Tag Archives: grace

God’s Parameters of Protection

I hear people all the time saying “God works all things together for good,” and they stop there. These often get a deer in the headlights look when the parameters for God’s good work is pointed out.

Don’t miss the “to those” of this promise. God works good in all things “to those who love God”; and, “to those” who are walking out His purposes according to His calling. If we go outside of God’s calling and purpose, or if we act without love for God, we step outside of this hedge of His protection.

With most of God’s promises there is a parameter, a hedge that sets the boundaries for remaining in His field of promise. Step outside of that, we face consequences God’s hedge is set to spare us from suffering. Don’t get caught in the headlights of danger, Dear. Watch for the parameters set by our loving Father.

PRAISE FOR THE ONE

Praise tells the cosmos that God is sovereign, almighty, worthy, victorious, right, good, and on the throne of the heart of the one who praises Him alone as God. Praise increases hope, enters His help, dawns His glory Lives His story, and fills His worshipers with Himself, His power, His authority, His surity, bringing the unity of ONEness with Him in the Christ who bridges and the Spirit who teaches, bringing all into the Divine Will.

Oh how beautiful the Glory that makes ONE as God continues His Life story through those who believe, receive, and become His worshipers. How BLESSed we are to be His worshipers, Beloved.

Go forth in the Spirit of Truth and Shine, with every breath, every step, every move, every desire honoring our Father as Sovereign in us, giving way to the Spirit of the Triune, who alone can empower true worship in us and who alone can protect that peace-filled abundance, undisturbed by any thief who would dare to steal, kill, or destroy the voice of True Worship.

(c) Darlene Davis

6/22/18

A Place of Refreshing

“so that I may come to you in joy by the will of God and find refreshing rest in your company.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:32‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Good morning, Beloved.

One of our greatest privileges as a part of the Christian fellowship is for each of us to be a place of refreshing for others. It can be a challenge to achieve that, but it is a goal worth striving for.

I see this as our being a safe place where godly love and acceptance is found; where people can be real with us while knowing they can find encouragement, rest, and wise counsel. Even as I type this out, I know that I still have some work to accomplish in being this for those I love and spend time with. How about you?

Father, grant us wisdom and Spirt-power to be found in Christ, knowing how and when love produces a safe place of refreshing, and when love needs to flip tables.

Build the Walls

“…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. By Your favor do good to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, In burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.” Psalms 51:17-19 NASB

As I read this passage, I am captivated by a seeming switch in thought as David prays for cleansing and freedom from sin, and for the sin offering to be acceptable. Meditating on it, I realize it is not a change in focus to pray for God’s goodness to Zion and the building of the walls for Jerusalem. What I believe He is saying is for God to protect and establish their resistance to sin so that the offering comes from hearts that are right with God, thus making the sacrifice a delight to Him, worthy of His grace.

Father, though Jesus made the perfect sacrifice, fully delivering us from the eternal penalty due our sinfulness, we still need You, by Your favor, to do good to us and build up our walls of resistance to sin, that we may please You in all our ways. This I pray for myself, my family, and for all reading this post in agreement now. In Jesus and for His glory, make it so.

Read Psalms 51:1-19 NASB

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 4

BE STRONG IN THE GRACE that is in Christ Jesus.

Wow. Chillin’ over that! God’s mercy and His grace makes me excited.

Mercy!

Mercy covers us, a blanket of Jesus’s blood flowing over every part, parcel, nook, and cranny. Jesus paid the price we owed and the blood that flowed covers us who believe and receive Him, covering the ugly of sin so God the Father can look on us and we can have a relationship with Him. God’s mercy through Christ makes us the righteousness of God in Christ.

Grace!

Grace is the power of God. That power flows to us through Christ, granting us strength and ability to do righteousness. With that defining parameter, note Ephesians 2:8-10.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10 NASB

God sent his grace to empower us with faith to believe, so that by the faith powered by Him, we might receive the free gift of mercy in Christ. It is not something we can boast about obtaining, for it is all powered and provided by God, who has a work to accomplish through us as recipients of grace.

This call to be strong in God’s grace is two fold. We are to be strong recipients of His grace, strong in our personal relationship with Him, which is by grace. And we are to be strong in the work God desires to accomplish through us as His witnesses, His ambassadors, His bond-servants.

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NASB

Realizing our need of God, we surrender to Him who grants grace to empower our righteous deeds and actions.

“”I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5 NASB

Seven Healing Balms for Exhaustion: Part 2

Yesterday we covered my need for surrender. I am a stress eater and one stressor is tiredness, which is created and exacerbated by stress, good or bad. Vicious circle, I know. Today, a major area in need of my surrender to the Lordship and reliance on God is in my way of eating.

Diet (beginning with God’s Word).

God’s Word is what led me to realize that surrender is my number one need. God’s Word constantly and consistently instructs and encourages my perseverance, even when I’m tired. Exhaustion tends to hinder ability and desire for God’s Word. Remaining faithful to Him, trusting His ability to get through the fog of exhaustion and to help us is key to our ability to seek and find this vital nutrient. So feasting on God’s Word is my first dietary need, for it keeps me close to God, in a position of pliable-surrender. There, I am best able to deal with…

Diet (the things we physically eat)

The diet we need is not some fad thing that may take weight off, but be of no benefit to our body. These types of diets are generally unsustainable, leaving us to put the weight back on quickly. These fall into the category of things that have no benefit against fleshly indulgence (Colossians 2:23). We go on such fad diets, usually with the simple goal of losing weight, often with little thought toward working long term change in our appetites and desires. We go on “diets” with full intent to return to “normal eating” when we’ve reached our goal.

God led me long ago to the conclusion that “diet” simply means the things we eat. We are all on diets. The question is, are we eating to feed our flesh its desires? Or are we eating to provide fuel for a healthy, well functioning body?

When we eat to fuel our healthy function, our way of eating or diet becomes our way of life; it becomes our new norm. We don’t start it only to finish it and return to old ways. It’s not here for a time; it’s a habitual way of eating that is here to stay. It does not feed our flesh its indulgences. It feeds our body its need. We lose weight naturally by simply feeding our body it’s functional need. We keep it off the same way.

My struggle with stress eating leads me to feed my flesh its indulgence, instead of feeding my body its functional need. Surrender is vital to my freedom from the dictates of stress eating. Surrendering whatever is stressing me to God’s care brings peace to mind and soul. Surrendering my desires to God allows Him to form a good appetite within me and to energize my follow-through. In this way, proper diet strengthens my body, while God empowers my faithfulness to overcome fleshly indulgence. This, my friend, is the best, most freeing diet I’ve ever possessed.

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB

Protection in the Night

The long night: it’s hard for me to see myself as being in a Long Night. I’ve been in a night of true darkness, but in this one, though I know the darkness threatening to overwhelm me, the Light is very near and dear. At the same time, I know of little more difficult than the threat to the life of a mate, except maybe the loss of a child. And being in a place to trust God while not knowing which way His healing will take gets long and can bring a deep weariness we don’t fully know how to handle. So God leads my heart in prayer today through song.

Today, as I cried out to God, needing His clear touch, He led me to Jericho my town while listening to my favorite worship playlist. Hitting the mix option, each song came in perfect order to minister to my heart and form my prayer in this night-watch. Now I thought God was changing the preplanned focus for today, but He isn’t.

Beloved, in the Dark Night Season, when we struggle to find the light God illumines all around that darkness, that is when we are most vulnerable to the lies and misdirection of the enemy that hides out in dark, waterless places. We can believe we are useless to God here. We can beat ourselves up for every flaw our deceived heart points to. We can blame self for every evil we see in our sphere of influence. We can forget that God is with us. Such struggles as these and more can make the dark, darker still. Today we pray for those in dark places to know the truth and be protected from the false.

Songs to pray through:

Still, by Hillary Scott

Glow in the Dark, by Jason Gray

Hope in Front of Me, by Danny Gokey

Scripture in context: 1 Timothy‬ ‭4:1-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Speak out of a Discerning Heart

Good morning, Beloved. Continuing our daily thought for prayer over long night seasons, today we pray for the encouragers, and for hearts of understanding.

This focal verse pictured turns my thoughts back to Job. A night season can come upon us because of something we do to open a door for it, or, like Job who was righteous before God, it can come at no fault of our own, but at some eternal purpose of God’s. Those are the most difficult to go through, because we can’t understand why God is allowing it. There is always something to learn of God there, a deeper level to go to in our relationship with God, but remembering that can be the challenge in the night. Such a seemingly faultless season is also, I believe, the most difficult to encourage or help someone get through.

Like Job’s friends, an encourager comes with hope of lifting up and helping, but our human brains have difficulty fathoming such hardship being without a trigger from the sufferer. God is Love. He wouldn’t allow such without provocation, right? We begin trying to find the reason by citing legalese to spark a light that brings discernment or spur a confession of heart, trying to get the sufferer to see a sin that we believe would have to be in play for such a punishment of God to come upon us. We too readily forget that it is not our place to convict; that is the work of God’s Spirit.

There are two things to realize for prayer here:

1. The heart is deceptive. The sufferer needs discernment of hidden sin that may be the culprit, yes. And the encourager needs to discern the heart of the Spirit so their words of encouragement work the purpose of God in our efforts. So pray for that discernment.

2. Understanding the situation is vital for sufferer and encourager. Thus we pray for understanding so our encouragement is righteous and truly uplifting, bringing the sufferer and the encourager to greater faith and stronger relationship with Father.

Passage in context: 1 Timothy‬ ‭1:5-7‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Perseverance for the Long Night Seasons

As I seek the Father in continuing a daily thought for praying over those long night situations, He leads my heart to Paul’s letters to Timothy. Paul’s greeting in 1 Timothy begins our daily focus.

Beloved, our greatest need in long night issues is perseverance. To persevere in faith; in assurance of God’s love, care, and presence at work there; in determined purpose to remain faithful in focus, in living, in the practice of godliness, etc. These three works of God found in Paul’s greeting equip our success in perseverance.

– Grace – provides strength beyond our own in the wait, equipping and enabling our faithful perseverance .

– Mercy – covers us when we fail so that…

– Peace – that passages understanding prevails, protecting us from worry, fretting, anxiety, and the bad and desperate decisions such turmoil brings, leading us to unrest as we kick against goads and try to fix what God alone can fix.

Pray today for perseverance and for this resource of God that empowers our successful waiting-on-the-Lord.

Surrounded

A Day of Prayer in April post

PRAISE THE LORD, BELOVED! We are coming against the strongholds of long night stressors that challenge our faith, working with the intent of preventing us knowing, trusting, and following our God as a people at rest in His hands, even in the darkest, most fierce storms.

This song, “Surrounded,” by Michael W. Smith, is the perfect starting place for our battle against the long night in our lives and the lives of those we love. The prayer thoughts for this song include:

⁃ the importance of praise.

Praising Father God, our Triune Deity, is our first, most vital weapon in any battle. God is enthroned upon the praises of His people. Praise expresses understanding of His sovereignty, His might, His greatness, and our recognition of our dire need of Him: our love for and reliance on Him. We are more apt to rest the need in His capable hands – surrendering all to Him, from a position of worship.

⁃ the importance of trusting His Presence.

Remembering God’s faithfulness to His promises that tell us He is always with us, fighting for us, and He will never – NO NEVER – leave nor forsake us, this is our second, most vital weapon in the long night season. Our strength, courage, and perseverance flow out of this trust.

⁃ the importance of realizing where He is standing.

We acknowledge that, though we feel the pressure of the enemy around us, we are first and foremost surrounded by God, even though we may not see Him. He promises to be beside us, grabbing us by the hand to protect and empower us. But also, like Elisha’s servant, we need eyes to see the army of God that surrounds the enemy surrounding us (2 Kings 6).

Think about this position, Beloved, us being in the center with God, Who is also surrounding us with His hedge of protection, as well as Him standing with His army to surround the enemy attacking us. That enemy is trapped between our faith in God and His faithfulness to us. An enemy cannot escape their loss that comes from this glorious combination: faith in God’s faithfulness. I believe that’s the reason Elisha prayed his servant’s eyes open: to strengthen his faith in the battle, that the barricade of faith not be weakened by unbelief and fear.

Thus we begin…

Surrounded: Michael W. Smith

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Saved From The Empty Life

“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. ….” 1 Peter‬ ‭1:18-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Good afternoon, Beloveds. We had such a glorious visit with our second daughter and two grandkids. We enjoy them so much. Sunday brought the privilege of seeing a niece marry her guy. Today we said farewell to the kids, hating to see them leave and ready for them to return long before they will. Hubby returned to work at a job he loves. I had a dental appointment: a nicety that reveals God’s provision for us through Johnny’s work. Life goes on.

Looking at our days that are filled with family, friends, work we enjoy, love, laughter, celebration, and, yes, caring for health needs and much, much more, we are indeed blessed. However, I see all of these things in the lives of people who refuse God’s eternal gift in Christ, so I wonder, what emptiness did Jesus save us from? How is our lives full in Christ, while theirs are considered empty? I believe it is two things:

One: the barn issue.

Remember the parable Jesus told of the man who filled up his new barns with great wealth, only to die and it all be for naught? We can’t take it with us, so all our progress here is nothing where eternity is concerned. We work for nothing, when we do it without Christ. It is worthless to us once we die and of no benefit to eternity.

“… “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”” Luke‬ ‭12:13-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

And two: it’s a treasury issue.

Remember the teaching of Paul on building with wood, hay, stubble, gold, silver, and jewels? He’s talking about those who are God’s, building our lives. Focusing on building a life that fails to have an eternal purpose to it is like building with things that burn. All we do in that state will burn away and be as nothing as we enter His Kingdom bearing works apart from Christ. It is worthless, unable to reach eternity with us.

However, all we do as unto the Lord, for His glory, having eternal purpose and relying on God is the gold, silver, and jewels. These treasures not only are stored in a heavenly bank, but they don’t burn up in the transition from our earthly existence to our eternal. These are saved alive with us, because they are eternally sourced to the glory of God.

“…The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:10-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

All that we do in Christ, with the glory and purpose of God in our founding it, that goes with us, producing a reward for our eternal transition that will not be taken from us. In Christ, life is eternal: and life done well here, as pleases Him, makes us full and complete, nothing of true worth left behind.

Better to Go Willingly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Delight: the Secret Pathway of Perfecting Grace

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord…. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart.” Psalm 37:3-4 AMPC

To delight is to take great pleasure or joy in something. God wants to be our greatest delight. That’s hard to do if we fail to realize and experience Him in our day by day, moment by moment. Thus, I believe verse 3 is vital to our ability to delight in God to any degree of His desire for our delight; and verse 3 is best expressed in the AMPC Bible’s defining parameters for Trust being to lean on, rely on, and be confident in Him who is our delight.

When we truly trust in the Lord it is easier to know Him in our day. Trusting in Him as He desires means we LEAN on Him as our greatest support for all challenges faced in life, beginning with each breath we breathe. We RELY on Him, not only for supply of every resource and energy need, but for the very timing of His provision, knowing that He will increase perseverance to us as we await His provision with hopes assurance. And that perseverance flows out of our CONFIDENCE in Him, knowing that He will not fail us, but as we patiently wait with trust in Him, He often does above and beyond our ability to desire, or even to discern the need. In times of waiting, He is working a growth in us that increases our discernment of Him and His ways, so faith grows stronger and relationship more sure.

This growing, vital relationship of delight works completion in us. We were made for this vital, love relationship with God and we are incomplete apart from Him. Not only that, but scripture teaches that God’s Power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9 AMPC). That does not mean that God is somehow weakened without us. I believe that it means our God has chosen us for vital union: that He desires to delight in us as we delight in Him, being made complete together. He chooses that our relationship add strength to both He and each individual one of us as our union becomes all He planned from the concept of time.

I see God’s Power being perfected in us to be like flexing muscles. God’s Power is perfect because He is perfect in Himself. But power that sets doing nothing is useless. The strength of His Power defines and fulfills itself when in use. So as we delight in Him above all else, fully choosing to act on our great need of Him, trusting in, leaning on, relying on, and being confident in Him, our need completes His provision as He completes us, thus accomplishing perfection in the actualization of His eternal plan for a relationship with us, His people.

When we feel like there is something missing, Love, and the desires of our heart go unsatisfied, the first place we must look is to check the source of our greatest delight. Delight in God trusts Him with a fervent surrender to our need of Him that leads to perfection.

Thankful for Freedom

Good morning! Today I rejoice in knowing Jesus, Who lived, died, and lives again to set us free-indeed. It is an awesome truth, worthy of daily attention from grateful hearts.

My heart also rejoices today in the knowledge that we are so greatly BLESSed here in The USA to live in a nation that cares about our lives and our freedom. Our leaders fight to protect our freedoms and keep us safe. Our nation’s armed forces fight, and sometimes die, first gaining our freedom to be an independent nation so many years ago, and from then to our now, they keep us free and safe.

Then there is our internal security and emergency response forces. Our emergency response crews in our drought dried area put their lives on the line just yesterday to protect us from wild fires that are made worse and more challenging to fight in the high winds moving them forward at breakneck speeds.

Praise God today for the freedom He so graciously supplied through those willing to give life and limb for us, and for those who protect our lives and do all they can to save our properties.

Have a BLESSed Saturday enjoying the freedom we have, and pray for those less fortunate, living under regimes that take the lives of their own people at the drop of a hat. Sometimes we don’t realize how good we have it. Because of that lack of recognition, we too readily fail to appreciate God’s gracious provision to us who are privileged to live safe and free in these United States.

Pray protection over our unity today, Beloved. A house divided quickly falls. On that day, the freedom and safety we too readily take for granted will be lost. So rejoice in our freedoms today, beginning with the free-indeed found in Jesus. And let us come together anew as ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

A Word for Today: LOVE

“These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,” 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Our focal verse may seem not to fit the word for today, but bear with me a moment while I explain.

Remember the parable of Christ when He described the day all will stand before Father as sheep separated from goats. I had a dream years ago about that, in which God allowed me to experience the position of the goat.

As we were ushered in to His presence, upon seeing the Father, we all were overwhelmed and filled to the full with understanding of His essence. Many, knowing their vehement rejection of Him, instantly knew they missed the boat; others who trusted a false salvation were just figuring out that they were on the wrong side of the gulf. The thing that overwhelmed us all was full understanding of God’s pure love for us even in that moment, and that we were finally complete – made whole by His love.

We watched as the names of saints were called one by one, greeted by Jesus, and ushered into His Kingdom by angels. Then came the time when the goats were cast into the outer darkness. I woke with realization that the hottest flame in eternal damnation will be the knowledge of never knowing God’s great love so clearly again.

God used that dream to call me to two major foci in ministry: one being the importance of calling others to the Cross of Christ before it’s too late; the other being the importance of making God’s love known now, while there is time to make an informed decision.

God calls us to be love as He is love. God is the love we are to have and walk in, allowing Him to be love in us, so people can see while they still have a chance of changing sides. This is why Jesus warned us, “”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 (complete).” Matthew 5:43-48 NASB (author’s note)

The most dangerous prayer I have ever prayed is for God to be love in me, loving a person in my sphere of influence with His unfailing love. I say “dangerous” because when God answers that prayer – and He will do so to the sincere heart cry for it – no matter what that person we love does, our love for them does not stop. We keep knowing God’s love for that person as our own. We feel a portion of the pain God feels for those who refuse Him. Their rejection hurts, and it’s hard, and the love keeps pouring out for them with longing for a right and true relationship fueled by and filled with the unity that is only found in mutual relationship with the Father. Only the brave, with true love for the Father that desires His love be found by all who need it, can face the heart of rejection experienced by God’s love for all. Are you ready to love in Jesus’s Name? He will supply the power for it, if you are willing to walk in His love-supply for all.

My prayer for us today, Beloved, is for our Strength to go forth and love in Jesus’s Name and in the power of His supply before time runs out. The eternal clock is ticking.

The Power of Grace and Peace

1 Thessalonians 1:1b “…Grace to you and peace.”

As I read this common greeting given by Paul in most of his letters, it dawns on me how full of power that is. I am finally learning what Paul long knew about Grace and Peace.

I used to tell God that I did not want to take His grace for granted. Now that was a correct desire as far as not wanting to sin, thinking that God’s grace would cover me, so it would be okay to choose sin. But I am learning that God wants us to walk in His grace as I am now learning is the work of grace in us.

God led me to realize my need of His sanctification in the area of my diet. Being sanctified, set apart to God in that area, requires me to learn to walk in the grace Paul speaks of in 2 Corinthians 12:

“7 Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! 8 Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; FOR WHEN I AM WEAK, THEN I AM STRONG.”

God’s grace imparts true and lasting strength and, through my diet, surrendered to His grace, I am learning just how strong and FREEING His grace is in me. Praise the Lord!

God’s mercy frees us from sins penalty: death – separation from God. His grace cleanses us of that sin, removing it from us, and replaces it with His strength in the area of need, filling up the vacuum of space left there.

Remember when Jesus said to cleanse a house, only to leave it empty, opens up a place in which the evil removed can not only return to possess the place anew, but it can bring seven others, more evil than it, to help him hold his place (Luke 11:24-26). Grace cleanses us, removing the evil tendency, but it also fills us with His Spirit of Strength to hold the house, and maintain the cleansing. We need God’s strength if we are to stand against the temptations of this life. The way of escape from temptation is this GRACE (1 Corinthians 10:13). We can do nothing apart from Him, so this grace is vital to our successful journey to the righteousness of Christ that sanctifies us.

When we are walking in this grace of God that strengthens our commitment to His Lordship, true peace fills us. The agitation of our want for something that is not His will for us is overridden by this peace gifted to us through Christ. It is much easier to “Be still and Know that He is God” when peace acts as umpire (Colossians 3:15, AMPC). That said, I see Paul’s greeting of “grace to you and peace” as his desire of heart for this work of the Spirit in the people of God.

Here am I, O God. I rejoice in this lesson, learned and growing strong in me. Thank You for Your grace sufficient that produces Your peace of heart, bringing about true freedom from the flesh in me. In Jesus, Amen!

Journey to Freedom

“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.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:1-2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Love is the first flavor in the fruit of His Spirit that God used to teach me how His strength works best in my surrendered weakness.

God is love. We are told to love as He loves, which means we have to surrender to BE love as He is, and in likeness to Him. We can only do that when He, who is love, becomes love in us.

Our love is weak and insufficient apart from Him, never able to measure up to adequately represent Him. Only as we surrender ourselves to be a living vessel for His love to reach those around us can we truly love as He loves. And when we truly rest our effort in that truth, loving even the greatest of enemies becomes easier and more effective.

Knowing this, I don’t know why it has taken me so long to realize that the same principle is true of His fruit flavor known as self-control / self-discipline. I learned it easily with peace, joy, and goodness; finding a greater challenge in my surrender to His patience in me, but finally beginning to get there. I guess the holdup on learning this truth in the bearing of the flavor of self-control is that little word, SELF.

I expected God wanted me to do it on my own, by choice; which didn’t make sense when Scripture clearly teaches that I can do NOTHING apart from Him. So finally, I am walking in the truth that the “help” I constantly cry out for in this need of self-control only fully comes when I surrender to the truth that I am too weak to do it. That He who lives in me and wants to live trough me in a process that makes us truly one is key to fruit bearing in all His flavor.

Thus, I must allow His strength to live it’s perfection through this area of my weakness: not struggling to have some part in the controlling of self, but fully surrendering with trust in Him to empower control.

I finished my 21 days of fasting prayer, quickly discovering that the things practiced during this time of commitment are to be my new way of daily living Christ into the world around me. Today is the first day of the rest of my life – which is eternal in Christ.

Welcome to the new me, which is, by the way, another pound lighter. YAY!!

A Word for Today: POSSIBLE

Good morning, Beloved. This verse excites me, so please bare with me as I elaborate a little.

God has me on a journey of discovery. I am learning to greater depths than ever before just how faithful God is to be strength in my weakness. In an area of lifelong struggle, I have never experienced such freedom as now, because God faithfully responds to my, “I can’t. Will You?” God responds every time with “Gladly!” And HE DOES IT THROUGH ME. Praise the Lord!

It is becoming easier with each act of surrender to allow God full control in my weakness, and I get the benefit of victory in His strength.

The thing I am learning is this: I have NO STRENGTH. Not really. Not in any area of my life. My greatest strengths are NOTHING compared to His, and I can truly do nothing apart from Him: AND He can best accomplish through me when I die so He can live. When I realize “Lord, I can’t. Will You?”, then I experience true Strength. God wants me – us, Beloved – to realize that with people “this”, whatever it is, is impossible. “But with God!”

Beloved, set Jesus free to live life in you today so you can live the impossible. (Galatians 2:20)

Our Portion

I am starting my year following the daily scripture focus for January, put out by BibleStudyTools.com. Today’s Scripture focus is that well known Lamentations passage in 3:22-23 pictured above. But my focus falls to what comes after.

I know so well those two beloved, frequently quoted verses, I shamefully forget what follows.

“”The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, To the person who seeks Him.” ‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:24-25‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God is our portion, our great reward and most precious treasure. Our greatest calling is to seek Him for those reasons alone. Knowing and striving toward that, our waiting for Him is made easier, for we can know His goodness will come forth to meet our need.

And the next verse says, “It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.” Lamentations‬ ‭3:26‬ ‭NASB‬

We don’t have to have words for Him who is our portion, reward, treasure. As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us, and His faithfulness is sure to meet our every need.

Sometimes the great needs we face are to help us realize that our only true need is the Treasure of Heaven. When we possess that, our waiting is eased as we know the wealth of His supply will come out of His faithful love for those who treasure Him above all else.

BibleStudyTool.com January Scripture Focus Challenge

In Need of a Miracle

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Whatever He says to you, do it.’ ….” John 2:1-11 NASB (http://bible.com/100/jhn.2.1-11.nasb)

I love reading this account often called “the first miracle of Christ”, however, I believe it is most likely the first RECORDED miracle. It’s just pretty obvious to me that His Momma knew from experience what her Son was capable of doing. She also knew that her Son would give her what she asked Him to give. I see, in this passage, three things that sound to me like good advice for us all.

Know what God can do. Learn of Him. God responds to faith. Faith comes by hearing; and hearing by the Word of God. When we have a need, we turn to what we know. Mary knew her Son, so she turned to Him for the need she perceived.

Ask of Him. Mary knew her Son and what He could do, so she asked Him for it, knowing He could and would supply. Later, Jesus, after training His disciples, told them, ““If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7 ). Like Mary, when we know God through Christ and believe what He can do, we gain confidence to ask with faith of receiving.

The third, vital lesson to seeking and receiving are in Mary’s words, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Like these servants, to experience and participate in God’s miracles, with ability to recognize what He does for us, we must also listen to Him and do what He says. Like with these, the instructions God gives may seem strange to us. Can you imagine: needing wine and hearing, “fill these pots with water and take it to the head waiter.”

My first, real experience of this happened many years ago. I had a headache that would not go away. For weeks on end, I could get it dulled, but not gone.

One day, after a particularly excellent quiet time with the Lord, praising and praying to him, that headache had a stronghold on me. Already having taken the med for it with no results, I told the Lord I was so tired of that headache. To my heart came clear instruction to lay down.

As I laid down flat on the sofa, I told the Lord, “This is weird to me, but I trust You.” The Spirit led me to relax, eyes closed and focused fully on God, beginning with my feet and working up. With His coaxing, I relaxed so deeply that I felt like I sank into the cushions.

When we reached my neck, a very small circle of light appeared in the darkness behind my eyes. Watching it, the circle grew bigger and brighter. Then the image of an angel appeared, flying up through the circle of light and out the top of my head, fist clenched in front of him and the biggest, laughing smile on his face. Followed by one after another in like fashion, those angels kept flying through my head until my entire skull was full of light so bright that I squinted trying to see. I laid there totally relaxed and in stunned awe for a bit, before sitting up, absent the headache.

That healing lasted for many weeks, not having any type of headache at all. And I’ve not had that particular headache again since then.

Scripture tells us God’s ways and thoughts are not like ours. When we seek Him to do a work only He can do, trusting Him when the clear instructions sent seem strange to us is vital to our experiencing His answer to our need.

Learn to know Him, Beloved. Be quick to seek Him in faith, believing. Then listen to His instruction, which can come through His Word, through the insights of those around us, or in that knowing place in us that houses His Presence with us. Once His instruction is clear, do what He says, and get ready to stand amazed.

Repentance That Works

There are two types of repentance: worldly repentance and godly repentance. Godly repentance works the will of God, and that is what we want.

Worldly repentance is:

Self-centered – repentance flowing out of worldly concern (must change before I lose my job…my ministry…their love/respect).

Insincere – having a hardened heart to sin, repentance is only for show.

Insecure – believing God delivers from the penalty of sin, but we are still enslaved to the sin nature with no hope of freedom in this life.

Godly Repentance is:

Relational – concerned about pleasing God and protecting relationship with Him; and because of right relations with God, desiring to protect relationships with others.

Transforming – knowing that we not only possess the righteousness of Christ in the Spirit, but that the Spirit is with us, to empower our righteous acts accomplished through surrendered lives.

Eternal – knowing that God loves us at all times and will bring us into His eternal Kingdom because of Jesus, while also realizing that we are His representatives in our here and now, called and equipped as His image bearers to reveal Him to the world. Godly repentance truly desires to surrender to God’s work of making us into His image.

True repentance comes to those who know that God has a good work for us as individuals, beginning with us being His image bearers. Surrendered living with sincere effort to conform to His transforming power leads to accomplishing His purpose.

True repentance surrenders to eternal purpose through trusting faith that knows “nothing shall be impossible with God”, who so greatly desires a love relationship with us that He gave His only begotten Son to have it. And have it, He will, for His Word succeeds at accomplishing His purpose.

Take God at His Word and repent from a godly stance of faith made sure in Him.

“Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” Romans 6:12-13 NASB

Thanksgiving-New Years Challenge

“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.” James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Do you believe this biblical statement about God? Do you believe that anything truly good for us, anything that perfectly meets our need or that brings joy to our day in godly ways, which is given by Him for our enjoyment, is from God? Then watch throughout these days for the good and the perfect: for those things that make you smile, increase peace to you, or that make a task possible, perfectly suited for you as His image bearer. Take a moment to realize those BLESSings God sends, to appreciate them and be thankful.

Also, every man to whom God has given riches and possessions, and the power to enjoy them and to accept his appointed lot and to rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God [to him]. ~ Ecclesiastes 5:19, AMPC

Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. ~ 1 Timothy 6:17, NASB

Make Disciples

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” Matthew‬ ‭28:18-20‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“And Ananias said to Paul ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’” Acts‬ ‭22:14-16‬ ‭NASB‬‬
This Matthew call to go and make disciples still speaks today. Note: it does not say, “Go and make converts.” A convert, untaught, will too easily fall away (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23). The work has only just begun when a person turns to Jesus, as it is more than telling about Jesus. The true call is to help each seeker grow to become a true disciple-believer, learning and growing as a Christ follower that bears His image and stands the test of time. 

We are to help others become a disciple maker. In so doing, we will one day see the Righteous One face to face. As we fulfill this call, knowing it as God’s will, our hope is to hear His voice say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Be more than just a believer. Even the demons knew Jesus was the Son of God: The Very God incarnate; one with Father and Spirit, but their belief did not change them. We must be a disciple, continually being made new as we grow strong in Christ.

Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” ~ Matthew 4:19

“Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. ~ Matthew 9:9

And he who does not take up his cross and follow Me [cleave steadfastly to Me, conforming wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also] is not worthy of Me. ~ Matthew 10:38

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

Beauty: Not Beyond the Reach of Grace

These are beautiful!

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I saw this plant come into view, and my heart leapt! It was just beautiful to me. 

These carbon black plants have been here for multiplied-decades, the last remnants of many more that used to be here. I remember momma stepping out to see which way the wind was blowing before daring to hang laundry. And heaven forbid the wind to change directions! 

Through the years I’ve heard people express joy in the smell of laundry, dried on outdoor lines. I never understood that. Ours always smelled of carbon and fossil fuels. LOL

As I look at these stacks and the criss-crossed sections of pipelines darkened by decades of carbon soot, I note the mostly white steam escaping the shoots, and my heart rejoices in the Hope of Christ. 

You see, no matter how many decades of sin and shame covers our lifespan, we are not beyond the reach of His saving grace. And even in the earliest stages of our surrender and commitment to Him, His Spirit moves in, fills us up, and begins the lifetime work of cleansing, purifying, and transforming us to be the vessel God planned from before time began. 

Even in our earthen vessels marred by passing sin, the glory of the Lord seeps out of us who are His, like steam rising to draw the eyes of others in need of a fresh view of Splendor’s beauty and grace. The greater our surrendered commitment to God through Christ, the purer our cleansing flow will be. Rising up as testimony of our relationship with God, His cleansing, Life-giving flow reaches out to touch others in need of His grace, sufficient for them too.

We each choose daily the steam flowing forth: either the dark stench of sin, or the purifying flow of Love’s grace at work in us. Which do you want those you love to be covered by when they are near to or up wind from you?

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15, AMPC

“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19-20‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

“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

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 4

We are covering Philippians 4:4-13, seeking God’s wisdom concerning things taught here that help us take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). As a quick review of verses 4-7, covered to date, we learned the importance of rejoicing in the Lord. With God as the source of our joy, we have strength to face life’s challenges, and resource to stand firm against stinking thinking that leads to a fall. We must refuse to let anything rob us of the joy we find in our relationship with God. Nothing can rob us of that true joy that rests by faith in Him, for He holds us secure in Christ (Romans 14:4).

With our rejoicing in Him, we discover that He equips us to respond to people and circumstances with gentleness that expresses itself through patient forbearance and long-suffering tolerance, dictated by right attitudes of mind seen in selflessness and temperance that knows Jesus is coming and that we are to represent His interests until He gets here. As people of God who know the Lord is near, we choose to be people of faith, trusting Him, not given over to anxiety that robs of peace, but people filled with God’s peace, having hearts and minds enveloped by His protective peace that is beyond our full comprehension. Continuing Philippians 4, in verses 8-9, Paul gives this wisdom from God as a watch-list for our thought-life:

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

Our next spiritual weapon is the practice of dwelling with God in our thought life. We are told in this passage to dwell on these things, the first being: truth ~ I believe that this is not just any truth, but God’s truth. God’s truth sees things as they really are, getting to the heart of the matter; and God’s truth always considers God’s supply: His presence with us, His resource for us.

One example that comes to mind is one I find myself having to remember these days. With the health issues my husband and I are dealing with, I find myself to be very tired most days, and often find rolling around in my head the thought that “I can’t”! When opportunity to meet a need arises, the feeling of being tired and the words “I can’t” move in on me so fast that I have to be careful to not just run with that evaluation. Capturing that thought requires me to do two things: 1) look at the truth of the situation to see the reality of the need; and 2) remember God’s word to Paul that I believe true for us as well, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Matthew 17:20; Philippians 3). Our thought life can hinder our participation in things God desires for us if we fail to seek Him for a right evaluation and to trust His supply for our need in accomplishing His purpose.

Paul instructs us to “dwell on (think on, meditate on)” the true, the honorable, the right, pure, and lovely things of good repute and excellence, focusing on the praise worthy things. The truly praiseworthy flows from a heart focused to honor God and please Him first and foremost. Paul’s instruction given is with the purpose that our minds may be set on the works and words worth putting into practice: “Practice these things,” Paul instructs.

Our thoughts should inspire words and actions that prove us as God’s true servants, practicing the honorable, righteous, pure, and lovely ways of God in truth, doing His will as people worthy of good repute, producing excellence worthy of praise that glorifies God as God, pleasing Him in all things. Take every thought captive, beloved, by inviting God to inspire right thinking, dwelling with God in your every thought, allowing His Spirit and Word to inspire right and true understanding leading to accomplishing His good will in His glorious way to fulfill His eternal purpose.

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 3

In our consideration of the truths found in Philippians 4:4-13, we find instruction to help us take every thought captive to obey God in Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6).

Rejoicing in the Lord despite circumstance strengthens us for a life that honors God as God, even when the road before us is rough. Finding our joy in God protects our way of viewing the situations we face, thus protecting our way of thinking about life’s challenges. Our thoughts then flow from this joy in God that trusts in Him, bringing us to respond in gentle ways that bear up under the pressure with patients, realizing the Lord’s nearness and trusting Him to guide us as He works in our lives.

Knowing that the Lord is near strengthens us when difficulty threatens our faith. God’s word reveals two ways we are to know His nearness. One is realizing that the Lord is returning and we must be ready for Him as His servants by following His will and way in our day. This understanding empowers us to keep moving forward, having minds set on our eternal relationship with Him, destined to live with Him forever. The second way we know His nearness is in trusting that He has given us His Spirit to be with us, instruct us, and empower / equip us for each challenge faced. This faith in God’s provision helps us to obey as His representatives, fulfilling His purpose, seeing challenge as opportunity to please Him. We patiently endure every difficulty as we take up the next spiritual weapon against stinking thinking that brings a fall:

“…Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. …” ~ Vs. 6-7.

Besides robbing us of our joy, leading us to respond in self-protective and hurtful ways, bringing us to forget the nearness of our God, the enemy of God loves when he can tickle our minds with anxious thoughts that raise up doubt toward God and fear of the things we see in front of us. In today’s scripture, God’s Word gives instruction regarding ways of dealing with anxiety.

First, the word “be” implies that we have a choice. We do not have to be anxious people. We can choose to be people who trust in God, thus overcoming the anxious thoughts through faith. That trust reveals itself as we seek His answers regarding the path ahead through prayer. God’s word teaches us to seek Him in faith, believing He will answer (James 1:5-8, 5:13-18; Hebrews 11:1, 6).

Trust also reveals itself in our ability to choose to be thankful people. We may not feel thankful for the situation we are in, but we can be thankful for God and all we know of Him that will have an effect on our outcome. We can be thankful for His presence and supply that will be there for us as we walk the path ahead of us. We can be thankful for the words of wisdom He gives our hearts that overcome the anxiety threatening our ability to face the day. And we can be thankful for all we will learn about Him through our journey of faith, and all He will do in growing us to be strong as people of God.

As we choose in this way to be people of faith, not given over to anxiety, God’s word promises that He will respond with an outpouring of His peace. He gives more than just a little peace. He pours it out to and through us in ways that surpass our comprehension. That peace envelops our hearts and minds, protecting us from the anxiety and fear that seeks to defeat us by making us feel weak and worthless. Choosing to push anxiety and fear away with trust in God that seeks Him and rejoices in Him empowers us to have right thoughts within, leading to right actions, flowing out of the strength of God’s sure supply.

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 2

On this journey to consider truths we need to practice, as we work to take every thought captive and bring them in line with the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6), our first divinely, powerful spiritual weapon is the possession of true joy that rests securely in the Lord. Joy in the Lord protects us from walking contrary to Him. It is not dependent on circumstance; and nothing can steal that joy away from us when we work with God in taking every thought captive to follow the example of Christ in obedience to Him, and in the likeness of His. Continuing to consider the wisdom of Philippians 4:4-13, we come to verse 5:

“…Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. …”

I see two truths here necessary to our arsenal of weapons equipping us to bring our thoughts in line with God’s ways. One is our attitude or temperament in life situations, addressed here in the call to work out of a “gentle spirit”. The classic Amplified translation defines a gentle spirit, giving other words used in translating that phrase:

“Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].”

Walking in a gentle spirit requires us to be unselfish. Consider the impact selfishness has on our thought processes. We cannot accomplish the will of God or work well with others when we care more about our own desires, needs, and comfort than we do theirs. Being unselfish equips us to work with others in harmony, as it leads us to be considerate of them, their needs, and their opinions, while bowing to the will of God.

Walking in gentleness also requires us to be forbearing. Forbearance means tolerance and restraint in the face of provocation, bearing the fruit of patience toward others. It realizes that no one is perfect, and we all have habits and ways of doing things that differ. Gentleness practices understanding patience in our ability to let others be who they are without constantly insisting we have things done our way. Forbearance is self-controlled, knowing how to motivate and influence others without belittling them.

Our ability to control our attitude and temperament greatly affects the way we think in a situation and toward others. The second thing Paul adds here to motivate us, is that we are to remember that the Lord is near. There are two potential interpretations of that. One shared in the Amplified version is that we must realize that the Lord is returning, thus, we must take care to live in a way where we are ready for Him when He gets here.

Another interpretation of the Lord’s nearness is the realization that God causes His Spirit to dwell in us, to teach us and help us live in that readiness for the soon returning Christ. Wherever we are, in whatever situation we are in, recognizing the presence of God with us and His work in us, and surrendering to that, equips our representation of Him and His interests. We bear the fruit of gentleness when we relate with others out of this realization of His presence in us through the Spirit, living in ways that reveal understanding that Jesus is returning.

People are watching, beloved. They need to see us responding to life situations in line with the nature of God at work in us through the Spirit that indwells us. Our thought life very often affects our attitude and temperament. Surrendering to the Spirit’s nudge to remember gentleness, being unselfish and considerate, while practicing forbearance toward one another, strengthens our arsenal against bad attitudes and temper flares. In this way, remembering we are His representatives, we live in readiness for His return.

Walk the Word, Receive the Promise

“For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, And it will be a memorial to the Lord, For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off” ~ Isaiah 55:12-13.

Continuing with yesterday’s focus, this promise is awesome as well. Yesterday we saw that, as we practice walking the word out into life, God’s promise instructs us that in seeking His Word, opinion, perspective on our journey and walking His instruction out, His Word lived in and through us will fulfill its purpose. Reading on in the Isaiah 55 passage God promises in today’s passage that we will go out with joy, and be led by peace as we trust His Word (Colossians 3:15-17, See in AMPC). True joy and peace are intimately linked to trust in, faith in, reliance on, and confidence in God, who always does what He says He will do. He fulfills His word.

God also promises in this passage that all of creation will rejoice over our obedience to live God’s word out. That tells me that, when we are truly and fully following God and all others shun us for it or try to discourage our course, we have a cheering section in God and all of His creation. (Luke 19:37-40)

Finally, our passage today bears a promise that took a little research to fully understand: We will see the thorn bush replaced by the cypress, and the nettle replaced by the myrtle.

Thorn bush is easy. Get pricked by a thorn, and we move away from that place in a hurry.  It is a deterrent from drawing near. Sin is thorn bushes that hinder our drawing near to God. As God removes sin from us, He is removing the thorn bush that is standing between us and the intimacy He desires for our relationship with Him.

Replacing the thorn bush with Cypress: the Cypress most often mentioned in scripture is a tree. It is open, inviting one to draw near, and it provides shade for comfort, enticing us to sit and rest under its branches for a while. It pictures a close, welcoming relationship with God.

Nettle has leaves with prickly hairs that cause an allergic sting. The sting of sin hinders our relationship with God, inflaming God against us. Sin inflames our relationships with others. Trouble and fear increases with the sting of the nettle. The allergic sting of sin comes to those who fail to align with God’s Word.

Replacing the nettle with Myrtle speaks of healing: Myrtle is one of the first NSAIDs, a pain reliever that aids against inflammation. Healing comes to hearts, relationships are restored, and strength increases for a life abundant and full. Myrtle can be used as a tea. I see a seeker of God, sipping that healing cup of tea, while enjoying the presence of Jesus in intimate relationship.

The promise of God for us who actively seek to walk in His word, is that we will find welcome as we draw near, receiving comfort and respit under the shade of His provision and healing from the pain and inflammation caused by sin: one’s own, or that of this world.

“… Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. … Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” ~ James 4:1-10.

Called to Possess: God’s Favor and Grace

“Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous—POSSESSING the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!” ~ Matthew 5:8, AMPC.

“Grace. Grace. God’s grace.” Oh how happy we are when we possess full understanding of the blessing and work of God’s grace in us.

This Amplified Classic version of Matthew 5:8 speaks of possessing the happiness of Spirit that comes from personal realization and experience of God’s favor and grace, producing purity of life. That speaks to the importance of each individual of us personally possessing true understanding of God’s grace. We possess assurance of God’s grace through understanding our life of purity in Him by the power of work of Christ Jesus, our Savior.

As people made fully pure when we receive Jesus as Savior, our lives covered by the grace of that supply, Jesus instantly makes us eternally right with God in Christ through the power of His Spirit. The death that separates us from God is destroyed and we are made alive forever in Christ. However, God also calls and equips us in this life to grow in purity as we grow our ability to follow the dictates of the Spirit, thus producing the fruit born out of a life, saved and made whole by grace. Being pure of heart leads us to produce words and deeds that are pure, revealing us as the children of God in Christ. When we fail to produce the fruit of a pure life, the gift of Christ’s purity covers our failure through grace, holding us eternally secure, while working through repentance to lead us back to a life that bears the fruit of purity.

Grace is not a license to continue as we are, living as people dictated by fleshly desires. Instead, God, through grace supplied in Christ, gives us His Holy Spirit to direct our lives as we grow in righteousness: the product of purity. A person who truly possesses grace follows the dictates of the Spirit to live righteously for conscience sake. These produce fruit in keeping with a repentance that reveals the purity of heart graciously gifted to us in Christ (Matthew 3:8; Romans 14:13-23).

Possess God’s grace, beloved, for His grace brings us to true purity of heart, mind, soul, and strength that produces God’s blessing in and through us.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. …And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach…” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 1:21-23.