, they die off. The root of faith never sprouts to take hold in them, so they burn up and walk away from the experience. They are as those who purchased the car, found it lacking from what they expected, and discarded it as useless.

These two groups above, who profess faith in Christ with their mouths, never receiving the work of righteousness within them, are as lost as those who have yet to come to know that they have a choice in life. It is one thing to know of Christ; it is another entirely to be in relationship with Him. Even the demons believe He is the Christ, and they cringe knowing their end because they have nothing of Him within themselves. Take care that your faith is not that of the demon.

Those who truly profess Christ will be affected by Him in ways that change them from a sinner enslaved to sin, to the righteousness of God in action and deed, thought and desire. These are made righteous for eternity instantly by the finished work of Christ over them, and experientially as they grow in grace to live in obedience while on the earth.

Too often we come to faith believing that we will see instant change in our here and now lives, and life will be easy from then on. Our misunderstanding and false expectations leave us unprepared to deal with the flesh, the world and demons siphoning our tanks and discouraging our experience. Those who truly know Him but are not prepared for the struggle that can come as God’s Spirit works to bring the flesh and our will into agreement with the Father are those who too often run on half a tank. Unwilling to deal with the struggle full commitment brings and pay the price of the gas through obedience against all opposition, they settle for half the power potential God brings to life.

The Father loves the Bride fully. Through the Son, she (the body of Christ) enters into familial relationship with the Father, becoming His child; sons and daughters made whole in Christ. In the instant we come into relationship with God through Christ, we receive all His love and care because of that relationship; the blood of Christ, God’s gift of grace to us, covering our sin so the Father can relate with us one on one. And the ring of promise on our finger is the Spirit of God within us that seals the deal for all eternity. We are sealed in the Spirit, and that seal cannot be broken. Our eternity is made sure in Him, but our here and now is still influenced by fleshly understanding and desires / lusts, worldly wisdom, and demons who work hard to discourage us and feed us lies that keep us from knowing and living in God’s full supply. These syphon our tanks and make us weak from lack of realizing our full supply in Christ.

Our challenge as the people of God is to trust God’s supply. We must realize that we are in the world and the world and all that are part of it seek to steal our supply and drain our tanks so we do not see the full effect of God’s work in our lives. To have full supply and function in it, we must learn that though we are in the world, we are not of the world. We are already of the Kingdom of God having full access to its resources by faith, able to experience it here in our now living.

God is ready to supply us with all we need to walk in freedom from those who rob our lives of sufficiency and hinder our journey with Him. For that we have to put a lock cap on our tank; and that lock cap is believing-faith. Believing-faith opens us up in the Spirit, equipping us to recognize and receive God’s supply, no matter how hard the hill we have to climb. Believing-faith covers our supply spout with rested trust in God, knowing that all He allows has a purpose that is taking us to a better place in life. Our supply protected by believing-faith, we are equipped for obedience no matter the pit or curves the enemy of our journey throws into our path.

Believing His word to me all these years that the love pouring into me was from Him, His supply for service in meeting needs this man of God has in his ministry as a modern day Paul, and refusing to let go of faith despite my experience in my struggle with the experience of His love welling up in me is what kept me from running from a lesson that has taught me more about His great love than I would have known otherwise. Faith trusts in God fully and rests in Him despite circumstance to learn the things that change our perspective, bringing us in line with His thoughts and His understanding, making us more like Him; a conduit for His flow to reach our world and change lives. That faith shakes the snakes and vipers off the hand to press forward unharmed by its venom; leaving others standing in awe as they recognize God with us, working in our lives (Acts 4:13).

God desires to fill us up and spill us out to His glory. Sometimes that means taking us through difficult times of training that unclog the fuel system so our tanks are clear and ready to receive of His supply. In our journey with Him, supplied by His grace sufficient for every need and strengthened to face every challenge, God uses our circumstances to remove ugly roots and rocks of stumbling out of the way, where it cannot hinder our reaching His desired destination for us.

Are you going through a difficult time and wondering where God is in it? I was encouraged the other day when I read this picture that was posted on FaceBook: “When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during a test. Trust in the Lord” (See Psalm 37). Though God may be quiet for a time, and His hands may seem harsh at work in us while getting us into a place of pliability for His molding and shaping, He is always right there with us, doing a good work in our lives.

I hope this encourages you to face the time of struggle with greater faith when the enemy of God seeks to siphon your tank and make you think God’s supply is insufficient. Stand believing and see what the Lord will do. Though the road of your journey may be long and bumpy, He will not leave you disappointed with the outcome. What He will leave you with is a testimony for use in helping others to His grace sufficient for every need.

~*~

“I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8).

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 2

The Ache in God’s Heart

 In the last post, I shared the love that God pours through me toward others, citing for our discussion three examples of those times and how Satan uses fleshly and worldly limitations in understanding God’s love for us as he works to distort our experience of it and ability to rightly express it to others. Today let’s look at God’s love for us and what that means with regard to our right of choice and our eternity.

Revelation 3:5 says, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I (Jesus) WILL NOT erase his name from the book of life, and I WILL confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

Talking to the church of Sardis, Jesus warns that there are people of the church (the gathering of those who profess Christianity) who are alive in this life, but they are dead. These have never made a true decision to follow Christ and receive the gift of true and eternal life, but they play the part as if they have. There are a few in the Sardis church who have done so, and for these who overcome in this way, they receive these promises stated in verse 5 of Revelation 3. This scenario is still true in life today. There are some who truly know and walk in the promise of God. But there are many, even among the church goers of our day, who have a false faith, being no faith at all.

Note: the book of life. My understanding as I study the “book of life” is that every name of every person ever born into the earth has their name in this book. Some who were of the pre-Christ, faith in our God continue to have their name remaining in the book because they walked in vital relationship with the Father, and they trusted in the coming of the promised Christ. They chose to believe and receive their righteousness through believing faith in God and His promises before Christ arrived.

Then Jesus the Christ came as the Lamb of God, and He paid the price required to defeat sin and the death sin brings us, revealing Himself to be the only doorway to the Father and the King who will come to fulfill God’s promise to Israel as rightful Ruler, having defeated the enemy of God (John 10). There is now a new covenant with God and that covenant requires relationship with God through Christ for entry into His Kingdom family. This covenant promise reaches the hand of God out to all, Jew and Gentile alike. Only those who truly and fully choose to wed themselves to God through Christ’s sacrifice that redeemed right over us from the hand of the enemy that enslaves us will find their name still remaining in the book when Jesus confesses as our advocate before the Father those belonging to God’s family.

In Colossians 3 we are told that those who enter into relationship with God through Christ are made one together, removing all separation of circumcision. In the old covenant, circumcision was a sign of consecration of a people; revealing to all their commitment to God and His right of Lordship over them. It was meant to be an outward expression of an inward work. True commitment to Christ works that intended purpose in us through the power of His Spirit within us, proving circumcision of heart through the fruit of lives consecrated to God.  

Through Christ we all enter into relationship with God, being made one with Him in Holy Matrimony for all eternity. Without Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, there is no circumcision that is sufficient. Apart from Christ, we cannot be set free or made right with God, and are the poorest of the poor no matter our wealth in this life. And even our greatest good, if not coupled with Christ and the work of His Spirit in us, is as filthy rags before a Holy God; for our heart motives, intentions and purposes are too often distorted from His, destroying our ability to be in relationship with a God who cannot even look on sin.

Still, God, Who is love, loves fully, completely and purely: the Barbarian (those who refuse to conform to God and His ways) and Scythian (considered to be the worst of the worst of mal-conformists); the Jew (the people of God’s possession), the Gentile (those not part of God’s possessed people); the slave and the freeman (rich or poor matters not, His love just a great toward both alike). All who have yet to enter into relationship with Him through Christ, who is our freedom from sin and death, God loves as fully as He does those who are His.

But He is hindered in giving that love fully to you who refuse His saving grace, because you have not chosen to separate yourself from your sin by receiving in your body the Sacrifice for sin found in Christ that vitally unites us to God, the Father. Until you do, you are in danger of having your name removed from the book of life, being eternally separated from God because of sin that is only cleansed and covered by the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus; the Messiah. And for some, booing my words right now, know that hearts can harden to the point of passing over the threshold of no return, passing up your opportunity while yet you live.

God grieves over you with love unfulfilled. This is the reason God revealed to me for the pain and the struggle I have experienced, so I may understand the heart of God toward those lost to sin, making me able to somewhat express to you the depth of God’s love for you.

One day all will stand before the judgment seat of God. Oh, hear me people. There we each, the Bride, and those scratched out of the book, all will stand before this God who is pure love, the love we all look to find; love that we need in order to be whole and complete. This love exudes from His every pore, for it is who He is, and all will know it. We each will fully know His love for us as individuals of His creation. Then the roll will be called and Jesus will separate out the sheep, those birthed to God through the Lamb. As He leads us sheep into the eternal Kingdom to live forever with our God of love, He will confess us as His own beloved Bride (1 John 5:13).

Then, with the ache in His heart akin to what I have experienced for years now as shared in part 1 of this article; an ache multiplied to His heart exponentially by each person who is no longer on the rolls of God’s book of life, He will shout, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:31-46). His love has flowed to me over one I felt hindered to express it to fully, and I thought I would be crushed by the ache within me. I cannot even fathom the weight of the pain He feels over the masses who refuse to believe and receive His love.

In Matthew 8, Jesus speaking to a Jewish crowd, says that those who were sons of the kingdom but failed to choose relationship with God through Him will be “cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs. 12). This proclamation of warning from Christ to the people of God He reached out to is true for all mankind. To understand this agony that will bring the castaway to a fire burning constantly and bringing them to weeping and gnashing of teeth, we need to recognize two things:

First is this love of God that is equal for all, the sheep (children of God) and the goat (castaways—lost for eternity). He loves us, yes; and His love desires that we willingly choose to love Him back, living for Him in line with all He holds dear and true, which requires an obedience of us to be and do as He is.

But man is unable to do that on His own. If we learn nothing else in the Old Testament, it is that mankind is incapable of the righteousness of God’s desire. So God ordained that there be sacrifice for sin and, through the lineage of Israel, because of His love for us and His desire for a relationship with us, He raised up a Holy Seed to be the Lamb of God: the Seed of Adam that would stomp the head of the serpent; the Seed of Abraham that would bless the nations.

God’s love is pure and complete, loving us as we are, but, desiring the best for us, loving us too much to leave us in our current spiritual condition. So He sent His son to pay the price of blood required, and He sends His Spirit that we may know His ways so we may know Him, receiving and becoming a conduit of His love and His righteousness, empowered by His Spirit. In the Day of Judgment, all will fully know this truth, but for those who refused to believe, it will be too little, too late.

The second understanding we must have is that, in the Kingdom of God, there will no longer be need of a sun because God will be the light of that place (Revelation 21:23).

Standing before God, two things are revealed to those scratched out of the book: revelation of the full and complete awe of God, who is love; the truth that He is and knowledge of all that He is. They will see Him as He is and experience for a brief moment His pure love for them and the completeness He brings to those who see Him in His glory. And two: They will see Him in all His goodness through His Light that brings full revelation of all that is good. They will know in an instant their sin, contrasted with His purity; sin that can no longer be forgiven, for they will again realize that it is too late.

As quickly as they come into contact with God, in all His fullness so as to discover His pure love and glorious light of truth and righteousness, they will be cast away from Him forevermore. As they are sent away, they will go knowing that without God, true love cannot exist, for God is love. Without God there is utter darkness. Those who fail to choose Him through Christ will be sent away to an eternity without any Light to a place where no love resides.

If you have ever experienced utter darkness, where you cannot see your hand in front your face, you know how unnerving that can be. Imagine that for all eternity. Imagine being in that place of darkness with no one you love or who loves you; for love cannot exist separated from its Source.

Jesus speaks of the eternal fire that these will experience. Could it be that the fire that will burn forever, torturing those cursed for an eternity without God, is the fire of desire to experience for a second that purity, that love, just once more.

People say that the fire is flames of heat because of the parable of the rich man who asked for a drop of water to quench the heat of his tongue. But could the water he requested be the Living Water that quenches thirst forever? Could it be the desire to experience His glory and worship at His feet one more time? For I believe they will fall on their knees in worship before Him on that day of judgment, and they will profess Jesus as the Christ, the King and Lord of lords, but theirs will be as the confession of the demon who knows it is too late for them to enter into His rest and find life made full and complete (Philippians 2:1-11).

And what was Abraham’s response to the man? “Between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us” (Luke 16:19-31). The cursed are not within reach of the Water they long for, and none who might have compassion to share with them can do so. It is too late.

In the parable, this tortured man requested that Lazarus be sent back to life to bear witness to his brothers so that they might repent and be saved his agony. But Abraham essentially said that those who will not listen to the testimony of their own patriarchs who bore witness of the Christ, why would they heed the testimony of another, though resurrected from the dead. Thus many refuse to hear the witness of those who are reborn in Christ and bear the testimony of His presence and work in our lives. Many are enslaved by refusal to realize there is a God. Many are snared by pride that believes we must somehow be good enough for God, not realizing that we are incapable of goodness without God.

The sacrifices of Israel, short lived as it was while yet ordained by God, required it to be done over and over again to keep their sin covered because they were incapable of maintaining purity then, just as we are incapable today. Even the exercise of sacrifice for sin became sin, as many did so as a habit that had no true effect on their lives. They refused change, continuing in their sin, and the act of sacrifice given in outward observance of the Law was nullified by lack of the circumcision of heart that separates from sin.

Then enters Jesus: His sacrifice was once for all. All the sin of all mankind that would ever exist was placed on His shoulders. God, paying the full price required in blood, sent His only begotten Son as a Lamb to the slaughter, First Born among many brethren who would be birthed through Him. The sacrifice of Christ Jesus covered the sin of those who trusted in His coming before He came, and the sin of all who would believe in His ministry of love and sacrifice after those days.

Why did God plan for and provide this sacrifice. Because He loves us all and desires that we have a vital, effective and growing relationship of love with Him, and that requires us to realize that we cannot achieve that relationship without His work in us. Thus, He provided the way by which we may know Him as God.

This is the love of God for us that put Jesus on that cross. And all – ALL – saved and lost alike, who stand before God on that Day of Judgment will fully know that love poured out on their behalf. The sheep of God will enter into His Kingdom to eternal joy and rejoicing; and those who refused to believe will fully experience His pure love that makes one whole, only to be cast away from it for all eternity. Their weeping and gnashing of teeth will be the constant ache of knowing that pure Love and revealing Light for an instant in eternity, knowing only never to experience it again. They will be fully alive in their understanding of what they could have had, while fully dead in the outer darkness, experiencing the pain of utter death found in separation from God for eternity. They will know the ache of God’s heart over love lost.

As I said before, God has allowed me this forbidden love experience, with the ache of longing that was grievous and sorrowful to me, so I can understand how He feels toward those who have yet to choose Him through Christ. My heart now relaxes and releases its struggle with a sigh of relief in understanding that purpose. And I thank my God who has allowed me this experience so that I can share it with you and so that I can have His heart to grieve over those who refuse to believe as I love the lost masses with Him. I have prayed many times to understand God’s heart toward the lost. Little did I know that my struggle was His answer to my prayer; discerning the longing for those loved and the ache of sin’s separation.

The time is growing short, and the Day of Judgment draws near when no man may choose. Beloved of God, do not let that hour come on you as if unexpected. To say to self and God, “I will sow my wild oats, and then I will come to salvation” is foolish. Today is the day of salvation, for you have no promise of a tomorrow. Choose now, while you are able, surrendering fully to the transforming grace of God’s pure and holy love that will make you whole as never before. I urge you to call upon someone you know to be true of faith as a Christian so they can help you take the first steps in your journey of faith through Christ.

~*~

The next post I thought was separate from this, but God has revealed that it is part of this series, making it three posts instead of two. It is for those who know Christ, or think they do. See you soon with the rest of the story.

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 1

The Struggle Revealed

 I have experience of numerous deep, abiding, holy, pure loves in my life. They are equal to each other and beautiful to behold, bringing rejoicing to my heart; but distinctions in relationships make equal expressions of love forbidden, hindered by rite of Law. What do I mean?

This will be a two part article, first looking at our love relationship with and in Christ; then looking at God’s love relationship to us through Christ and the effect that has on our eternal destiny.

So what do I mean and how can love equality be? Aren’t we to love God first and foremost and each relationship falls in a line under that? God’s love flow is the answer. In making the point I am to share with you today, I tell you of three of my love relationships; made equal by the degree of God’s love flowing through me, but unequaled by rite of relationship Law.

My first Love, of greatest importance, though equal to the others because of its source, is for my God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I choose to love Him and be in relationship with Him as my God, but the love, which is my own, is limited by the weakness of my flesh. However, as I choose to love God with my all, keeping Him as first in my life, trying as I may to love Him as He deserves despite this limitation of flesh, God moves in with His supply and I am helped by Him Who fills me with love that goes beyond the bounds of my ability. He, who is Love, couples His supply with my own, making my love for Him pure and full blown for His glory. It wells up in me and I soar to the heights of the knowledge of His presence.  In this way I am equipped by Him to love Him in ways that please and honor Him fully.

My second love is my husband. Now, I have always said that my love for my husband is less than that I have for my God, because I BELIEVED that was as it should be. As far as hierarchal Law goes in determining who I will follow first as Lord, that is true. But lately, as God has grown and blossomed my love for my husband, God has shown me that my love for my man should equal my love for Him, for it too is supplied and made whole and full through our union as one with Him in holy matrimony: our love making us one flesh together through Him, His love for my husband swells in me and the experience of it is equal to what I have when love soars to God.

God is not a jealous God when our love for others is based out of our love for Him. The only jealousy He has is when we turn from Him to others as a type of god. I can love my husband fully, as I love my God, because God pours His love through me. In this way I am capable of loving my husband as God desires and designed me to, and through the purity of God’s love flowing through me, I am protected from sinning against my first love, God.

The purity of God’s love desiring the very best for and toward the object of love, whether God or man, protects my relationship with God as God, keeping me from seeing my husband take God’s rightful place in my life. My love for my husband is kept in right priority and rite of relationship by this love of God that flows through me to him. And I am protected by the full and pure love I have for my husband from sinning against my marriage vows, whatever temptation the enemy may send. Now, if that is clear as mud, let’s throw a third party in the mix.

I love my husband as I love my God, with whole heart that is helped and empowered by His love-flow, desiring to please God in my relationships. And like with my love for my God, my love for my husband, empowered and made strong by my God, is pure love, and I cannot fathom ever sinning against that love. Nonetheless, there is a love in me that has been there and grown strong for many years. It, too, is pure and holy and supplied by God, and when it wells up in me fully, it is equal to my love for my God and my husband. It is different in its expression and intent and purpose from that of my love for my God, but part of that love. And it is different in expression from my love for my husband, but a love made great and soaring strong in me in likeness to my love for my God and my husband because of the source of love’s flow.

This love has a forbidden dimension to it because it is love toward another man, not my husband. By rite of marital Law, though I love this other man of God fully and have enjoyed serving God together with him on many projects for many years now, I cannot act on this love in the same way that I do toward my husband.  Still there is the call of God in me to minister alongside this other man as is proper, just as the women who served at the feet of Jesus, and those who were ministers with Paul and Elijah. Our union of heart desire toward God swells in my heart with the love of God toward him, filling me with love that equals my love for my God and my husband, pure and holy in its intent and sourcing.

Then enters Satan: often Satan will try to distort love, for our experience of love is the closest thing to sitting in the lap of God, who IS love. Satan does not want us to truly know that heart of love where we may come to greater understanding of and stronger relationship with God, so he works to make our experience of love into something it is not meant to be.

Satan often moves in when that love for my Christian Brother soars, using my misunderstanding of God’s love-flow, my fleshly wisdom and that of this world to bring thoughts that make this love seem wrong. When love toward my Brother wells up so strong in me, lies of evil regarding it using the way the world thinks about love, twists the love into something different in my mind, causing me to feel guilty though I have done nothing wrong and have no wrong intent or desire toward him, for I can see no other man for me than my husband.

In that moment of struggle, this love that, if acted upon fully in accord with the temptation of the distortion Satan seeks to work, would be sin against my God, my husband, and this man. When it is full blown in me, Satan working to make it appear ugly, I struggle with guilt and anguish over it, and it hinders my ability to work with peace together in our common desire to fulfill the purpose of God. It has been a confusing journey and a long lessen I am grateful to have lived through, for it has shown me great things about my God who knows and understands our struggle in life, and He allows it for our good, not for harm.

I know this love that swells in me for my Brother is of God because I know the love of my God personally and intimately. God, in His grace, has always helped me to deal with this twisting of satanic ploy, putting my thoughts and my relationship back in the position it belongs, thus equipping me to continue serving God in righteousness alongside this other man. But the twisting of distortion has hindered me from fully living in the love-flow of God toward him for fear of the struggle, and I often pull back from things I feel called to alongside him in order to avoid the struggle.

When I shared the turmoil of heart with my husband, he encouraged me with his understanding of how it can be when people of opposite sex work together and have like desires in the work. He prays for me and helps me with his trust and support. And I have grown to trust this love to God for His protection, so that I may serve as He leads without sin, at the time, not understanding its source because of the hindrance within.

God’s love toward my friend wells up in me unexpectedly and often, calling me to prayer for my friend in Christ who is often in harm’s way in his ministry, helping me to reach out to meet the need of my ministry with him with right heart and priority. But false wisdom and understanding hinders the joy of love’s purity.

I have cried out often for deliverance from these wrong emotions that hit me with this love and for understanding of the struggle demonic thoughts throw into the works; but until now there has been no response from God. Today I share this struggle with you so that I may make clear God’s answer that finally came to my understanding.

Now, before you get all judgmental and close off to the moral of the story, hang with me. Like with Hosea who was led to take a bride of harlotry in order to understand the message God had for Israel, there is a lesson here that God taught me and wants you to hear. And believe me, you are not thinking anything about it that I have not thought during my struggle. You may even be able to relate to it from your own experience. If so, I hope you had God’s help to protect you from sin as well. So, setting the judgment aside to God, now that you have the background, let’s continue to the truth God revealed to me through this situation.

Last night I had a dream that this man came for a visit. When he comes, we open our home to him as Lydia and her family did to Paul. My husband and I love him and we minister to him together in the Lord. And he loves us with a pure love. It is a joy when he comes.

During this visit in my dream, he became very ill and I began to minister to him, doing what I could for him in our home, in the hospital, and after his release. As I did so God’s love welled up in me. Again, that temptation of forbidden love came and I began the struggle anew in my dream, feeling guilty over a love so strong toward one who is not my husband. Crying out to God as I ministered to him, drawn of God to care for him, I am as grieved and confused as ever.

Waking from the dream, that love still overwhelming my heart, I cry out to God as never before, seeking understanding of why He would allow such a struggle to exist in me. Seeking discernment as never before, do you know what God said to my heart?

“For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVES in Him shall not perish but have everlasting (eternal) life” (John 3:16).

In that instant knowledge of why God allowed me to experience this love from Him was clear to me: God is love! He cannot help but love. And He loves all equally and fully: saved and sinner alike, He shows no partiality in His love. But like with my love for this other man who is not my husband, His love is hindered toward some because it is forbidden by rite of the Law He himself set, limiting Himself toward us so that we can have rite of choice to love Him in return.

God loves all who are in the world, giving His Son for all, but He has set up a law, the law of sin and death, where sin was allowed to enter by His design that we should have choice regarding our personal relationship with Him.

Mankind began with full access to God, but sin entered to separate us from full relationship with Him, working a spiritual death that would set the stage for spiritual birth to new life, where those who receive it will never to be separated from Him again.

God had this plan from the beginning. He developed for Himself a people, out of which He sent a Healing Balm to restore life anew to all who choose to receive it, and that is found in the sacrifice of the Son, the Messiah Christ Jesus.

Blood has long been required as sacrifice for sin, and before Christ there were long lines of people bringing their offerings for sacrifice in order to be seen as pure in God’s eyes. But sin and death reigned in the earth, and very few were allowed to know the presence and reality of God as a result.

God loved all His created beings, wanting so much to have a personal and living relationship with each one, so His plan from the beginning included the Gift of a final offering on our behalf. Therefore, sending Jesus, His Son, who willingly gave His life as a sacrificial Lamb, God provided in likeness to His provision for Abraham on the mountain with Isaac, his son. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, God removed the rite of sin and death to hold us captive, returning to us the right to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing with Him, or curse of living without Him, never to know His love flow. He desires to flow His love to all, but He chooses to honor our decision regarding Him and holds back from forcing Himself on us.

Do you see the flip-flop effect here? Where Adam and Eve had God in all His fullness right there with them and their choice was to remain with him or depart to a life of death, separated from Him by sin; we are birthed to a life without right to God and must choose to be born again in our spirit by receipt of the Sacrifice for sin that restores our relationship with God to its full intent. He then, begins the work of restoring our love relationship with Him to its full capacity, giving Himself fully to us, making us whole, and reviving His likeness in us, including our ability to love as one in Him.

This remedy to the law of sin and death says that all who choose God by accepting the sacrifice of the Son as the work of the Spirit accomplished at the hand and bidding of God will be cleansed and set free forever from the consequence of sin and death; and they who choose life in Christ then receive all of God’s love with all the perks of relationship with Him. With Christ as our covering, God then can pour out His full love on us through the vital relationship He desires to have with every person born to the earth.

God ministers to all, sending the blessing of rain on the just through Christ and the unjust alike: He must by right of the pure love within Him, do what He can for those He loves. But, for those who have not chosen to enter into a marriage relationship with Him through Christ, He cannot give Himself fully to them and sin against His law of sin and death, nullifying His marriage vows to the church, the Bride of Christ; His beloved children through Jesus. Those who are born to the earth are separated from God by the death brought to all mankind that separates them from Him because of sin, and our God of Love struggles in His affections toward them, desiring to give Himself fully to them, but hindered by Law.

Just as by rite of relationship laws, I can only show my love for my friend to a small degree of the full relationship of love I have with my husband, so God is limited by the Law regarding rite of relationship with Him, mankind being separated from experiencing all that He is by sin’s right over them. For those who receive by faith the sacrifice for sin in Jesus, the gap between God and that person is closed, and God again has right and delight in giving all He is and all He has to us for our joy and fulfillment. We are made whole together with Him, made one in the Beloved. Thus the flow of equal love to many in my life is made clear, and the struggle that the flesh, the world and the demonic would work to hinder that love flow and the power it brings to work together in unity is squelched. I am free.

God loves all fully, and through relationship with His Son we experience His full love when we choose Him through believing faith. So what does our choice or lack thereof mean for our eternity? See you tomorrow for the conclusion of this thought…

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 10b

This has been an awesome journey for me. I cannot tell you what God has taught me and done in my life as we have walked with one another through this time. Seeing all these truths flow together has been like putting the puzzle pieces in order and finally seeing the full picture of what God is showing me personally: a portrait worth affixing to the backing I call “my life”, hanging it up for all to see. My hope is in God that the communication of the things in my heart flowed to the pages of this text well enough to help your journey as it has mine.

Today we conclude our study of “Dispelling the Darkness” as we continue our look at 1 Peter 2:4-10: having covered 4-8 yesterday, we continue through verses 9 and 10 adding to our understanding of who we are in Christ.

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (vs. 9-10).

As living stones with Christ, we are:

A Chosen Race

We become part of the household of the chosen people of God when we enter the gate that is Christ:

“‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’ …So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Matthew 7:13-14; John 10:7-10).

Those He calls He also chooses, and as we choose Him, we enter through the gate to walk the narrow way found in life through Christ. God turns none away who come with repentant heart, sincerely desiring the new life provide through His Son.

Do you struggle with a spirit of rejection, beloved? To us in Christ, God says, “You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you” (Isaiah 41:9). So smile and take heart. You are not alone and you are not cast away. We are chosen to be…

A Royal Priesthood

We are back at 1 Peter 2:4-5, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a HOLY PRIESTHOOD, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

In Christ we are birthed into the lineage of Levi, made one with Christ in a holy priesthood. He is now High Priest forever, interceding on our behalf before the Father. The curtain is torn and cast away because He stands perpetually in the Holy of Holies as Advocate on our behalf; thus slinging wide the doors so we may enter in through Him, the Narrow Way, to address the Father in the name of Jesus: we are Christ’s own beloved representatives. We are enabled through Christ to be the beloved children God desired we be from the start, having communion and walking with Him in the garden of our lives. Thus we are Royal Priests with all the responsibility that blessed position holds.

I believe we pretty well covered that role yesterday as we went through the traits of living stones, but let us apply that now here as a beginning toward understanding the role of our priestly estate. As priests unto God:

† We call all to the time of response to the Holy Sacrifice for sin, announcing Messiah as the Holy Lamb provided by God, calling all to repentance and to restoration with God through Jesus.

† We encourage others to turn from sin to God, bringing to the altar in their body the sacrifice of denying self to follow Christ, so He may reign in all who respond through Life, making us holy, consecrated to the Father.

† We grow strong in God’s truths, His law and His ways, proclaiming them to all in need of greater understanding of their application in our day. We not only proclaim these truths, but we walk them out in our daily lives, not living as hypocrites that say one thing while doing another, but realizing that we represent Him and His interests in the world as ambassadors of Christ. Thus we walk as He walked, honoring God as Lord, following Him as Master; and we live as He lived, denying self to meet others at their point of need, with hope that they might enter into this blessed union with us.

† We rejoice over God in all His fullness, leading others to join us in celebration as we share His presence in our lives. Encouraging one another in the Beloved, we share God’s comfort as He has comforted us.

Thus we have a beginning of understanding our role as a Royal Priesthood. As each of us rest in the truth that we are a chosen race, seriously taking on our priestly role, He works in and through us to make for Himself…

A Holy Nation

Becoming Holy together: willingly consecrating all that we have and all that we are or ever hope to be to God for His use. To surrender ourselves: taking up our cross daily, denying self-will and our sinful ways so as to follow Christ as God does His work of sanctification in our lives. As we surrender every area of our sinful, fleshly nature to Him, He corrects His distorted image in us day by day, setting us apart to Himself for holy purposes. As this is accomplished in each individual of us, we become…

A People for God’s Own Possession

God takes as His own beloved possession those who willingly give themselves to Him, bit by bit possessing our lives and bodies as His land, making us one with Him. And as we willingly surrender to His Lordship in each area of life, we unite with Him in fulfilling His purposes. In so doing, we become His willing bondservant’s with Christ, AND HE BECOMES OUR PASSION. His desires and purposes become our own and all that we do in life is focused on eternity, serving Him and being His light where we are with hope of many joining us in Him.

As we find for ourselves and make as our own this blessed relationship in Christ, surrendering to it, we do not lose ourselves. Instead we find ourselves as He fine tunes us to make us all He desired we be: all the good and quality that He desired for us springs forth to Light. Bringing us to our full potential as individuals at one with Him, we become…

Proclaimers of His Excellence

What joy it is to express God’s presence and work in our lives. But how much greater still it is when we can rejoice with knowledge of His excellence even when our circumstances are difficult and the hand of God seems stilled. This is the place where we go deeper: from knowing His ways and desiring His hand, to knowing Him and desiring His presence. Being satisfied and content even when we feel He is all we have left to us; we are satiated together with Him. Here we walk with Him as a friend, rested in His care, trusting whatever He is doing or allowing, assured of His love, content and at peace in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. Here we become His…

Light

The light of His glory not only shines to reflect off of us, but it shines in us and through us in this place in our relationship with Him. In this position with Him we become a light so bright, others who see may not understand; they may even resent us because of it. But we and those with us know and understand for we are…

One

United with Him and one another, we become the fulfillment of the answer to the Lord Jesus’ prayer that we may be one with Him, just as He and the Father are one. Here we realize that we are the Bride of Christ. And we become wed to Him who is one with the Father, making us to be united with them in the Spirit.

There are two pictures in scripture that explain this place to us, the first being this relationship of being Bride of Christ. Wed together, us the Holy Bride, Him the Holy Groom, what do we see?

† TOGETHER AS ONE: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23a).

† HUSBAND (CHRIST): “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church. …You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (Ephesians 5:28-29; 1 Peter 3:7. “In the same way”: see 1 Peter 3:1-6).

† HOLY BRIDE, CHRIST’S CHURCH: “In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [SUBORDINATE yourselves as being secondary to and DEPENDENT on them, and ADAPT yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives” of the Bride of Christ (1 Peter 3:1, AMP. “In like manner”: see 1 Peter 2:13-25).

One with God in all His fullness, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, we are made complete as one flesh through Christ, and we become our second picture of oneness with Him: the Body of Christ in the earth. As such we are destined to function in unison with His every move, totally dependent on Him.

Christ is the mind, the head: dictating function as the Father instructs, equipping us to do as He did in only doing what we see the Father do; serving His interests. Thus we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

God is the heart: first supplying the blood, in which is the life, through the movement of His Spirit that feeds and empowers us to live in Him; granting us life more abundant and full. Next He unites our spirit with His to dictate our thoughts, will, and emotions, leading us to one desire with Him.

Thus we are His body, His hands, His feet, His mouth, doing the work of service, being His representatives in the earth. Rested in the unifying force of His love, we become strong and useful…

Vessels of Mercy

All the cracks filled in with the mortar of grace, we begin to hold secure the Living Water of Jesus as He fills us up to spill us out into the earth, thus to effect the heart of mankind bringing them closer to the kingdom of God. Being vessels in the weakness of flesh, we may still spring a leak on occasion, but grace continually brings us back to restoration, and God’s understanding sustains us as He patiently works to bring us to completion.

This is us: the beloved of God in the Beloved of God. One together in Him, made whole and made holy: sanctified and set apart for His glory, shining His Light that dispels the darkness in the heart of mankind. Selah (pause and calmly think of that, letting it soak in to take hold and find its place within you).

~*~

“Now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:13-23).

And all the Children of God said…AMEN!

~*~

If you have never taken the first steps of faith through Christ, I point you to the Good News: Click on -> Here’s Hope, for that is where this journey begins.

Soon to Come

If you are in Christ with me and want more, I will be back next week after the Grand Kids leave to begin a series titled “Completing the Suffering of Christ” (Colossians 1:24). We will be looking at 1 John to discover more about our walk with Him.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 9b

Yesterday we began looking at attributes of the righteous lot found in the remainder of Psalm 37 and forming for us a good review of the majority of the study, adding some to our thought process as we go. In it we covered the attributes of 1) graciousness; went in depth on 2) the giving heart that wisely uses the provision of God; touched on 3) the assurance of heart that comes to those established by God through Christ; finding that the righteous 4) delight the heart of God by delighting in His ways, thus; 5) departing from evil in order to do good. Today we finish up the review as we cover these last verses:

“The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.The wicked spies upon the righteous and seeks to kill him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged. Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found.  Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him” (vs. 30-40).

6) The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice:

The righteous who continually seek the Lord and grow in Him are often called by Him to speak or write His word in ways that add understanding to the heart of the reader. Those righteous speak a wisdom that points to justice, instructing us in the way we should go.

All of the righteous lot are called of God to “go to a friend” and talk with them about the path they are on. We are all to bear witness of our faith and the work of God in our lives whenever opportunity presents itself. These will couple their words of truth, justice, and wisdom with love, knowing that without a heart of love, the words come across as a clanging cymbal to the ears of the listener. Whichever way we are called of God to use our wisdom, whether friend to friend or publically, we must remember to couple our witness with love.

Let’s take a look at what the word of wisdom and justice looks like by turning to two key passages that give us a clue:

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

Jesus promised that when He went away to be with the Father, He would not leave us alone, but would send the Helper, the Spirit of God charged with teaching us wisdom and righteousness and empowering us to walk it. This passage tells us that part of His role as Helper-Teacher, is to convict or convince us of sin, righteousness and judgment. He does this in two ways:

1) He reveals the sin we are practicing, He instructs us in the righteous path needed to correct our lives, and He warns us of the judgment of God against such sin should we choose to continue in our own ways, refusing the work of our transformation in the power of His Spirit. This is the work of discipline accomplished by the Spirit in the life of a wayward child of God.

2) He grants us wisdom to discern right from wrong and understand the potential consequences for our choices so we can make right decisions that keep us on the righteous path. In other words, He helps us to weigh the pros and cons of a crossroad point of choice, equips us to discern the potential outcome, and gives us wisdom to make the right decision.

When people keep coming into our lives, telling us the same thing about what we should be doing and why; we would be wise to realize that the Spirit of God may be using those who love us to convict of sin, instruct in righteousness, and warn of consequences. Remember, the Father disciplines those who are sons and daughters through Christ. It is not a disgrace to enter in to a season of discipline that removes sin from us. It is an honor that proves we are His child.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).

Here James contrasts for us the false wisdom that comes from the fleshly, the worldly, and the demonic; putting it up against the backdrop of true wisdom that comes from God’s Spirit at work in us.

False wisdom produces bitter jealousy, selfish ambition of heart, arrogance, falsehood, disorder and every evil thing. Sounds messed up, doesn’t it? God is orderly and full of peace and love. Evil dwells and rules where there is discord, disorder, and chaos. So let’s contrast the false wisdom with true wisdom, breaking it down some to explore each characteristic found there. True wisdom that is from God is:

First pure – true wisdom will be based in good, godly motives and desires that protect and produce purity.

Peaceable – true wisdom handles things in peaceful ways that most often bring peaceable results not lending to an atmosphere of chaos.

Gentle – true wisdom has strength of resolve that comes across with gentleness.

Reasonable – true wisdom knows how to reason things out so as to lead to truth and unity.

Full of mercy – true wisdom recognizes the limitations of the immature and of those without the Helper, so as to grant mercy and deal properly with those of opposition to sound judgment.

Good fruits – most of what we have covered as traits proving wisdom are on the list of the Fruit of the Spirit, thus we conclude that true wisdom produces the Fruit of the Spirit in us. But we also see that following true wisdom brings about good results.

True wisdom is also unwavering: one who has true wisdom receives with it a heart of assurance and conviction that helps them stand, firm and resolute in the course laid out.

It is without hypocrisy: because true wisdom produces the fruit of God’s character in us and leads to the paths of His choosing and the heart of His purposes, it will always line up with a flow that comes from who we are in Him, and it will stand in agreement with what we profess to believe. We will not say one thing while doing another when dictated by wisdom.

“And the SEED whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

I think “seed” should be in caps here, as scripture teaches that the “seed whose fruit is righteousness” is Jesus, the Messiah King, Lord of lords, and Saving Grace. This Seed of righteousness in us is sown in peace and produces peace, the first in the list of flavors found in the Fruit of the Spirit. One Fruit—many flavors, all restoring the image of God in us.

Thus wisdom flows from the peace of God to bring peace to us that allows us to walk in wisdom with purity, being peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. We cannot have true wisdom without first surrendering to receive the Seed of Righteousness, Jesus Christ the Savior. Why?

Because His ways are higher that our ways; His thoughts are higher that our thoughts. We can reason in the flesh and come up with wisdom that sounds good to us and is agreeable with the wisdom of others, but we cannot discern right and true motives, or discover the higher road of His purposes without His righteous wisdom.

7) The Righteous Holds God’s Law in his heart to direct the sure step.

Oh, my. Don’t ‘cha know that to those of us who possess the Seed of Righteousness—being filled with His Spirit, seeking His wisdom—His Word is precious to our hearts? We long for the Word as our bread of life and living water. We don’t just grab it, finding what looks good to us and making it our own, for use often to promote and give excuse for ungodly ways. It grabs us. And by the power of the Spirit of God at work in us, His Word is used of Him to make us His very own possession.

The passages that affect me most and have done the most to change my life forever reached up off that page and grabbed my heart of flesh, circumcising it and kneading it into His own heart, filling me with desire for their proof to be in me, and making me one with Him in belief, desire, and purpose of action. Many of them continue to grab me and revitalize my commitment.

When I read “For my DETERMINED purpose is that I may KNOW HIM…”, my heart soars anew with increased resolve to grow ever stronger in this relationship (Philippians 3:10-11, AMP).

When I recall “Set your mind and keep it set! …” I get excited and check my course to be sure my focus lines up with His (Colossians 3:1-2).

My heart often cries out with Moses, “Show me Your glory” (Exodus 33). My life has changed forever, watching for Him with “earnest expectation and hope” (Philippians 1:19-20).

My boast is forever in Him, looking to Him for my approval as I remember that “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”, for I realize that I “can do nothing apart from Christ,” but “I can do all things through Christ who is my strength” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, John 15:4-5; Philippians 4:10-13).

“Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 3:11-16).

Through Jesus, we enter the presence of God through the Grace He supplies, and hiding His word in our hearts, we find our protection from sin, being transformed into His image anew.

8) The righteous rests in the shelter of God’s protection, trusting His judgment and advocacy when assaulted by accusation.

There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. When we hide His word in our hearts, letting Him tell us who we are, heeding His instruction for life choices, receiving the assurance of His promises by faith, we are protected from the false prophet and from the lies of the enemy who would beat us down and hinder our progress of faith.

By hiding His WORD in our heart, we know that through Christ we are saved by grace through faith, being adopted into the household of God, having right of inheritance with The Son as the adopted through Christ: and knowing this we know that when we commit sin, the Father of lights then disciplines us as children (Ephesians 1-2; Hebrews 12).

As children of God who seek the Father’s pleasure, we come in under His protection where no evil can eternally harm us. And when accused, He who does not condemn us helps us to know truthfully whether we are guilty of sin—equipping us to correct that area of life; and if we are not guilty, He assures our heart and has given us an advocate in Christ who “ever lives to intercede on our behalf” (Romans 8:31-34; Hebrews 7:25).

9) The righteous waits for the Lord while keeping His way.

While waiting for God to move in our lives, defending us from assault, changing us from one degree of His glory to the next, delivering us from trouble and sorrow, we do not wait as those without hope, but we keep doing what we know to do until He changes our course. No matter the difficulty, by faith in God, forgetting what lies behind, we keep pressing forward to the goal through righteousness in Christ. Not taking our own revenge, we leave that to God and choose rather to “…overcome evil with good” (Romans 12), knowing:

10) The righteous is a person of peace because they take refuge in God:

God, through grace found in Christ, is our hiding place and our secure tower. Through Him we can have peace and walk in peace knowing that no matter what goes on in the earth, we, His children, have a posterity protected by God, an inheritance held secure in the heavens with Him.

Through His provision we have strength to face each day. Because He loves us, we do not fear facing any struggle or challenge, trusting that by the power of His Spirit, we are helped by God to face each day with His comfort in us. And because of the Christ who paid the price as propitiation (full and complete payment) for sin, bringing those who truly believe from their heart into the kingdom of God, we know we have deliverance from death through God.

There is no sin that can keep us, no trouble that can stop God’s will for us, no sword that can come against us to keep us from our appointed course, when we live the righteous life of faith in God: rested in Him, trusting Him, serving Him with a willing spirit of obedience and coming quickly to repentance when we fall.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no [filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming;] but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

“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.

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.’

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:1-17).

Tomorrow our concluding thought.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 8b

“The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming. The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, to slay those who are upright in conduct. Their sword will enter their own heart, and their bows will be broken. Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord sustains the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance. But the wicked will perish; and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish—like smoke they vanish away” (vs. 12-20).

Yesterday we covered the first of three truths about the Lord that give example to us and resource that will brighten the light through us to dispel the darkness of evil around us. That truth covered is “The Lord laughs at the wicked, for He sees his day is coming.” We discovered that the wicked one that God laughs at is not the man or woman or child deceived by sin, but the evil spirit behind it. We, too, can find laughter when evil strikes, knowing that their day is coming. Today we cover in this passage the last two truths about God that we need to adopt in brightening our reflections of His light in dark places.

Two – “The Lord sustains the righteous.”

My first thought as I read this focus for today is that the Lord provides sustenance, meeting the need of those who walk in righteousness and right standing with Him. And that is true; the Lord blesses those who seek to please Him through righteous living. It can also be concerning to us when we consider the frequency with which we fall on our faces, hurled headlong by some sin that too easily entangles us. If it is true that God sustains the righteous, knowing that His sustenance continues through grace even when we fall on a daily basis, then there must be some deeper truth to be had here, right?

We are a people called to righteousness, yet still, I know of none who are without sin, even among us called “saints” through Christ. As we said before, our greatest good is as filthy rags before our Holy God, because apart from Him, we are incapable of doing good, thus true righteousness that honors God eludes our grasp as we traverse daily the path to righteousness found in His transforming grace at work in us.

Transformation can take place immediately in our lives, and I know some in whom that has happened, but it more often is a process over a lifetime, and too often we can find ourselves falling back into old ways when we least expect it. Paul, speaking of the people of the true circumcision in Christ, says:

“And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), ‘Let us do evil that good may come’? Their condemnation is just. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one’” (Romans 3:8-12).

We are told in John 15 that we can do NOTHING apart from Christ. That includes the practice of our righteousness. We are completely dependent upon the work of God in us through the sacrificial gift of Christ. Our light shines brightest in the earth when we stand in the light of His righteousness reflecting through our lives.

I love the exclamation of Paul as he debates his own struggle with sin found in Romans 7:14-25. Proclaiming his desire, Paul cries out, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do(in following the Spirit of God), but I am doing the very thing I hate (following the dictates of the flesh)” (thoughts added by author). Desire to do right in God’s eyes is often hindered by fleshly indulgences.

I struggle with this as did Paul, and as I am sure do you in some area of life. Right now I am coming against an addictive level sweet tooth, fighting for my freedom from that bondage. Things go well most days, then, wham! That tooth will flare up and, if I am not mindful to heed the Spirit’s lead in dealing with it, the next thing I know I am hurling headlong into a sweets-frenzy. In those times, like Paul, I cry, “O unhappy and pitiable and wretched (wo)man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? (AMP)” Then God leads me to remember with him, “O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!”

Concluding His discourse, Paul interjects, “So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” We are free from the eternal grasp of sin’s death through Christ, and as we stand firm with Him in this life we are able to walk away from it. But we must continually be mindful of the flesh and, taking care to lay aside every encumbrance, we must stand firm against the sin which so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1).

What is God’s instruction to us when we are hurled headlong into a stumbling fall to sin? We, who are in Christ, are free from condemnation, knowing that through Christ, “When (we) fall, we will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds (our) hand” (Psalm 37:24). Our God promises that He is able to make His servant stand (Romans 14:4). We are a work in progress, yes; “continually being perfected,” and during this process and all through eternity, the righteousness of Christ is imputed or credited to us, covering us even while He works transformation in us (Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26, 4:5; 1 Corinthians 1:30). When God looks at us, He sees the Righteousness of Christ all over us.

Realizing these truths will keep us from falling away in discouragement when stumbling comes to make us feel unworthy. We are unworthy: apart from Christ. So just get that settled now, and praise God for sustaining our righteousness through the gift of grace He provided through the sacrificial gift of God found the in Lamb who hung on the cross.

Three – The Lord knows the days of the blameless and their inheritance will be forever:

God knows the days of the wicked and laughs with joy that evil will be put away from influencing His creation on that day. And I believe He smiles with satisfaction over all who enter into His rest through their relationship with Him in Christ, God’s provision for our sanctification. Those who are in Christ, saints—yea, though they occasionally fall to sin—are covered with His blood sacrifice for all eternity.

Remember the “O thank God,” of Paul as he considered the struggle in his flesh even as strong as he was in Christ? The next verse in Romans 8:1, Paul resounds, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And for those who remain in Christ, this remains their truth forever, their inheritance with Christ assured.

So does that mean we can profess faith in Christ and carry on our lives as always? Remember what we covered earlier, the truth of our faith will be seen in the transformation of our lives that bears the fruit of the Spirit of God into the earth.

As many have been heard to say, “God loves us where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there.” If there is no change in our lives, no work of the Spirit through transformation, then there most likely was no sincere commitment to God through Christ. One sign that we are His is the hand of His discipline in our lives, working transformation in our person.

“…It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. …” (Hebrews 12).

True children of God through Christ are children forever, their eternity and their inheritance secure. There is no one, not even we ourselves, who can take us out of the hand of God and remove His love from us when we are in sincere relationship with Him through Christ. To think that every time we stumble as we struggle with sin, we somehow fall anew into condemnation and must be saved again, is to deny the power of God through the finished work of Christ. It is to think the words of Jesus a lie as He breathed His last and said, “It is finished!” Death and sin were defeated at the cross for all who will believe and enter into this vital, life changing, transforming relationship with Him.

So laugh with God in knowing the day is nearing when wickedness can no longer influence our lives; smile with Him in knowing that He sustains our righteous stance in Christ; and bow to Him as a son, rejoicing that He cares for you to much to leave you in the condition in which He found you. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 8a

“The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming. The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, to slay those who are upright in conduct. Their sword will enter their own heart, and their bows will be broken. Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord sustains the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance. But the wicked will perish; and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish—like smoke they vanish away” (vs. 12-20).

From our passage today, I see three truths about the Lord that give example to us and resource that will brighten the light through us to dispel the darkness of evil around us. Today we begin to add thought of these to our arsenal and use them to shine through the reflective mirror of our lives: 1) The Lord laughs at (the wicked), for He sees his day is coming. 2) the Lord sustains the righteous. And 3) The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever.

One – “The Lord laughs at the wicked, for He sees his day is coming.”

This can be difficult to comprehend, to laugh at the wicked; so let us see if I can direct us to some truth to help understanding.

First, though we look at mankind, what they do and say, calling them evil; God looks at the heart and the source of the evil. I believe the “wicked” God laughs at is Satan and his demonic forces. Evil is birthed through the satanic and influenced in the ungodly heart that is separated from Him who sustains righteousness. God laughs at the ungodly source of wickedness.

I believe He weeps over those who fall to its grasp, as seen in the weeping of Christ over the deceived people of Israel. When God laughs, He is laughing in the realm of the spiritual battle, and in likeness to Him, we can as well. Some current examples:

A missionary-friend in a land hostile to Christians walks up an alley toward home, coming from the market. As he does, he hears what is becoming the familiar sound of insults and cursing assaulting his ears. Some teens have parked for weeks now on the corner, assaulting him and others living in the area. This time as he presses toward home, he feels the first sting of a barrage of stones. He turns to face them, anger and fear rising. Just as he is about to defend himself, he hears the familiar, gentle voice of God say, “Laugh.”

At first he questions such a tactic, but God repeats the instruction more insistently. My friend begins to laugh, and God takes over, bringing up the biggest belly-laugh he has ever experienced. Slowly the stoning ceases and he turns to continue the trek home, leaving the teens standing with stunned faces. To my knowledge, they have not been seen in the neighborhood again.

Another friend tells me of their friend who was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. Instructed of God, he gets the funniest movies and shows he can find. Locking himself away with God day after day, he laughs his way to God’s healing.

Laughter, pouring froth from a joyful heart is good like a medicine, healing the soul (Proverbs 17:22). And apparently it is an excellent sword in the hand of our Holy God. He does not fear the wicked, for He knows their days are numbered.

Ours is to reach the deceived with His light, drawing them into the fold where we can, and to laugh with God when assaulted by evil, knowing the demise of all wickedness is coming. We do not have to doubt ourselves or give way to a life of fear when assaulted when we remember the true source of evil, and that God has won the war, so the day of evil’s end draws near. Because of Christ, we can laugh with God and carry on with our life of faith in Him.

Those given over to evil in our midst will either turn to God with us, or they will face the consequence with the father of evil. I do not believe God ever laughs at the deceived heart of mankind. His desire is that none should perish, but all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). While the wicked of heart choose to remain in their wickedness, when their darkness hits our lives to bring fear and hardship, laugh with God, not at them, but in knowing the day of the demise of wickedness is coming, and indeed has already come. Though wickedness may rob our life, cutting it short, it cannot destroy our eternity in Christ who has won the war. So laugh and be filled with His rejoicing in victory over evil.

In Luke 21, Jesus warns of the signs revealing that the end of ages is near. He tells us that evil will increase in the earth, and He instructs us, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (vs. 28).

In Christ, when evil assaults us, we are to straighten up our life and walk with Him. God only allows evil to touch us for two reasons: to work transformation into His likeness within our deceived heart, or to work His glory through our response to the wicked schemes of evil. We are not to turn to evil ways in dealing with wickedness, nor are we to walk in the wisdom of the flesh, the world, and the demonic. Such will only lead to furthering evil. Instead we must realize that evil is overcome by good, and allow God to respond through us as works His purpose in overcoming the evil (Romans 12).

Also we must straighten up our backs that are bowed low under the load of discouragement and fear’s frustration. With hope in Him, we are equipped to stand tall with faith and hope in Him and His victory. We are called to be His light, letting His river of life flow through us to produce good and work His will in drawing in as many as will see and turn from their wicked ways to follow Him with us. Satan will seek to slow our service of faith in God by sending evil against us. We cannot draw others to the hope that we have if we let evil bow our backs through vengeful acts, fear, trembling, and the weighed down spirit within us.

Thus we are to lift up our heads when evil comes, walking with head held high, our confidence in God, knowing that nothing can truly harm us if we prove zealous for what is good. God alone is good, and He will lead us. So the godly choose life, believing with hope in God, and press forward to the goal of fulfilling His purpose and plan despite the wicked schemes that assault us (1 Peter 3:13; Mark 10:18)

Does that mean we will never defend ourselves and stand up to fight against evil? No. Jesus grabbed a whip and fought to free the temple from evil misuse. Through Christ we are now the Temple of God. There are times in life when freedom from the evil forces can only come through war. God often calls His people to fight for possession of the land.

Though the war for eternity is won, we are in the midst of a guerrilla war, people. Every day the battle going on between the forces of good with God and those of evil makes itself known to us through the actions of wickedness in the earth. The overall victory is won in Christ, but guerrilla warfare continues as the satanic influences in the earth seek to destroy the progress of God in building His kingdom. And we, His people, are called and equipped to possess the land by fighting the good fight of faith.

If Jesus won the big war, why does God allow evil to continue? I believe the answer is twofold:

1) Because choice still exists in the earth – He wants people to want Him and the only way for that to happen is if they have freewill choice between good (Him) and evil (Satan). Thus God continues to allow evil to give us choice. And part of that choice as the people of God is to answer; will we quake in fear of evil He allows, or laugh with Him in faith that the days of evil are numbered?

2) Because the days of wickedness are not complete – In scripture we see where God did not allow Abraham to enter in immediately to take the Promised Land because the days of its wickedness were incomplete (Genesis 15:12-15). Until no more could be reached by His goodness, He continued to allow the evil so those who would choose it could turn to the good. As long as there is hope for one to turn to the Good, evil will continue to be allowed to give the choice. The stronger evil gets in the earth, revealing fewer turning to choose good, the closer the day of the demise of the wicked. The closer we get to the day of Christ’s return, the closer the completion of their days draws near.

I have shed many a tear over wickedness, as have you. Crying with the Spirit for two weeks prior, not know why, I sat glued to the news for days following the Oklahoma City bombing. Praying with God for two years over what He told my heart would be destruction striking from New York City to Washington DC, likened to the destruction of an earthquake, I cried with the nation and, indeed, the world, as those towers fell and the pentagon was in flames. I cry with Israel and other nations when struck by terrorist bombs. I have cried with children and grandchildren struck by the sexual sin of perverted men. I cry as I write this with the people of Aurora, CO, in the aftermath of a deranged man’s murderous rampage in a packed theater.

In our day, when we see so much evil going on around us, though it breaks our heart, yet with thought on the eternal victory of God, we can rejoice and be glad, walking forward in confidence that He is God, and the day is coming when evil will resound no more. There is no greater victory than to refuse to allow evil to rob us of joy and rejoicing in Christ, refusing to let go of faith to believe, even when experience seems to say ‘All is lost.’ We laugh in the face of evil, believing that the Lord sustains the righteous. See you tomorrow.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 7b

“For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (vs. 9-11).

“…But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.”

Yesterday we discussed the need to grow in patience to wait upon the Lord. Taking another look at our passage, we see that waiting is an act of humility.

It takes humility to sit and wait on the timing of another, especially when it is God and we can’t fully discern what He is doing. To know His call in our lives and trust His timing on things, when we think we are ready to go, challenges our humility, forcing us to the choice of falling away to our own path, or growing strong in the bearing of the fruit of humble patience in our lives. Choosing humble-patience in God produces assurance of our “inheriting the land”—accomplishing the goals and plans of God for us, and leading to our abundant prosperity.

God’s word has a lot to say about the humble, and Jesus, again, provides the example of true humility for us.

Jesus waited 30 years before coming into God’s timing for His ministry and the building up of disciples to carry on the work. We know He was anxious to get going because, when He was but 12 years old, His parents ran back to Jerusalem in a panic, finding Him busy about His Father’s business in the temple. And He was believed to be 33 years old before He saw the plan and purpose of God brought to completion through His willing sacrifice and resurrection power. For He who is the King of kings to wait so long, humbling Himself before His earthly-parents and others of authority in His world, very-God in the body of a child being taught of man; His wait required humility, the cornerstone of patience.

I also have the privilege of having my husband as a visible example of humility at work. For several years I watched my Choleric, organized, perfectionistic husband work under the authority of a Phlegmatic, laid back, disorganized, Sanguine. But my sweet, patient, humble man would fold his arms, taking a relaxed, hands-off stance, and sitting back, he would wait until the boss was ready to go, having just enough Phlegmatic personality to calm his get it done temperament.

Through these examples, I see that humility is an important trait to develop if we are to wait well.

We have talked some about humility in Parts 4 and 4Aa of this study when we covered the roll of the Bondservant, who humbles himself through surrender to his Master, going from temporary and unwilling slave, to eternal and willing bond-service, having the humble mind of Christ. Seeing that humility is vital to our ability to wait upon the Lord, let’s see what more we can learn from scripture about those of humble heart.

†   “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way” (Psalm 25:9),

Humility is vital to our ability to learn, grow strong in, and know God’s ways. And remember, it is through knowing His ways that we truly come to know Him. Therefore it is the humble in heart that will truly grow to know God intimately and personally.

†   “The humble have seen it (the salvation of the Lord) and are glad; you who seek God, let your heart revive” (Psalm 69:32 – vs. 29).

The humble who seek the Lord will see His salvation and find their heart revived. It takes humility to seek the Lord first in all things, with wholehearted faith in Him. But as we do so, we will find the reward of His presence and work in our lives. Is your heart weary, your light dull? Revival comes to the humble who seek the Lord in earnest, and finding Him faithful, see the darkness dispelled by His light revived and made new within.

†   “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).

It takes wisdom to live a good life, knowing when and how and to whom to humble oneself. Being humble before God requires us to know when to bow to His authority in any given situation or to His authority found in the high position of other beings. Wisdom also knows when to bow to His authority by standing firm with His authority in us against another. Wisdom is promised to the humble of heart.

The meekness of humility is not wimpy. It is surrender to authority: surrendering first to God’s authority as God, then recognizing the authority of others ordained by God; and, being surrendered to God, taking up His authority when He calls us to stand against that which is not of His choosing. Humility requires much strength of character. Humility is always that of bowing first to God; then knowing when to bow to the authority of others, we choose when to surrender and when to stand firm; both requiring strength of character in trusting God.

†   “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

Do we really honor God as God in our lives, or do we take for granted His lovingkindness and grace? When His word convicts us of sin, do we humble ourselves through contrition of spirit, trembling at His word, or give half-hearted thought to it and go on our way unscathed: without true and sincere repentance? This, by the way, is the heart of hypocrisy: saying we walk with God while failing to receive His word implanted by surrendering to His will with our all. Lack of humility treats God and His word as commonplace.

Look at the Amplified version of Isaiah 66:1-4:

“THUS SAYS the Lord: Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house would you build for Me? And what kind can be My resting-place? For all these things My hand has made, and so all these things have come into being by and for Me, says the Lord. But this is the man to whom I will look and have regard: he who is humble and of a broken or wounded spirit, and who trembles at My word and reveres My commands. The acts of the hypocrite’s worship are as abominable to God as if they were offered to idols. He who kills an ox then will be as guilty as if he slew and sacrificed a man; he who sacrifices a lamb or a kid, as if he broke a dog’s neck and sacrificed him; he who offers a cereal offering, as if he offered swine’s blood; he who burns incense to God, as if he blessed an idol. Such people have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations; so I also will choose their delusions and mockings, their calamities and afflictions, and I will bring their fears upon them—because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not listen or obey. But they did what was evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight.”

Lack of sincere obedience, true humility, honest contrition, and wholehearted earnestness toward God as God fails to delight the heart of God because it is hypocrisy. He will not listen to nor heed the plea of those of us who fall short in this practice of humility through our practice of hypocritical, feigned obedience. We want our nation to revive and be healed? It begins with “me”, knowing, “…to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

†   Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger. …I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the LORD” (Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12).

The humble of heart know God as their refuge in time of trouble. They are not overcome by fear, nor do they fall in the way of the “terrible” and imagined, because they have found The Secret Place of God as Shelter, Shield, and Buckler (Psalm 91).

As I think on this with my recent struggle in Complicated Grief Disorder and Social Anxiety nearing agoraphobia, I realize that fear is sourced in pride. We fear that which we feel we cannot stand against or control. Fear says, “If I cannot stand against it to protect myself, how can God protect me?” Fear refuses to surrender in faith to God and His will and way for us, whatever that may be.

Fear is self-centered. Faith is God-centered, trusting God’s love to be for us and not against us. His perfect love, trusted by faith and flowing to and through us, casts out fear. Humility bows when “I cannot” turns to acknowledge “but God…”: realizing that “Nothing shall be impossible with God, Who can.” Through trusting Him even when fearsome things happen or may happen, with humility we deny fear’s grip on our lives and trust God’s love which is always for our good and not harm, to give us a hope and a future that honors Him. Through faith in Him, we accomplish His purpose in the earth, living with Him in the eternal.

†   “…who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:21).

Humility is required for transformation to take place. Wondering why your life is not being transformed according to God’s promise? Look to see where pride, arrogance, and stubborn obstinance still holds its grip.

†   “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.’ …Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:6, 10).

True greatness comes most to those who are truly humble-putty in the hand of their God. Humility trusts God to make us sufficient for His use. Humility believes God. Humility knows that the place in which God’s will takes us is the best and safest place we can possibly enter into.

True humility waits for the Lord with patience for the path ahead, while keeping His way where we are.

The humble walk with God as Enoch did, and he was not, for God took Him to be with Him desiring his presence with Him. The humble believe God as Abraham did, and it was counted to him as righteousness. The humble are people after God’s own heart as David was, and God called him “the friend of God” with Moses. Humility exalts us to enter into the presence of God, putting us in direct contact with His light, equipping us to be His reflection in the earth, dispelling darkness on our way with unity in Him. Thus, the humble, who wait patiently upon the Lord, will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity, being exalted to know God and His ways for all eternity.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 7a

“For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (vs. 9-11).

One of the hardest things to do is to wait. Waiting on anyone or anything will test the quality and character of any person. And waiting on the Lord can be the most difficult of all waiting experiences. Why?

Perhaps it is because we can’t always discern His presence and His activity when we are waiting anxiously for Him. And the more desperate the need, the harder it is to wait with patience, especially when waiting in what is absolutely and only a HIMpossible situation.

But waiting is required of light, do you realize that? If we are His light, requiring His reflection in order to shine, moving forward without Him is to go forth into the outer darkness. Even electric lights must wait for a current to spark the light. Thus we are as His lights, dependent on Him if we are to shine, stuck in utter darkness without Him. So we must learn the patient art of waiting upon the Lord.

There is a scripture I think of that speaks to me about my waiting times. We already looked once at this passage, but let us return again to see what more can be gleaned from Colossians 3. I suggest you reread verses 1-17 in its entirety. I will cover it here a piece at a time using the Amplified version and beginning with verse 10—removing [ ] and ( ) for easier reading:

Clothe “yourselves with the new spiritual self, which is ever in the process of being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image, the likeness of Him Who created it.”

There is nothing that takes longer for us to see accomplished than our renewal, the rebirthing of His image in us. Our clothing in the new self takes the remainder of our lives, only to be completed when we see Him face to face. And waiting upon the Lord is greatly helped as we realize that every challenge we face in life, every opportunity given has at its core the purpose of completing His work in us. That work of God in us includes ever increasing growth in the following areas – skipping to verse 12:

“Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones: His own picked representatives, who are purified and holy and well-beloved by God Himself…” (vs. 12a).

I hope you took the time to read and understand the blog “Be Parhelia”. It speaks of us being the reflection of His light in us, and as we reflect His light, it reaches to others, bouncing off them to reflect out to still more, making the light of God in His people brilliant indeed.

We represent Him in the earth. Remembering our role as His ambassador-representatives, chosen by Him to be where we are as His light where we live, will help us to wait upon Him and His light to be shown forth in our situations. We do this best…

“… by putting on behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, and patience – which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper” (vs. 12b).

Each of these attributes greatly aids our waiting time. You may even have thought of a situation or several of them that will be helped as you put on these characteristics of God’s nature.

The thing in this list that stands out to me most to be proof of successful waiting is the tireless, long-suffering patience that empowers our wait to be done “with good temper.” I see this not only to mean that we wait without getting angry, huffy, or going off halfcocked to do our own thing in trying to get the goal met as we see it. I see this “good temper” to also mean “of good temperament.”

One definition of temperament is “The manner of thinking, behaving, or reacting characteristic of a specific person.” To withstand the wait with good temperament says that we do not lose our godly character in the wait by giving ourselves over to fleshly tendencies. Instead we continue to…

“Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference, a grievance or a complaint against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive. And above all these put on love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony” (vs. 13-14).

In times of waiting for God to work, especially in situations that involve other people, I have learned the value of looking at passages of scripture that give us a picture of love and how it behaves in any given situation, especially where forgiveness is needing to be practiced: passages such as 1 Corinthians 13.

As I look over that passage, often in many translations of scripture for added understanding, I seek the Lord for how I am to practice my love walk in the wait-time brought to a difficult situation. To not keep a running tally of insults has often saved me from falling away from the character and nature of God while waiting on the hand of God to move.

Practicing gentleness, forbearance, grace, forgiveness and love as God would give it forms the bonds that are not easily broken: both between He and I, and between me and others. As I practice waiting with good temper, it is important to…

“Let the peace and soul harmony which comes from Christ rule, act as umpire continually in your hearts deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state to which, as members of Christ’s one body you were also called to live…” (Vs. 15).

Peace with God, following His peace in our decisions, choices, and paths for life, will lead us to fulfill His purpose in every situation we face. If there is not peace that passes understanding coming to us from the very heart of God pointing us in The Way, it is best to remain in wait mode with the peaceful heart of knowing God is doing a great work.

Realize that His peace will be evident even in quaking boots of fleshly fear. God is able to make His peace known to us despite fear. The presence of fear does not mean the absence of peace; it only means we have a choice to make: which will we follow? Fear is a common tool of the enemy of God to stop the good of God from working in and through us. It is important to learn to distinguish ungodly fear by learning to know and walk in the peace that God supplies. God’s peace in us extinguishes fear, keeping us walking in paths of peace with God and protecting us from running paths of fear and folly.

“… And be thankful, appreciative, giving praise to God always” (Vs. 15).

Gratitude to God is vital in any wait. Fretting is best averted by keeping focus on the things of God that bring us to a grateful heart. When we can look with gratitude at the things God is doing and has accomplished in our lives, faith is increased and we are equipped by it to wait anew to see what He will do, waiting with earnest expectation and hope in Him.

“Let the word spoken by Christ, the Messiah, have its home in your hearts and minds and dwell in you in all its richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and with wisdom in spiritual things, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with His grace in your hearts” (Vs. 16).

There is nothing that helps my heart to enter into His peace and wait for His hand with good temperament more than His word. Studying the scriptures to find His instruction to my heart in the time of my need feeds me His instruction and His promises that lead me through the valleys of life and bring me to the mountain top of God’s presence. Sharing with others of God’s people through friendship-camaraderie and the sharing of compassions He has given us brings companionship to me in the wait—and this sharing makes us to be His Parhelia, reflecting the brilliance of His glory. The fellowship of God’s people and the public sharing of scripture give further opportunity for God to speak into my situation, helping me to wait with Him in faith with hope.

“And whatever you do, no matter what it is in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in dependence upon His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him” (vs. 17).

Dependence upon the Lord Jesus at work in me and praise to God the Father through Him, in my roll of being Christ’s representative in the earth adds strength to me in the wait, equipping me to carry on with life while waiting. It is my “…reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship…” when I can wait on the Lord in this way (back to Romans 12:1-2).

Waiting upon the Lord is not always easy, but it is necessary that we do so in the right way if we want to traverse this life in the strength God supplies, without being overcome by any evil. Thus, tomorrow we continue to look at how we are to wait upon the Lord as His lights that dispel the dark of night.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 6

“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” (vs. 7-8).

Did you know that we cannot enter into true, restorative rest and fret at the same time? It is impossible. To understand this fact, we must understand what God considers as true rest, which is the call of this passage. Any command we are given must be viewed from His understanding and meaning or we will fall short. So let us begin our journey to find the “rest” God speaks of here. Again, I am sure this will just scratch the surface, but it will be a good beginning point for our growth in true rest:

~*~ Rest Truth 1 ~*~

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said,

‘Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.’

“For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12-19).

When we fret, we are not living by faith. Lack of faith, if there are degrees of sin, is probably the most intolerable sin God sees in our lives every day. Without faith it is impossible ~ IMPOSSIBLE! ~ to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Fretting destroys faith, hinders obedience, even leading us to deliberate sin pouring out of our anxious lives, and thereby keeps us from rest. Rest: trusting, believing rest that is godly, flows out of a life of faith that trusts Him fully despite the situations of life, denies fretting, and, trusting His hand in our lives, it removes anxiety from us.

~*~*~ Rest Truth 2 ~*~*~

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3).

This one seems easy to understand, doesn’t it? We all need time to rest from our work and the labors of life, and God not only provides for our every need, but He always sets the example for us, for He never demands of us that which is not His own practice.

Rest is vital to us, and God, knowing this, commanded for us a day of Sabbath rest. That day has traditionally been on the day that we come together to worship God as a body, whether our religious organization chooses that to be Saturday, the last day of the week; or Sunday, the day believed to be the one in which Jesus arose and walked out of the tomb, destroying death’s hold on those who are His.

I don’t know if you have noticed it, but I have long noticed that in the churches I attend, the day of worship is anything but restful. Church life is often too busy to rest, as all are called to work in church related responsibilities. Couple that with family demands, it being the only day the housework can be done in our workaholic society, etc., and rest is far from us. So I have long had Monday as my Sabbath, a day when I draw apart from the hustle and bustle of normal life to seek the Father and rest myself in Him. God’s design is an entire day of Sabbatical. Whatever time it is for us, whether an entire day, or smidgeons of time throughout the week, we are called to enter in to the Sabbath with Him.

Now according to our understanding, God is not one who gets tired, so I asked Him once why He rested and what He did that brought rest to Him. Can you see God, sitting under a tree, chewing on a blade of grass, smiling? Can you envision that with me? What was He doing that applies to us for the Sabbath rest we are called to?

Here is what He revealed to my heart as I saw Him sitting under that tree. He looked back over all the previous week and rejoiced in all that was accomplished, enjoying the product of His hands.

How much time do we give on the Sabbath to looking back over all the good accomplished over the previous week, months, years, and rejoice in the Lord for His bounty? There is rest in the glory of God acknowledged. Too often, however, as we look back, our mind settles on the negatives and we turn to fretting. So what are we to do when we find ourselves in those instances?

Surrender it. Turn it all over to Him.

Did You realize that in creation, there was a negative that God put in place that could have brought Him to fretting? But I do not see God fretting, do you? He had a purpose in the negative, and it would bring glory. He knew this, so He rested without fretting. What was that negative?

“Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day” (Genesis 1:6-8).

Note that this is the only day in all of creation that the passage does not include, “and God saw that it was good.” Why? I believe it is because the expanse reminded Him that there would come a time when separation would come between Him and us, created in His image, and for whose pleasure He created all this glory. So we see that even God most likely looked back and saw that there was a negative there to mar the glory, but His focus was on all that was good, and in the end He looked at the full tapestry of His created work and of it all, including the expanse, we are told, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God does not fret over the flaws found in the product of His hands, knowing that every flaw He allows in His creation has a purpose and it all will work together to fulfill the purpose. Instead He focuses on the good and the flow that will lead to the end product and His ultimate glory.

When we look back and see negatives, it brings with it all too often, a look toward the week, months, years ahead, and the negative we must deal with. I am sure that as God looked over all His creation, He was reminded again of what was coming to His creation. But He knew that Jesus was not Plan B. He was always Plan A. God had a plan and was doing a good work.

We enter His rest with Him when fretting threatens to enter to destroy, and we meet it with faith that God has a plan and He is doing a good work. We will see it if we faint not in the way, but instead keep waiting for the Lord with earnest expectation and hope of glory.

Get excited when difficulty comes! It brings with it the assurance of opportunity to see what the Lord will do. This is where fretting turns into a grateful heart toward our Loving Lord, Who is forever for us and not against us.

~*~*~*~ Rest Truth 3 ~*~*~*~

For this final insight on trusting, believing rest that is godly, we return to yesterday’s passage:

“‘See, You say to me, “Bring up this people!” But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, “I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ …” (Exodus 33:12-17).

Our greatest rest comes as we know and discern and walk in the presence of the Lord our God, knowing Him and trusting His work in our midst.

Can you hear the sigh of Moses after being told that God was not going into the Promised Land with this obstinate people, when God proclaimed, “Okay, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Whew.

Do you think God knew that as weary as He was with the people, it was unbearable to Moses for sure, and he was exhausted? Moses learned total reliance upon God for the power and ability to do all he was called to. The thought of being without Him had to be unbearable. Like with Moses, just to know with belief that God is with us and in us brings us to rest. Thus, if we have any hope of entering into His rest, we must learn to say with David:

“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay.  You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence” (Acts 2:25-28).

We can face any “Goliath” in life when we trust the Presence of Holy God with us.

Rest in the Lord, beloved, and wait patiently for Him. In so doing, know also that you are the apple of His eye; He is always looking after you for your good, and not for harm, to give you a hope and a future. He will never, no never, leave nor forsake you. So take your rest, beloved, and be at peace.

(See John 6:37 and Hebrews 13:5, especially in the Amplified version of scripture.)

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 5b

Yesterday we looked at the fact that to “commit our way to the Lord,” we best accomplish this when we fallow the instruction of Romans 12 in surrendering all the we are, body, soul, and spirit; life, limb, and faculties, to God for His use. In so doing, we come into unity with God, who then is able to direct our paths and use our every gift, talent, ability, strength, weakness, power and authority, putting all that He is and His power into the mix to accomplish His purposes. Today we look again at the same passage in Psalm 37:

“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” (vs. 5-6).

Commit your way. God keeps bringing a thought to mind with this word, “way”, from another passage in which He showed me something long ago that I find interesting, and that fits our focus here. Turn with me to Exodus 33:

In Exodus 33, God is dealing with His wayward people: people He not only delivered from the hands of Egypt, but He brought them out with the bounty of Egypt’s wealth: gold jewelry, gold décor and utensils, jewels galore of every kind. Even still, when Moses was long on the mountain of God, the people decided he must be dead or never planning to return, so they chose to make a new god out of the golden bounty God caused their enemy to hand over to their possession, so they worshipped before a golden calf and did unspeakable things in honoring it over the One True God who loved and saved them, sinning against their God.

Now we need to realize something here: it did not take the forty days that Moses was on the mountain with God for them to become convinced he was never returning. It took time to prepare for melting the gold down; time to make the mold; and time for that graven image to cool so they could bow before it. We too easily give up on God when He is about to bless us beyond measure.

At the beginning of chapter 33, as part of their punishment, God told them to take the jewels from their ears as reminder of their sin. Then He told Moses the unthinkable: that Moses was to lead the people in to possess the land of Promise, but He would not accompany such an obstinate people. He would send an angel in with them, but He, Himself, would not be going with them.

This put Moses on His knees before the Lord, and Joshua with him. After leaving the tent of meeting, Joshua still on his knees before God, Moses told the Lord:

“‘See, You say to me, “Bring up this people!” But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, “I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me KNOW YOUR WAYS THAT I MAY KNOW YOU, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’

“Then he said to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.’”

How did Moses say that he could come to know God? By knowing His ways. And what did He say would distinguish them from other people? The presence of God with them.

My husband knows me so well, it amazes me. He is seldom surprised by how my day has gone, because he knows me, how I function, how I think, the things that wear me down, and how to build me up. He knows my ways, therefore he knows and understands me better than any other human on earth.

My closest friends that stand by me through thick and thin are those who know my ways. And we know God best when we learn His ways. Why is that? Because God is as He does as He is. There is no hypocrisy in God. Who He is dictates His thoughts, His actions and His person.

I believe that when God says for us to commit our way to Him, He is saying for us to trust Him enough to be real with Him. And not only trust Him enough to be real with Him, but also to trust Him enough to commit our ways of being and doing to Him for His transforming power.

He wants more than just a Master to slave relationship. He wants the love relationship of Beloved Master to bondslave. He wants more than just the Beloved Master to bondslave relationship. He wants a Father to child relationship. He wants more than a Father to child relationship. He wants the intimacy of Ishi (My Husband) to wife relationship (Hosea 2:16). He wants more than the Husband and wife relationship we picture from our limited experience of it with our mates or our parents’ marriage. He wants the Two to become One Flesh with Him in Christ.

God wants to transform us to the design intended from the beginning. We were intended to walk in His image, having a relationship of unity with Him. Committing our way to Him means trusting Him as we are, while also knowing that He will lovingly transform us to better than we could ever dream, and in that transformation process, He wants to bring us to greater intimacy with Him than we ever deemed possible.

What a beautiful picture, to so know God’s ways, all that He is, that we call Him by name with intimacy. And to be so known by God that He calls us by name in an intimate love relationship that makes us one with Him.

“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” (vs. 5-6).

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 5a

As God’s people in the earth, we dispel the dark of evil by being His lights. This is accomplished in us as we “trust in the Lord and do good,” knowing that He alone is good, and only with His goodness at work in us can we do good that He can count as such. Also we are light as we “delight ourselves in the Lord,” knowing that our delight in Him is best accomplished as we seek Him through the Mind of Christ that instructs us, granting us the heart of God, the character of God, and His desires of heart that He can give to us. Pressing forward in our study of Psalm 37 we find:

“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” (vs. 5-6).

“Commit your way to the Lord.” Too often what we tend to do is make a plan and ask God to bless it. Is that what this call means? Can we choose the paths we want to walk and expect God to make us successful in it? Then there is the understanding I have long had since learning the planning, then committing is not the way to go. That is that we seek the Lord for the plans we are to make, only following His lead, seeking His blessing from the beginning of our planning session to its fulfillment. But God took me to something even more than that.

As I sought the Lords counsel in where to go with this portion of our study, He called me to Romans 12:

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).

Could that be it? Commit your way to the Lord by presenting your body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, thus worshiping Him with our lives. Commit your body to the Lord by refusing to be conformed to this world order; instead letting Him transform us through the renewing of our mind so that we may know and approve His will, proving it to be good and acceptable and perfect as we walk it out with right mindset, motives and attitudes. Kind of removes the need of concern about whether the plan or the commitment of the plan comes first if we are committing all that we are to Him to start with, doesn’t it?

Verse 1 in the Amplified version adds the following to our understanding: “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a DECISIVE DEDICATION OF YOUR BODIES, presenting all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted, consecrated, and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable, rational, and intelligent service and spiritual worship.”

We are to set our minds and keep them set, making a once and for all decisive dedication of our bodies to Him. Here the Amplified adds that we are to “present all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted, and consecrated to God,” for this is well pleasing to Him.

Let’s break that down a bit: this is speaking to each individual in the body of Christ, each called to present the individual “members” of their personal body to God. I believe this is saying that all the parts and pieces that make up the physical housing called “my body” are to be committed to God. My heart, my lungs; my mind, my thoughts; my hands, my feet; my arms, my legs; my mouth, my ears, my eyes; all are His for His use. And if I am committing my members to Him day by day, He will direct my path for how they are to function for His use.

As we surrender our bodily members to God for His use, so we surrender our faculties. To discover the full meaning here, let’s look at part of the definition of faculty:

1. one of the inherent powers of the mind or body, such as reason, memory, sight, or hearing

Our thoughts, our emotions, our senses, all are to be surrendered to God for His use.

2. any ability or power, whether acquired or inherent

No matter how strong a person we may be in the physical, it is nothing compared to what it can be when surrendered to God. Any natural gifting is only made stronger when committed to Him for His use.

3. a conferred power or right

Any power, authority, or perceived right we think we have in this life is only partial and impotent until it is sanctified to Him for His use.

So we see that all that we are, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually must belong to Him for His use. Everything we do, every talent, gift or ability; all power or authority we are entrusted with in the earth, we are to give over to Him for His use. And the “rights” that we think we have truly belong to Him alone. When we commit our way to Him, He will accomplish in and through us all that concerns us. And in so doing, “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.”

But that is not all! See you tomorrow for more on this passage.

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4D

This is the final excerpt of our study of the mind of Christ and its dictates that bring us to the heart of God and right desires that He can respond to affirmatively. If these things live in us and are growing, we can know that we are in Him and He is in us. But this is only the beginning of the journey as we continue to grow in understanding the mind of Christ in us. Following this excerpt, God will continue to reveal to you what the mind of Christ looks like in the life of God’s children.

Continuing as we consider our passage in Colossians 3:

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a HEART of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:12-17, NASB).

Remember in the beginning of our discussion in considering the mind of Christ within us, we found that, like in our own body, the mind of Christ in us sends signals to the heart telling it how to function, and the heart pumps that food to the our mind, giving it needed nourishment for proper function as it dictates and directs all bodily functions. The heart nourishes the body as a whole and the mind dictates function. So it is with the mind of Christ in us. God’s heart feeds Christ the good He wants us to possess and walk out. The mind of Christ teaches our hearts, giving to us the very heart of God with the ability to be as He is. The heart of God then nourishes every part of our being, bringing us into the new life He has for us. And the mind of Christ dictates, instructing us in how to live that life. This passage tells us some of the attributes of the heart of God that the mind of Christ imparts to us. Breaking it down, we discover:

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a HEART of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience….” These are aspects of the fruit of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5. The mind of Christ, producing the heart of God in us, grows from us the fruit of Life in God; the godly characteristics that prove us to be in Him, sealed by the Spirit in relationship to Him. We are called of Him to put these on and wear them as our outer garment, revealing our inner beauty. We still have “choice” in Christ: will we follow the dictates of His heart desire or our fleshly wants? The proof of relationship is found in our choice. Choosing His ways, we put on His character.

“… bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. …” Unforgiveness separates. Forgiveness is an act of Agape-love that protects unity (1 Corinthians 13).

The mind of Christ at work in us equips us to live together with grace and unity, forgiving insult as God has forgiven us, and granting us wisdom in relationship. It equips us to love with God’s love, which goes beyond how a person acts to see and desire for them their potential in Christ. It helps us to truly discern that we are to owe nothing to anyone, but love, for love done God’s way fulfills the law. In owing nothing but love, we leave vengeance to God (Romans 13:8. See also Romans 12).

“… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body …” Have you looked at the peace of Christ? The peace of Christ was able to sleep rested in the arms of God through the worst of storms. The peace of Christ walked on water without weariness over the crashing waves. The peace of Christ faced His accusers, sometimes debating with them, even taking time to stoop down and doodle in the dirt while awaiting God’s response, often leaving them with truths to ponder. And sometimes, as at His final persecution, He stood silent knowing that no amount of talk would change their mindset or alter the path before Him. He trusted God, and it translated to peace that passed understanding, and that umpired His life. This is the mind He brings to us.

“… and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. …” Christ brings to us right thoughts and perceptions; truths and a hope that develops within us a heart of gratitude to God that can encourage the brethren in every circumstance of life. It brings to us a heart of gratitude that equips us to withstand the hardest difficulties with good temper (vs. 12, AMP), so that we can live life to the full in one accord with His purposes.

“… Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” As we grow in our ability to understand, comprehend and work out of the mind of Christ, we become His representatives in the earth, His ambassadors, able to fulfill His purpose. In this way, we share His sufferings and complete what is lacking in His afflictions by representing Him and His interests in the world (Colossians 1:24).

I hope this short beginning on discerning the mind of Christ in us will be the first steps to your discovering the greater depths of His mindset made available to us. It is awesome that God not only promises to give us the desires and secret petitions of our heart, but He makes provision for us so that we can have desires and deep seeded longings that He can respond to.

Delight yourself in Him, beloveds, drawing near to Him, listening to His heartbeat. Let His thoughts become your own, filling you with desire that brings His “yes” in Christ Jesus.

“But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (Christ) they are yes; therefore also through Him (Christ) is our Amen to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” (2 Corinthians 1:18-22, NASB).

All that we are is wrapped up in understanding all that He is and in receiving unto us the mind of Christ and heart of God that tells us all that we are and are able to be in representing Christ in truth:

“…But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (see 1Peter 4:1-10).

~*~

NOTE: A good place to go in continuing to grow in understanding the mind of Christ in you is Philippians 3:7-16, Amplified version. I pray the mind of Christ for you, my friend. May you grow to know God (Father, Son, and Spirit) as never before.

As a family gathering this weekend draws my attention, our study of Psalm 37 will pick back up on Monday. Tomorrow I will repost an old devotional I wrote numerous years ago that fits our theme of the study of our being light that dispels the darkness. Everyone have a great weekend break, filled with His glory.

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4Cb

“Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it” (Colossians 3:9-10, AMP).

One of my favorite chapters of scripture, as you know who have read my materials long, is Exodus 33. In it, God calls Moses ‘friend’, Moses prays to know God’s ways that he may know Him, he asks to see the glory of God, and God tells him how to recognize His glory when he sees it, promising the presence of His glory to Moses…“…And the Lord said, ‘My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. … I will do this thing also that you have asked, for you have found favor, loving-kindness, and mercy in My sight and I know you personally and by name. …”  

The new in me knows and practices His ways, so that I may know Him personally and intimately, and He calls me by name. How sad it would be to come to the end of this life, thinking we are His, never having grasped hold of His ways to make them our own so that He may know us intimately, calling us by name.

Oh what joy it is to hear the Lord call me by name. It fills my heart with the flood of His presence and His ever present love for me. It sets me in awe of His person and causes me more and more to want Him, passionately, and it leads me to greater desire to be like my Father.

Beginning where we left off yesterday, we continue our look at Colossians 3:5-11, which describes for us the new creation we are in Christ, a rebirth that opens to us our opportunity to be a friend to God the Father, knowing Him and being known by Him.

“… It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. …” (vs. 6-8)

Remember, the “these things” that bring God’s wrath are the things of the flesh that produce idolatry: immorality, impurity, ungodly passions, evil desires and greed. These are the outpouring of the dictates of the flesh under the influence of the sin and death that the satanic produce in its offspring. And this outpouring of anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech are the fruit of a life lived in this idolatry.

Jesus said that those who practice such things, living the lie—which is opposition to God, who is truth—are the offspring of their father, Satan (John 8).

“… Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge…” (vs. 9-11).

The new in us turns from the lies of the flesh, the world and the demonic to the truths of God. The new in us never behaves toward others in a way that would steal, kill and destroy through anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech.

“… Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—a renewal in which there is no distinction between…

“Greek and Jew” – we are adopted into the household of the Jewish heritage through Christ, therefore the distinction that separates us is removed in our new-life-relationship;

“circumcised and uncircumcised” – we are circumcised of heart who are true children of God, made right with Him having a heart after His;

“barbarian, Scythian” – these were considered to be the worst of the worst, telling us that even our worst deeds are forgiven, removed and changed forever in Christ. The “changed forever” is a vital component to our new creation life. Repentance requires turning from the old ways of the flesh to the new ways of following Christ in godliness;

“slave and freeman – slave in the earth is Christ’s freed man for eternity. We are instructed that slave / workman and master / boss who are in Christ are to treat one another with the respect due a brother, for though we may remain slave in the earth, we are free in Christ; though we may be boss in the earth, we too serve our Master through Christ. I will resist my soap box J;

“but Christ is all, and in all.”  (Vs. 5-11).

Christ, all and in all, removes these titles from us, no longer defining us as separate from one another. God makes us one together with Him in Christ. We are the body of Christ, a new creation, God’s workmanship, created in Christ for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Christ unites us as one, changing us from glory to ever increasing degrees of glory, continually perfecting us until the day of His return when all His fullness will forever complete this transformation we are in, returning us to the full and complete image of God in Christ Jesus. And the exciting thing to me is that God sees the completed product in us; thus He responds to us through Christ’s “it is finished.”

I love the teaching done by Beth More in her study titled, “Believing God.” It sums up this session of our journey to discover the mind of Christ in us, and if we will remember this, we will go far toward living victoriously in His mindset of our being made new as we realize with belief that:

“God is who He says He is.”

“God can do what He says He can do.”

“I am who GOD SAYS I am.”

“I can do all things through Christ,” including changing to the new creature of His design.

The impossible in our measure of things is the HIMpossible on His scale of measure. That said, whatever our humble estate in life, we can know that we are new creations in Christ with eternal purpose from God the Father for such a time as this.

All who are His in Christ are gifted and equipped to fulfill His purpose and He does not hide that purpose from us: becoming His likeness, meant for relationship with Him and others, a bondservant fully gifted to fulfill His purpose. He continually works in us to make us strong in the mind of Christ, renewing us in His image, equipping us to discover fulfill all His desire and design:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:10-22, NASB).

God can do what He says He can if it is in His will to do so. And child of the Living, Loving God, it is His will. So seek His face expectantly, searching for Him and the fulfillment of His will whole heartedly. He will do it; He will accomplish all that concerns you, transforming you to Christlikeness. And what does Jesus look like?

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.

“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?

“The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name (as presenting all that I AM; representing Me and My interests), that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:7-17, NASB and AMP).

More and more we look like the Father as we surrender ourselves with believing-faith to oneness with the Son in thought, desire and deed, becoming new creations in the power of His Spirit, renewed in the image of God.

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4-B

As I seek the Lord concerning where to go next in our journey to understand the Mind of Christ and its proper function within us, I am led to Colossians 3:1-17. I love the Amplified version of this passage. Let us begin with verses 1-2:

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.”

Set your minds and keep them set on the things above where Christ is. Jesus being our example, let’s look at a few passages that reveal to us His mindset and how it was on the things above, where God is.

First reported indication – age 12, Luke 2:41-51: “…And He said to them (His parents), How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business? …” (AMP).

The mind of Christ focuses us on the Father’s business. Do you know what your assignment in God’s Kingdom is, and how faithful He is to gift you in fulfilling His call? When you are in the work-place, do you fret over the ungodly environment, or watch for the opportunity to do kingdom business and shine the light that dispels the darkness? Do you stand on righteousness, or obey your boss in things that bring you to disobey your God? Where is your focus during the daily grind of life? Having the mind of Christ that is kept on the things above always remembers that we are His light in this life and behaves as light:

“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 5:7-10, NASB).

In temptation – Matthew 4:1-11: “…It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God….”

The mind of Christ does not just read the word and go through life without further thought of it. As one dictated by the mind of Christ, we will know God’s word well enough for God to use it in our stand against fleshly, worldly, and Satanic lie and temptation. The mind of Christ always turns to God’s wisdom for direction and says to those who would tempt us, “My Daddy says, ‘…’.’”

I love the response of Joseph to the hour of his temptation. Oh…if we can only get this mind in us to cry out, “How can I do that and sin against my GOD!” Knowing truth protects us from following falsehood.

As a young Christian woman who was not raised in church, I knew one truth for sure. Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and He receives as His own those who seek His saving grace with true and sincere belief. Thinking that all “churches” are Christian, following my first husband’s demands that I be in his faith, I found myself serving in a church I soon found was far from true. He didn’t go, but he insisted I go, and I did, whole heartedly.

One evening my then sister-in-law headed after service further into the building. Asking where she was going, she said she was going to Bible study. Always interested in Bible study, I asked what they were studying. She said, “Oh! We are studying to take the test so that we may receive salvation.”

Using the little bit of knowledge I had, God turned a light on in my heart, and I knew I was in a place that teaches falsehood. That was my last day in that fellowship and I have since come to know that they are a “cult” according to true believing churches.

In even well-meaning opposition – Matthew 16:21-26: “…But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s….’”

The mind of Christ always has its sights on God’s interests rather than man’s. When our assignment from God is clear, it does not allow distraction from completing the course laid out. This requires us to know when to say “no”.

As we talked about before, not every good thing is the God-thing we are called to. Often “good things” will be offered to draw us away from the “God-thing”. The mind of Christ has sights set and keeps them set, discerning good, better, and best and choosing the best that keeps us on target with Kingdom purpose in fulfilling the call of God in us.

When we find ourselves stressing over all we are doing, struggling to keep up, and seeing the thing we are called to slipping into neglect and half-hearted fulfillment, it is time to reevaluate our priorities and back off of the good to walk with God.

I could go on, but this gives us a good start on discerning the mind of Christ that dictates us to have God’s heart. I pray God will add to your understanding in this area. For now let us move on to the next portion of our passage. See you at the next posting!

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 2

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

One day, when questioning Jesus, the seeker called Him “Good Teacher.” Jesus stopped right there, correcting with His own question. “Why do you call Me good?” He asks. Then He responds with His own answer, “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

Scripture teaches me that my greatest good is as filthy rags before our Holy God (Isaiah 64:6). Why? Because my motives and desires fall far short of those found in our Holy God.

And Jesus taught that no one is good but God alone. He emphasized for us that one cannot get good from the bad. “You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy, sound tree bears good fruit worthy of admiration, but the sickly, decaying, worthless tree bears bad worthless fruit. A good, healthy tree cannot bear bad worthless fruit, nor can a bad, diseased tree bear excellent fruit worthy of admiration” (Matthew 7:16-18, AMP). Good fruit has a flavor that is out of this world! It draws others to seek after it for themselves. And it lasts into eternity.

So how is it, me being one who certainly cannot be called good when my Lord refused the title, how then is it that I can do good in God’s eyes? David tells us right here in his Psalm: by trusting in, leaning on, relying on, and being confident in the Lord, I am then equipped to do good. With His goodness flowing through me, my evil nature is transformed and I am empowered to produce good fruit.

Jesus showed us the way as He spoke often of His own reliance on God and His seeking after Him:

“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. …I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:19, 30)

“So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.’ … Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.’” (John 8:28, 42)

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10)

God desires our good, but our good begins and ends with Him. Only as we follow Him with faith in Him as our confidence in likeness to Christ do we have any hope of doing a good He can approve. And we have the promise from God that as we trust in, lean on, rely on, and find our confidence in Him alone, we will “… dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.”

How is your faith, Brothers and Sisters? Are you trying in your own strength and way to do good? Without first aligning with God in full assurance of faith that believes and trusts in Him, obeying Him out of that faith, our greatest good is only filthy rags. And if we are doing good as in His name while failing to believe Him and follow His will for us in the good we do, our good is in our eyes alone, falling short of His glory. There is a difference between what we call good things and our doing the God-things that are truly good.

A friend of mine prayed the following the other day: “I don’t want You to go with me, Lord. I want to go with You! No more of Your permissive will for me. I want to walk in Your perfect will” (Brother Steve, PRAYHOUSE). That prayer so echoes my own heart desire as I realize daily with greater depth of understanding that God is my only true need and vital necessity for life.

God has spent the past year and a half calling me to greater faith and reliance on Him. He has brought me to a point where I know that I know that He is my only true need. Without Him, I am nothing and can do nothing. With Him I know that I can do all He leads me to, because He will make sure I have sufficient for every good deed.

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” What great faith! “ Trust in the Lord, my friend, and do good.

“…The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity…” (John 17).

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 1

“FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness (that which is not upright or in right standing with God). For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (vs. 1-2, AMP).

For over a week now, God has spoken to me, focusing my heart on the deeper truths of Psalm 37. I am excited to get into this passage with you as we begin this awesome study together in a day when understanding and living this passage out into our lives is vital to the Kingdom in our nations.

Last weekend I attended the baptism of a granddaughter. Staying for the service that followed, they showed an interview of Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn who wrote the book, The Harbingers. Here is a link to his message for us regarding the spiritual state of America and the signs of God’s discipline over our land: The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment, Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqWyIL_4kZY.

This morning, as I bowed in prayerful response to God over another passage of scripture, here is what He instructed my heart with regard to evil in our land and how we are to face these days. “FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness….”

As I begin this series of looking at Psalm 37, I recall that evil is depicted as darkness throughout scripture and righteousness is revealed to be as light in the earth. We are called to be light. So what does light do?

Light does not fret over the darkness in the earth. It penetrates and disperses it. Light is total opposite to dark, and it accomplishes its purpose by simply being light. That is what we are called to. We do not have to fret over and fight darkness / evil. We simply have to be light where God has placed us, being a people who live uprightly and in right standing with God: a people of integrity who seek the good for all concerned; a people after God’s own heart.

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the evildoers will be no more; though you look with care where they used to be, they will not be found. But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (vs. 8-11, AMP).

The question is, do we believe God? Then we must realize that fretting over darkness in the land tends only to evildoing. Fretting leads us to either lay down in depression, dulling our light, or it leads us to become like those who do evil, fighting them too often in ways that dishonor God. It leads us to address the darkness out of the dark thoughts of the natural instead of simply being what God calls us to be, trusting that the light He sends through us will dispel the darkness.  

Focus on God, realizing that He fights for us, and simply being all He desires us to be, looking to Him is the path He uses to make us bright with His Light. Contrasted against the night skies of our environs, we are equipped of Him to penetrate the dark places where we are and melt away the night sky in our midst.

Instead of fretting over evil in our midst, we must focus on our own practice of godliness, living life like a sunrise (or a Sonrise) where we are. Be bright to the glory of God. And pray with me over these next numerous days as we delve into this blessed passage that outlines for us the attributes and resources available to us who desire to be as He is, one who chooses good over evil and wins the day by simply BEing the person He created us to be.

Hum…I wonder if that is why He told Moses to tell the people that the God who sends him is simply “I AM”. May we daily live the image of “I AM” and see the night turned to light.

Mighty Within

Colossians 1:24-29, NASB

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

What was the “sufferings of Christ”, the afflictions to be completed? May I suggest that it was facing the challenges of each day by living life and addressing those challenges so as to show us the way of life lived to the glory of God? We complete His sufferings when we follow His example in following God to the full despite all this life might throw at us.

When we practice love in the midst of hate, speaking truth in love, taking action with love at its core, doing the best for the object of our affection, setting the good example in righteousness and light, we share the sufferings of Christ and fill up what is lacking in His afflictions, spreading God’s glory to the end of the age, making Him and His ways known to all who see.

Each of us is a minister of God according to our stewardship from God, called and equipped for the benefit of all in our concentric circles of concern. It is vital that we discern our ministry and fulfill it to the full, just as Christ did in fulfilling His afflictions to the end of the age, for the glory of God. He followed God all His days, making full use of the power to perform given Him. This is our calling and equipping, to fulfill His afflictions. Thus I am often called of God to share the ugly struggles in my life so that the Beauty of His Glory at work in the affliction may be contrasted to reveal His light in the darkness.

This is the “mystery” among us today, Christ within us, the hope of our glory to God as He imparts His ministry to us and through us in the power of His supply, to the glory of His Name. Just as He worked in and through Christ to accomplish His glory and fulfill His purpose in the earth through Him, God desires to work through us in like fashion and has provided for us to be His instruments to complete the work began in Christ through the purpose He planned for us before we took breath. We are complete in Christ, fully equipped for every good deed, able to perform with the power of His supply.

Thus, in agreement with Paul, “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

Mighty within…through Him: The things that God allows to enter your life, you can face with strength and resolve, for He never allows what He will not equip you to fulfill in Christlikeness. The ministry He calls you to do is made sure; for all that He proclaims for you to do, He also supplies so that you may complete it in Christ.

Christ is the fulfillment of all things, so when we live, breathe and move in Him, all things are possible for us, for nothing shall be impossible with God; and every difficulty is opportunity to experience Glory as we proclaim “the power of God mightily works within me” – sometimes by faith, but always by His grace, sufficient for every need.

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 2 – Know…

The first thing I realize as I consider learning how to NOT be defined by my diagnoses is that there is always a need for knowledge. There are things I need to know about my challenge before I can know how to deal with it. But with knowledge there must also be the attaining of wisdom for proper use of the knowing.

Over and over scripture teaches the foolishness of going into a battle without first counting the cost. That means we have to know the enemy: their strengths, weaknesses, resources, tactics, mindset, etc. Then we have to know truth about self: my strengths, weaknesses, resources, abilities, mindset, etc.

What I am seeing in associating with those who struggle with Fibro, Chronic Fatigue, and other such things is those who look too closely at their enemy without also considering their own resources and ability to stand against that enemy are the ones who fall to it.  But we are not without our own resources and abilities. We have it within us to stand and persevere against any assault. And this is especially true for those who face their enemies knowing God as their greatest ally.

So what is it that we need to know in order to prepare for and win the battle over difficulty and disease that seeks to dictate and define us and our lives?

~*~

Know the enemy:

Fibro is not my friend. It hurts my body and hinders my life when it has control. So I need to recognize its presence, what flares it, what holds it back, and learn to control my enemy’s influence in my life. What is this thing that is trying to define my life and my ability to live? – Not so much the science “what” but the personal experiential “what”?

Yes, I do need to know the disease process, learning what it is and how it works to do what it does in me so that I can better understand and recognize its influence and, from that understanding, discern my counter to that way of attack—and more than just to counter it, I want to control it.

For example, pain is a tactic of my enemy, Fibro. What causes me to experience pain that I can control? I know that there are dietary issues that cause inflammation in my body, bringing on the pain. Thus I discern the importance of my setting a boundary in my way of eating that will protect me against that attack.

The same is true with the exhaustion that comes with Fibro. I get extremely tired all over, every pore of my body feeling like limp, wilted lettuce looks. In this year of dealing with this symptom that tries to define me as “I am tired”, I have learned that rest is my resource. I do best when I let myself sleep in the morning until I wake on my own. Trying to set an alarm and make myself get up makes me vulnerable to my enemy. Realizing when I am getting tired, being watchful against my enemy trying to sneak up on me is vital as well, giving myself permission to rest and, yes, even nap.

Then there is mindset and planning: this past week I have learned the importance of these resources in my arsenal of defense. We were preparing for company, so I planned to do little things each day to get the house in good order, getting things ready a little at a time so as to protect from being tired when they came. But the doctor put me on a steroid for a sinus infection, which also helps with body inflammation while on it. When the course of medication was finished, the inflammation returned with a vengeance and I found myself thrown into a full blown Fibro flare. That is when I learned that not only is it important to plan ahead, but sometimes those plans have to be to rest and let my body heal so I will be able to function for the upcoming event. And that necessity led to me realizing the importance of my mindset.

You see stress is a trigger pulled by my enemy to set me into a Fibro flare. Stressing over the fact that I was flared from the medicine leaving my system and that flare was keeping me from being able to get the house in order was only making the flare worse. So I had to rest my mindset and decide the condition of the house was unimportant. The people coming into our home would understand the house being dusty. They would not want me making myself sick by trying to make everything perfect for them.

It is the Martha syndrome that the enemy was throwing at me and my resource for countering was to choose to be a Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, enjoying His presence. Thus God helped me to get the important things done while continuing to rest, the house was in good enough order, the meal was great, our home was peaceful, and we had a marvelous visit with our friends.

Which leads to another thing I have learned about dealing with my enemy: I must…

~*~

Know the truth –

What are lies about the disease that I am catering to? Lies about myself and my ability to cope? What is the truth of the matter? And how do I live in truth?

One lie I fall too often too is that I need to sit a lot so as to not push myself through activity into a fibro flare. That is not true. I need activity to keep the pain under control, but I also need to control the type and amount. When I sit too much, then I do hurt, so when I get up to do something, I don’t feel good. That leads to letting it go until I feel better, which leads to pile up. Then when we do decide to have someone over or do something where I want the house in order, the race is on, perfectionism kicks in, and I over-do it to the point of feeling horrible for the event that led to the clean. Truth is that movement is good for me, I feel better once I am up and moving for awhile, and it is a whole lot easier to keep up here a little, there a little, than to have to catch up all at once.

I keep hearing in my Spirit that “Fibro is a lie!” What God is impressing on me is that fibro is a symptom of an underlying problem, not the problem. The true problem for me is the inflammation and inflammation is made worse by a poor diet and by inactivity, by undue stress and needless fretting. Thus I am learning the necessity of knowing my enemy and knowing the truth of the matter so that I can do the things to put up a guard against attack and that put me in better control of my life experience.

Knowing my subversive enemy, inflammation, and dealing with it gives me victory over the disease of Fibromyalgia so I can live a life defined by the wisdom God gives in the battle, while waiting with hope in Him for healing in my body.

Choice Point

“Because of and through the heart of tender mercy and loving-kindness of our God, a Light from on high will dawn upon us and visit [us]; To shine upon and give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, TO DIRECT AND GUIDE OUR FEET IN A STRAIGHT LINE INTO THE WAY OF PEACE.” (Luke 1:78-79, AMP) 

A friend sent me a devotional thought written by Sarah Young in her book, “Jesus Calling.” In this devotional sent me, written for June 12, Sarah writes, “Stay alert to the many choice points along the way, being continually aware of My Presence.”

“Choice points”: Stirs my heart with excitement as I realize anew that God desires our step by step, breath by breath following after Him. Our God, high and lifted up as He is, desires and provides for us to be His constant companions, walking with Him just as Jesus did: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).

 Every step we take in a day, every breath breathed brings with it a choice point. He desires that we recognize His Presence with us in all of our path and in every breath of our life, following Him not only with our every action, but with every motive and heart attitude.

He longs for us to have the heart of Mary and of Sam (the Samaritan woman at the well), seeking Him to find Him, desiring Him above all else, having a heart that sits with Him before moving to any “doing”, bringing our every experience of Him to delight, and making our every encounter with others an opportunity to shine His light. God’s desire is you and me, intimately and personally, in ever deepening love relationship.

Father, it is awesome to me that You delight in the intimate knowledge of Your people, and in our desire for You. Today, Father, as we hear Your voice, let us not harden our hearts toward You, but help us to choose life, following hard after You at every choice point. Grant us faith to believe Your presence and walk in obedience with You so as to enter Your rest and the land of Promise You lead us to: that place of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. In Jesus, I pray You, show us Your glory. Amen.

The Call

The following is long, but well worth the read. It is written by a minister of God in the land of His calling; a dear friend and fellow servant to Yah / God. He is the Under-Shepherd of a House of Prayer called PRAYHOUSE. And he is a witness likened to a modern Paul. As is his habit, the following is chalked full of insight through his testimony and encouragement to be a people of godly character, totally sold out and surrendered to the God we serve. With his permission to do so, I share the following in its entirety; nothing held back. Some of his longer paragraphs I seperated into smaller ones that, for me, end with a “Selah” moment: “Pause and calmly think about that. I pray that you too will see what I see in his word and be encouraged. Blessings, Darlene. (FYI: “Our” / “we” / “us” spoken of himself is Steve and the Triune-Godhead.)

The Call

Written by Brother Steve

A pastor recently told me that when I reach Heaven I will be judged on how many souls I bring with me. I replied, “I will be judged according to my obedience or disobedience.”

A lady having a very strong calling to evangelize the Jews stated I am in error if I am not evangelizing the Jews. Another lady who’s personal call was recently refined to seeking “the one” rather than the multitudes claimed I must be doing the same.

While we are all called to be involved in making disciples, we are not all called to do the same job in the making of disciples.

The reason I bring this up is because it is something we are seeing more and more: brothers and sisters defining and judging others and their ministries according to the specifics of calls that are not their specific and individual callings. Be careful beloveds! Do not be caught up in this!

As a new believer and follower of our LORD Jesus, GOD began using me very powerfully in evangelizing, teaching and discipling, so powerfully that even now it amazes me. Did you know that I have been blessed to personally pray with over 2000 individuals for salvation, been personally involved in healings and diverse miracles? Most of us do know this. All of us involved together in this ministry became accustomed to seeing testimonies of these things and we all more or less fell into the habit of using them as the factors determining whether this is a successful ministry.

Then the LORD did something different. He called me to our 1st long term mission, in Israel no less, something I had never sought. When people used to ask me whether I wanted to go to Israel and walk where Jesus once walked, my very truthful answer was that I was walking with Him now and had no need or desire to go to Israel.

GOD called me to come to Jericho, using a NGO/ministry that was then operating here to bring me and establish me here. He shifted me physically and also began shifting the specifics of His personal call on me and my life. He gave revelation that the 1st manifestation of PRAYHOUSE is a House Of Prayer (HOP) birthed in Jericho. This did not surprise me as much as some would think. From the very beginning of our walk together GOD anointed me as a man of prayer, one who delights in praying.

When GOD shifted me to Jericho and then to birth a HOP, His imperative / directives were/are so clear that there are only 2 options for me: either deliberately obey, or deliberately disobey.

His call is so clear that obedience, in the beginning, was an easy joy. GOD had seen to it that I was properly trained and accustomed to working in foreign cultures. I love praying to Him, hearing from Him and adore seeking His face. I had not been exposed to HOPs prior to being called here but GOD is a patient teacher, One who knows exactly what He wants.

GOD took a sinner, one who’d been addicted to alcohol, nicotine and things of the flesh for decades….. and called this man to become a saint, a sinner who had been saved by grace. In the process He transformed me into one who loves Him much. He gave me a heart to reach the lost, teach, disciple, to set captives free, and once His heart was firmly established He brought me here, to Jericho, a city in the desert, a dry place. He brought me here to be His tool, His vessel, to open springs of living waters in the desert. He brought me here to have my heart broken in compassion by the condition of the peoples. He brought me here to pray from the depths of my being with the heart He gave me. He tells me He trusts me to obey and love Him.

It is still a joy being obedient to GOD. There is a difference though. Now I have to fight and fight hard for my joy. That probably sounds odd but I rejoice in the battle. I am a priest/warrior. Even so, there are times I lose my joy. There are times I allow myself to think of things that undermine my effectiveness.

Sometimes I allow myself to dwell on the loneliness of this calling even though I am seldom alone. Sometimes I get caught up in murmuring that the fruit we are accustomed to seeing in/through this ministry are not visible at this time. There are times I allow myself to miss my family and friends to such a degree I wind up crawling into a spiritual cave for long or short term pity parties.

But GOD!

But GOD!!!!!!!!

But GOD drags me back out into the open, into the battle, into His arms.

YAH, GOD, reminds me of our victories, the ones we see and the ones we don’t see. Often we don’t see that victory and overcoming come with a price. Often we focus so strongly on the price that we miss seeing the win.

GOD often sends to PRAYHOUSE as many as four groups per week. All these get to hear some of the teachings GOD is giving stemming from Jericho. Many of those who come are in Israel with 3 month tourist visas and we are involved in diverse ways in their discipling. I get to watch as GOD touches many visitors through us. Just last Thursday, in Jerusalem, I watched a man weep as GOD used me to assist him in learning how to find a site that was on his heart for years, a small thing perhaps to us, yet something immense for this fine gentleman. Shortly after that experience the LORD had me pray over a young lady, speaking as He gave utterance. The tears of joy she wept were so huge that it appeared as if each one came from the entire eye rather than her tear ducts. In an instant her entire cheeks were awash and overflowing.

We have several Arabs that privately ask me to pray for them and a couple that will ask no matter who is around. We often have awesome conversations with IDF personnel and others. We are in a unique position in that both governments, Jericho and Israel, know we have a HOP in Jericho and that I live there and they both welcome us. The PA knows what we pray for the local people, community and region. Israel knows all this and even more… what we pray for Israel, the Land and the People. The favor GOD bestows on us grants us an annual visa, something most people will tell you is impossible for someone living in Jericho. But GOD!

Never forget! But GOD, the Holy One of Israel, is strongly showing His hand upon us. The Israel MOI (Ministry Of Interior) even told the PA MOI to relate to me what they, the Israel MOI, want me to do in order to be guaranteed another year next January. Only GOD could accomplish this!

My mom recently turned 75. I was in Jericho while she is in the States. I could have been blue but GOD shows me I love and honor my mom best when I love and honor GOD most. This is also true for each of you. I love and honor y’all best when I love and honor GOD most.

Some of you wonder when I am coming ‘home’. GOD told me before He moved me here that this is my home. How He plans this I do not know. I just keep believing His revelations. When will I visit y’all? I thought perhaps in August yet no confirmation has been received yet.

GOD has been teaching me more about seeking to live in His perfect will rather than His permissive will.

Our current laptop began showing a box last Dec stating the hard drive was in danger of imminent failure. I was foolish and spent too much trying to save it rather than ordering another hard drive from the States. So much has disappeared and been lost. The cursor jumps and types all over the page and sometimes not even on the page, a mystery. A beloved partner loaned us this one for a short time and another older one will be delivered this Friday. We won’t have wireless capabilities but this will carry us ’til the LORD opts for something else and it should be dependable.

I pray this answers any questions you might have. Thank you for your faithful prayer and financial support.

YAH bless Y’all!!!!!!!!

Brother Steve

Kora Elohim Israel

P.S. I’ll be in trouble if I don’t share my health news. The improvements in my health astound and amaze me. There is still a lot of room for improvement but I am able to do more than I’ve been capable in a long time. It is not uncommon for the LORD to keep me on the go for 24 or more hours straight once or twice a week. And this is while He is teaching me to say “no” prayerfully and “yes” prayerfully. Too many groups and individuals want to come than we can handle at this time. There are also those that want to come with their own agenda, doing things and going places that is not where the LORD has us at this time; so knowing how and when the LORD says “no” is imperative.

PRAYHOUSE needs more cleaning than I am capable of maintaining right now so I try to focus on the main worship area, the toilet, the kitchen plus whatever number of bedrooms are needed for the group. I have to have two ready by Friday so I will start cleaning little by little today as I am physically able.

GOD bless you!!!!!!!!

me

You Busy Yourself With My Every Step

God is working hard these days to assure my heart of His care, and instruct me in The Way. The title for this pondering comes from the Amplified version of Psalm 37:23, and the thought of its truth thrills my heart.

“The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].”

When God delights in our way, He busies Himself with our every step. God is a personal God, big enough to give full attention to each one who truly seeks Him with the whole heart.

Something else God impressed upon me this week tells me how to walk in a way where our steps are a delight to the Lord. A friend sent me a word of encouragement, written to the body of Christ, authored by Marsha Burns, wife of Bill Burns, Pastor of Faith Tabernacle in Kremmling, CO, sent out in his Spirit of Prophesy Newsletter. In it, she writes as God gave it to her, and I quote:

“Beloved, I am calling you to a higher and more concrete level of faith that will become the basis for activity and endurance.  Much of your spiritual function has been fueled by hope rather than faith and trust in Me, says the Lord.  I would have you come to a level of true belief according to My will and purposes.”

I need a light bulb coming on right here to picture God’s nudge in my Spirit as I read, “Much of your spiritual function has been fueled by hope rather than faith and trust in Me.”

You see, hope is the product of a type of faith. Hope is something for which we look to happen with faith that God will do it.  I believe God’s word that says Jesus is coming again, and therefore I have hope. Functioning out of hope is trying to live in the product of faith without putting forth the effort of faith.

In Hebrews 3-4, God makes it clear that the faith He delights to see in us leads to belief that produces obedience. Delight-producing faith is active, not passive.

You see, we don’t sit all day watching the east for Jesus to come, doing nothing with our time. If we do, something is wrong with our faith. God has a purpose for our being here. Like with Esther, God implores us, “How do you know that you are not here in this place where you are at God’s ordination for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b, paraphrased)

It is not an accident that we live in our here and now. God has a purpose for our being here. The question is, will we believe God with faith to obey His instruction? Will we trust by faith that He has our days numbered for His purposes and not one will be robbed from Him as long as we trust Him with obedient hearts that deny self in order to fulfill His purpose?

“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).

Hope alone waits to see what the Lord will do. Faith trusts the Lord to be Master and obeys through action in the wait.

Thinking on that good word of encouragement, I had to ask myself: Am I living by faith that believes God through obedience, doing things He calls me to though they may be difficult for me, showing myself of sincere belief that He is Who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do in and through me and my circumstances? Am I actively waiting with hope for Him to work in my circumstances while using me in the midst of difficulty? Am I living as He instructs me, out of belief that He is not only God in my circumstances, but Lord in my life?

Or am I living by a hope that sits on the sidelines waiting for Him to do the miraculous in my situations, as though I have no part or responsibility to Him in this life He gives me?

I have to admit, with many emotionally wrought excuses, I have been sitting on the sidelines of hope a lot lately, waiting for a miracle from God to end the challenge, remove the difficulty, and give reprieve. My excuses are all wrapped up in my fears and insecurities, my weakness and desire to run from the situations filling my mind’s eye; all of which blind me to the truth that God is bigger than my circumstances and situations. I fail to see the truth that His strength is only made stronger by my weakness being entrusted to Him who is able to make me stand.

No more of that. By faith, believing for His grace and provision, I say, “No more!”

Yesterday God gave me marching orders and geared my day to fulfilling that instruction. The doing of it was a blessing to me; not just in doing it, but in experiencing the provision of His strength for it. I don’t understand why He sent me where He did, other than it being an exercise of faith, but I trust that His purpose was fulfilled as He busied Himself with my every step of obedience, and hope in Him fills me with assurance while proof is yet to be seen.

This morning, as I write, I am up early because He called and I followed. And the minute I sat down to be with Him, His Spirit drew me to write this word. By His grace, faith to believe is renewed, and obedience is achieved, the product of it being hope that His purpose is fulfilled in the doing and His glory revealed.

Father, thank You for caring for my every step and for instructing my heart to walk in the care You have for me. By grace, I will live by faith, this day and each to follow, realizing it to be the basis for activity and endurance, trusting that You delight in obedience, and watching as You busy Yourself with my every step. As I press forward with faith to live as one in whom You delight, it is by Your grace that I pray with hope in Jesus name, amen.

GREEN HIGHLIGHTS

God led me this morning to copy Psalm 37 in the Amplified version to my journal. He led me to highlight everything that He highlighted for my spirit, using green highlight for the things the Spirit gave as specific to me and my life struggle. Then the Spirit instructed me to pull all the green highlights to see what the Lord has to say to me. This is what I wound up with—inputting a few words to connect the thoughts as the Spirit instructed. Psalm 37:

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing for the uncompromisingly righteous (the upright in right standing with God) as evil seeks to slay those who walk uprightly: blameless in conduct and in conversation.

“But the Lord upholds the consistently righteous. The Lord knows the days of the upright and blameless, and their heritage will abide forever. They shall not be put to shame in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

“Remember that the uncompromisingly righteous deal kindly and give, for they are able. And you are able for God makes it so as He busies Himself with your every step. Though you fall, you shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps your hand in support and upholds you. Therefore, trusting Truth, depart from evil and do good; and you will dwell forever, securely.

“The mouth of the uncompromisingly righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks with justice. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. Wait for and expect the Lord and keep and heed His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land. Realize that there is a happy end for the man (or woman) of peace; be a woman of peace.

“The salvation of the consistently righteous is of the Lord; He is their Refuge and secure Stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they trust and take refuge in Him.”

Called to Bountiful Supply

“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:19-20, NASB)

Many times in the past few years of grieving over a life situation God has brought my heart hope through this passage of scripture. Always before He has highlighted for me the importance of my own prayers in the situation and those of others who pray with me to be filled with “earnest expectation and hope” in Him for His work in the situation, but not so today. Today He is highlighting for me the more important component in this equation: “the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Reading this with that portion spiritually highlighted, I recognize that it is not just my knowing how to pray with true, expectant hope that is vital for life. Every circumstance life presents to us brings with it the foremost need to seek after and rely on the Spirit of God: relying not only on His Spirit to work in the situation, but seeking His filling to equip us to deal properly with the challenge it brings.

Taking me a step further, God leads me to read the passage in the Amplified version of Scripture. Here I find that there are circumstances in life that require not only seeking the filling and work of the Spirit of God, but “a bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Bountiful – Giving freely and generously; liberal. Marked by abundance; plentiful, ample.

Ample – Of large or great size, amount, extent or capacity. Large in degree, kind or quantity. More than enough. Fully sufficient to meet a need or purpose.

Now I find myself asking why it is that I so often settle on what I can do – pray with hope. Yes, that is needful, but what am I seeking? A miracle that will remove the need to deal with the situation?

Yeah, I think that is what I have wanted, for God to remove the need to go through this pain. But what He wants is for me to seek Him, His filling, His supply, desiring Him and His glory above my freedom from pain. And the joy I realize in that truth is that the pain will be alleviated by the bountiful supply of all that is needful to courageously face the situation and walk through it in the power of God to the glory of His name.

Father, forgive me. I realize my need of Psalm 51 praying right now, as I seek Your bountiful supply that will equip me to give sacrificially to the glory of Your name. In Jesus, here am I, O God. I pray You, show me Your glory! Amen.

In the Strength of His Might

I often feel in my Spirit that verses 10 and 11 in Eph. 6 should be one sentence, like so:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord; and in the strength of His might put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

I sense that to be true because “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” and God’s armor placed on us without His strength doing it would be like David when he put Saul’s on. It would be too big and foreign to our experience. Only by His strength can we even begin to take it up.

Isn’t it interesting that there are 5 items we put on in some way, like the 5 stones David took up with hope in God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation, and the shields of faith, small ones on the shoulder and one worn on the hand and forearm to reflect blows. The last item, like David’s slingshot, is to be carried with us: the sword of The Spirit, which is the Word of God, against which no enemy can stand.

“Therefore,” Paul advises, “take up the full armor of God,” in the strength He supplies, “so that,” unlike David in Saul’s get-up, “you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” And stand we will, for God is able to make us stand.

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

Thoughts on Love

As we come near to Valentine’s Day, my thoughts turn to love. What is love?

Scripture has much to say on this subject, defining several degrees of love. One that comes to heart today gives definition in the fact that “God is love” (1 John 4:8), and we are called to love as He loves. From this I understand that love begins within. True love comes from who we are, and therefore is undisturbed by what people do or don’t do. When love flows from my being, I will find it easier to keep on loving others, despite insult, making 1 Corinthians 13 easier to follow.

Then I think of the passage in Ephesians 5, where the husband is encouraged to love his wife as Christ loved the church. How did He love the church? Through giving Himself for it, nurturing it, and cherishing it.

Jesus gave His life for those He loved. To give oneself fully to a relationship requires compromise: meaning I have to be willing to give up what I want and have for the sake of those I love—and vice versa, by the way. Jesus died to self to come to this life as the Lamb of God: giving up all He had before in order to come to this life in flesh; show us how to love, live for and honor God and each other; and then to give His life for us, leading us then to do the same in giving our all to God.

That was His first act of love toward those who would be the people of God. But He did not completely neglect Himself while here. He often drew apart from the crowds for a little self-care and time with the Father so as to replenish His stores for giving into the lives of those He loved enough to die for. We, too, must take care of ourselves if we expect to have any supply to give into the lives of others.

Jesus nurtured those He loved. He encouraged their spiritual growth, called them up higher in their thinking, and did all He could to help them be the best person they could be. Nurturing others we love in this same way is vital to a love relationship. Love desires the best good of those loved and encourages them to be and do their best. Love sees the potential wrapped up in the person and nurtures it, calling for it to come forth and live.

Jesus also cherished those He loved. When we cherish something or someone, we do all we can to treat them right, as one we treasure. We also do all we can to protect them from harm, destruction, or loss. Love treasures, cherishes, and protects.

When asked which was the greatest law, Jesus rightly said that loving God is the greatest, followed by loving others as we love ourselves. Love fulfills the law, for love will always keep God first, having no other gods before Him, honoring His name in word and deed. Thus love of God does the things He requires of us, beginning with keeping the Sabbath holy, giving honor to parents, protecting life, honoring the marriage bed as holy; love will give and not steal, it will build up by speaking truth in love and not tearing down others through false witness, it rejoices over God’s blessing toward others without being envious and jealous and covetous.

True love never fails, because love will always see the potential and work to help the one loved reach that potential. Love will not keep a tally of hurts, spouting them off at every opportunity, but love will always be open to starting anew, leaving the past in its grave to go forth to improved relations.

Love always seeks the greatest good for the one loved, therefore faith, love and hope are seen together in the relationship that withstands the test of time and the growth of individuals.

Before ending this note on love, we must realize that if we are to love our neighbor, Jesus’ response to the question posed makes clear that for us to truly know how to love others, we must first know how to practice all that love is toward self. That means that to love self properly, we cannot focus on and add up all our flaws and failures, but must maintain hope of better and encourage our own success toward becoming our better best. It means cherishing oneself enough to value ourselves in ways that lead to us being protective over the things we want to maintain and work to shore up the areas of our being that need improvement. Being “love” will cause that flow to touch all we are in relationship with, beginning with God and self. As they say, “I better like me because I am the one person I cannot get away from.” Love of oneself works toward being able to like oneself and causes us to become one of our most faithful supporters.

When we can first love God, then rightly love self as an outflow from our relationship with God, then we will have what it takes to know how to truly love others. The greatest valentine card we can give to God is to be love as He is love, and to let that love flow to all in our sphere of influence, from our glance in the mirror every morning, to “the least of these” we meet every day.

And lest we forget!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48, NASB).

I perceive this call to perfection as meaning that we are to be who we say we are in truth; not putting on a façade of Christlikeness or godliness, but truly being as He said He is: “I AM who I am. I’m just me.”

For other insights on love, read: 1 Corinthians 13; Romans 12; Colossians 3.

For this Reason

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go’”’” (Exodus 9:13-17).

As I read this passage, I see two reasons that respond to questions I have often heard God’s people ask in time of trouble, “Why does He leave us here? Why not just kill us now?”

God allows things to happen in our lives that cause us—and especially those who refuse to believe—to know that there is no one like our God in all the earth. He keeps us alive when we think “we should surely be dead by now”, in order to show forth His power and in order to proclaim His name throughout the earth.

Now what is God’s glory? Exodus 33:18-19 tells us in God’s own words: “Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’”

Even when hard times come to us, God’s purpose is to reveal Himself as Lord of all and to make His glory evident in the earth. Why? So those, whose hearts are pliable and open, can see His glory, believe His Lordship, and turn to follow Him.

If you are still alive, He has power to reveal to and through you. If God could not still reveal Himself to and through you, you would lay down and die under your load.

Then we see that the best way to weather the turmoil that can rise up when God is making a point in the earth is to die to self-will and self-exaltation. I put a word up yesterday that hit my heart in the thoughts of the day: “Rest all worries and woes at God’s precious feet. They are thorns to us. But they are crowns to Him.”

Worries either weigh us down, often making us dysfunctional, or when faced without first laying them at His feet, they lead us to self-will as we try to deal with them and self-exaltation, making us our own god. Laying them at His feet removes them from our head, and places them under His Lordship. Laying our worries at His feet crowns Him as Lord over them and over self. Truly laying them down at His feet bows us to His authority, giving Him opportunity to direct our path and to empower us to deal properly with any situation. And often time, when we lay them down, refusing to give rule to worry, He just nails that thing to the footstool being made for Jesus’ feet, and writes, “It is finished!” across that plank (Hebrews 10:13).

“I will send all My plagues…so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.”

At just such a time, when God was threatening to destroy obstinate Israel and begin a new people for His possession through Moses, Moses requested of God, “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people,” laying the problem at God’s feet. And God said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33). Lordship accepted.

God’s glory is revealed in our day to day lives when we surrender all to Him, trust Him with the details, and see Him move to reveal Himself as Lord in our situations. So bow down with that load, lay it at His feet, and “Only believe” that you will see the power, provision and presence of God (Luke 8:40-56).