Tag Archives: faithfulness

The Right Tools

This passage in Scripture spoke to me this morning:

“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. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.” (Hebrews 12:11-13 NASB)

Discipline. We tend to hate the word when hearing or reading it conjures up memories of spankings and other uncomfortable things we link to it. But discipline is so much more. Discipline is the fuel and determination needed for growth, maturity, attaining the goal and winning the prize. Discipline looks at the need, sees the tools available to meet the need, then deliberately and purposefully puts the tools to good use, winning the day.

Returning to SparkPeople and Grow Young Fitness in the past weeks, after a long time away from community life and use of resources found there, and determining to use the tools these provide us, I quickly learned I was eating way more than I realized. Through discipline I learned something about myself that I needed to know and found the resources to do something about it.

Discipline is good. It empowers us to live better lives and be our best self. Grasp hold of the tools you find for your need and, deliberately and purposefully making good use of them, have a great, victory day. I’m going to.

Grasp The New

“… At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. …”

When first converted, someone saying to me that I am now a new person brought the thought, “That’s nice.” Oh to fully realize the height, depth, width, and length of this truth. That we are in Christ and He is in us is our New Reality. That our surrender to Him brings true life to living, making us new from the inside out.

We are no longer trapped by this finite life and it’s self-centered, worldly philosophy, but we have already entered the new, eternal Kingdom, possessing through Christ His thoughts, purposes, desires, and understandings. How different life is. What a difference this truth makes for life.

Oh, to teach that to the very young in Christ, that though this shell will one day pass on, we are already eternal with Christ, charged and empowered by Him to pass these Kingdom truths and realities to others along the path of this world assignment. Missionaries of The Kingdom of God. All else pales when we begin to grip our New Reality.

“So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21 NLT)

Forgiveness or Consequence

I heard it said recently that God does not forgive the unrepentant. There are two reasons that come quickly to mind that tells my heart that such a statement is a false understanding. One is found in Jesus. The second is found in God’s relationship with Israel as expressed in Isaiah 43.

First, Jesus. Scripture tells us, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us ALL TO FALL ON HIM.” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB)

Jesus paid the price for our forgiveness before we could repent, and He paid it for ALL. I don’t know about you, but in my understanding, all means ALL. All mankind goes astray from God and His way. Jesus took ALL of our sin to the cross and paid the price of sin for ALL, purchasing God’s forgiveness from sin.

God’s forgiveness stands ready to receive by each of us because of Jesus. God’s forgiveness has nothing to do with us. We cannot earn it or buy it. Though repentance is required, our repentance does not buy God’s forgiveness. Our repentance simply reaches out like a hand ready to receive that which is already ours in Christ. It is ready and available for us before we seek it when we bow to the Lordship of Christ, admit we are sinners, and commit ourselves to following God in Christ’s likeness. Failure to seek it through repentance is failure to possess that which is ready and waiting for us.

Point 1: God has already forgiven ALL HUMANKIND because of Jesus.

My second reason for belief in God’s forgiveness even toward the unrepentant is found in Isaiah 43 as recorded in the NASB. Here we find Israel in the throws of rebellious sin. As God calls their sin against them, he proclaims His heart over them, forgiveness issued despite unrepentant sin.

“You have bought Me not sweet cane with money, Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; Rather you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities. I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I WILL not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:24-25)

This is the very definition of forgiveness. “I wipe out your transgressions (erasing the record of them) and I will not remember your sins (holding them in account against you)” was a present tense promise to Israel. Forgiveness was already there for them, in the midst of sin. God is proclaiming here, “Though I am wearied by your constant sin, I forgive you for My own sake.”

When God pointed this out to me, I asked Him why He chose to forgive for His own sake. Clearly to my heart came this understanding, “Darlene, if I had not chosen to forgive in the midst of sin, I never would have put My Son on a cruel cross for such a wretch as you.” I’m so grateful God forgave all, and held it out for me to receive.

Point 2: God’s forgiveness is for His own sake, that love may reach out to the unlovable.

God’s forgiveness is already there for hands of repentance to receive. Repentance is the hand that possesses God’s merciful forgiveness. But consequences can still come even though we are forgiven. We must not confuse consequences in this life as unforgiveness.

In our Isaiah passage, God proclaims, “… I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I WILL not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together; State your cause, that you may be proved right. Your first forefather sinned, And your spokesmen have transgressed against Me. So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary, And I will consign Jacob to the ban and Israel to revilement.” (Isaiah 43:24-28 NASB)

God forgave Israel’s sin for His own sake, but the consequences of sin were not stopped.

God has warned us from heaven’s throne, giving us the laws that teach us how to keep His way. With those laws God set the consequences that come to sin, not the least of which is the consequence of failure to acknowledge Christ and receive Mercy’s forgiveness. That consequence is eternal separation from God. Though God has already forgiven, failure to receive it requires the consequence for that sin.

Despite God’s forgiveness that is ready for receipt, we can refuse the gift and suffer the consequence. But God’s forgiveness remains intact. It honors the price Jesus paid. And we, who have received God’s gift of eternal mercy through Christ, may still have to deal with consequences for choices in this life. Sex out of marriage, though repented of, can still lead to pregnancy. Your consequence does not mean God has failed to forgive. Consequence is the law of life in a fallen world. But God, out of love and grace, will walk with us as we deal with the results of wrong choices.

Now here is the thing, Love. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:32, that we ought to “forgive others, just as God in Christ also has forgiven us.” God’s forgiveness in Christ was before creation and continues to us post Christ’s fulfillment. It stands at the ready for our reception. Our forgiveness must do the same. We forgive in Christ for our own sake, making forgiveness a gift made ready in likeness to our God.

Who are you holding unforgiveness toward? Jesus paid the price so you, who are forgiven, can escape the shackles of unforgiveness and walk free from sin. Get a box and wrapping paper and make your forgiveness ready for that one to receive when the hand of repentance reaches out to you.

Born to Parents

I believe God created children with ready-made, able to grow, called and equipped PARENTS instead of friends, because parenting is what a child needs.

A committed and caring parent loves the child enough to set an example that shows the child how to be. A child wants instant gratification, because they do not understand time or limits: they only know what they want. For those same reasons, they need instant consequences so they can grow to understand what they just did is unacceptable behavior, and what they do has an effect, good or bad, according to their behavior.

Discipline takes many forms, including training that helps them learn a better way of dealing with wants, desires, and emotions, but always gets to the root of the problem. It separates good from evil, right from wrong. It is not harsh, hard, and pressing; but works out of love and for the good of the child; not breaking the spirit, but lifting the soul to reach greater heights in becoming their best self.

A Christian parent, in the power and equipping of God’s Holy Spirit, is called and equipped to teach godly righteousness, respect for elders, the law and those who make and enforce it. Without raising children to first know and respect us as parents, following our godly teachings, and practicing obedience, they will have no understanding of authority or respect for government or government leaders and the laws made and enforced.

When we have no respect for parents, bosses, the leaders and law enforcement we see and live among, it is practically impossible to comprehend Him, the unseen One who is God, Father, Master, Lord, King, Judge, and Advocate. He may seem like a distant, uncaring, entity, that causes them to doubt He even exists.

Time comes for a healthy friendship with our grown children, but never at the expense of their need for a parent. To me, the greatest form of child abuse is to grow up never knowing the loving care and discipline of a committed mother and father, unafraid to parent their child. And the greatest travesty is to see a parent, overwhelmed by demanding, untrained, undisciplined, spoiled children, unable to tolerate being around them, and unashamed to unleash them on the world at large.

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 AMPC)

“But as for you, continue to hold to the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced, knowing from whom you learned [them], And how from your childhood you have had a knowledge of and been acquainted with the sacred Writings, which are able to instruct you and give you the understanding for salvation which comes through faith in Christ Jesus [through the leaning of the entire human personality on God in Christ Jesus in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness]. Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17 AMPC)

“Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 AMPC)

The Vital Practice of Pondering

“But again the magicians of Egypt used their magic, and they, too, turned water into blood. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. He refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had predicted. Pharaoh returned to his palace and put the whole thing out of his mind.” (Exodus 7:22-23 NLT)

I believe learning to ponder things is vital to the life of abundance. Mary, mother of Jesus, appears to have this same belief as she practiced pondering things in her life experience.

Pondering is not worrying. To truly ponder, from my experience, requires a sense of wonder: a watchfulness that expects to see God / God’s way. It looks to God for comprehensive understanding of situations and experiences in search of truth and the righteous way. It seeks God to know His opinion and align self with Him. In my opinion, to fail to ponder life before our Holy God is dangerous for us and those around us.

However, there are three things we as humans tend to do instead of pondering: we worry, fear, and fret; we fume, plot, and plan; or we put it out of sight, out of mind, and ignore it. Here, we see Pharoah doing the latter of those three things. The hand of God against him is deemed insignificant and unworthy of his attention.

Beloved, I believe that scripture reveals to us that nothing is allowed into our lives without first being sifted through God’s righteous fingers, and set forth for His Holy purpose. Instead of fretting and fearing, pondering watches for God’s trustworthy Hand, ready to glorify and praise Him. Instead of fighting and fuming against what God is doing, pondering brings us to align and ally with Him in the work He is doing. Pondering never assumes God is not trying to tell us something, teach us something, or use us in some way. Righteous pondering always sets its sites on God, to know truth that leads to godliness, that we may walk with Him in accomplishing His purpose and glory in His reality.

Stolen Profit

“Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMPC

Most of us have times of struggle to be in the Word of God, to even read it comprehensively, much less to have any depth of personal study in it. Why is that?

Scripture tells us that the Word of God is profitable to us. God’s word is the seed of God’s Kingdom, sent to establish us as His people (Luke 8:4-15). God’s Word is a mirror, helping us to look more like our Father (2 Corinthians 3:18, AMPC). God’s word is a sword, useful for defeating enemy assaults, and faithfully used by God in separating old man mentality and fleshly desire from the eternal purpose of making us the new creation we are in Christ (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12-13). And, as Paul tells us in 2 Timothy, God’s Word has purpose for us, instructing in the ways and will of God, convicting of sin, correcting error, disciplining us in obedience, and for training in righteousness (in holy living; in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).

All of this has the purpose of making us complete and proficient, being adequately equipped for the good work that God planned for us to accomplish. So, yes, our flesh, the world’s demands, and demonic influence (all being the false wisdoms of this life) is going to fight against our time in God’s Word. God’s enemy, Satan, does not want this profit produced in us. He does not want to admit his defeat.

Scripture is vital food for fruitful lives God can use. Think for a minute, asking the Father for inspired insight. What most often hinders you having time every day in God’s Word? Is there something you can do to thwart that enemy assault on your God given treasure?

Even a few minutes to grasp a portion of scripture to carry with you throughout your day, meditating on it, digesting every morsel of nourishment from it, will be life changing: increasing profit for the need of your life. Refuse to let the enemies of godly wisdom to steal one more seed of profit from you (James 3:13-18).

Forward Goes the Row

God showed me long ago the dangers of looking back, but it is probably one of my biggest battle grounds in this season. In plowing, looking back often leads to crooked rows. We are charged to walk the straight and narrow. It requires focus on our here and now steps into the opportunities of the day.

I think we all know that it is dangerous to look back to days of sin and failure, letting guilt and shame for our past grab hold to stop, hinder, and deaden us. Through life experience, I have learned that the most dangerous thing to do is look back to when things seemed better, easier, more vital. We invite discouragement, dissatisfaction, discontent, when we fail to be where we are, giving attention to the challenges and opportunities in front of us. We miss out on better, easier, and more vital before us when longing for what used to be. Our ability to appreciate what we have is easily dammed up by yesteryear’s bygone-victories.

Keeping focus on next step challenges seems especially difficult in seasons of life when health issues and discerning the path of retirement are the tasks before us. Discerning the significance of daily care of a mate or child can be hard to appreciate. Seeing the path of retirement as vital to eternity is challenging, especially in light of debilitating health issues. The same is true in the slumps of daily life and changing paths of younger years. The subject is ageless and timeless.

The thing I see, as my husband and I go through this time of life, is that others are watching how we face the life challenges that come to each day. They look at our faith and trust in God and His Word. They watch our peace and contentment barometers.

Our biggest prayer right now is that we will maintain stable and loving relationship with each other now that we will be together more. We’ve seen couples in this season get on each other’s nerves and become soil for constant bickering, gripping, and complaining. We have never been that way before, and we don’t want to be that now. So we cry out to the One who makes us one.

Beloved, people watch us as we go through life. Even when we are not in ministry, our way of life, our doing and being, impact those watching. We are of a Holy Priesthood, charged to represent Christ as priests unto God. What is it Jesus said?

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:40 NASB)

The way we treat one another is important. It is our greatest ministry to God, when we care for one another. Even the smallest graces have huge rewards potential that may not be evident until we stand before our God and King. The things we deem great in ministry likely count for nothing if we fail to minister grace, love, and light to those with us.

The older I get, the more I believe that this is true because we are one in Christ. When we fail to set a godly example in our care for each other, we break unity and look more like the worldly, rather than the godly.

Beloved, keep eyes forward, on the row ahead, making it straight and ready for a harvest, fed and watered by faithfulness to God and each other. Learn from the past and bear the fruit of it into the present, but don’t let what was dictate what is to come.

The way we are in each mundane day makes a difference in the fruit born out of it. It requires focus on where we are and where our next action step falls. It requires us to keep our hands on the plow, pushing forward to the end of the straight and narrow row. And it requires us to remember that our attitudes and care for others top the charts of importance where successful ministry to God is concerned.

These late years for us are not a time to slow down, but a time to lean in on the plow. It’s the smallest of kindnesses that can reap the greatest harvest. Our work has only just begun.

Understanding God’s Perspective

Reading the plagues God sent against Egypt, seeing God harden Pharoah’s heart over and over, it would all seem mean spirited and vengeful. When we don’t realize all the issues involved, we miss the point. God always has good reason and purpose for all He does and allows. In Exodus 14:4, God makes that purpose very clear.

“And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display My glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. AFTER THIS THE EGYPTIANS WILL KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told.” (Exodus 14:4 NLT)

You see, Egyptians of the day worshipped many “gods”, including believing the one in the role of Pharoah to be a god. Each plague God sent was not to be mean to the people, but to bring down strongholds of demonic activity behind the false gods.

First Corinthians 10 makes it clear that the power behind false gods, power that makes the false believable, is demonic. Demons give life to the gods. They are bred and fed by demons. The blessings Egypt experienced were credited to one or more of these false gods. Demons don’t mind doing good to the people, giving them what they will, as long as it tricks them into following the false and missing the TRUE, hindering them from wanting The True God and His will.

Our finite minds see the plagues we read of or experience, and deem God to be harsh, hard, and pressing – or absent. We don’t see with understanding eyes the enemy of God and the battle raging between them and the army of God, a battle we are affected by. We don’t realize that God is in the storm and the storm has a purpose of eternal proportions.

Beloved, what is going on in your midst today? Could it be that God is kicking in doors and bringing down strongholds? Is it revealing issues you need to surrender to God’s Lordship? What will be your choice? Will you choose Him, or walk on the side of the hardened heart?

It wasn’t just the Egyptians that needed to recognize their false gods as counterfeits. Israel grew up in that society, and even as God delivered them, many still carried these falsehoods with them.

Like with Moses, God will make His purpose clear. The question is, will we be listening with hearts open and pliable to His will and purpose? Will we honor God as the One True God and Lord of all?

Read: Against the Gods of Egypt – The Invisible War: by Chuck Missler • July 1, 2000

At All Times, Pray

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. ….”. (Ephesians 6:18-20 NLT)

Prayer. Communing with God. Seeking Him in relationship. Searching His wisdom and direction. Turning to Him who is ready to give, assist, empower, direct, instruct, comfort, ease, know and be known.

Prayer is a lifestyle of companionship with the one Who gave His Son so we may be sons and daughters. Prayer is with and through Him who died that we may be companion, helpmeet, ambassador, priests unto God. Prayer is a lifestyle of companionship empowered by God’s Spirit, His Presence with us, enabling our hearts to meet God’s, our minds to comprehend His, our souls to mate with Him as fellow member or joint occupant of this body He claims as Temple.

We’re instructed be alert, persistent, and pray without ceasing. Lifestyle companionship is the only way I see of doing that. Through lifestyle prayer, this three in one God of ours unites with us, effecting a four in one unity, the answer to the prayer of Jesus in John 17.

When we walk with a companion, we talk about life situations along the way. We point to things seen and discus it’s beauty, placing, need, reasoning. We share opinions and work to achieve unity and understanding. We “Life” together. And we love and encourage one another.

I believe walking in persistent, constant, companionship with God requires alertness to His Presence, having comprehensive understanding of His watchful care and real interest in us and our lives. It requires a parent-child, teacher-student, Master-servant, companion-helpmeet attitude that humbly surrenders to His greatness and superiority. It receives encouragement from Him that empowers us to live life well, and it encourages Him to have full sway and access to us and our lives.

God knows prayer is vital for true Life to be lived. Walking with Father God, through Christ, in the power and equipping of His Holy Presence with us, we successfully pray at all times, in all occasions, with every petition, and without ceasing.

“Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”” (Matthew 26:40-41 NLT)

God had Abraham’s Heart

“God wanted to know He had Abraham’s heart. That got my attention.“ ~Audra Blake, filmmaker at Life.Church

Isn’t it funny how our thinking brings God down to our level. I know what Audra means and where she’s coming from, having experience of that place and of that same thinking; and I know God used this thought in her life. But as I read her words today, truth hits me and lifts me higher.

God knows that “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick”. It’s the person of that heart who doesn’t understand it. (Jeremiah 17:9 NASB)

God is not man, having to test us to see where our hearts are. He knows our hearts like we never will. God tests us to PROVE our hearts, not for His sake, but for ours! He wants us to realize where our hearts are so we can: one – align our hearts with His, and two – come up higher in our trust of God.

Abraham had grown a lot through his experience of God. We see that in the fact that, as he charged his young men servants to wait for them, he told them, “I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship AND RETURN TO YOU.” (Genesis 22:5 NASB). And again, as he walked with his son to the place of sacrifice, he is credited with the words, “God will provide a sacrifice for Himself” (Genesis 22:8). Testimony in the faith hall of fame says of Abraham that “He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.” (Hebrews 11:17-19 NASB)

Abraham had great faith when he headed up that hill with his son. But how much greater trust do you think he possessed on the way down, still having his son at his side because of faith rewarded and declaration fulfilled?

God didn’t need to know Abraham any better than he already did, but Abraham needed to know God better and increase his heart toward God’s own heart. Like Job, it took trial to help Abraham grow strong of heart in his trust of God.

What trial are you in today? Could it be that God wants you to know the truth of your own heart and to give you opportunity to come up higher with Him?

Audra continues, “As I dealt with this story, it was like God whispered to my heart, “Lay your dreams, your future on the altar. They’re nothing compared to eternity with Me.””

Run, or Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Darlene I. Davis (c)

April 20,2017

For Joy, Endure

Written by me on April 3, 2017.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB.

Reading this passage, the fact the Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” grabs my attention, as it has grabbed me many times before. Jesus took up a cross that truly belongs to such a wretch as I, for the joy it would lead to. As I read this today, three questions come to heart for me to ponder:

1. What “joys” might have been on the heart of Jesus as He took up that cross?

2. What life challenge or sin that so easily entangles am I in that requires me to take a stand of endurance against it?

3. What joys lie before me that, fixing my eyes on them, will strengthen my endurance?

In this passage alone, I see hint of several things that may form some of the joys Jesus looked to.

1. Joy in the cloud of witnesses that would come forth because of His endurance.

2. Joy in the victory His endurance would produce in us as we overcome the cumbersome trouble this life too often holds.

3. Joy in the deliverance from sin His endurance would provide us.

4. Joy in the endurance we would possess as we set our eyes on His example to us.

5. Joy in the relationship with each of us that would come to Him and the Father because of His endurance.

6. Joy in the gift of grace available to us because He despised the shame and bore the cross in our place.

7. Joy in the fulfilling of the Father’s purpose, leading to His privileged position at God’s side.

There is much more we can add to this list of joys that had the focus of Jesus, strengthening His endurance. I don’t know about you, but there are many troubling situations and temptations to sin that I need this walk of endurance for, if I am to overcome and press through them in fulfilling God’s purpose and accomplishing His desire for me. Today, following Christ’s example, I set my sights on the joy before me that will strengthen my endurance, to the glory of His Name and the fulfilling of His purpose.

Assignment: Reading through Proverbs this month, I turn to chapter 3 and find there the call to persevere in several areas, followed by promised joy for successful endurance. Read Proverbs 3 and note there the call to stand firm. What “joy” do you see as a focus to aid endurance in the successful practice for each area of instruction? Now do this with your own life: List areas where your endurance is challenged. Next, list benefits of endurance that you can look forward to attaining as the joy set before you.

Short of Glory

“… we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:12-18 NASB)

Sin is defined as anything that falls short of the glory of God. All that God created and set in motion was good, possessing intent and purpose. The God-ordained good, intent, and purpose of all things were set to rightly and truly represent Him, His good, His reality, His will and way. Anything that falls short of His glory (His good, purpose, and intent) is sin.

There is an issue in Christian news today concerning a very popular female worship leader and singer who refused to name homosexuality as sin, reportedly for fear of upsetting friends and family in that lifestyle, and supposedly out of fear of losing her fan base.

First off, her failure proves Romans 3:23. When we fail to connect with God’s good, His purpose, and His intent with the goal of giving expression to His glory, we chance actions or words that offend those who are committed to His glory. And, worse still, we chance offending God.

We are to be people of truth, speaking and living truth AS GOD DEFINES IT. Truth is that which rightly represents God’s evaluation of life issues. He tells us in His Word of the morality we are to possess, standing in agreement with His good, His purpose, and His intent. We cannot call what God deems to be evil, good, and good, evil and be true to God. Anything not true to God is a lie.

When we set our eyes on pleasing man instead of God, we tend to turn from the good and correct purpose and intent of God proving ourselves to be sinners. Guess what. She is one, and so are you and I. We sin daily, every time we take our eyes off of Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith.

Second, she denied the truth of God’s Word which clearly reveals the sexual sins humans fall into, including homosexuality. To discern what makes homosexuality, adultery, and fornication sin, we must look at the clearly defined good, intent, and purpose God laid out for sexual relations.

God created mankind beginning with the male of the species. Looking at him, God proclaims man’s need of a helpmeet, thus, God created for that purpose the woman. These two genders have different anatomy that equips them to have sexual relations with the purpose defined through God’s instruction to populate the earth through the bearing of children.

A man and a woman are to come together in COMMITTED UNION (monogamy), and out of that union, they are to make children in the way provided by God; thus making clearly defined family units that spread across the face of the earth.

Homosexuality diverts from the glory of God as they cannot unite as couples and make their own babies. Yes, there are ways to get babies, but not in the way prescribed by God at creation. That being the case, the homosexual lifestyle falls short of God’s glory.

Other sexual sins include fornication: two people who are not married to each other or anyone else, having sexual relations. Some people say, “Well, in the eyes of God, when we have sex, we are married.” The problem is that there are clear indicators in scripture of the rituals or ingredients that make the couple wedded partners. It does not start with sex, but is consummated by sex.

True, God honoring marriage begins as a commitment between the bride and groom to be and their parents, guardians, or the head of the family group, coming into agreement in their union. Most cultures have laws for the legalized, setting apart of that BLESSed union, and we are instructed in scripture to obey the laws of God and the laws of man.

We see in scripture from early days the various ceremonies that set a couple apart in marriage. Though the man and woman were considered set apart to each other from the point a marriage agreement (engagement) was made, they were not to have intimate relationships until after the marriage ceremony.

God fathered both Adam and Eve through creation. Then He, as Father, committed them to each other and gave them to each other in holy matrimony that met the requirements of maintaining His glory. Then sex consummated their marriage. To have sex outside of the order that practices God’s glory, fulfilling His good, intent, and purpose is the sin of fornication. Fornication breaks God’s law of purity in commitment.

Adultery is when two people come together in sexual relations with at least one being married to a third party. This breaks the law of purity in commitment to one partner, and it tends to destroy family units.

Failure to keep commitment often leads to the permanent separation of divorce, which God hates. When a divorced person remarries, this, too, is deemed an adultery. Remarriage flows from the broken commitment to one’s first love, aligning itself with another lover. Thus, God’s Word warns:

“I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32 NLT)

God is ONE Being who represents Himself to us in three entities: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. These three rightly and truly represent God, standing together as One being, fully committed to one another, working together in unity to accomplish all God’s righteous good, intent, and purpose. It was intended that God’s created beings enter into this same commitment and become One in Union with THE ONE.

True commitment requires choice, the opportunity for which God provided in two trees with rules to keep. As we know, Adam and Eve chose death’s separation from God, instead of Life in Union as part of His ONEness. Thus, sin entered the world through sinful flesh that perpetuates itself from generation to generation.

Unity with God requires full commitment to all righteousness, which always moves with Him to accomplish His good, intent, and purpose, out of a trusting relationship with unbreakable bonds. Marriage is to mirror the commitment and unity that is God toward Himself and His creation. Anything that goes outside of God’s design for the bonds of matrimony destroys the image, falsely representing God. So, though divorce was allowed by Moses because of the hard heart of mankind that fails to maintain this unity, divorce is not God’s will. In fact, scripture warns us that God hates divorce.

When we divorce, severing our commitment to be one with our first love, remarriage produces an image of one who leaves the ONE and true God to unite itself to a false god. It pictures the fall of humankind as it chose to leave God and align itself with the intent and purpose of Satan.

Marriage done well pictures the oneness of the ONE God; and Family the oneness of God with His created beings. Divorce distorts both, and remarriage pictures changing alliances from one’s First Love.

Thus we see why God hates divorce. And we see why sexual vice outside of God’s plan is a major focus in scriptural warnings, telling us that those practicing these sins will not enter through the gates of Heaven. Only the righteous get through. And there is the Good News, we will cover in the next post.

Receiving God’s Promise

“For I will restore you to health And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘BECAUSE they have called you an outcast, saying: “It is Zion; NO ONE CARES FOR HER.” ’” (Jeremiah 30:17 NASB)

This is a promise from God to Israel at a time when their enemies noticed God’s judgement against them and began to say of them that they were outcasts because “no one cares for them,” which was and still is a lie. God cares for His people, including us. The Amplified classic version says He cares about us watchfully and cares for us affectionately (1 Peter 5:7). God will not let the enemy speak such blasphemy concerning His care for us, so for Israel, even in the midst of their sin state, God assured them of His healing.

I saw this Promise today as a stand alone truth the person was leaning on for their little one. As I read it, “I will restore you to health And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the LORD.” It spoke clearly to me for my husband. What tells me I have the right to trust this as truth from God for Johnny. The assurance that our God cares for us and that He is the One who determines our lifespan and the boundaries of our habitation (Acts 17:22-28).

Casting the whole of our care on You Lord, all our anxieties, all our worries, all our concerns, once and for all on You, we trust You to bring Johnny back to health of body, mind, soul, strength, and spirit, and to heal this wound that refuses healing. We trust You to respond all because You care for us affectionately and You care about us watchfully. This is our hope and cry in Jesus Holy Name, who imparts righteousness to us by the power of Your grace sufficient, amen.

1 Peter 5:7 AMPC

ACTS 17:23-28 NASB

Psalm 55:22 AMPC

Commended by God

“When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.” (2 Corinthians 10:18 NLT)

As I read this today, the commendation first in my thoughts is God’s commendation of Job to Satan. I know! That doesn’t sound so good, does it? But listen to how proud God is.

“Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”” (Job 1:8 NLT)

Wow! I can but only live with hope of catching God’s eye in such a way. But that’s not the ultimate proof of God’s pride toward Job. That which followed is the proof text.

“Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.”

“So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (Job 1:9-12 NLT)

Note that God pointed Job out to Satan. The test coming is God’s idea. God knew the heart of Job toward Him would prevail. He knew that whatever Lucifer threw at him, Job’s heart would reach out in faith to His Father and proclaim truths like, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”” (Job 1:21 NLT)

And then there’s the frustrated discourse with his heart broken wife:

“His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.” (Job 2:9-10 NLT)

I cannot think of one person in scripture, commended by God, who did not walk through trial and testing that proved not only the caliber of their character, but the faithfulness of their God as they continued in faith toward Him. Moses was tried, tested, and grown as he led the people he was charged to guide. Joseph faced trial and testing that grew him to be strong in the skill and character necessary to rule a kingdom. Jesus faced every trial and passed every test on His way to the throne of Glory.

Sweetheart, those God loves, He proves and prunes. Are you going through a hard time, seeing your faith and integrity tested at every turn? It’s not that God has left your side, but more likely that He has recommended you as His righteous child of faith and integrity. He will not leave your side through the journey. And we pass the test by making sure, with every challenge of our faith, that we refuse to walk away from Him.

Look again at the challenge from Satan regarding Job.

“Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” SO SATAN LEFT THE LORD’S PRESENCE.” (Job 1:9-12 NLT)

In order to do the evil Satan intended toward Job, Satan had to leave the Lord’s Presence. That is the test we all face, Beloved. Satan temps us to lose faith and leave the Lord’s Presence. Will we remain with Him, or will testing see us walk away.

Let’s turn now to Jesus:

“…As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” …” (John 6:52-71 NASB)

Difficulty coming into one’s life is not proof one is lost and failing to align with God. Difficulty in life is not necessarily an act of punishment from God. Difficulty can well mean we are commended by God for proving. And all through our test, Jesus asks us, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Those who pass the test are those who remain with Him despite the difficulty that comes to test and try our faith and character.

Stand firm, Beloved. God will not leave you alone in the fires or lion’s dens of life. He is forever with and for you. Your privilege is to stand firm with and for Him, so as to come out not only unscathed by the challenge, but stronger in character and skill for service and smelling like Jesus.

What Partnership

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? …” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NASB)

When we read in scripture about binding relationships, if you are like me, thought most often goes to marriage. However, this passage is not speaking of marriage, but of any relational allegiance: corruptible friendships, unrighteous business partnerships, etc. Any allegiance with those who deny God have the potential to serve our enemy as a source of temptation, leading us to dishonor God.

Are we to leave lost friends once we commit to Christ? Very possibly: weighing those relationships against the teaching that bad company corrupts good morals, we may have to stop running with friends who run swiftly into evil practices. Should we pass up big money opportunities that require us to partner with untrustworthy people with no moral scruples? “Surely God knows we will use the money wisely.” But at what cost to His Name, for which we are representative?

There is a lot to consider when binding ourselves with others. Will we live lives that lift them higher as we lead the relationship into righteous practices; or will we fall into a pit while trying to lift them up. These are important things to consider in relationships, old and new, as we commit to relationship with God, to honor Him with our all.

1 Corinthians 15:33

Trusting God’s Faithful Plan

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

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

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

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

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

Empowered for Radiance

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3 NLT – https://www.bible.com/116/heb.1.3.nlt)

Jesus, still today, from His throne in Glory and His seat in the soul of every Christ follower, lives and breathes to radiate God’s own glory and express the very character / nature of God Almighty, the Father and creator of all. Jesus sets the example for all the children of God to follow. We too are the image of God’s glory on earth, tasked to live and breathe His character for all to see and know Him.

Now, after providing for our cleansing for all eternity, Jesus is seated in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. The right hand of God is the position of imparted power and authority. Jesus has full right as King of glory to rule on God’s behalf and see to the completion of all things as God wills. Part of that includes enduing the children of God to take up the work of Christ on earth. We now bear the responsibility to radiate God’s own glory and express the very character of God, in the name and authority of Christ.

Scripture even tells us that, in Christ, we are seated with Him in the heavenlies. As the body of Christ, we are at the right hand of the Father with Him (Ephesians 2:6). Therefore, we are given authority in Christ, and that authority empowers us in likeness to Him so we may radiate God’s own glory and express the very character of God, in the name and authority of Christ. By His Power from the Father, Jesus sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. In Christ, we go forth to complete what is lacking. As His lights, drawing many to Him, we prosper His Kingdom in His authority.

“Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing….” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NASB)

Ephesians 2:4-10 NASB

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NASB

Galatians 3:26-27 NASB

Colossians 2:9-23 AMPC

Truth in Action

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18 NLT)

Let us not merely say we love, but show the truth of it in action. This call to visual proof of the truth of our claim to an attribute of godliness can be applied to so many other words.

Let us show the truth by our actions.

We don’t have to tell people we love them, we care for them, we honor and respect them when they see it in the actions we take toward them. We don’t have to tell others how faithful we are, how big on integrity, how trustworthy the truth of our words, when our actions reveal it to be our true nature.

Actions do speak, and they speak loudly. Words without visible proof speak louder still. Let us decide who we are as the people of God and prove the truth of it in action.

“We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him” (1 John 3:19 NASB)

The “Then” Keys

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” (Isaiah 58:8-9 NKJV)

I love Isaiah 58. It is one of my favorite passages of scripture, filled with promises from God and instruction to us for a sincere heart of fasting before the Lord.

In verses 1-7 begins instruction on the fast, which expresses the “Then Key” to obtaining the Promises. It expresses the fast God has chosen, which in short is to die to self; laying down one’s own life for others; counting the lowest, most destitute above self; taking up our cross of self-denial to follow Jesus.

And what are the promises we can unlock and possess with these keys?

Then keys unlock:

🗝 your light which breaks forth like the morning.

🗝 your healing, springing forth speedily.

🗝 your Righteousness, going before you;

🗝 The glory of the LORD as your rear guard.

🗝 you shall call, and the LORD will answer;

🗝 you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

The chapter is full of keys of selfless fasting that gains the keys to unlock the BLESSings of abundant life. Read it often. Practice it with every breath. And watch in scripture for other Kingdom keys.

Directed by Bit and Bridle

“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.” (James 3:2-3 NASB)

We looked last post at the coal of fire used to cleanse the whole of Isaiah’s person by the cleansing of his lips; at how control of the tongue prevents sin. Then James points out how a horse is controlled by the bit and a bridle. That begs the question of what we can learn from the purpose and function of a bit and bridle.

This piece is the bit.

Looking at it in position on an animal, we see the bit lies over the tongue.

Researching the purpose of the bit, one thing jumps out to speak to me. The main purpose I found for the bit is to allow the rider to communicate with the horse. With training, the bit equips the horse to know the direction the rider wants to go, as well as how fast or slow to travel and when and where to stop. The amount of pressure used increases to get an unruly animal in check, and lessens to reward cooperative obedience.

As noted, the bit lies over the tongue. With regard to our relationship with God, this speaks to me of the importance of keeping the mouth still so the ears can hear and the senses can comprehend. One of the best definitions of this quiet alertness to God is Psalm 46:10.

“Cease striving, be still (quiet), stop fighting, let be and know that I am God” (KJV, NASB, AMPC, early translations of TLB, GNB)

Our listening ears have to focus. Rattling our mouths will hinder hearing with discernment. So we literally need to quiet our mouths and perk up our ears. As God’s people, we are to listen fully. In ministry to others, we are to listen to the person in front of us, listening both to their issues and listening to discern if God just placed an assignment before us. Any speaking should be to aid comprehension of the person’s true need until understanding comes and wisdom from God rises.

So, we need literally to quiet our mouths and open our ears: first to perceive God and His will, purpose, plan; and then to hear, perceive, understand those around us and their needs.

But there’s another way our “tongues” must be still. We talk without a word. We let our minds wander. Our emotional state toward the person or situation before us can lead to fuming, griping, complaining, fidgeting, feeling put upon, upset over an intrusion, excited for some opportunity, or a sundry of other thoughts, emotions, and desires that hinder ability to hear God or people. To hear we must cease striving against the situation, get our body and emotions still, quiet our thoughts, know God may be in the situation, and let Him be God in His leading and using us.

The reins connect to the bit rings, via a bridle: headgear that connects all together and aids to control the head, and thus, the whole body of the animal. Tugging left or right, pulling back or leaning forward let’s the horse know the direction, speed, and stopping place. Some animals are easily distracted or startled by things on the sidelines, so blinders are used to aid their focus. All of this aids both communication and control of the animal.

But here’s the thing we most need to know about James’ analogy:

“Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.” (Psalms 32:9 NKJV)

When love and trust connect a horse and rider, the horse wants to be with and please the rider. With such a relationship, the rider can ride and communicate without bit and bridle, and the horse obey willingly and immediately. They trust each other and work together well as partners.

This is the relationship God wants with us, Beloved. He wants us to recognize and know when He is directing us and communicating His desires to us. It requires a trust that comes out of a love relationship.

When I first started really seeking God to understand His communication with me on a personal level, I first had to choose and commit myself to trust Him. I chose to first trust that He would distinguish Himself to me and protect me from the trickery of the “stranger”. I had to trust Him to give me comprehensive understanding of His “voice”, His way of speaking to my understanding. Not that I hear an actual voice, but understanding of His will and direction in a situation comes so clearly that I can say with surety, “God says to me, ‘This is the way. Walk ye in it’”

God has purposes for life that is common to all His people. But He also has a purpose and plan for each of us that is ours to discover and walk out faithfully as His servant ambassador to the world.

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

Wherever we are, God has us there for His purposes. We are to do our work as for Him, living our lives as represents Him. Some have a call to special service as ministers of God’s choosing. To fulfill that purpose we must grow to discern His lead and cooperate with His directives as He leads us to that place.

Then there are those like me, called to write (or speak) His Word of encouragement, making it clear. Without trust in God to put His Word in our hearts and minds and empower our communication, well, we better put our pen down, for a word given without faith that we truly received it from God is sin.

Beloved, how are you doing at following the will of God for us all expressed through the teachings of scripture? Does God have to force His will with His spiritual bit and bridle? He cannot entrust us with His greater calling for our lives, if we can’t obey His directives required of all who say they are His people.

What is your calling and equipping from God? Does your love for and trust in Him empower discernment of His true leading? Do you obey despite any fear of the opinion and rejection of humankind? Stubborn faith to trust Him fully is revealed through obedience productive of the fruit of righteousness. If it is Him directing your path, it will come to the fruition of His will for you.

“Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Psalms 37:3-5 NASB)

A Call to Firm Commitment:

With Insight on the Mark of 666

“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (John 6:66 NKJV – https://www.bible.com/114/jhn.6.66.nkjv)

As I read the following devotional, the address of our focal scripture caught my attention. The question hit my understanding, “Could this define the mark of Satan’s 666?”

I’m not a, what are they called, numerologist, but could the number on this address be a God thing? These chapter and verse numbers weren’t in the original writings. They were added to the scriptures later, when people preparing our text worked to make them available to all. It is to aid study and memorization.

I believe God guided the compilation and functionality of our scriptures. And, because of that question rising up as it did, I find it telling, this 666 address that points to people’s refusal to walk with Jesus.

Take this thought for what it’s worth. May the reading of Pastor Chambers devo firm up our commitment.

Are You Going on with Jesus?

Oswald Chambers

My Utmost for His Highest

Holy Bible App

“It is true that Jesus Christ is with us through our temptations, but are we going on with Him through His temptations? Many of us turn back from going on with Jesus from the very moment we have an experience of what He can do. Watch when God changes your circumstances to see whether you are going on with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We wear His name, but are we going on with Him? “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66).

“The temptations of Jesus continued throughout His earthly life, and they will continue throughout the life of the Son of God in us. Are we going on with Jesus in the life we are living right now?

“We have the idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings around us. May it never be! It is God who engineers our circumstances, and whatever they may be we must see that we face them while continually abiding with Him in His temptations. They are His temptations, not temptations to us, but temptations to the life of the Son of God in us. Jesus Christ’s honor is at stake in our bodily lives. Are we remaining faithful to the Son of God in everything that attacks His life in us?

“Are you going on with Jesus? The way goes through Gethsemane, through the city gate, and on “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13). The way is lonely and goes on until there is no longer even a trace of a footprint to follow—but only the voice saying, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19).”

The High Calling of Heroic Servitude

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:13-14 NASB

“Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for Your sake,” and he meant it (John 13:37). He had a magnificent sense of the heroic. For us to be incapable of making this same statement Peter made would be a bad thing—our sense of duty is only fully realized through our sense of heroism. Has the Lord ever asked you, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38). It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

To lay down my life as friend of Christ: my heart thrills at thought of such commitment, faithfully lived. To truly accomplish such a desire, I must lay down my will and way so as to walk in obedience to His will and way. I must trust Him, His leading, His Presence, His provision.

It takes a heroic Spirit to trust the lead of God, pressing past fleshly fear and one’s own desires and ideas of what’s best, to accomplish that which for fleshly, limited minds, is the unthought of, unimaginable, heights of God’s glory.

Who would have thought of the promised Kingdom of God rising up from the death of its King? And who, looking for that Kingdom to line up with their limited brains understanding, would lay down their life to walk that King to His death, feeling they might die with Him and the Kingdom be lost. Only those possessing a heroic Spirit.

Though we are on the side of more complete revelation and able to see more clearly than the disciples who saw the face of Christ, I wonder how many of us are dictated by fear rather than faith to lay self down as friend to the King and, trusting Him fully, to follow His lead dutifully, even to end of days. Following Jesus today still requires a heroic Spirit, and God has made provision for that need.

A hero is not someone who doesn’t know fear. A hero is one who does the needed right despite fear. He (or she) stands in the strength of God’s supply, laying fear at His feet, and does the needed righteousness out of faith’s commitment and trust. The better we get at heroically refusing to let our fears quench God’s Spirit in us, the more we will experience the fulfillment of His high calling in life.

Father, grant us to trust You enough to obey Your lead even when Your will and way makes no sense to our finite brains. Grant us courage to embrace Your directives, and, in the power of Your Spirit, to walk boldly into the glory of Your high calling. In service to The King, Amen.

Faith Made Whole

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

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

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

Know Your Enemy

“Abram replied to the king of Sodom, “I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’” (Genesis 14:22-23 NLT)

Wow. The commitment Abram had toward God, putting His faith and trust in Him, desiring to protect God’s image at all cost. Is my heart there?

This leads my heart to another scripture I read with note today:

“… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. …” (Matthew 6:19-24 NASB)

The desire of Abram for God and His glory was strong. Because of that desire for God and His work in his life, Abram’s eyes were set on having that desire met. He did not look away from God and the assurance He gave to him for the good coming from God’s hand. He knew any treasure of man could not compare to what God had in store, so he chose the treasure of heaven over that which his physical experience could grasp.

Abram proved faithful, having spiritual eyes full of the Light of Glory.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” (Genesis 17:1 NLT)

It was this focus on God that won Abraham the reputation of being a righteous man, a man of faith, one God called “friend”. Note what this verse says, because it contains the way, the truth, and the life: “Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.”

It is in faithfulness that we find the path of the blameless. The faithful keep their eyes on God, the Prize. The faithful have their desire set on God and His ways, being excited to see what the Lord will do. The faithful lay their treasure in Heaven. The faithful have eyes filled with God’s Light. The faithful trust God and follow His directives. The faithful protect God’s image at all cost. The faithful know their true enemy is their own fleshly , darkened eyes, set against God, His will, and His way.

“I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’”

How many of us have our senses so trained on God and godliness, that we can recognize temptations to rob God’s glory? Anything that is set to steal us away from the path of God’s desire for us, is set to rob and pilfer the glory of our God. That flesh eye, filled with darkness, is what opened Eve to temptation, leading to the fall of humankind. We don’t want to be on the wrong side of that line between Light and dark.

Father, this heart of Abram is also the heart of our Christ and King. Grant us eyes full of Light found in hearts set on Your glory, that we may stand with You and for You. In Jesus, amen.

God’s Righteous Right Hand

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

This excites me! Look at what this says.

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

And the really exciting one!

  • He upholds us with His righteous right hand.

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

JESUS!

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

PROPITIATE!

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

KINSMAN REDEEMER!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Desires Fulfilled

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Watchful Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Favor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Right Helpmeet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there’s more to this story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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