Tag Archives: grace

The Gift

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭NASB

I have always read this with thought that Paul is talking about the kindling afresh of a specific ministry gift: teaching, prophesy, etc. But today, as I look more closely at the original language, I realize Paul is talking about the gift of receiving the Spirit Himself, with the entire ministry of that God-Presence in me and you as in Timothy.

Thus, Paul is saying, kindle afresh the “gift of God” – the work of the Spirit who gifts us with grace (spiritual power) to do all God calls us to, without fear: that work of God that pours forth in response to our faith to believe in, trust in, and obey God.

Kindling that relationship afresh requires our constant and consistent work of surrender to the work of the Spirit in us. It is seeking God’s revelation for ways we quench the work of God’s Spirit in us and sincere repentance for those practices. Following that is constant effort to not quench Spirit’s influence and function within us, realizing that He is the unifying work of God that makes us one with Father and Son. It is constant feeding of-on relationship with the living, breathing, life giving Spirit, who imparts to us the power, provision, ability, specific gifting, & successful ministry of God in us. Kindle afresh our Spirit union.

Father God, thank You. Please reveal to me habits that quench Your freedom to work Your power in me. Forgive me and kindle afresh Your Spirit ministry and reign in me. In Jesus, amen.

Planned for Destiny

‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:24-28‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God has determined our appointed times and the boundaries of our habitation, putting us in this life at this time in history for a purpose. He has a plan and a destiny for us.

Discovering His planned destiny for self requires us to first walk out His purpose in developing the habit of seeking Him. He desires us to seek Him as if, perhaps, we might actually feel around for Him and find Him, knowing that He is not far from each one of us.

It is in Him that we live and move and exist, and it is by His grace and provision that we discover and fulfill our God ordained destiny. He is waiting for you and for me.

“You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, SO THAT you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:9-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Appropriated by Faith

“However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” – ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:16-17‬ ‭NASB

“God’s Word is always true whether people believe it or not, but without faith, the Word will not be activated.” (Patricia King)

I don’t like the word “activate” when it comes to God’s Word. The word “activate” gives faith a power it doesn’t have. God’s Word was activated the instant it left Him, and IT WILL accomplish its purpose because of Him. It is working all around us and even in us, whether or not we believe it.

But faith does APPROPRIATE God’s Word in our lives: possessing faith to believe, we open up to the effectiveness of God’s Word in us. And it doesn’t take much faith to invite God to have His way in our lives. Jesus said it only takes a mustard seed of faith. The smallest seed of faith that is capable of growth opens our lives to God.

We don’t power God’s work. He powers ours as even the possession of faith is given by Him (Romans 12:3). He portions out faith to us as He intends, granting us power to believe. It is our responsibility to receive and use it for His glory as good stewards in walking His Word out in life by faith that believes God.

As we accept the faith God’s Word raises up in us and stop fighting against it, God’s Word enlivens us, His Spirit gets a foothold, and our lives begin to align with Him.

“The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you.” – ‭‭Luke‬ ‭17:5-6‬ ‭NASB

“What are you trusting God for today?”

A friend, sensing God’s lead to do so, asked our group this question this morning: “What are you trusting God for today?”

God and I were talking about this very thing between 4:20 and 6:20 AM. After watching a video a friend sent, concern for my own living and breathing health came on me.

When I woke up at 4:20, a tune was tumbling through my brain that I didn’t recognize at that moment. Finally, after laying there awhile, just listening to the incessant tune, not really thinking about anything, I asked God what on earth was keeping me awake, and why this tune is flowing through me over and over. “What are You wanting me to realize?”

He helped me discern that I was worrying about my life because of the decision to take that vaccine I did not have peace about. I had peace in the decision to take it, once I truly asked God’s opinion-direction and knew I had it. I trust my God and His will for me, but I still don’t trust the vaccine, or more truly, the people leading us to it.

The video pointed out concerns about the vaccine, which I’ve heard before, but this one made a more clear case outlining the causes for concern. It made me distrust the vaccine and those making and pushing it still more, and that made me ask God to confirm the works of my hands in my truly hearing from and following Him in my decision.

Then I recognized the tune: that Big Daddy Weave version of Trust and Obey.

My God is trustworthy, despite the plots, plans, and fouled attempts of fleshly beings. What man intends for evil, God means for good. He will amaze us as we see how He uses our obedience to follow and trust Him.

So, I rest in His capable hands knowing that it is God who gives life, breath, and all things. He is the One who determines our appointed times (seasons, opportunities, epochs) and the boundaries of our habitation. We are not where we are by mistake. God has a purpose and plan, and He calls us to trust and obey Him who faithfully directs our steps and determines our paths. (Acts 17:24-28)

How about you? What are you trusting God for today?

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:5‬ ‭NASB

Fearless Ministers of Reconciliation

Yesterday’s post titled “Without Regret” ended with James 5:19-20:

“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

As I reread that verse, my heart gasped with realization. What better way to stop people from understanding their absolute need of God than to make talk of sin irrelevant. Making sure everybody feels good about themselves to the point of their being unable to recognize or acknowledge their own sin, much less to know their need of God’s saving grace, is an enemy tactic: a lie to make people feel they are good enough, having no need of mercy.

In a world where it’s difficult to broach the subject of sin and the need of a Savior, how much more difficult is it in environs where sin is no longer acknowledged, and talk of the sin nature is considered a negative mindset and an insult to one’s character.

With that came thought of this scripture:
“When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand. But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.” Ezekiel‬ ‭33:8-9‬ ‭NASB

Old Testament, yes, but it still makes me cringe for the number of times I let fear stop me from speaking to someone regarding their need of the Savior. How many will God hold me responsible for in my failure to speak of sin and the saving grace available to us. Now, I don’t believe we lose our salvation, but we do put a rift in our relationship with God through disobedience, and we do lose rewards that would be credited to our treasure in Heaven.

In Christ, we are charged with the ministry of reconciliation. God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ, and through Him, escape the wrath of God’s death penalty to obtain eternal life in Christ. We cannot make that clear to people without there being an understanding of sin, what it is, and how it separates us from God.

“… Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. ….” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:1-6, 8-21‬ ‭NASB

Reconciliation requires us to receive forgiveness for sin, which requires admitting we are sinners in need of the covering of mercy’s grace found in Christ. The enemy of God blinds the eyes of people who refuse to address sin.

We are called of God through Christ to be His instrument for reconciliation, which requires us to address the sin nature and define sin for the sinner in need of the Savior. When we as Christians refuse to address sin issues, we prove ourselves to be sinners, condoning sin with our silence, and making self a stumbling block to those who follow our example, and to those who remain blinded to the reality of the sin nature.

We are called to make God known by lightning up the evil hidden in dark places and by being salt that permeates all we touch with all that God is: His righteousness alive in us; His love pouring through us; His merciful grace freeing us from old ways to the new He bears out in us; His truth separating fact from fiction.

Therefore, Beloved in Christ,
“Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:34‬ ‭NASB

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:6-13‬ ‭NASB

Without Regret

“Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Jesus, Matthew‬ ‭18:15‬ ‭NASB

It appears to me in these days, that it is not considered kosher to speak of things God considers to be sin. It’s considered negative and unpopular to speak of sin or the sin nature. It makes people feel bad about themselves, which is unacceptable in a feel-good society. It’s not easy to address sin issues with people today, just as it was difficult for Paul, who shares this fact with the Corinthians; but his experience shows that it is profitable when received properly, as God desires.

“For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭7:8-10‬ ‭NASB

Addressing sin issues in this world is seen as insulting, it makes people uncomfortable – as it should, and instead of recognizing the person pointing out the issue as speaking God’s judgment in agreement with His Word, the insulted one sees the speaker as being judgmental. We allow feelings of insult to keep us from asking God if what the speaker is talking about is true of us. We fail to recognize our sin nature, and seek God to lead us to repentance that turns from sin to align with Him and become as He is, bearing His image into this world. But to God, sin is a dead serious issue, and we are called to help one another recognize the pit we are in and, if possible, give a hand up from that pit.

The preacher, standing in for our pastor today, spoke of his memory of preaching to his stuffed animals as a young child. The desire and call to preach has always been in him. I have a similar memories. The first thing I remember after accepting Jesus as Savior, at about 10 years of age, is sharing Jesus and the need of repentance with a friend on the next day. Another vivid memory is of being the Bible teacher for our kid’s club, sharing scripture and teaching on things God calls “sin” or “righteousness”. It is in me, and I must faithfully speak warning to the heart that walks contrary to God.

Scripture does not focus on just righteousness, it contrasts righteousness with sin. Contrast produces understanding. I.e., we can’t fully know love without a comprehension of hate.

I know how hard it is to hear and receive such warnings. Sin is in all of us, and I’ve had to ask God if a sin warned against was truly in me. He has used faithful friends to pull me out of pits. Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what I think of you or you, me. We can believe we see an issue with sin as defined and judged by God, in self or another, and be wrong. We can think the person seeing the issue in us is wrong when they are truly seeing clearly. We don’t know the heart like God does. We don’t even truly know our own hearts, either beating ourselves up with harsh self-evaluation or by refusing to receive truth. Thus it is vital that, when a preacher seems to be talking straight to us or a friend takes time to warn us, that we ask God’s opinion and seek His truth with a heart that is ready to hear, receive, and repent.

Don’t fear or ignore the voice God uses to call you out on a sin habit in this life, Beloved. Let it lead you to needed repentance. Fear, instead, being called out for sin when the end of days stands us before the judgment seat of God, where we will find it too late for repentance. Thank those who love you enough to reach a helping hand out with hope of keeping you from that fiery pit. And give God glory for His saving grace reaching out to us through Jesus, even while we are still sinners at heart.

“My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you strays from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that the one who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James‬ ‭5:19-20‬ ‭NASB

Stand Firm

Jesus was not afraid to offend those leading others away from truth and righteousness. He, who is example to all who hear, stood firm on righteousness; He spoke truth out of love that desired to protect His own, and out of desire to win some snared by deception. He spoke with the authority that comes from assurance of His facts, and He did not apologize for the offense the hearer took from His words.

As we make sure we are standing on what is true and right and good, we, too, can love those around us enough to chance offending them for the protection of all, with hope of freeing some.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:1-14‬ ‭NASB

When Jesus says “You”

“But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away; YOU give them something to eat!”” (Matthew‬ ‭14:16‬ ‭NASB)

This instruction from Jesus to the disciples grabbed me today as the word “you” jumped off the page at me. I don’t believe God would have told His disciples to do something without a plan for their success. Yes. It’s a faith lesson for them – and for us. Do we trust God and have the faith of a mustard seed, capable of growth; and do we believe that God will respond to our faith, however small, so as to move the mountains that challenge us?

Have you ever had a time when someone showed up unexpectedly, just as you were finishing cooking dinner and were ready to sit down to it? Did God instruct your heart to feed the unexpected guests, though you knew there was insufficient supply? I have, several times. And God has not failed to amaze me as that food somehow was more than sufficient, even leaving leftovers.

If you have faith in God and the wisdom of the ants to receive His instruction and follow His lead in storing up for the coming “winter” (the season of life when supply will not meet the need for life without a storehouse), do so with faith. Trust Him to direct you in your saving for the time of need. And trust Him for His supply for those He might tell you to feed.

I’ve seen several express concern for those who don’t have the wisdom of ants for preparing for challenges we see coming. If you believe in God and know He has called you to prepare, let Him lead you to the amount you are to store up. Then trust Him. If He tells your heart, “YOU feed them,” “YOU clothe them,” “YOU tend to their need,” know He will be faithful to make provision for your obedience.

And if He does not impress on you to help someone yanking at your heart strings, believe that God, who knows what is best, has His purpose in withholding your aid. God may want them to turn to Him for supply. Or there may be another person in their life God wants to use.

The bottom line is, trust God, and follow His lead to the good He would have YOU do. And, as you follow Him, know that He has a plan to make your obedience adequate for His purpose.

‭‭James‬ ‭2:14-26‬ ‭NASB

Prep with Assurance

Luke‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NASB

Some people believe prep practices point to ungodliness; that it is a sign of the love of money. Sometimes this is true. Realizing this, God calls me to check my motives. Am I after wealth and resource in a righteous, healthy way? Am I following Godly wisdom, trusting His lead and supply? Or am I after wealth and resource as an end to itself? Is my reliance on wealth and supply? Or is my reliance on God and His wise directives?

Chasing after wealth and supply as our hope for survival is a trap, a snare that enslaves. It will keep us running after it constantly, with ever growing fervency, while never quite being enough, effectively pulling us further away from the One True God who is our hope and help. That is the way of false gods.

But when we chase after God and His wise counsel, not only does He lead us to readiness for what is coming, but He frees us to realize that even if our storehouses fail, His will cover us. He who is with us and for us will be there to guide and direct us to His pastures of provision. He will supply strength, power, protection, and amaze us as He meets our need.

Don’t take my word for it. Look at Noah, who built a big boat and loaded it with supplies as God directed, providing for himself and all for whose care he was charged. And he did it even though his mind could not fully comprehend the coming storm or the full need.

And what about the Israelites? They left their captivity with all God charged them to collect. As their supply waned, God’s undeniable provision kicked in. For forty years in that wilderness, they did not fall to malnourishment; thirst did not kill them; and their shoes and clothing never wore out.

So don’t worry about tomorrow. If He is pointing you to the storm that’s raging and beaconing you to prepare for it, ask God’s direction for your path to readiness. Ask how much to store for the need. If you run out of space and He is still pressing your collection, ask wisdom and provision for its storage. He will make you ready for yourself and those charged to your care, even though you may not fully comprehend the scope of it all.

Enter His rest as you obey, knowing that He in whom You trust will not leave you alone in your need. He will help you just as He did those before us. And when scoffers scoff at you, smile as you remember, “… wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” (Matthew‬ ‭11:19‬ ‭NASB)

“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” (Hebrews‬ ‭13:5‬ ‭AMPC‬‬)

The Righteous Way of Anger

Anger is not sin, it’s an emotion. God’s Word says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin….” (Eph. 4:26)

In our pictured Mark 3 passage, we are told that Jesus was angry because of the hardheartedness of the Pharisees he was dealing with. He was angry because they held of higher value the keeping of the tradition of doing nothing they counted as work on the Sabbath, above the need of the people around them. He was angry at the distortion of God’s law for personal gain by those lording it over those they were called to minister to as servants in His name.

In other accounts of this work of Christ, He chides them for willingly helping one of their farm animals in need, while ignoring the need of the people they were to serve. They were hypocrites about the type of good work done on the sabbath and would condemn others for doing what they, themselves did when it was important to them. They were good about requiring others to do what they would not do. Their hypocrisy, hardheartedness, and ungodly arrogance toward others made Jesus angry.

Two things from this passage point to what changes anger from godly, to ungodly (sinful). One is the why of our anger. Selfish, self-centered anger does not please God. The Pharisees were angry with Jesus because He usurped their authority, taking away their power and influence over the people. They were jealous. Selfish anger, anger based on getting ones own way in a situation, or one showing carelessness for the need or problems of others, makes that anger sinful.

The second thing is what we do with that anger. Jesus chose to do what was pleasing to God and set a godly example for those watching in making the care of others a priority. He did not let the opinion of the leaders of that day keep Him from doing the good set before Him. And He spoke truth to them.

The full Ephesians verse says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” (4:26-27) We are to do what is right, take care of the issue in a godly manner out of loving care for God and man, and take care of it quickly. When we let anger hang around, coursing through our heart and soul, the devil uses it to get a stronghold in our lives as bitterness takes hold, rising with hate close behind it.

And here’s another thing to note. Jesus did not concern Himself with the Pharisees’ attitude toward Him, whether they liked him or accepted his instruction. He spoke truth to all, desiring that truth to influence their lives for good. But what they did with it was their responsibility. He dealt with it, and left it in their lap. He didn’t cling to the anger or carry it to the next encounter.

We are to do the same: speak truth out of love, desiring to influence the ones dealt with in ways that lead them closer to godliness; do what is right in God’s eyes, despite what others think; then release the outcome to God, not letting anger take hold in destructive ways, but trusting God to deal with the hearts of all involved.

“… If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the WRATH OF GOD, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:9-21‬ ‭‬‬

In Christ

Beloved, if we are truly in Christ, we have been crucified with Him; and it is no longer us who live, but Christ lives in us. The life we now live in the flesh we must live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself up for us. He is in us and for us, and we are made new in Him.

In Christ, all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form and that continues within us as we walk through life in Him and for Him. In Him we have been made complete, as all the fullness of deity dwells in us through Christ.

He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. By His grace, we are renewed in the spirit of our minds. Putting on the new self, we are in the likeness of God which has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. In Him we are holy and blameless before Him – chosen to be so in Christ.

By grace, we are sealed in Christ with the Holy Spirit of the promise and we are enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, for in Him we live and move and exist. We, who have come to know and believed the love which God has for us, bear the fruit of all He is in us through Christ. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control: these attributes and more live in us and make us who we are in Christ. Humble, meek, lowly – able to die to self for His name’s sake; abundant in the power of God and in His grace sufficient for us.

God is love. The one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, we also are in this world. Because of His great love, the Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. Therefore, we rightly represent Him as patience flows through us for love’s sake.

Beloved, if you are in Christ, you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. We do this best, not only through words, but through actions and reactions that reveal Him living and active in us. ‬‬

Therefore do not become partners with those who refuse Him, those who walk in the darkest of darkness; for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth, as you try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the useless deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light, and light is what you are.

You are the salt of the earth. Remain in Christ, for He is the One who keeps you effective and flavorful, as salt must be. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are within it’s illumination.

God put you in the place and position you are in, for this season, in this age, and you are here with purpose. You are light, set in place to stand out in contrast to all the darkness around you. You are salt, to season, preserve, protect, cleanse, and flavor all He sprinkles you into. Let your light shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Let your saltiness fall on all, with hope of God penetrating their lives and preserving their eternal souls. Be as He is and watch what He will do in and through you in Christ.

‭Galatians‬ ‭2:20; Colossians‬ ‭2:9-10‬; ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:21‬; ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:23-24‬; ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:4; ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭1:13‬; ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:5‬; ‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:28‬; ‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:16-17; ‬Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23‬‬; ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:9; ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:9‬; ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:7-13‬‬; Matthew‬ ‭5:13-16

God, or Not God

“… Choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days.” – Read Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:1-20‬ ‭‬‬

When discussing sin issues as defined by the Word of God and Jesus in the Holy Bible, people often say, “but God gives me choice,” which is true. God does give us choice, but that fact does not mean that which we choose is alright with God. All choice is truly between God or not-God. We either seek Him and His ways, or we go the way of our fleshly desire, this world’s philosophy, or demonic influences.

In Deuteronomy, God gives us defining parameters to direct our choice. We are told to choose good or evil, life or death, blessing or curse, prosperity or adversity. And God’s Word defines each of these choices.

Good is who God is, what God does, and what He says. To choose good is to choose God and His ways. All else stands in opposition to Him, which is evil, bringing us into adversity with God. (1)

God is life, abundant and full. Divergence from Him and His ways is death. (2)

God is the blessing, and He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Anything not of God, anything that replaces our affection for Him is a curse, for it robs us of The Blessing. (3)

Following and possessing God and all He is as God is prosperity. He is our exceeding great reward, the supply for our every need. Following hard after Him, keeping Him of first, most vital need and necessity, opens His storehouses to meet our need. And, more importantly, choosing Him as the one and only God and Lord through His gift of Jesus Christ grants us assurance of His eternal Kingdom. (4)

It doesn’t matter how rich we get in this life, without God as our choice, we are destitute and adversity is guaranteed. God allows no other God before Him, nothing else can have His glory. With great wealth comes great responsibility, and one’s first responsibility is to choose God as one’s true treasure. Failing to possess Him, we take our stance against Him, all the way into eternal damnation.

“But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” ‭‭Joshua‬ ‭24:15‬

“Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:19-20

(1) Mark‬ ‭10:18‬ ‭
(2) ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬; Colossians‬ ‭3:3‬; ‭‭I John‬ ‭5:12‬; I John‬ ‭5:11‬; ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:6‬; Romans‬ ‭6:23‬; John‬ ‭11:25‬; ‭‭John‬ ‭14:6‬
(3) ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:4‬; ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:5‬; ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭84:12‬; James‬ ‭1:17‬
‭‭ (4) Genesis‬ ‭15:1‬; ‭‭Malachi‬ ‭3:8-10‬

Be On the Alert

“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. … What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!’ ” Mark‬ ‭13:30-33, 37‬ ‭

Prophecy can be confusing to us because some speaks of things specific to the hearer, and some for an age yet to be. And some, like here, speaks to both: direct warning to His disciples and warning for future generations. He is telling the disciples things they will see in their lifetime signaling the death of this world and the coming new Kingdom of God. But He is also speaking prophetic, beyond them to all who come after them. Each generation will see these warning signs until the instant of His return.

Like that first generation, we will all ‬‬see these signs ebb and flow like birthing pains, getting stronger, longer, harder, and more severe until the the end is here. We are warned by these signs to be ready and alert so we are found fully prepared for Him when He comes. What’s the sign we’re looking for that tells us this is it?

“For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. … the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Matthew‬ ‭24:27, 30-31‬ ‭‬

Like birthing pangs lead to an opening for the emergence of a child, so the harsh, hard, pressing things around us will lead to parting skies and the returning Christ, bringing in a new and eternal age. Are you ready and alert?

Follow God

His science is flawless.

I hear it every day, people boasting the science concerning COVID, both for and against the truths concerning the disease and the treatments, including the vaccine. Here’s what I know: no one fully knows. Science is a learning tool. It helps figure out truth, but until truth proves out through consistent, broad range, experience, science is theoretical. They don’t fully know one way or the other.

But GOD.

God fully knows, not only the disease and the treatments, but the reason and purpose behind its source: whether sent by an enemy intent on destruction, or brought about by God in fulfilling His plans and purposes. God fully knows my body and yours. He knows how the disease will effect each individual. He knows what each treatment will do and which my body will respond best to. He comprehensively understands the science behind the vaccine and the disease.

So, instead of looking at constantly changing scientific theory before it knows, ask the God-who-knows-all His opinion for your dealings with the disease and it’s potential remedies – healing aids. He promises to give needed wisdom to us when we ask with faith to follow His response. Once you get His response, trust Him for the outcome. Trust His purpose and plan. He is always working in and through us for eternal good.

“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.” (Double-minded: tossed to and fro by the mind of one’s flesh arguing with the mind of Christ given in the power of God’s Spirit.)
— James 1:5-8

First Order of Preparedness

I am a member of a group of preppers, seeing the signs of the times and making ready for whatever may come. As a Christian, though I believe in practicing wisdom to be prepared for every kind of storm in life, ready to take care of mine and to help others, I know that all my preparations can be gone in an instant. Thus, it’s vital to remember that my hope is not in my supply, but my Supplier.

People say first priority for preparedness is water. I agree. And first priority in water supply is the Living Water, Jesus. I believe that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. All our preparation and learning to live off the land will fail without God’s support, grace, and favor. He grants wisdom for life choices, direction for our feet, protection in the storm, and favor with Himself and with man. He gives supply that gives us safety into the eternal. And He promises that though money may fail us, He will never leave nor forsake us.

We can guess at what is coming and work to be ready, but He knows what is coming to each day and is already there making a way for us. However, there is one thing we know is coming to all of us: death of this shell. How sad it would be to prepare for storms of nature or man, but fail to be prepared for eternity.

God is my hope. He is my help in the day of trouble, my strength in the battle, my shelter in the storm, my Shepherd for the path, my Savior for all eternity. He gives me eyes to see, a mind to know, and a heart to understand; and He brings to my remembrance the wisdom, knowledge, and understanding stored in the banks of my mind at the moment of my need.

Make sure you are one with His vine and that your tendrils are attached to Him as first priority; that you are lapping freely of the Living, Life giving Water. Then make wise preparations with faith that He will be with you and guide you through every challenge until we meet Him in the air.

Robin Meadows says, “Just as tendrils are trained to hold to the fence for support, we need to train our hearts and minds to be entwined with Him and hold to Him. Dependent on Him, we gain supernatural strength to endure even the mightiest storms of life.

“Where does your strength come from? Are you attaching to people or things hoping to find fulfillment and security? Or are you training your heart to be connected to the One who is Strength?”

Enter this, your Rest, and get ready for all that is coming.

Lessons From My Garden: Day 6 • Devotional

Loss of Love

The death of a relationship is one of the hardest of deaths, for the person mourned is not gone from life, they are only gone from my life. It’s especially grievous when we don’t know why they left the relationship.

Sadly, refusal to address the issue causing the separation says a lot about the falsehood of the love in that relationship. True love cares enough to address issues. So someone walking away without a word as to why, with no effort to address the issue, is symptom of a lack of true love and caring.

So there is the real pain. I thought they loved and cared for me as I do for them, but I now know they didn’t. I’ve tried to reach out through multiple avenues, and they ignore it out of some perceived insult from me that I don’t know I did. It hurts, deeply. Intent to go where they live and try to see them face to face has been hindered, but that remains in my heart to do. However, it feels too late now.

Loss of what I thought we had is the pain. They don’t love me enough to tell me what I did so we can address the problem and heal the relationship. How do we heal that wound?

Jesus addressed rejection this way, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Jesus forgave the rejection of those who refused His love; and He prayed for those who rejected Him to have God’s forgiveness. And! Jesus was and is ready to reestablish relationship whenever we call.

I love my friend. I wait for that friend to reach out, address the issue, and heal our wounds. I realize the loss in my life, and I am saddened. May our God bless and keep my friend. May my heart remain ready to reestablish relationship. For me, trust is the issue now. And that is truly sad.

God, or Not God

“For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own load. … Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galatians 6:3-5, 7-9

I deceive myself when I fail to take time to seek God for a right and true evaluation of self: where I am, where I need to be, why I should desire to be there, and what I need to do to progress forward.

You can try to encourage and help me, and I can do the same for you, but self determination is a gift from God that belongs to each of us. God made sure we have freedom of choice. I-👁 have to choose to progress forward. 👁 have to want it. 👁 have to make progressing forward a priority. 👁 have to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse, prosperity or adversity, all of which equates to choosing God or not God.

No one else can make me do the good I need or desire. And no one else can do it for me. AND, if I am truly committed to God and working out of His supply in my journey, no one – and no thing – can truly hinder or stop my progress. Though life may hit a bump, it’s “choice” that will keep me moving to the finish line, or keep me from the prize.

Seed is sown into our lives, my life, whether or not I realize it. Like uncontrolled weeds, bad habits, untended, produce and sow bad seeds that reap a harvest of dandelions (false-gods). Satan constantly works to get us-me to feed the bad seed for his harvest of unrighteousness. With Spirit-eyes open, Good seed must be chosen, sown, and fed deliberately and liberally for a crop of good to come.

Self-deception and failure to realize the bad seed sown and fed gives the devil opportunity to sneer at God as he makes accusations against us-me. (“See! I told you she couldn’t follow the dictates of the Spirit for long. Your Spirit can’t control her! She doesn’t love or honor You enough”)

It is vital for me to seek God for true evaluation through His looking glass. I need to realize truth about self from His perspective, so I can make a right evaluation and choose right paths that honor God as God. I may deceive myself and others, but God knows the truth of my heart. I need Him if I am to see my true issues, needs, desires, and resources. Transformation is from Him.

Truly, there are only two choices: God or not God. To choose God is to choose the dictates of His Spirit that produce life, blessing, good, prosperity, and the Eternal. Choosing God builds a life of gold, silver, and precious stones that do not burn away in the fires of testing. …

Choosing “not God” is to choose the dictates of our old, dead flesh, which produces death, cursing, evil, adversity, and all that is temporary and worthless. Choosing flesh produces a life filled with wood, hay, and stubble, all of which will fail us and be burned away in the fires of testing.

Scripture tells us some will enter the eternal kingdom smelling like smoke (1 Corinthians 3:12-15). The implication is a life focused on fleshly desires and temporal pleasures rather than on the eternal. I don’t want to live a fleshly life, head hung in shame, that leaves nothing to show of God’s eternal glory when I stand before Him. I must choose the Spirit over my flesh.

God is not concerned about food, for example. But He is intent on my choosing Him. Food is the test. Choice is the proof. Proof of righteousness withstands the heat, bringing glory to God. Faithfulness for big things is built through fires of testing in the small, seemingly insignificant.

God, or not God. That’s my choice. God gave that right to me and to you. Gold, silver, and precious stones all require a lot of heat and patient time to develop. Growing weary on the journey leaves the produce immature and in a perishable state. Developing a healthy lifestyle dictated by the Spirit requires determination that perseveres despite the weeping desires of my flesh.

My determination of Spirit-control must outlast the pleas of my pitiful flesh. Like the parent (Spirit control) of a screeching two year old (demanding flesh), I must persevere to stand my ground and push through until flesh quiets and gives way to the Spirit with ever increasing ease.

Good, Good Father

“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 NASB1995

It’s easy to look around the world today and think there’s nothing good going on. It seems there is unfathomable turmoil around every corner. Something unthinkable happens, leaving us stunned with nothing good that is readily apparent to our flesh mind and emotions, and we plummet to despair. Yes, I’ve been there many times, and here’s what I’ve learned, and am learning, even as I write.

First, we don’t think or see things like God does. His thoughts are higher, meaning smarter than ours, having greater perspective of the full picture than us, and always possessing eternal purpose. He does not allow anything to hit our lives without there being purpose in it, and His desire is that we know and trust Him with the absolute assurance that He is accomplishing something for someone’s eternal good in fulfilling that purpose.

His ways are higher than our ways. When He allows trauma into our lives, there are many things going on at one time.

* It gives us opportunity to shine as people who know and trust Him, giving those around us visual proof of faith’s aid in walking through troubled waters.

* It gives us opportunity to recognize where we still struggle in our faith walk and fruit bearing so we may grow stronger in those areas. It’s one thing to realize we are human, subject to slip into fleshly impulse. It’s another to let that knowledge become excuse for surrendering to it. Like with Job, in our stubborn resistance to deny our fleshly dictates, God will get as hard on us as our stubbornness requires, because He loves us and desires our best. That best is to grow stronger agreement and cooperation with the dictates of His Spirit

* Trouble tests our heart’s soil in areas of fleshly indulgeance, pride, and arrogance, revealing whether the seeds for growth, maturity and fruit bearing can thrive there.

* And trouble gives us life experience of our God that provides a testimony of His faithfulness and goodness and comfort we can use as His instrument in helping others when trauma hits.

This Father, from whom every good comes, always brings good out of trouble for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. When God allows His child to walk into troubled waters, He always has a purpose in it that becomes a call for us to walk with Him in fulfilling it. We, who are saved by grace through faith, are called according to His purpose and equipped by Him for EVERY good work. Trouble is always a door to us, affording us this opportunity.

God is doing a good work in us, and He WILL do it right up until Jesus comes for us. God will complete His work, will, and purpose in us. Thrashing against trouble is fighting against God, saying, “No. I don’t want it” to His will, way, and purpose.

Our response when trouble hits, flows out of not only our degree of surrender to our fleshly impulse, but out of the degree of our habitually practice of faith to trust God, believe these truths about Him, and enter the rest He supplies us when we successfully practice this faith. Falling to the flesh in a moment of sudden trauma is common to all. The thing that shows our maturity in faith is how quickly we recoup, drawing near to God, submitting to Him, and finding supply to control that fleshly impulse and enter God’s rest.

When we are in the flesh, responding to our emotions, it can be very frustrating to us for people to point us to these truths about God. We know these truths, but we’re not ready to hear it yet. We want to scream and holler, or cry and waller, and we want others to commiserate with us.

The problem with that is, the call of God to His people is to encourage our righteousness, turn us from the dictates of flesh to the Spirit, and help us turn our thoughts toward the higher things of God and His ways. Those of us who believe the quicker we turn to God’s way of thinking, sometimes move too quick with encouragement to come up higher. In our desire for the person’s Power for the journey, we forget that God also tells us to weep with those who weep. And so, our zeal hitting their trauma comes across as preachy or better than thou.

Our intent is to help the traumatized one to come quickly to Colossians 3:1-2 thinking, so they can have right thoughts within them, thoughts that increase one’s coping skills and strengthen us for the days we face. Thoughts that help us recognize the good gifts of God to be found in the rubble of trouble. But we must take care to acknowledge their trauma and the pain they are in. This is an area where I need work.

The fact of the matter for all within the sphere of our turmoil, both us who hurt, and those trying to encourage, is that God’s desire and purpose is to build a new relationship with us – a deeper, more vital and effective relationship with us. As the perfect Father, God wants only the best for His child, and our approach to trouble, whether in facing our own or in encouraging those we reach to help, always presents us opportunity to grow and come up higher into that love and security. May we surrender to Him, enter His rest, and enjoy the good gift of His faithfulness.

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 AMPC

Unmerited Favor: All Powerful Supply

“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 ‭

Many people see grace and mercy as being the same things, but they aren’t. Scripturally, grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin, distinctly different, and both necessary for redemption, sanctification, and the work of completion.

Mercy is what most use to define both. Mercy is unmerited favor. It is God’s work to protect, provide, and direct to good that we do not deserve – at all, nor can we. Mercy has nothing to do with our ‘do’ and everything to do with God’s ‘Who’. He loves us, therefore He gives us His mercy. He loves us, thus we experience Him deliver us from consequences our actions and choices deserve. When we are spared a just outcome to unrighteous choices and actions, that is mercy. Woo! The stories of mercy I could tell.

Grace is God’s power made perfect in our weakness, giving us strength and ability (2 Cor. 12:9). We cannot produce the fruit of God in our lives apart from His grace at work in and through us. We cannot serve God or know and do His will, His way without His grace powering it. We cannot even possess and work out of faith in God apart from His grace to power our faith. Mercy gifts us a measure of faith; grace empowers us to use that faith.

We cannot be saved apart from Mercy. And we cannot live Christ apart from grace. We cannot be right within ourselves without mercy; we cannot live outwardly the right mercy produces in us apart from grace pouring through us. Mercy saves. Grace sanctifies.

From External Tutor to Internal Teacher

“… Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. …” Galatians‬ ‭3:19-29‬ ‭NASB

The purpose of God’s Law is to tutor us and cause us to realize our need of His merciful grace. It’s intent is to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. Then the power of God through the Spirit of God moves into us to teach us His ways and equip our success in following Him in the likeness of the perfection of Jesus Christ.

Where we fall short, Jesus covers us so we receive the mercy of God. And our weak flesh does fall short of this glory of God. We need God’s mercy, which means we need Jesus who covers us. We need God’s grace which empowers us to live as Jesus lived, thus we need the filling of the Spirit of God that comes through faith in Christ.

By faith to believe the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus accomplished on our behalf, we find freedom from sin and it’s consequence – death – eternal separation from God. By the work of God’s indwelling Spirit, we find power to live the freedom granted, as honors the God we possess and profess for all eternity.

Got Jesus? Only believe, receive, and profess Him, and He will seal the deal through the powerful work of the indwelling Spirit.

True Love Is a River Flow

“…That’s how you once behaved, characterized by your evil deeds. But now it’s time to eliminate them from your lives once and for all—anger, fits of rage, all forms of hatred (f.n., “including self-hatred”), cursing, filthy speech, and lying. Lay aside your old Adam-self with its masquerade and disguise…” Colossians‬ ‭3:5-17‬ ‭TPT‬‬

We are always dearly loved by God. ‭However, hatred for one’s self closes the door to love. We cannot know and fully receive the love of God or others when self-hate makes us feel unworthy. Nor can we truly give love when we hate self.

To top that, we tend to judge the opinion of others toward us by our own opinion of self, so self-hate produces misunderstanding of others words and actions, thus causing us to react inappropriately toward them.

Self-hate keeps us self focused, so we cannot see the struggle and difficulty others have and are acting out of themselves. Self-hate denies we are worth loving, and when we can’t love self enough to recognize any good in us, we can’t truly give love to those around us who struggle as we do. It’s a vicious cycle that gets confusing with the thought of it.

So, let’s get that out of the way. We are unworthy. In our fleshly struggle of self-hate that cannot truly receive love, we are broken vessels. None of us are perfect apart from Christ, nor can we be perfected without the work of God active and alive in us. We need Him. When we broken vessels think love is earned by worthiness, we cannot recognize true love to receive it, nor can we give it. Broken vessels cannot receive true love and hold onto it long enough to possess it where we can have it to give out freely to others.

Here’s the thing: God IS Love. His love comes to us, not because of who we are or what we do, but because of Who He IS.

We cannot lose what He freely gives. We haven’t earned it, therefore we can’t unearn or lose it. His love is ours by His choice, because love is His “who”. And when we finally learn that truth, the truth of God’s love for us personally, heals us. We become His mended vessels, able to recognize, receive, know, possess, and give true love: which is God in all His fullness.

And here’s another wonderful truth we need to know. When we choose to believe and receive this love from God, He begins to show us who we truly are and can be in our relationship with Him through Christ. Like a River flow reconfigures the riverbed, by His love working in us, He adjusts our “who” to something glorious and new, as we become like Him, including being able to love and give true love out of who we are because of Him.

His unconditional, unearned love flows from Him to us and for us to self, healing our brokenness and filling us up. But it doesn’t fill us like a closed reservoir, He flows through us like a river flows, which makes us love as He is love. An extension of His Who, He flows love from us to all around us. He makes us worthy of love by making us as He is, love, able to truly believe, receive, and give love, even to those who can’t earn it, because they haven’t received for themselves Him who is love.

Beloved, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to pay the price of our unworthiness. By accepting that gift of grace, letting go of our self-loathing to receive God’s unconditional love, we enter the River flow to be made love as He is love. Believe it. Receive it. Begin now to be changed by God’s love flow.

Put On the New

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Reading this passage today, a thought rolled through me that I recognize as the Spirit of God in me. He said, “You all need to get good at putting on and constantly wearing your spiritual clothing in Christ, otherwise your new bodies in glory are going to feel really strange to you.”

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

“and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” Worth repeating, for “faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

“The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

“For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

I couldn’t have said it better. Thank You, Lord. Now empower our faithfulness. In Jesus, amen.

Romans 13:14; Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:12-17; Ephesians 6:11-17; Colossians 3:14; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Romans 13:12; 1 Corinthians 15:53.

Weary Thoughts, Meet My God

God so faithfully ministers to me when I’m in need. Today, He met my wayward, weary thoughts with this morning’s calendar scripture.

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? …” Psalms 27:1, 3-4

My weary thoughts of failure and insignificance skeltered off as soon as I read that. My God knows where I am at in my life span, and He knows what He is accomplishing in and through me in these days. I am so very grateful that He lights up my life, saving me from evil and instructing me in righteousness. He defends me and defeats every enemy that stands to condemn me.

“… Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident. One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the LORD And to meditate in His temple.”

I am His temple, along with many of You. He lives in and through me, and by His grace, He empowers a right and true meditation for my heart, directing the thoughts within me, as He instructs the steps before me.

We often think of persecution and spiritual battles in terms of things going on around us, but the first and most true battle is fought within us. There is an enemy of God who seeks to hurt Him by influencing us in ways that lessen our relationship with God, our effectiveness as His people, and our ability to minister into the lives of others. That is the battle won by the Word of God to me this morning.

Persecution flows from demonic sources, thus we fight the good fight of faith when we seek after and humbly submit to God, which requires that evil enemy to flee our presence. God did that for me this morning, and He will do it for you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. God in us, the hope of glory.

“The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him.” Nahum 1:7

James 4:5-10 NASB1995

I, FATHER, Know The Plans I Have For Them

A friend sent me a devotional this morning. It’s intent was to align our hearts with the sacrifice and pain of The Father as He sent His Son into a cruel and evil world to suffer for the sin of humankind, yet He did it because He loves and desires us who will choose Life through the sacrifice of Christ.

But as I read that devotional with understanding of these things, my heart turns to my children and grandchildren who are out in this world in our day, and my achy heart soared with hope. In that moment, I realized that this God who is our Father through Christ, this God who gave His Son out of such love for us loves them more than I can truly comprehend. This God has a plan and purpose for each one.

Because Jesus bore our sin and the brunt of God’s rage against sin, God sees Jesus when He looks at us and never turns His back on us. Because of Jesus, this God, who so greatly loves my children and grandchildren, will never leave nor forsake them. As He has been with me, He will be with and for them. He will draw them to Himself and lead them through to victory in accomplishing His purpose for which He has them in such a time as this. I trust my Father to leave none behind me when He comes. He is my Hope for their good.

Father, I entrust these I love to You in Your love for them. Lead them, with humble hearts that recognize their need of You, to draw near to You as You draw near to them. Grant them to resist the devil and his evil at work around them. May they fully submit themselves to You and know You, Your faithfulness at work in and through them. May they know You as Father, Almighty, All Sufficient God. Let Your will be done in and through them, as it is in Heaven: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. In Jesus is my prayer, amen.

Patience: Wrath to Mercy

“… What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” Romans‬ ‭9:18-24‬ ‭NASB – https://www.bible.com/100/rom.9.18-24.nasb1995

Our clearest picture of who we are and how we are to be is found in God, as we learn of Him: His who; His do. In this passage of scripture, we see that God withholds His wrath that is justly due to vessels of wrath – fleshly, sinful humans. He does not wish any to perish, but all to come to repentance, so He is patient and enduring toward us. He does this with the purpose of showering the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy.

God’s saving grace transforms vessels of wrath – the walking dead – into vessels of mercy – abundant with Life and made new.

As we surrender by faith to saving grace in Christ, we are transformed from the status of vessels of wrath destined for the penalty of sins death, into vessels of mercy. Because God patiently endured, waiting for us to so trust Him, we are delivered from death to life and repurposed as containers of His mercy.

The thing about a vessel is that it is useless until it is filled up and it’s contents poured out to accomplish its purpose. God fills us with Himself. We carry God, His presence in us: we are His Temple. As His representatives on earth, we are called to bear His image to vessels of wrath, patiently enduring all the struggle that brings us.

As vessels of God, filled with Him, we house His patient endurance for the purpose of being His hands and feet, His heart and desire, toward vessels of wrath. Endurance strengthens patience. Patience accomplishes purpose.

Thus, we add a key to the Unlocking of Patience

Key 3: Patience is an act of mercy that practices endurance, denying the wrath that may be deserved, with the intent that vessels of mercy – including self – may experience the glory of God as He pours His mercy to and through us.

Key 2: Impatience passes unrighteous judgment. Patience works with kindness, tolerance, and trusting gratitude that knows and trusts God’s kindness that leads to repentance and meets every need with perfection.

Key 1: Patience is the fruit of God’s image, enlivened by the work of the Spirit in us. Patience reveals itself in us as we seek the work of God’s Spirit from a wholehearted surrender to His will and way, in the soil of a faith that trusts, believes, and receives.

Patience Trusts God’s Kindness

“… But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? …” Romans‬ ‭2:1-5‬ ‭NASB

The first thing that grabs me in today’s passage is that impatience flows out of a heart of unrighteous judgment. I.e.: impatience judges that someone driving too slow in front of me or not moving out on the green light fast enough must be a stupid idiot, a bad and inconsiderate driver. And, boy, am I mad at those honking rudely behind my lead on the road. 😠

Impatience toward God judges that He moves too slow, He must not care or be watching as His Word promises, thus, lacking faith that truly trusts Him.

Impatience passes judgment without clear understanding and responds harshly. Which also says to me that impatience is selfish, self-centered, and self-righteous. Impatience shows a lack of appreciation for and trust in God’s kindness that leads to repentance. So what is the solution. God’s character gives the answer.

God combines patience with kindness and tolerance in His dealings with us. If it were not so, we would not be here because His impatience would have wiped out the human race long before our parents were a sparkle in their parents’ eyes. For patience to stand fast, kindness and tolerance must thrive.

Tolerance realizes that those testing our patience are a work in progress just as we are. It recognizes that we do not have all the facts of the heart issues, difficulties, and stressors the person is in. And where patience with God is concerned, it acknowledges that He, who sees all and knows all, is moving with perfect timing for our good. When we enter eternity and become privy to all the details that made for the slowness we experienced, we will praise and glorify Him with grateful heart, just as the person, aggravatingly bumped to the next flight, praises God for His protection upon news of the death of all on board when the first plane crashed.

Which points me to another additive in the fruit of patience : a grateful heart that trusts God.

Thus, we add a key to the Unlocking of Patience

Key 2: Impatience passes unrighteous judgment. Patience works with kindness, tolerance, and trusting gratitude that knows and trusts God’s kindness that leads to repentance and meets every need with perfection.

Key 1: Patience is the fruit of God’s image, enlivened by the work of the Spirit in us. Patience reveals itself in us as we seek the work of God’s Spirit from a wholehearted surrender to His will and way, in the soil of a faith that trusts, believes, and receives.

The Lamb and the Scapegoat

“Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat.”
‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭16:8-10‬ ‭NASB

Jesus took both straws in the casting of the lot (Leviticus 16:8-10). He is both the sacrificial Lamb of God for the full payment of ALL SIN, and He is the Scapegoat, who took those sins to the Abyss for all of the world: paid in full and done with. The only thing we are left with now is choice. Will we accept the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Savior, or not?

What our individual eternity looks like will rest on our choice. Receive His gift of eternity with Him, and walk with Him as Lord from then on. Learn of Him and grow in Him, representing Him until He takes us home to be with Him forever. Or refuse the gift and spend eternity forever separated from Him. As long as you draw breath in this life, the choice is there for you. And ALL SIN is covered, even the ugliest of evil. The only unforgivable sin is to say “no” to Jesus.

Many think that separation from God is nothing. They don’t see their need of Jesus and His covering of their sin. But before that parting command of God, casting all who refuse His gift into outer darkness, all will stand before Him. In that instant each one will know three truths: the flooding touch of the fullness of the greatest love there has ever been and will forever be; the decision to deny Him was a bad call; and, in that instant, comes the knowledge that it’s too late to choose rightly. They missed it. The choice has come and gone.

I believe that the revelation of God’s great love touching all at that throne of judgment will be the biggest flame burning in Hell. Longing to again taste that love will haunt the eternity of those who refuse His gift now, while there is breath left for a “yes, Jesus”.

I beg you, in the name of Jesus, admit your sin nature and your need of the gift of God’s saving grace through Jesus Christ, the Lord. Contact that one you know to be a sincere and committed follower of Christ. Tell them your decision and let them help you begin your new life journey. I assure you, if they are truly sincere in Christ, they are waiting with fervent hope for your call.

Let Go!

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.” ~ Matthew‬ ‭5:3‬ ‭MSG‬‬

I said this to the Lord one day, “Lord, I feel like I am hanging on to the last thread of my proverbial rope, and I’m about to lose my grip.” To which He very clearly replied to my heart, “Let go!”

As I invisioned myself turning loose my hold, I saw myself fall gently into a blubbering heap, landing safely in God’s capable hands. From then on through that stressful season, when I felt it weighing in on me, I would let myself go to that blubbering heap in God’s hand and allow Him to carry me.

God is forever faithful, for He cannot deny Himself in us. He loves us and never leaves us.

You are not alone. Let go!

Quick Study 2/6/21

John’s Baptism vs. Baptism in Jesus

Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. — Acts 19:4-5

This passage made me ask, “John’s baptism is in water for repentance. Into what is the baptism of Jesus: what’s the difference?” Here is what a quick Literal Word app search found.

1. In this focal passage, the first thing to note is that John’s baptism calling for belief in Jesus who was yet to be revealed, was no longer needed once Jesus came into view. Thus we now have the assurance of salvation revealed.

“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. — Matthew 3:11; see also Acts 1:5; Acts 11:16

2. Baptism of Holy Spirit (drenched in the Spirit) and fire (signifies cleansing / purification).

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, — Matthew 28:19

3. Instead of baptism in the name of John, it’s in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost – the Triune One.

He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. — Mark 16:16; Acts 8:12

4. Baptism of belief in Christ, who is now visible to us, disclosing Himself to all who believe unto obedience in Christ.

I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ — John 1:33

5. Baptism of Holy Spirit union – he remains on us, in us, through us.

Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. — Acts 2:38

6. Baptism into Christ is for the forgiveness of sin, not just for repentance. We are forgiven.

Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. — Acts 19:4-5

7. Baptized in the powerful, all-sufficient name of Jesus.

Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’ — Acts 22:16

8. Calling on the name of Christ in baptism washes away our sin, to be remembered no more. Gone. Made white as pure snow that reflects His light.

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? — Romans 6:3

9. Baptized into His death, thus the death of sin no longer has power in us.

For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. — 1 Corinthians 12:13

10. Baptized into one body – made one together in Christ – in one Spirit.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. — Galatians 3:27

11. Baptized in Christ = clothed with Christ: the image of God rebirthed in us, made alive and well in and on us.

Make sure you are baptized into Christ.

Pause for Conscience to Speak

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” (Matthew 27:3-4)

A pastor once pointed out his belief that Judas, believing the Christ was coming to deliver Israel from Roman rule and set up His eternal Kingdom on earth, potentially believed betraying Him would force His hand to finally move, bringing his expectation to pass. False understanding, false assumptions, false hopes often lead us to go against the better judgment of conscience. Those who benefit by that to gain their desire can care less when our conscience kicks in and we suffer a type of buyers remorse.

Conscience has a purpose that protects us from bad decisions. Listen to it early, so grief of sin is avoided.