Tag Archives: Focus

The Dream – Part 2

Ploy Uncovered 

Yesterday the battle was revealed, the enemy of the Groom seeks to cut the legs and reproductive canal off the body of the Bride, hindering the bearing of the fruit of Righteousness into the earth. How does he do that? Is it through sin? Yes and no. What do I mean?

Unrepentant sin habits stunt the growth of a Christian and hinder the intimacy of their union with the Groom. But remember in the dream, this is the Bride who intimately loves the Groom and seeks with all her being, even to the loss of her life, to birth healthy righteousness into the earth. So I would say that this is not a professing Christian who is walking as an unrepentant, wayward child of God, never fully developing the intimacy that He intends. This is the mature and growing Bride who desires right and intimate relationship with the Groom at all cost, and she seeks to protect the birthing of the child into the earth, even if it has to be by C-section. So I do not see sin itself as the issue that hinders and disables this Bride, but some attack from this enemy of God that cripples and disables, leading to a sin struggle beyond one’s ability to cope apart from the grace of the Divine. Why?

Because as a mature Christian, this Bride is vigilant against sin and seeks quickly to turn back to the Father to walk with Him in His way. She understands that her sins repented of are covered by the blood of the Son, her Groom. So what do I see that Satan is using to lop the legs and ability to bear off of this mature, vital and productive Bride?

~*~

Guilt / Shame:

Satan can trip up even the mature: that is clear. This Bride, mature of faith and growing, recognizes her sin—generally very fast, and repents quickly. When Satan cannot lop off our legs by leading us into a life of habitual and continuous sin, he will try the next best thing, snaring us in guilt and shame. “How can ‘I’ go forth to bear Righteousness when ‘I’ am so worthless,” he says to our minds. Stunned by some fall, though we got back up and turned to the right path, if we are not mindful to the voice of the Father, we will believe this suitor’s lie spoken as our own thought. Though we press forward when so snared, our gait is slow, the path arduous, and we too often hit a gap we cannot cross because we receive the thought as true and forget the Cross of our Groom.

So let’s just put that one to bed right now. Guess what? We are worthless—apart from Christ. Even our greatest good is as filthy rags before our holy God. Thus enters the Groom to grab our hand and remind us of His covering. We are set free indeed through Christ. When God looks at us, He sees us as righteous because He sees us through the covering of the Savior.

We are worthless in our own right. But to God? By His grace, we are PRICELESS; so priceless and desirous that He loves us, and He loves us so much that He gave His Son on our behalf, the propitiation for our sin. In Christ there is no condemnation (Romans 8:1). So, in the name of Jesus, as representing Him and His interests, tell the devil where to go, forgive yourself, and get on with the bearing of the righteous seed within you. Otherwise you risk…

~*~

Discouragement / Despair:

When we cannot forgive ourselves, trust the covering of God, and speak truth to counter the lies of the enemy-suitor who wants to turn the grace of God to foolishness that is useless to the nurturing of the righteous seed within us, discouragement and despair make that seed sickly. Jesus is our Righteousness. He covers us with His blood of cleansing and He has put His Spirit within us: the seed of righteousness. That seed will bear forth if we faint not in the battle because the seed is the source of our ability to bear the produce of God’s Righteous Lot. The seed, the Spirit of God in us, will grow and bear its fruit if we will only believe and surrender to its work. Realizing where our righteousness comes from will protect us from guilt and shame that brings discouragement and despair.

Are we to live righteously and be righteous? Yes. But we can do nothing apart from Christ at work within us. And when we fall only to get back up and press forward anew, we can trust the cover of Christ that reveals His righteousness on our behalf. So don’t give up and don’t give in to discouragement and despair over your own struggle with the enemy suitor. That only leads to…

~*~

Fear / Unbelief:

One of the enemy suitor’s greatest instruments of destruction is fear. If he can lead us into fear, he can trap us there in unbelief. Fear is rooted in and fed by unbelief. If we believe God truly loves us purely, we believe He can and will supply all we need to succeed in fulfilling His intent and purpose, and we have courage and confidence in Him to press forward to reach the goal He sets before us knowing that He will protect His purpose and plan in us. Fear and unbelief are vitally linked in order to destroy our ability to trust that we hear from God or that He will supply us to have what it takes to get the job done.

God’s word in John 10 promises that those vitally linked with Jesus know His voice and follow Him and the stranger’s voice they simply will not follow. Part of what makes one mature in Christ is growing faith in knowing His voice and following Him. He speaks to us in ways we can recognize. The enemy suitor, the antichrist, wants us to doubt the voice of God and fear moving forward. Getting us trapped in this cycle of fear fed by unbelief leads quickly to …

~*~

Self-preoccupation / protection:

Oh my! This one slipped up to grab me and I am still fighting this battle, unsure really how to walk free. But I know God has the answer…God IS the Answer.

I have shared many times about the paranoia my dad is trapped in. He accuses those who love him most of doing things to and against him that they would never think to do, and there seems to be no changing his mind on what he believes to be true. After many years of dealing with this and watching it get worse, one day I heard the lie spoken as from my own thoughts and physically felt something in my psyche snap like the pop of breaking a stick in two. By way of reminder, this is the way it went:

“‘I’ CANNOT do THIS (deal with daddy) anymore.” SNAP!

To which I, replying to what I believed was my own thought, said, “That’s right! I cannot do this anymore.” Agreement. Two or more in agreement has power, whether for good or for harm.

I have struggled with stagnation and hindrance ever since, trapped in all kinds of fear and anxiety over the issue, some reasonable, some ridiculous, but all leading to a discouragement and despair over the situation that has me absolutely snared by self-preoccupation and self-protectiveness. “I can’t deal with it anymore.”

And you know what, that is true. “I” can’t. I am worn out from it. I am so grieved over daddy’s struggle and accusations that I cannot bear to hear it any more. It is beyond me. And there is where my thoughts are trapped and snared up in the line of one “I can’t” after another.

Trapped by a long line of self-preoccupied and protective statements, I struggle to press forward in that area of life, and it affects my ability to press forward in other relationships as well. Where dealing with daddy is concerned, I can do no less than to grasp the hand of the Beloved who reaches out to walk with me in bearing forth Righteousness into the situation. I cannot move to function without Him. The enemy suitor of self-preoccupation and protectiveness fights against my grasp constantly. When the Beloved gets through to grab hold on me, I go forth with power to perform that is all and only that of my Beloved’s working through me; and the victory of it lifts me for a time. Then, unwittingly, I slip back into self-preoccupation and protectiveness, my legs lopped off to half of the pelvis, and the battle begins again.

Preoccupation with self and protection of one’s own in this way quickly can lead to…

~*~

Disunity / Starvation:

For a long while in this struggle I found it difficult to be around others. I could read God’s word, and somehow He always spoke to me through it, but my focus was off. I know His loving, caring presence constantly, ministering to my hurt, but often still I find prayer illusive—deliberate, focused prayer that is. In this struggle with my pain, though God is very near me and I am acutely aware of Him, I see two major ploys listed above in play:

Guilt and shame over the fact that I cannot deal with daddy and do what I feel I should be doing as his eldest daughter. Worried about what others think of me as I feel I have deserted daddy and the rest of the family.

Then there is fear: fear of my family turning from me in their own struggle with anger brought about by this situation we are in. They appear to understand my struggle and often comfort me in it, but still the fear of losing them is there. And finally, social anxiety with others: feeling that if my own daddy cannot see who I really am and that I would never do the things he thinks I have done, how can I trust anyone else to love me and know me?

This guilt, shame and fear have led to “feelings” of disunity, being unable to relate comfortably and confidently with family, friends or church family. I am not feasting in the food found in relationships with others, and am starving for companionship as a result. This struggle has at times led to…

~*~

Procrastination / Misappropriation:

I procrastinate on things I need to do, but that put me into a vulnerable position. When opportunity to gather with others comes, social anxiety leads me to hide out, wasting the energy God gives on fretting, worry, and what amounts to my own unrighteous judgment of the hearts of others I fear are judging me. When it is time to plan family gatherings for some special occasion, I drag my feet, if I move at all. Time and attention I should be giving to friends in need and family indeed, I give to anything that will protect me from having to deal with the situation. The worry and fretting over having to deal with others wears me out, so I wind up behind in everyday things that keep the house in order and me ready for meeting together with others. Thus I procrastinate and misappropriate my time and energy when I am deep in my struggle with this family situation. That, then, finds me in the midst of…

~*~

Distraction / Busyness:

I either struggle with distraction, lacking focus to get anything of significance done, or I get myself to a place of being too busy to have time for dealing with such difficult issues. If Satan cannot slow us down in our pursuit of God and His ways, he will throw us into a season of distraction and / or busyness.

~*~

Well, that took an unexpected turn into a personal testimonial that I did not intend. But I trust God did, and that somehow, as you read my personal struggle, you are helped to see and understand your own disabling, enemy-suitor attack, and the path it too often takes us.

Now, let me tell you, I am getting better, and God has used this season to grow me in areas and ways I am not sure I could have learned as well in any other way. So, to keep this from being way longer than it is, next post will cover things God has taught me and how He is growing me through this struggle. God never wastes anything. He lovingly uses it, as a smelter uses fire to remove dross and as Vine Dresser uses pruning shears and manure fertilizer to promote growth. See you back here for the rest of the story.

The Dream – Part 1

The Battle Revealed

 

Father, the dream, it is pregnant within me, filled with meaning and power. Here am I, O God. Help me to write it. I can do nothing on my own, but only as You give utterance can I.

~*~

Last night I had a dream that I believe is vital for our day. In my dream there were three main characters: the Groom, the Bride, and the enemy suitor that took many forms and had many faces, all coming at the Bride and Groom at one time.

~*~

Now you have the characters, here is the setting:

The Groom has a Bride that He is absolutely mad about. He loves her more than life itself and she is His by promise and by right. All that He does, He does for her, giving even life and breath to show His love and care for her.

The Bride loves the Groom like no other and desires Him above all. Her heart soars at the site of Him, and her greatest delight is His pleasure.

But there is a rival to the Groom who is constantly trying to separate them from one another and woo the Bride away. This enemy suitor puts on appearances of having love and care for the Bride like that of the Groom’s, but his motives are sinister. Though she is not swayed, this rival suitor is relentless in his pursuit.  

~*~

Now you have the setting, here is the dream.

The suitor is constantly pulling at the Bride. She frantically reaches for the Groom who is chasing hard after her as His rival works to separate Him from her presence, but every time they get near to a firm grip on one another, she is swooshed away by the suitor in some new form or many. The Groom runs hard after her, never doubting her faithfulness to Him as He sees in her eyes her desire, and knows her heart for Him.

As the Groom chases His Bride, the enemy suitor takes His legs from Him. Each time he does, the Groom yells, “I believe!” to His Father, and His legs grow back fully restored. He starts His pursuit of the Bride again with ever increasing fervor. Over and over, the enemy suitor takes the Grooms legs, the Groom cries out His faith to the Father who responds to His faith, restoring His legs with power to perform, and the chase goes on.

Determined to win the battle, the suitor turns and takes the legs up to half of the pelvis of the Bride. The Bride, impregnated begins to show signs of her pregnancy as the fetus grows strong within her. The suitor tells her the child is his, to be raised up for his intent and purpose. Missing half of her body, the Bride puts the whole of her life energy into the focus of growing the child within her to be birthed healthy and strong. She has lost sight of her Groom in her pain and stopped reaching for Him, putting all her energy into growing a healthy child within, trusting that something will happen to free her from the pain as she gives her life for the child.

Meanwhile the Groom is calling to her, reaching and fighting to get to her side only to be hindered and fought at every turn by the enemy suitor’s many forms and faces. Calling out to her, as she focuses to grow the child, she hears with recognition the voice of her Beloved, shouting, “Only believe!” Her focus on delivering a healthy child, filled with hope, increases.

Finally the Groom breaks through to the Bride grabbing hold of her hand and assuring her, “The child is ours! We will raise it to our intent and purpose.” Her legs grow back, full and strong, and the suitor with its many faces and forms steps back for a bit as the child is born. I awake to the scenes of the Bride holding the child close and protected; and the Groom standing guard and fighting off the enemy that is now intent on steeling the child.

As I wake, I come quickly to discern the meaning of the dream. The Groom and the Bride are, of course, Jesus and His Bride, the Church. The enemy suitor is Satan and all he uses to lure the Bride away from the Groom, with all their many forms and faces. They try to stop Jesus from complete, intimate, and faithful union with His Bride, but Jesus looks always to the Father who protects His ability to pursue her and get to her. The Bride is impregnated by the Groom with the seed of Righteousness that will work His intent and purpose in the earth. But we have the enemy suitor that is doing all he can to hinder our union with the Groom and get hold on the fruit of our lives, souring it for his intent and purpose, to hinder the birthing of Righteousness in the earth and the bearing of the good fruits of the Kingdom and Crown.

So what are these hindrances used of Satan to cut the legs to half the pelvis off of the Bride? Next post we will look at some I believe are the biggest influences that make the birthing of Righteousness a challenge to be overcome by faith to “Only Believe.”

Thoughts From Isaiah – Chapter 2

A Work Worthy of Worship

“Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made” (Isaiah 2:8).

Is it wrong to rejoice in the work of our hands? That is the question I find myself pondering as my focus is drawn to Isaiah 2:8 for today’s ponderings.

In today’s reading, the people were literally making images out of wood, stone, and metals that they sat up on mantles and called their god. They bowed down to works of art—the works of their hands, and worshipped them.

As Christians we believe there is only one God and He is One though He is seen in the form of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They are one and the same together, three portrayals of the one God. We worship Him who is One. But what about the idols of life? Do we fall to worshipping the works of our hands?

I stand in awe of the gift God gives me for writing His word. Every time I see the words flow to the pages for posting to encourage His people, my heart soars to the heights with awe of His work through me. I rejoice and find great joy in doing this work He calls me to. That is the way I believe God desires it to be as His people find joy in the works of their hands as gifted and empowered by God. That type of worshiping in the works of our hands honors and glorifies God as we surrender to Him as His instruments in all we do, acknowledging from whence our ability comes and our absolute, destitute need of Him in the doing of it.

At the same time, I have constantly the need to be careful that I do not turn to pride in my own efforts. I constantly have to remind myself that I can do nothing apart from Him, and I continually remind God that He is my first most vital need. I cannot do good work apart from Him, for He alone is good. Without Him my writing is labored and faulty, and I know I must have His power flowing through to do the work He calls me to accomplish.

There is a fine line between rejoicing in the works of our hands through worship of God who equips us, and worshiping the works of our hands as if God has nothing to do with it. No matter what our pursuit in life or the activities we take on, without God, it is nothing.

Father, help us today to honor You in all our ways, doing all things as unto the Lord and in the power You supply, giving You glory due Your name. Thank You that You gift us to do work in life that we can rejoice in, finding life abundant and full at the work of Your hands through us. We are partners with You for life, O God. Be glorified and magnified in all we do. In Jesus, amen.

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 1

Passion Inflaming Gardens

Wow. For the first time in several months I find myself without a clear direction for our time of Pondering together. Seeking the Lord for where He desires to speak to me, I am led to read Isaiah. Until God directs otherwise, we will consider thoughts from Isaiah, most likely looking at one thought for each chapter. Today we consider thoughts from Isaiah 1:27-31:

“Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her [returned] converts with righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God). But the crushing and destruction of rebels and sinners shall be together, and they who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. For you will be ashamed [of the folly and degradation] of the oak or terebinth trees in which you found [idolatrous] pleasure, and you will blush with shame for the [idolatrous worship which you practice in the passion-inflaming] gardens which you have chosen. For you shall be like an oak or terebinth whose leaf withers, and like a garden that has no water. And the strong shall become like tow and become tinder, and his work like a spark, and they shall both burn together, with none to quench them” (AMP).

Passion: What is the passion of your life and focus right now, in this very instant? If you are like me, your desire is to say that God is; that the things that God is passionate about are the things that impassion you. But I have to ask myself as I read this thought for today if that is truth. Or is my passion an idol to be dealt with?

Today’s world has many pleasures to be had in it. We can become impassioned to those pleasures with ease, but do those pursuits help our witness or hinder it? Do those things we give ourselves and our time to bring increase to the kingdom of God? Or do we watch the clock tick by hours and minutes in uselessness?

There is nothing wrong with me enjoying a good game of Jewels 2 or Majong Titans. But when I watch 10s of minutes fly by, hour after hour in pursuit to the higher score and faster win day after day while hurting friends are ignored and the house needs attention, my passion for the game becomes an idol that robs of the weightier things of life more abundant and full.

Consider your passions today. Are they driven by eternity, or driven by the earthly?

Father, grant us to have Your heart of passion for those around us and for meeting needs. Help us to have right priorities that, yes, allows for rest and fun things, but not at the expense of our being Your hands and feet in the world. In Jesus, show us Your glory and help us to be Your light reflecting in the earth. Amen.

Chasing Rainbows With DADDY – Part 4: The True Treasure Found

At Rainbow’s End

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

Coming to the end of our walk together in considering chasing rainbows with Daddy-God, we come to the conclusion of the car commercial:

“Finally we see daddy and daughter running excitedly through an open field, daughter anxiously hurrying daddy, beckoning him to come quickly. Grasping hands, together they enjoy the rainbow across the way.”

Our look at Noah, Moses and Abraham has revealed to us that God communicates what is to come to His children, assuring our hearts of His presence in our lives. Not all God spoke to these was promise of good things to come. Sometimes God speaks warning to our hearts and instruction to see us through. You may be saying, “God doesn’t work this way anymore.” Not true. All who believe will and do have many opportunities to stand and see the rainbow hand in hand with God.

I have many rainbows I have stood across from and watched with God through the years, and others I am chasing with Him, watching as they come into view only to disappear from view again, just enough of a glimpse to keep anticipation alive. I wait and watch with earnest expectation of running with God to find the treasure that His promises point me toward. So today we look at past and present rainbow chases in the life of this child of God who feels unworthy to stand in company with such men as these afore mentioned. But for a current view of God’s work today, my own experience is what I have to share. Some of these testimonials you have read of before, but hopefully you will bear with me through the reminder.

Rainbow one: My husband.

Married before, having one daughter and expecting the second when we separated, knowing I did not need to go back into that bad situation again, I cried out to God in despair and fear of being a single parent, possibly being alone for the rest of my life. Falling to sleep, I have a marvelous dream of sitting before a beautiful fire in a fireplace in a house I knew was mine, sipping my coffee, looking up at a painting depicting Christ hanging above the fireplace. At that moment I hear behind me the sound of one I knew was my husband, coming my way as he says goodnight to our kids. Heading into the kitchen for something before joining me, he asks if I need anything. As I say, “I’m fine, thank you,” I awaken, knowing with clarity that the dream was God’s response to my cry. My heart rested in Him, I waited and watched as the days, weeks and months unfolded.

A little over a year later, divorce finalized and now married to a wonderful man who, at that time, was in process of adopting my daughters, making them ours, I sit in front of a fireplace, sipping coffee, and look up to see the very picture that I saw in my dream. Hearing my husband come up the hall saying good night to our daughters, he enters the kitchen. “Hun, you need anything?”

Standing before that rainbow, knowing the presence of my God there with me in that moment, we rejoice together over His faithfulness to bring His promise to pass.

Rainbow two: Disaster warning.

Sitting in my quiet time one morning before my husband got up to prepare for work, God warns my heart that something horrendous is going to happen at Johnny’s workplace that day. As I help him get ready for work, the sense of dread just continues to grow. So I warn him of the issue and ask him to stay home and have our friend he carpooled with to do the same. He assured me he would be watchful, but he had to go to work.

A couple of hours later he calls. A heavy section being lifted into position for attachment to the unit they were building was secured to the boom with what we later learned was a faulty piece of equipment that gave way, dropping its load from its height. Hitting our friend on its way by, it breaks him in half, leaving him a paraplegic. I grieved before the rainbow with the Lord during that season, and we watched as He changed the life of a family, for their good and His glory, though through some very difficult circumstances.

Rainbow three: The cry of the Spirit.

I went through two weeks of sensing the Spirit of God grieving something. Again knowing that something was about to happen, I spent those two weeks telling all who would listen of the Spirit’s grief for some soon to come event. When news came of the Oklahoma city bombing, I was glued to the TV, weeping with the Spirit for days.

Rainbow four: God’s provision.

At a time when our second daughter was about to go to college, needing another vehicle for her to take to college, our son, only months into his driving experience, wrecked our van. Now we needed two vehicles. Crying out to God for His provision of our need, I sense Him telling me that all would be well and to call the prayer chain and have them pray specifically for His provision for the need. That day my husband and son drive up with another car: cost, $10.

My mother-in-law passed away several months before the event. During her illness which required frequent trips to the city for treatments, they bought a smaller vehicle for use around town. However mom, a tall woman, was uncomfortable in the car, so they parked it after only a half dozen uses. When we wound up in need, dad “sold” it to us.

Insurance paid $4500 on the wrecked vehicle. One day while on a date in the city we decided to stop at a lot and just see what they had available. Finding a Taurus that was in good shape but had a lot of miles on it, Johnny offered them $4000 for it, end cost. When the salesman came back from talking with the manager, they agreed on the $4000, but then added the tags, titles, etc. to the cost. Johnny told them no, the $4000 was to be end cost or we could not take it. The salesman said they could not do that. Heading out to the truck, I am surrendering the car, which I liked a lot, to God and again expressing trust for “His provision.” Johnny opens the door for me and as I am climbing in, we here the salesman calling behind us, “Wait. Come back. We accept the offer.” Thus, God’s provision cost us a van, but left us with $500 in our pockets and two cars. The prayer chain and I stood in awe before the rainbow of God’s provision in awe of His hand.

That old Taurus with over 100,000 miles on it kept taking me wherever I needed to go throughout my daughter’s college days and son’s high school years. The little Topaz carried my daughter through college and into her married life. God indeed blessed us.

Rainbow five: The “earthquake like” event.

Again in my quiet time God warned me that our nation would suffer an event—the damage of which would be likened to that of an earthquake that would strike from New York City to Washington DC, setting our nation and indeed, the world, to grief. After two years of God leading me to call people to prayer, well, the towers fell. I have to wonder how much worse it might have been had God not called His people to pray, for God promises that when we seek Him, we will find Him. And when we ask with faith, we will receive. He instructed my heart that the event would not be stopped, for it had purpose, but I am convinced that it could have been so much worse.

Rainbow six: “He will be My son”.

After our son graduated from High School, he decided that he would move off with a friend we barely knew to another city in another state. I was very concerned, as he struggle so through his senior year, leaving home for a time and graduating by the skin of his teeth, as they say. I wanted to hang on to him and keep him close where I could protect him somehow, but knew he was of age and there was really nothing I could do beyond encouraging him to stay nearby for a while until he was better situated. And I was going to more strongly encourage him in that than we already had done, until God very clearly highlighted 2 Samuel 7:14 for me, saying, “I will be his Father, and he will be My son, and when he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of man.” In other words, “Hands off, daughter. He is mine to deal with now.” Sharing that with my husband, we let him go his way.

It was a rough few years, watching him make mistakes that nearly landed him in prison for a time. But God. God was faithful to be his Father, disciplining and training him. During the time it looked like he might have to go to prison, God told me to look at the promise again. There, I discovered the rest of the story in verse 15, where God clearly added, “But My lovingkindness will NEVER leave him.” And it hasn’t. He got probation and has grown to be a responsible young man with children of his own, having met his wife in that place. To me, she is perfect for him, able to deal with his hardheaded ways better than most.

She and I have seen many rainbows come and go with my son, stemming off this promise of God. One I continue to wait for is seeing him grow in the signs of son-ship, bearing the fruit of the Spirit more fully. I know that rainbow will come with time, because God is faithful and He continues to assure my heart, “He will be my son, and I will be his Father….”

Rainbow seven: “I will return.”

A promise we all have and watch for is the returning Christ as King for a thousand years. I know this too is coming and watch for it with earnest expectation and hope-filled anticipation. The more evil grows in the earth, the more my heart cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.” But even still I have to add, “Yet not one second before the last one who will respond comes to You.” I do not believe Jesus will return until all who will receive Him as Savior and Lord have been brought into the fold. Thus we continue our work of being His witnesses in the earth to raise up disciples to Christ.

In all of this, as I look at this journey of rainbows before me, I stand in awe as I recognize the treasure I have found. It is there for each of us. What is it?

Absolute assurance in the faithfulness of God, who continually says to us, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.”

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Come. Chase His rainbows with me. By faith grab hold of your share of the treasure, friend, and press onward and upward with confidence in God.

Chasing Rainbows With DADDY – Part 3: Earnest Expectations

In the Car

Thus far on our journey with Daddy to chase the rainbow, we considered the fact that we must first choose to go on this wonderful journey with Daddy-God, and that comes through trusting in the faithfulness of God. Next we have to get in the car with Him. That is accomplished as we “only believe”: believe we can hear Him and know His voice, discerning what He is telling us; believe with trust that He will lead the way on paths of righteousness that will reach the destiny; believe what He says is truth; and most importantly believe that God is who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do. Today we seek to discover what that belief looks like, beginning by going back to that car in the commercial:

“Do you see it?” daddy yells.

“There it is!” exclaims daughter.

Later, “Where is it?” asks dad.

“Its gone. We lost it,” the dejected voice of his little girl says.

“We’ll find it,” assures daddy as he turns on a dirt road, splashing through a puddle.

The roller coaster ride of anticipation; oh my, what a journey that can be. Riding in the car with Daddy-God on numerous journeys of my own has been wrought full of excitement too often tempered by time of wondering if we will ever reach our destination. And when the ride is long, the journey can include times of distraction and impatience that can lead us to become disinterested in the journey, detached, apathetic. So what are we to do while in the car of destiny to protect ourselves from the malady of apathy? What does God expect from us? Let’s take a look at this little girl in the car, Noah, Moses, and Abraham to discover some of our roll in the journey.

From our little girl in the car, I am reminded of one of my favorite Paulian quotes found in Philippians 1:18-20: “…according to my earnest expectation and hope….”

Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. Even in long waits, when we catch a glimpse of the rainbow, we should be filled anew with earnest expectation and hope that has us yelling with excitement, “Daddy, I see it!” And what does that earnest expectation and sincere, faith-based hope produce?

Noah:

“Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22).

We do not see any sign that Noah questioned God as Moses did. He simply began collecting the wood and tools, drawing up the plans just as God gave them to him, and making the pitch ready.

Another act of obedience and hint of what Noah did during the time of awaiting the flood is seen in the account of events as given by Christ in the Gospels:

“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

Apparent to me in this account of Christ is that Noah warned the people of the wrath to come, imploring them to repent and turn to righteousness. The hint in this passage to this fact is that the people “did not understand” what they were warned of until it was too late. And who do we think warned them but the one that God told to prepare for it? Surely people asked Noah, “What on earth is this thing you build, and why?” God did not tell him to keep it secret. And I know if it were me, I would certainly be trying to warn other family members and friends to prepare for what was to come. And like Jesus in the parable of the bridegroom’s unwilling guests, when family and friends would not listen, I would tell anyone who would lend me an ear (Matthew 22:1-14).

We also find similar hint to Noah’s warnings in the words of Peter who called Noah the preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). And so must we, in the car with God as off we go, our rainbows to see.

Moses:

Moses is also an example of obedience, as are all who ride in God’s rainbow seeking auto, though, like all of us, he had his moments of slipping to the flesh. So what can we learn through Moses experience about being in the car on a long journey to a rainbow with God? There is probably a lot more than we will cover here, but I see two things about Moses that is important to our ability to make rainbow runs that avoid apathy.

First is his perseverance. As some have been heard to say, it took Moses and Israel 40 years to make what should have only been a 15 day journey. Why?

“For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the sons of Israel, “You are an obstinate people; should I go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you. Now therefore, put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what I shall do with you”’” (Exodus 33:5).

Standing at the foot of the Mountain of God, waiting for Moses to come down, the people of Israel became impatient and questioned the faithfulness and ability of God to protect and keep Moses for so long, and thus, to protect and keep them; so they sinned against God by making a molten image to bow down to as their god. They failed to stay in the car with God, bailing out when doubt came, and wound up wondering the desert wastelands for 40 years. But God remained faithful though they were not, empowering Moses to lead them during that time, helping him to persevere, though their obstinance and rebellion would often test his patience.

Perseverance in life’s journey is a must if we are to stay in the car with God. Life too often challenges our resolve in this journey. But God will help us to persevere if we keep looking to Him as our resource and encouragement. And that brings us to the second thing I see in Moses that we can learn to incorporate into our journey with God. Continuing in Exodus 33:

“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, You say to me, “Bring up this people!” But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, “I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name’” (vs. 12-17).

Moses had an awesome, personal, real, vibrant and vital relationship with God that was fed and sustained by his sincerity in his communications with God. He not only grew to trust God, but he relied on Him and expected Him to be the faithful God that God made him to understand He was.

God told Moses from the beginning that His name is “I AM”. That name resounds the faithfulness of God by emphasizing that what we can come to know of Him is who He is, thus His story tells us, “I AM Love”, “I AM Real”, “I AM with you”, “I AM Faithful”. To know God intimately in ways that give us confidence to communicate with Him as Moses and other examples of faith have done will keep us in the car with Him even when the journey is long.

Abraham:

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ …” (Genesis 22:1).

Abraham had a promise from God that all the land of the Canaan of his sojourning, as far as he could see, would belong to him and his posterity. But all the life of Abraham was spent as a squatter in the land of promise. Any land he gained was given or sold to him by those who possessed the land in his day. He lived his entire life in waiting, for, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Abraham did not sit around and twiddle his thumbs, waiting aimlessly on the sofa of faith. He did not try to force his way into possessing the land. He trusted God’s timing, waiting on God’s instruction, and he possessed a “here am I” attitude that was prompt to respond to God’s call. He lived the life he had to the full with God while awaiting the promise to come. Even when God tested him, telling him to sacrifice his one and only heir of promise, the one through whom Abraham expected the promises of God to be fulfilled, he did not hold anything back from God, but he trusted two things: that God would provide for Himself in His faithfulness, and that God was able to raise up people even from the dead if that was His way of fulfilling the promise (Genesis 22:2-14; Hebrews 11:19).

Because Abraham believed and trusted God with a “here am I” attitude, the promise of God proved faithful to do as Abraham had come to trust He would and His promise was affirmed to him.

“Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, ‘By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice’” (Genesis 22:15-18).

A “here am I” attitude does not sit on faith as the means to an end. Faith is the engine. But there must also be a can do attitude that willingly does what is required.

“But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:18-24).

Inside the car with Daddy-God we find earnest expectation and hope coupled with faith that produces unquestioning, immediate obedience pouring forth from a “Here am I” attitude of readiness that holds nothing back from God and that perseveres the challenges, tests, and extended journey of life. And where does our time in the car with Daddy take us? To the concluding post in this series of study.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 6

Delighting in the Light of Love

“…Whoever says he is in the Light and [yet] hates his brother [Christian, born-again child of God his Father] is in darkness even until now. Whoever loves his brother [believer] abides (lives) in the Light, and in It (the Light) or in him (the person in the Light) there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin. But he who hates (detests, despises) his brother [in Christ] is in darkness and walking (living) in the dark; he is straying and does not perceive or know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:7-11).

This one is difficult for me to write as it brings thought of our beloved ex-son-in-law, one we loved and trusted for over 9 years, but who did sin against our grandbabies, breaking our hearts and the trust given. So, I decided just to share with you the struggle and see where it leads us in understanding this part of our suffering with Christ.

How do I express to you the love we are to have for one another when a deep wounded-ness exists in my own family due to the unbelievably evil hurt done us by one we loved so much and called not only “brother” in Christ, but “son” / “husband” / “daddy”? How do I tell you to love one another when such things work hindrance in our love walk together, knowing most all of us have such hurts in this life?

Is it love that was shown us by the one who did the evil? Is it love for us that would expect us to continue on as if nothing evil happened; as if no deep wound exists? Is it unforgiveness when hurt and inability to fully trust exists to hinder love’s expression despite there being forgiveness? Maybe, in discovering love in difficult situations, we should begin by looking at what hate looks like. Do I hate this one I love?

According to our passage for today in the Amplified version of scripture, hate is to detest or despise another.

Do I detest this one I love? Detest: to dislike. No. He is one of the most likable people I know even now. As I told my husband, it hurts more that he is still just who he is, the one we like and enjoy being with; he is very likable and I still like him. But I hate the evil done and the things that sound like excuses because of some hurt of his own that he says led him back to the lifestyle that led to the sin against God and us. I hate the evil, not the man. And I hate the excuses that still seem to remain in his apologies. I know he knows there is no excuse. But I still hear the excuse come out of him as if the harm done him gives right to him for his sin. I do not detest him. I ache over him with a hurt that is deep and can only be healed by the God I love.

Do I despise Him? Despise: To regard with contempt or scorn; To dislike intensely; loathe; To regard as unworthy of one’s interest or concern. No, none of this is true about my thoughts and feelings toward him. Again, I find the evil done contemptible. But I do not scorn him over it, though I do not desire him to have access to those he did harm toward; and though I do not see our relationship ever being what it once was; though I must qualify that with understanding that nothing shall be impossible with God.

For God’s sake, my own sake, and for the sake of my grandkids, there is still potential for a relationship of love and even respect, but I do not see that relationship ever being what it once was, though it can in many ways be better as he turns from his sin and allows God to use him in helping others who struggle as he does / did; and as we get past the hurt to leave pain behind and walk in love restored by God’s love through us.

Is there contempt there toward him? Contempt: The feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless; scorn; The state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace. Inferior—all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That includes me. No, I am not better than he is. Base—the lowest of the low he is not; the sin was low as it did harm to children, but he is not debased to me. He is a sinner set free as he stands sincerely repentant before his Holy God, just as I am. Is he worthless? “For God so loved…that He gave His only begotten Son….” No. Despite his fall to sin, I believe that he is repentant before our holy God who died for us all.

Do I want harm toward him? Am I pleased that he might wind up in prison? No. I hate that for him. But he is faced with the potential charges that can be brought up on him because of his sin and the consequences that come to such. His future is in the hands of God and of the governing officials set over us by God. So I wait to see what God will do, and I pray that God, who knows the truth of the heart of this son, will have mercy according to the truth He finds there.

So in this day and age, when hurting people hurt people, how do we love one another despite hurt toward each other? How is God leading me to continue to love this one despite the hate of the sin done toward our family by him and the lack of trust that exists, and despite the brokenness it brought to us as a family?

For one, I choose to leave his consequences in the hands of God. We have severed relationship as it was because of the divorce that came. Now we can debate the “sin” of that, but for the kids’ sake, that is the path that was decided on, and I have no regrets there, though I hate all the sin that led to that decision.

Despite the change in the relationship, I still work to maintain what relationship we can have, again for God’s sake as a Christian called to continue in love, for my own sake so no hindrance come to my relationship with God and others involved, and for the kids’ sakes as they need the example of forgiveness and those who are his blood need to know their daddy is still loved. But also for his sake, so discouragement over the situation does not do more harm than good. I want to build him up and help him find a renewed relationship with God through repentance and restoration. So relationship, though different, remains important and something to work toward making it the best it can be under the circumstances; and hopefully, in the long run, a better, stronger love that will do no harm to the one loved.

Out of love for him that flows from love for God and desire to please Him, I choose to treat this son right, not acting unbecomingly toward him. Now hurt over the situation still rises up in me to show on my face, but he is coming to understand that is what it is; and this too shall pass. So I seek to act becomingly in my love toward him.

To treat one in ways that are not unbecoming means to behave toward him “in accord with the standards implied by one’s character or position.” I will behave toward him in Christlikeness, forgiving him, not throwing the insult in his face as keeping it in an account for constant use against him. As difficult as it can be because of the hurt that things are not as they once appeared to be, there is a caring, respect, and love-walk to have in a relationship as Christian Brother and Sister. We just have to find that place where hurt over the harm does not rule, and we need to live there together in unity of purpose.

To continue in love, each of us has to learn how to recognize and show care about the need of the other. Love does not stop over a wrong suffered. As much as it hurts, love is still there. Loves focus in such situations makes an adjustment that may well look way different from what it once was, and may even be better than it once was, because it is totally dependent on God. “Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:5, AMP). So was the divorce done out of hate or resentment? No. Divorce was the choice because of love for the little ones who needed to feel safe and not to have to face this man every day of their life.

Hate is easy for us because the flesh runs swiftly to that which feels like it hurts less. It would be so easy to quit trying to find the way of love in our new family dynamic. It would prevent the pain of having to face the hurt and deal with it if we could just ignore each other and go on as if the other did not exist. But that is total, polar opposite to God and His way. He is a God of relationship, going out of His way to make a way for love to exist and continue, even giving His life for the sake of those loved. Love, each truly loving the other in all the ways of God, is the only true healing. It may seem easier and less painful to hate, but that is a lie. Hate destroys from the inside out, like gangrene. So hate is not an option for the Spirit filled Christian who desires right relationship with God.

God is love. If He is truly in us, we too must be love. Love overcomes hate, heals hurts, and restores lives. Like with furniture, the restored piece may look different, but it will still be what it is meant to be with usefulness as such; in this case, the relationship of brothers and sisters in Christ, loving with His love, His way, even to our own hurt.

In this day and age, when there is so much hurt and difficulty in life, we need one another. We need to love each other the best way possible for the sake of relationship with God, healing for self, and our ability to help one another. Relationship takes work and is not always easy. But through God and in His way we can truly and fully love one another, despite hurt and heartache. It is worth the trouble to love, even loving when those we love are made to appear unlovable.

Thank God who set the example, choosing rather than to give up on relationship, to love the unlovable in me through the gift of His Son on my behalf and yours. If He can do that for me, who am I to quit trying to love for His sake, my sake, and yours?

When we learn to love one another even when hurt by each other, we enter the delight of His love, becoming love as He is love; and that love is incorruptible, able to keep the Law toward each other.

~*~

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).

“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love” (Ephesians 6:24).

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 2

Joy-Filled Reporters for Christ

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” (vs. 1-4).

~*~

Years ago, while on a mission trip to a foreign land, a person looked me deep in the eyes and with perfect English and challenge on their face, ready for a fight, they asked, “How do you KNOW there is a GOD?” (harsh emphasis with all caps). Stunned for only a second, I replied with earnest fervor and a smile that welled up from the Spirit, “Because I have EXPERIENCED HIM!” That person prayed to receive my Lord as their own that day after I bore testimony of His presence in my life and His desire to be in their presence as well.

People do not want to hear of some god we have only read about. They can read His word as well, but for those without the Spirit to aid them, it is dry and outdated; the God they only read of seems only to be wrathful and condemning; or to many He is a dead god or one that never really existed. They want to know with proof that there is a GOD: One who cares; One who lives; One who can reach them where they hurt. That is our call in this life, to finish what Jesus started in making the Father known. How do we do that? This passage tells us. Let us break it down and thrash it out.

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life.”

Yes, we need to know and be able to tell others “what was from the beginning.” We need to KNOW His word and understand the truths portrayed there so as to share with others its teachings, but people want and need more than that. They need to know how we have heard Him for ourselves; that we have seen Him with our eyes, though spiritual eyes they may be. They need to know of the vital relationship that can be had by us as if we are looking into His face, able to touch His hands and be touched by Him. If we are not personally growing in this vital relationship with our living God, how can we truly share Him? And why should those we share with follow if we can give no assurance that He is alive?

“…and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. …”

God does not leave us to our own means in accomplishing this task of making Him and our Savior known in the earth. Through the power of His Spirit, present and at work in us, we have it within us to have this vital and real relationship with Him so that we can KNOW that HE IS, that He lives, and that He cares for us. This is what people of our day need to hear; more than just words that seem to them dry and dead, but how God manifests Himself to us today, in our here and now reality. They need to hear how His word has proven active for us today and sharper than a double-edged sword.

Too often when God instructs us through His word, giving us hope in our situations, we share the hope without sharing the word that led us there. When we do that, we fail to allow those who long to see and believe that opportunity to realize how alive His word is in our day and to recognize His hand in His answer that comes to prove the word of hope we have.

Jesus gives us His Spirit, tasked with the call and empowered to manifest the whole of our God to us. In the power of the Spirit, we know our God intimately and personally as we trust Him to make the presence of the God-head with and in us known. There is no room for fear of what man may think of us when we truly desire the make His reality known in the earth.

If we truly have His saving grace in us, we do not have to go far or try hard to find Him. All we have to do is believe. Believe that He speaks to us and causes us to hear His voice and know our God (John 10). Believe that He abides in and is with us (John 14:17). Trust His presence to be manifested to and through us (Acts 2:25-28). Rejoice in His discipline that comes to us as from a perfect Father who loves us and desires our greatest potential and ultimate good (Hebrews 12; 2 Timothy 3:16).

“…These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

In Colossians 1, reading beyond the verse that called me to study these things out, we learn much of Paul’s joy in being a reporter for Christ, completing what is lacking of His work in our day.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Colossians 1:24-29).

Along with reporting His activity to a people who have yet to know Him, we encourage one another as we share His manifest presence in the church.

As I read Paul’s words in Colossians, I realize that it is vital that we know our gifting from God through His Spirit, meant for use in the church so that through that gifting, we may accomplish this work He calls us to. I.e.: A “helper” gift needs to realize that they are a helper and that sharing their testimony does not have to look, or sound, like a teacher or a profit. Out of their helper spirit they speak and portray Him to the church and to the world. Thus they can be themselves, sharing their God-experience out of who they are in the way they best function, rested in Him, trusting God to empower them and accomplish His purpose through them.

Paul, working out of His gifting and call, speaks. That is his motivation and power. For a person gifted with helps, they must realize that it “helps” others to hear their experience and speak out of the Spiritual gifting that is in them, though theirs may come across as a more simplistic, functional testimony. When they do, they too will experience the power of God’s flow. If they try to speak as one gifted with prophesy when they are not a prophet, they will be insecure, coming across as a façade. But if they work out of the power of one gifted with helps, they will be in their element and power will flow for them to speak with ease, just as Paul does in His writings.

What joy it is when we share truth of God’s reality with others out of our giftedness, and they see Him for the first time. My husband is a welding instructor, head of the department in our local college. It was exciting when he hired a new instructor as we watched his excitement over seeing students as the light of understanding came on. This is our task, to make Him known, and the rejoicing of seeing someone get it is like no other.

Jesus prayed, “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:25-26).

Jesus wept over Jerusalem as He looked out over the people who just did not get it. He longed for their comprehension and understanding of the truth of God and His ways. Jesus intended that we grow in knowledge of this God of love we profess. And He also intended that we carry on this work of being His reporters in the earth, telling all who will listen of the God-sightings we experience firsthand as He works in our lives in personal ways that make us able to say, “I know there is a God because I have experienced Him!” And Jesus rejoices with and through us when the light suddenly dawns bright through eyes of comprehension.

~*~

“Father…I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. …But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth…” (John 17).

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

Door Jambs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

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

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing” (vs. 7-8).

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

~*~ Rest Truth 1 ~*~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Surrender it. Turn it all over to Him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:7-10, NASB).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 3

Thus far in our journey to discover how God intends us to be light that dispels the darkness, we have learned through verse 1-2 that light does not fret over the dark. Light just is what it is, a direct opposite of darkness. By just being light, light penetrates the night to overcome and dispel the dark.

In verse 3a we discovered that good is in God alone and only with full trust in Him to flow through us with His goodness do we have any hope of accomplishing true good in the earth.

Returning to verse three, as we continue our trek to learn how we become His Light in the earth to dispel the darkness, we break down the second half of that beloved verse as stated in the New American Standard version of scripture: “…Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness” (vs. 3b).

Yesterday as we touched on part b in the Amplified version of scripture, we discovered that as we trust in the Lord, we have the promise of His faithfulness toward us. Today as we look at this passage, we see our roll in our need to dwell and be faithful. Thus we begin with: “Dwell in the land.”

The first question that comes to my mind is what is the “land” in which we are to dwell? Are we to dwell in the lands of the earth where we reside? Well, yes, but as I look at this, I believe there is a deeper understanding to be had here.

The land spoken of in this passage was the Promised Land from God to Israel. They were to dwell in the land of promise as God instructed. So, as believers in Christ, what is our Promised Land in which we are to dwell? May I suggest that it is the Kingdom of God?

How do we live in the Kingdom of God while still in the world of mankind? Scripture tells us what that looks like and how we are to dwell there. Let us look at a few passages to see what Scripture teaches about the Dwelling place of God’s Kingdom on earth—living in the Kingdom of God while in this life:

†   When we seek after and run hard to do the will of God, we dwell in His kingdom: “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Note that Jesus always makes a clear distinction between Himself and the Father. Yes, He is somehow Very God in ways beyond our complete understanding. But He is the Son of God and He obeyed the Father as an example to us, and He calls us to do the same. We are never told by Jesus to pray to Him. We are called to pray as representing Jesus—being in His name, but we are to pray to the Father. We are also instructed that it is the Father we are to seek to obey. It is Father’s will we are after. (Hang in there with me. We are going someplace awesome in the days to come.)

†   When we walk in unity with the brethren in Christ, we dwell in the Kingdom of God: “And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand’” (Matthew 12:25).

†   When we experience the power of God at work in our deliverance and our ministry on His behalf, we dwell with Him: “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28).

†   When deeper truth and understanding opens up to us on personal levels, we dwell in the Land of Promise, feasting on the food of God’s provision: “Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted’” (Matthew 13:11).

†   When we hunger and thirst for Him, searching for God as for hidden treasure, seeking for Him with all that we are as our first and most vital need and necessity, running after Him as our deepest desire, we dwell in the Secret Place of His habitation: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and precious pearls, who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it. …”

†   We dwell in His Kingdom when we discern the bad from the good; the good from the better; and the better from the best. Choosing the best is living life more abundant and full in Him: “…Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away” (Matthew 13:44-48).

†   When we can grow strong and be encouraged by reminder of truths long known and observed, and add to it deeper truths in newness of understanding, we experience the greater knowledge of the Kingdom of God: “Jesus said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old’” (Matthew 13:51-52).

†   When we find the pathway of righteousness in Christ, are umpired by peace that is beyond full understanding, and have joy within that is not dictated nor disturbed by circumstance, we know the Kingdom life: “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men” (Romans 14:16-18).

†   And the greatest of these is love. When we know how to love with God’s love, even knowing how to love our enemies, we walk with God day by day and know well the streets of gold in Kingdom paths: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:13-24)

When these truths become our life experience, we dwell in the land of our God’s promise and provision for us, and we do so by walking out the second half of today’s verse: “Dwell in the Land, and Cultivate Faithfulness”.

In understanding how to cultivate faithfulness, I was drawn of Spirit to look up the definition of the word “cultivate”. Following is what I found to be required of us who would cultivate faithfulness in Kingdom living:

†   “To improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops”: Kingdom Living cultivated through faithfulness will bear a crop to the glory of God.

†   “To loosen or dig soil around (growing plants). To grow or tend (a plant or crop)”: Kingdom Living that cultivates faithfulness knows when to give focus to needed growth in a particular area where fruitfulness needs to increase.

†   “To promote the growth of. To nurture; foster”: Kingdom living seeks out opportunity for growth. Also Kingdom Living that cultivates faithfulness is not self-centered to the exclusion of others. It will promote growth in the lives of those in ones sphere of influence.

†   “To form and refine, as by education”: Kingdom Living, cultivated by faithfulness, is always growing and maturing. So long as we are in this earth, “we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away”. By this we know that there will always be room in our lives for more spiritual growth and maturity. We will not arrive on this side of eternity (2 Corinthians 13:9-10).

†   “To seek the acquaintance or goodwill of; make friends with”: We know we have attained to a level of maturity in Kingdom Living when we become friends with the lifestyle practice of faithfulness. Faithfulness is not always easy, but it is always worthwhile, as faithfulness, properly cultivated, will not fail to bear much fruit to the glory of God.

“Dwell in the Land and cultivate faithfulness.” It is an awesome and abundant life indeed. And in the pursuit of this ideal Jeremiah 17:9-10 gives us a warning worth heeding and takes us back to remembrance of yesterday’s blog excerpt on part 2 of this series. The Lord warns through Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things and BEYOND CURE. Who can understand it?  I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” Jeremiah 17:9-10.

We can only know how to live and grow and bear fruit as we trust and follow the one who knows our hearts better than we do our own selves. So trust in the Lord and do good by dwelling in the land and cultivating faithfulness through leaning on, relying on, and being confident in Him. He is the source of our light that will dispel the darkness not only in our part of the earth, but within our own hearts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 4 – Live Defined by Love

“Live life to the full”: that is the goal, despite difficulty that comes to hinder.

In nursing, when dealing with people who enter into a season of learning to deal with a chronic illness, the goal is to help them find a new norm that allows them to live life to the highest degree possible. That is what we have been talking about this week. Disease is part of life in a fallen world. Sometimes God chooses to heal, miraculously or over time; but always He chooses to use the struggle to grow our faith in Him and bring us to greater reliance on Him as our first, most vital Need and Necessity. He is our Resource and Supply, our Great Ally.

Because of love of God and love for those around me, I refuse to waste good days protecting myself for fear I might overdo and flare, never getting anything of importance done, failing to enjoy not only this life God has given me but the people in it. I know better than to constantly push myself, yes; but there are just some days that are worth the push.

When I do push to live life and enjoy it, if a flare follows, I refuse to give my enemy the glory by bemoaning the push of life and the energy of God’s supply for it, even regretting that I possessed a day to live it to the full. I will, instead, choose to rejoice in the good days and rest in God in the bad days until healing comes and the enemy is back in its place.

Finally, with these truths under my belt, I can live life to the full knowing that truth sets free indeed, wisdom directs the path, and faith, hope and love abide: and the greatest of these is love. So love to the full keeping God first, for we can do nothing apart from Him, but with Him all things are possible, for nothing shall be impossible with God. He is for us and not against us. And even when He allows evil to touch our lives, it has eternal purpose for good and not harm. Have faith in Him and follow His directives to the healing of His desire and the glory of His name. Live with hope in God who supplies strength to live life to the full.

In this way we can live to His glory, realizing our resource is in Him. With those resources in mind, having His priorities of faith, hope and love actions, determine your boundaries, and fight the good fight of faith that is defined by who you are in God’s estimation. Remember that He is more interested in how we love Him, self, and others, than He is in a clean house and a meal that takes hours of preparation. Save energy for those you love. The house will fall apart and return to dust for eternity. The people are all we can take with us. Love those kids. Play with them. Enjoy your mate. And give to those in your sphere of influence without fretting over the house being less than you desire.

~*~

 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

~*~

Thank You, Father, that You instruct my life and grant me Your wisdom and discernment. I look to You as I seek to understand how to live with my limits, know my enemies, discover the truth, and live this life in the abundance of Your supply. No longer being dictated by my diagnosis, but empowered by Your gracious love and provision in it, I pray I will live this life of abundance to the glory of Your name.

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

 In Jesus I pray You, show me Your glory. Amen

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 3 – Understand with Discernment

Yesterday we looked at the need to know. Yes, we need knowledge of not only what the disease process is doing in us, but how it affects us on a personal level. And we need to recognize the resources available to us in dealing with the issues brought to life by the ailments that attack us. But mere knowledge alone is of little use unless it is coupled with wisdom from God to understand with discernment how to use the knowledge gleaned to our benefit in setting up boundaries that put us in control of the diseases ability to intrude in our lives. As I consider the things I know from my experience, I have come to understand with discernment some key truths that I must put into practice on a daily basis.

~*~

“I am me” sings to my heart. God only made one me. Understanding that “I” am “me” – the only “me” that “I” am, and I am not exactly like anyone else, is vital to my ability to discern my struggle and the resources I have for dealing with it. My disease experience may be common to man, but it is affected and made my own experience by the person I am.

I need to realize that the way fibro works and affects me is individual to me, because I am not like everyone else. My ability to cope with the pain and fatigue is different from others I know. My pain level is not the same as that of others on any given day as the effects of the pain on me are directly linked to my personal ability to cope with the pain. The causes of my symptoms may differ and my ability to deal with the source of my struggle is limited by my resources at hand, my ability to recognize my resources, and my faithfulness to practice the use of the supply available to me. Therefore I must understand myself and discern my own strengths and weaknesses, along with the resources available to me for fighting the good fight against my enemy.

That enemy recognizes these things about me and will attack me, forcing me to surrender my territory. I must know my enemy and myself, and with that understanding, discern my own resources and my best way of fighting my enemy. Though I can learn things from others, encourage and be encouraged by them, I have to know how my enemy works against me personally and realize my actions and reactions that give fibro its place in my life. Then I have to do the things that fit me and my life best, flowing out of my personal strengths and considering my personal weaknesses, in taking back the land the enemy stole. Then…

~*~

Discerning My Limitations I must set the boundaries

There are true limitations that come with living with fibro. I need to consider what those are, how they affect me, and what I need to do to take control of this life God gave me to possess in dealing with and living to the full while being mindful of the limits. Not limits set by the fibro, but those set by me in addressing and overcoming those dictated by fibro out of control.

For example, I know that too much stress will flare me, so where I can control the stress in life, I need to do that. And in areas where I have no control over the stress life brings, I must lean on the supply of my God. God revealed that to me more clearly this weekend as we wound up with three major events planned within a 2.5 day span.

I was in full blown flare because of that medication I told you about, taken for a sinus infection. Since discovering that steroids remove the inflammation in the body for a time, but once the regimen is finished, the inflammation builds back fast and fibro jumps into high gear, I now realize the need to make sure we do not needlessly plan things around the time of their use. I will also share this issue with my doctor and seek to find other means to deal with my sinus issues. But should I have to take a steroid again, this is a fact about my enemy-disease that I must remember and a plan I must put into action.

As the day of cement pouring grew closer with the planned feeding of the friend who helped and his wife, as a thanks for helping that evening, I really started to stress that the house was a mess and I was not able to do anything about it in the two days before the start of those events. That mounting stress over the house was robbing needful rest and making the symptoms worse.

Then, as I shared earlier, God reminded me of Martha, always wanting to do more than was needful, in my case, so as to not be embarrassed when guests come in our mess. He reminded me that she was going all out to impress and honor Jesus, when all He wanted was a simple meal and Martha’s company. With that reminder, cleaning the house took back seat to me feeling good enough to cook the meal for our guests and enjoy their company, and hopefully they, mine.

Now today, as I write this, the cement is pouring and I have the meat in the cooker, I am feeling better. I got several things done for the meal yesterday evening—my only focus for that day of pain, and the rest of the meal will come together with peaceful ease. Meanwhile, feeling better, I will do a few things in the main part of the house, but the rest of it can wait, and I will not worry with the floors at all.

My husband usually pushes the vacuum, which is hard for me to do as it does not “propel” well, so rather than tire out and flare from tired, I will leave the floors as they are. No longer stressing over the house, but resting in the here a little, there a little, trusting that by God’s grace, the house will be pleasant and peaceful, though not perfect in my scale of measure, is a limitation I set for myself to control the fibro. And that is okay.

God’s enemy uses health issues to stop the flow of God to and through us. We can cooperate with God’s enemy by failing to set limits on self that help our health and allowing the diseases that attack our body to dictate and define our lives, or we can learn how to set our own boundaries, getting control over our health issues. It is our choice. I choose limits of God’s design for a life of God’s abundance. And those limits come to us through His wisdom that equips us to discern and understand how to live in the power of His supply.

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

Know the enemy:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

Know the truth –

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

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

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

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

Choice Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Call

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

The Call

Written by Brother Steve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But GOD!

But GOD!!!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YAH bless Y’all!!!!!!!!

Brother Steve

Kora Elohim Israel

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

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

GOD bless you!!!!!!!!

me

A CHURCH IN HARMONY

(God spoke to me in this, but I will share it with you. Enjoy)

“I entreat and advise Euodia and I entreat and advise Syntyche to agree and to work in harmony in the Lord. And I exhort you too, [my] genuine yokefellow, help these [two women to keep on cooperating], for they have toiled along with me in [the spreading of] the good news (the Gospel), as have Clement and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life” (Philippians 4:2-3, AMP).

I am eternally grateful for the leadership God has raised up for His Church, and for the harmonious ministry of love each of those leaders give so faithfully. I hope that you continually pray for those who lead among you, for their task is too often daunting. But most importantly I hope that you realize, as I too am reminded this day, that without our loving, faithful, and harmonious participation, the Church cannot be that of God’s desire and design.

As in any group setting, each individual of us is vital to the success of the group as a whole. Together we seek to help and encourage one another in our journey that too often includes emotional upsets in our bodies and minds; often with that upset hindering our ability to live in harmony and peace with those we love most. Peaceful coexistence requires a heart that can come into agreement with those we live alongside and work alongside. It requires us to be able to harmonize.

Harmony is more than just being of one accord with agreement in feeling or opinion. It is a pleasing combination of elements in the whole: each part knowing and doing its part in unison with the whole, giving all that is available to and within the individual to the betterment of the whole. Agreement often requires knowing when and how to compromise while at the same time recognizing individuality, thus allowing each member to be themselves: freeing each to use their special gifts, talents and abilities to make all flow in ways that make a pleasing melody of the whole of us.

If God has you to a body of believers, then you have a God-given role and responsibility to harmonize with that body, whether that role is great or small. If you are finding no place in which your God-given tune fits, perhaps you are not in the place He has hand carved for you. Or perhaps your place is still in the making and it is a time to wait upon the refining work of the Lord for that fit.

Are you doing your part? If so, praise the Lord! If not, it is time to seek the Lord for your role and find where you fit so that you can begin to add your voice to the harmony that will work to help the healing and product of the whole.

In a joint effort to harmonize, not all do the same thing. Each has their role to play and each fits together with the whole so that all flow into one beautiful melody that rejoices the heart of God. God has perfectly designed the melody we are to play in our lives together. A base trying to sing the part of the soprano, seeking to mimic their pitch, destroys the work of the whole, souring the notes.

Remember, God carved a spot for you. Just as there is a place within each of us that only God can fill, the spot God carves for us will not fit well on another. Only you will be comfortable in that spot, having all that is needful to perfectly fill it. And though you may be the only one where you are in the roll you fill making the joyful noise you are called to, that role will fit with the whole. You may walk on stones along the path that are different from those upon which His people around you walk, but your roll will bring harmony to the whole as you do your all in the strength of God’s supply.

I do not normally call the Church a “team”, but team is what we are. We are a team of people with common struggles, like goals and desires, working together to help one another to realize our greatest potential in Christ as we fulfill His good purpose. The word “Team” does not contain an “I” or a “me” within it. We cannot remain alone and truly partake of the harmony of a team. There is a place for each of us in the harmonious relationship of the body of Christ, the Church.

As I pray for God’s leaders to work together in harmony to provide the best experience of a healing environment for each member of God’s body of people, I also pray that you and I will join our hearts with those who lead as we work together to create a healing harmony. Only as we work together to know one another better and give support where needed can we truly be called His Body, The Church. And only as we become HIS Church will we truly experience His joyous healing in our harmonious song of Salvation’s Glory.

Called to Bountiful Supply

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Answer

Are you in a season of struggle as I am?

I am in the deepest pit of oppressive despair as I have ever been in. Struggling in my health with issues that seem beyond my control; challenged daily with lack of energy to function because my internal clock is dysfunctional due to changes in our lifestyle that seem beyond me to fix; grieving as never before over a parent whose fear and paranoia is destroying his relationships; I could go on but you get the drift that all of life right now seems to be working to sap my strength and bring me into a depressed state of mind, draining of energy to function. And from the stories of other Christians I hear from daily, I am not alone.

I keep thinking, “If I will just love and care more for others, I will be able to do more.” But I do love deeply and I do care, yet I continue to struggle. Then I think, “Maybe I am in the wrong place. Perhaps I need a new church or a new job.” As I consider that, I know that though those things may be true, they are not THE ANSWER. We can run from one place to another, but our baggage always goes with us, and we often find ourselves in the same or worse, leading us to run again.

After considering these things and many others, I finally say, “Lord, I can do nothing apart from You. What is Your opinion?” And He graciously answers as I read, “The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]” (Isaiah 50:4, AMP).

I will have no need to fret over my love-walk as long as I seek first Him who teaches my heart to love. I will have no worry about where I need to be and what I need to do in any given day as long as I answer the call to awaken and seek Him first morning by morning. I cannot have love and care apart from Him, so seeking Him for the filling of His Spirit is the answer to love and care. Chasing hard after Him in each day has me ready where I am needed with a word, a hug, a ministry in due season.

It is not about “I”. “I” can do nothing apart from God. But with Him, all things are possible for me, for nothing shall be impossible with God.

Father, help me to seek You first and foremost, early, while You may be found, so I am made adequate as Your servant, empowered and equipped for the challenge of each day, filled up to the full with You who make me able. In Jesus, I surrender all anew, knowing that YOU are THE ANSWER. Amen.

Dear Grandkids, Part 4

Principle 3, the third K – Know who you are and who you want to be:

You know, we cannot be our best self if we do not know who that is, and we cannot become more of what we want to be if we do not know where we are now and how we need to change and grow. Now is the time to begin understanding who you are, who you want to be, and how to discern where work and growth are needed.

Sit down with a pen and pad or Word.doc and write down the following things you see about yourself: what your strengths are; what your weaknesses are; your talents and abilities; your struggles and areas of your personality that leave you open to temptation. Now answer the following: When you die, 150 years from now J, what will you want people to say was true about you, and you be able to know that it was true? Write down the things you want to be true about you. Then ask yourself, “If they set pedestals up center stage at my funeral, displaying things on them that depict things of life that are most important to me, what do I want to be best known as important in my life?”

Too many times I have left funerals after hearing all kinds of good things about someone only to hear another leaving the funeral saying something like, “Were we at the right funeral? I never saw any of those good things in that person. Who were they talking about?” You have to decide now the kind of person you want to be, the character traits you want to be known for, and begin now to be that person, known for the things that are truly important to you.

The place to begin your search for character traits worth having is with God and His word. Some passages to consider in scripture that may help are Galatians 5 (especially verses 22-23); Romans 12; Philippians 1-4, Colossians 3.

Continuing on with the thought of self-discovery, answer the following:

What are things about you that you like and want to protect (example: loving others, caring about others, sexually pure until marriage, not addicted to wine or any other substance, etc.)?

What are things about you that keep you from being the best person you can be (stubborn, know-it-all attitude, unbelieving of the things of God, unteachable, resistant to change, manipulative, mean spirited, etc.)? Be real with yourself and real with God. It is often recommended to ask others what they see as your strengths and weaknesses, as we often times are too easy or too hard on ourselves.

Now that you have a picture of the person you are and who you want to be, it is time to plot the course to becoming that person. That means you have to set up some “do’s and don’ts” for life. Looking at all the things you see that are good about you and all the good traits you want to develop, answer the following:

What must you consistently do in being and becoming the person you want to be?

And what must be avoided at all costs – those things that would destroy your goal of becoming the person you want to be?

I would suggest doing a self-collage: a poster of pictures and sayings, words or scriptures that depict the person you want to be known as. Place it where you can see it and be challenged every day to be that person. Realize that as you grow and mature, you will need to re-answer all these things and update your collage. Mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity changes how we see ourselves and our goals for who we want to be.

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 6

 In our last excerpts we discovered how God created the great lights to distinguish day from night and give light to overcome the darkness. We saw how the Sun might represent God and the Moon, Messiah. We saw how all the bodies created revolve around the Sun and reflect its light. And we saw how the Moon reflects the Sun, overcoming the night, and showing the pathway through the night, just as Jesus lights the way to God. Then we saw that God scattered across the night skies more stars than can be counted (both planets and moons that reflect the light of a sun, twinkling in the night for us and true stars that generate their own light).

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The Stars: Realizing that many of the lights in the night sky that we see as stars give off their light by reflecting in the night the Light from the sun, we see that any cosmic body within reach of the sun’s rays will reflect its light. The sun, representing God in this analogy, is always there. It never moves. Planets, however, rotate as they fly around the sun, thus when we are on the side of the earth farthest from the sun and unable to see it, we are reminded of the sun’s presence by reflected light on planets and moons around us. God has placed the Moon and Stars to reflect the Sun, bouncing light to our path, reminding us on the darkest of nights that He has not moved. He is still there, beckoning us to take our cues from the Sun’s reflection off the Moon and the Stars we see in the night, so we can find our way in the dark. Like the sun, God can reflect Himself into dark places using any object, creature or being that crosses the path of His light.

We who believe and follow the guiding Light of the Moon—representing Jesus in this story I tell, are the star light, scattered, faces turned to the God we companion, reflecting Him in the darkness around us. When the Moon-Jesus is high in the sky, shining bright, He acts as an example for us in how to revolve around the Light of God and reflect His Glory, while simultaneously being in alignment with other beings near us who need the light reflected to them. Jesus gives off the brightest light in the night skies of this life. But, like the moon, there are times when we cannot see the light of Jesus. Remember and take courage that when we cannot see the Light of Jesus, it is because He stands between us and the heat of the Sun, interceding on our behalf. In the darkest times, when the moon seems to be nowhere, that is when God twinkles at us through the reflected light of others on a starry night.

Like the stars in the night sky above us, our light is lesser than that of the Moon, which has greater honor and rules the night, overcoming it through the sacrifice and service of His Love. And we are workers with Him, drawing near to God through Him, and, following His example, becoming a type of light in likeness to Him; thus we Stars are useful for piercing the darkness and giving light to help others find their way as well, by reflecting the light and glory of the Sun—the God of all creation.

But let’s not forget the example seen in the true stars, those other suns in the distance that have light within themselves. To me these flaming stars represent those who have the light of God within them. The Holy Spirit of God enters in to spark light from within. For these, even the darkest nights, when reflected light is absent, is overcome by the light residing within them. These are the people of God who can go through some of the most horrific things, and come through shining brighter than ever, because they have God at work within them, making them like He is.

Thus we have the great analogy of God seen in the sky. But there is more to learn from God’s pictorial.

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Notice now these Lights: the Sun that never leaves its position of authority and that cannot be overcome by the darkness, the Moon that revolves around and worships the Sun with us, the stars both the reflectors of light, and having it within us. The Moon, having overcome the night with its light, now reveals the path to right relationship with the Sun, revolving around and watching over us as victor in the world, showing us how to worship God and minister in His name, with the whole of life revolving around the God of its creation.

Now note that this passage says of these lights that they are all set in place “for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.”

God, like the sun, holds His place throughout the ages and His authority and reality is not hindered by lack of faith to believe. He is Who He says He is, and He can do what He says He can. He reflects Himself to us and reveals Himself through all creation, whether or not we recognize it. Unlike the moon, Jesus is fully God and one with Him. He, too, is throughout the ages. As example to us, His ageless testimony and sacrifice, follows every generation, beckoning us to follow Him in worship of and service to God.

Then there are the stars. Like the stars, we are in our positions as little lights—lamps, if you will—set here in this particular season of life, for a purpose.  

We’ve discussed the importance of the lamp before in other writings. Like the lamp, stars are scattered according to God’s will, placed in strategic places where their light is most needed. Some stars may seem dim to us, but if you get past the blanket of darkness to draw near, you will see the brilliance of their light, as they reflect the Sun. Our position in life: the age in which we live, the state of our condition, the destiny before us, is no accident. We are strategically placed where most needed for reflecting His light. You are not an accident. You are God’s creation, purposed to reflect His glory, and you are set on course with a plan. Like with Esther, God has a plan for your position in life. He is set to reflect His glory through you to light up the dark places in your path.

The story goes on to tell how God then created the fish of the sea and the birds of the air on the 5th day, with animals of all kinds following on the 6th. Paul, in the book of Romans, tells us that these too are a type of star as they are there to glorify, or shine the light of the Father that reveals the Creator God. But His greatest creation came, also on the 6th day, as God of all created beings worked in all His fullness to create man in His own image, able to know right from wrong and to choose right, thus being companions and friends of God.

We most reflect His glory when we follow the example of the Moon in revolving around the Sun. But notice something more here, as depicted in creation. As we revolve around the Sun—representing our entire being committed to relationship with God; God, in the form of the living Christ, God incarnate, the part of His being that can relate with humankind, seen in the action of the Moon, revolves around us, making all that He is available to us.

God’s greatest desire is for a relationship, a companionship with us. He watches over us in the night. He reflects His own light to us, making Himself knowable. He provides the path and gives light to the way for finding that relationship. He beckons us with His light, shining in the night.

 God can reflect Himself off of any object that gets in the path of His light. Many seem to shine with Him for a time, only to fall away when darkness comes. Thus, we need to note that the true star, the body that can shine light in the night even when something gets in the way of the Sun’s light, are those bodies that catch the flame of His Light. They are so in relationship with Him, that He puts Himself in them in the form of His Spirit, so they then can shine His Light in the darkest night, when the Sun is hidden from view. He grants to those who truly find the path of relationship and receive the gift of His Light within themselves the power to perform. He never leaves them nor can be hidden from them because He is within them. We are told in the Holy Bible that these are the stars that choose relationship with Him through the Sacrificial Lamb. Into these He places His Spirit to light up their life from within.

Over those who choose the position of the Star, those who choose to reflect and be filled with His Light, Creator God who ordained the night as well as the day looks on with a smile. With the beam of a proud Daddy, He says of His creation, “Wow. Attention, angelic forces! Attention all created beings. Look up. See it. It is good. Well done, though good and faithful servant.”

Shine on, beloved star of God. Shine on to light up the place where you stand.

Worth My Knee

Reading through John and pulling thoughts chapter by chapter to help me celebrate Jesus in this season of rebirth and renewal, John 18 speaks:

Jesus asked, “Whom do you seek?” (“Who are you looking for?” – NLT). “…When He said to them, ‘I am He’, they drew back and fell to the ground. …Put your sword in its sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it? …You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

It is very interesting that, as I go through John, remembering and celebrating Jesus, I come to these thoughts on this first day of 2012. My focus for spiritual growth in this year is to grow in my surrender to His Lordship, giving Him all that I am for His use in whatever way He desires. There are three things I see here that will help me as I begin this journey of the Spirit in this New Year:

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Realizing, remembering and hearing within, by faith, that He is the Christ, He is the one we look for, will bring me to fall before Him in acknowledgement of His glory. He is God’s chosen King, the Christ, the One we look for.

I have always been amazed by this passage. I don’t take it as a mockery toward Him that they feel down. It is almost as if all who came to take Him to the death that would come to this One who so loved the world that He willing gave His own life, His love covering a multitude of sins; they realized in that instant that this was the One worthy of bowing before. He was worthy of their knee.

I think the fear of the Lord God, the Father, struck their hearts and put them on their knees before His Son and King. This is the heart attitude I must have as I begin this year of growing stronger in giving myself to His Lordship. I must come into greater depths of realization that He is the Chosen King, and He is worthy of my knee in worship and acknowledgement of His rightful position in my life. He is King of kings, and Lord of lords.

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Next, as I read His word to Peter when Peter tried to protect his Lord, I see the example set by Jesus as One who is surrendered to His Lord, “This cup I am to drink is from my Father. How then shall I not drink it?”

Jesus never gave us false hope. He never told us that God WILL heal every disease and keep us from suffering in this life we now live; that all things will be well with us at all times while here in this earth, ruled by the father of lies and lord of sin. That promise of complete healing and total safety is truth and can happen in the here and now, but it is for the life to come, perfected in eternity because of the sacrifice of Jesus in this world, saved for those who believe Him and given to those who receive Him as Lord now, through faith believing even though we do not yet see it in the physical (Hebrews 11:1).

So what did Jesus promise? He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. EACH DAY HAS ENOUGH TROUBLE OF ITS OWN” (Matthew 6:34). He called us to face today’s trouble with His power and leave tomorrow to Him. Grace is promised to be sufficient for each day’s trouble. Wasting that energy on worry over what MIGHT come tomorrow only weakens us and makes today’s trouble unbearable, having insufficient strength for today because we spent our strength yesterday on worries that may never come to pass. And if they do come to our life, we often find that we drained our strength through worry, having little reserve for dealing with it now that it’s here.

He did promise, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” Then He added, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Heart-trouble and fear are products of worry and fretting, often over the ‘what-might-be-s’ of life. To warn us to not let our hearts be troubled or fearful in life but to receive and live with peace of heart as He has gifted us to do says to me that there will be cause for us to have troubled and fearful hearts, and resting it in His care, receiving His peace to persevere is the solution that overcomes the troubling of the heart, preserving strength for overcoming.

Also He advised us, “These things (His words of warning, promise, hope and instruction) I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. IN THE WORLD YOU HAVE TRIBULATION, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Following Jesus will mean cups of trouble and tribulation that must be drank with understanding that as we walk through trouble in life with the peace and grace He supplies, we too will be overcomers. As such, we will be used of Him to help others to find relationship with God and His supply through Christ for dealing with troubled lives. Just as His sacrifice for us covered a multitude of sin, He uses our experiences in this life to help others who struggle as we have in knowing how to find hope, peace and restoration in their similar situations.

Someone I love dearly is going through a very troubled time right now, trouble that is too common to our world, the consequence of sin in life. He wants to see God’s mercy as His hand reaching down to remove those circumstances. I cannot seem to help him understand that God’s mercy keeps him in the hand of God, saved by grace through faith for an eternity in His presence, but mercy does not always remove consequences from our here and now. What mercy does do is supply grace sufficient to help us walk through the consequences with peace of heart and hope for eternity as we wait for restoration. And restoration will come; if not here, then there. It can come here. But experience tells me it does not usually come until we say, “Shall I not drink of this cup set before me by my Lord?”

So what is God telling me? He is reminding me that following Him wholeheartedly will not always be easy, but it will always bear kingdom fruit. As I grow deeper in my relationship with Him and as He uses the way I walk through trouble to help others in their struggle, it will make me an example of one who is an overcomer with Him. One cannot be an overcomer without first being one who has overcome, and we overcome by walking in His grace provided to us because He drank the cup and overcame the world, Satan, sin, death, and troubled flesh. We enter into Him who has overcome, receiving within us the hope of His promise and provision, so that we can walk through as overcomers.

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Lastly, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

The surrendered life requires that I recognize that He is the King, promised by God, and that I listen for and heed His “voice.” John 10 promises that those who are His hear His voice and follow Him. It also promises that the voice of a stranger will not be followed.

God taught me long ago to trust that He can make His voice clear to me. I trust Him to speak and move quickly to obey in faith that I hear my Shepherd-Master and am expected to follow without hesitation. When doubt enters, I begin to ask God if the voice I am hearing is that of the stranger, or if I am hesitating out of fear and disbelief, which leads to disobedience. And I am learning to seek the Lord to help me so greatly to know His voice that the knowledge of it keeps the stranger’s voice strange to me.

Who is the stranger? The stranger is my own flesh, which wages war against me, opposing God’s work in me; the world, which stands in opposition to God and His ways; and Satan, who desires to be God. These three, the flesh, the world and demons—which are the armies of Satan, are called “wisdoms” by James in James 3. These constantly speak a wisdom to us that is in opposition to truth.

As I begin this New Year with focus on growing stronger in follow-ship, in complete surrender to His Lordship, giving all I am to Him for His use, He reminds me to count the cost and realize that though it will be with challenge that I follow Him, He will help me bear it, and through me He will bear fruit for eternity that will make all worth it one day. No matter what this year holds, it is His voice that will lead me to choose life, and live it with abundance that glorifies His name, accomplishes His purpose, brings His eternal Kingdom to my reality, and bears fruit in me that makes me an overcomer through Christ: my Example, my King.

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As we begin this New Year, I pray for us to know the King of kings and Lord of lords. May we walk in His provision to overcome the world. May we have courage to drink the cup He sets before us, and come out of it having born the fruit of righteousness through resurrection power.

Get Up, Let Us Go From Here

“So that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here” (John 14:31).

Through this Christmas and New Year’s season, I am putting up portions of scripture from John on my Spark and FaceBook status in celebration of the Christ for which I observe the season. There is so much meat in John 14, I want to put the entire chapter up on my status bar this morning. But with the New Year coming, this small portion seemed best of all to share.

Look at these words. Don’t they seem a good place to begin in preparing for a New Year? Jesus is our example for life, and what better place to end one year and prepare for another than to check our relationship with the Father.

Through John 14, Jesus tells of His leaving to prepare a place for us. He instructs that He and the Father are one, and we can see the Father by looking at Him – not His physical appearance, which is not truly known, but His character and actions, the things He gives focus to and the preoccupations He sets His mind on. Then He tells that we, too, can be one with Them, Father and Son. How is that accomplished? By following His example, developing like character, and doing as the Father commands us, setting our focus and preoccupations on the things that are important to the Father—on truth as He sees it.

As we draw a close to the year 2011, I must ask God how I have done at developing godly character and in following in Christlike obedience. In this evaluation, it doesn’t matter what I perceive that others have done to me. God is dealing with MY own character and actions right now. He judges me on the merit of my own choices, not what others did that may have led to it. Our relationship with the Father, the building of His character in us and our obedience in following the example of Christ is the true gauge of success or failure.

I first typed, “ask myself”, but our hearts are deceptive. We can fool ourselves into thinking we are better than we truly are. And we can also beat ourselves up pretty bad, beating ourselves down to a point of being useless to God, ourselves and others in the days to come. So let’s ask God for His opinion. God looks at the heart and He is not deceived. He will lead us to truth and work with us to increase righteousness and make us like Jesus, who is like the Father.

As we draw near to 2012, I must ask God what areas of life I need to give focus to in developing godly character; and I must recognize if there are specific instructions God is giving me for following Jesus.

I have a long road to go this coming year as I deal with Fibromyalgia and work to change habits of a lifetime that affect that health issue. It will not happen overnight. I did not develop the habits overnight, and unless God works a miracle, which is not happening yet, it will take time and work to change the habits. But nothing shall be impossible with God. As long as my heart is set on that as fact, there is hope. He will help me, and His patience toward me is unfathomable.

How about you? What challenge do you face this year? God has given me the following passage to encourage my journey. Perhaps it will encourage you as well.

“…Behold, I will make you to be a new, sharp, threshing instrument which has teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest or whirlwind shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the Lord, you shall glory in the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:8-16, AMP). Wow! There is a whole other blog in that.

Father, as I consider this passage, I realize change will not happen overnight. I see this fact clearly as I consider this passage. A sharp threshing instrument which has teeth has to chew the mountain down one bite at a time. It will take work on my part, hard work, and deliberate effort. I pray for each of us as we face our mountains that we will have Your patience and endurance, Father. May we see our progress through Your eyes, and rejoice in Your work in our lives, giving You the glory due Your name. In Jesus, amen.

Jesus Had The Choice

John 10:17-18 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

This speaks to me today as I consider that Jesus is our example in all things. I note here anew that from the day of His birth till the instant of His death, Jesus had the choice. He chose to lay His life down for you and for me, but He had the right, given Him from the Father, to change His mind at any point along that road.

You and I have been gifted with the authority to choose as well. Just like Jesus, we are called day by day to lay down our life—our own wants and desires—and take up our cross—choosing God’s will and way, His assignment for the sake of others, over our own wants and desire, thus following Jesus. At any point along the way we have the right to change our mind, lay down our cross, and take back up our life.

Aren’t you glad that Jesus stayed the course for our sake? I find myself asking today, “Is there an area in my life where I am failing to stay the course for His sake?”

I also note, as I read this passage, that Jesus knew that laying down His life was only temporary. By laying it down to fulfill the will of God, He would win it back again with greater abundance. Sounds like another example worth following, doesn’t it?

In this Christmas season, let’s give back to Jesus the blessed gift of followship.

Tis the Season: To remember my life goal

Deeper roots. That is the call of God for my 2011 spiritual focus.  God has taken me into a greater depth of understanding that I can and must believe Him. No matter what is going on around me, I can trust Him, His truth, His faithfulness, His grace that is truly sufficient for every need. He is who He says He is. He can do what He says He can do. I am who He says I am. I can do all things through Christ who is my strength. His word is alive and active in me.

Thinking on these things, as 2011 comes to a close and as God begins to form my focus for spiritual growth in 2012, I am drawn to my life goal passage anew: Philippians 3:8-10, in the Amplified version of scripture, which adds to my understanding of that blessed text.

“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege, the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish, refuse, dregs, in order that I may gain Christ the Anointed One, And that I may actually be found and known as in Him, not having any self-achieved righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands—ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired, but possessing that genuine righteousness which comes through faith in Christ, the truly right standing with God, which comes from God by saving faith.

“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection, which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness, even to His death, in the hope that, if possible I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead, even while in the body.”

It has been a challenging year for many of us. People have lost jobs, homes, loved ones. We have seen an adult child’s marriage dissolve, leaving us crushed in the quake of the cause of that break. Children struggle as never before. There are many life challenges that draw our attention and can leave us devastated. But this passages leaves this struggling one with hope in understanding that if all else is lost, as long as we come through it with a greater understanding of God and deeper relationship with Him, we have won.

We were never promised a rose garden in this life. In fact, Jesus said that we will have trouble in this life, but if we seek God first, He will meet us at our need. Every good and perfect gift in life comes from the Father. And for every difficulty that comes to us, He is able to supply our need to get through it and come out stronger for it.

I pray that your year was filled with more roses than thorns. But more than that, I pray that as you look back on your life in 2011, that you see more of Him and an ever deepening relationship with Him. He is the Rose that makes the thorns worth the trouble.

God-Watching

One awesome thing God has taught me through the years of praying for loved ones to grow in the Lord that I pass on just in case it is needed:

When praying for God to do a work in another, we don’t look for the work—for our expectation of what that work should look like will likely cause us to miss seeing what the actual work does look like. We look instead for God. When we look for God in the God-work prayed for, we will see awesome things we know not of.

Happy God-Watching!

(NOTE: For those who read my blogs in other places, there will be a lot of overlap for awhile. I will try to title them the same in each, so watch the titles to know what is new for you. BLESSings, and thanks for patroning my writings.)

Grace Defined #3: Power to Overcome

“But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it)” (James4:6).

What a powerful statement about God’s grace. Grace—God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing, flows to us in order to bring power to our lives that will equip us to overcome every evil tendency. Read this full passage, James 4:1-10, in the New American Standard Bible Version:

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God?

“Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.’

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.”

Wow, what promise this grace is. Here is what I know about God’s work of grace:

God desires us so much that He provided a way through Christ for salvation to come to us weak willed beings who falter and fail so constantly. Sending salvation to us through His grace found in Christ, as we humble ourselves to admit our need of it, He gives to us His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing. As we humble ourselves to receive His grace, He then places within us His Holy Spirit to teach us and to do a work of transformation, making us back into the image of God first placed there in creation. But this work of transformation is not instantaneous, though some may have more instantaneously obvious results than others, all will have a lifetime of work yet to accomplish. We become a work of art, God bringing healing to us a little at a time as we are ready and able to humbly submit ourselves to Him and receive it.

Step by step, God reveals to us our ungodly pleasures, our self-centered motives, our murderous adulteries: all the while He jealously longs for more of His Spirit to be found in us. So He keeps heaping on grace as we will receive it, using the hope that grace brings to our struggling hearts to empower our victory. Equipping us to recognize our own need of His grace, He empowers us to receive His Spirit through Whom He equips us to stand against our every evil tendency, thus He is able to make you stand (Romans 14:14; Jude 1:24-25).

Is there an evil-issue you find yourself constantly struggling to overcome? Ask God to reveal the root of the problem to you and surrender to the grace He gives you to stand.

Second Corinthians 1:11-12 (AMP) encourages us further as we note this work of grace, “While you also cooperate by your prayers for us [helping and laboring together with us]. Thus [the lips of] many persons [turned toward God will eventually] give thanks on our behalf for the grace (the blessing of deliverance) granted us at the request of the many who have prayed. It is a reason for pride and exultation to which our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world [generally] and especially toward you, with devout and pure motives and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God (the unmerited favor and merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, and keeps, strengthens, and increases them in Christian virtues).”

This is the work of God’s grace, found in Christ Jesus, and brought to bear in our souls by the power of His Spirit. All things are possible for me, for nothing shall be impossible with God. Therefore I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me through the power of His Spirit working within a humbled and submissive me, as I stand in agreement and surrender to my All Knowing, Almighty, and Omniscient God.