Tag Archives: godly character

Dear Grandkids, part 1

The challenge:

 

Hello, Beloved. Meems here with a heart full of things I want you to know. I am writing this to several of you with plans for it to be passed on to others of my babes as they get old enough to hear, and with hope that you will pass these insights on to friends now, and to your children in the future, as opportunity comes to do so.

We live in such a messed up world that sometimes it can be difficult to know the path ahead of us. You each have already experienced some challenges that have you standing in places of decision-time. As you get older and begin to leave the protective custody of your parents, it will be important for you to know how to make wise and good choices.

As a grandmother watching a world filled with news of drug abuse at record highs, peer pressure like never known before to do things that are not good things to be involved in, sexual perversion and sin rampant in our society, all effecting young lives at younger and younger ages, it is a concern to my heart that you understand some basic truths. I know that your parents try daily to impart these things to your hearts, but I also know that as your grandparent, it is my responsibility before God to help them to do that.

Awhile back I had this conversation with one of you in person. But you are all so scattered and busy in life, that opportunity for a face to face conversation does not always come easy. You are growing up fast, and now is the time when you need to consider these basics and how to apply these things to your daily lives. Following are five truths that, if observed in every time of decision, will lead you to the right path. Please write these things on your heart so when the need of remembering them comes, you will have these guiding principles ready and available to your heart. I’m going to call these the KLKBY principles. Thus we begin. (To Be Continued)

Thoughts on Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And lest we forget!

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

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

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

The “As God” Principle

Scripture Reading: Exodus 6-7

“Now it came about on the day when the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, that the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘I am the LORD; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you.’ But Moses said before the LORD, ‘Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?’

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.’” (Exodus 6:28-7:1, NASB)

As I have probably shared before some time ago, I was getting ready to go to lunch with a friend one day. Just before heading out the door, I took that one last glance in the mirror and was shocked to see coke-bottle eyes behind my glasses. “What’s up with my glasses today?” I thought to God’s ear. He instructed my heart to go in peace and not worry about it.

Sitting during lunch, my friend was having a very difficult time with past issues of life and current situations. I felt the strong Spirit of the Lord pouring forth encouragement through me to her, and she was intently listening. Suddenly I realized she was staring at my eyes, following them everywhere they went. Thinking surely their hugeness must be distracting her, I ducked my head. Immediately I heard in my spirit, “You get that head back up and look her in the eye.” Which I of course did, jerking back as a soldier comes to attention with such a stern order from their commander and chief. Lunch went well and as I climbed into my car thinking of what a strange experience that was, I glanced in the mirror to see that my eyes looked normal behind my glasses again. “Hum. Wonder what that was all about,” I querried.

The following Sunday I sat next to my friend in Sunday school. As the teacher was closing up the session, my friend said, “I just have to share something. Darlene and I had lunch this week and God mightily used her to encourage me so greatly. But the awesome thing was that I saw God in her eyes!”

Sometimes God wants to use us to reveal Himself in physical, visible ways to those around us. He makes us “as God” to them for His purposes. It can be an awesome experience and will often challenge our own sense of insecurity and inadequacy. That is what Moses was coming into in this passage; his sense of insufficiency was being challenged. Often times, as God tried to do with me as I glanced in the mirror that morning to see my Little Rascals coke-bottle eyes staring back at me, God will warn us that He is about to use us to reveal Himself. But God did not stop there with Moses as He continued his heads up message:

“You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.” (7:2-3)

Have you ever had a time when one person in your concentric circles was constantly challenging your stance as a believer or coming against you to get their way? It can be difficult to stand our ground and keep believing God when facing the hard heart of man. Sometimes their hard heart is a result of their hard life. But as we see here, sometimes it is the work of God, desiring to reveal Himself through the challenge. As said in the previous Blog, God used the stubbornness of Pharaoh to show His own might, and in doing so, to show the people who worshipped many gods the impotence of their gods.

What challenge are you facing right now? Does it come against your sense of ability, giving God opportunity to reveal His ability to and through you? Are you facing a stubborn wall, whether through the hardened ways of another, or through a stronghold set up in your own life? Such challenges are not a time to become discouraged and fall away or cow back. They are a time to press forward in the power God supplies and discover the thing(s) He wants to reveal of Himself.

“When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on…” (vs 4).

Every challenge we face is opportunity to go it alone, or to trust in the Lord and see His hand move. And every challenge to our sense of adequacy gives opportunity for God to reveal Himself through us, that others may see His eyes in us. Surrendering self to Him equips us to be “As Gods” being God’s eyes, representing Him in the earth.

Father, You are with us and for us, just as You were with Moses and Aaron long ago. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Your desire is for us, and You move in our lives to reveal Yourself in ways that free people from their personal Egypt. Help us to have courage to be Your eyes, Your body, Your mouthpiece, used of You to “be as God” to those who need to see You in the earth. In Jesus I pray, amen.

“Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, NASB)

Under Compulsion

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.’” (Exodus 6:1)

I see here the Fatherly example of dealing with the strong willed personality: make life in the things they insist upon so uncomfortable for them that they have a change of heart that changes their path.

The strong-willed child gets stuck on what they want to the point that they cannot see beyond that to care about those around them and the needful things of life. They have to be shown the err of their understanding in ways that tame the child without breaking the spirit. God has a purpose in this life for those strong of will, but they have to be trained to recognize the True God and surrender their will to His. If we as parents fail to train them as a child, God will do it when they grow up. We may think it is difficult to discipline the strong-willed child and give ourselves to the ease of giving in to them, but wait until we have to watch them under the hand of God. That can be even more difficult to watch.

Of course, with Pharaoh God had a purpose here where He egged the ego and will of Pharaoh on. Pharaoh believed himself to be a god. The Egyptians worshipped many gods, including Pharaoh. Each of the 10 things God did in forcing the hand of Pharaoh was to show the people that not only was he not a god, but each plague sent was to show the impotence of a false god served by them, thus revealing the greatness of the One True God of Israel.

From this verse and insights surrounding the story of deliverance I see two potential situations we need to be aware of when dealing with strong-willed people: one is what is God desiring to reveal to me about Himself through the things I see Him doing in His dealings with the hard-hearted. There is something about Him to be known. The other is to realize my need to be very surrendered to God in my own dealings with the person, so I become God’s instrument in helping the stubborn to recognize their need to surrender to Him. It takes a courageous person to care enough about those around them to allow God to use them in helping another get over themselves.

God is still in the business of dealing with false gods and delivering people from their influence. And, like Pharaoh, we and those around us can be enslaved to the most powerful of false gods: our own ego. When finding ourselves being dealt with under compulsion by God, we need to get our heads out of the sands of Egypt and recognize our plight. God loves us where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us here. He deals with us as with sons. When He finds a stubborn issue in our person or life, He is not opposed to turning up the heat in whatever way that is necessary to work the dross of falsehood out of us. The quickest way to relief from the compulsory discipline of God is to realize His hand and cooperate with His purpose. But whoa to the one standing too close to the strong-willed little Pharaohs of life. It can be a fearsome thing to watch when God decides to deliver from false understanding and stubborn strongholds. And whoa to the stubborn of will when God decides to go through them to make a point.

The question we each must ask self today is “Which am I? Am I pliable in the hands of God, surrendered to His Lordship; or am I stubborn of heart? Is there an area of life in which I have not surrendered?” I don’t know about you, but I can immediately see an area I have in my life where I am under compulsion. It is better to choose today to let Him be Lord than to continue in the compulsory discipline of God. He has shown me the way. I must choose to obey. How about you?

(Chart revealing gods attacked: http://www.dabhand.org/Ten%20Plagues.htm ).

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 2

Yesterday we saw in the first day of the creation story the correlation between the distinction of light and dark, day and night, good and evil. Following, on the second day of creation, God created an expanse: a separation between the waters. I have shared my viewpoint on this portion in previous writings, but for the purpose of continuity in this story, let’s review.

Next in this story of God’s creative fervor, all the water was united and of the same likeness. But God needed space for His creation, so He made a separation between the waters, splitting that which was above from that which was below, bringing disunity to the waters. This is the day when God did not say that it was good.

Years ago, when I noticed that fact and asked Him why that was, He inspired me to realize that His perfect plan for mankind was in play from the beginning: Jesus was never “Plan B” folks. God knew before beginning that He was doing all of this to create for Himself a company of companions known as humans, created in His own image and made for the purpose of unity with Himself. But He also knew that for the fullness of His plan to come about in providing companions, He had to give those created beings opportunity to choose and desire Him as much as He did them. And He knew that it was also expedient for unity’s sake that they be given opportunity to choose His ways as their own.

For that plan to come about, it would require that a true choice be provided those created in His image, His likeness. They must have opportunity to separate themselves from their Creator in order to have true choice in whether to be His friend and companion.

I can see the scene in my mind’s eye: when God made the separation between the waters, there was a moment of silence in the heavens, sadness over a time of disunity that would come to man and God. So how did God “create” that disunity that would provide all mankind the opportunity to choose?

For true choice to come to mankind, there had to be another viable option. Thus enters Lucifer.

Lucifer wanted to be God. Lucifer had a lust and greed for that highest position, the only position higher in authority than that authority he currently held, according to scripture, and he thought that he could obtain that coveted position by force. Thus he incited war in the kingdom and led 1/3 of the angelic forces to rebellion. He thought he could defeat God and win the rule, but what it led to was the loss of the position that he had.

Because of the evil, conceited, self-glorifying and self-edifying stirrings in the heart of the one who would become the father of lies, father of this evil age, the prince of the power of the air, short term ruler of the world and source of its philosophy; the dark one known as Satan, there was a battle in the heavenly kingdom, and Satan was cast out, along with his followers. Evil was birthed in the heart of Satan’s lust. He then became the instigator of the separation we now experience from the God who would love and spend eternity with us if we will choose it.

Satan thought that he would create for himself a following, and he did to some degree. But what he intended for evil, to harm God’s design and destroy His plan, God used for good, using Satan’s ploy to make him to be God’s big bang force that created the separation between God and man, thus giving to man a choice.

Further along in the scriptures, after God creates man, He sets him in a garden and creates for him a companion called “woman” and named Eve. God tells them they can eat anything in the garden except for the produce of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He warned that on the day they ate of it, “death” would come. Choice one: believe God, trust and follow Him, agreeing with His ways and maintaining unity.

Slithering around in the shadows, watching for opportunity, Satan, in the body of a serpent, notices something familiar. He sees his old friend, lust, beginning to stir in the heart of God’s creation as they look at the appealing tree filled with fruit that looked so good to eat. Is that not the allure of any sin? It looks really good and right, until the consequence of biting down on it hits. And you know what happened next. Choice two: doubt God, think there is something better out there, and grab for the false. Satan egged her desire on, caused her to doubt God’s word, and she bit. Then Adam bit after her.

Now before you men get to haughty and go blaming that woman, let’s ask a simple question. Adam was given authority over God’s creation, to care for it, as was Eve as his companion. What might have happened if, when Eve offered the fruit, he had knocked it out of her hand and, grabbing her by that hand, said, “We must go to the Father. Perhaps He will help us.” Adam had his choice too. They each chose wrong and BANG! Death enters the scene.

I am sure you noticed, as I did, that they did not fall over and instantly breathe their last because of their sin. That is not the death that came. The death that came was the expansive separation between God and man. Then God, in His grace, enacted another part of His plan to save man from an eternity of evil: He denied them access to the tree of life so they wound not live forever in their fleshly state; and He numbered their days and instigated a law of physical birth to physical death. Through all this, God allowed choice to enter for mankind. All who are born have opportunity all the days of their lives to choose the God they will serve.

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

We will companion with a god of our choice. Whether we choose to align with the God of all creation or with the one who would be god is our decision to make, and we do make our choice, whether by proactive or by inactive decision. Do not be deceived. There are many gods in this life, but not all are the true God. Many are set up by the ruler of this world to deceive the unbelieving and lead them away from the God of creation. Choosing any other god or choosing to believe there is no God at all, is to choose the expanse of separation from Him who created us to be His companion.

After creating the expanse, God’s next steps reveal wonders to me concerning His plan and I notice something that thrills my soul: the rest of the story that is illustrated in the creation. Let’s return to discuss the remainder of the story tomorrow, shall we?

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 1

I love the story of Creation found in Genesis one. It is awe inspiring and thrilling to see that, however it was done, GOD did it. It was Him and His power behind it. Whether He brought each aspect of creation about in one 24 hour day or one day that, to Him, is as a thousand or more years is beside the point. And He can create a big bang with it if He wants to. That, too, is moot. The thing that matters to me as I read this story is that God did it, and with each aspect of His creation, He stepped back, looked at the results, smiled that big smile, and said, “Wow. Attention, angelic forces! Look up. See it. It is good.” He did this through all creation “days”; that is, except for one.

First, for the purpose of aiding insights to follow, let’s note that on day one, God created day and night, light and dark. We can each note from personal experience, and it is even noted in scripture, that in the light of day is when we tend to move about because we can see clearly. When it is dark, we tend to settle in for the night or seek out what little light can be found, because it is difficult to function in darkness. That fact is a safety issue in many instances, as the night and the dark is often the friend of predators.

God created light and dark, separating day from night, and said, “It is good.” He did so to make a distinction between light and dark that would separate day from night, providing a picture to explain the difference between good and evil. It is good to be able to recognize the difference found between the light and the dark, and to know to seek out the light.

Throughout scripture we see that night is often likened to evil or unrighteousness, and light to good or righteousness. Thus in God’s creation of day and night, light and dark, we see a picture of things to come, the battle between good and evil. As creation begins on this first day, I believe this battle was already in play in the heavenly kingdom as the angelic hosts began to have discord because of the influence of God’s commander of His armies, who was not satisfied with his high position, but was filled with lust and longing for God’s place. Thus we see that lust, dissatisfaction with one’s position in life, is the beginning of darkness.

Lucifer, the beautiful one, now known as Satan, wanted to be God. He was beautiful in appearance, appealing to the eye, and an influencer, with a way about him that led 1/3 of the hosts of heaven to be cast out of the realm with him. Thus we are warned in scripture that “Bad company corrupts good morals” and that lust is the beginning thoughts that lead to sin.

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. With the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:12-18; also see 1 Corinthians 15:33).

Thus is the separating force between light and dark, the battle between good and evil. Now hold that thought as we continue to pull all together … tomorrow.

Get Up, Let Us Go From Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I AM”

In one of my groups on SparkPeople community, we are covering the names of God found in scripture. Today, as I posted the next name going in the order in which they are found in scripture, deeper understanding hit my heart. It seemed good to share it here.

When someone introduces themselves to us and they give us their name, it is an honor. Especially when they give us the name they desire us to call them and it is an intimate, lesser known name. That is the honor God gave the people of Israel with the following name:

JEHOVAH (YAHWEH)—The Self-Existent One. I AM WHO I AM (Exodus 3:14).

This common translation being true, when we see Jehovah used as the first part of a name for God, it is as if He is saying to us, “I AM”. “I AM your…”. This is its use when we see names like Jehovah-Jireh: “I AM your provider.”

The deeper?

As I look at this with the knowledge I have under my belt concerning who God is, I realize that Jehovah also could mean “The Self One” or “The Self-Defined One.” God is who He is. He knows who He is and who He wants to be. He is not conflicted like we too often are. He needs no one else to tell Him who or how to BE. He just is. The opinions of others that misunderstand Him do not sway His self-understanding and way of being, as it too often does us.

This is what I believe it means when it says in scripture that we are to be perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). It has always been such a self-defeating understanding to me that we are to always do things perfectly as He does. I fall too often and that brings me to discouragement where following this edict of the perfect is concerned. But this new realization gives me hope. I can understand myself and be who I am.

We need to know who we are and what we believe to be truth so that we can BE who we are to be. When we know what we believe and how we want to be in any given situation, we are no longer conflicted and we are better able to endure whatever may come our way (James 1:4). Wow! Is that not awesome?

Thus God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is not one way today and another tomorrow. We are to strive to be the same as He is, perfect in our understanding of who we are while we are continually being perfected to be more like Him, restoring the image of Him that He put there before the fall of man distorted it (Philippians 1:6, Genesis 1-3). By His grace, with this as the goal, I can be perfect as God is perfect while continually being perfected. And so can you. Nothing shall be impossible with God!

To Make a Leader

For years I prayed for my husband to be a strong spiritual leader. The first thing God taught me is for anyone to lead in anything, there must first be willing people standing ready to follow. If I am not watching for his lead with willing and submissive readiness to accept God’s use of his way of leading, why should he lead.

The next thing God taught me is when I let my husband experience my willingness to trust God to use him to lead the way, he grows stronger in following God in his leading. God does amazing things for those who surrender the controls and willingly sit in the co-pilot’s seat.

I Believe, Therefore…

“…I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me.’” (Isaiah 46:9b)

I am in awe as I read this proclamation from the God I believe: the God of the Holy Bible. He is the One True God who reveals Himself through the power of His Spirit, the flesh of the one He calls “Son Incarnate” and the beauty and glory of the one too awesome to behold, the one called “Father”.

All the problems of life melt away to hope in believing that this God I love and trust is in control and is working a plan to bring many—including me and mine—into His Kingdom. All is not lost in this life. It is only suffering the birthing pangs that are leading to life more abundant and full, a life where all will know and understand that He alone is God, and there is none like Him.

This world we live in would try to convince me that, not only is my God one among many and I should honor all equally, but they would have me believe that He is an impotent god. What I know is that my God is the One True God. And He is not impotent, but He is patient toward us, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

Those who believe in other gods, or in no god at all, would call me and those like me “intolerant” and “separatist” or “haughty”, because I believe wholeheartedly the truth of this proclamation, refusing to honor other gods. And, I guess, they would be right in that respect.

My God tells me He is the only one and I am to give no credence to another god, nor am I to honor their ways. He tells me that other gods are the creation of the heart of mankind who refuse to acknowledge His existence and Lordship as the only One. To fail to believe these truths is to be conflicted and schizophrenic as a believer of the God of the Bible, thus dishonoring what He says about Himself and the path He demands of those who would be His.

But God also instructs our heart that we can love those who refuse Him without condoning their ways. Is not that the true meaning of tolerance, to continue to love and care for and treat with respect those who believe different and live in ways not one’s own. God gave one innate law to every man that is the one law all follow faithfully; that law is the right of choice that gives to every person freedom to choose whom they will follow and how they will live.

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Thus, as believers in this One God and His proclamation of what He says is true, we hold our head high and refuse to be beat down and made to feel inferior and intolerant by those who refuse to honor our right to believe our God: those who would have us be like them before they will love us and respect our God ordained ways. And we do so knowing that our God will reveal fullness of truth one day soon, as the birthing pangs draw closer to the completion of all things He has ordained to be fulfilled.

(See also 1 Corinthians 4; Joshua 24:15Deuteronomy 30:15-20)

Like the Son of a King

“Rise up yourself, and fall on us; for as the man, so is his strength” (Judges 8:21, NASB)

Gideon won a mighty battle against the kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna. Standing before him, Gideon asked them what sort of men it was that they killed at Tabor. They replied, “They were like you, each one resembling the son of a king” (vs. 18). Gideon, who began in fear, led by God became like the son of a King; and that is what we are.

“You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Cor. 6:20, NIV).

As we realize to whom we belong; as we relinquish all to Him and choose to honor Him in our bodies, we become men and women of strength. Whatever enemy we face today, we can face our Goliaths knowing that the same God who turned a wimpy, trembling Gideon into a man of valor, like the son of a King, is with us to help us stand against our enemies with strength. There is no battle too great for Him, and He allows no battle in our lives that is without purpose and glory to His Name, in preparing us and others around us for His Kingdom. Whatever giant you face today, realize to Whom you belong, and go forth with faith, believing.

“But my horn (emblem of excessive strength and stately grace) You have exalted like that of a wild ox; I am anointed with fresh oil” (Psalm 92:10, AMP).

Thank You, Father God, as this all goes together to make an awesome meditation for my day.

That You May Be Filled!

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God…” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NASB).

The Holy Spirit at work in us strengthens us through His power in the inner person, making in us a place where Christ may dwell; and that, by faith. Note this: as we surrender by faith to Christ’s indwelling, we begin to grow to understand the depth and breadth of His love for us. The more we surrender to allowing Christ to continue to live in this life through His presence is us, the more we will grow in our understanding of His love toward us. The knowledge of that love enables us to be filled up to all the fullness of God. The greater our understanding and our receipt of His love for each individual of us, the more His Spirit will be housed within us.

As we understand and surrender to this love of God found in this vital relationship with Christ, we are prepped and equipped to be filled with His
Spirit; filled to all the fullness of God—all that He is, available and working in and through us to the glory of His name. Is that not an awesome truth to grasp! And what is the proof of His fullness at work in us?

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (5:1-2).

Love is the proof. And not just any love, but that unconditional love that is self-sacrificing; that love that will die to one’s own agenda in order to honor God in our love-walk through benefitting others through love; even when that love hurts or requires sacrifice on our part. It is through our example of Christ’s love that others around us can begin to comprehend the unfathomable love of God that allowed His Son to get on that cross where the sins of all time weighed down his shoulders. And our filling through understanding and receiving and giving that love becomes a fragrant aroma to the nostrils of our God, bringing rejoicing to His heart.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (5:16-18).

Our time is short in this life. There are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a month, and just 12 months to a year. And our years are truly just a breath in eternity. So few days to make a difference in the lives of those we say we love. There is no time to waste—which is what drunkenness is; whether that drunkenness is with wine, our own sense of self-worth and self-exaltation, the pursuit of riches in this life that are doomed to destruction; you name it. Any pursuit, any preoccupation that deadens our spiritual senses and robs our time from giving into the lives of those we love is tantamount to drunkenness. So we must choose wisely how we use our time, and we must have right motives in it all if we are to walk in the power and filling of the Sprit to make the most of our short time here.

“…Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NASB).

Out of The Wilderness

“Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (1 Corinthians10:5-6).

As I read God’s word in my quiet time, God’s highlighting stops me here. I feel like I am laid low in a wilderness. Now, granted, we are dealing with a grievous situation in our family right now, and I am at the end of the tunnel where the light is before me, leading me out of the pit that grief put me in. But still, it seems that I have been in a wilderness place a lot lately. If their wilderness happened as examples for us, so we would not crave evil things as they craved, I have to ask what evil I am craving that is laying me low in this wilderness.

My immediate thought as I think of things I choose to do is that I crave positions of authority—to be in control of things in life, and when I feel out of control, it lays me low. I crave positions of honor, and when I feel that others look down on me in my own life struggle, it lays me low. I long to be recognized as a godly woman of character, and when I feel some accusation, whether true or false, compromises that, it lays me low. Knowing these truths immediately as I read this passage, contemplating my own issues, I know that I must evaluate my heart before God, repent, and make sure I am doing what I do as His servant, called of Him, equipped by Him, and desiring only His glory, honor, authority, and recognition.

Am I the only one who struggles with wilderness issues from time to time? Well, I hope I am not the only reason for Jesus getting on that cross, but only each individual can judge for oneself. Thus, let’s do that. As I evaluate myself using the insights from these following verses, hopefully it will help others to do so as well.

 ~~*~~

Verse 7: “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.’”

I noted in the previous passages I read this morning that the idol is only a god of any authority because our minds make it to be such and give it that place in our lives. The idol is anything in life that we give power to in excess of the power God has to dictate us. We surrender to it instead of following the dictates of God’s leading.

I know that there are things that I give myself to in this wilderness I find myself stuck in and that hinder my coming out into the broader places of light and life that God desires for me. I too often bow to fears, frustrations, laziness, even health issues that I surrender to instead of trusting God’s promise:

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed….” 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

If I truly believe that God’s grace abounds to me so that I always have what is needed to do the good He calls me to, then why bow to these things that rob me? How many times have I marveled at those who struggle in their health, and how faithful they are to do things that go beyond their physical limitations? If they can tap into God’s sufficiency, so can I; by remembering the God I trust.

 ~~*~~

Verse 8: “Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.”

When I think of immorality and seek to evaluate if any immoral thing has slipped into my life, I think of the verse that seems to define this sin: “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).

What am I doing that stands against my own body? For that matter, what is “my own body”?  Obviously this shell I live in is my body, so anything I do that hurts my physical shell needs to be dealt with if I want freedom from this wilderness. Self-care is an important issue to evaluate, as we are called to love and care for self as God’s creation, God’s temple, and in knowing that we can only love others as well as we love ourselves.

Then comes to mind these words: “the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31). My husband and I are one in Christ. Is there any immoral thing in that part of my body?

Also comes thought: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21).

“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

We are one body with God in Christ, and we are one body with God’s people. Is there any immorality in me that is sin against any part of my own body?

  ~~*~~

Verse 9: “Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.”

Trying the Lord—putting Him to the test: This was a temptation thrown at Jesus during his 40 days in the wilderness. What was His reply? “Jesus said to him, ‘On the other hand, it is written, “YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST”’” (Matthew 4:7).

We are not to use the promise of God toward us as excuse for sin. Yes, God’s grace is sufficient for us, but only when we are walking the path He desires for us in the way He requires of us. We cannot say, “I am going to do this thing over here that looks good to me and is a good work. Though the Spirit in me is saying ‘not this way,’ I trust God to give me sufficient for this good work because that is His promise to me.” Such is a misuse of God’s promise. If we are not following the dictates of the head, which is Christ, we bring dysfunction to our body and cause harm to our flesh, bringing on that wilderness experience.

In the same way, we cannot sit in our wilderness licking our wounds, saying, “God understands that I am but flesh,” refusing to get up out of our place of struggle and walk free by faith in God’s supply. This, too, tries our God, misappropriating His promise for our own desire. Thus I ask myself, am I trying the Lord?

  ~~*~~

Verse 10: “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

Paul wrote, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:10-13).

Too often we grumble against things in life, being dissatisfied with our lot. When we are grumbling, we are not praising God or being thankful for His good toward us. Job puts it into perspective for us as he speaks to his wife’s grumbling, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” To which God’s word comments, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10)

What grumbling has me snared?

  ~~*~~

Can the sins, failures, and struggles of those around us knock us into the wilderness? Yes. As Paul says, “God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).

My daughter’s suffering at the hand of her husband’s sin can bring suffering to me and to all who love her; as she is flesh of my flesh, and she is one with me in Christ, so I hurt with her. But I do not have to let her suffering keep me in the wilderness, nor should my struggle bring her down. We each must evaluate where we are and why so we can walk out of this desert place and maybe even help the other through on our way. Thus I must ask self, am I using my grief as an excuse to lay down in my wilderness, or am I setting an example that she can follow?

And what about these health issues I struggle with: is it sin for them to keep me down? No. Sickness and poor health happens to the best of us when we least expect it. There are times when health issues are a legitimate hindrance. The trick is to find where that legitimacy starts and our wilderness ends. That is where I have to evaluate whether I am doing all I can to help my health improve. It is where I have to evaluate my faith and God’s call: do I trust God for the strength to meet Him at His call? It is also where I have to evaluate the call and discern God’s voice from the Pharisee in my ear.

A true call to service from God will come with the power to perform. It is vital that I recognize His voice and walk out His will when He leads me. But we also have to have wisdom to discern that there are those who would have us start an epidemic rather than miss church and thus break their idea of what it means to “fall to forsaking the gathering of ourselves together.” And we have to realize that sometimes our sickness and need of others to minister to us is God’s call to those He desires to use in visiting the sick and ministering to them.

God will equip us with strength to do what He calls us to. When we are sincerely ill, doing all we can to recover, and the strength is not there to go and do what we or others think we should, we do harm to our body by pushing ourselves, and risk the destruction of our health. Thus, am I walking in the wisdom God gives, cooperating with Him in my healing; or am I—because of my tendency to want to be in control or to live in ways that others see as godly—pushing myself in ways that are against His will and destructive to my body?

“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come…” (vs. 11-15).

Thus, as I consider this testimony concerning those who have gone before me, I find the starting place for evaluating my own struggle, and the strength to walk out of it. Are you in a wilderness? Come. Go with me. The promised land lies ahead of us.

Darlene Davis © 7/30/11

Navigating Tribulation

“After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:21-22).

In the past numerous months I have become acutely aware of so much heartache and difficulty in our day:  As an instructor in a college welding program, my husband trains up welders for the fields of metals. Many of those who come into his school for this training are people who are or have been enslaved to methamphetamines.  Their ability to function has been severely impaired and it takes them three times longer to learn a skill than it does for non-meth effected students.

He also sees a lot of VETs come through, just back from the frontlines of war, devastated and hindered by varying degrees of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). They so long to develop their skill, but the noise in a weld shop brings on flashbacks and intrusive thought that hinders their ability to remain in the class, thus they struggle to get back into normal life.

Recently, our family has been devastated by a person we trusted being wrapped up in addiction to porn that lead to the harm of one of our children. It has crushed us as we watched what we thought was a good marriage disintegrate before our eyes, and as one we loved and respected became reprobate to us.

Then, as always, I think of those like my sweet daddy, falling to such things as paranoia, Alzheimer, and other age related mental issues that rob those they love of the person they knew, before their time.

So much in the world is crushing to us, bringing trouble to life, proving the truth of Jesus’ promise that “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage” (John 16:33).

In the world we have tribulation, Jesus tells us, but, look at the full verse:

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

He has overcome the World, and through Him we can live as overcomers. Here in our focal passage, we get a glimpse of how we can overcome, as Paul points us to realize that through tribulation, we enter His kingdom. We have studied Kingdom living before as we looked at “Walking the Street of Gold on Earth” (https://darlenesponderings.wordpress.com/2011/06/19/walking-the-street-of-gold-on-earth/ ). But today as I look at Psalm 37:3-7a and 34, a passage I meditate on frequently, I see more we can glean from Gods word to help us walk through difficulty in life:

“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.  Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him….  Wait for the LORD and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land”.

In every difficult situation in which it is hard to know what is best, we are to trust in the Lord in ways that keep us focused on doing good in life. We are to dwell in the land in faithfulness, cultivating our own faithfulness to God in the way we dwell there. We are to delight ourselves in God, knowing that the things we need will be accomplished by Him in due season.

We can trust that in our doing of good, practicing faithfulness, and delighting in Him, He will bring forth our righteousness as the light and show our judgment to be true. But if we fail to do good and practices faithfulness in Christ that flows out of delight in God and a desire for a right relationship with Him, we cooperate with “tribulation,” inviting more to come. Recognizing this and putting these things to practice in every situation, we can rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him to reveal truth. As we wait for the Lord, keeping His way while trusting His hand, we can know that He will exalt us to inherit the land in which He has placed us to possess it for His glory.

Easy? Not always, for as I said, some things we go through are hard to know what is His right path; like the situation with our son-in-law. Do we trust his cry of repentance and work for restoration that could put our little ones in harm’s way again; or do we protect our little ones, as pearls we refuse to cast before swine and see a marriage dissolved in divorce, knowing that God hates divorce (Matthew 7:6)? Should my daughter have to live with the intrusive thought of him with her daughter every time he reaches for her in intimacy? Is it true love for him to expect it of her? Or is she free to leave him in light of Jesus’ condition of immorality? And if she leaves, is she free to find love elsewhere? Is our forgiveness true, though we want nothing to do with him anymore: as Robert Jeffress says in his book, “When Forgiveness Doesn’t Make Sense,” chapter 6: “I forgive you, but I don’t want to have dinner with you (or breakfast or lunch for that matter)”? Some things are difficult to know, but one thing I do know, whatever we do must be done in faith, trusting God to lead, and living the days ahead in righteousness that reveals God as God. And He who is God will make our righteousness known and prove our judgment to be from Him.

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

May we be found facing tribulation in faith, believing the overcoming power of our Holy God and Christ.

 

The Talents Revisited: Part 5

Read Matthew 25:14-30

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” (:21).

God gives us His Spirit in trust, empowering us by first helping our choosing to believe through ever increasing measures of faith. Through faith He establishes in us His very nature, rebirthing in us the characteristics that bear the image of God in us. Then pouring forth from us, He touches the lives of others as we live His morality out into the earth, bringing the flavor of the Kingdom to life.

In any well run Kingdom, there has to be proper use of the talents and recourses of the people of the Kingdom, along with equipping and authority for organizing those resources for best effectiveness in increasing the Kingdom. The wise use of human resources brings cohesion to the society of man, thus we have our final produce of the Spirit rightly invested in our lives:

Produce 4 – “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

We are given by the Spirit these gifts of ability for use in the power of the Spirit to perform the work of service as ambassadors of Christ. We are given by Christ through His Spirit authority in the earth to represent His interests here, and are called to fulfill His role as Priests unto God, fulfilling Kingdom purpose in this foreign land in which we live. Gifts of service are given to each believer by God’s Spirit of Power to be used for the common good.

We are called of God to function as a body, each member using ones gifts in the position God has placed us. Each position is important and we are to be the best at our God-given role, as empowered by His Spirit at work in us. A hand that tries to be a foot will wear down quickly. A nose that tries to be an ear will be dysfunctional.

It is unwise, as members of Christ’s body, to knock out an eye, stomp on a toe, or treat as of no worth those parts of the body that seem of less importance, for a healthy body needs every cell functioning at optimal capacity, the great in cooperation with the small. To do otherwise breads sickness and can even cause death in the body. Failure to function in a healthy way that realizes the importance of every individual part is to fall short of love’s unifying work in bringing cohesion to the whole. A dysfunctional body distorts the image of God and brings destruction to His work in the earth. (1 Corinthians 12-14)

If you have never studied the gifts of the Spirit and come to know your place in the body, I encourage you to do so soon, for a mouth called to speak His truths, but functioning as a hand instead, is a waste of energy, misappropriating His Spirit and failing to walk in the obedience God desires. Here are links to get you started: http://www.kodachrome.org/spiritgift/, http://www.spiritualgiftstest.com/.

Before closing this course of study, the master in our Matthew 25 passage told the wicked lazy slave that he should have at least put His money in the bank so he would have returned it with interest. What might the bank be for us as we consider the work of the Spirit in our lives as the treasure of our Master-Savior?

“For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20). When we do not have confidence in ourselves, we can bank on the promises of God, choosing to believe, and seeing faith increased to us.

“Such confidence we have through Christtoward God.  Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  (2 Corinthians 3:4-6)

~~*~~

“…His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’”

OR

“…But his master answered and said to him, ‘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.’”

Which will you hear when He comes? It is not too late to move from wicked and lazy to good and faithful. As long as He tarries, we have time to receive His Spirit and cooperate in His work to the increase that pleases our Master-God and King.

“For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. …” (Matthew 25:14-30).

The Talents Revisited: Part 4

Read Matthew 25:14-30

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” (:21).

God has provided for us His Spirit as a trust to be expended into our lives in ways that bring Him increase. The Spirit increases faith in us so we can please God in all things. He increases in us the fruit of character that rebirths the image of God in us. How else does this treasure of God produce increase to us that we can hand over to our returning Master-Christ?

Produce 3 – “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and
in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you” (2 Peter 1:2-11).

Look at these “qualities” that are ours and are expected to increase in us in the power of the Spirit. How do these “qualities” differ from and work with the fruit we bear to increase?

The thing I note here is fruit’s character is internal and personal to each individual member of Christ. It is what makes us who we are. These qualities are the equipping of God for us, enabling us to take the fruit we bear and use it as we give into the lives of others in ways that effect His Kingdom purpose in the earth.

These qualities equip us to know how to put the fruit to use in our dealings with others and in our external practice of our internal character. I have a Bible study on this passage that is in depth, but here let us take a brief look, breaking down what Peter is telling us in this passage.

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” Grace and peace is multiplied to those who know Him in truth, granting to us by His grace this divine power found in His Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit is granted to us for the purpose of teaching us to know Him in all His fullness in greater depth of understanding, and to impart in us His character that makes us more and more like Him, from one degree of His glory to ever increasing glory.

“For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” It is increasing faith granted by His Spirit that equips us to recognize His promises and have hope in them. As His promises are fulfilled in us in the taking on of His divine nature, we escape corruption and are empowered to walk out His nature in the earth, unhindered by its lusts. But this does not happen as if by magic.

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence…”  We are called to apply diligence to faith that supplies moral excellence. There is a gifting in our faith, yes; but the gift is dependent on our choice to believe. Remember, the Master gives to each according to his ability. As I am able to believe and practicing diligence in that ability, God supplies faith to help my belief, and that faith works to equip my moral excellence. This is important, so I say again, as I choose to believe God, He pours forth a measure of faith to help my belief. As I see faith fulfilled it becomes easier to choose to believe, and God increases the measure of faith to me, producing in me moral excellence.

“…and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.”

Do you see the progression?  Choosing to believe what God says and act on it, the Spirit empowers me through faith to succeed in ways that bring moral excellence. As my moral excellence grows, so does my ability to know God and to understand His ways. That knowledge increases my self-control to persevere in godly character that reaches out to others in brotherly kindness that expresses God’s love to them.

Godly character produced in us in the power of the Spirit is the goal and we noted in our first session of this study that righteousness is the cornerstone of godly-character. Righteousness is this ability to know God and His ways, accept within self the attributes of the fruit of the Spirit that make us Christlike, then allow that Spirit to empower us to express that fruit in external ways that make for moral excellence. The righteous are the only ones who have access to the heavenly kingdom, and as we saw in a previous study on experiencing heaven on earth, righteousness is one of those things we will walk in now. But there is more about this moral excellence that reveals righteousness.

As I read the rest of Matthew 25, when the King of kings calls for the sheep to be separated from the goats, what are the sheep called? “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me’” (verses 37-40).

It is dangerous when we fail to practice diligence in expressing godly character, giving self to attributes like fear, anger, bitterness, or any other thing that will hinder God’s work in us, destroying the increase of the Spirit. Someone who never has any increase needs to ask if they have truly received God’s gift of grace that imparts His Spirit to us.

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. …’” (verse 34). Those of us who have increase, but also have areas of struggle where we fall short in our diligence to take every opportunity to minister to Jesus through our ministry to one another need to realize that with failure to take every opportunity we step out from under and miss His blessing. The blessing of God comes to our obedience, granting to us many crowns with which to honor our King when we are presented to Him in eternity.

“…For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you”

Thus God equips us to be His hand reaching out to others. But not only to reach out to one another. Note that in the fulfillment of seeing this produce in our lives, we take the first steps into His Kingdom. The internal produce of God pouring out equips us to begin experiencing Kingdom living even while in this life.

That leads us to our final point, produce 4. See you tomorrow.

The Talents Revisited: Part 3

Read Matthew 25:14-30

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’” (:21).

Thus far we have covered the fact that God gives us His Spirit when we receive His gift found in the sacrifice of Jesus; and we are called to let His Spirit increase in us. Yesterday we saw that God gives to us through His Spirit a measure of faith and expects it to grow like a mustard seed, producing a Kingdom harvest in the earth. Faith is vital to spiritual success in every area and endeavor of life, and we are told in Hebrews that without faith it is impossible to please Him (11:6).

Thus God makes provision for our success by leaving to our charge His Spirit of provision, equipping us in faith that pleases Him as we cooperate with the work of the Spirit in us. As we surrender ourselves to walk in the power of the Spirit through this faith, certain things will be harvested in our lives. Today we will cover the second produce in life as we continue our trek through to discover the ever growing work of God’s Spirit in us:

Produce 2 – “THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Scripture calls these character traits of God that are birthed in our lives “the fruit of the Spirit.” Note first that “fruit” is singular. The Spirit bears only one kind of fruit in our lives and that fruit pours forth all the flavors that make up the image of God. The fruit born is the rebirth of God’s image that was placed in mankind when creation took place.

As I look at each of these, I see heart issues that define those who possess them. These attributes produced within the child born of God through Christ is the restoration of the image of God in all His fullness so that we may BE like Him. Everyone who calls upon His name in Christ must possess this fruit and it must increase in them, making their very nature back into the godly character God intended for His image bearers.

Each of these characteristics listed here and others listed in passages like Colossians 3:12-17 express the many flavors found in the one fruit; again, that fruit being the very nature and character of God rebirthed in the heart of His created beings. Let’s take a minute to look more closely at some of these attributes that should be birthed out of the life of a true believer:

Love – the love spoken of here is the Agape love that defines God. God is love, and we are to be love as He is love. The scripture that keeps coming to my mind as I think about this attribute being our character is Romans 12:9, “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”

Abhor the evil and cling to the good, along with the thoughts interjected in the remainder of this chapter, is not a separate thought, but instead it describes how this love works. Let me give you an example from my life right now.

I have a family member in-law who we have loved and cared for as our own for nine years. We love him and have looked up to him as a man of God. Then we learned that in the time with us he committed sin that Jesus said is worthy of a forced swim in concrete boots. Now I hate the sin he did, the harm to those he hurt that was caused by his sin, and the break in family ties that is the result and consequence of his actions, but I still love him. Even as I write this, thinking of him, a love sores in me for him, grieved though it is by the sin he committed.

As I read the remainder of Romans 12, I see that my fruit of love will hate the evil done, while still having love and gratitude for any good in him. We have good memories with him and I know he seeks after God, though he fell in this area. As I look back on some things, I know he was grieved over his fall as I realize, “That is why he seemed grieved in that conversation.”

Because of love for God and all concerned, including him, I can choose to withhold my own revenge against him, letting God use the government of human law in dealing with him; letting God be the avenger. Because of love being in me by the power of God, when he writes me or calls, I can take a deep breath to overcome the grief and hurt, and yes, anger over his sin against another beloved, and practice loves grace in dealing with him; thus I see in the remainder of Romans 12, not disjointed thoughts for right conduct, but a picture of love in action.

Each attribute listed in our focal scripture revealing the produce of the Spirit in us can be further defined for us in Scripture, just as this walk of love is given greater defining character by this passage in Romans and others, like 1 Corinthians 13.

Joy is ours despite life’s difficulty because it is based in our relationship with our God (Nehemiah 8:10). Peace comes to us even in times like my family is in now because it is God’s gift to us in Christ in the power of the Spirit to experience peace beyond comprehension (John 14:27). Patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: all attributes that are common to man, but that are increased in us to work in our lives and situations with power beyond our normal ability as we tap into the Spirit, letting Him flow through us to effect the world around us.

Thus we see how this Spirit we are charged to be filled with and return to God with increase—for He is jealous for more and more of His Spirit in us—works to make us who we are in Christ (James 4:5). But there is more. See you tomorrow for produce 3.

Darlene Davis © 6/24/11

 

 

Grace Defined #3: Power to Overcome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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