Tag Archives: grace

Finding Who We Are: Part 9

Read: Hebrews 8:1-13 NASB

“For finding fault with them, He says, ” BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH; NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT…”

Jesus came to enact a new covenant with Israel. By grace, after establishing this covenant with His chosen tribes, He graciously extended His Holy Hand to us Gentiles, making us one as His covenant people.

God Himself takes us by the hand in the power of His Spirit, and walks us out of slavery to sin. It is as God speaking to us His promise to Israel, “’Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:10 NASB)

The New Covenant in Christ imparts the righteousness of God to us. He makes us to stand before Him, fully clothed and in our right mind.

“…FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.”

When we receive Christ, being filled with His Spirit, the seal of promise, we are gifted to possess the very mind of Christ.

“For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16 NASB)

The mind of Christ instructs is. With the mind of Christ comes not only the knowledge of the letter of the Law, but understanding discernment of its true intent. Our responsibility is to receive, recognize and fully possess the mind and thoughts of Christ living in us.

Remember the warning of James in chapter 1, verses 5-8?

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

As I’ve shared before, this double mindedness is the battle between the mind of our flesh and the mind of Christ within us. The New Covenant of God in Christ assures us of the Hand of God to lead us, and the mind of Christ, bringing right and true thoughts of truth that frees us INDEED.

“…AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘ KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. ” FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”” (Hebrews 8:8-12 NASB)

As the hand of God leads us and the mind of Christ frees us, the mercies of God clothes us in His own Righteousness: a deep, abiding relationship with God that embodies the very image of God. This clothing is the pure, undefiled birthday suit God intended from the beginning. Instead of hate, we dawn love, mercy, lovingkindness, compassion. Instead of unrighteous pride and arrogance, we put on garments of praise, humility, zeal for God and His ways, desire for His glory.

Besides all this, through Covenant in Christ, God stands us on the broad place of stability in Him Who is able to make us stand because He holds our hand. I can’t recall which Bible teacher pointed this out, but unlike the intent of man to train a child to one day walk on their own, God never intends us to let go of His hand. We need Him. Like a pic on Facebook said in response to the words, “Why I need God,” The man in the pic replies, “Life is a chess game. I don’t know how to play chess!”

Along with standing us on a broad place with Him, God seats us on the throne of grace in Christ, as one in His body; intimately united with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; one in thought, intent, and purpose. Thus scriptural covenant in Christ promises, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB)

We stand by remembering that we are covenant people. As such, we stand wholly united in Him as One, clinging tightly to the hand of God, seated with Christ, being in our right mind, fully clothed, and, empowered by it all, we stand firm.

A New Thought on the Lord’s Model Prayer

Matthew 6:9-13 NASB

Bear with me for a pause from Hebrews. Sharing with friends about having a bad attitude and trying to head it off, one replied, “I am working on my own attitude. I just read, “Instead of counting to 10, try saying the first 10 words of the Lord’s prayer several times.” Sounds good!”

I thought so too and began immediately! But I was led to add the next 14 words, 24 total.

“Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.”

It dawned on me as I said those beloved words, that if we truly grasp what this first part of our Lord’s outline says, we are set for Life!

God’s Kingdom and His will is to Father us. That has always been true. His is not the role of any old dad, though. We can take the descriptions of all the greatest dad’s, add all we can imagine in the makeup of dad-greatness, and we will never come near to understanding and grasping that of our Daddy-God.

Not only is He truly the Father who knows (and does) best, but He is GOD. Our God is higher and greater than we can fathom, the one we can run to day or night. Even running into His throne room unannounced, with no greater desire than to sit on His proverbial lap and be near Him for a bit, we will always find His scepter ready to receive us in mercy and love, as the king did for Esther.

Beloved, I believe this is the greatest truth about our God that there is. His will and desire is and has always been that we recognize and honor Him as our true Father, our One True God, the Good Shepherd we look to and follow. That is Who He is. Think of all that those role-descriptive words imply and know God. When we grasp hold of this truth and choose Him, desiring all He has for us, the remainder of the prayer is unnecessary, for the rest of the outline is fulfilled in Him.

He is Daddy God, our Shepherd, ready, willing, and able to tend our every need to perfection, according to all He knows is best. He is also King, ordering our steps and giving us purpose. We can run with that, having no need to pray the middle, because His will is to take care of us, leading, guiding, and directing our path to His full supply. His desire for us far exceeds all we can fathom, deeper than our greatest thoughts.

When we can trust Him enough to be still and know God, we can skip to the end and worship His glory, honor, and praiseworthy Presence with us, fully satisfied in and by Him. Is this not the picture given us in Holy Writ of Heaven’s splendor?

Revelation 21-22

Finding Who We Are: Part 6a

In Part 3 of this series, we covered Christ’s Priesthood, how His sufferings were purposed by God to grow Him in His ability as a Priest on His way to possessing His place as the eternal High Priest. We spoke of His experience being an example to us who are called to the priesthood in Christ. We, too, earn the right to share our comfort with those in need through the experiences of suffering we possess.

Today, looking at chapter 5 in Hebrews, we begin the journey to uncover it’s instruction on the priestly role we are called to possess, as exemplified by Christ. Breaking it down, we discover:

~ Our inherited appointment (covered today)

~ some of the duties of our priestly role (beginning today and continuing tomorrow)

“The High Priest is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.”

Jesus gave Himself, once for all, as the sacrificial Lamb, never having to offer such sacrifice again. He was called of God to this role, and through Him is our call.

Since there is no longer the need of a sacrifice for sin, our role as priests unto God is now to offer gifts and sacrifices of praise with thanksgiving for the freedom the gift of Jesus provides us.

Jesus “deals gently with us” out of His understanding of the battle in human flesh. As we learn and grow in our priestly role through lessons of suffering, we learn mercy and grace towards others who struggle with sinful flesh.

“No one takes the honor of the Priesthood to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.”

Jesus is blessed with the call of God to His Priestly role “in the order of Melchizedek.” Melchizedek was King of Salem and Priest of The One True God, said to be without beginning and without end. Jesus, too, is from before the beginning of time and without end. He, too, is King and Priest. He, however, exceeds Melchizedek because He is also God Incarnate.

Jesus being High Priest forever, we are called and equipped through our union with Him to that order in the line of the King and Priest of Israel, of the lineage of Judah in Christ Jesus, the Son of David and Son of God. Through our High Priest we have our being as the sons and daughters of God, The Father, being of the Royal court, of the Holy heritage and priestly order.

We will stop here today. Next post will continue from here to look at more in Chapter 5 of Hebrews, where we find more clues of our priestly heritage and responsibilities through Christ.

Hebrews 5:1-14 NASB

Whose Prisoner We Are

“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus…” (Philemon 1)

The thing that jumps out to me as I read Philemon is this understanding that Paul, captive in a Roman prison for the cause of Christ, considered himself a prisoner OF CHRIST, not of Rome. He knew why he was in prison, because God warned him and gave him clear understanding of the purpose for this season. He knew that he would not find release until the purpose of God was fulfilled. He also knew that he was there at his own choice in following God’s will, not at Roman or Jewish design.

He had a chance to choose to leave, twice – or at least three times, actually, as God seemed to give him warning with opportunity to choose to turn away from Jerusalem more than once, and as Roman authorized judges saw he was innocent and planned to release him. But he chose to walk the path God told him of, he called for the judgment of Caesar. THE POWER OF THE ENEMY TRYING TO DESTROY THE WORK OF GOD THROUGH PAUL WAS MADE IMPOTENT BY PAUL’S SURRENDER TO GOD’S WILL FOR HIS LIFE JOURNEY. He trusted that it was God, Himself, dictating His prison time.

Beloved, what situation are you in where you feel trapped, imprisoned, helpless? What situation are you walking into, knowing God’s call and refusing the naysayer? Could it be that surrendered trust in God, seeing self as the prisoner of Jesus alone, might well be the key to defeating the work of Satan?

If we truly believe that God is Sovereign in all, we have to know that whatever imprisons us is allowed by Him for a purpose of His own will and way. He is Whose prisoner we are: as we, who belong to Him, live this life with assurance that He cares for us affectionately and watchfully (1 Peter 5:7 AMPC).

God has purpose for all He does or allows. Ours is to trust and to seek Him in it, so as to cooperate and partner with Him in fulfilling that purpose. Just a slight change in view point, a clearer understanding of God’s power at work though our confined state, can well be the shift we need to come out victorious in Christ, bearing a testimony beyond comprehension.

“… I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. …” (Philemon 1:1-25 NASB (vs. 6))

A Standard Set

“…When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19 NKJV)

I can understand the heart of a woman’s pain when watching a man she knows as “rapist” from her earlier days, seeing him very likely to be raised up to a position of authority in our highest court system. It must be excruciating to her. And more excruciating is the issue of not being able to prove her accusations to those same courts. But proof is necessary, and righteously so. Thus I feel her pain and I comprehend the struggle.

At the same time, I can comprehend the pain of a man who may not believe he is guilty in the way accused; or who has so greatly changed since then so as to no longer be that person. Fortunately, for him, we live in a society of law that lays the burden of proof on the shoulders of the accuser, counting the accused innocent until proven guilty. And I, for one, am very grateful for our system of law. It is, by the way, biblical, the scriptures making it clear that there must be at least two or three witnesses to a crime.

I am writing today, not to tell any woman they shouldn’t feel or possess their pain, nor to tell them they should not bring their accusation when their hurt was from so many years past. God knows your pain and He can lead you to have strength to stand up to the accused. But I am writing to share how God has so graciously freed me from my pain; the frequency of these cases constantly drawing me into a grateful heart toward my God who set me free indeed.

My experience is different from many of the women coming forward today against men; like that of Bill Cosby. I was not, to my knowledge, drugged. In cases where a man drugs a woman to have his way with her, that is RAPE in one of the ugliest forms. Though I was not maliciously drugged, I was drunk out of my skull, and some of my drunkenness was helped by the boy who raped me.

I was somewhere between mid-16 to mid-17 years old. Though I professed Christ as Savior at the age of 10, I was not raised up to know how to follow Him as Lord, nor to know the importance and freedom-producing purpose of doing so. On that fateful night in my life, I was terribly upset about something I do not even recall the details of now. Instead of turning to Christ for His help in the pain, I had opportunity to turn to liquor. And turn I did.

I chugged a huge gulp of wine, climbed on the back of my car in our secluded party spot, one of my gal-friends beside me, and was immediately surrounded by five or six boys. Someone nearby handed me some type of another liquor; not sure who as I was already feeling the effects of the wine. I took a drink and passed it to the next person.

Somewhere along the way, one of the boys got the others to hand the bottle to me every other turn. I was so drunk, that the details given to you now, to this point in my experience, are all I remember until numerous hours later when I began to sober up. I was passed out drunk in the back seat of my car most of the night, according to friends.

The next day my girlfriends told me what all happened that night. It included me winding up in the back seat with that boy who, in my memory, started the liquor coming my way every other time; which some might say was me being maliciously drugged. That’s a heart issue judgment best left with God.

I don’t know if anyone tried to stop me from getting in the backseat with him. I’m sure if they did, I didn’t cooperate. But I do know that no one fought that boy away from me. Thus, in the sense that I was incapacitated in my ability to make a knowing and wise decision, I was raped that night, the only memory of which that I have is the flash of his face over me.

Despite my lack of memory of the incident, I have never felt that I had no role in what happened. In the sense of culpability, I have always considered myself most to credit for the assault. You see, I knew the results of drunkenness from watching my alcoholic Mom. I knew better than to drink like that. If I didn’t understand its dangers before that night, I certainly did after, and never again drank that way.

I believe God led me to do four things immediately following that night that absolutely freed me from the pain of the experience. That incident has never stunted or harmed my ability to move on in life as a result of these actions.

  • First, I took responsibility for my role in the travesty, owning it, and I repented before my Lord for my actions that led to a drunken state that removed from me the ability to choose good over evil; and I repented the sexual sin that resulted because of my vulnerability in my drunken state, which I deliberately chose for myself. No one forced me to get drunk.
  • Second, I faced my rapist and, after apologizing to him for my part in allowing myself to get into such a state that I would do something with him I never would have done sober, I was able to leave his role in the rape with God for Him to handle. God empowered a forgiveness toward him for my own sake, so bitterness nor any other enemy to my mental health and well-being was able to bind me up. The incident had no talons with which to get hold on me.
  • Third, I both apologized to my friends for things I did that I do not remember doing, and I forgave them without their asking for it, for not fully recognizing my vulnerable state and fighting for me.
  • Fourth, I forgave myself for getting out of control like that and I learned from it.

Some would say that I should have turned the boy in, but truly, it did not occur to me that the incident was RAPE until years later, when we started seeing cases like this bombard our TV screens. In my day the rule was that drunken is as drunken does. I just thought of it as a night of stupidity and loss.

I don’t recall the name of that boy, not that I would share it here if I did. And I barely remember what he looked like then. I would not recognize that boy, now a man, today, unless he came up to me and told me who he was. Even if I did, I would not bring charges against him, not because I see myself as better than women who do bring a charge against a rapist long past, nor because I would be afraid to, but because, for me, it is done, settled, finished. God has it. He is The Judge and He will tend to it.

The only way I would ever even think about bearing witness to his actions in a court of law is as a witness in a case where more current rape victims bring charges against him: to help them make a stronger case, showing a long held lifestyle of raping women to this day. My hope is that God worked in his life and that he never again participated in such horrific acts against women. Until I see otherwise, he has nothing to fear from me.

Beloved, God raises up a standard over His children in our battle against evil, an evil powered by the demonic. For me, it was a standard of owning and repenting my role in the evil done. It was forgiving those who even inadvertently participated in the evil, including myself. And it is (and was) understanding of God’s grace and mercy that equips me to let the past go, and move on to the joy of a life worth living.

The Standard we have over us in Christ is Jesus Himself, His blood that sets us free from sin’s death, whether our own sin or that of others done toward us. I thank God for His mercy poured out to me. And I pray the freeing power of Mercy’s grace toward those hurt so badly by the evil sin of rape.

© Darlene Ingram Davis: 09-28-18

The Reignited Gift

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NASB)

I’ve been in God’s Word to some degree for over 50 years, since childhood; studying and teaching it with intimate fervor for at least 40 of those years, and it never ceases to amaze me how the Spirit can bring a “Well, dah!” out of me. This passage did it for me this morning.

I’ve always read this with thought of “gift” being that of teaching, or evangelism, or leadership, or whatever Timothy’s undergirding service-gift might be. Today I read it with that start of realization, recognizing that Paul is talking about the gift of the Spirit, Himself. He is saying, “Kindle afresh The Spirit of God within you.”

You see, something was raising up great fear in Timothy, such as to quench the Spirit’s freedom to work in His life. That fear was most likely his youth and the challenge of teaching with authority those he saw as older and wiser, leaders in the community. Paul reminds him that the Spirit in Him bridges that gap, equipping him to boldly and confidently speak and teach the truths of God with power.

Beloved, what quenches God’s Spirit in you? Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you. How? Through trust that believes God; faith that realizes unseen truth; and surrender that submits to Him, even when it doesn’t make sense to our finite thinking.

Trust in the Lord today, Beloved, and do the good He sets before you, working out of the power of His sure Presence within you. Go forth in Him and prosper the day.

A Time to Disarm

“So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”” (John 18:11 NASB)

A man, born blind, suffered that stigma for many years before meeting Jesus. Upon seeing the man, the disciples asked, “Was it the sin of this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus corrected a false understanding that all who are sick are there because of some sin committed, saying, “It was neither.” Then He stated the true purpose, “It is so that God May be glorified in the Son.” (John 9:1-12)

Lazarus was allowed to die that he might be resurrected to the glory of God (John 11). Jesus warned the disciples that they would be dragged into court on account of Him, but not to worry, for it was opportunity for their testimony to the glory of God. (Luke 21:12-19; Acts 5:33-42)

Jesus walked through life with clear understanding of His purpose in life. He knew when He could fearlessly walk out of a bad situation because it was not yet His time, and He knew when to willingly walk into it, knowing the suffering would work the glory and fulfill the purpose of the Father.

Even today, for us, there are times and situations we are not to fight against. Times come when God’s Spirit inspires us to know this hardship is for God’s glory and purpose. Nothing we can do will get us out of it, because God is planning to take us through it.

Not only might Father take us through a thing rather than deliver us from it, but He may not reveal where we are going beyond the next step. Even if God reveals the end product to us, we must take care to not pick up the gauntlet and run our own path, trying to get there. We will waste precious time and energy, and may well rob the Father of His full glory.

We must note something here. Before Jesus told Peter to stop fighting, that He must drink the cup God has for Him to drink, Jesus spent at least an hour crying out for the Father to remove it, if possible. Then, assured He must drink, God strengthened Him to walk through all He faced. It is not sin to seek deliverance, but it is vital that we willingly receive His strengthening to walk through and drink our God given cup.

Take a new look at your situation, Beloved, and ask the Father if you need to put down your proverbial sword and walk bravely into this opportunity to see His glory. Watch the steps He leads you to, and get ready for a harvest.

Link to all Scriptures referenced

They Know Not What They Do

“These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.” (John 16:3 NASB)

Do you ever wonder what’s going on in a world gone crazy, amazed at how people are behaving? Jesus reminds that such things are done by those who do not truly know the Father or His Son.

Why are we so shocked to see people of a lost world acting worldly? Scripture teaches that evil in the world will continue to increase, being at its worst as we draw near to the Day of Christ’s return. Things are crazy and people out of control because we draw ever nearer to that day. The enemy of God gains ever-increasing control as people refuse God, and as hearts grow cold and unable to truly love.

What should we do?

– Keep our lamps lit through the continual filling of God’s Spirit and stand ready.

– Draw ever closer to God.

– Be ready to bear witness of His grace and to speak wisdom, truth, righteousness, love, and peace wherever we can.

– Don’t waste breath on those who will not hear, nor cast the pearls of God’s Word before swine.

– Keep your heart from hate and your steps from foolishness.

– Remember that bad company corrupts good morals.

– Live the Light of God in all you do.

– And remember the true battle, while involving humans possessed and deceived, is a spiritual one against an evil enemy army. (Ephesians 6:12 NASB)

– Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith.

That Great Day is dawning, Beloved. Stand ready!

LIVE!

“… “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. IN THAT DAY YOU WILL KNOW that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. ….” (John 14:16-31 NASB)

One reason for the resurrection of Jesus and His 40 days of visitations was to assure the disciples that He was still with them and in them through the power and provision of His Spirit. Still today, we are each, individually one with Father and Son by the power of the indwelling Spirit of Triune God. And in our fully living that out, we are one with each other, the prayer of the Christ fulfilled (John 17). We have the mind of Christ and the heart of the Father within us because of this miraculous union.

I have long believed this truth, yet never as I do now. Father has spent the last few years calling me to deeper, more intimate understanding of this reality: that “I”, ““I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer “I”, I who live, but Christ lives in me (also); and the life which “I”, I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved “ME” and gave Himself up for “ME”.” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

The hour Jesus cried out for the cup of His suffering to be removed, I believe one thing heaviest on His heart was the understanding that, in the instant all our sin was piled on His Shoulders, He would, for the first time ever, know life without the Father’s Presence. He took all our sin with the destitute abandonment of a God who cannot abide evil, so we, NOW, can enter into our eternal unity in the Spirit.

No temptation can overtake the one who abides in The Triune, Who abides in us. Holding our Abode as of most vital importance and greatest treasure is our way of escape from sins grip. Though we may slip or stumble and need our feet washed, we will not go down for the count and fall away from victory in Christ.

So enter into the Beloved, sweet friend, then go forth and conquer with every breath of your days in Christ. Nothing can steal that joy from us, the joy of unity with the Eternal, when we live and breathe it in our now-day.

ABIDE!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Old Church Choir

Zach Williams

http://youtu.be/-cRh8NqmXoE

What I Do Now

“… So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” …” (John 13:1-11 NASB)

There is a lot going on here as we watch God incarnate gird loins with towel and go to work doing the job normally given the least of slaves. He removed clothing because it is a dirty job, washing mud and more off the feet of those He served out of love.

The main point we tend to focus on here is the fact that we too easily soil ourselves while walking through life in a lost and dying world. Jesus graciously and lovingly keeps our feet clean. That is a glorious truth for which we must be grateful. But I want to look at something else I see that is going on here.

Do you think Peter was the only one Jesus talked with as He washed the feet of His disciples? I don’t. What I see here is our Lord, taking time to spend with each one as Jesus washed their feet.

He knew each of them: the way they think and react to stress; the fears and insecurities they each struggle with; their beliefs, hopes, and dreams; and He knew the obstacles ahead for them. Jesus chose this time of personal, willing, and loving service for one on one time of ministry to the deep needs of these loved ones, getting them ready for things to come.

Our church does this from time to time. Participants are given time, both in the chair and in the towel. It is a glorious opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by our church family.

Whether we dawn a towel of service, or share a tea time, Beloved, we are to wash proverbial feet as we go through our days, pointing out truth that encourages and lifts to higher ground.

Fit – IN Christ

“And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”” (Mark 1:7-8 NASB – http://bible.com/100/mrk.1.7-8.nasb)

Boy! What a statement, Beloved. John, the baptist, understanding the person and purpose of the coming Christ, overwhelmed by his own flesh nature before Him, pronounces himself unfit to even minister to Jesus’s feet.

The lowest of servants were given the nasty task of cleaning feet at the end of the day. The feet were covered by whatever muck and mire walked through that day. It was a dirty job, cleaning people’s stinky feet. So when John says he is unfit to even unlace the shoes of the Christ, he is referring to himself as being lower in worth than the slave charged with feet cleaning.

Then Jesus came: The Propitiation for our sin, and by that gracious love, He pronounces the true believer, “Fit!”

After reading this passage the morning I wrote this blog, I was still thinking about it when I sat on my stool before my husband to put his socks and shoes on for him. Since his hip replacement surgery, years ago, it has been my joyful task to help him dress his feet. As I bent over to kiss the tops of his beautiful, hard working feet, BLESSing them for this day, thought hit me, “What we do to the least of these, we do to Christ.”

Since Johnny’s cancer entered our journey in life, the weight gain from the treatments makes it hard for him to clip his nails. To me, clipping another’s toenails is the worst of jobs. I hate doing it, but willingly do the best I can out of love for him. With this revelation of Johnny’s feet being the feet of Christ to me, the task is much more palatable to my soul.

Thank you, Father, for opportunity to bless Jesus and serve You through our care for one another. In Christ, Amen!

Reigning in Life

“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17 NASB – http://bible.com/100/rom.5.17.nasb)

Think about what this says, Beloved, for it is freedom for us. With the fall of mankind, sin took over flesh to rule through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.

When we surrender to Jesus, He frees us to reign with Him in Life: this life as well as in the eternal; the abundant life He desires for us.

Reliance on grace sufficient and the righteousness of Christ, alive and well within us, empowers us to stand firm against the flesh, the world, and the demonic, to reign with His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and SELF-control that is sufficient against sin in Christ’s sufficiency.

Take up the crown of life God gives you today, and, trusting God’s grace, go forth to the victorious life Jesus bought for you.

Clothed and Ready: Part 2

“Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, WHO KEEP THEIR CLOTHING READY so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” (Revelation 16:15 NLT)

Yesterday we began looking at the clothing we are to wear, so we are protected, never having to feel exposed and ashamed. We started with the dawning of the cloak of Christ: compassion, kindness, love, peace, gratitude; these being just a few of the colors found in that garment as defined in Colossians 3. Today, in part 2, we look at the armor of God, which is vital in protecting us from the head hung in shame.

In looking at the Armor of God, making sure we have it firmly in place, let us break down to its parts, Ephesians 6:10-18, which outlines this God-provided Armor:

“In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides].”

The cloak of Christ is a picture that reveals our union with God in Christ. We must be fully clothed in that grace, which is the provision of His strength poured into our lives. God’s grace is the power for our lives of victory. Reliance on God’s all sufficient grace is vital for a life of victory.

“PUT ON GOD’S WHOLE ARMOR [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere.”

Remember who our true enemy is and, standing firm against that evil, take your stance on truth, righteousness , and the still more excellent way of love. In any discord, there’s an evil force out to bring division and fell the heart, mind, and soul of those who call on God.

Remember when Jesus told The parable of the seed. He makes clear that the enemy of God tries to steal the seed or stop its growth. He brings many down through temptation, and the troubles and worries of this life. We truly need to realize where the true battle lies and then arm ourselves for victory.

“Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins”

Recognizing truth is the belt that holds all in proper position. The belt in the armor of a warrior is used to hold the scabbard for easy access to weapons of defense, and it is used to tuck any lose tails of clothing out of the way so the warrior is not tripped up. God’s Truth does likewise for the warrior of God, empowering our righteous use of our sword and keeping articles of stumbling out of our path.

“and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,”

The breastplate of God’s Armor on us is righteousness, defined in our AMPC version as integrity, moral rectitude, and right standing with God.

Integrity is deeper than honesty. Where honesty may point out or admit to a wrong, integrity refuses any partnership with any evil thing that dishonors God and His Holy Name. It always does right out of honor and loyalty to God.

“And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.”

As I consider the shodding of the feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace, I am reminded of the encouragement given that, when taken before the courts, it is opportunity to trust God to reveal Himself through a testimony given in due season. We are always to remember Whose we are and the main purpose of our life in Christ.

This is what Jesus did as He trusted God when His life was threatened before it was His time. He walked out of harms way, unscathed. The Spirit can inspire us as to our times, giving us courage to speak the truth of the gospel, even in the midst of opposition.

“Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].”

The name and sacrifice of Jesus covers us. No true or lasting harm can come to those who faithfully persevere in this Holy Abode. Our eternal lives cannot be stolen away by God’s enemy, as we are shielded by His saving grace. Thus, Jesus and His disciples behind Him walked fearlessly and blamelessly to their appointed times.

“And take the helmet of salvation”

The enemy of God loves to attack us through our thought life. Remembering Whose we are puts God’s helmet over our heads for our protection against his assaults, shielding our minds from the fiery darts of our accuser.

“and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God.”

Knowledge that believes God and trusts His fulfillment of every stroke and letter of His Word is the double edged sword we wield. Arm yourself all throughout your day through reading, studying, and meditation on His Word at every opportunity.

The calling and equipping of my ministry through Ponderings is set to aid in your readiness in the fight. We seek to teach, encourage, and strengthen the soldier in the army of God through the sharing of His Word and through our most vital weapon and resource avenue: prayer.

“Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people).”

The Cloud

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

Heart Check: Hope Rightly Focused

“But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” (Psalms 146:5 NLT)

Take a minute for a heart check, Beloved. Where is your Hope? If we are not careful, our hope can slip away from God and onto our own ability to have faith. People unrighteously accuse, “Well, it hasn’t happened because your faith is not strong enough.” Jesus said, “with a mustard seed of faith, you can move a mountain.” The smallest seed of a faith planted in the right soil where it is capable of growth is all it takes. That soil is totally rested on God trusting Him.

Hope can slip to land on our idea of what the best outcome should look like. More still is that hope can truly be settled on our own strengths and abilities; or on that of someone or something else we see as hope’s solution.

True hope in God rests on Him with understanding of His care. It trusts His sovereignty. Trust’s hope does not put God in a box made up of our expectations and ability to dream.

God’s Word says that He, by His power that is at work within us, “is able to carry out His purpose and do SUPERABUNDANTLY, FAR OVER and ABOVE ALL that we dare ask or think, INFINITELY BEYOND our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams” (Ephesians 3:20 AMPC).

We cannot even begin to think of the great things of God. When we limit our hope to our expectations, we can miss what God is doing. Because our eyes are set to see what we think will be, we can fail to follow God to the abundance He truly has for us. We essentially box Him into our finite thought, and when we refuse the path of His leading as a result, we put a lid on the glory to be seen.

So, where is your hope, Beloved. Because of God’s grace, “Rethink Possible” (ATnT commercial).

Visual Acuity

“Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; FOR MY EYES HAVE SEEN the King, the LORD of hosts.”” (Isaiah 6:5, NASB)

God is perfect and His ways are perfect, perfectly fulfilling every intent and purpose.

We’ve talked a lot about all that God is: love, good, light, etc. All His thoughts are pure, His Words are Life, His actions and reactions are dictated by all He is, being intent on pure and eternal purpose. Beloved, God is all that we aspire to and need for ourselves and from ourselves. It is only as we draw near to see Him as He is that we can be the people of His desire and design.

Here through Isaiah, we see that the clearer our view of God, in all His glory, the more we realize our own inadequacies. Only then can we bow to seek Him in ways that make us the people of His design.

Thus, it is vital that we, who are called by His Name, draw ever closer to see Him as He is. Paul tells us, “Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34, NASB)

We are intended to draw near to Him, to see Him as He is so we may become like Him, His image bearers. This is vital, for through Isaiah’s testimony, I discern that, only to the degree that we see God as He is, can we fully discern our lack of godly likeness. People need to see God to know there need of Him, and that is the purpose of God’s desire for us as His image bearers.

We are called to be His revelators, making Him and His ways known by living in stark contrast to those of this world, so those watching can see God in us, recognize their destitute estate, and bow in recognition of their own need of Him. What they need is not constant taps on the head, beating them down for things they can’t fully see without first seeing what can be. That just makes us look like them, being judgmental, unloving, uncaring. They need to see clearly the pure Love, bright Light, true Good that gives visual acuity for realizing their own destitute need of One True God. And we are the portrait God chooses to reveal Himself through.

Take stock, Beloved, draw near, and move out where God’s Light in you is visible to all. Distinguish yourself from the world, so those trapped there may have light for their path to saving grace.

Kingdom Currency

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23 NASB)

This verse compares the “weightier provisions” of God’s Law with the currency of the tithe. I am struck by the NASB’s wording regarding these weightier things, calling them God’s provision for us. The combination of wording and the object of comparison makes one think that the currency of God’s Kingdom is the weightier things of God’s Law: justice, mercy, faithfulness, love, righteousness, grace, goodness, etc.

The actions of the faith lay up treasures in heaven for us, Beloved. God has given these to us for our use. These are not to be hoarded, but produce the greatest treasure when liberally spent / applied to life.

Where do you need to overcome fleshly tendencies and spend a little Kingdom currency today? Hear that! The register of the Father, chiming heavenly sounds of rejoicing with each deposit to your account.

“”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)

Awestruck and Set Free!

“When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him.” Luke‬ ‭5:8-9‬ ‭NLT‬‬ (Read Luke 5:1-11 NLT)

This passage, along with others, like Isaiah 6, reveal to us two things that happen when a person experiences the very PRESENCE of God. One is that we are AWESTRUCK by His glory. The other is that we are brought to repentance by the contrast in character we realize when we draw near to God.

When we draw near to God, we are humbled before Him, thus, we bow down. When we experience His essence, we want more of Him and less of “me”. When we draw near to God, we automatically resist the devil and all that is not God, finding in that surrender the Victory of Christ and the burning coal of freedom from sin.

“Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips. Yet I have seen the King, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. He touched my lips with it and said, “See, this coal has touched your lips. Now your guilt is removed, and your sins are forgiven.”” Isaiah 6:5-7 NLT

Be in awe of the Father. Let the burning coal of the altar of Christ touch you for cleansing. Be sanctified and, set apart in Christ, go forth into the purpose of God for you, filled with and empowered by His Spirit Flame.

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.