Tag Archives: Harmony

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 1

In 2 Corinthians 10:3-4, God’s word instructs us on the weapons of our warfare, telling us they are “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses”. Following that, verse 5 points to a particular battlefield that, left unchecked, is the opening through which enemy forces can strike in gaining access into areas of our lives where they can set up strongholds of sin and oppression. That area of battle is in our thoughts. Verse 5 instructs us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

One frequent stronghold in my life is in my eating and health practices. Realizing that I am too quick to run to food in certain situations, I focus this month to put a check on my stinking thinking, realizing that taking stress filled thoughts captive and making them bow to the Sovereign and His opinion is the pathway leading to overcoming such strongholds.

As I seek the Father to adjust my thought life, bringing all in agreement with His teachings, following the example we have in Christ, my heart turns to the teachings of Paul found in Philippians 4. There I find a treasure-trove of wisdom to help me on my journey of capturing stinking thinking that hinders my Life practices. Beginning with verse 4, I will spend several days considering the truths found here and how they apply to my journey of capturing wrong thinking and bringing it into agreement with Scriptural principles.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! …” ~ Philippians 4:4-14.

As I begin looking at this focal passage, I see several areas of life-practices that can influence our way of thinking and, when we fail to practice these truths, it makes us vulnerable to thought processes leading to a downfall. The first is this need to find our joy in the Lord. Nehemiah 8:10 tells us that the joy we find in God – in who He is, in our relationship with Him, and our following after Him – is what gives us strength for life.

“Then he said to them, ‘Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’”

The enemy of God loves when he can rob us of this true joy because it weakens us. It is easiest for him to do that when our joy is misplaced. Finding our joy in the things of this life is easily disturbed when those things that bring us joy become difficult, are out of our reach, or fail us. Placing our joy in God protects us, as our ability to face hardship abounds in Him who is our source of true strength and security. Nothing in this life can overcome our joy when it is set securely in Him who is trustworthy and faithful. Such trust in our God and the joy of relationship that trust brings to us empowers us to face difficulty with the strength of two, as He faithfully helps us surpass our weakness.

Rejoicing in the Lord despite circumstances greatly helps our perseverance. A heart attitude of joy in the Lord is a weapon against the doubt and fear set to take our thoughts captive and lead us to a fall that rises up as a stronghold in our lives. Rejoicing in all we know of our God breaks that cycle of doubt and fear.

When your thoughts are disturbed within you, the first thing to do is rejoice in the Lord. Let all that He is and the benefit He provides be your focus, beloved, and rejoice. Again I say, “Rejoice!” and find your Strength.

Walk the Word, Receive the Promise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking the Word, Trusting the Promise

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it’” ~ Isaiah 55:6-11.

WOW! This speaks to me the vital importance of us making sure to seek the Lord for right thoughts that are in line with His, leading us to right ways on the paths of His choosing. Coming in line with God’s way of thinking on any issue of life, while recognizing thought as being the words in one’s mind that dictate beliefs and actions, such a practice walks in this promise of God. When God’s thoughts, found in scripture and raised up as reminders to direct our paths, dictate our own with trust in His word to us leading us to walk in His ways, this passage promises us that His word flowing to and in us will accomplish His purpose.

Taking every thought captive in Christlike obedience, we walk in the Light as He is in the Light. In that way, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 John 1:7).

Walking God’s word out in our lives assures us of a successful journey that fulfills His purpose in us.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 8

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

Thus far, in covering actions and heart attitudes that cause divisions because of our being worldly-minded and devoid of the Spirit in an instant of action, we see that grumbling and faultfinding must be overcome by gratitude to God for the good in others and for His purpose fulfilled in times of trouble.

I read a quote yesterday that said, “God tests our obedience while the devil tests our faith” (Kristina Seymour). Trouble allowed by God comes to test our obedience to Him, while the devil intends it to prove the weakness of our faith and to tear down what we do possess of it. When discord hits our relationships, if we look closely at our hearts in the leading and power of God’s Spirit, at the center of every argument we will find ourselves given-over to some area of lust: God testing, proving, and disciplining us in areas of sin that easily entangle us.

In 1 John 2, God’s Word warns us, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (verses 15-17).

How does this fit our topic? I believe that in every argument each party involved believes they are completely right because they desire to be right (lust of the flesh). Their desire to be right colors their way of looking at the issue so that they cannot see full truth and admit to themselves how they are adding to the discord; instead, they see what they want to see (lust of the eyes). That leads to speaking out arrogantly, believing their position to be righteous and the other’s position set completely on falsehood (boastful pride of life). Statistics reveal that in most all controversy there is a right and a wrong on both sides of the issue. Failing to see where our understanding and actions are false, we speak out arrogantly, hurting our relationship with God and man, doing harm to our witness as a child of God in the process.

Believe me, this is a major struggle in my life. As one who struggles with a fear of rejection, I hate when I do something worthy of rejecting. A person who struggles with this issue I’ve heard called “a spirit of rejection” will go one of two ways in life: they will be a person who participates in the rejection by accepting all blame and beating themselves down in agreement with their accuser; or they will stand up and fight even when they are wrong. I stand up and fight when what I need is to…

“Be still, and know that I am God…” ~ Psalm 46:10.

Scripture tells us that the heart is deceptive above all else (Jeremiah 17:9). Because of our desire to be right and seen in a good light, we tend to lie to ourselves rather than seek the Father, who alone knows the hidden things of our hearts and can lead us to truth, repentance and the “still more excellent way” of love (1 Corinthians 12:31 ~ Read on through chapter 13). We can avoid much controversy and argument if we will get still before the Lord, trust our heart to Him, let Him speak truth to our heart, and trust Him to direct our path and our mouths to a right and true response. In this way, we come into the leading and power of God, avoiding actions and words that are devoid of Spirit.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” ~ Proverbs 4:23.

l685032388I can tell you from experience that I can truly turn to seek the Lord, and in the same step / breath, stumble over my flesh. In the midst of a controversial issue, standing guard over ones heart is vital to success in saying and doing the righteous things. This is the struggle, one Paul portrayed so well in his discourse found in Romans 7, “O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from the shackles of this body of death? O thank God! He will! through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (verses 24-25, AMP). Thus my heart cries out day and night…

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” ~ Psalm 139:23-24.

See Proverbs 15:28; Psalm 44:21; 73:26; 19:14; 49:3.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 7

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

Who are “these” our author refers to? Verse 18 says these are “mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” Verse 16 defines those ungodly attributes that produce division:

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

Here we find warning, alerting us to watch against grumbling, fault-finding, feeding one’s own lusts, speaking arrogantly, and speaking to flatter with hope of gaining an advantage. Acting out of these worldly-minded habits that are not Spirit led and fed, we cause division. Taking action to avert these habits protects unity and heals relationships.

Grumbling and fault-finding

If we learn little else in the books of Moses, we learn how destructive grumbling, complaining, and fault-finding are to ones relationship with God and other people. These habits fail to see what God can and will do in our situation; they refuse to appreciate the good He does and accomplishes for us; and they deny any good in those around us. A focus on the negatives seen in grumbling, complaining, and fault-finding robs us of the ability to find, know, and appreciate what we have in front of us.

During a time of difficulty in our marriage following the death of his mother, the negatives my husband exhibited snared my mind. I learned later the things he was doing are commonly seen in men grieving the loss of a mother. God gradually revealed how my grumbling mind and mouth were hurting the situation. One day, He clearly led me to purchase one of those two-year pocket calendars. He instructed my heart to write in each day something I saw to appreciate in my husband. By the end of a year, I had a new appreciation for my husband, my thoughts focused on his good attributes. Reading the year’s entries, I found 365 different positives about my man. God inspired me to give the calendar for him to use the second year. He told me later that he made his entries keeping his time in his calendar section, and then he read what I wrote on that date the previous year. During that year, he determined to major on those things I appreciated in him. That calendar remained in his lunch box, safely kept in a Ziplock bag, for five years of daily reading. God restored our relationship by changing my focus, and I found my faith in God strengthened by the experience.

When we fall to the habits of grumbling, complaining, and fault-finding, we leave our First Love, failing to trust God and the good He works through our days of struggle. In our complaint, we become part of the problem instead of the solution, pushing people away or causing factions to form a line of dissenters with us that dishonor God. Making the choice to focus one’s mind and heart to discover the good God has hidden within our situations and the people around us equips us to serve as His instrument for healing, unity, and peace.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 3

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

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

Reading on from yesterday’s scripture:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 2

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” ~ 1 John 1:1-4.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The King is Coming! ~ A Vision

Yesterday morning, I had a vision that I believe to be from God. Lying in bed, hoping to go back to sleep, eyes closed, in that darkness I clearly see our bedroom filling with white smoke. Immediately following my asking the Lord, “What’s going on?” two angels step into the smoke and lift holy hands to God. I cannot hear what they are saying, but I sense worship in the air and step forward, joining the angel’s song. As I do, the image changes. I see many scenes of people all over the world, running in a panic from something. I get the strong sense that whatever is causing the fear and panic is allowed or sent by God. My heart of worship continues and the vision ends.

Last night, thinking on the vision from yesterday morning, I sought God for greater revelation. As I considered the scene of the Angel’s song, God pointed my heart to the position from and to which all occurred. Noting the position of things, I recognized the smoke, coming from the west, is the sacrifice of praise and worship coming from God’s people. The Angels came up into that worship from the southeast and turned to face due east. All the hosts of God’s creation who believe in and seek Him, were watching for and working to be ready for the King’s arrival.

I said above that I stepped forward to join the Angel’s song. I did not see myself do that. I was not seen in the vision, I was part of it, physically joining in the worship going on. It was a heart movement as I mentally and emotionally turned my focus to the East and began to worship God with full control of my very alert faculties.

As soon as I did that, the scene literally swiped away from the southeast where the Angels came from, to the northwest, being replaced as if seeing the screen of a video swiping up to replace the view of those worshiping God, changing to many scenes in a collage of views from everywhere on the earth.

The first, most evident scene was a woman, climbing a big hill or mountain covered with huge boulders, panic stricken, moving north. The next was a couple in a well-groomed, middle class neighborhood, running in a panic, the man looking over his shoulder to the west where the worship was coming from, dragging behind a woman with a panicked expression. Another had city skyscrapers surrounding many people on the run, with all I can recall seeing looking back as if to escape some approaching enemy, having facial expressions of panic. I vaguely remember scenes including a Japanese style building (a pagoda and huts), forest or wooded areas, and there was more my mind could not focus on before the vision quit.

God told me yesterday that the meaning of the vision would be found in my next portion of scripture reading. I finally got to focus on my reading last night, which was 2 Thessalonians. There, in chapter 1, verses 3-10, God reveals it.

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, AWAY FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD AND FROM THE GLORY OF HIS POWER, WHEN HE COMES TO BE GLORIFIED IN HIS SAINTS ON THAT DAY, AND TO BE MARVELED AT AMONG ALL WHO HAVE BELIEVED—FOR OUR TESTIMONY TO YOU WAS BELIEVED” ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10.

Those who believe God run to Him in every avenue of life, their very being expressive of the true worship of God. Those who do not believe God run from any evidence of His presence and fight against the knowledge of God that makes Him evident.

I believe God is calling all who truly seek Him with a whole heart, desiring and recognizing His presence, to be more overt in our worship of Him in every way that the Scriptures reveal to be the true and evident heart of worship (1). Every part of our being must seek to possess and remain in the presence of the Lord through a holy life that truly and sincerely worships and honors Him as Lord. Those who do not want to know His presence will flee from us because they recognize and do not want the presence of the Lord. We are not to turn from worshipping God, as man pleasers, but as God-seekers, our focus is to be on the presence and power of our soon returning King.

Every act of our worship reaches out to Him as the savory aroma of the sacrifice of praise. Glorify the Lord with every breath, for the day of His return is nigh (very near to us, quickly approaching).

A few passages that instruct in the true worship seen in the saints of God: Isaiah 58; John 4:22-24; Romans 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25; Philippians 3 (esp. AMPCL).

Path to Greatness: One Name

Reading Genesis 11, the story of Babel, I note anew the reasoning of the people as they plan to build and the rebellion against God found there. In verse 4, the people proclaim:

“Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Here they are talking about pooling their resources together to build a permanent residence where they can dwell under one name and stop roaming over the earth. They refused to scatter over the whole earth, choosing instead to become great as one people under one name. This is rebellion against God who told Adam, “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]…” ~ Genesis 1:28, AMP.

God repeated this command with Noah, “And GOD pronounced a blessing upon Noah and his sons and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth’” ~ Genesis 9:1.

These people refused the will of God, deciding instead to set themselves up in one place, become great in stature together, and stand deliberately against the call to scatter over the earth, subduing it and making full use of its resources. In God’s response to this rebellion, we see Him doing what it takes to force the hand of the people and set them back on the path He laid out for them.

“And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do, and now nothing they have imagined they can do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord scattered them abroad from that place upon the face of the whole earth, and they gave up building the city. Therefore the name of it was called Babel—because there the Lord confounded the language of all the earth; and from that place the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” ~ Genesis 11:6-9, AMP.

Beloved, God has a plan and a purpose for each of us on the path of life. Part of that plan, the key piece, is that we rely on and seek after Him and His will first, desiring Him above all, and fulfilling His purpose. Anytime we choose self-reliance over trust in Him, we leave the path of God’s desire for us, and fail to fulfill His purpose. God cannot let that stand. He must act as God and be God in the situation; and He is not above doing whatever it takes to set our feet on the path of His choosing.

Is there a difficulty in your life that has you stumbling about in confusion, frustrating your efforts to do what you want? Stop and seek the Lord to discern where you are on the path of life. Are you with the Lord on the path of His choosing? Then fear not. The trouble has a purpose and God has a plan and provision for dealing with it. Have you deliberately walked away from God, going your own way in your own strength to do your own thing? God does not leave us, but we can walk away from Him through rebellion that sets us on a path He cannot allow to succeed.

Holy Habitation with God requires that we get our bearings lined up with His as His people, called by His name, so we are on the path to fulfilling His purpose for us. Take a moment right now to check your position. Are you with God on the path, or have you slipped away?

“He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” ~ James 4:6-10.

Difficult Things 3: God Causes Good

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” ~ Romans 8:28.

Who of God’s people have not had opportunity to trust the promise of God that He will turn our troubles to a good purpose? The question is, do we have the right to claim this promise?

John Piper, in his revised version of “Future Grace” points out that many of God’s promises to us are conditional. This is one such promise. God does work all things together for good, conditionally, “to those who love God” and “to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Qualification 1) God works all things to good “for those who love God.”

This love we are to have for God, 1) holds love for Him first above all else; 2) proves itself through obedience; and 3) is incorruptible.

We are called to love God first, above all else. My husband knows there is only One I love more than I love him, and that is God. God gets my first and best. Without this, I cannot truly love, nor can I do any good, for God is love, and He alone is good. Only in abiding relationship with Him can I hope to love as He loves or do any good thing. God is the source of true love and we can only accomplish the truly good with His power supplying. That is a good thing for my husband, because, as I keep God first in my affections, then my love for him flows out of my love for God. If we have anything positioned in our life above God, we fail to love God in a way that causes Him to work His good in our lives.

Jesus made it clear that proof of our love for God is seen in our obedience to follow Christ (John 14:15, 23-24; 15:10), practicing the obedience He exhibited as example for us (John 5:19; 5:30; 8:28; 8:42; 10:18; 12:49; 14:10; 16:13; Galatians 2:20). We prove our love for God through our obedience in following Him above all others. A love that keeps God first and obeys Him at all cost is incorruptible and everlasting, not falling away to falsehood or any evil thing. God knows those who love Him in this way will continue to love Him despite every difficulty. He knows they will seek to have His viewpoint for every situation they face in life and that they will watch for the good God chooses to do through those circumstances. He knows they trust Him because they love Him and they know His love always does what is best. So their love remains steadfast even when the outcome of life’s challenges takes turns they may not see as a good thing at the time.

Qualification 2) God works all things out to a good conclusion for “those who are called according to His purpose.”

If we choose to do something God does not call us to do, He is not obligated to work good out of it; thus it is vital that all we do be done in and by the calling and equipping of God. To do less means we do so in our own strength, which will fail us. Doing something even if called to it, but going outside God’s purpose and plan for us, thus walking in disobedience, nullifies His obligation to work good out of our circumstances. Loving obedience within the confines of God’s call to and equipping for us is required if we are to see the promised good from God that this Romans 8:28 promise of God holds for us.

I don’t know if you have ever been on a mission trip, but there are several things I find common to those who go in the calling and equipping of God. Great strength pours through the body of one who goes in the will of God, having God as first love. That power pours forth to accomplish great things, from reaching the masses with the gospel message and love of Christ, to ministering to the physical, spiritual, mental, and social needs of the masses. We often see the miraculous as God’s power pours forth through us, granting us the privilege of experiencing Him as His instrument in ministry. Then we get home and that anointing of His power for that specific time and purpose lifts. Strength seems sapped because that power is not as evident as when on the field for a season of ministry. At the same time, the joy and excitement of the experience spurs the desire for more of the same on the home front.

I believe the disciples, in our Mark 9:14-29 passage for this series, were in this post mission exuberance. They wanted to be God’s instrument for healing the boy, but their faith was resting on their past experience of God’s calling and equipping. They failed to seek God out of love for Him, entering into His equipping for this opportunity in front of them. They were not moving out of the calling and equipping of God, but out of their desire to do the miraculous. They fell to loving the experience of His power instead of truly loving Him, and out of that love, letting His power have control. They came off the mission field too big for their britches, forgot their first love, and found they had only a little power, which proved to be insufficient for the need.

For God to fulfill His promise of working His good into our lives, we must have hearts attuned to Him as our first love: our most vital need and necessity for life. We must also walk in the calling and equipping of God for current situations, with faith firmly resting in what He can and will do through us and for us. Anything less and the good of God may not reach us, His obligation to act on our behalf voided by our failure to fulfill His will through obedience that keeps Him first in our affections.

Listening Prayer (Part 5) ~ The Purpose

Listening prayer is a lifestyle of ceaseless communication with God; making every step and every breath an act of obedience flowing from a living and active relationship with Him as our Lord, our very breath of life. This lifestyle is vital to our function in this age in which we live and to our ability to overcome the challenges of a world that is daily moving farther from Him. In closing out this focus today, I am reminded of the purpose and goal of such a vital, God-breathed lifestyle of prayer.

“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” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6.

The goal and purpose of listening prayer is to make all our being and all we do and think acknowledge God as Lord, knowing that He is our first and most vital need. He is our Treasure: our eternal Inheritance. To be still within, lifting every breath to Him, the One in whom we place our trust, acknowledges His right as God over us, and our need of Him in all our ways. Here in Proverbs, God promises that, as we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will make our paths straight.

As I read this proverbs passage today, I found myself praying for God to reveal anything at the heart of my life that fails to acknowledge Him as Lord; anything hindering my seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Shortly after that prayer, a book I am reading led me to Deuteronomy:

“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” ~ Deuteronomy 30:6.

Circumcising the heart is the removal of all that separates us from complete allegiance to and relationship with God. God reveals the things we lean on or want more than we do Him, and He begins the work of removing from our lives all that hinders our relationship with Him. Some things God graciously removes with hardly any notice of it or work on our part. We just suddenly lose all desire for that thing that interfered with our communion with our Beloved. However, there are some things where God will reveal the interfering offender and then tell us, “Circumcise your heart” (Deuteronomy 10:12-21 *vs. 16). Some things God requires us to do the work; He wants us to choose Him as much as He chooses us.

God holds us as the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). He loves us so much that He made a way for us to have relationship with Him by sacrificing His Son on our behalf (John 3:16). God’s desire is for us, not wanting ANY to perish, but ALL to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Repentance means to let go of one’s own way, aligning self with God and His ways, so that we walk beside Him in unity of mind and heart, fulfilling His purpose and plan. That requires us to love and desire Him as He does us.

The question is, do we hold Him as the apple of our eye – the center, most prominent treasure we seek to obtain and hold dearest to our heart when possessed? Do we desire relationship with Him so much that we willingly deny ourselves, and, taking up our cross of self-sacrifice daily, determine to follow Him at all cost (Luke 9:23, see AMPC)? Do we truly see God in all His triune essence as our first, most vital need and necessity, so that we choose Him above all else?

The goal and purpose of this call of God for us is that we may grow to love Him and desire Him above all else, fully possessing the eternal relationship He purchased for us. The love He calls us to grow in our possession of as we practice a living, life-giving, listening-prayer life that fully relates with and works alongside Him is best expressed in these words of Paul:

“Grace (God’s undeserved favor) be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying and INCORRUPTIBLE LOVE” ~ Ephesians 6:24, AMPC.

Loving God with a love so strong and sure, eternally binds us to Him. Nothing can draw us away from relationship with Him, corrupting our walk, when we come fully into this living, breathing walk of love with Him.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

Listening Prayer (Part 4-C) ~ The Way of It

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.

As we covered yesterday, we quench the Spirit in many ways: fear, doubt, disobedience, and more. Along with God’s instruction to not quench the work of the Spirit in us, here Paul gives a specific way we tend to quench the Spirit of God: through despising prophetic utterances.

What is prophetic utterance?

One work of the prophet is to make God’s word clear and evident as a source of truth and wisdom that applies to our lives today. As the pastor, a teacher, or a friend seeks to encourage us in the truth of God and its application to current life situations: that is prophetic utterance. To ignore that instruction and fail to apply it to some situation the Spirit points our hearts to as we learn of His truth is to despise prophetic utterance. To tell ourselves, as our fleshly soul is prone to do, “Oh, it won’t hurt just this once,” going against the nudge of the Spirit who reminds us of the truths of God and its application to some course we are considering is to despise prophetic utterance.

However, prophetic utterance takes another form in the power of God’s Presence that too many fear acknowledging as true and right in our day. Many in our day do not believe that the Spirit of the prophet works any more as it did in the days of the Old Testament. Though prophesy is a gift listed in the New Testament teachings we live by today, people deny this work of the Spirit. Though Jesus and His apostles taught that God will increase the number of His people who dream dreams and see visions as the day of Christ draws near – methods used by God in making prophesy known, many refuse to believe this gifting still works in our day. They deny themselves the benefit of this communication method sent by God to help us in these days.

I am talking here about those sent by God to warn us of things coming in our day so we can prepare ourselves to face those things, yes; but often times the Spirit of prophesy is a work that is much more personal and close to home than that. Let us look at two examples of such occurrences:

When one of my daughters was a teenager, she was obviously struggling with something, growing more withdrawn and depressed with each passing day, but was not opening up to me about it. Seeking God for Him to reveal and heal the problem, I heard in the “voice” I have long experienced as God communicating with my heart, “There is a demon in your house and he is raping your daughter.” Wow! Too weird for words, I shook my head as if to shake off the ridiculous, but I know that voice, so I did not ignore it. Instead, I prayed, “Lord, that thought is too strange to me, but that is the voice I know as You, so I do not want to just ignore it if that is You. What I am going to do is lay that at Your feet, rest it with You, and ask that, if it is truth from You, You reveal the truth of it and prepare us to deal rightly with it.”

A few days later, my daughter finally came to me, “Mom, I have to talk to you.” She shared with me about horrible, too real to fathom, nightmares she kept having of ghostly, demonic beings raping her in the night.” Now if God had not warned me, I might have shook it off as something other than a battle to be fought on the eternal frontlines.

We covered together all the possibilities: a real life rape forgotten or denied; someone bothering her and causing a fear of potential harm, etc. Anything thought of as a possibility, we discussed and dealt with, but nothing was clear to us at that time. We began fighting on the spiritual frontlines and called on believing friends to help us, praying protection over her and seeking the revelation of any contributing factors. Eventually God did reveal that our daughter saw something as a child that was perfectly innocent, but that was beyond her understanding. It caused a fear in her that revealed itself through this demonic attack against her, along with other troubling dreams. The battle was long and we saw God move in ways that are awesome to my understanding, all of which we would have missed experiencing if I failed to trust that God speaks to us today in such ways.

Then there is the more recent experience of a person in my life who awoke one morning to God telling her, “You need to check your husband’s computer. He has thousands of pornographic pictures.” Again, the message came to her in the “voice” of God, as she knows it.

Her husband struggled for many years with pornography when he was young. When they married, he assured her that God delivered him from that issue. Later she discovered he was again delving into that evil. It led them to separate, but they were trying to work through it and get their marriage back on solid ground. She asked him frequently how he was doing in that area, holding him accountable, and, every time, he told her that it was not a problem. Then there came this word of God’s warning to her.

When opportunity presented itself, knowing the prophetic proves to be from God with revelation of the truth of it, she got on his computer to check things out. Sure enough, there were thousands of images on his computer just as the Spirit said, along with numerous thumb drives full of the stuff. The truly disturbing thing she found is that he had one folder full of pictures of her teenage daughter that he saved from the daughter’s Instagram account. She could find no other family pictures anywhere, not of herself, or of his blood-born son from his previous marriage, only that one folder of her teenage daughter’s pictures, innocent headshots of her, saved among all that porn.

This was not the first time her family’s life was touched by perversion. There were things going on that had many praying for the revealing of truth concerning her current husband, as warning signs kept rising up to cause us to question what was going on with him. The prophetic warning from God received in answer to many prayers for the truth of his heart intentions, a marriage is in shambles, but a child is safe from harm’s way. I shudder to think what might happen if this woman of God despised the prophetic voice of God within, thus, failing to check it out for herself and find the truth.

God gave prophets to the people of Israel because the people were afraid to hear from God for themselves (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). God sent Jesus to restore us to full relationship with Him, bringing this work of the Spirit as a resource to help us. Do not let fear and doubt keep you from trusting God’s voice in you and having the full experience of Him that He desires for you. Trust the Lord who promises to make His word to us known as from Him through His faithfulness that brings all to pass just as He says it will.

Know the voice of God. Cooperate with the work of the Spirit within you. Do not despise and deny the prophetic word sent by God for your good. Instead, examine everything carefully, looking for the truth revealed. Hold fast to that which is good, following the lead of God into righteousness. Abstain from every form of evil, being quick to flee harm’s way when God lovingly reveals an area of danger. God promises that if He is the author of the word sent, we will see the truth of it. Trust Him, and only believe.

Listening Prayer (Part 4-B) ~ The Way of It

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.

This is long because it is extremely important to understand. I thought about dividing it into two pieces, but I don’t want to lose the flow and possibly miss the full impact.

Communion with God, discerning the voice of God’s Spirit, is vital to our ability to pray in agreement with His will and way in life. It is necessary for our ability to fully, and truly follow Him in fulfilling His purpose in us, just as Jesus did. That said, we all tend to wax and wane in our ability to hear and follow God. We tend to quench the Spirit of God for many reasons: doubt, uncertainty, fear, and probably the most frequent reason, falling to old habits of our flesh: just to name a few.

Scripture tells us that, upon receiving Christ and the Helper Spirit He gives as a seal, the old person we were dies. We become a new creation. In an instant, the old becomes new; but how is that, and why this wavering in our possession and living of the new person we are?

Yesterday, our Associate Pastor brought a wonderful message on this cooperation with the transforming work of the Spirit. I believe it will help us to understand more clearly the importance of our relationship with the Spirit: not quenching Him, but working in unity with Him through radical faith. We must understand our need to discern this mind of Christ in us, so that we may follow His lead.

By way of review, remember, in James 1 we see where James advises that seeking God for wisdom and receiving it only to doubt the wisdom given us, is a result of our being double-minded. The struggle of double-mindedness in the believer who has the Spirit of God, who gives us the mind of Christ to help us, comes from our fleshly mind arguing against the mind of Christ in us. Yesterday, as Pastor Tim taught on this subject, I found myself reminded of things important to realize at this point in this series.

When God created humans, Scripture says, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). This passage reveals that God created in mankind a body (formed of dust), a spirit (given the breath of life that comes from relationship to God), and a soul. He made our soul in likeness to His own, granting us a mind with which to think and understand our surroundings, a personal will by which we may choose our paths for life, and emotions that allow depth of comprehension and expression.

  • Our body allows us to relate with our surroundings through our five senses: hearing, sight, smell, and the sensations of touch and of taste. These allow full experience of our world and the people and things in it.
  • The spirit God breathed into human flesh is eternal. The intent and specific purpose of the spirit God breathed into humans was to equip them to relate with God. It was the place where people could experience true understanding of God and relationship with Him. (Stay with me.)
  • The soul (our mind, will, and emotions) relates with both God and all of creation. Anything that touches our lives, stirs our souls. These experiences lead to the expression of that which makes up our personalities and way of being ~ we learn from those things that touch our soul and become who we are as a person. The soul evaluates and stores the understanding found in the experiences of the body and the spirit. Without our God-breathed spirit to equip our understanding of God, our soul easily distorts the experience of God. This distortion takes place because our finite mind cannot fathom God without the aid of God-breathed spirit; our desire for our own will and way in life leads away from God; and the emotional highs and lows that color our understanding distort clear vision. I.e., Failure to see God work the way we think He should (mind), coupled with failure to recognize His reality in ways that stir us (emotions), and inability to understand our reality in light of the way we think things should be (will), is often distorted to mean that God does not exist or that He doesn’t care.

So now, why the past tense on the description of the God-breathed spirit given humanity at creation and its intended work in our ability to understand and relate with God?

When Adam and Eve sinned by refusing God’s way for them, the ability of the spirit of humankind to commune with God so-as-to know Him in truth, died. Everyone born to man from then on was born with a spirit that has no capacity to relate with the truth of who God is and how He functions. All that remained within us to help our struggle to realize and know God is the soul, which is fickle and based on personal opinion apart from the guidance of the spirit-connection. Our soul is prone to make God into our image, seeing Him with our finite understanding, the same as we view all other things. The soul is unable to truly comprehend that which is beyond our understanding. With our connection of spirit shut off, we cannot truly know how great and awesome God is. We cannot comprehend His voice or understand His ways because they are higher than our souls can fathom.

Then came Jesus. Upon believing in ways that truly receive Christ as God’s redemption for us, Jesus gives us the very Spirit of God, restoring our ability to see and know God as He truly is. His Spirit grants us the ability to understand the Infinite. In that instant, the being we were who could not comprehend God dies. Made new by the Spirit of God, Jesus restores our relationship with the Father.

This is the mind of Christ: the ability to see, hear, know and perceive truly all that God is and desires, and to communicate with Him. By the work of the Spirit in us, we understand all that He is doing as He reveals Himself to us, as well as how we fit into His plan and purpose. Walking through life, dictated by this mind of Christ is true and righteous innocence with God. Such innocence allows us to draw near to God, where He hears and knows us fully, and we hear and know Him.

Problem?

The problem all of us face to varying degrees is this: We are still flesh beings with a soul that has a mind of its own. Our mind wars against the mind of Christ and we too easily return to the old ways of the familiar, quenching the work of the Spirit of God in us. We fail to realize and fully acknowledge the right of rule that belongs to this mind of Christ in us. We quench the work of the Spirit because it is strange to our experience, or because we keep resurrecting the flesh-man so that we may go our own way.

Walking in relationship with God so we have His heart for life and for prayer requires innocence. Possessing it means we actively seek to discern and surrender to the mind of Christ within us, the Spirit of His Presence. The stronger we grow in this eternal practice, the better, as the consistent practice of being Spirit led and fed deadens the rule of a selfish soul that seeks its own way over God’s way.

We cannot truly communicate with God through living, life-giving communication without this bond made by the God-breathed Spirit found in Christ. We cannot be the true person God intended us to be without this connection with Him. Beware those things, beloved, that cause you to quench the work of the Spirit in you.

~*~For consideration~*~

“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. Set your minds and keep them set on what is above, the higher things, not on the things that are on the earth. For as far as this world is concerned you have died, and your new, real life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in the splendor of His glory. SO KILL, DEADEN, AND DEPRIVE OF POWER THE EVIL DESIRE LURKING IN YOUR MEMBERS, those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin. …for you have stripped off the old, unregenerate self with its evil practices, and have clothed yourselves with the new, spiritual self, which is ever in the process of being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image and likeness of Him Who created it” ~ Colossians 3:1-10, AMPC/Amplified Classic.

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world (which is separated eternally from God and cannot truly know Him), but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (only having His Spirit living in us equips us to truly and fully understand and believe). But he who is spiritual appraises (understands) all things, yet he himself is appraised (understood) by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (so that we may know Him and receive His instruction with understanding, comprehension)” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:12-16, NASB (author’s understanding).

“Since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose, patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God. For whoever has suffered in the flesh, having the mind of Christ, is done with intentional sin, has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God, so that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by his human appetites and desires, but he lives for what God wills” ~ 1 Peter 4:1-2, AMPC.

Listening Prayer (Part 4-A) ~ The Way of It

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Recall from previous posts in this series that listening prayer is two-way communication.

We speak: God hears and responds. When He responds with words in the Spirit, whether through scripture, the encouragement of other believers, or that gentle inner voice, the work of the Spirit is to grant us understanding of the voice of the Lord. Our work is to hear with the listening ears of a disciple possessing a heart to obey. When God speaks to us in the work of His Spirit in us to encourage our wait for His action, we know the word is from the Lord as it happens in the earth.

He speaks: by faith, we listen and hear with understanding ears open to the Spirit of God who brings knowledge and remembrance of things we need to know so that we can follow through to accomplish the will of God in every situation. The Spirit gives wisdom with understanding comprehension. Listen! And give Him glory.

In today’s focal passage, we see that the will of God for us is that, in every situation of life, we rejoice in Him, praying without ceasing, possessing a grateful heart that expresses itself in us.

Note the “pray without ceasing”: How do we possess a ceaseless prayer life? We accomplish this as we realize that listening prayer begins with communion – friends, walking together in the partnership of life, and it culminates in action. We seek the Lord. He instructs us. We follow His instruction, doing what He equips us to accomplish. Meanwhile, we watch to see Him do what only He can do through our situations and in response to our obedience. We praise the Lord for His work in and through us all along the way. The topper? He rejoices over us who walk so closely with Him.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” ~ Zephaniah 3:17.

Now, what of the “Rejoice ALWAYS…in EVERYTHING give thanks”? That appears easiest to do when things are good—or is it? However, things are not always good. When things are bad, it is definitely difficult to always rejoice and give thanks in everything—isn’t it? Difficulty being part of our always and everything, how do we continue to rejoice and be thankful?

It should be easiest to rejoice in the Lord with grateful heart when things are good; however, that is too often not the case. When God brings us out of a season of difficult and delivers us into the good land, we rejoice in recognizing His work on our behalf. However, when we neglect to realize God moved on our behalf, or when we are long in the good land, we too easily take for granted that goodness and neglect to rejoice and give Him thanks as we should.

Listening prayer maintains constant communion with God, being always aware of the good He does for us, and being faithful to this call in our rejoicing over Him with thankfulness. The stronger we grow in this practice of prayer, the more ceaseless our walk in this will of God for us. Be alert in the good days that you fulfill the will of God in listening communion with Him, laying claim to no good thing as if of your own making, taking nothing for granted.

What about the difficult days, how do we rejoice and give thanks when we see nothing to rejoice over and definitely are not thankful for what is going on? The answer is in our focus during such times, and in our understanding of what this passage teaches us.

Rejoice always: in what? Certainly not in our situations: good or bad. Rejoicing in our situations or in the provision God makes for our life circumstances and possessions He provides for us makes these an idol in our eyes. Rejoicing is always to be in our God – who He is in all seasons, His faithfulness, His help toward us, His presence, etc.

Scripture tells us, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of Your heart.” When our greatest desire is God, we will find Him in every situation, good or bad, and we will be satiated, strengthened, and helped. The scripture says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. Growing strong in our ability to find joy in the Presence of our Lord, whatever is going on in life, is what brings us strength to be able to face all that comes to our day. (Psalm 37:3-6; Nehemiah 8:10)

Focus in rejoicing is always in the Lord. When our lives focus on delighting in Him, thankfulness comes easy as we note His work and provision more readily, seeing Him move in to help us, in good days, and in difficult ones.

~*~

“Rejoice in the Lord always – delight, gladden yourselves in Him; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know, perceive and recognize your unselfishness, your considerateness, your forbearing spirit. The Lord is near…” ~ Philippians 4:4-5, AMPC.

Listening Prayer (Part 3) ~ The Trustworthy Mind of Christ

“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:14-16.

Here, Paul tells the reader that we have the very mind of Christ within us, available as a resource, to instruct us and help us have right thoughts and understanding within us. The Holy Spirit is God, living and active within the believer.

Have you ever had sudden comprehension of how to pray for a situation or how to respond with the wisdom or instruction needed by a friend. This is the thought of God coming to us through the Mind of Christ in the power and leading of the Spirit. It is not our own, but His.

“…when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak…” ~ John 16:13.

The Spirit speaks to us and instructs our hearts with the very will and thought of God. The Spirit hears the thoughts of God from the mind of God and brings those thoughts to us. This power and work of the Spirit was in Jesus while He walked the earth in flesh form. He was not double-minded, but He always worked out of the Mind of the Lord, in the leading of the Spirit who gives discernment for a single-minded life. This same resource from God living in us is why Paul says that we have the very mind of Christ in us.

This mind of Christ within us equips us to know the voice of God when He speaks. It helps us to remember the instruction hidden in our hearts by the work of His Spirit. This mind is the provision of God that helps us to discern when thoughts are foreign to His will, way, plan, and purpose, so we have adequate supply to take every thought captive. We see this mindset in several testimonials from Christ, revealing His own obedience in following the will of God out of the mind of God.

“…‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ …‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’” ~ John 4:32-34.

“My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working. …Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. … I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. … But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me” ~ John 5:17, 19, 30, 36.

Oh, to do the works of God with such confidence; oh, Mind_Christ03to come to the Father in prayer knowing we are on the same page with His heart. It is possible for us, because we have the mind of Christ in the work of the Spirit.

Then there are Jesus’ words to Peter when He said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matthew 16:23). The mind of Christ helps us to live, walk, speak, and pray the very interests of God. We must learn from Peter’s experience to follow the teaching of Paul in 2 Corinthians:

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Some translations of scripture word the above passage to read that we take our thoughts captive to obey Christ. That is true, but I find greater depth of understanding in those that tell us to take our thoughts “captive to the OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST.”

The wording “obedience of Christ” says to me that we take thoughts captive, surrendering to the mind of Christ so that we may obey God as Jesus obeyed God. Christ, our example, gives us the Spirit of God so we can have the thoughts of God from the mind of God, in order that we may obey as Jesus obeyed.

I am sure you have read before the teaching of James on seeking God’s wisdom. Note here the instruction given in that oft quoted and preached passage:

“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” ~ James 1:5-8.

As I sought God on, getting His heart for writing this piece, my desire was and is to take us to the place of realizing, believing, trusting, and functioning by faith in the fact that we have the very mind of Christ. Once we have and function out of this faith, we can live, breath and pray, trusting that we have His thoughts available to us. As I prayed and pondered these things, God led me to this James passage. Looking at in light of our focus, these words took on deeper meaning, “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: we are double-minded when we fail to believe, trust, live, walk, obey, and pray as one directed and dictated by the mind of Christ. Our own thoughts getting in the way, bringing doubt that destroys faith to believe and trust the understanding the Spirit gives us as He hears the Father and Son on our behalf, and speaks that to us, makes us double-minded. We must grow into the single-mindedness exemplified by Jesus.

It is vital that we learn to discern the mind of Christ working within us: our every thought, our every action, our every decision, our every prayer dictated by that one mind. It is vital that we trust Him at all cost, refusing to be swayed by competing opinions brought to us by the flesh, this world, and the demonic.

Listening Prayer (Part 2-C) ~ The Work of The Helper

Reviewing the work of the Spirit covered in our previous post, we saw that once we receive the Spirit of God through believing faith and repentant heart willing for change, the Spirit moves in, transforming us immediately in our eternal being, covering us with Christ so that God can relate with us. Holy Spirit then begins a work of transformation in our physical being, bearing forth from our lives the fruit of the Spirit, which is the nature of God flowing through us as His image bearers (Galatians 5:22-23). This work of the Spirit in us proves our relationship with God through His saving, grace. We cannot possess godly goodness on our own. That is why works are not part of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10). Only as the Spirit enables true goodness in us can we truly obey God’s ways. Thus, works are a proof of salvation, proof of true and eternal relationship with God, not the way to it (James 2:18).

God’s Spirit resides in us as teacher, comforter, advocate, and much more, granting us the ability to discern truth about God, His word, His will, His ways, and His reality. Holy Presence grants us the ability to discern sin, righteousness, and judgment, not only in our way of living that requires His transforming work in us, but also equipping us to make choices that are good, prosperous, and blessed. Today we continue with a look at the rest of John 16:7-15.

“…I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

Jesus told the disciples that He would disclose Himself to those who love and obey Him – God (John 14:21). That means He will make Himself better known to those who meet the criteria of loves obedience: obedience that flows out of relationship.

This walk with Jesus in the Spirit is like walking with a friend. The longer we walk together, the better acquainted we become. As we walk closely with friends, they influence our way of living and being; and we, theirs. This is the reason that scripture warns the believer seeking to grow in relationship with God to watch who they associate with, for bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Through the power of the Spirit, we still have available to us this relationship with Jesus, who discloses Himself to those who love and obey God. Jesus the Son and Father God reside within us in the person of the Spirit, Who discloses them to us as we walk more closely with Him.

I know that God never changes, for He is perfect in all His ways having no need of change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Believing the truth of this fact, two Old Testament passages come to heart to help us understand this work of disclosure accomplished by the Spirit – this communion that is vital to effective prayer.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” ~ Jeremiah 33:3.

The Spirit of God as teacher answers our questions and responds to our seeking Him and His ways, in personal and clear ways of communication with us. This includes His vital work of equipping us to understand the Word of God found in Holy Writ, yes. However, there is more: Much more. For example, the Spirit helps us to understand things like why we are the way we are.

I shared many times here my struggle with a root of rejection. A book I was reading, encouraging steps toward healing such things in life, advised to pray for God’s Spirit to remind us of our earliest memory of an unsettled hurt and to help us settle it once and for all. The Spirit immediately brought my thoughts to recall a memory of something I thought was a dream. I said, “Lord, You know I’ve struggled to know if that is a memory or a dream. If it is memory, I need You to lead me to discern the truth of it.”

In this thing that I thought was a dream, I see my daddy and me setting on a couch beside which my mother was packing a big box of my clothes. She said, “You take Darlene and I will take Debbie.” My sis is over four years younger than me. The girl I believed was me in my “dream” was only about three, so that dream like remembrance never made sense that it could be real. Plus, the house setup and furniture was all wrong for where we were when I was three.

A day or two after praying for discernment, going about my day’s home care duties, humming some worship song, my mind was nowhere near thinking about that memory. Suddenly, the Spirit spoke very clearly to my understanding, “Darlene, what if that little girl is not you?” Immediately I realized the little girl was Debbie. My “dream” suddenly flashed with truth of remembrance. I was sitting across from them, that is why in my thought of that occurrence I always saw the little girl I thought was me clearly, setting beside daddy.

Once I realized the truth of my memory and what I saw, I knew that I was about seven or eight years old at the time. The scene then flashed with familiarity and everything fit the period for that setting. My mom and dad were fighting, and mom was packing me up to leave. Debbie sat beside daddy and I watched from across the room as momma prepared to send me away with daddy while she wanted Debbie. Root uncovered! Understanding the root, that my spirit of rejection came from that experience, true healing blossomed forth from there. The Spirit answers us, telling us things we do not know. I shudder to think of the struggle that would still have hold on me had I failed to trust and believe the Spirit speaking to me.

The second passage that comes to heart promises:

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left” ~ Isaiah 30:21.

The Spirit of God helps us to understand the will and way of God, granting us wisdom for those crossroad decisions. He helps us to have the thoughts of God to counter our negative or false understanding. He helps us to have God’s answer for those who approach us for instruction, encouragement, or understanding of truth. He does all of this as He imparts to us another vital resource we possess for true understanding through listening prayer: we have the mind of Christ. See you here on our next post.

Listening Prayer (Part 2-B) ~ The Work of The Helper

“But when the Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes from the Father, He, Himself will testify regarding Me” ~ John 15:26, AB Classic.

Yesterday we covered the provision of God found in His Spirit, that His Spirit is the teacher, equipping us to know and understand the truth of God and His word. He empowers us to discern God’s will and way so we can pray in agreement with God’s opinion. Now, John 15:26 in the classic Amplified Version of scripture adds to our understanding of the work of the Spirt.

God’s Spirit is in us, living in us on behalf of Father and Son, being for us the Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Strengthener, and the Stand-by-you Presence of God Himself with us. God, in His Spirit, comforts us in our sorrows and counsels us on our path, which implies a form of clear communication. He helps us through equipping, strengthening, and providing our every true need; and walks with us, always near at hand as we travel through this life, which implies some ability to realize His reality. I have experienced all of these works of God’s Spirit in life, but most recently, the work of God’s Presence as Advocate. It was amazing as I prayed what to do about the situation, the Spirit advised, “Be still. I’ve got this.” Very quickly I heard back from the person expressing their realization of truth. Problem solved, and I did not have to say a word.

There are two ways the Advocate helps us in this life. One: when our flesh, this world, and the demonic seek to knock us down, destroy our sense of worth, or knock us off path, it is the Spirit who helps us recognize ungodly thoughts, desires, and ideas. He corrects us with the truth stored in us through His Presence and gets us back up and going in the right direction again.

When I was an immature Christian, I got involved with a religious group that I since then learned is a cult. Now I was not raised in Church, but an aunt took me when she could, and I read scripture off and on from the day I prayed to receive Christ. I did not know much, but when a friend headed back further into the church building after service, and I asked where she was going, the Spirit used what little I knew to get me out of that group. My friend, responding to my query, said she was going to a bible study. I said, “Oh, really! I love bible study. What are you studying?” Her reply surprised me, “I am studying to take the test so that I may be saved.”

I did not know much, but I knew that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life required for coming to God; the only door to salvation (John 14:6; John 10:9). I knew that belief in who Jesus is and what He did for us coupled with a repentant heart that recognizes our need of His work on our behalf, and a willingness to be transformed by Him through the baptism – indwelling of His Holy Spirit is the path of salvation. It is between the individual and God, not to be determined by some test given by mankind. The Spirit bringing what I knew to contrast what I was hearing led me to leave that place and not return. The Advocate protected me from a path leading to destruction by His work as the revealer of truth. This communication as we seek God and He responds through the work of the Spirit in us is prayer in all its glory.

Two: when a person falsely accuses us because of misunderstanding our words or intent, it is the Spirit of God who moves on our behalf to lead them to a true understanding. Sometimes He speaks through us and gives them ears to hear. Sometimes, when they won’t hear us, He simply leads them to discern truth by some other means.

The main work of the Spirit is to testify to our hearts the truth regarding the Christ. When God draws us to know Him and have ever-deepening relationship with Him, it is the Spirit of God who equips us to hear, see, know, and understand the call of God to relationship. He unites with us, enabling us through a Spirit of willing obedience to respond to Jesus calling, “Come, follow me.”

John 16:7-15, in the breakdown of scripture below, further instructs in the work of the Spirit to help us to an ever-deepening relationship with Father and Son.

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. …”

The Spirit of God is necessary for us to understand conviction concerning sin. Convict means to make aware of one’s sinfulness or guilt. Sin separates from God. Sin reveals that we disbelieve that God is all that He says He is and that He does all He says He will do. We cannot experience the fullness of unity with God when walking in habitual, rebellious sin.

God’s Spirit reveals to us the sin in our life, not all at once, but little by little. As we possess greater righteousness, He takes us deeper in our discernment of our sin issues. He teaches us the righteous ways of God, how we are to be and look like Him, and He empowers us to walk free of our sin. Holy Spirit makes us to understand the judgment already set for those who refuse to unite with Him and walk the path He walks, so we can avoid that outcome and learn gratitude for His deliverance.

Besides showing where we are living in sin and delivering us from it, this same work of conviction helps us to evaluate the crossroads of life. He inspires us to recognize a path leading away from God, walking in separation from Him (sin) and the one that keeps us side by side with Him, accomplishing His purpose (righteousness). The Spirit inspires understanding of the consequences of the choices set before us (the judgment of good or evil, prosperity or adversity, blessing or curse). Holy Spirit empowers us once we have this information to make the choice that is God’s will for us.

Beloved, the Spirit of God unites us with the Father and our Savior, empowering us to walk closely with Him so that our lives transform, influenced in positive ways by this relationship, making us as He is in image and practice. The communion we have through this work of the Spirit is the greatest form of prayer available to us.

We will pause here to keep this from getting way longer, and finish up on the work of God’s Spirit tomorrow. BLESSings, Beloved!

Listening Prayer (Part 2-A) ~ The Work of The Helper

“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. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:4-5, NLT.

God calls and equips us to listen as His disciples, having His provision for our ears to hear and our mind to understand and our heart to stand in agreement so-as-to fulfill His plan and purpose for our being in this time in history. There are two main things God supplies us to equip us for success in our journey as His disciples: The Spirit of God and the mind of Christ. For these two resources to have full sway in accomplishing God’s will in us, we must understand their work in us, and BELIEVE! Today we look at the work of The Spirit of God in the lives of His children.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. …These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” ~ John 14:16-17, 25-26.

Jesus tells us a lot about the work of the Spirit in Scripture. Here we see the PROMISE from Jesus that He sends His Spirit to help us. The promise is that we will receive the Spirit and KNOW Him. We can and must as God’s children discern when the Spirit is speaking to us, doing His work as Helper. What is that work?

The Helper empowers us to understand the truth of God and His word.

We cannot fully comprehend the truth of God and His word to us without this work of the Spirit, so when understanding comes, that is not ours to brag about. All credit for our ability to understand the Holy Writ belongs to Spirit-God.

By the same right, when we set under the teaching of our church leadership, they must share with us what the Spirit taught them. The Spirit uses their teaching to take us into deeper understanding, and it is the Spirit of God that raises an “amen” in our Spirit when we hear His truth.

The Spirit is our Teacher and our Brain of Remembrance.

Think about what it takes to teach. There must be clear communication between teacher and student / disciple. The Spirit of God instructs our hearts and enables us to understand the teaching so-as-to apply it to our daily lives. When we forget some instruction, the Spirit is the one who brings it to our remembrance.

Though it may seem to us that our thoughts are our own, that is not always true. The Spirit is God’s response to the prayer of Jesus that we be one with them as they are with each other. Every good and true thought that leads us to the good God desires is from Him in the power of His Spirit that unites us as one with the Father. We cannot take credit for any good that comes to our understanding and actions.

The scriptures tell us two things about God that lead me to this assertion. One, God alone is good, and every good and perfect gift comes from Him (Mark 10:18; James 1:17). Two, when we ask for wisdom, believing and trusting Him to give it, He answers (James 1:5-8).

There is a true and good wisdom available for our possession in the power and equipping of Spirit-God. That wisdom is a gift from God in the power of His Spirit. It is not our own. We can take no credit for it. (James 3:13-18)

I believe this truth is why Proverbs describes Wisdom as if speaking of a person (i.e.: Proverbs 1:20-33). The Spirit of God is true and good Wisdom.

Often people will hear me proclaim, “God said to me” or “God told me”. These truths that I believe are why I do that. Every true and good understanding of truth that comes to me from Him is His speaking to me the instruction needed for life more abundant and full. Giving Him credit for it keeps me mindful that such good is not my own, but His.

I believe He speaks clearly to my heart because I have heard Him. He, many times has told me what is about to come; He gives understanding of what is going on, and truth I need to remember. It comes as a clear thought rising up as my own, but clearly not from my physical mind. Such thoughts always prove to be truly from Him and they lead my feet surly to the path of His choosing (Jeremiah 28:9; Ezekiel 33:33; Isaiah 30:21). I dare not take credit for it.

There is much taught concerning the work of the Spirit in scripture. We continue our journey tomorrow.

Jesus, Our Example in Representing God’s Interests

“All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me]. For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will and purpose but to do the will and purpose of Him Who sent Me. And this is the will of Him Who sent Me, that I should not lose any of all that He has given Me, but that I should give new life and raise [them all] up at the last day. For this is My Father’s will and His purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day” ~ John 6:37-40, AMP.

This really speaks a truth to me this morning that I need to possess and walk out into my daily life. I am really bad to not answer the phone or the door if I do not know who it is and feel like dealing with others. This practice is not expressive of God’s way, nor does it fulfill His purpose. He does not cast out or reject those seeking Him. He is THE LIGHT of the World. I am a part of His light on a hill, a lamp set in a place where darkness needs dispelling (Matthew 5:14-16; Matthew 10:27; Romans 13:12-14; 2 Corinthians 4:5-7; Ephesians 5).

Jesus constantly remembered His purpose. Jesus kept at heart the truth that God sent Him to do His will and fulfill the Father’s purpose. Therefore, He turned none away without seeing what the Lord would do through Him in the lives of those He met. His purpose was to be the Savior, granting eternal life to all who sought Him, and lifting them to their eternal dwelling with God. He also possessed the purpose of making the Father and the truth of His Word known to all. He embodied the essence of God’s image, bearing forth the fruit of His presence, power, and love into every situation.

God speaks to me this day, reminding me that, like Jesus, it is vital to remember that we are here in this life at this time with a purpose. Jesus alone is Savior. We are Light to draw others to Him, representing Him and His interests in the world. As He did, trusting God to use Him in the lives of those seeking Him, we must do the same.

Now, not all who came to Jesus were truly seeking Him. Some came to oppose Him or to try to expose Him as a fraud. Others came out of curiosity. Many came to see what He could do for them in the physical. Whoever came, He did not turn away, but dealt with them where they were in life. Many, once touched by His love, grace, wisdom, and power, returned to truly and sincerely seek Him. Others never did. With all who came, Jesus fulfilled His purpose in dealing with each, individually or corporately, shining the Light of truth, lovingkindness, hope, and righteousness into their reality. This is Jesus’ example to us, and it is our call in Christ.

God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever: His purpose unchanging. Thus, this remains the Father’s will and His purpose: that everyone who sees the Son in us, those who, through our testimony, He leads to believe in and cleave to and trust in and rely on Him, these too should have eternal life. By following Christ’s example to us, loving on all who come near, shining the light of truth to them, we can take part in the work of God in the lives others with hope of His raising them up at the last day.

~*~

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” ~ 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

(See also Matthew 10:16-20; John 3:33; Acts 4:33; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:9-12; 2 Timothy 1:7-11; Hebrews 10:14-25; Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 John 5:9-12; Revelation 12:10-12)

Jesus, Our Example in Glorifying God

“Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why are you thinking evil in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up, and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’—then He said to the paralytic, ‘Get up, pick up your bed and go home.’ And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men” ~ Matthew 8:4-8.

What was it that caused the people to glorify God? It was seeing this Man, Jesus, walking in the authority God gave to fulfill His purpose. Jesus, our example, shows us how to bring glory to God.

Beloved, we each have a calling, an equipping, the authority from God to fulfill His purpose in this day. Do you possess the authority God gives you and walk in it? People seeing you doing what only God can empower you to do, doing so as a gift possessed and used with full assurance of faith brings glory to God. This requires we hear and receive His call and trust His supply for fulfilling our purpose for being in this hour.

“We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us” ~ 2 Corinthians 2:17, NLT.

Whatever we say, whatever we do as followers of Christ, we must do in the authority He gives us in the work done. I write because God instructs my heart often that this is my calling, with full equipping from Him. When I write what He gives me, it flows with the assurance of His authority and provision, so I can write with certainty, owning what I know true.

I post my writings online because that is what God instructed my heart to do. This blog is a platform sanctioned by God with assurance that each post will go far and wide, to all He desires to receive it. Whether read by only one or a million and one, that is not my concern. My authority and equipping is to write it. God’s authority and power is to lead those to read it that He desires to speak to. It is your authority and equipping from God to discern His voice in the words and receive it so-as-to walk out His will in your life.

Whatever you do, beloved, realize the authority of God in it. If you do not see Him there, leave it. That thing, for you, is a work in futility, having little or no eternal worth. However, when inspired and equipped by God, it comes with authority to accomplish things of eternal value. Grasp hold of the assurance of God’s calling and equipping you and press forward with faith to fulfill your call (Colossians 4:17).

~*~

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” ~ See Romans 12.

Convinced of This: I Can Do All Things Through Christ!

“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” ~ Philippians 4:12-13.

Beloved, I ask you, have you come to the place in your relationship with God where you truly and fully know that you “can”? No matter the storm; no matter the hardship; no matter the challenge; no matter the duty; no matter the appearance of weakness and insufficiency: do you knowingly proclaim in full assurance “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me”?

God grows me daily to understand that “I can.” Is it always easy? Is it always pleasant? Is it always with courage? Is it never accompanied by struggle or pain? Of course the answer to all is a resounding “no!” However, God continues to teach me truths that make the struggle worth the growth pains. Today I share one with you that only recently formed in me. Before I do, let me preface this word with one truth you must understand. I am NOT, in what I am about to tell you, saying that we can be God or take His place in any way. Know now that is not what I am telling you, or you will miss what I am saying and the power for life it gives to fully believe, “I CAN do ALL things through Christ!”

Reading John 5:16-18, these words grab me: “(Jesus) calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” The Scribes and Pharisees raged at Jesus, angered by this connection, but this is true of Christ like it can never be for us. Jesus is God incarnate. Jesus came to show us the Father and make Him known to us. Jesus came with the calling and equipping of God to make us one with Him in Christ. Now bear with me.

As I contemplated that thought, “Making Himself equal with God”, asking Jesus what He wanted me to see, He spoke, “Our Father, who art in heaven” (Matthew 6:9). Instantly I realized Jesus, instructing my heart that our ability to know “I can do all things through Christ” requires we find this same expression of unity with the Father for a life of power. He must be “FATHER” to ME. The thing the Pharisees accused Jesus of, He instructs us to seek the Father from that very stance: we are the image of God.

Jesus, our example, tells us in John 14:7-15, “…He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” Jesus, in John 17, prays that we will be one with Him and the Father as He and the Father are one (vs. 22). If Jesus prayed it, it must not only be possible, but expected. We are the people called of God, equipped through Christ, beloved, to be one with the Father, expressive of His glory in Christlikeness. This is our position in Christ.

“Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father” ~ John 14:11-12.

Jesus calls and equips us for greater works, beloved. He empowers us to express the reality of the Father: His person, character, nature, and power in the earth. That comes with authority and full provision for the task. When we grasp hold of our unity with Father through Christ and fully possess it as our own reality, knowing He plans for our success in fully accomplishing His good will in His good way, pouring Himself through us to do so, then we will know beyond doubt the “I can do all things” that God holds out to us in Christ.

Convinced of This: God is With Me

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” ~ Isaiah 41:10.

As I have my time with the Lord each day, it is amazing how much of His Word is set in place for our benefit, to lead us surly to Holy Habitation with God. None more vital than this promise expressed in Isaiah 41:10. For personal and full assurance that no matter what comes into our lives in this earth, whether through persecution or penance, we must fully believe that God is with “ME”! He is with ME to help ME.

None of the other promises I can think of, that assure our hearts, can stand-alone. They are dependent on this one fact, sealed and secure in our hearts. We cannot believe that God will truly help us if we fail to know that He is with us. We cannot hope for His deliverance or protection if our hearts tell us He is nowhere around.

Say it aloud, beloved, “God is with ‘ME’, working ALL THINGS for my good and His eternal glory!” Say it over-and-over, throughout your days, until it is settled and unstoppable in your spirit. Only with this sure knowledge are our fears, qualms, and uncertainty assuaged. Only with this sure understanding can we face even the best of days with the victory God desires and designs for us as His Holy Children.

Realize that God is our single greatest possession: no one or thing can snatch us from His hand. Only if we let this truth go without care can we fall away from Him. He is our inheritance: our exceeding, great reward. Only as we possess fully the relationship that knows God’s presence is with us can we overcome the flesh, stand in the midst of trouble, or live free in the challenges of this fallen world.

Put God’s word in your heart, beloved, where no thief can steel and no rust rot it away. Remind yourself continually of this vital truth, “No matter where I am, God is with me, and His heart desire and design is for my good.”

~*~

“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 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 you, nor let you down or relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!” ~ Hebrews 13:5, AMP.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you” ~ John 14:16.