Tag Archives: forgiveness

Possess That Perfection 

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” Philippians‬ ‭3:12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A FB friend wrote a post on this Philippians passage encouraging us to possess the full treasure of God’s grace and provision to, in, and through us, (see link below). My thoughts in giving an example of possessing all that is ours through Christ, flows out of hers. I’ve probably posted similar before. In this day and age, with the trouble we see in this world, I cite Paul:“Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.” 2 Peter‬ ‭1:12-13‬ ‭NLT‬‬

On to our example of possession: 

We are called to love as God loves. If we are to love others as He loves us – unconditionally and incorruptibly, then we must fully possess the love He provides us to walk out. 

God IS Love. He loves out of who He is. His love is not dependent on who we are or what we do. It depends fully on the fact of who He is; thus, Jesus paid the full price for ALL and the grace available through that sacrifice of love is held out as a gift to receive and possess as one’s own. 

The only thing about God’s love that is dependent on us is the degree to which we choose to receive it. Once we receive His Love, He has provided for us to possess that same love ability as our own through His Holy Spirit. As we possess and work out of that fruit of the Spirit expressed best in Galatians 5:22-23, we love as He loves, out of WHO WE ARE IN THE SPIRIT we possess for ourselves as He possesses us. 

He provides love for our possession so we may BE LOVE on His behalf, being His love to those He places in our sphere of influence on any given day. Thus, love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is not something we have to learn. It is something we possess as our own, flowing out of THAT which flows into us. And we possess it by letting God’s Holy Spirit fully possess 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.” James‬ ‭4:6-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

When we possess Him who possesses us, things like bitterness, hate, and unforgiveness find “no room at the inn” of our heart’s dwelling place.

Michelle Gray

Pray For Those Who Hurt You

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” ~ Luke 6:27-28, NLT.

God speaks this passage as reminder to me today, especially the command to “Pray FOR those who hurt you. Check how you are praying, Darlene.”

People hurt people. There are many causes that lead people to hurt one another, some malicious, some incidental and unintended. Some hurt comes with the best of intentions. We all struggle in various ways that can lead us to carry our feelings as on our shoulders, where the actions and words of others easily knock us around: fear of rejection and other such insecurities. Some carry their “feelings” on their shoulders because they are walking in an ungodly lifestyle, they know it, and they don’t want anyone telling them about it. People who struggle in any of the above tend to hurt those around them out of their own struggle and insecurities. Those trapped in the common sins of our day tend to hurt those around them in the very practice of their lifestyles: drug addicts steal from those they love most; adulterers destroy their own families; etc. We hurt each other, and praying properly for those who hurt us is often a challenge.

What does it mean to pray for those who hurt us? Too often, in praying for someone who hurt me, I find myself truly praying for me: praying selfishly.

“Lord, they falsely accused me. Make them know the truth and apologize.”

“Lord, they stole from me. Make them repent and pay it back.”

Problem is that their heart intent may be nowhere near my comprehension of the truth of their heart. I may have misunderstood their words. I may be reading between the lines and comprehending an accusation they never meant. I may receive insult from actions that truly were not aimed at me as I stepped between them and their target. Praying for others out of our hurt can lead to selfish requests that God cannot answer. Our best, most effective praying seeks the heart of God for His truth regarding the need of the one whose actions / reactions hurt our feelings or did harm to our life, reputation, or sense of security.

We can learn a lot from how Jesus prayed FOR those hurting Him. He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Praying for others realizes truth: Jesus proclaiming “they know not what they do”. Praying for others refuses to give preference for one’s own desire, right, or recompense. Praying for others seeks God and His desire for them. Praying for others focuses on their deepest, truest needs. We all need God’s grace sufficient for us. We all need truth that sets us free from any lie. We all need repentant hearts that seek wholeheartedly after God.

Until we can pray for others, our own heart toward them will fall short of truly loving and caring for their need. Until we can pray for God to forgive them, just as Jesus did, and mean it, our own ability to forgive will fall short. Until we can pray for them to know His love, our ability to love those who hurt us truly will suffer loss. Until we can pray for eyes that see as God sees, compassion will fail us, transforming-truth will escape us, and love will find no roost for new growth.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good…” ~ Romans 12:9-13 (Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a; Romans 13:7-14).

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 10

God desires unity for His people, that we may be one as He is One. Our flesh, the ways of this world and demonic influences constantly work against that unity, seeking to destroy the work of God in and through us. The Apostle Paul calls the solution to our relationship issues, the “still more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:11), the way that fulfills the law of God (Romans 13:8). Last post, we left our series with the following thought:

“But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” ~ Ephesians 4:15.

Realizing and walking in the truth brings healing to one’s own life and makes us more like Christ. Walking in truth accomplishes His work in our situations.

Series on topics like this are difficult to address as we don’t always like seeing the truth about ourselves. We live in a day when many focus on God’s love and grace to the point that we tend to shun any words used of the Spirit to point to sin issues in need of change. This series is disciplining me on my own issues seen in the course of the study, but the blessing of coming into agreement with God in a way that helps me adjust to Him far outweighs the struggle.  When my struggle helps others in the process, that fruit born in others is glorious!

Controversy between people is like the old quarters with the gold colored strip in the center. There are two sides to every situation between two people. The truth is in the gold strip between them, found only in seeking God, who knows the heart of each involved. He faithfully leads us to know our habitual responses that promote separation. He helps us to work our way to the gold strip where unity and peace reside. I am thankful for the truth God is teaching me about myself in this series; and I am watching for His word to come to pass that He highlighted for me in promise for the produce of this series:

“This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” ~ Psalm 102:18.

I read this promise and I see families, friendships, and churches working their way to healing that will have an effect on future generations, leading to their worship of God. Thus, we continue today to our conclusion.

Have you read the scripture that talks of iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17)? When we have a habitual sin that causes trouble and separates us from God, as well as from others, God often puts people in our lives that rub that area raw. His purpose is to help us let go of old ways of the flesh and walk in the new, testing / proving our obedience. The question is, will we realize God’s purpose and cooperate with His Spirit in taking off the old to dawn the new?

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” ~ 1 Peter 1:22.

Truth purifies the soul, making us fertile soil for God’s love to produce a crop through us. There are two things I find God constantly working on me to accomplish: one is my ability to forgive as He forgives. The other is my ability to love as He loves.

The ability to forgive is vital to a love relationship that lasts. Forgiveness must be from the heart as God forgives. God, our example, taught me long ago to forgive “for my own sake” as He does (Isaiah 43:25 Note that Israel was unrepentant when God professed His grace toward them).

The purpose of choosing forgiveness “for my own sake” is so we can move on in life, be all God desires, accomplishing His work as one who is truly able to love even those who hurt us. Our choosing to forgive protects from bitterness, anger, and other emotional snares that hinder love, destroy relationship with God and people, and rob of effectiveness in ministry.

God is our hope and help in every relationship issue. He desires our unity, especially with those who are brothers and sisters with us in Christ. Our true enemy is our own sin nature that opens us to the influence of demons and principalities that work against God, separating brothers, and destroying our witness as God’s people.

In any discord between people of God, we see that battle continue when we fail to realize the true enemy and wind up fighting against each other. The enemy of our soul realizes our fleshly impulses that lead to discord and makes sure, when relationship issues come, our minds keep returning to “what they did to me.” Therefore, when we have a habit that makes us vulnerable to God’s enemy, God puts iron in life to sharpen and hone our character.

The love God calls each to possess as His child is a type we can freely give even to those we struggle to get along with. That love desires what is best for those we love, seeking to help them achieve all the great potential God places within them, leading them to God, and encouraging them to come up higher in Christlikeness. That love is unconditional: not hindered or harmed by insult. It is also incorruptible: it does not act unbecomingly toward the object of love, nor lead the one loved into sin. The very heart of a factious nature seeks to lead others to disunity for ungodly reasons that oppose love.

The love God calls us to possess in likeness to Him does not keep a count of all we believe a person has done to hurt us, bringing that back into play every time a new situation arises. Love, coupled with forgiveness given for one’s own sake, deals with the situation at hand, puts it to rest (RIP), and wipes the slate clean. This is healing, and this series pictures a love-walk God can use for His glory.

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

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 9

“These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage” ~ Jude 1:16.

When a disagreement with others that gets contentious, our flesh getting out of control of the Spirit, we tend to grumble and complain about others involved, finding their every flaw, blaming them for causing the problem. Desiring to believe oneself in the right and true of heart (lust of our flesh), we see things as we want to see them (lust of the eyes), telling others of the situation from that viewpoint (boastful pride of life). Without the Spirit to correct our course, our flesh desiring others to agree that we are right and the other party wrong, we will tell our side with flattery meant to win the advantage.

Seeking God for a more clear understanding of this flattery as seen in a divisive situation, He sent me to the dictionary:

Flatter ~ To show off becomingly or advantageously. Give an unrealistically favorable impression of.

In other words, flattery in the context of our discourse means to make oneself and one’s own actions sound better than they are in order to gain approval. It makes sense that when we are refusing to see our own flaws that add to the discord, we would speak all that we want to believe true of self, desiring others to agree that the other party is at fault. Going to the scriptures for increased understanding, here is what I find:

“They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak” ~ Psalm 12:2.

The problem with this flattery when we are a true child of God: the Spirit will not allow us to get away with ignoring our own sin nature and habits. Every time I tell my side from a flesh-driven viewpoint or think my thoughts, bitterly blaming the other party, thinking more highly of myself than I ought, the Spirit nudges me. In that instance of my thinking and telling in opposition to the Spirit’s nudge of truth within, I am struggling with a double or two-faced heart. It is not until I sit still before God and sincerely ask “What?” that I can find the truth in myself that brings the repentance that heals a breach of relationship.

“A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin” ~ Proverbs 26:28.

This says to me that in refusing to seek the Spirit for truth, not only does my false understanding and representation crush those I come out against, but it crushes me. When I am walking in sin, refusing the work of the Spirit that convicts “concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8), I hurt myself, putting a wall between my God and me.

I can do nothing apart from God, beloved. Without God working in me, I can’t mend the proverbial fences, repent and change my ways so as to be a better person, or truly forgive and love those around me as I should. Healing in any contentious situation must begin with me coming into agreement with God’s view of the issue by getting still before God, knowing Him and His ways, so that I can adjust to be as He is in truth and in deed.

“He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue” ~ Proverbs 28:23.

One thing this speaks to me is our need to keep the situation between the others involved and me alone. I am not to go around destroying the reputation and relationships of others with my viewpoint. Any complaint I have must be addressed only with those I have the complaint against. Bringing other people into the situation only makes it worse, as we put the other party in a defensive position. When we do sit down with the other person, it is vital to come with a heart set to speak the truth in love, and to have ears attuned to hear their side of things.

Part of this “sitting before God” means considering the complaint on the other side, seeking God to reveal if there is any truth in their viewpoint, with willingness to make amends where needed. Now, I have been in situations where there is no truth in the complaint, only miscommunication and misunderstanding. In those instances, God instructs in ways of clarifying truth. When the other person continues to believe the lie, He instructs to entrust the one choosing to believe the lie to Him. He also frees us from the condemnation that is from demonic sources.

Seldom is there no fault of my own to deal with in a situation. If I am truly seeking God and honest with myself, He will show me my habits that lead to discord. Knowing the truth about my own bad habits that lead me to cause a relationship issue is vital to healing the current situation and to avoiding future encounters from the same type of harmful, inappropriate actions / reactions.

“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” ~ Ephesians 4:15.

True love requires truth within us. True love cannot exist in a lie. Truly loving others requires that we seek to know and understand truth about ourselves as well as about the situation and others involved. Next post concludes our study as we look at the love-walk that honors God as God in our fickle, fleshly, relationship issues.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 6

Wow. I thought I finished this series, and then God spoke again through another passage and added to my understanding of the factious, divisive spirit that grabs hold on us and leads us away from God’s Light and the peaceful unity found there. Beloved, in any divisive situation, it is never one-sided. There are always two sides, pulling away from each other, trying to win a battle.

In the previous 5 devotional thoughts we covered the following thought patterns that are found in the mindset of one ensnared by a factious spirit: 1) the desire for those they tell to agree with their position in their situation with another, thus causing the hearer to feel they must pick a side; 2) holding to a truth that is closed off to hearing the other side of the issue; 3) refusing to seek the whole truth as God sees it, missing out on the Light of God that leads to the peace of unity; thus 4) a factious mindset is snared by the old flesh, the old nature’s way of thinking and being.

There are factious people we are to stay away from completely. We are to avoid and stay away from people who continually lead us away from God and His ways, as in the false teachers spoken of in the Titus 3 passage and in the one we will begin looking at today. God condemns those who would deliberately lead us away from Him. However, if the enemy of God cannot lead us away from believing in and following after God, he will stir up strife between God’s followers in order to divide God’s people. In this way, that enemy of God weakens our effective service to God, separating us from Him in less obvious ways. This divisive spirit is the one I am addressing in these blogs. He tears apart the fellowship of family, friends, and fellow believers. Such division stems from failure to come under God’s light where we find full truth and unity, and it fails to love with God’s unconditional, incorruptible love, thus falling away from God as His image-bearers.

Why write on these things? God never leads me to write things without leading me to evaluate my own life and ways in the area He reveals to me. The things that speak to and help me personally are the things I write about. God desires us to evaluate ourselves truthfully now, so we may come into His likeness and avoid the judgment to come (1 Corinthians 11:31-32; Romans 12:1-3; Hebrews 4:12). Throughout the writing of this series, I have had to look at myself in each area, and repent for my own failures.

The passage we start devouring today speaks clearly to me of my own habits I tend to fall to, causing and adding to division; and it warns me of others I must be alert to. AttitudeWe cannot change to be more like Him if we are unwilling to evaluate ourselves and come to stand in agreement with Him in the light of His word. When we refuse to see as He sees, acknowledge our own sin within, thus, continuing to walk in divisive ways, God says:

“These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit” ~ Jude 1:19.

Worldly-minded actions dictated by fleshly lusts flow from the life that, at least in that moment of divisiveness is devoid of Spirit. God showed me how, recently, I sought Him for direction in a situation, but when it came to implementation of the wisdom given, my flesh got in the way. In that instant, despite the Spirit’s warning, I went my own way, made a situation worse instead of better, becoming devoid of Spirit in that moment of surrender to the desires of my flesh-man. Shifting away from the Spirit to follow my flesh, I perverted the way of God before me, fell to my own sin nature, and stand self-condemned. Praise be to God, who disciplines me, bringing me back to Himself through His Word, by the Spirit and blood of Christ.

Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines His children, and that discipline proves our position with Him as His Kingdom People. God proves we are His when He does not allow us to get away with our fleshly, old-nature behavior. God’s discipline comes through His word that instructs us in righteousness.

As we continue this series on overcoming a factious spirit, we will look closely at this Jude passage touched on above. There we find an outline of potential characteristics found in a person given to being divisive; to which I cry:

“Ouch, Lord! Father, forgive me, a sinner apart from Your grace found in Christ. Set me free in Christ to be in His likeness so I do not give myself so readily to the lust of my flesh. In Jesus, amen.”

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 5

“[As for] a man who is factious [a heretical sectarian and cause of divisions], after admonishing him a first and second time, reject [him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him]” ~ Titus 3:10, AMP.

Answering the question, what do we do about a person that we love when a factious mindset threatens the relationship? How can we reject a contentious, divisive fellowship without leaving the relationship? To answer that, I think of the things God taught me over many years of dealing with my sweet daddy.

In his later years, my daddy suffered depression and paranoia common to aging. He was hard of hearing and often misheard or misinterpreted things. That fed his paranoia, leading to discord with family members. His actions and attitudes became factious, as he freely shared his beliefs about “what people are doing to me”, based on his misunderstanding of truth. There was no consoling him, and no changing his mind about the things he believed. It was very difficult some days to be around him. But I love my daddy, who is now with the Lord, and through that time of dealing with him, God taught me another way to reject the factious fellowship.

  1. First, realize the truth of the person’s mental, physical, and emotional state. What is going on in their life that is wearing them down? What is going on that may have them constantly meditating on the false information, further feeding the falsehood? Put yourself in their shoes and get a little compassion flowing toward them.
  2. Try to speak truth to the situation if you know it, in an effort to console, impart wisdom, and give peace, with hope of correcting the misunderstanding. Point to God’s ability to reveal truth and heal the situation.
  3. If they will not be consoled, try to change the subject.
  4. If they keep returning to their complaint and you cannot get them off the subject, excuse yourself with promise to return another day.
  5. Do not participate in a lie that is feeding discord. We tend to want to let one sharing their contentions have their way and pretend to agree with them hoping they will go on to some other topic of discussion: I.e., saying, “Yeah, that was horrible for them to do that,” when we know the other person did not do the stated deed. That just gives fuel for a factious spirit to use in breeding more discord.

Dealing with people in my dad’s situation, where they truly do not realize what they are doing and the harm it is bringing to relationships can be difficult. Those who do not have a mental issue causing them to behave factiously can be even harder to cope with; but if you want to maintain relationship without taking part in the divisive misinformation, knowing when to leave the conversation and change the subject is crucial.

So is watching oneself to be sure you are not inadvertently adding to the problem by talking with others about the situation with your loved one, inadvertently participating in the battle with a factious spirit of your own. In another situation where a person would not believe I did not do the thing accused of, they shut me out of their life. In my own hurt, when people would ask me how that person was doing, I would respond, “I don’t know.” Dependent on who it was, I would tell why I did not know, “They believe I did something I did not do and have shut me out of their life.” Then one day God inspired my heart to quit telling people about the other person’s insult to my heart or talking about the problem. He instructed that in doing so, I was hurting their reputation and relationship with others, and the reliving of the account was keeping the scab ripped off my own wounds. Following God’s instruction freed me to work toward loving that person anyway.

In another situation, I thought the other party was hearing me incorrectly. Then I realized that I said just what they said I did. With that revelation, it was time for a very sincere and heart-felt apology, first to God, and then to them. God reveals the truth. When He does, we must be ready to deal with it appropriately so that healing and restoration can begin.

Beloved, in whatever situation you find yourself, seek the wisdom of the Lord in dealing with it. Find truth as God sees it. Realize people’s life situation and their tendency to return to old coping mechanisms when wounded. Give yourself that same courtesy, realizing that we learn coping mechanisms over time, and may be walking in old ways that fail to glorify God. Find the truth as God reveals it and walk in the fellowship of His light, learning new ways of coping and dealing with such trouble. Be a peacemaker where you can, shining the light on God and His word, coming into agreement with Him. And most importantly, remember, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

“Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]” ~ 1 Peter 4:8, AMP.

“The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! He knows the truth, and may (God’s people) know it, too! …” Joshua 22:22, NLT (author’s translation).

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 4

In any divisive situation, each person often acts and reacts out of their pain and woundedness. When that happens, we miss the full truth of the current situation, stray from the Light of God, and fall prey to a divisive, factious spirit that is out to steal, kill, and destroy our ability to live together in love, acceptance, and grace. Overcoming that enemy requires us to seek God and His ways. Coming into His Light, we are to seek understanding of truth, repent where needed, and give grace that restores fellowship. Too often, however, our flesh gets in the way of our victory in Christ:

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” ~ Romans 8:6-8 (read verses 1-8).

Another reason for a factious spirit getting a stronghold set up between us is our refusal to follow the dictates of the Spirit of God. When a factious mindset so gets ahold on us that we cannot, and will not reconcile with another – forgiving the insult, forgetting the injury and pain of it, and going forward in grace and love – we dishonor God. When we refuse to see the separation caused by our falling back to fleshly ways in a controversy, we follow the dictates of our flesh and, denying the work of God’s Spirit of Light, we refuse His direction for our paths.

If the Spirit of God shines a light on something within me that is causing my problem with a friend and I refuse to deal with it, I follow the dictates of the flesh and grieve the Spirit of God. If God reveals to me the truth of a friends situation that is causing them to behave in an unacceptable way, and I refuse to give them grace and show love in helping them wherever I can, I follow the dictates of the flesh and deny the leading of the Spirit.

“The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward GOD.” When we refuse to follow the calling and direction given us by God’s Spirit, we stand against Him.

The verse in the first of our series on recognizing and dealing with a factious spirit said this:

“Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” ~ Titus 3:10-11 (read verses 1-11).

This rebellion against God is, I believe, the reason God tells us to reject a factious person: reject their message, reject their ways and attitudes, and especially reject the dictates within one’s own flesh that leads us to respond inappropriately in a divisive encounter. A factious spirit leads us away from God, and indeed, stands hostile to Him. Participating in that puts us in opposition to God as well. We think we are in discord with another person, but when we refuse to follow the teaching of God as peacemakers, we stand against Him. The Amplified Classic version of this Titus 3:10 verse says this:

“[As for] a man who is factious [a heretical sectarian and cause of divisions], after admonishing him a first and second time, reject [him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him]” ~ Titus 3:10, AMP.

Scripture warns us that bad company corrupts good morals. There are times when it is best to leave a relationship than continue on with one that constantly brings us to fall to our flesh. There are also times when we love and care for a person who is given to a factious nature or who has a mental or physical health issue that is causing them to be paranoid and given to complaining about others. We cannot “remove from fellowship” by leaving the relationship when it is a person we care for and those who are within our sphere of responsibility to look after, like my poor daddy who suffered with paranoia for many years. What are we to do then? There is a way to remove ourselves from such unhealthy fellowship without removing ourselves from the relationship. See you next post.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 3

Thus far, we covered that a factious spirit that gets hold of our mind and emotions is one that says, “I need someone to agree with me.” It is a spirit that fails and often refuses to open itself to seeking and finding the full truth of a situation. Defeating this tendency requires us to realize that the only one we need in agreement with us is God. He knows our hearts and if He does not convict or condemn us, then we stand righteous before Him.

Overcoming discord requires us to seek to understand our own thoughts and feelings, and to know that we stand pure of heart before God. Restoration requires us to seek to understand the thoughts and feelings of the others involved in the conflict. Today we discover that successful effort in this accomplishes the main work of a peacemaker.

Reading on from yesterday’s scripture:

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” ~ 1 John 1:5-7.

As I read this passage, God’s Spirit reminds me of something He recently inspired me to understand about the true role of a peacemaker. The number one characteristic of a peacemaker, in the way God intends it, is being a person who can walk in the light of truth, and help others do the same. These seek and find the truth of a situation, seek and find the truth of God’s will and way, and bringing all under that light, they seek to lead all parties to find the unity and fellowship we have in Christ and His truth. The true peacemaker seeks after and leads those around them to come to The Light, making amends wherever truth reveals the need, thus restoring fellowship with God first, and then with man.

1 John 2:7-11 says, “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

Fleshly indulgences, worldly ways, and Satanic influence is darkness that seeks to separate us from God, His Light, and those we love, especially from other believers. When we set our minds and hearts on our own version of truth, refusing to seek to understand others and bring a situation into God’s Light, Satan attacks our minds and hearts with thoughts that feed our false understanding, giving approval to fleshly indulgence and worldly ways. He takes us ever deeper into his pit of despair and discord.

We cannot develop a true and lasting fellowship with others unless we are willing to comecomfort002 into God’s Light with them. When we sit together, with ears attuned to hear their heart, eyes focused on seeing their situation and need, and hands ready and willing to give that healing touch of love, we get to the heart of our issues. There we find that any problem between us is seldom a one-sided problem, and often we find the truth of it to be not what we thought it was.

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned” ~ Luke 6:36-37.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 2

“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” ~ 1 John 1:1-4.

I love this passage of scripture. This is one of those passages of scripture that speaks my call in ministry, to write the truths God teaches me concerning Himself and His Word. It tells me to write what I hear, see, look at intently so-as-to know with true understanding, and the things I touch or am touched by in life that teach me about God and His truth: the Word of Life. The things we learn from all our senses, touched by God in life, we are to share with others, finding fellowship through the truth of God and His ways. This sharing and the unity it brings is joy made complete.

Today, however, this passage speaks to me concerning a second aspect of the factious spirit. Besides wanting someone to affirm their stance as right and good, the person under the influence of a factious spirit wants others to know their opinion of what truth is. Often fearing the other side is talking, they want their side known.

Here is the problem: when an argument ensues that hurts feelings, or that puts people on the spot, etc., truth is seldom on one side or the other of the controversy. It is somewhere between them. In a contentious encounter, we may see, hear, and feel ok, but when our emotions get involved, we misunderstand what we are looking at. That leads us to take action out of an emotional place where our understanding of what is truly happening becomes even more twisted by misinterpretation of what we see, hear and feel.

In any dispute, the factious spirit convinces each person involved that their understanding of the event and the feelings they felt are full and complete truth. There is nothing from the other side to understand in the pursuit of clarity. It says, “My truth is all right and theirs is all wrong.” For example, a person may interpret things they sense in an encounter with another as the other person being angry, when the fuel of discord is actually heartache over past false assumptions and a lack of trust toward the one making false assumptions. Issues cannot be resolved truthfully when dictated by false assumptions and failure to get to the heart of the problem.

In our focal passage, we see that the proclamation of truth known brings fellowship. However, the thing we must realize is that the truth that brings true and abiding fellowship is not the truth I think I know from the situation experienced. The truth that brings true and abiding fellowship is the one that seeks after God and the truth He sees. God sees the heart in all things and He can lead us to it.

Seeking God’s truth that brings fellowship requires us to sit down with one who has a complaint and understand their heart. It requires each party to be open to facing their own flaws. It requires each to practice grace toward the other, knowing we all are a work in progress, “CONTINUALLY being perfected until the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6). True and abiding fellowship requires a love for God and a love for one another that hates the division that works destruction, and that determines to find the truth that brings fellowship.

When we can make application of the Word of God to our life situations, sit down together, and work toward truth that brings fellowship, we honor God and participate with Him in bringing LIFE to our words. In seeking truth, we replace the factious heart and mind with the heart and mind of Christ.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 1

“Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” ~ Titus 3:10-11 (read verses 1-11).

Factions form around controversy. It is human nature to pick a side and stand on it.

There are situations in which God calls His people to separate themselves from others. Jesus said in His prayer in John 17 that we are to be a people who, though we live in the world, we are not of its mindset and ways. There is to be a difference seen in us from that of the world around us. As Christians, God calls us to represent His interests, standing on His side of every issue. So, factions form because of sin that stands in opposition to God, but we are not to be a factious people. What is the difference? I believe it is a heart issue.

We have all had times when misunderstanding, hurt feelings, disagreement, etc., causes a problem between one and another. What, in such times, reveals a “factious man”? God is showing me a vital, defining characteristic of someone who is taking actions in a factious spirit or mindset. The realization God is leading me to causes me to evaluate my own reasons for mentioning a controversy to parties who are not part of the situation. We do it for affirmation, wanting others to approve us and disapprove the opposing side.

As people, we often need affirmation. Seeking affirmation from any but God, however innocently, can often lead to fractured relationships. The factious spirit begins by leading a person’s heart and mind to want others to tell them that they are right, and the other side is wrong. The problem is that, when we do that, we put the people we call on for affirmation in the position of feeling they have to pick a side. Only God truly knows all sides and only He can reveal the righteous stance.

When lack of peaceful relations and discord come, seldom are any fully standing with God in the controversy. Asking other people to tell us what only God can know places them in a position of possibly lying to us about what they truly think as they try to placate and pacify our need for affirmation. When they do take our side, we cause a breach in their relationship with the other party. Even if they don’t pick a side, it can still fracture their relationships with the parties involved as they try to avoid them so they are not dragged into the war.

God’s Word encourages us to seek sound counsel and to comfort one another. Sharing controversy with those goals as the heart of our desire is good. However, a teachable spirit must accompany our seeking of counsel and comfort: we must possess a heart to receive instruction, and walk in the sound counsel and comfort given. Also, we must take care that the person we share with is able to give the comfort and counsel without feeling they must choose a side in the controversy.

Today I present the subject matter, the factious spirit that seeks to separates friends and family, causing a breach that puts all in danger of a fall.  Over the next several posts, we will cover things God is revealing we must do to counter and protect against a factious stronghold coming between us in an ungodly way.

“But He knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls’” ~ Luke 11:17.

Always Pray and Never Give Up

“Now He (Jesus) was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” ~ Luke 18:1, NASB.

Holy Habitation with God is a relationship that stands the test of time. A growing, vibrant, functional relationship requires communication of some sort. Prayer is the line of communication God makes available to us in Jesus name and the power of His Spirit. The most effective prayer is a two-way communication with more listening than speaking.

We speak praise, worship, and thanksgiving to God more than request, but request is a necessity. Looking at Jesus’ model prayer, most of the outline is praise, worship, and thanksgiving. That heart attitude permeates affective prayer. Requesting our daily need, repentance, and crying out for a heart of forgiveness and grace flow to God with greatest power when the heart is filled with the glory of God first and foremost. It is through requesting God to act on our behalf that we express with deepest realization of our need of Him, our trust in His provision and care. As we are faithful to make our requests, it is vital to realize with thanksgiving and praise the answers that come, recognizing from Whom they come. This is the teaching of Christ in Matthew 6:9-15.

Father speaks to us through His Word, other believers, and by His Spirit. In John 10, Jesus teaches us the importance of growing to know the voice of God. He promises that those who are His hear His voice and follow Him. Prayer as a two-way communication is vital to our ability to live with power in these days, and we desperately need this Holy Habitation with God.

However, what of times when God seems quiet and His hand moves at a pace that seems slow to our finite mind and heart? What then?

In our focal passage of Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells us, do 103not grow weary. Keep asking, seeking, and knocking with faith and hope in God until His answer comes. In scripture, we learn many things that may stay the hand of God or leave us in want of His voice. Daniel sought God for two weeks, waiting for God’s response, only to learn that it was demonic forces hindering the angel, Gabriel, from arriving with the answer. The enemy never changes. The tactics he used then, he still tries today. Angelic warriors stand against the enemy of God on our behalf.

Sometimes God waits for the right time. Sometimes He waits for our obedience in what He instructed us to do before His hand will move in to help. Sometimes He is busy making us ready for His response, growing our understanding of Him, teaching us the skills and wisdom and knowledge required for it. Sometimes God is working in those around us, making them ready to cooperate. Whatever the reason, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

~*~

“And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He {delay long over them}, defer them and delay help on their behalf? I tell you, He will defend and protect and avenge them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find [persistence in] faith on the earth?” ~ Luke 18:7-8, AMP Classic {NASB}.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 7

“… 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” ~ Exodus 33:12-14, AMP.

Looking at the passage covered in yesterday’s devotional thought, I notice that those who abide in God, remaining with Him in Holy Habitation, can still have their lives touched by the consequences of the sins of others.

God told Moses that He knows him by name and that He finds favor in him, yet still, Moses, along with Joshua and others who did not follow the sin of the people, were to go into Canaan without God’s presence with them, just as those who sinned.

I know you have seen this truth for yourself, as I have. We can suffer hardship because of the sins of those near us. This fact is part of our participation in the suffering of Christ that God’s word warns us we will bear in this life (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29-30; Colossians 1:24; see also 2 Peter 2:4-10). Jesus’ entire journey to the cross was because of sin not His own.

As people in Holy Habitation with God, it is vital when hardship comes that we get God’s perspective regarding its source and cause. If we find conviction of sin from Him, repent so-as-to remain with Him in righteousness. If it is not our sin revealed as the cause, hunker under His wings for His protective cover in that area of life. Also, realize that there is another truth seen in this discourse between God and Moses that we are to practice when a storm is not of our own making:

Those in Holy Habitation with God receive the consequences of a righteous life that is blessed by God, and that blessing can reach beyond us as grace toward those struggling in sin.

When God threatened to destroy the nation of Israel for their sin and begin anew with Moses, Moses jumped into the breech, begging for God’s mercy to save the people (Exodus 32:7-14). Now, as God threatens to remove His presence from their journey, Moses again steps into the breech to pray for mercy. God’s response to Moses translated into His doing good toward those who fell in sin, though they deserved the consequences of His holy discipline.

Holy habitation with God owns one’s own sin and seeks quickly the restoration of relationship with God. Holy habitation with God also realizes the effect our ability to commune with Him can have for the benefit of those we love. Realize, beloved, the heart of God toward you that longs to meet your every need, for yourself and for those you love and desire to see in Holy Habitation with Him.

“And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’” ~ vs. 14.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 6b

Read John 17

“As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. …The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me…” ~ vs. 18-25.

Sent In Jesus Name

In the previous post (Part 6a) for this series, we noted that Jesus sends us into the world just as God did, sending us to believe, speak, and live truth as God intended truth to be. Choosing our own sanctification in truth in likeness to Jesus brings unity to all who believe and practice His truth in kind. Today we see that this gift of glory from God ~ our ability to be one as He is one, perfected in unity ~ is ours from God so that the world may know that God sent Jesus. In making Jesus known as the Christ who saves, God tasks us with making the truth of God’s love found in that sacrifice evident to all who hear. Just as God sent Jesus into the world, so Jesus sends us to make it known to the world that God loves them just as He loves Jesus and us. We are…

Sent in Love to Love

Jesus sends us into the world because God the Father and Jesus the Son so love the world that they gift us to our age in history as His image bearers, living love out into the world. As people of God, fully called and equipped to live sanctified lives in kind so the world may see and know the love God has for all, it is vital that we “be” love as He is love. Love is our nature in Christ, the outpouring of His Spirit at work in us.

Filled with the Spirit, the attributes of love that I have written about many times, will be evident in us: love, being unconditional and incorruptible, fulfills the law in our attitudes and actions toward one another. In the practice of love, the love we have for others covers a multitude of sins, not waxing and waning with insult. Though hearts may hurt when trust is stressed by sin, thus hindering our ability to put ourselves in harm’s way by trusting again, care for the best possible life for those we love remains, and that best is always God, His will, and His way.

Those in our sphere of influence can know that though we hate sinful actions, we love them, as we learn to love unconditionally and incorruptibly. In so doing, we find fear of losing our love cast away as those we love struggle to grow in knowledge of truth and love. As those around us see this love from God’s heart flowing to them through us, they are equipped to know and trust God’s love for them.

As we grow in knowing and receiving this love of the Father found in the Christ, we unite as one with all who have gone on before us and all with us on this journey now. United in this power of God’s grace, called to a committed life in unity with God through love, we set the example as people who know how to love in Jesus Name.

078Jesus prayed for us that we would succeed in the power of God as we sanctify ourselves through faithfulness to trust and follow Christ’s example out of love for those in the world who need to know that God loves them. We are God’s gift to the world, charged with making His love evident in likeness to Him. His desire is that we join Him in eternity, having fulfilled this work of God in the earth, being love as He is love so that the world may know that God so loved the world.

Father God, Your word makes it clear that You are love. You love not because we do all InGodsHandssmethings well, but because that is Your nature. Your word also makes it clear that we are to love as You love. You desire our perfection in unity with the Father, Son, Holy Spirit and one another, therefore, we must receive the seed of Your nature that bears forth the fruit of love in likeness to You (1 John 4:7-11). Love is the glue that binds us together as one when we fail to fully know and walk in truth. Father, pour forth Your love through us that we may be one as You are one, successfully making Your love known in the world. In Jesus, amen.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 4a

Read John 17

“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. 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” ~ vs. 11-13.

Hedged by His Name

Beloved, look at what Jesus is praying here. He placed a hedge of protection around us who are in His Name.

“…keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are…”

In His Name, living and breathing and moving and speaking as people made One in Him, is a hedge of protection for us. It seems vital, then, that we understand what it means to be in the Name of God / Jesus. As I think of where to take us in discerning the fruit of being in His name, the following come to heart as a beginning of our discovery, getting you started on the road to living it. In keeping these posts more devotional length, we will look at this subject for several days, covering each passage in turn.

The most vital need on our journey to become one with God, hedged and protected in that name is having His priorities and mindset for life, being eternity driven:

“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. For as far as this world is concerned, you have died, and your new, real life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in the splendor of His glory” ~ Colossians 3:1-4, AMP.

God keeps bringing me to this realization, that I am one with Him, made complete in Him. All that I do, think, and speak is to flow out of this unity. It begins with possessing eternal perspective. To get a picture of what this mindset looks like as it bears its fruit in us, we must consider Paul’s teaching through verse 17 of Colossians 3.

Vs 5, Amplified Bible (AMP), warns us to beware the things that work “the deifying of self and other created things instead of God.” Our lives must always reveal God as God in us. This eternal perspective gives us power over fleshly emotions and desires. When God is God in us, we do not give ourselves to fleshly impulses. Instead, we walk a life that reveals that we are no longer children of disobedience, obstinately opposed to divine will, being fully surrendered to the Spirit residing in us (vs. 6-9).

Vs. 10 advises that we in Christ have clothed ourselves “with the new, spiritual self, which is ever in the process of being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image and likeness of Him Who created it” (AMP).

Letting go the flesh and its desires and putting on this eternal takes a lifetime. The produce of it reveals itself in us as spoken through the remainder of this Colossians 3 passage:

Vs. 11: all distinctions vanish. When we are one together in Christ, seeing Him in each other, we are no longer separated by race, color, creed, family history, etc. Past issues set aside, we are one together with God, removed from all dissension, hatred, unforgiveness, distrust, etc. We find unity in the love of God that flows through us as new creations in Christ to each other.

Vs. 12-17: our very nature bears His image, being holy as He is holy through the adornment of the character and nature of God who flows through and covers us.

InGodsHandssmeThat brings us to the focus for our next post on the subject of being in Jesus Name through our individual possession of unity with Him as His image bearers.

These things, Lord, You speak in the world so that we may have Your joy made full in us. We can face this life as we unite more and more with You, being one together with You in the power of Your Spirit. As You have spoken over us, O God, so let it be done. In Jesus, amen.

The Problem with Offense

“I am offended by that!”

“That offends me!”

These words grow louder in our society every day. Every day a new – old offense, touted on our newscasts, raises the temper in America. With each one, I find myself taking a side on which to walk my offensive line.

Most recent in the news are those “offended” by the flying of the confederate flag. As I watch the reports pour forth, stores get in on it, spreading a flag out, stating, “We will no longer sell these flags because we do not want to ‘offend ANYONE’”.

Immediately that “offended” me. Not because I want a confederate flag to fly, but because I want the right to fly one if I desire. However, as quickly as the offense hit me, God’s Spirit called me to shush it.

Think about it. What is the meaning of “Offend”?

Offend ~ Resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a PERCEIVED INSULT.

Offense comes from a place of resentment, and is most often caused by festering anger. Note also in this definition that offense sprouts out over a “perceived insult.” It is based on our perception and opinion, which may, or may not, be based on truth.

Do I care if people fly a confederate flag? We don’t fly one, but others have every right to do so, and I want the right to fly a flag without fear that some person passing by, who does not know me or my heart, will judge me by their perceptions of that flag.

We are in a nation of free speech, and flags speak of allegiances. We fly an American flag because we are of that allegiance. Others fly a flag in honor of those who fought under that flag. Flags can speak of ideology, yes, but we need to know the ideology that has a person flying the flag.

The confederate flag speaks, yes. For some, they speak of a heart that is not right toward American-Africans (Not a typo, will explain in a bit). That is sad, but true. However, the Civil War issue of slavery was secondary to the cause of the war.

My understanding of that time in HISTORY is that the war started because people in the south felt the leadership in the north was making unjust demands against their produce, requiring more of them than they felt just and right and doable. Therefore, war broke out. The slave issue came into play as the north, needing to increase their depleted army, promised freedom to those slaves who would fight for their side.

Did the slaves deserve freedom? YES! Was the war a just war from the beginning? Everyone has their opinion. Nonetheless, many Flag-treadfought and died on both sides, and they fought and died for a cause they felt worthy of the fight. The African slaves, seeking freedom as Americans fought with the northern states because they deserved freedom and felt it worth the effort if they could win their freedom in the fight.

To me the confederate flag stands for our right to choose. It stands against unjust government. It is the southern voice shouting “Don’t tread on me!” I love that flag. LOL

To others it speaks of racial discord and the right of white over black; unjust slavery and hardship. This is sad to me. But why punish those who honor their fallen under that flag, seeing it for what it was in their eyes, a people looking for just government.

Offense tells the one we perceive offense from that their heart ideology is wrong, and it says that we only care about our own viewpoint. It assumes knowledge of another’s heart issues. It judges the heart of a person that we often do not know.

Think of the offensive side of a football team. Their goal is to push for territory they want to gain, even if they have to run over another person to get there. That is what acting out of offense does. It pushes, too often out of festering anger that works destruction, forcing “my way over your way.” It judges the heart of all who are on the other side as being of evil intent. Going on the offensive automatically puts those opposed on the defensive, even if they know you have a right to your opinion. The battle of the offended against those on the defensive brings all to discord and disunity.

The thing God spoke to my heart in the Spirit this morning as offense threatened to pull me into the battle is this, “WE CHOOSE TO BE OFFENDED.”

I am sorry for the offense perceived by others and I hate that which causes their offense. On the other hand, I am too easily offended by others trying to force their will off on me; my personalizing the injustice of their perception. Thus, I have to choose whether I will let that anger get hold of me and dictate my life and actions. The choice is mine, and it is quickly quelled when I refuse anger and choose the right. The right I want is our unity as a nation: to deny offense based on anger that brings division and walk in righteous paths of peace, love, and grace.

People, if we keep going the direction we are in, we don’t need ISIS to come in and destroy us. All they have to do is sit back and wait. With enough time and ammunition, we will destroy ourselves from the inside out.

Festering anger breeds offense. The offended put others on defense. And the battle is on.

A house divided against itself will quickly fall.

It is vital that we learn how to fight the good fight of faith, knowing how to choose our battles. A battle line drawn out of anger and resentment breeds discord, which brings disunity that will bring the house down. A battle drawn from a stance on what is right and good will draw people together. As we seek out of love to express what is right and true, others seeing the righteousness of it will join in, and a union forms that stands in strength.

I honor the right of others to take a stand. However, I pray that stance is made out of a desire for a righteous outcome. If anger, resentment, pride or arrogance is the fuel, destruction will come as people pushed to offense take their side. Note the base for your stance, beloved. If anger is the base, we choose to be offended and to judge the heart of others out of our angry perspective, thus breeding anger in kind. If we are standing on a base of what is right and a desire for truth and unity, there is no need for an offensive: Only live right and others will soon follow.

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another” ~ Galatians 5:19-26.

Side Note

Why do I prefer “American-African / Latino / Asian / Irish / etc.”:

I am American-Irish. I word it that way because I want unity in my country, so I am an American first, and I happen to be of Irish decent. I have never been to Ireland. I love my Irish roots and the people who spawned me. However, I am and always have been American.

Only as we move our roots fully to possess and grow a strong America as Americans first will we see this discord begin to calm itself. Hanging onto the past as if it is our present reality, our perceptions dictated by the hardship of our history, we will never build a strong America for our children to live in.

Only as we become an American who happens to have blood from other nationalities and races can we be one people, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. We need to know our history, pulling from the good to continue that, and making sure we do not repeat the bad; but we do not need to keep living in the past. May we as Americans make our now and our kids future better by living the good we know in our now lives, producing good soil for the growth of future generations.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 2

Read John 17

“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” ~ vs. 1-5.

Father, The Hour Has Come!

Beloved, realize today that every breath you breathe as one who believes in God through Jesus the Christ means that your hour has come. Like Christ, our being born to this age of humanity’s history is no accident; nor are we a “plan B”. From before time began, God planned us.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” ~ Ephesians 2:10.

There is purpose for our breath in this age. With that purpose comes authority and Spirit-power to fulfill all His good will and way for us in this age.

“Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

The main purpose we have in our life is to make the Father and the Son known to those around us. We accomplish this purpose not only by word of mouth, but, more importantly, by our being as He is. Every characteristic we know of God should express itself through our character in the power of the Spirit. We love as He loves. We forgive as He forgives. We humble ourselves to accomplish the Father’s purpose just as Jesus did. And on we go, glorifying God the Father and Jesus the Son by representing all we know of them to those around us.

InGodsHandssmeBeloved, pray today to grow up into all the glory of God so that you are His representative, accomplishing the purpose of making Him known and fulfilling the good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. In this way, we become the answer to the prayer of Christ, glorifying God in all things, and manifesting His glory as one with Him, empowered and useful in accomplishing His purpose in our days.

May we each be able to say, as Jesus did, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

Things Leading to Perfect Peace ~ Part 2

Kingdom Perspective

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.]” ~ John 16:33, AMP.

Yesterday we saw that the first “thing” Jesus spoke of that empowers His gift of perfect peace and confidence to work in our lives is our trust in the reality, personality, and work of God the Father and Jesus the Christ. Our Triune God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is faithful because He cannot deny Himself by failing to be who He is. We can have peace in knowing God and trusting His faithfulness.

The second thing I see follows and is attached to the first. That key to peace is our Kingdom or Eternal Perspective.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” ~ John 14:1-3.

075This is not our home, People of the Living God. If we are His, He has a Kingdom in which we will dwell with Him in Eternity, and to which we already belong. The circumstances in which we find ourselves are training ground. Some of you will say, “Again with the continuum!”, but it is a truth worth repeating. We cannot truly know with appreciation love, hope, faith, truth, etc., until we have experienced hate, despair, doubt, lie, etc. The only way to do that is to dwell in places that contrast God, who is love, the source of hope, our object of faith, because He is truth and truthful, etc. Therefore, we are in the world for a purpose: to learn that we are not of the world. Only as we enter into and have this hope of the eternal purpose can we face today’s trouble with hope’s peace.

In addition, Beloved, as I have told you before, now I tell you again: this eternity is not just something we look forward to entering when our life on earth is finished. Otherwise, why leave us to life’s difficulties? If there is no eternal purpose for leaving us in this life, why give opportunity for us to walk the continuum of peace vs. turmoil? God would just take us home where Perfect Peace resides. If we could fully know His Peace without understanding of its opposition, God would remove us from this place as soon as the “I do” was done.

The eternity we look forward to truly begins for each of us the instant we say, “I do” to Jesus, the Bridegroom. In that 076breath, we become the Bride, members of the Royal Court of God’s Kingdom: day one of our journey to eternal destiny. As we go through life here, learning to discern the godly end of the continuums of life, we discover who we are in Christ. Taking on our role as Ambassador of the eternal Kingdom of God, being in the world but not of it, we live His Kingdom reality into the earth by living at the godly end of the continuums of life, being of His Kingdom while not in it.

I hear of people, thrown in prison for their faith, who have peace in that season of hardship because they realize God has Kingdom business for them to do while there. Trusting God, they weather that storm in the Eye of His presence. The eternal perspective of being of God’s Kingdom, part of His Royal Court, while being His ambassador in the place He sets them, helps them face their time in prison with a perspective that brings peace found in purpose.

We may not all wind up in prison, but we all face the ungodly end of life’s continuums every day. Trouble comes to tempt us to despair, hate, unforgiveness, self-preservation, etc. Tucking self into one’s understanding of God and His Kingdom purpose, we find peace to persevere with faith and hope. That perseverance leads us to the godly responses that produce Kingdom fruit into the earth. Our fruitful lives then bear a testimony in the world that highlights the Kingdom of God. Others, seeing the product of His eternal purpose in us, receive the testimony of our lives in Christ and join us on the journey. This is the Kingdom perspective that produces peace from God that is unhindered by life’s trouble.

Beloved, if you are in a hard place in life, realize that God allowed it for a Kingdom purpose. God never takes us to places where His grace cannot keep us, because He always takes us where His purpose has need of us as His Royal Ambassador. We are always either on training ground, and / or in fields, white for harvest. He is either working to grow us on some continuum meant to help us understand the godly, and / or He desires to use us to help others on their journey. Wherever you find yourself today: wherever tomorrow leads you, take hope and enter into His peace. We can be in any hardship and produce fruit in keeping with righteousness when we have that perfect peace empowered by Kingdom purpose.

GET UP!

“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.

My heart leaps every time I read this verse. “Get up, let us go from here.”

Jesus and the disciples are going from the upper room where their last supper together was eaten, heading into the Garden where they will pray together for the final hours of Christ’s life and ministry.

Again, as I read this, the Spirit of God instructs me of its importance to me in my days of walking with Christ. He says to my heart even now, “The world knows your love of the Father in the same way as you follow Christ in doing ‘exactly as the Father commanded.’ Yesterday is gone. Its successes will meet you in glory as reward. Its failures, covered by Christ, He carried to the underworld for all eternity. Today is a new day. Do not let yesterday’s failures hinder your walk of faith-filled obedience today. Do not even allow your last failed breath hinder and rob you of the glory to be had with the next breath you take. Forgetting what lies behind and pressing forward to what lies ahead, get up, and let us go from here.”  (Philippians 3:8-16, *13)

walking-with-godConfess yesterday’s sins and repent of them, yes; but do not let those things define you or hold you captive. It is a new day with new mercy and loving-kindness from God who, because of Jesus, pours forth strength and power for us to overcome our flesh, the world, and the demonic wisdom that tempt us. Show the Love you have for the Lord by following in likeness to Christ’s obedience, and have a BLESSed day in the Lord as you see His purpose for you being in this day unfolding before you to the glory of His Holy Name.

Father, I am confident of this very thing, that YOU who began a good work in me, will perfect it from now until the day of Christ’s return. Grant me faith to believe and receive Your transforming, enabling, perfecting and equipping power for life more abundant and full, proving Your will made sure, complete and accomplished in me. In Jesus, amen.

(Philippians 1:6; Romans 12:1-2)

Propitiation Love

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” ~ Matthew 24:13-14, NASB.

Endures what? Lawlessness? No. The endurance we must possess is to persevere against the assault to one’s love-walk that lawlessness produces.

Love is key to our survival in these days. As lawlessness increases, giving love can be challenged by frustration with those who sin against us; defeated by a spirit of discouragement toward those we see as never changing from the evil that ensnares them. Key to our love-walk in such times of difficulty is the fact that God loves because He IS LOVE: and we are to BE as HE IS. Grab this key, beloved and meditate on it today as you deal with those who stress and strain love. And as you do, consider the following:

Never turn away a loved one because of frustration with their sin without first seeking the Father for the best love-action that needs to be taken. Sometimes leaving the person to wallow in the mire is the greatest love we can give them, so they learn to hate their own sin and to long for the good they can have with the Father they have experienced, hopefully through us. Other times, surpassing frustration to meet a physical need is the love act that expresses God’s care to them and shines the Light that draws them in. But only the Father knows their heart and which is the avenue of destruction to sin that frees them. So we must seek His discernment in our love-walk. Teacher-Test

Unfortunately, in this life with the evils we deal with daily, we also have to consider the protection of innocence, turning from those through whom sin touches us in order to protect the innocence affected by it. Thus knowing how to rightly love requires God’s wise discernment. His love will prevail to accomplish its purpose if we seek to follow on the heels of LOVE-Persona.

While studying for a Bible Study lesson the other day, I discovered an interesting truth about our love walk and what it should be. To endure lawlessness with a spirit of love toward those who do wrong against us, I believe this truth is necessary for us to consider.

In 1 John we are told that Jesus is “propitiation” for sin (2:2). He fully satisfies the payment required by GOD’s Law for the sin of all mankind, the whole world of us! Even ISIL right now, Jesus paid the price of the atrocities they are committing right now; but blinders hinder their receiving His gift of grace, freedom from their sin, and the eternal life they think they are fighting to acquire. Think of missing the very thing you think you are achieving through your works that are sin against the one true God, because you cannot see that God as reality or His propitiation love as true in the Christ you deny. That is sad indeed, a pitiful situation.

We are the people of God if we have chosen Him in Christ just as He chooses us through the same. Though we continue to struggle against sin, because of Jesus this propitiation love of God for us does not hold our sin against us. John 3:16 tells us that God gave Jesus to this role because He loves us—ALL of us, thus the gift purchased reaches out to the whole world, even those ensnared by philosophies like that of ISIL. This is God’s love for us all, the whole world of us. He wanted us with Him for all eternity so much so that He sent His son to pay the full price for sin for all mankind everywhere. And He holds that Christ out for all to see as The Way by which we receive that eternity as a gift, paid for by Him.

That is not news to me, beloved, as I am sure it is not to you who believe as I do, but the following grabbed me! 1 John 4:10-11, NASB, instructs us:

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the PORPITIATION for our sins. BELOVED, IF GOD SO LOVED US, WE ALSO OUGHT TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”

We are to love with Propitiation!

Through love we desire to be His light to a world that needs our Savior. Love growing cold hinders our desire and ability to share Christ. Love growing cold hinders our desire and effectiveness in making sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel. Being propitiate toward those who are unworthy of love from our standpoint means to love them despite sin, not holding their sin against them so as to become cold hearted toward them and fail to hold out to them the ONE they most need to achieve the goal they so greatly desire. Propitiation-love seeks to love fully by continuing even in the face of atrocities done to us, to be God’s light and a conduit of His love toward them with hope of their salvation.

To desire that others know the one who loved us enough to give His all on our behalf, especially those who sin against us, is Propitiation-love. There is no room for self-centeredness, self-preservation, pride, greed, resentment, grudge and anger THAT HINDERS our love-walk and keeps us from giving our all in order to share our Christ with the least of these. If we as God’s people in Christ are sitting in their torcher chamber, this love and Light should prevail against the dark; and by His grace at work within us, it can and will, but we have to understand the call and trust Him who is able to make it so.

Does that mean we never fight against evil? No. We are called to expose unrighteousness and stand firm against it (Read Ephesians 5:6-21; 6:10-20). To fail to do that is to leave those who can be reached with the love of God ensnared by those who would never allow their exposure to the love God has for them in Christ. Thus we fight the good fight of faith, doing good wherever we are able, and routing out sin wherever it seeks to destroy the Light that is there.

One of the hardest things I have ever experienced came when I asked God to fill me with His love for another; and He did, fully. Love you still! I know you are reading this. Receiving that love for the beloved was easy. But when they committed what for me was an unspeakable, unfathomable sin, that love did not quit, and the lesson concerning the fullness and power of God’s love began. To be so hurt and disgusted by sin, but still to love and long for a right and good relationship is hard; it is beyond comprehension to me who is still hindered by flesh. And to have such sin form a wall of hindrance to the full experience and expression of Love is heart breaking.

This is God’s love for us. It is the hurt I believe God bears for those He longs for every second of every day because of the gift of Jesus, but who cannot see or walk in truth because they are blinded to Jesus and ensnared by sin. When we are covered by Christ, that covering brings low the walls that divide so we can continue in relationship with Him. But when we refuse the covering, His love for us does not die. It just goes unfulfilled, and don’t you know, that hurts!

This is a picture of the Propitiation-love we are to have for each other. Love never fails. It puts the sins of the past in the past and works to go forward, not adding up the sin to keep using it against the one loved. Though sin may separate us because of the walls that fly up as created by the sin, love does not die, but continues to desire and seek the best for the object of its affections. God sends rain on the just and the unjust because, though sin hinders relationship, love continues.

There are many “Walking Dead” in the earth, beloved. Those who refuse the gift of propitiation love found in Christ are dead in their trespasses and sins. Only as we grow to love others as God loves us will we endure the days of lawlessness ahead of us so that we can continue to reach out into their darkness as His Light. And only as we get understanding of this Love He has for us and calls us to have for others can we truly be a conduit of that love to the unlovable in our midst.

Possess Your Own Vessel (Body)

“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to HOW YOU OUGHT TO WALK AND PLEASE GOD (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, YOUR SANCTIFICATION; that is, that you ABSTAIN FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY; that each of you KNOW HOW TO POSSESS HIS OWN VESSEL in sanctification and honor, NOT IN LUSTFUL PASSION, like the Gentiles WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD; And That No Man Transgress And Defraud His Brother In The Matter Because The Lord Is The Avenger In All These Things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, HE WHO REJECTS THIS IS NOT REJECTING MAN BUT THE GOD who gives His Holy Spirit to you” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.

Sexual immorality is rampant in our day, even among those who belong to God. Adultery, fornication, incest, pornography, homosexuality, rape and molestation of innocence: all these are addressed in God’s Word as being against His will for us, and we see it all in our day, in ever increasing prevalence, even among the people of God. I believe all these perversions of God’s ideal way sicken the heart of God who calls us to sanctification that has a vital purpose.

The institution of marriage and the act of marriage, as God intended it to be, is a picture of what our relationship is supposed to be like with our Holy God. It is the giving of oneself fully to one person, able to so greatly trust that person that we can be “naked” – fully exposed before them. Such intimacy is not meant to be shared with any other than the one we are intended for, the one we are to spend our life with. In likeness to our relationship with the One True God, we are to be saved and kept for the one we are meant to be with for all time.

Even to look on another so as to lust after them, which is the business of pornography, is to sin against God and against His holy institution. Premarital experience and fleshly lust rob of experiencing God’s best for us in our relationships and it hinders our ability to trust each other, which is vital to true intimacy. I know this for a fact, not only because of what the Spirit has taught me in God’s word, but unfortunately because of personal experience.

I was sexually active in my youth, not having anyone to teach me these things. I married unwisely to get out of that lifestyle and that marriage ended in divorce. When God brought my husband into my life – and He did! He has made this clear to us in many ways through our years – I struggled over my past as I began to learn the truth of God’s ideal. It hindered our intimacy for a long time, until God healed me of the consequence of my sin, delivering me from the guilt and shame, and set me free indeed. It is my hope in sharing these things that I can spare some of you the pain and struggle.

The pre-marital impurity done by or to those still waiting for their mate-in-Christ is the commission of sin against our Holy God and that intended mate. It is also sin against one’s own flesh, and I am not just talking about STDs or out of wedlock pregnancy.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases and the potential for pregnancy are just part of the consequences we can face. Sexual intimacy with another gets into the depths of our being. When we do find our mate, flashbacks of previous experiences can hit our hearts to bring us to shame. It can keep us from satisfaction with our mates and hinder our healing from that past.

With every act that is not sanctified and set apart in keeping self for one’s future partner, we do harm to these vital relationships as it affects our very personalities and expectations for marital relations. Needing to “practice” so we will be ready for our mate, knowing how to satisfy them, is a lie straight out of hell.

No two people are alike. What one likes and expects, another will abhor. If you “practice” with one and like certain things, then marry another who does not like those same things, you will be constantly dissatisfied with your mate, ill-equipped to satisfy them, and frequently tempted to go back to where your desires can be met. Sexual relations is one area where ignorance is bliss. If you come together in innocence and learn to please each other, you will be satisfied together. When you grow in your intimacy together, learn what each likes, and minister to each other’s needs, that very intimacy satiates desire and makes you one flesh together, protecting you from desire for another.

Realize, beloved one, that until a couple marries, they do not yet know that they will be married. Anything can happen to stop our plans for marriage between the proposal and the “I do”; so “we are getting married” is not a license to take to ourselves the privilege of marriage before we are legitimately wed together. TRUE LOVE WAITS! This false belief that “engaged” is the same as “married” has ruined the gift of purity for many young couples. From the instant of that first kiss of longing that makes one want to touch, all the way to the actual penetration, all of that act of intimacy is sex! It is a gift to be given on the wedding night, AFTER the “I do” is done. Scripturally, marriage does not begin until the parents give the bride to the groom and all human legalities that define marriage are fulfilled.

The next portion of our passage, “That No Man Transgress And Defraud His Brother In The Matter Because The Lord Is The Avenger In All These Things” speaks to me of the insult we do to others through failing to possess our own vessels in sanctity for our marriage partner.

Defraud: to use deceit, falsehoods, or trickery to obtain money, an object, rights or anything of value belonging to another. From the premarital encounter that destroys the gift of purity meant for another, to rape, sexual immorality done with another’s mate or against one’s own mate, any sin of immorality that is done by force against another ~ all of these are transgressions that defraud another. And all of these defraud God, for in that instant we insult the One who loves us most and rob Him of our wholehearted intimacy with Him as God and Lord.

If we are His child, such acts grieve and quench the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Since God is always with and for the believer, we cause pain to His Holy Presence, who is made to experience our sin by virtue of His intimate knowledge of us. Such acts do great harm to our relationship with Him. And it is an act of blasphemy, as it gives God’s name in us, “Christian”, a bad reputation.

I believe the “brother” in this statement toward those we defraud could be translated “brethren,” which would mean: our brothers and sisters in Christ; our family and those we are kin to; those of the same people group; any people whose lives are touched by our sin. Even the angels in heaven who are watching God’s people and the triune-God with whom we are one are adversely affected by our sin.

When we commit adultery, we sin not only with the person we partner with in the act, but we sin against their present or future mate, their children, and all who will be touched by the pain of the consequences brought about by the sin done and exposed to light. And what does it say? “The Lord is the avenger in all things.” So the consequences that come against us because of our sin come from the very hand of God. STDs that destroy our bodies; out of wedlock pregnancies that sideline our plans for the future; marriages ended because of hurt and lack of trust; these consequences and more are allowed by God because of our sin. HE WHO REJECTS THIS IS NOT REJECTING MAN BUT GOD.

Pray as God leads you today for yourself, those you love, and all God brings to your heart today. If you have committed these sins already, repent, stop what you are doing, get right with God and seek godly council to help you correctly deal with the sin done.

Pray for the body of Christ to be sanctified and set apart in purity, delivered from perversion, and to know how to possess their own body in obedience to the Father. It is better to be a eunuch by choice than to commit acts of such sin and face the wrath of our Holy God.

Jesus-Bride006If you are one who has been hurt by such sin, forgive for your own sake, so that you can be in right standing with God, able to get His perspective on the issue, and seek godly council to help you find healing and strength to carry on. Unforgiveness, bitterness and anger will hurt you! Do not hold on to these but seek the healing power of God to equip you to entrust these hurts to Him.

Whichever side of the insult you are on, beloved, whether the sinner or the one sinned against, God will heal you. He will enable you to love and to trust again as you seek His face and His grace, which is sufficient for ALL THINGS. And, as I can attest to, His healing can establish your ability to experience true intimacy with your mate, renewing the gift He intended you to give to each other alone.

The Stand ~ Hillsong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV5iZBTNYrk&list=PLfiEjLIYhJ9BycuYe34CTDe-q9HZzszNs&index=4

Destructive Heart Issues

I miss my daddy. I have missed him for a long time. You see, my dad was the most loving, caring, giving man I have ever known. He would give the shirt off his back if it would help. And he was often trusting of others to his own harm. He tried to see and think the best of people.

It was not until his elder years that I was also introduced to his insecurities and hurts. He had many hurts in his heart because of things others did or did not do. And those hurts sat there, hidden, until he could hide them no longer.

In his latter years he became increasing less trusting, and the bitterness that came of the festering heartache became more evident. For those closest to him, his bitterness and anger and suspicious nature became difficult to see day after day. His lack of ability to trust and his bitterness that came out more and more incessantly through his words, facial expressions, and actions began to erode his relationships. It was the saddest thing to me, to see this very sanguine tempered, outgoing man, close himself off more and more from life and from people who loved him.

Such is the way of anger, bitterness, and contention. It is destructive, and it robs us of life and love and joy and peace. And, as we observed with my daddy, it robs us of who we are and always have been. Bitterness and anger robs of the ability to see things as they truly are. Lack of trust leads to slanderous statements given out of obscured observations. The one who is hurting becomes the one who hurts.

I am not telling you this to put my daddy down. I love my daddy. Father took him Home last November and freed him from the pain and heartache he carried. And Father graciously removed the pain and heartache that has such potential to rob me of the memory of the man I knew my daddy to be. He has replaced the hurt and heartache with memories of the good days, freed me through His Spirit-given ability to forgive. And in the areas where daddy’s obscured accusations crushed my heart, God has filled me with understanding that He knows the truth and I can stand before Him with confidence when my day comes to meet Him in the air.

I do tell you this to bring you to alertness over your own heart. Hurts and heartaches need to be dealt with in right ways that free us from anger and bitterness. Having courage to address issues with those we are hurt by; having ability of Spirit to forgive “for My Own sake” as Father forgives, so we can let it go and continue on in relationships unhindered by bitterness, anger, etc. (Isaiah 43:25): These are vital skills to develop in our day.

I urge you, if you are one snared by such destructive heart issues to seek sound counsel from godly people who can help you grow past the hurt to healing in Christ. In the words of Paul, I implore, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” ~ Ephesians 4:31-32.

Relationships can be hard work, but broken relationships brought about by inability to forgive and show grace are destructive to all concerned, and mostly to the one bearing the grudge within themselves. If you are in such a state, I pray the Lord will equip you to love, forgive, and live life to the full in good relationships with those who so long for that love connection with you.

Word of Life: Kingdom Reality

“…Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” ~ 1 John 2:12-17.

“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.” The longer I live, the more I understand how important it is to have His Kingdom as our daily reality. The only way we can overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life that leads to loving this world and its ways is to come more and more fully into Kingdom Reality.

This passage states that the love of this world—being in love with it so as to be led away by lust of the flesh and the eyes, and the boastful pride of life—reveals that we do not have the Love of the Father ABIDING in us. Abide means to live in so as to remain in. God desires to live and make His home within us, abiding there. Why?

In my more recent experience I am finding that to be true, not just so He can control me, because He does not force His control on me; but so that I have an Anchor that stabilizes me in the waters of His Kingdom.

His presence with me reminds me constantly of the oneness He desires with me. I am in Him; He is in me; we are one together and my true residence is with Him where He is even now and always. My eternity started the day I said “I do” to Jesus, becoming part of the Bride of Christ and made one with the Father as a Child of God. I am a member of God’s Kingdom.

Realization of that unity and position with Him anchors my soul, protecting me from letting the desire for the things of this life pull me away from Him. The stronger that reality is in me, the less I feel of the pull of this world.

l109149486I was watching Deadliest Catch this past week. One of the boats was docked when a major storm rolled in. As the captain in charge at that moment felt the waves tugging and pushing, he realized that if he did not reposition the boat, they would be pulled away and made a wreck by the waves. That is the way it is with us. As we come more and more into the reality of His Kingdom that is in us and with us, we can more readily recognize when there is a threat to our position so we can make needed adjustments and reestablish the lines that hold us in security.

There is another thought we can take from that Deadliest Catch episode. The captain of the boat wanted to get hold of the owner of the boat to get clearance before doing what he knew needed done, because if one person involved failed to do their part, the move needed could be sabotaged and lead to the wreck they were trying to avoid. Because of the storm he was unable to reach the owner. So he had to make a decision based on what he knew from past experience and what he knew of the owner.

Sometimes, when we are in a storm, we feel like we can’t reach God. Now that thought is another that can lead to a whole other study, but John helps me to stay on track with this thought as we return to pick up the first of our text:

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. …” ~ 1 John 2:12-17.

In times when a decision must be made but we struggle to feel like we can hear from God, this is what I see in this passage that gives us instruction. The children of God living His Kingdom reality:

Have experienced forgiveness – they know what repentance is and have understanding of God’s grace sufficient. These know because they know Him that His grace will always be sufficient.

These know God – having been and still being in intimate relationship with Him. Though they may feel that they can’t hear Him at this moment, they know Him: how He thinks, what His will and purpose is, and the actions He takes.

These are overcomers – that have been in bad situations before and have won victories. They have experience in dealing with the challenges the enemy of God sends, and they know God always leaves them with help they can rely upon. Thus…

These have strength – this strength is God-powered, because their faith and hope are in Him. They trust His presence with them even when they may not “feel” it or know it experientially in that moment.

These have the Word of God abiding within – though they may not feel they are hearing His voice right now, they have His Word to direct them and give them a future and a hope in their final outcome.

Beloved, when storms hit, it can be difficult to hear God’s voice speaking. We must have experiential knowledge of Him and that comes as we live with Him as His Kingdom dwellers. I believe that God always hears us (Isaiah 59:1). But sometimes God is silent, testing to see if we have faith to trust Him enough to do what we know needs done.

God brought this passage to mind for us today ~ Matthew 25:14-30 ~ The parable of the talents. You remember the story. The master goes on a journey and leaves his possessions with his servants, expecting them to be good stewards. He did not tell them what to do with the wealth entrusted to them. All indications are that he expected these to bring increase to him out of their knowledge of him and his ways and priorities. Apparently he trusted these servants, which tells me he had reason to believe that they had enough experience with him to be able to make wise and discerning decisions on his behalf.

You know the story. Two of these acted out of faith and did what they felt the master would want done based on what they knew of him. The third Jesus-Bride006held back in fear. What did he say?

“Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.”

Now obviously the master knew this one was often driven by fear, so he did not give him much to squander. And what was his response? “You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.”

God brings increase to us as we prove to be faithful stewards, leaving us with greater resource to use on His behalf. That fact tells me there will be times when God will entrust us with His wealth. His wealth is not just the “talents”, Beloved. His wealth is the knowledge of Him – knowing His ways, His purposes, His thoughts, His words.

It is vital that we know our God experientially so we may have the faith needed to take action in due season when His voice is not evident. We must know Him, know His word, and have experience of Him that can direct our path. That experiential knowledge of God comes most to those who realize His Kingdom is in us and we are in it even now. We abide in Him and He in us. Beloved, read Revelation 21 and note the following:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them’ … I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. …”

Note beloved…WOW!!!!!!! Note the oneness found here. Just in the few words of this chapter shared above we see “the new” come down for the old has passed away. Note the new Jerusalem, beloved. It comes down into the new heaven and the new earth, and what is its appearance? It is “made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” We are it, beloved and it is us.

Jesus-Bride001Then note the temple. It is not there as a separate structure because God in all His fullness and the Lamb, who is the veil, are the temple. The whole city is in the temple. And the Temple is in the whole city, becoming for it the Light that replaces the sun.

And the Light enlightens every man (John 1:9). The Kingdom is in us, and we are the Kingdom, Beloved of God. We can know Him now experientially, having the Light of His glory within us; and what is the light?  The light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:9).

So as these storms come upon us in these days, Beloved, draw ever nearer to God, submit to God, resist the devil who will use the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the boastful pride of life against us IF WE LET HIM, just as he always has done. But he must flee as we draw near to God through submission to Him, which puts us instantly into resistance against Satan and his minions. Choose God and live for and with and in Him day by day, breath by breath. When hearing Him is difficult, follow what you know of Him in faith, trusting Him, and do the good you know to do as a good steward of His Light.

He never leaves nor forsakes us. He is with us and for us. By faith, believing, go forth and prosper, for you who are in Him and He in you are The Kingdom of God.

Word of LIFE: Faithful ~ Our Reliable Advocate

“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is FAITHFUL and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” 1 John 1:8-10.

FAITHFUL” is the word of Life that stands out to me in this portion of today’s passage that is vital for us to latch on to in these days as what is to come unfolds before us. As things unfold to reveal the truth of His prophetic word to us concerning these end-time days, and as we see much evil grow in this world and many atrocities come, especially toward those who believe in the Jehovah of our Holy Bible, both Jew and Christian, it is imperative that we remember our God’s faithfulness. He is faithful and righteous, and He will keep His word of promise to us who believe in, trust in, are confident in and rely upon Him.

This combination of words used to describe the faith we are to have is seen often in the Amplified version of scripture: faith ~ to “believe in, trust in, be confident in and rely upon Him”. It is the full and true definition of what faith in God is and how it looks on those who truly believe that HE IS FAITHFUL.

One of the main reasons I see for our need to grow strong in our trust of His faithfulness is that, as evil grows in the world, so will the temptation to fall before it. God’s word instructs us that even our greatest good can be as filthy rags before our Holy God. Why is that? Isaiah, in chapter 64, says:

“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. There is no one who calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us and have delivered us into the power of our iniquities” ~ vs. 6-7.

Look at what Isaiah says is the reason for the filth: “no one calls on Your name, who arouses himself to take hold of You.”

Do you realize that there are many people who could be called “good people” in this life? They treat parents with respect, they are faithful to their mates, they do not steal, kill, or covet; and they speak truth at all cost, never bearing a false witness against another. But what are the first three points of God’s law given by Moses (Exodus 20)? Are they not laws that call us to have faith in, trust in, believe in, be confident in, and rely upon One Who is the only True God, taking hold on Him as our own and remembering to keep Him and His ways of first priority in living out the remainder of the Law?

And how many times does God promise those who seek Him that, if they will seek Him with whole heart, they will find Him so as to be His people and Him their God; and they will find Him faithful as God? Even those seen as “good people” sin against a Holy God when they do that good with no thought of Him or desire for Him.

True goodness requires reliance upon God, just as Jesus relied upon Him:

“If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [EVERYTHING NOT IN CONFORMITY TO HIS WILL IN PURPOSE, THOUGHT, AND ACTION]” ~ verse 9, AMP

Jesus’ righteousness was perfect righteousness because He always conformed Himself to God’s will, seeking first to accomplish His purpose, having His thoughts, and taking action as God instructed so all was done to His glory and the fulfilling of all things just as Father planned it. That is why He willingly went to that cross. He believed God and trusted His way was THE BEST WAY; thus while quaking over what He knew He was about to suffer, He prayed before going to that cross, “Yet not My will, but YOUR WILL BE DONE” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus knew that Father-God is the Architect and Builder. All the good we do that is NOT done with God’s will, purpose, and thought in mind, taking intentional action as instructed by Him in the power of His Spirit, failing to couple action with relying upon Him in the doing of the good, that good is made evil in His sight. Without reliance upon God and His Spirit, we too easily fall to the desires of our own flesh, the unenlightened wisdom of this world, and the lies of the demonic. Thus we need our Advocate, Jesus, to help us through these days as we seek after God to honor and glorify Him.

“My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the PROPITIATION for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” ~ 1 John 2:1-2.

Jesus is Propitiation: Following fully the will of God, trusting in and relying upon Him, Jesus stood in our place at our punishment, taking the penalty on our behalf, as full and complete payment for our sins. And it tells us here that He paid the price of the sins of the WHOLE WORLD.

The minute Father laid all sin on Jesus’ shoulders on that cross, all sin ever committed since His hanging on that cross was completely paid for by Christ. It is a gift that is available for all who will receive it with believing faith and full reliance upon His payment. It is not Jesus plus anything that saves. It is Jesus alone, and that requires us to RELY upon Him who paid the price, TRUSTING that payment to be all that is needed for our entrance into fellowship with Father, as part of the people of His Kingdom.

Once we enter into this new covenant of TRUST in Jesus as the Savior who purchased the right of redemption at Calvary – giving Him the right to deliver us from slavery and set us free to discover and serve God fully, we are then called to renewed FAITH in God through Christ Jesus, given full rights of access to God as His children, rebirthed in Christ to a relationship with and reliance upon God as God and Father. We are then to be His witnesses, telling others of the gift found in Christ, ready in season (when it is easy) and out of season (when it is not easy or popular) to give an account of this hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:13-17; 2 Timothy 4:1-4).

Because of our relationship with God through Christ, we are to be His ambassadors, representing His interests in the earth. Being brought by our new birth through faith into relationship with God through Christ to be His children, we are delivered into His Royal Priesthood, to be His worshipers and leaders of worship, worshiping the Father in Spirit and in truth through our daily lives and choices, setting an example for others to follow. And we are set on a course of being possessed by God, able to enter more readily into His will by receiving through our relationship of reliance on Him the purposes of His heart for our situations. We are given by His Spirit in us the very thoughts God thinks, so we are able to think as He does. And we are then able to take actions as led by Him in the power of His Spirit to the fulfilling of His purpose and plan, in one accord with His will and way.

If you are getting anything out of this series of study, beloved, it is NOT because I am a great author, able to put words together well. It is because, through reliance upon the faithfulness of God to be God, He spoke to my heart and was able to make it clear to me. He told me a storm is coming—I know not what, only that it will set the nation, and indeed the world in turmoil. And He gave me instruction through the passages we are covering and through those we are yet to cover in the days ahead that give us His Word of Life that will help us to weather the storm and to possess His heart in it.

I have awakened with a headache, being dull of thought each morning so far, not knowing what to say to you or how to say it, but having clear direction as to where in His Word I would find the thoughts and being fully surrendered to be His conduit through which the thoughts may flow. Any instruction coming clearly to you is because I have succeeded in relying upon God to pour it forth to you as He wills it to be so, and He has faithfully instructed your heart, giving you understanding of these things. By His grace sufficient, you receive it with understanding.

A storm is coming that will put us to quaking, just as Jesus did. Like Jesus, as we sincerely cry out, “not my will but Yours”, we can trust that God is God and He will have His will and His way in the earth. We can come through the storm, no matter what it brings to us on a personal level by abiding in and remaining in Him and in His Light. And we can come through every temptation this season will bring to us by trusting His faithfulness and relying fully on Him who is God to be our God, leading us to the fulfillment of His will for us in purpose, thought and action.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Beloved, if you do not know God through His gift found in Christ and Him crucified; I implore you to reread the paragraphs above, covering His propitiation. Seek His forgiveness for sin today, especially for the sin of seeking to be good people without relying on God for that goodness, and receive His gift of grace sufficient found in Christ’s sacrifice, given to pay the price for all your sin.

If you are a Christian who has fallen into the ways of the world and failed to rely upon God for every purpose, thought, and action, remember He is for you and not against you. God, by His Spirit, is continually working to perfect You through Christ (Philippians 1:6) who ever stands before the Father as your advocate.

Today is the day and NOW is the time to trust Jesus to be your Advocate, Who will forever intercede on your behalf before the Father (Romans 8). Be filled with His Spirit so you can know the will of God and walk in His ways with reliance upon Him to lead, direct, instruct, and empower you for success in fulfilling His purpose for your part in this season of His eternal plan.

Read Galatians 5-6 for teaching on what reliance upon the Spirit of God rather than on one’s own flesh looks like; and be sure to talk with a Christian near you who has proven themselves to be a faithful follower of Christ (we know them by the fruit of their lives, that of true goodness coming from relying upon God in Christlikeness). Tell them of your decision regarding Christ and seek their assistance in growing strong as His follower.

Is There Anyone God Cannot Save? NO!

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” ~ Romans 2:1.

The practice of homosexuality is a big controversy in our day as those who live that lifestyle make themselves known and push for their rights, and as people of “the church” speak out in opposition. Homosexuality is only one of many sins, grouped together as seen in those who refuse the will and way of God. It is named with adultery, fornication, gluttony, gossip, slander, and many others; and in more than one passage of scripture.

A Spark acquaintance put a goodie note on my SparkPeople.com page that truly disturbed me, because they said that God cannot save this particular people group because of their practice of the homosexual lifestyle, which is against God and His way. Do we have scriptural proof text that God stands against homosexuality? Yes. But He also stands against all sin that works as leaven to spread throughout society and lead many astray from the will of God. That does not mean that He cannot and will not save those snared by that sin.

All sin is that of refusing God as God in that area in which we struggle against Him in our life, failing to surrender to Him as our greatest treasure and desire. Can God save sinners such as us? To such a query, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26).

There is only one sin that the Father will not forgive, and that is the sin of refusing the gift of His Son’s sacrifice at Calvary. Jesus paid the price of sin, all sin in all its flavors. The only sin that will win hell for us is the sin of refusing the Savior. But there is proof of the sincerity of our acceptance of His Salvation that is found in our ability to realize and turn from sin. Repentance is required, though we may struggle to surrender all our days. Paul struggled against the desires of his flesh, but his hope was in God for victory in Christ (Romans 7:1 – 8:1). He did not doubt his salvation because of the struggle, but he had hope because he trusted God.

Once God’s gift of grace is received, the Spirit comes to the life of the sinner and begins the work of transformation.Lean on02 That work progresses within the sincere believer, “continually perfecting them until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6), when all who believe will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for their deeds. God will be working with us on our transformation until Jesus comes for us, when all will be brought to completion in the twinkle of an eye.

Before entering the eternal kingdom, our works will be tested as by fire. That which is as wood, hay and stubble will burn away. Only that which is as gold, silver and precious stones will pass through the gate. Some of us will get there with little to show for His glory, but we will get there, though smelling like smoke, not because of our works, but because of Christ’s work at Calvary (Ephesians 2:1-10).

All sin is sinful in God’s eyes, because sin, though it comes in many flavors, is sin because it goes against the grain of God’s will and way. Are there varying degrees of sin? Some say no, but Jesus told Pilot that the sin of those who turned Him over to Pilot was greater than the sin of Pilot’s participation as the judge, whose judgment was locked in by law. The defining character of sin is all that goes against or is contrary to God’s will and way, refusing to bow to Him as Lord and Master. It places us in a position of standing in opposition to Him. The homosexual is not seen as any worse than the adulterer. Both are against God’s way in the area of sexual sin. They each, who are so snared, likewise can be forgiven and brought to right standing in Christ.

Should the homosexual person, saved by grace, turn from their homosexuality? The Spirit-Teacher will bid them to turn from all that is contrary to God’s will and way, just as He bids me, convicting me of sin, righteousness and judgment. Some will break free. Others may have to take up the cross over and over again as they struggle against the will of the flesh, the world, and demons.

I have seen those snared by sin who, though sincerely saved by grace, struggle with that sin all their days. I am one who daily has to fight my fleshly desire to eat in ways that are harmful to the temple of God, my body; that is just one of the many things I have to watch against. That sounds simplistic compared to the headlines the homosexual lifestyle is getting, but my bad habits in my diet still stand against the will of God every time I deny Him as God in order to partake in my fleshly desire. Am I lost and going to hell because I struggle to surrender all to God? No, because I do struggle just as Paul did, trusting God to win the battle. Those whose faith in God through Christ is real and sincere and the fruit of the Spirit is real and growing even as they struggle are still saved by grace through faith even as they fight the good fight of faith (Hebrews 12:1-12).

CrossDaily05Throughout scripture we see the apostles pleading with those who are sincerely secure in Christ, yet continue to struggle with the nature of sin in the earth. We are called over and over in scripture, in various ways, to take up our cross daily by dying to fleshly desires in order to follow Christ’s example (Luke 9:23). It is something we have to strive toward every day. Some days we fly and others we falter, but we keep pressing forward to grasp the ring at the finish line (Philippians 3:7-16). And when we stand before that throne for the judging of the righteous in Christ, we are assured in scripture that Jesus will be by our side as Advocate. Our sin is not what He will point God to as He stands as Advocate, but our clothing of righteousness in Christ is what God’s eyes will rest upon.

Yes, there will be no homosexuals, or adulterers, or gossips, or slanders or gluttonous-sweet-aholics or…in heaven, for that will all be burned away as wood, hay and stubble, and all that will remain is Christ in us, our hope of glory and our Eternal Righteousness.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” ~ John 14:6.

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” ~ John 11:25-26.

In the Hearing of the Lord: Firestorm! ~ Part 2

Passage Recall:

“Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. The people therefore cried out to Moses, and Moses prayed to the Lord and the fire died out. So the name of that place was called Taberah, because the fire of the Lord burned among them” ~ Numbers 11:1-3, NASB.

In Part 1 of Firestorm we looked at what I see and understand about God that brought God’s firestorm to the camp of God’s people on the day He was provoked to take action against their grumbling, complaint of distrust and discontent. Have you ever wondered why, out of two people with the same propensity to sin, one seems to have to suffer consequences more than another? Could it possibly be that one, though they keep stumbling over similar stones, is at least open to God and agreeable to learn what is needed for change? God sees the heart and is looking for those with a heart after His own, whole toward Him.

The people of God in our passage are an example to us of a people who would not learn, thus they failed to believe God and come to one heart with Him. As some have said, they kept going round and round the same mountain, having to go through the same life lessons over and over again, facing more devastating consequences. They did so because, despite seeing His might work on their behalf over and over again, they failed to believe.

It seems to me that those who realize quickly their sin and turn to God often face lesser consequences than those who rebelliously refuse to learn and change; or if they do have a firestorm hit, their heart toward God equips them to get through with fewer burns. When we see someone going round a mountain over and over, one of our main prayers and words of encouragement for them needs to be that they develop a teachable spirit that seeks after God and believes in Him, becoming one who is easily moved to change by God.

It also seems to me that those who find themselves in the same situations over and over are those who have little or no understanding of God. The more we know of God, the more we trust Him. The stronger our trust in Him, the easier our faith comes. The easier our faith, the more likely we are to follow His lead with hope in Him despite our situations. If the people of Israel each had a personal knowledge of God, their griping, complaining rebellion would have lessened. But they struggled with an unteachable, rebellious spirit. They often seemed to avoid close proximity with God, asking Moses to do that for them, while they failed to fear going against His ways, so they faced a firestorm.

Thus we learn that to avoid a firestorm, we must avoid ungrateful griping and complaining, and move far away from rebellion against God, instead turning to Him with a receptive spirit to learn His ways. So why would God send a firestorm and what might His purpose in it be?

Fire is a source of light used of God to light up the dark places. Because of the fire, the people’s attitudes and lack of faith was made clear and grace was sought for and received. Fire rises up within us and around us still today, sent by God to reveal our struggle with sin and doubt, leading us to repentance that finds grace waiting.

Fire made God’s opinion of their attitudes and actions evident to the people. God was provoked to righteous anger by His people. Here is the thing, though. God’s anger, even His most vehement wrath is never out of control like ours often is. He is always in control of His response when angered, always has a purpose in what He allows to come as a disciplining rod. Though He may appear to our way of thinking as being unreasonable, His vengeance, unlike ours, is righteous and always based on truth, and His disciplining rod is always just as He is patient toward us.

God is always purpose driven, protective, and proactive (pressing forward to the goal). His anger comes across to us as harsh, in my opinion, because in times of lacking ability to acknowledge our sin, we fail to see how long He tarries with us before turning up the heat. We see Him take what seems to us to be quick, overly harsh action against people who come against Him and His ways and we think that He cannot be pleased. It is vital that we understand how long suffering Father is over His children; then maybe we will realize when we keep running around a mountain and change our ways before the storm worsens.

Fire is cleansing. Fire is cleansing: example – removing bacteria from medical instruments, making them safe for use; removing hidden organisms from the food we eat. God reaches to us, wooing us to Himself. When we continue to refuse Him and walk farther from Him in the process, we eventually reach a point of no return. Firestorms come to those who are in danger of an infectious rebellion that will lead them to that point.

We must remember that God knows the heart of a person. He knows when they are set in their way and set against His in a way that will bring destruction to those around them. God removed people and groups whose hearts were so set against Him and His ways that they would be like leaven to the whole; spreading like infection to bring all to destruction. When He sent His fire or the destructive force of His wrath, He did so to protect and purify the whole camp.

Fire, at its highest temps, will melt the most precious to release from it the dross that soils and spoils the brilliance of the pure. God was, in these passages we consider in scripture, creating a pure lot out of which to save the world. Was He harder on Israel than on those nations surrounding them? To us it would appear to be so, because He was leading them to be the people of His purpose. Will God be harder on us who profess to follow Him in Christ but live like the world? I believe so, for He is still in the business of raising up a holy lot that will be the Kingdom of His Presence. God cannot remain among those of a sinful, unrighteous nature. So He requires much of us who profess to be His, for we are the righteous leaven meant to influence the world for good and glory.

When the fires of adversity come, jump in. God’s fire purifies, revealing the dross that dulls our shine, and removing from us the impurities that affect those around us. Cooperating with God when He sends His purifying fire our way is a whole lot easier and less painful than fighting against it. God’s fire is not meant for our destruction, but it will destroy the few if that is what must be in order to protect the whole. His fire will purify that which needs cleansing if we will but brave the heat to grow in our knowledge of God and be like He is in purity, holiness, truth and righteousness.

Beloved, if our hearts are pure toward God and if we are pliable in the Master Potter’s capable hands, it is doubtful we will ever have to face a God-generated firestorm of our own making. And though the flames sent against the rebellious in our midst may lap around us who are part of that camp, we can take heart in knowing that, just like with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Father will be with us in the fire when our hearts are pure toward Him.

~*~

“Faith in the Lord to handle any and all situations we are faced with is the ONLY way to get through them and end up a winner” ~ Sarah Doe (An anonymous writer of a real letter).

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” ~ Isaiah 55:6-7.

Hands Not Limp are Hands Raised in Prayer

“Moses said to him, ‘As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.’” ~ Exodus 9:29.

Echad~ Hands not limp rise up to God, seeking for His hands to move in our lives and the lives of others to perform the work that only He can do.

Here we see that the Father works through our prayers to reveal Himself to those for whom we intercede. God’s answer comes so that we may know Him for Who He is. Moses lifted his hands to the Lord with full faith that the request made would receive a sure response.

Faith in prayer is vital. Though I have seen God respond to the prayer of the unbelieving: I believe God hears prayer, even when lacking faith, for He desires to reveal himself to us that we may believe and in His mercy, He responds to build our faith. However, hands lifted up without true and sincere belief that God is God, that He hears our prayers, and that He will surely respond, comes from weak hands and dulled hearts.

I have learned that I may look at a situation and know that, apart from God, it is an impossible thing. But I cannot look at God, with knowledge of Him, and fail to realize that “nothing shall impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Lifting hands up with all I am focused on all God is increases faith to me that makes me to know the impossible is truly Himpossible.

Another reason for lifting hands in prayer is revealed through Ezra:

“But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God” Ezra 9:5.

mary-mother_of_jesus_21~ Hands not limp reach to God in repentance with a cry for mercy and grace to send help in our day of trouble.

We are weakened and laid low when sin has full reign in our lives, so times of repentance are vital to our hands being strengthened and made effective for God’s use. Sin not only weakens us as individuals, but it also weakens nations. Here in this passage, Ezra is grieving the sin of the nation when he gets up from his humiliation and stretches his hands out on their behalf. When true repentance has hands lifted to Him, God is faithful to grant mercy and restore strength. Thus we cry with David:

“Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary” ~ Psalm 28:2.

A Trust that Breeds Gratitude

“Trust {lean on, rely on, and be confident} in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, trust also in Him and {He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass} ~ Psalm 37, NASB {AMP}.

God began instructing my heart yesterday that fretting over the past is robbing me of now strength, joy, peace, gratitude to Him, assurance, and comfort.

I seek daily to follow God’s instruction to me for each days tasks and activities, and when I fret over things I did not do or things that did not go the way I thought they should, I deny the work of God in and through me in those things and I deny Him gratitude for the things that were accomplished. I forget that God is in control and can be trusted with my every step in life.

Do I fail to hear and obey at times? Yes. And the instant I realize it, I repent and change course. To repent means to lay the failure on the shoulders of Christ and leave it there with the One who sacrificed Himself for this purpose, that I may have true life and have it in abundance; then to press forward from there with the freedom of Christ to live a better life to His glory and crown. Fretting over failures repented is to pick that heavy load back up and be crushed by the weight of it.

The thing God is instructing my heart to realize is that when I focus on my failures, I fail to see the progress made in God’s work of reestablishing in me the image of God that Christ died to provide for me. Marsha Burns writes in this devotional written in the voice of God speaking to the reader:

“Look how far you have come! The difficulties that you have endured and overcome have instructed you and driven you to find Me in a more meaningful and concrete way.  Your days of trouble are not to be disdained; they are to be recognized as a necessary part of your growth process.  Don’t lament, says the Lord.  Rejoice for where you are now and where I will take you from here.”

With the passing of my Daddy and the struggle he was in with paranoia in his last years, it would be easy for me to focus on things I did not have strength to accomplish in my relationship with him. The sense of loss would be intensified and the weight of the sense of failure would throw me into depression and defeat. But God keeps reminding me how He has grown my trust and reliance on Him as Abba, Father. He reminds me of the freedom from a root of rejection that He has accomplished in me during the days of Daddy’s struggle. So instead of hurt and heartache over unfulfilled desires in my relationship with Daddy, I am filled with gratitude and awe toward my Abba who has helped me and done a work of grace in me, freeing me from the growth of a spirit of rejection to finding my acceptance in Him.

Jesus08We are continually being perfected. Looking back on days gone by is natural to us, but as a people for God’s own possession, when we look back our hearts need to settle with gratitude on the goodness of God that worked a plan through the time of struggle that has worked change in me, making me look and act more like the Father and less like the flesh of this world. When looking back, the question to ask is “what did I learn and how has it changed me?” We press forward from the pits in life with greater strength to persevere when our hearts are filled with gratitude for the work of God in our lives. And we find success in the journey when we remember the promise of God:

“I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” ~ Psalms 32:8.

And “your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it,’ when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left” ~ Isaiah 30:21.

Therefore, beloved of God, “Trust [lean on, rely on, and be confident] in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, trust also in Him and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. [Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass] ~ Psalm 37, NASB [AMP].

In Christ I am NOT…

There we have it, an awesome, though incomplete list of who we are in Christ: each being a sheep in His pasture, lifted to positions of the children of God, royalty in the Kingdom of God, ambassadors for Christ and priests unto God who are in the world for a time on assignment while being of the Kingdom of God. There is much more to discover about who we are, but this is a good beginning. I hope you will be alert and grow strong in all that God has caused us to be through Christ.

Beloved, as we close our study this week, fast and furious as it is, I sense strongly that we must not close out this thought process without covering what Christ has delivered us from being. There is nothing the enemy of God loves more, once he has lost the battle for our eternal being, than to keep us thinking we are still the same person we were before Christ set us free indeed. So let us take that ammunition out of his hand by beginning to discover what God delivered us from being.

First we have already established that, in Christ, you are NOT DUST. You are of His SEED: Holy SEED.

Satan loves to point out all our struggles and flaws and make us feel like dirt that is unworthy of God’s Kingdom. Before Christ, that was true. After Christ we became His plantings, the seed of righteousness is in us and is growing stronger day by day as we learn Whose we are, and who He makes us to be, that we may withstand the schemes of the enemy while Father is maturing us as His righteous shoots.

Second, we are NOT THE OLD MAN.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17.

“…But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” ~ Colossians 3:1-10.

We are no longer the old. The evil heart is removed from us in Christ and we are made a new creation with a new, clean, circumcised heart. We have a new mind, the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Therefore our challenge now is to learn to think, act and function out of that new creation.

Part of that is realizing that we can take every thought captive and make it obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:1-6). Another part is not letting the world, our flesh, and the devil tell us that our heart is evil. We must believe that our heart is made new in Christ, that it is circumcised and set free from the flesh and its ways, and, committing ourselves wholly to God, being quick to wait upon Him, we let Him lead us to unity as people after His Own Heart.

Third, we are not unqualified and insufficient.

“Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God. [It is He] Who has qualified us [making us to be fit and worthy and sufficient] as ministers and dispensers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not [ministers] of the letter (of legally written code) but of the Spirit; for the code [of the Law] kills, but the [Holy] Spirit makes alive” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, AMP (see also 1 Corinthians 1:4-8).

When we feel insignificant, inadequate, incapable, ill-equipped, powerless, we are looking at our old self instead of seeking after and trusting in the promised supply from Father in the power and equipping of the Holy Spirit that makes us new. Satan loves to keep us functioning in the flesh instead of in our Spirit-filled supply. When he can do that, he can make us impotent as Kingdom people.

Fourth we are NOT whores, harlots, and dogs.

We no longer chase after other gods, or make ourselves into one. We have one God, that is Jehovah. We have one Father, that is Abba-Jehovah. We have one King and Lord, that is Jesus. And we do so in the power of the one true Spirit of God. As sheep who are the children of God, bride to the King, we give ourselves wholly to our One God and King. As the son and daughter bow down as slaves set free from sin, we freely, out of love, give ourselves to Him as Bond-slaves, wholly committed through love and choice to these: the Three in One – Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

We are not lost, but have been found (Matthew 18:11-14; Luke 19:9-10).

We are not rejected, but chosen and approved (1 Peter 2:9; John 15:16; 1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21, 10:18).

We are not left behind, for no one and no-thing can take us out of the Father’s hands or separate us from His love (John 10:18, 29; Romans 8:31-38).

Rejoice beloved, for you are NOT, but YOU ARE!

Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it) ~ Hebrews 13:20-21, AMP.

The Burning Bush

burning_bush3“Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’ He said also, ‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God” ~ Exodus 3:1-6.

What was it that drew Moses attention and desire to ‘check it out’? It was the Light of God’s presence, burning in ways he realized was something unusual, special, real, producing a light that caught Moses eye and beckoned him over. Like others in scripture, when he realized He was in the very presence of Jehovah-God, he was quickly impressed that his feet were on Holy Ground. And what did God say? “Take off your shoes.”

What was it that caused Adam and Eve to want to cover up their nakedness? I believe it was not their naked bodies that beckoned the cover-up. It was their sin that distorted the image of God they were created to bear. They sinned against God and immediately wanted to hide themselves from Him so He did not see them as they now were. Their covering they made was inadequate, so God made coverings for them that included the shedding of blood to cover their sin.

When Jesus came, He paid the full price of sin and provided His own robe as a new covering for all who believe and receive the gift of His sacrifice for their sin. In so doing, not only does He clothe us with eternal robes, but He cleanses us from the inside out, leaving with us His Holy Presence who indwells us and restores the image of God in us who have new life through rebirth in Christ.

So now, we who are called the temple of God, house His presence and we are called and equipped to be Hisburning_bush light shining in the dark places of this world. Now we become the “burning bush” and the ground under us is holy, for He is holy. He wholly dwells within those who believe and receive Him. The question is, are we – His people, His temples, His lights, His burning bush for our day, living as people of Holy Ground? Or are we hiding behind coverings of our own making that try to hide from God the sin our Savior and Lord died to cover?

God told Moses, “Remove your shoes.” We are to be real with God, standing in His presence as His image bearers made whole and holy in Christ. We must be real with Him so that He can fully and completely cover our nakedness and restore the image of God in us. And we must be real with Him so He can set up His presence within us to set afire our lives as His burning bush that is useful for drawing others into His holy presence.

Remove your sandals from your feet, Beloved of God, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.

Forgiving God’s Way (Part 2 of 2)

Yesterday we looked at our call to forgive as God forgives, in accord with His seventy-times-seven principle. Today we seek to answer the question, “How do we do that?” I believe God long ago taught me a very important principle that must be practiced by choice if we are to achieve the 70 X 7 goal of grace.

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins” Isaiah 43:25.

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