Tag Archives: Focus

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.