Tag Archives: Idol

The Lie Of A Misrepresented Truth

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB

Man, I have heard a smidgeon of this verse pulled out and manipulated into a demonic lie so many times, it is heart breaking. In fact, it was used on a TV program I watched last night. “What smidgeon?” you ask.

“…beyond what you can bear…”

The exact misrepresentation goes like this, “God will not give me more than I can bear.” Then I often hear it followed by the frustrated proclamation, “God must think I’m really strong.”

Beloved, this misrepresentation is a lie straight from the devil, intended to do two things:

⁃ it keeps us from relying on God as He desires us to do.

⁃ It makes us rely on self as we should rely on God, thus making oneself our own false god, in likeness to the sin of Lucifer that led God to cast him out of His Kingdom.

Three truths found in defining the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13:

1. God is addressing temptation to sin against Him.

2. God promises His faithfulness to not allow the temptation to be more than we can handle. And why is that? Because…

3. GOD provides for us a way of escape.

I have learned, and am learning in greater depths of understanding that the way He provides always focuses us on surrender to His Lordship and reliance on His provision for our success.

When Satan tries to lead us to rely on self, that is a temptation we must address quickly. Jesus used scripture as a sword to push demonic influence away. Truths I think of to counter a temptation to go this life on our own include:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 and…

“…Apart from Me, you can do NOTHING.” John 15:5

Beloved, repent self reliance and yoke yourself with Jesus today. He promises, “”Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

His is a training yoke, where He is the major load bearer. His yoke allows you rest while you learn how to bear your part of the load in reliance upon His partnership with you. And God promises that as we rely on Him instead of the riches found in this life, which includes our own strength, He will never leave us to bear the challenges of this life alone.

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

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” Philippians 4:13 AMPC

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” Psalm 37:3 AMPC

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 6

“When the people heard this sad word, they went into mourning, and none of them put on his ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the sons of Israel, “You are an obstinate people; should I go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you. Now therefore, put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what I shall do with you.”’ So the sons of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward” ~ Exodus 33:4-6.

Longing for the Lord this morning as I lift each difficult thing to Him who is the answer for each one, I long for His glory. In that longing, I turn to Exodus 33 anew and begin reading from verse one. There I see the removing of the ornaments that signify the repentance of the people who became discontented with God and His way, leading to their using their ornaments to create a god of their choosing.

Discontent produces every kind of covetousness in us, leading us to diverse fruits of sin’s seed. Discontent that leads us away from longing after God produces in us every kind of unrest. Longing for God and His presence, seeing Him as the answer in all things, leads us to cry out as Moses did, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people” ~ Exodus 33:12-14, AMP.

Recognizing one’s first and foremost need to be a real and true relationship with Father-God, totally dependent upon Him, is the only way to remove the ornaments of sin.

God promised to send His angel with the people in His stead and that He would give the Promised Land to the people through the angel. This still required trust in God to fulfill His promise, but it removed personal relationship. Moses knew that was not good enough. He knew their one true need was God. Only He was big enough to tend to the need of the people and make them stand out as belonging to this God he served. So he cried out, “Tell me that You will go with us, and not another. I need You! And this people needs You.” To which God responded, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”

The Presence of God with all His manifest glory is rest that delivers from discontent, fear, uncertainty, hopelessness, helplessness, and a slew of other tiring maladies ~ THE PRESENCE. When unrest, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty come, beloved, who or what do you seek?

“Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually, longing to be in His presence” ~ 1 Chronicles 16:11, AMP.

“We should be able to perceive that the crucifixion of self is going on and that the opposite most desirable grace, that of humble dependence and universal submission to Christ is increasing” (Sarah Hawkes)

(See also Isaiah 55:6; Hosea 10:12; Amos 5:6; Zephaniah 2:3)

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 2

“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” ~ Proverbs 29:18.

The Amplified version of this passage explains “vision” as “the redemptive revelation of God”. Without ability to recognize God and His work in our midst, we fall away. That is what happened to Israel during Moses’ 40 days on the mountain.

I am greatly inspired by such patriarchs of faith as Moses, the friend of God. Exodus 33 contains my favorite visual example of his relationship with God. However, that chapter comes on the heels of the fall of Israel. What happened to cause these people to deny the true God and make for themselves a graven image even after personally experiencing the miracles of God?

Setting Moses in God’s place, they failed to discover personal relationship with the Real.

God created us physical beings with senses that greatly help our lives. We do best with what we can see, hear, smell, and touch. When we cannot physically see, hear, smell, and touch something…well…“out of sight, out of mind”…“I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Up until the moment of their fall, the people looked to Moses as the expression of God they could comprehend and follow. In his absence, unsure if he still lived, they lost their moral compass because of their distorted vision, so they made a god that made sense to their senses.

Like Israel, we struggle to follow God because we cannot touch Him with our physical senses. The solution? We must seek first the Lord to enliven our spiritual senses. Like Elisha, we must pray for God to open our eyes to see His realm (2 Kings 6:17).

Father, my heart is helped when I personally see Your movement and discern Your voice. I often smell the essence of rose when You draw near, and my skin tingles with Your touch. Knowledge of Your presence touching my spiritual senses in ways that influence my physical comprehension helps my faith and keeps my feet on the firm foundation of Your reality. In Jesus, I pray vision for Your people, O God, so each may know Your reality and follow You.

Pondering Tempest’s Calm

“He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” ~ Mark 4:39, NKJV.

“Peace, be still.” That is the phrase coursing through my mind as I think on this past weekend. A family we greatly love was in for a visit. We were so excited for their arrival, and so exhausted when they left. What exhausted us?

The male head of that family is a man of hot temper. He loses his temper easily, being gruff of speech and very impatient with much frustration coming from his tone of voice and mannerisms. As a result, there was constant fussing among them, bad attitudes in kind from the others of that family, and I felt it within myself at times. Scripture instructs us to avoid men of hot temper, and this rippling of the waters of peace is why we are so warned.

“Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself” ~ Proverbs 22:24-25.

It was exhausting to experience; I can’t fathom living in that day after day. Oh, wait! Yes I can.

As I ponder this issue, I remember my younger years and some days since, when my own temper flared in like manner. I too was raised in a home by a hot tempered mother. Thankfully, as I discovered that temper within myself when my children were young, God worked with me to change my ways.

I learned that such temperament is often a bad habit that can be retrained. Learning a new way where temper is concerned begins with “Peace, be still.”

When my children were little and I found myself sounding too much like my mother, I began seeking the Father for a change of temper. “Peace, be still” is the first step revealed to calmer waters of existence. “Be still and KNOW that I AM GOD” (Psalm 46:10-11). I learned to draw near to God and let Him have control of my temper.

Selah ~ Pause and CALMLY think of that.

I learned to send the kids to their room or sit them in a chair or simply say, “be quiet for a bit”, giving me some time with the Lord to calm down. Disciplining when my temper is flared is never a pathway to peace and cooperation. I may elicit obedience with my temper, but not obedience that is coupled with a right attitude. You know what? Heart attitude is vital to true obedience; and we teach our children obedience to God by the way they obey us.

My husband learned to practice this with me and, in doing so, helped me to change my temperament. When an argument rises between us, he will go out to work on some project giving us each time to cool off. Later we can sit calmly together, being able to truly hear what each has to say, and we can come to agreement without arguing and yelling. The important thing is to make sure we come back together to deal with issues in need of attention. Neglecting to do so can breed bitterness as the problem continues unchecked.

Time out allows me not only to get my temper under control, but it also allows me to rightly evaluate the situation. Sometimes I might realize that the real problem is that I am overly tired to the point that kids being kids is that proverbial straw on that proverbial camel’s broken back. That is truer of me now that I am older and no longer used to having children around. I have to be very careful that my being tired does not cause me to sound off in ill-tempered fervor. If that is the case, the time out itself often fixes the problem. I talk to the kids about mom (or now, “Meeme”) being overly tired and in need of them to do something quiet that will allow me to rest. Voila! Peace is restored and we are in good relations again.

At times when a real issue needs to be dealt with, time out calms me enough so we can discuss the issue in ways that allow us to come to an understanding of the right and better way of things. Discipline (training in righteousness) dictated by calmer minds helps the child and parent or husband and wife adjust their way of thinking and doing. When my temper is under control, I am better able to listen to them and understand what they want or need; and I am better able to express my will and reasoning to them in ways that foster cooperation. With a child, when spanking is in order, it is better done in love with reason when calm is the driving force.

Dealing with a child when frustrated and hot tempered breeds frustration and rebellion in the child. It is what scripture refers to when it says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Colossians 3:21 ~ this applies to mothers as well). Children – and mates for that matter – who are always assaulted by ill-temper and a bad attitude become people of ill-temper and bad attitude. It is exhausting to live that way because it is like fighting the wind. You know not where and when ill-temper will come, how fierce it will be, or how long it will last. One wind rises up a clashing wave of resistance that hits another and another until the seas of our lives are rolling so hard that destruction is imminent. Scripture rightly warns:

“An angry man stirs up strife, And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression” ~ Proverbs 29:22.

Temper usually comes when we demand our own way, often unreasonably. It is a god-complex that is sin, demanding always to be in control without thought of God and His ways, and without practicing love toward others, caring for one’s own needs and desires over those of others.

There is hope for us as we learn that “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, BUT the slow to anger calms a dispute” ~ Proverbs 15:18.

A hot temper is a bad habit that becomes a snare to all touched by it, robbing of strength, energy, love and relationship. But it can be overcome as we “seek first His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). When we choose to take a time out with some deep, calming breaths, forcing our mind and heart to be still and know God, seeking Him for wisdom, He calms and quiets the storm within just as He did that stormy sea. When we are calm, we then have the capacity to see, hear and know truth, and we can speak wisdom with peace that not only trains up those who hear to walk in righteousness, but it trains them in how to deal with their own temper issues.

Josh McDowell said it well, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” But relationship spawned out of peaceful waters will produce cooperation that calms the tempest. Which do you want for your relationships?

“Peace, BE STILL!”

Pondering Restful Pastures: 2

Read Hebrews 4

“To whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” ~ Hebrews 3:18-4:2.

Yesterday we looked at the keys found in Jesus’ example to us for living a life of obedience that leads to our entering into and remaining in the restful pastures of God’s provision. Today as I read Chapter 4, which continues the teaching on living in God’s rest, I am impressed with the connection obedience to God has with faith in Him.

Our level of obedience is directly related to the degree of faith we have to trust Him and take God fully at His Word. So when restful pastures elude us, the first place to look is to our faith: Are we fully believing God, taking His word to us to heart, and walking it out to completion with complete understanding of the intent of His Word?

I think to fully grasp this in a fallen world where trouble is promised to us and seems to rob of rest we need to discern this rest that God speaks of: what is God’s rest?

“For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this passage, ‘They shall not enter My rest’” ~ verses 3-5.

Here is what I discern as God’s rest, beloved. God spoke and it was done, fully and completely, nothing of His intent lacking. So on the seventh day, He looked over all His works with the satisfaction of knowing it was complete. There was nothing more to be said, nothing more to accomplish but to enjoy the view and watch for the fruit to bear out of the finished product.

There are things He has spoken that we are waiting to see fulfilled in the earth through the bearing of the fruit of His Word, but when God speaks it, it’s intent is finished. We can take His Word to the bank knowing it is sufficient for every need and will bear fruit into our lives as we walk in faiths obedience.

When we have faith to believe God, even while waiting to see the fruit of His instruction and promise to us, obedience flows freely to complete the task with assurance of faith for the fulfillment of all things in Him. His Word is finished in us when our faith is complete, even while awaiting the fruit of it. So while waiting to see all He says come to pass, when we fulfill all obedience with faith, we can look over all that is before us and smile even in the midst of a storm tossed sea, knowing the produce of God’s word will be seen in due season.

“Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” ~ verses 6-10.

Joshua did well in leading the people into the Promised Land, becoming one of our patriarchs of faith, but he fell short of full obedience in several areas and, therefore, did not succeed at leading the people to the promised rest. I.e.: they too frequently fell short of their call to destroy all God told them to, so their enemies remained in their midst to cause hardship for them, tempt them away from God, and hinder the rest God desired for them. The people of Israel suffer the consequences for this shortfall still today, as does the whole world set in chaos by terrorism.

We too often forget God’s instruction to us or fall short of understanding its intent: thus we fail to fully believe and take His word seriously, and fall short of full obedience with faith. Such half-hearted obedience is what keeps us from the rest God desires for us.

The other day I found my rest and peace greatly disturbed in the area of my struggle with feelings of rejection. I wrote several weeks ago about that struggle and shared all God instructed me with regard to that issue, and I have walked in great freedom and peace since then. But approaching a friend after church to share something with her, I was left feeling she was uninterested and like I was bothering her.

Now I realized she was tired and that I stopped her as she was heading someplace to do something. I too have trouble relating with others when my mind is set on a course. I realized this quickly and set it aside as a non-issue, but peace and rest remained disturbed within me.

As I asked the Lord why I was feeling such unrest, with that spirit of rejection rearing up anew, He instructed me again that He is the one who gives me favor with man. When He told my heart that, I discerned two things: I was failing to fully trust God’s promise to me in that moment and peace was hindered by lack of faith; and desire for favor with man can become a God to me if I am not careful to realize God’s instruction that I am to seek His favor, not mans.

WALK-WITH-GOD“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” ~ Galatians 1:10.

The intent of God for me / us is to seek after His favor, not concerning self with pleasing mankind. Full obedience for me in this area is to keep focus on the favor of God, walking in it, and not concerning myself with favor from man. When I fail to fulfill the intent of God’s word through obedience to seek the favor of God alone, I leave the restful pastures and am disturbed and hindered by every appearance of the lack of favor.

“Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” ~ verse 11-13.

God sees our hearts. He knows when we are truly and fully following Him in obedience of faith. And He is ready with His Word to help us discern what is hindering our remaining in the restful pastures of His presence and peace. Not only that, but He assures our hearts through Christ for those times when we falter and fall:

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” ~ verse 14-16.

Jesus is the fulfillment of all things through God, beloved. He understands the fleshly, worldly, and demonic battle we are in and the weakness of our flesh, how easily distracted and forgetful we can be. He knows we are a work in progress this side of heaven’s glory.

Beloved, in Christ, God’s word concerning the work of Christ and Him crucified has completed His work in us already as far as eternity is concerned. But in our earthly reality where war with God’s enemy is in play, we are a work in progress. The blood of Christ has completed the work of our eternal cleansing. The Spirit of God is doing the work day by day of purging the sin from our earthly existence. Thus it is vital in cooperating with the purging work of the Spirit that we heed His promptings and follow quickly in obedient faith so as to experience today the restful pastures of God.

Jesus is fully aware of the reality of our weakness. Thus, because of the Word of promise fulfilled in Him, we always find grace when we, being reminded of His word to us, bow at the foot of His throne in order to rise and walk in full obedience of faith anew.

Unhappy in your marriage, beloved? Bow down and seek Him for His word for your relationship. Unhappy in your job, beloved? Bow down and discover what is lacking of faith filled obedience to God.

God’s word has fulfilled all its good will and purpose, and it bears fruit in the earth to become our reality as we walk in faith-filled obedience to the intent of God. Such living allows us to kick back with God at the end of each day and rejoice in the work well-done even while watching for the fruit of it.

God is Building His Temple

The following article appears to confirm what we were told in church last night concerning the probability of a very soon Israeli Temple Mount build and the reestablishment of Levitical worship laws is rumored to be in the works.

http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/13091/build-young-israel-temple-mount/#2ff6igTrQezg2TRp.97

The stated projection for the build given us last night was 18 months, but according to the speaker, the rumor mill has it that they already have everything prefabbed and the build could be within a month of the start of the project.

Could this possibly be the sign of the times I am waiting to see come into view? I am not sure that a “synagogue for prayer” is the same as that of the Temple of God prophesied, but I am no expert in these things. The potential is certainly there and the other signs given by Christ are certainly being seen in the earth today, including such things as:

1 Revealing of antichrist: The spirit of antichrist is already active as more and more people turn from the teachings of scripture to go their own way, making the breeding ground for takeover by the one to come who will soon be revealed as the antichrist—the one who will lead the world to fight against and destroy all things Christian. Already many of those who have turned to their own way not only shun those who believe in Christ, but actively come against all things Christian. This too is the spirit of antichrist revealing the birthing pangs of the man to be revealed.

2. The world of science has the means in place to set up “the mark”: a mark or chip of some sort used to mark those who give allegiance to antichrist. That mark will be required for all who want the right to buy, sell, and trade. Those who take that mark will be forever doomed to separation from God and His kingdom as they make their choice to serve another god, which is what antichrist is out to be.

3. Jerusalem surrounded in war: I am watching the war with ISIL very closely because I see them as having the force and potential to unite Islam against God’s chosen people. My understanding of scripture is that the church will be raptured out before that war. And Jesus warns those still around to see it that when they see antichrist standing in the temple and war surrounding Israel / Jerusalem, that is when those seeing it better run to the hills, because things really get bad then.

4. Other signs currently happening include:

* Plagues in the earth. My youngest daughter researched EBOLA recently and learned it is only one of several plagues currently active in the earth. So far the USA has been spared, but as more and more of the people of this great nation turn to antichrist that can quickly change.

* Natural disasters. These have increased drastically in the past several years. And more and more asteroid “near misses” point to the arrival of the one called “Wormwood” in scripture that WILL NOT MISS.

* Lawlessness! Watch the news. You can’t miss it. But this does not only mean those breaking the laws of man. It is the breaking of the laws of GOD. Look around you. Even those who profess to be people of God are snared by pornography, sexual sin of every kind, lack of integrity, and so on. I could write a book just listing the laws of God that are broken by those professing to be His every day. All struggle with fleshly impulses, but those who are actively pursuing God will deal with those faults and failures quickly. It is the habitual sin that we must realize: those lawless deeds that we fail to address with God and actively stand against must be dealt with. And those who refuse to deal with habits of sin need to look at #1 in the list below.

* Love grows cold. As lawlessness increases, our ability to give and receive love is hindered. We become weary of reaching out to those in need as we feel taken advantage of more often than not. Fear of strangers and their intentions keep us from opening our doors or our hearts to those in need. Whole families are destroyed because increasing sin destroys trust and our ability and desire to express love.

All of these things are warning for us who know Christ to be ready for His SOON return. Jesus teaches that we are not to fear these things, but we are to recognize their significance and be ready for Him. Our speaker last evening pointed out that we who belong to Christ are the Temple of God that He is building. It is vital that we possess for ourselves all that God desires of us as His temple, for that is what we are as the houses in which He makes His Spirit to dwell. Following are the things God is instructing me are necessary for readiness:

WALK-WITH-GOD1. Our relationship with God through Jesus Christ and our commitment to Him MUST be in good order. Do you know that you know that you know that you WILL be with Him in Glory. Scripture says that we can KNOW what our eternal destination is. That ability to know for sure requires that we get ourselves in tune with and surrendered to God the Father and His work in us through His Spirit’s indwelling that makes us into the image of God.

The way we can truly say that we KNOW we will be with Him in the Eternal Heavenly Kingdom of God is by the bearing of the fruit of His Spirit in our lives. If you do not KNOW what that means, get with someone who does before it is too late. This fruit bearing is the proof Jesus says reveals those who truly know Him and have His Spirit within. The Spirit of God is His mark on His people and that mark is made known through fruit bearing.

Beloved one, whether days, weeks, months or years, Jesus is coming! The signs that are revealing themselves today speak sooner rather than later to us who are alert. No one knows the day or hour of His return, so every day must be seen as potential to His arrival, and we must be found in readiness, being busy about the Father’s business at His coming.

2. Fear not, but live out His Love, Light, and Peace. Don’t go out and sell all you have and check out on life. Jesus is not here yet and there are still many who do not know Him. We are to continue to live with faith in God, setting a good example with our lives, having right priorities so that we are being His Light to the world and His love to those around us. It is our example that they will see, and that requires that we live with faith and hope every day, continuing on our course until Jesus takes us away.

3. Be good stewards of all that you have. God is the one who provides us the means to earn a living, and we are to use all He supplies us with wisdom, giving first to our local church the full tithe for use in meeting the needs of the house of God in carrying out the work of God where we are. God tells us in Malachi that in keeping the tithe we have His promise that He will destroy the devourer. All that drains our funds and robs us of the ability to meet basic needs will be removed by Him as we are faithful to supply His houses of worship and His work from our FIRST fruits. My understanding of the tithe is that it is the first 10% of gross income, and Malachi tells us that the devourer comes because we rob God of His full requirement. Be sure you are giving the full tithe and God says to test Him in this and we will see Him pour out His supply for our need.

Jesus warns us to not throw away His supply on useless pursuits that will be good for nothing, but instead to lay up our treasure in Heaven by being good stewards of His supply. Paul tells us in His letters to the Corinthians that God gives supply to meet our NEEDS. He gives supply for every good deed. And He sends surplus for use in meeting the needs around us. It is okay to have fun, but make sure you do not do so as a waste while a need or good deed goes unmet. That means we must be Spirit led in the use of God’s supply. Grabbing funds to blow on wants without His release to do so may find us facing a need with no supply because we spent it frivolously. When you fail to seek wisdom from God and find yourself facing a need with no supply, be quick to repent and learn to do better with your next opportunity to seek His will for your spending.

Use of God’s supply also includes the use of our time, energy, and priorities. Are we wasting our days, or are we being there for our family, for the work of the Lord, for time with Him personally and corporately, for time with others who need us to be an example of Light and Love, etc. All we are and all we have is His. Seek Him for every use of funds, time, energies, supplies, resources, gifts, talents, abilities, etc. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all else will be added to you. Realize that the greatest fun and fulfillment is found in Kingdom living as the joy of the Lord becomes our hope, help and strong tower.

Bible0014. WORD: do not neglect God’s word. The reading and meditation upon His word is Bread of Life and Living Water for us. In it we learn of God. Through it we find direction for our paths. In keeping it we become His image bearers. These days are hard, and they will get harder between now and the time Jesus comes. It is through God’s word working in us in the power of His Spirit that He reveals Himself as the lifter of our heads, the confidence of our hearts, and the assurance of our feet and hands.

5. Do not neglect the reading of the Word and the assembling together with other believers. It is gathering with other believers that give us opportunity to help and strengthen one another through corporate Bible study, prayer, and encouragement. We need each other in this season. A house divided will soon fall. Find a place and people of like faith that you can unite with for mutual support: and the FIRST place that should be, husbands, wives, and parents of children, is in the home. Do not neglect to teach God’s word to and encourage your family. The use of our spiritual gifts should begin there as well.

Realize that it is the lone sheep that fall prey to the wolf and the lion. The enemy of God works hard to separate us out from those of like faith, knowing that if he can get us away from our strong support system of family and church, he can destroy us and keep us from a vitally growing relationship with God, the fulfillment of His purpose in us, and the glory He desires to shine to and through us. Thus it is important that we not only find those strong, Christian support systems, but also that we watch out for those who are wandering off. When we see a family member or friend leaving the safety of the fold to delve into the ways of the world, we must move in to surround and help them find their way back.

Beloved, my heart is full for you today. If you are reading this, I am praying for your assurance of faith and the fulfillment of God’s purpose in you. The hour is short. The Day of Christ is near at hand. Like Jesus, we must be busy about the Father’s business, realizing that the day is coming when no man may work for antichrist is active in the earth to bring righteousness and goodness and godliness to an end. Today is the day of salvation. The Father wishes none to perish, but all to come to repentance. Now is the acceptable time for all mankind to know and serve the Living God of truth and righteousness who sends grace to us through Jesus the Christ. But it is only ours when we reach out in faith, believing all that is written of Jesus the Messiah, and receive it as our own possession.

Thus I continually pray “to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places], {in the place of authority} far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come” ~ Ephesians 1:17-21, AMP.

 

BLESSings, Beloved One!

Darlene

King’s Daughter

 

Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house; then the King will desire your beauty; IF HE IS YOUR LORD, BOW DOWN TO HIM ~ Psalm 45:10-11.

Be Strong and COURAGEOUS! ~ Part 1

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” ~ Deuteronomy 31:8

For over a week now, every time I read a passage like the one above, God highlights it and grabs my heart, drawing my attention to it. Today, when I found myself again caught by this version of the same theme, I bowed before Father and prayed, “Lord, You keep grabbing me with this word to not fear or be dismayed, but to be strong and courageous, but I do not understand why. Is something coming? Please prepare me to stand.”

Then, as I read further, Father brought clarity of understanding to me. In Deuteronomy 31, God has Moses preparing the people to enter in to possess the land of promise. But God has warned Moses that, once the children of Israel have done so, they will become complacent in their relationship with God because of their prosperity and ease, and they will turn again to serve other gods, coming under the disciplining hand of Father’s anger over their spiritual harlotry. As He is speaking with Moses, He says these words:

“…for I know their intent which they are developing today…” ~ Deuteronomy 31:21.

King-Daddy-God knows the intent of the heart of mankind even before that man realizes the path he is heading for in his ungodly thoughts. It is like being on a diet instead of a live-it plan. A live-it plan comes to one with a heart for true change, to be transformed to no longer walk in or desire the old, but to make the very person they are into the new they are possessing, making the new way to be how they live from now to eternity. We go on a diet so we can lose weight, and often without our even realizing it, our intent is to return to our old ways of eating and our sedentary lifestyle once we get what we want.

Too often we treat our relationship with God that way. “I will stay the course of righteousness until I get my desire, or until it gets too hard to follow,” failing to realize that the word “until” in our vocabulary sets our hearts with intent to return to our own way. That is what God saw in the children of His heart’s desire. So He warned Moses in order for him to prepare Joshua and those who lead with him to lead the people with determined purpose that would require of them much strength of character and courage to stand firm and stay the course despite the leanings of those they lead.

So what does that have to do with us today, Beloved?

We are in the midst of a nation of people who are walking their own way, and that diet is alive even in the body of Jesus-Bride006the followers of Christ. Our call as the people of God is to live-IT, and to do so with the intent of bringing others back to live-IT with us, in sincerity of heart toward God and with committed purpose.

“Then He (the Lord) commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you’” ~ Deuteronomy 31:23, (authors note).

Just as God personally charged Joshua with individual responsibility to lead the people in the ways of God, trusting His Presence with him, thus He is commissioning me today to be careful how I live so that I am strong and courageous to show the way of true and eternal life to those around me. And just as God later has Moses call together the others charged with leading alongside Joshua, in order to extend the commissioning to them, thus God has me writing to you today.

If this teaching resonates with your spiritual heart toward God, be careful to know, Beloved, that you too are given charge this day to live-IT, despite the cost to you personally, with strength and courage so that Father may use you to lead many to follow Him into eternity.

I am a member of SparkPeople.com, and leader of a couple of teams. One of those is one for which I just accepted the position of co-leadership during the absence of the main leader who is in a difficult season of life. Unlike my other team, which is a Christian team, this team has people from all walks of life in it. Because of a bad experience of the past, when I was just being who I am in Christ and hit a wall of persecution and rejection where I was told to “stop mentioning God or leave,” this morning I found myself praying how I should “speak” when responding to those I do not know, but can tell they probably do not know my God. My concern was to not be so strongly me, a seeker of Jesus through prayer for all people, in love with the Triune and with those I minister to and walk alongside, that I inadvertently push them away. God convicted me in that moment to have the courage to be who I am in Him, and leave their response to Him. It is, after all, Him they are truly rejecting.

This is the call of this day. We are in a day when we hesitate to show our Christian colors for fear of rejection and persecution. But we cannot be one thing in the midst of the people of God, act like the people of the world when in their midst or cow down for fear of them knowing who we are in Him – thus leaving them to conclude that we are just as they are, and fulfill this call to lead others to possess the land of promise.

Our day is strategic in a world of chaos. We do not have time for a diet lifestyle. God is not calling us to necessarily break any laws against proselytizing, but He is calling us to be His people, living His will and way where we are, without fear of the rejection and persecution that will come from those who reject Him.

Those who see in us something they desire to have will ask us where we got it and how they too may possess it. We do not have to be pushy in our desire for others to follow Christ. We can love all people as they are with hope of being a light that draws them to find Him without forcing our way on them. It will take strength of character to shine for Him, and courage of heart to do so in the society in which we live today.

On this subject, there is one other thing God is speaking to me that is vital as we seek to live-IT for His glory and the good of those we hope to help to find righteous paths and peaceful pastures. But this part is long, and thought two will also take some words to express it fully, so we will continue tomorrow.

The Prophetic Warning

I sat down to get into God’s word and opened my Bible to Judges because I committed myself to reading through it while we are studying Gideon with Priscilla Shirer. My mind did not go to anything else for my time this morning, so I started reading. Then I clearly discerned, “You did not ask Me where I want you to read this morning?”

“Okay, Lord. I will finish this chapter and then ask,” I foolishly reply. A couple of verses later, I knew that was silly and it was not working for me, so I stopped: “Okay, Lord. Where do You want me to read this morning?”

“Hezekiah.”

*!&^%, = confusion. “Lord, there isn’t a book of Hezekiah, is there (looking to make sure)? Am I supposed to do a word study on him? Where do You want me to read?”

“Hosea.”

So I go to Hosea, and there is Hezekiah as confirmation. Hosea prophesied for God during the days of numerous kings, one of which was Hezekiah. Here I find God speaking to me for our nation who is walking in the ways of Israel, just as they did in the days of Hosea.

The things God speaks to Hosea for those of his day are being spoken to the people of our land in our day. Here is what I see:

Our land, as in the land of Israel in Hosea’s day, is guilty of “flagrant harlotry,” forsaking Jehovah-God as LORD. Even in the church, many of us hold to a form of godliness, but deny its Power (2 Timothy 3:5). In all of history, Jehovah has not sat still for such behavior. He will not tarry long when we fall to following after other things as if they are our God and the one who blesses our lives.

Our nation, whether or not we want to hear and believe it, is under the disciplining hand of Jehovah-God. People don’t often like to hear that, but God disciplines those He loves, especially those who are sons. That is scriptural (Hebrews 12). All that we are going through, and that which is yet to come our way, is being allowed by God for the purpose of getting our attention and allowing us opportunity to see that all those other gods and / or the people or resource we look to as in the place of a god have failed. We have walked out from under the protective cover of God as a nation.

There are two ways I know of in which we come out from under the protective cover and provision of God: one is to walk out from under through sin and refusing His will in our lives. The second way we find ourselves outside the protective cover of God is for Him to lift His hand away from us for some eternal purpose of His own. With these, even though we walk out of the hedge of His protection by our choice, there is most often still a grace cover that limits the consequence of our coming out from under our Protection. As example, we see this in the book of Job and in God’s work of deliverance for Israel, taking them from Egypt to the land of promise, and in the cycle of Israel found all throughout the book of Judges. But with sin issues, where we deny Jehovah as the one and only true God, the hedge is removed more and more until we repent, as God releases us, giving us over to our own way. Right now God’s hedge is greatly removed from our land, and, as in the land of Egypt in Moses day, God is removing the hedge in areas where we rely on false gods, revealing their inadequacy and His supremacy.

Through the book of Hosea today, here is what God is revealing to me:

God is “removing the bow” – the power – of our nation. He is sowing weakness in us until we realize Who our true Power is and return to Him. We are not strong in ourselves as a nation. We are strong because of Jehovah-God’s grace to us. Until we realize and return to Him who is our strength, our bow – our economic and military power in the earth will be weak.

God has also removed His hand of provision from us as a nation. Crops will continue to fail us as a nation. Our clothing needs will go unmet more and more. I have found myself lately, as I shop for new clothing, making sure I buy things I will enjoy wearing for a while, things I sense will last me.

As our power fails, we will not find pity from God or others. God is the one who has given us favor in the earth, but we continue to show signs of thinking we earned the favor and position we have in the world. Others have looked up to us because God has given us favor as a people who believe in Jehovah-God through a faith that walks that belief out and reveals itself through integrity as His people. We have walked out from under God’s favor and He has lifted His hand of grace, therefore we will find no pity nor aid from those who would normally have compassion toward us because of God’s favor.

We, who have been known as a godly, Christian nation, now are being called, “not My people”, not because that is what God wants, but because we have walked away from serving Him alone as God. We as a nation are not walking as His image bearers, fully trusting in and committed to Him. As a nation, we are taking away the right of the people of God to serve Him, express Him, and be what we are called to be, and this is being done for the sake of those who serve other gods, or profess no god at all. And God’s people are too often cowering under the pressure of laws and regulations that deny Him as God and require us to be silent in our beliefs and faith. A government entity who professes many gods or no god, leads a nation to the same.

As in generations past, God has kept a remnant for Himself and that remnant in our nation is growing and making itself known, taking its stand on godliness that obeys Jehovah’s will and pleasure above that of man. God’s hand of provision and grace remains with the remnant. But as a nation, we have left our first love, giving ground to false gods who are rising up to greatness in the land through the numbers who are following them. We have removed Jehovah from government and schools, and are being pushed to remove Him from society as a whole. Thus, Jehovah-God is removing His hand of grace and favor from us as a nation.

This fact is seen on the news every day. There are signs in the news that consistently reveal that we have surrendered to being a nation of many gods. Jehovah will not give His glory to another. Thus His hand of discipline is upon our land and God says to us, “You are not My people and I am not your God.” We are no longer a godly, Christian nation. The covenant with and alliance of Jehovah in our nation is broken as we see other gods given power in our land, and see our land weakened, God, letting the seeds of weakness have full sway in the land, His hand of power and grace removed from us.

Even so, people-of-God, Jehovah leaves to us hope in Him. He tells us, who are of the remnant to remind one another that we ARE His people and we are pitied—given grace with mercy—and to do so with hope filled assurance that God will succeed in turning our nation back to Himself. No matter how hopeless it looks to us, hope in God to do the impossible sustains us, so we must earnestly, expectantly hope in God and work toward seeing hope fulfilled. Like for Israel in the day of Hosea, as God lifted His hand from the nation, He did so for the good of the nation, to lead them back to reliance on Him alone, and He let Hosea know early in his ministry that they would turn back to Him to be called “His pitied / graced people” anew.

The difficulty that is upon us is there to reveal to all the land that our false gods over us are impotent. God will use the remnant to reveal His power, glory, and sufficiency. God’s hand of protection will be powerfully and recognizably over those of the remnant; His grace sufficient will be recognized as our obvious supply; and His peace that passes understanding will cause us to stand out as we remember our God and put our trust in Him alone.

As I read on in Hosea, these things stand out to me:

God will hedge the way of the harlot with thorns so she cannot go on the paths she desires, but will be herded into the paths of His design. This stubborn stance we see going on in congress that has our government shutdown is a hedge of thorns. Pray the thorns of God will stand firm so as to be used of God to take us as a nation where we need to be, to that place where He is found waiting for our return to Him as God-alone.

If you, like I, have loved ones who are chasing after the false gods of the day: happiness, wealth, mother earth, or more, take courage. Those who are running after their false gods will find no satisfaction. Their dissatisfaction will turn them back to the Faithful One anew.

One thing I note is that our nakedness as a nation will be revealed. All those things we do in secret and try to hide will come out in the open and our lewdness will be found out from the top down. No one will be able to rescue those ensnared in God’s hand of discipline, and that which is our “gaiety” will be removed. There will be no happiness in our ungodly pursuits; only discontent, discord, and dissatisfaction until only deprivation, destitution and deficiency remain to those who refuse Him His rightful place in our life and land.

Even the righteous who truly seek after Father-Jehovah are being led of God to tell their darkest secrets and how God led them to repentance and victory over sin. It is not easy to do, but as we get real with God, with ourselves, and with others, God is revealed, and those in need of Him, see Him as He is and realize their only true Help is in Jehovah-Yeshua.

This post though separate from the focus on who we are in Christ fits with it as it introduces our next stop on the road of discovering what those belonging to God as His possession look like. We are “real”. See you in the next post of Darlene’s Ponderings.

In Christ I am NOT…

There we have it, an awesome, though incomplete list of who we are in Christ: each being a sheep in His pasture, lifted to positions of the children of God, royalty in the Kingdom of God, ambassadors for Christ and priests unto God who are in the world for a time on assignment while being of the Kingdom of God. There is much more to discover about who we are, but this is a good beginning. I hope you will be alert and grow strong in all that God has caused us to be through Christ.

Beloved, as we close our study this week, fast and furious as it is, I sense strongly that we must not close out this thought process without covering what Christ has delivered us from being. There is nothing the enemy of God loves more, once he has lost the battle for our eternal being, than to keep us thinking we are still the same person we were before Christ set us free indeed. So let us take that ammunition out of his hand by beginning to discover what God delivered us from being.

First we have already established that, in Christ, you are NOT DUST. You are of His SEED: Holy SEED.

Satan loves to point out all our struggles and flaws and make us feel like dirt that is unworthy of God’s Kingdom. Before Christ, that was true. After Christ we became His plantings, the seed of righteousness is in us and is growing stronger day by day as we learn Whose we are, and who He makes us to be, that we may withstand the schemes of the enemy while Father is maturing us as His righteous shoots.

Second, we are NOT THE OLD MAN.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17.

“…But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” ~ Colossians 3:1-10.

We are no longer the old. The evil heart is removed from us in Christ and we are made a new creation with a new, clean, circumcised heart. We have a new mind, the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Therefore our challenge now is to learn to think, act and function out of that new creation.

Part of that is realizing that we can take every thought captive and make it obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:1-6). Another part is not letting the world, our flesh, and the devil tell us that our heart is evil. We must believe that our heart is made new in Christ, that it is circumcised and set free from the flesh and its ways, and, committing ourselves wholly to God, being quick to wait upon Him, we let Him lead us to unity as people after His Own Heart.

Third, we are not unqualified and insufficient.

“Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God. [It is He] Who has qualified us [making us to be fit and worthy and sufficient] as ministers and dispensers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not [ministers] of the letter (of legally written code) but of the Spirit; for the code [of the Law] kills, but the [Holy] Spirit makes alive” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, AMP (see also 1 Corinthians 1:4-8).

When we feel insignificant, inadequate, incapable, ill-equipped, powerless, we are looking at our old self instead of seeking after and trusting in the promised supply from Father in the power and equipping of the Holy Spirit that makes us new. Satan loves to keep us functioning in the flesh instead of in our Spirit-filled supply. When he can do that, he can make us impotent as Kingdom people.

Fourth we are NOT whores, harlots, and dogs.

We no longer chase after other gods, or make ourselves into one. We have one God, that is Jehovah. We have one Father, that is Abba-Jehovah. We have one King and Lord, that is Jesus. And we do so in the power of the one true Spirit of God. As sheep who are the children of God, bride to the King, we give ourselves wholly to our One God and King. As the son and daughter bow down as slaves set free from sin, we freely, out of love, give ourselves to Him as Bond-slaves, wholly committed through love and choice to these: the Three in One – Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

We are not lost, but have been found (Matthew 18:11-14; Luke 19:9-10).

We are not rejected, but chosen and approved (1 Peter 2:9; John 15:16; 1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21, 10:18).

We are not left behind, for no one and no-thing can take us out of the Father’s hands or separate us from His love (John 10:18, 29; Romans 8:31-38).

Rejoice beloved, for you are NOT, but YOU ARE!

Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it) ~ Hebrews 13:20-21, AMP.

Caught in the Wake: Allowed by God?

Part 1

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

 

Did God, who is Holy, allow the sin, which is not? Is He the author of it? Why or why not? These are the questions we seek to address today.

My answer would be “yes and no”. How can that be?

Throughout scripture, here is the picture I see. God has chosen to have a vital and growing relationship with mankind. He has chosen me, and, whether or not you choose Him, He chooses you. He gives His all to the growth and development of this relationship He desires and designed to be. But “relationship” is two-sided. There is no relationship without both parties giving themselves to it. Therefore, in order to have the relationship of His heart’s desire, God had to make a way for man to choose Him as He chooses us. For choice to be true, there must be something else from which to choose. Thus God planted two trees in the earth.

The first tree, known as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, supplied us with choice. The second tree, that upon which the Savior hung as the sacred Lamp of God, provides us assurance in our choice. The choice of those who had it in the beginning was to choose the tempting fruit of the lie over the truth of God and unhindered relationship with Him. Before going to our focal passage in James, let’s take a quick look at Adam and Eve.

EveAndTheSerpent_lIn the story of Adam and Eve’s fall found in Genesis 3, first enters the serpent. The serpent back then could speak, and it says that he “was more crafty than any beast of the field.” He came to the woman, asking, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman replies, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

Now my question, before we go further, is why did the serpent approach Eve rather than Adam? I believe we get a clue in the response given by Eve. Her response is that of second hand knowledge. God told Adam, “Don’t eat that or you will die.” He never said, “Don’t touch it.”

How often do we see someone who has been warned of danger carry the warning of “do not taste” to a level of “don’t even touch it.” Eve was not even around when God gave warning to Adam. To our knowledge at this point in the story of God, she did not have this one on one instruction of the Lord in her experience, from what we are told in scripture.

I don’t know about you, but for me it is much easier to believe a truth from God when we are instructed on it personally by Him. So the serpent came to Eve, who most likely, as many of us would do, was wondering about the truth of the warning because the fruit of that tree just looked too good to be harmful. And what did he do next?

“You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (vs. 4-5).

Now we know that this serpent is being instructed in what to say by Satan, most likely possessed by him, because we are told of Lucifer’s desire to be God in Ezekiel 28 and other passages. He often works to lead others to desire to be their own god, and he does so by causing us to question the truthfulness and integrity of God. Satan, through the mouth of the serpent, caused Eve to doubt further the truth about God she was taught by Adam, and caused her to question the veracity of her God. The fruit of that tree being appealing to the eye, and the words of the deceiver sounding good to the ear, she was tempted and did eat. The serpent, being the pawn of evil, lied to Eve, who believed the lie and she made her choice regarding relationship with God.

She, then, carried the lie further as she offered the fruit to Adam. We are not told what occurred between Adam and Eve in that Eve2moment, but I can just hear it now, can’t you? “Look, Adam! It is luscious. I did eat, and I did not die! God lied.” So Adam, enamored with Eve and always desiring to please her, as is often the case in male-female relations as we seek to please one another: Adam forgot his God, and seeing Eve still breathing, doubted God’s veracity and he ate.

Note something important here, the eyes of their heart did not open to the knowledge of good and evil until Adam bit the proverbial bullet and it exploded. It was Adam that God gave charge to in the Garden to tend it and care for all living creatures in it. He had not only the authority to rebuke the serpent, but I believe that if he had grabbed the hand of his wife and dragged her running to the Father, things would have been different. Instead he too, fell, and their eyes opened to see evil.

Death was not the expected instantaneous death from life, though their bodies began the process of decay in that instant—aging little by little, leading to that final breath in this life to enter eternity with, or without, God. The death experienced in Eden was worse than instant cessation of the life of their body. Instead the death that came was instantaneous separation from intimacy with God. As the voice of God came to them, Him searching the Garden for their presence, I believe because He sensed the disturbance of their intimate connection that occurred, hearing Him calling, Adam and Eve knew they sinned against God and were afraid, so they hid themselves. In an instant, their relationship with Him was never the same.

Thus we find ourselves in the wake of sin still today. Sin is deceptive, leading to belief of lies that destroy relationships. Unlike Adam and Eve, we come into this world in a flesh of sin with the seed of sin ruling, causing us to doubt the truth and trustworthiness of God. From the day we are born, unless our parents or someone else tells us of Him, we do not know there is a God to acknowledge. We are separated from Him, knowing only our own fleshly desires as ruler and master. And sensing the emptiness left by His absence, though not knowing what is missing, we run to our lusts for fulfillment.

James 4:1-5 ~ “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD IS HOSTILITY TOWARD GOD? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’?”

Our intimacy with God is our spirit united with His Spirit. Yet even today our lusts and desire for the pleasures of this world wage war within us, drawing us by the lie away from the Truth. That pleasure we seek says to us, “Take me and you will be satisfied and made complete. If you can just have me, you will have all you need for life more abundant and full.” But only One can fill that place in us.

Note the Capital S in this verse, “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.” James here is speaking to Christians who have chosen God through the second tree. This second tree, the tree of Calvary, where the Savior gave His life to purchase all who will believe, gives us assurance of eternity with God, as we take the fruit of that tree with faith to believe Him who provided it. Even Christians, who have trusted and believed Him, receiving His Spirit that quickens our own to bring Life to us again through eternal relationship with Him, even we can be drawn away by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the boastful pride of life. Look at verse 5 in the Amplified version of scripture:

“Or do you suppose that the Scripture is speaking to no purpose that says, The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love?”

As long as we are in weak flesh that is perishing, living in a weak and alluring world of deceptive desire, we can be tempted away from the sincerity of our relationship with God. Though we do not lose our relationship with Him as before, the intimacy can still be hindered, weakening us as His witnesses, His ambassadors, His holy priesthood in this life. We must grow day by day and opportunity by opportunity to continue to choose relationship with Him over the ways of this life.

Our spirit is made to unite with His. It is our choice whether we will believe God and choose Him over the fleeting pleasures of sin’s lie. Anything that brings separation from intimacy with Him destroys all we can be and have in this life. Still today the serpent of old robs us of our abundance by way of his lies that lure us to choose other things over the goodness and glory of our God.

So yes, God allows the opportunity for us to choose to sin against Him, because every opportunity to choose sin comes with opportunity to believe in and choose God. However, no, evil is not set before us by God, nor is it created by Him. God is truth and always deals with us out of His integrity. But there is loosed upon the earth His arch enemy whose desire is to destroy all God cares for. God cast him out of His kingdom and he allows him to tempt us so that we have choice, the lie, or The Truth. Sin, first in the fall of Lucifer, and then in the fall of man, unleashed evil in the world and in the flesh of every person, making it slave to its lusts. God is not evil and no evil comes from His hand, but He allows evil to reach out to us so that we have choice in our relationship with Him.

Choose truth, Beloved, and walk with God in unity of faith to believe Him over the lie before our eyes. God gives us the plumb-line of His word. If the desire of our heart does not stand up to the truth of God’s word, it is sin, and sin separates, hindering a right and true relationship with a holy God.

“Choose life, that you may live, you and your children with you” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19.

Pondering the Point of Christmas:

“As I see it, there really are only two Gods in this world. There is the Creator who designed it all, who imbues our life (potentially) with meaning and mission. And there is the autonomous self. The lives of each of us orbits One or the other. We choose to live as a child of God or of the lesser god named self. In a way, its the only choice in life that really matters, since all the other choices-our beliefs, morals, priorities-cash out as natural extensions of this one choice. At Christmas, God comes to us as Emmanuel, God with us. But only if we want Him to be with us in life, to orbit His life with ours. This is the choice each of us makes, not by any profession of faith, but by a thousand little decisions each day, to do it His way or mine. Think carefully. Choose well. Merry Christmas.”

Author: Curtis Martin of Fort Collins, Colorado ©

Used by permission

Celebrating Jesus – The Advent 3

El Shaddai“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1).

At the ripe age of 100, Abram is about to receive again the promise of God that he will have a son by his barren wife Sarai (90 years old). God knew that at this point in life when they were not only barren, but beyond the age of child-bearing, that Abram would do what he did later, he would laugh in disbelief; just as Sarai would in the next chapter. So He started the conversation with the proclamation of His might as God Almighty: El Shadai.

In our day and age, with the challenges facing us as a people and a nation, we desperately need to remember our God is God Almighty. The problem in our day is people read scripture without the aid of God’s Spirit to teach them and think the truths shared there about God are impossible. They fail to have faith to believe because they see the wrath of God and decide God must be cruel and unworthy of following. They see the miracles reported in its pages and think such to be impossible. Therefore they choose to not believe. They do not understand that God was creating a holy people through which to birth Messiah, the greatest miracle of all that would bring down the curtain of division and make the Holy of holies available to all.

In the Amplified version of Genesis 17:1, we read “…walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect (blameless, wholehearted, complete).” This is the requirement for the people who would be the lineage of Christ, and it is the requirement of those who today profess Christ as Savior and returning Messiah. God needs a people wholly set apart to Him, and then, as today they had to sometimes be dealt with harshly to get their attention and draw them away from false deities of the day that tempted them away from the purity of a relationship with Holy God. Those who struggle to understand, lacking the help of the Spirit to discern the truth, fail to discern that any God worth following must be almighty in power, able to hold His position as God. Not only is El Shadai a God who is able to hold His rightful place as God, but He is able to meet those who follow Him at their most desperate of needs. Without the ability to believe that God is able, why is He worth following?

God is still working a purpose for eternity out in our day, and it requires that people have the choice to believe or not believe, for in that choice we choose “God” or “not God”. Through allowing evil in the earth for a short time—short in comparison to eternity—He has allowed a line to be drawn that gives us choice in whether to believe in, love and honor God as God or not. True love must make room for love to be returned willingly. True love would never force the one loved to love in return. Thus God’s love made a way for us to have a choice in this life. God, or not God, but some other god. Even those who believe there is no god have set themselves up as god to rule their own way. And though there is no other god except the One True God, Jehovah, other false gods exist with a power that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, says has the power of demons behind it.

God called Abraham to believe the impossible to be possible because the God he chose to serve is ALMIGHTY GOD. Out of Abraham’s faith in choosing to believe God for the HIMpossible, God birthed through Him the lineage of the Christ, who was to come out of a people wholly set apart to God as His beloved people. And out of that Seed of Righteousness, Jesus the Christ, He provided the way for His people, Israel, and indeed the entire world, to come into eternal relationship with Himself.

By faith to believe the HIMpossible of Almighty God found in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, we enter into the family of God, being made through Christ into “…a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The season of Advent is a time to remember and proclaim this gift from El Shadai through the lineage set up in Abraham.

Nothing is beyond the ability of God Almighty to take care of, and He will do so in due season. Just as Abraham’s Isaac was born in God’s timing, so that all would know it was God who did it because of the advanced age of Sarah and Abraham that made conception impossible without God doing it, so Jesus coming as Messiah in ways that are beyond our ability to comprehend reveals the work of the Almighty for a purpose that is His own: the salvation of a world of people in need of One True God.

Our situations today are the same, opportunity to watch the perfect timing of God Almighty at work in ways that show Himself strong on our behalf. God is able. As He said to Abraham at the time of conception, so He says to us who will hear today, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). All we need is to have a mustard seed of faith in God, relying on Him, trusting in Him, being confident that He will do the HIMpossible at just the right time to accomplish the greatest good for all concerned. That is His way revealed throughout the ages, working not only on our behalf for our good, but on behalf of all around us who will see and come to believe El Shaddai.

Thoughts From Isaiah – Chapter 2

A Work Worthy of Worship

“Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made” (Isaiah 2:8).

Is it wrong to rejoice in the work of our hands? That is the question I find myself pondering as my focus is drawn to Isaiah 2:8 for today’s ponderings.

In today’s reading, the people were literally making images out of wood, stone, and metals that they sat up on mantles and called their god. They bowed down to works of art—the works of their hands, and worshipped them.

As Christians we believe there is only one God and He is One though He is seen in the form of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They are one and the same together, three portrayals of the one God. We worship Him who is One. But what about the idols of life? Do we fall to worshipping the works of our hands?

I stand in awe of the gift God gives me for writing His word. Every time I see the words flow to the pages for posting to encourage His people, my heart soars to the heights with awe of His work through me. I rejoice and find great joy in doing this work He calls me to. That is the way I believe God desires it to be as His people find joy in the works of their hands as gifted and empowered by God. That type of worshiping in the works of our hands honors and glorifies God as we surrender to Him as His instruments in all we do, acknowledging from whence our ability comes and our absolute, destitute need of Him in the doing of it.

At the same time, I have constantly the need to be careful that I do not turn to pride in my own efforts. I constantly have to remind myself that I can do nothing apart from Him, and I continually remind God that He is my first most vital need. I cannot do good work apart from Him, for He alone is good. Without Him my writing is labored and faulty, and I know I must have His power flowing through to do the work He calls me to accomplish.

There is a fine line between rejoicing in the works of our hands through worship of God who equips us, and worshiping the works of our hands as if God has nothing to do with it. No matter what our pursuit in life or the activities we take on, without God, it is nothing.

Father, help us today to honor You in all our ways, doing all things as unto the Lord and in the power You supply, giving You glory due Your name. Thank You that You gift us to do work in life that we can rejoice in, finding life abundant and full at the work of Your hands through us. We are partners with You for life, O God. Be glorified and magnified in all we do. In Jesus, amen.

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 1

Passion Inflaming Gardens

Wow. For the first time in several months I find myself without a clear direction for our time of Pondering together. Seeking the Lord for where He desires to speak to me, I am led to read Isaiah. Until God directs otherwise, we will consider thoughts from Isaiah, most likely looking at one thought for each chapter. Today we consider thoughts from Isaiah 1:27-31:

“Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her [returned] converts with righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God). But the crushing and destruction of rebels and sinners shall be together, and they who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. For you will be ashamed [of the folly and degradation] of the oak or terebinth trees in which you found [idolatrous] pleasure, and you will blush with shame for the [idolatrous worship which you practice in the passion-inflaming] gardens which you have chosen. For you shall be like an oak or terebinth whose leaf withers, and like a garden that has no water. And the strong shall become like tow and become tinder, and his work like a spark, and they shall both burn together, with none to quench them” (AMP).

Passion: What is the passion of your life and focus right now, in this very instant? If you are like me, your desire is to say that God is; that the things that God is passionate about are the things that impassion you. But I have to ask myself as I read this thought for today if that is truth. Or is my passion an idol to be dealt with?

Today’s world has many pleasures to be had in it. We can become impassioned to those pleasures with ease, but do those pursuits help our witness or hinder it? Do those things we give ourselves and our time to bring increase to the kingdom of God? Or do we watch the clock tick by hours and minutes in uselessness?

There is nothing wrong with me enjoying a good game of Jewels 2 or Majong Titans. But when I watch 10s of minutes fly by, hour after hour in pursuit to the higher score and faster win day after day while hurting friends are ignored and the house needs attention, my passion for the game becomes an idol that robs of the weightier things of life more abundant and full.

Consider your passions today. Are they driven by eternity, or driven by the earthly?

Father, grant us to have Your heart of passion for those around us and for meeting needs. Help us to have right priorities that, yes, allows for rest and fun things, but not at the expense of our being Your hands and feet in the world. In Jesus, show us Your glory and help us to be Your light reflecting in the earth. Amen.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 14

The Joy of One Flesh Living

A review of 1 John 4:12-16 brings us to the final aspect of our ministry to God in Christ as we work to fulfill what is lacking of Christ’s afflictions: given here in the Amplified version, verse 12-13 adjusted for easier reading.

“No man has at any time yet seen God. But if we love one another, God abides, lives and remains in us and His love, that love which is essentially His (and can only come from Him in His power) is brought to completion—to its full maturity, running its full course and is being perfected in us! By this we come to know, perceive, recognize, and understand that we abide so as to live and remain in Him and He in us: because He has given / imparted to us of His Holy Spirit” [vs. 12-13 (love-defining thought added by author)].

In Christ, as we come to know, recognize, believe and rely upon the love God has for us, we enter into a life experience of one flesh living—being fully one with God and He with us. His body, His bride, His child: every way in which the scripture speaks of “this being bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” He uses to describe the life of one who is one with Him in Christ.

This fact is awe inspiring to me. I can see this principle of God in His word more clearly than ever before. There is a part of me that knows I am already there in His power and provision. But I desire more than ever to get to that place in my every day experience in ways I have yet to know.

How do we do that? I do not have it all figured out yet, but here are some clues we can grasp hold of as we look at the remainder of this passage in chapter 4 and on through chapter 5 of this book. Continuing with verses 14-16 of chapter 4, we find our first answers to our “How” question.

“And besides we ourselves have seen and have deliberately and steadfastly contemplated and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. Anyone who confesses (acknowledges, owns) that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides (lives, makes His home) in him and he [abides, lives, makes his home] in God. And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.”

Know Jesus: The first step to one flesh living with God is to know Jesus, His Son, acknowledging with full belief of understanding Who He is in all His fullness. Through faith in Jesus as the Christ, God incarnate, the propitiation for all sin and victor over the death that separates from God, we enter into the body of Christ, which brings us to this one flesh relationship with God.

Know and trust the Love God has for us: We become ingrained perpetually into one flesh with Him as we come to greater realization and more full assurance of knowledge to understand, recognize, being conscious of by observation and experience, and to believe so as to adhere to, put faith in, and rely on the love God cherishes for us.

Realizing that God IS LOVE, in all its fullness, and all He does flows forth from His heart of love to us, equips us to trust His hand in our lives and come more fully into agreement with His will and way. It helps us to have His thoughts and walk in His ways when we trust His love for us.

Trusting His love removes fear of any hardship that may come to us because we live in a fallen world. Believing His love, we are equipped to know that we are part of His flesh, protected and encompassed by Him, only being touched by pain as will make us stronger and provide us opportunity as His witnesses to a lost world still ensnared by death’s grip. We are His hands and feet, reaching out with His love so that others may enter in with us to live and abide with Him.

Pressing on through Chapter 5 we find:

Love as He loves (vs. 1-3): Unity with the Father produces love in us, equipping us to love those in our sphere of influence. The better we become at our roll of being a conduit for His love, the more we will experience this one flesh dimension in our relationship with Him. His love flow includes empowering our sincere love for Him that will produce in us…

Obedience to His commands(vs. 1-3): Whether His commands are from His written and Holy Word, or whether they are the day to day directives He gives us personally in the power of His Spirit, love for God produces a unity that makes His desire our own. And more than that, it makes Him our greatest desire. Thus we willing choose His will even when it is hard, because we desire to walk in one flesh with Him who is our true desire. And that flows not only out of our love for Him, but from…

Faith in Him (vs. 4-6): True belief in God’s testimony to us produces a faith that will follow Him in obedience. We become one with Him in thought, desire, and understanding, and we walk as one with Him. I believe this is the walk that led to Enoch being no more, “for God took Him” (Genesis 5:21-24).

What a testimony to have: that we walked with God as Enoch did, being known as the friend of God like Abraham, thus being a person after His own heart as David was, doing only what we see Him doing, as Jesus did. We have the capability of having this testimony as we grow strong in one flesh living in God through Christ. This is the faith we are called to. And this faith…

Believes the testimony of God in the power of the Spirit (vs. 7-12): It is God who sent the Spirit as His testimony that Jesus is the Christ and that His Kingdom has come to us who will enter into it by faith. It is God who sends the Spirit to reach out to us and woo us to Himself still today. To refuse to believe the testimony of God concerning the Christ and all He is and does in us by God’s provision of grace, a testimony sent to us in the power of His Spirit, is to call God a liar, and that is the unforgivable sin (see vs. 16).

There is an encounter Jesus had with the Pharisees where they accused Him of casting out demons in the power of Satan (Matthew 12:22-31). In so doing, they blasphemed against the work of the Spirit in the earth and through Jesus Christ. So, was the real issue that they did not believe Jesus, though He was casting out demons in the power of God? No, that would be speaking against the Son of Man and was the symptom of the true underlying issue. Jesus says speaking against Him can be forgiven. What was the issue?

The work of God through Jesus in the power of the Spirit was done for the purpose of making the Christ known in the earth, proving His coming, and calling people to enter into the Kingdom of God with Him. The work of the Spirit is the testimony of God regarding Himself and the Christ. The Spirit does the work of God in the earth, proving He is.

I believe the point Jesus is making is that, to refuse this work of the Spirit being the testimony of God, sent to equip us to live this one flesh Kingdom life, that is the unforgivable sin. Refusing the Christ when the Spirit is doing all He can to make Him known to us is the only unredeemable sin—refusing to believe the Spirit’s testimony concerning God and Jesus, proving they are and that Jesus is the way, is the only true suicide. All else is covered by the blood of Jesus and can be forgiven man.

For us who believe the testimony of God and enter into one flesh relationship with Him, never to be killed by sin again, we find…

Our Confidence (vs. 13-21): In the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, Jesus is our confidence for all eternity. Because of the Spirit in us, we experience God in new and real ways that help us to know that we know that He is and that He is the redeemer of all mankind who will put their faith in Him through Christ.

Because of relationship with God through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Spirit, we have confidence that we have the mind of Christ, and being covered in His blood, we can freely approach the throne of God and make our request of Him. We receive our request from God because we have His heart desires within us when we are actively living in one flesh with Him through the Spirit at work in us.

We have the mind of Christ, being equipped to have the thoughts of God. Being a people birthed through Christ to be people after God’s own heart, God’s heart beats within us, thus equipping us to have His desires. And the Spirit flows through us, the blood of Christ coursing through us in the power of the Spirit in which the true life flows, making us one with Him. Therefore, we have the full resource of God at our disposal as we walk with Him in obedience.

By this power in us we KNOW with confidence that He is, and that we have eternal life. With this confidence we know that we are in Him as He is in us. And our lives can flow with confidence from Him as we grow in one flesh living with Him.

John ends his discourse with this warning, which is worthy of repeat: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

Idols rise up in our lives when we follow the voices of the false prophets. These lead us away from God and when we walk out of the protective cover of God, our one flesh life with Him is hindered and harmed.

The joy of the Lord is our strength because we are in Him and He is in us. By this truth, not only do we have joy in Him, but He rejoices over us, calling us “friend,” and He fully equips us for a life of abundance that honors Him. Our protection, power and provision for a life of victory supplied in Christ is found through one flesh living in God.

“By this we come to know, perceive, recognize, and understand that we abide so as to live and remain in Him and He in us: because He has given / imparted to us of His Holy Spirit. …Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

Don’t follow the false. Follow the truth as testified to us by God and we will remain in Him.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 13

Rejoicing in Sure Revelation Knowledge of the Truth

“Beloved, do not believe (put faith in) every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world…” (1 John 4).

As we begin this focal thought on our work of completing what remains to be done in fulfilling the sufferings of Christ in our age, we must consider revelation knowledge of the truth of God. Here John, in the leading of the Spirit, warns us to beware the false prophets, instructing us to “prove or test the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God.” Why would he instruct us to “test the spirits”?

Think about what a prophet is. A prophet, no matter the religious philosophy they come from, is believed to be one endowed with some special power or insight from some higher power that enables them to have revelation knowledge from that god. The god the person represents, even those of no god at all, receive their knowledge from a spirit, whether God’s Spirit, a demonic spirit, or the spirit of flesh. We must realize whether the prophet we follow is truly and rightly representing our God in the power of His Spirit.

This chapter of scripture gives us clues regarding what to look for that will tell us for sure whether the spirit behind the prophet is our God’s Spirit. Where does his or her revelation knowledge come from and how do we test the spirits to know?

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (vs. 2-3).

One of the best ways to know whether the spirit behind the prophet is from God is to discover what they have to say about the Christ. Now this statement of discovering whether the spirit confesses that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” is deeper than it sounds. It is not just that the prophet believes Jesus was, but that he truly knows and confesses who He was: the Son of God, Immanuel, somehow very God with us, the promised Christ, the seed of Abraham, the true and rightful King of kings and Lord of lords.

All that scripture says will be in the Christ is found in Jesus. Any prophetic spirit that denies any aspect of Christ’s person is a false spirit of antichrist. What brings me to this conclusion? For one thing, James, based on experiences seen with Jesus as expressed in Matthew 8:28-34, speaking of faith in Christ that is active, said, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19).

Another found in Luke 4:41 says, “Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.” Demons know who Christ is and will say who He is, but they will not confess Him as Lord. They will not bow the knee in surrender to Him.

Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

The Spirit that truly professes who Jesus is will lead us to live a life that reveals Him to be our one and only Lord of lords and King of kings. It will empower us to wholeheartedly bow the knee in habitual and willing practice of obedience. The person following the true Spirit of Christ will not only know the triune God, but will be known by Him because they are in vital relationship in every way. Though they slip and fall, the relationship being of vital importance to them will lead them quickly to repentance.

“They (those under the influence of the false spirits) are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (vs. 5-6).

Another key to testing the spirits is unity of spirit. When I meet a brother or sister in Christ, my Spirit in me jumps for joy in agreement with the Spirit of God in them. When that connection is absent, chances are great that there is a spirit of error or of antichrist in play.

I.e.: many under the influence of a false spirit are grumbling under their breath right now with the very talk of there being spirits at work in the world today. They do not believe in such, though the scriptures clearly reveal their existence and ability to affect our thoughts and our lives. A false spirit can have greatest sway in the life of one who refuses to acknowledge their existence. Beware, beloved. The word of God is either all truth, or it is not true at all. We can’t have it both ways. What kind of god would be worthy of our following if he could not even protect the veracity of His professed word? If God cannot profess truth to us I in all it fullness for us to follow, and protect that word of truth, we cannot trust His word and, therefore, are fools for believing.

“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” (vs. 7-8).

It is impossible for a person to truly love as God loves without the Spirit of God in them. We can tell by the love walk of the man whether the Spirit of God is in them. The absence of this love signals that a spirit of error is in play.

Many false prophets speak words of love while leading the flock astray from righteousness. True love always works to do what is best for those they love. We can know we are following a spirit of error when it leads us to err against God.

“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (vs. 9-10).

We cannot confess the fullness of the love of God that was expressed through the Christ without the Spirit of God in us. Such love is beyond our ability to fully understand, much less work out of, apart from the work of God’s Spirit bringing revelation knowledge and understanding of that love and its ways to us.

There is a story of a man who, out boating with his family, winds up jumping into the brink to try to save his Christian son and one of his son’s friends who did not know Christ, when they fell overboard. Realizing he could only save one, he swam past his son to reach his friend who would spend eternity separated from God if he died that day. Making such a choice requires revelation knowledge that understands the love for us that it took for God to allow His son to die as propitiation for our sins. Thankfully that young man came to know Christ and is a testimony of love beyond understanding today.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. …We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (vs. 11-14, 19-21).

A person who has a spirit of antichrist in play cannot rightly portray or express the love of God. Those who profess Christianity under the guise of a false spirit can and will lead those around them to false understanding that can cause them to miss the Christ and chance eternity separated from God if they are not reached by the love of God miraculously or through a true believer. Without understanding of God’s love for us and the work of the Spirit to help us love as He loves us, we cannot make His love known in truth. And if we cannot love others on His behalf as He loves them, how can we truly be in love with God? Love cares about the things that are important to the beloved.

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (vs. 15-18).

Being in sincere relationship with God, having His Spirit to lead and empower us, we are made one with Him, having Spirit lead revelation to understand how great the love of God is toward those who believe and receive His Son with understanding of who He is and what He accomplished on our behalf. Through Christ we are made one with God, never to be separated from that love relationship again. Once we fully understand the depth of God’s love for us, having assurance of His desire and care for us, we enter into understanding of His pure love that protects us from fear tactics.

One major weapon in Satan’s arsenal is fear. If he can cause us fear that doubts God’s care for us, leading us to question the assurance of our eternal relationship with Him, Satan can defeat us and rob our strength. Full understanding of God’s love for us assures our heart of His care and provision for our here and now and for our eternity. Fear no longer can grip so as to defeat the heart of the one who has revelation knowledge of the great love of God. Understanding that love increases faith that God is for us and not against us; that He is in control of all that concerns us, working for our good, to give us a hope and a future. Thus we realize fully…

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (vs. 4).

Growing in our relationship with God through the power of His Spirit equips us to have revelation knowledge of the truth of who Christ is and His work on our behalf even now. It equips us to know and rightly express the love of God in the earth, having assurance of His faithfulness toward us that protects from fear tactics. And it grants us eyes to see and recognize the spirit of error and the spirit of antichrist in our midst, enabling us to give warning to those who may be fooled by the imitation, including warning the elect—the righteous lot of God who are failing in any given moment to be watchful in the power of the Spirit of God within them.

Brother and Sister in Christ, I warn you, we are heavily into the days of the spirit of antichrist, as many, even big names in the Christian realm, profess as true beliefs that make the work of Christ small and insignificant. Beware the spirit of error in our day.

 ~*~

 My grandson had to have an emergency appendectomy last night. I will be helping with him as needed, but if all goes well, I hope to have the last excerpt of this study posted for you tomorrow. If not, it will be next week. BLESSings, and thanks for reading my blogs. I pray that this study will be used of God to help us grow strong in our work of completing all Jesus left us to do on His behalf.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 9

Dealing with Antichrist, Rejoicing in Relationship with The Father

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour…” (1 John 2:18-23).

The spirit of antichrist: it is very prevalent in our day. Many cannot see that Jesus is the Christ because He did not come and do as they expected in His first appearance as Savior. Though He fulfills every prophesy spoken concerning the Christ’s appearing, they cannot recognize Him. The spirit of antichrist has blinded their spiritual eyes and hinders their perceptions so they cannot understand to see the truth. Others are snared by belief that the Holy Bible is antiquated and Jesus is the parable. Others approach Him with their own expectations, and, finding things with the Christ not as they think it should be, they quickly turn away. Still others walk into the church and profess Him with their words, desiring some miracle or expecting some magical experience of Him, and finding that lacking, they deny His reality and turn aside to other things. And others come into our midst looking for the Christ in the people, where they should be able to see Him, yes, but not understanding that we are continually being perfected, disillusioned by what they see as hypocrisy or having their feelings hurt, they walk away never having truly believed. Then there are some who come in as a thief in the night, pretending to know Him, and with words that sound right, leading even the elect astray, they form the cults of our day.

We see Jesus dealing with the spirit of antichrist often in His ministry. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the day, misunderstanding the way the Christ would first appear and why, jealous of His renown often came against Him, fooled by the spirit of antichrist working through them. Many who followed Jesus were looking for their own desire of what they would find in the Christ. Jesus revealed this truth in John 4:48, “So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe’.” And I see in the parable of the seeds sown on many soils a picture of the various ways in which the spirit of antichrist can pull the heart of man from knowledge of the Christ as disillusionment and discouragement pull us from the truth (Matthew 13:18-23). Then we have the words of John, telling of Jesus dealing with this blindness in those of His day:

“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:9-13).

Still today people cannot accept that we are born anew through Christ, who covers our sins—past, present and future—as we go through the process of growing up as the children of God, made new day by day through the perfecting work of the Spirit of God within us. They cannot understand that it is a work of God. We cannot be good enough apart from His Spirit at work in us. And we can only have His Spirit as we recognize the Christ for who He truly is and put our faith in Him. The spirit of antichrist hinders this faith.

Part of our role as we complete the sufferings of Christ is to recognize the spirit of antichrist at work in our day and to stand against it; not only living in stark contrast to it, but taking every opportunity to correct the understanding of those deceived by it. Anything that leads a people to look for and follow after the christ of their expectation and miss the true Christ is ensnared by the spirit of antichrist. Many rise up among us, believing they know what Christ should look like and how He should be in our lives, and having just enough truth to be believable, they break off from the true church and true faith to lead many astray to a false-christ.

I see this passage in 1 John as proof text of once saved, always saved. Those who truly believe will remain, that is what it says. Why? Because God, through His Spirit, is able to make them stand.

“…They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us…” (vs. 19).

Those who do not truly believe may walk with us for a time and may even appear to be true believers, but eventually the deceptiveness of their understanding will be revealed as they walk away due to one of the previously stated reasons above or some other not covered here. Many of these become the voice of the spirit of antichrist in our midst as they begin to put down those of true faith and the truth professed. These who fall away as our focal passage implies often become a false teacher that, if we are not alert and watchful, can lead even the mature in Christ away from the paths of truth and righteousness.

Scripture warns that even the elect (Matthew 24:24), those who have sincere faith in Christ and a true, growing and strong relationship with Him, even they may be fooled for a time by the lie that has just enough truth in it to be believable. They are still true believers in Christ, but they get on a wrong path because they are not alert and growing in their own understanding in the area of falsehood they have fallen too.

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth” (vs. 20-21).

From my own experience, I believe that the elect who are fooled for a time but who are sincerely seeking God in Christ will eventually recognize the truth and turn back to right paths. Verse 20 of our focal passage confirms this as it says that we know all truth because of the anointing that is in us, The Spirit of God within us who teaches us all things. But it can be devastating to the lives of those who see the example of the elect who may fall away from truth for a time, as those who follow us, not truly knowing Christ, become snared by the fake because of following the true believer during their time of false understanding. So we, the elect, must be alert and constantly growing in the truth of Christ.

Verse 21 instructs us in how to recognize the false teaching of antichrist:

First, any little falsehood found in a teaching should give us pause. If we are drawn to a new teaching and there is something in it that we recognize as a lie, that is a clue that we need to dig deeper into the so called “new truth” and make sure it is not an old lie behind a façade-christ.

Then the Amplified version of verse 21 speaks to me of another thing we can realize as warning that we need to look closer at a “new truth” before we go running after it. “I write to you not because you are ignorant and do not perceive and know the Truth, but because you do perceive and know it, and [know positively] that nothing false (no deception, no lie) is of the Truth.” As I read this version of this verse I see not only assurance of truth, but I sense the peace of mind and heart that assurance brings to us. When peace is disturbed by a new teaching, it is a signal to look more closely and discern from whom the teaching comes: The Spirit of Christ or the spirit of antichrist.

Another warning of a need to check our facts is what is being said about Christ and the Father (vs. 22-23): “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”

I.e.: any teaching that denies Christ being God with us, Immanuel, God incarnate in the body of One call the Son of God, the propitiation or full price for our sin, is antichrist. And this passage warns that we cannot have the Father without first having the Son in truth. They are a package deal.

The spirit of antichrist is not to be trifled with. It is prevalent in our day and it is the major force of our day that blinds the eyes and deceives the hearts of many. We must seek constantly to know the truth for ourselves, so that we can be used of God in our day to dispel the false.

Before I close, I want to stress verse 23, Amplified: “No one who [habitually] denies (disowns) the Son even has the Father. Whoever confesses (acknowledges and has) the Son has the Father also.”

Note the words, “habitually denies and disowns the Son”. I don’t know about you, but I have experienced times when the devil—the author and perfecter of the spirit of antichrist, has raised a doubt in me about the truth of Christ and even made me wonder about the truth of God. It is what he does. But God always leads me back to truth as I know it from His Spirit’s teaching me, not only from reading it in scripture, but from experiencing it in life.

The word “habitually” is vital for the Christian to remember. We will, because of where we are in our flesh and in the world, fall from time to time to sin. But we do not lose our salvation because of a temporary fall that is not based in habit (Romans 2:1; 1 John 3:6, 9, Amp., scroll down). Habitual sin is seen in those who refuse change, refusing to become like Him; it is the sin that, when recognized, sees us shake our fist in the face of God and, denying the right of Christ to rule that area of our lives, we choose to hold to that habit of sin. If we make a habit of denying that Jesus is the Christ, feigning faith through half-hearted or total lack of obedience to turn away from sin, that falls under the category of habitual sin that proves we do not belong to Him.

An occasional struggle in our faith that is defeated by truth is a temptation to sin. Satan may try to convince those who have such struggle with temptation that they are not of true faith, but Romans 8:1 tells us that God does not condemn us in our struggle against the flesh, the world, the devil, and the spirit of antichrist. Tell that demonic accuser to go away and keep standing on the truth. He will eventually give up.

Now we all have habits that seem constantly to pull us back into struggle with our sin nature in this life. This is what Paul was speaking of in Romans 7:14-8:1. These are habits that we may have struggled with all our lives, hate having in our lives, work to overcome, but often get snared by it despite our stance against it. Such lifelong habits are often hard to break and too easily fallen back into. Realize that when we hate a sin that too easily snares us though we actively struggle against it, Jesus has us covered in our struggle. Every repentance of such sin and new attempt to have victory over it is aided by His Spirit until we find victory in His strength. It is the sins that we do habitually, giving ourselves to it in rebellion against God that is antichrist and can be proof of false faith that is no salvation at all.

So we have to not only watch what is going on around us and realize when a spirit of antichrist is pulling us and others away from true faith; but we also have to watch for that spirit at play in our lives, chaining us to habitual sin. The wisdom of the flesh, the wisdom of the world, and the wisdom of demons are all antichrist in nature. This is our battlefield as we seek to walk with Him, and not against Him. As we choose to follow Christ, daily taking up our cross of self-denial: seeking, finding and standing firm on His truth, we complete the suffering-affliction of Christ in standing against the spirit of antichrist wherever it is found. So walk by faith, rejoicing that by having the Christ, you get the Father also, and take every opportunity to give an account of the hope that is in you.

“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:13-16).

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4Ca

Thus far we have discovered that the mind of Christ in us is revealed through us as we grow in our humble estate before our Holy God, bowing to Him alone as God. We recognize Christ-mindfulness within when we set our minds and keep them set on the Father’s interests, tending to His business. This in place, we are equipped to maintain focus and abide in His Kingdom as good citizens while living in the earth, accomplishing the work and purpose of God for such a time as this. Today we press on to look at Colossians 3:3:

“For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God” (AMP).

The mind of Christ in us constantly reminds us that we are a new creation in Christ as, entering into His death with Him, we are raised with Him to new life, born again into the image of God in Christlikeness.

Our experience in the earth will often lie to us about our reality where our eternal being is concerned, as our old flesh, the world view, and demonic whisperings try to keep us bound in our old ways. But Christ sets us free indeed, free from the sin and death that resides in the old flesh. Our realizing our new estate with ever increasing understanding equips us to walk as new creations of God in Christ Jesus.

The fall of our first ancestors brought us into slavery to sin and death and distorted our originally intended image: the image of God in us. That distortion began with introducing a worldly, self-centered, demon-generated thought process that was passed down from generation to generation.

Two lies Satan loves to tell to keep us in ungodly frame of mind is “I can know what God knows.” Failing to seek God’s input, we make our own decisions without consideration of His ways. And, “I can be God / like God,” as in being ruler of my own world in need of no other. We see all sorts of philosophies in the earth that stem from this lie: everything from “there is no God,” making me ruler of my life and destiny, to thoughts of “I am good enough to be god” denying our need of Him to generate goodness and produce the fruit of His likeness within. They are all out there. But God warns that no other can have His place; no other can steel away His glory. We cannot truly accomplish life and goodness without Him.

Thus we discern the importance of growing our surrender to following the dictates of the mind of Christ in us, having our minds restored to right and true thinking. Relationship with Christ and having His mindset restores us to God’s intended image for us, an image in which we do find His likeness in us and we do have His knowledge available to us, but God is God, and we, His children through Christ, victorious through the eternal ages by the grace He supplies.

With the mind of Christ directing our thoughts, we will follow the instruction of our passage in Colossians 3, verses 5-11, considering “the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”

Note the picture painted for us here: 1) immorality—the distortion of godliness, the destruction of God’s goodness in us, bringing us into slavery to sin; 2) impurity—failure to be sanctified to God as God, we give ourselves over to diverse evil; 3) passion (ungodly passion)—those things that grab our love and desire away from God, robbing Him of His rightful place in our lives and robbing us of knowing Him; 4) evil desire—those things that link us with the heart of the satanic and bring us to continue as if still slave to sin and death; and 5) greed—covetousness and the pursuit of earthly things out of an unhealthy desire for prestige, power, things, money, etc., replacing our desire for God in all His fullness. All these are “idolatry”. They put the things of the world and the flesh in a place in our lives that belong to God alone.

Christ brought these to death in us so that life may come to us. His Spirit works continually, renewing in us 1) morality—the image of God-generated goodness renewed in us through Christlikeness; 2) purity—sanctified living in Christ-led surrender to God as God-alone; 3) God-generated passion—for God and the things that God is passionate about; 4) godliness—being one who has a heart after God’s own heart, filled with His goodness and good desire; and 5) surrendered contentment—knowing that God meets our needs fully and completely, granting sufficient for life and for every good deed and surplus to help others in any need. As we surrender all we have to Him for His use, we find contentment in whatever circumstance we are in, knowing God has a purpose, a plan, and a provision.

“… It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside….”

Next posting we continue through verses 5-11 to look at the New Creation of God’s likeness in us. Understanding and discerning this new creation that we are in Christ is vital for our victorious life, as scripture teaches that the fruit born out of our lives through His Spirit is the proof of our true and sincere relationship with Him, for His fruit cannot be counterfeited. Though there are look-alikes out there, with close examination, the false will be revealed and the true will stand:

“…So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. …So then, you will know them by their fruits. …depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:15-23).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

“…For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. …” (2 Peter 1:1-12).

“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 (the Anointed One) our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25, AMP).

Leaving Our Baals Behind

The following was written to a group of Christian Women seeking to align our lives with the mind of Christ, having His thoughts and motives as we practice Christ-centered mindfulness in our life choices. Sensing I am to copy it to my ponderings blog, I pray God will use it in the lives of all who read…

Leaving Our Baals Behind

Jeremiah 8:22 was a discussion point with a friend not long ago. As I thought about the passage and sought the Lord, He reminded me of what He showed me years ago with regard to health issues. Knowing that we are trying to get our thought life to line up with God’s will and help us change bad habits so we can look and feel better, having greater strength for serving the Lord and ministry to family and friend, I think this thought process found in Jeremiah 8-9 fits here, thus I share with you.

Studying Chapter 8:22 – chapter 9, first I note that the questions of 8:22 are rhetorical. “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Yes there were balms ordained by God for specific ailments. “Is there no physician there?” Yes, there were physicians gifted by God for His use in Gilead. “Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?” Then God answers His own question in chapter 9: the two main passages being 9:13-15 and :25-26:

9:13-15 – The LORD said, “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice nor walked according to it, but have walked after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink.”

There are certain, basic laws that protect our bodies and keep it fit: healthy diet, plenty of water, fitness habits, and right thinking, attitudes, motives, and actions / reactions to emotionally charged situations, all of which are vital to the health of our bodies. We have failed to follow these laws, and so, here we are.

Each of us has our personal Baals that rule in areas of our lives; a ruling influence in areas of life that truly belongs to God. For example, when a stressor happens and we run to our favorite comfort food, that food is usurping the place of God as comforter.

Wormwood poisons the water and makes one deathly ill. Wormwood can be equated to the natural consequences of bad decisions we make, such as constantly eating sweets or overly processed foods instead of the foods higher in nutrients and lower in chemicals that are harmful to us. We can also put a sedentary lifestyle here, as never breaking a sweat hinders the body’s natural detox; as does failure to drink enough just plain water, or water with lemon—which aids in detoxing.

9:25-26 – “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised…for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.”

Here is what I understand from this passage: Going to a doctor as part of our seeking after God’s healing is not wrong. God uses doctors. The thing that kept the people from being healed is that they would go, receive the doctors instruction, and run back to do all they were doing before, getting sick all over again, or continuing in their sickness. They were looking for quick fixes that required nothing on their part, thus they were uncircumcised of heart, making few if any lifestyle and belief system changes.

God brought to mind the person who is an addict: whether to cigarettes, sweets, or drugs and alcohol. A drug addict is brought into the ER in overdose. We get him past the emergency and get him into a place where he can get help to find God and leave his Baal behind. Once he is strong enough to enter the world again, we tell him, “Now you have to get a new group of friends. If you go back to the old friends and the old hangouts where drugs are in use, you will come into temptation and more often than not, we see people back in here again; or worse, we bury them.” They agree with understanding, only weeks or months later, thinking themselves strong, they go out with an old friend and wind up in worse shape than they were before.

God is really using this right now to speak to me. He is telling me that I must be serious and sincere about this journey I am on, for a lot of my health issues are tied up in my diet. Sugar, more specifically sweets and pastries are among my Baals.

I know that I have refused a lot of the doctor’s advice as far as getting on certain meds, knowing that all the ads say that “with diet and exercise, this med will help.” I refuse the med knowing that to take the med without a commitment to diet and exercise is relying on the med to keep me alive and not being obedient to God in my healing. And I know that if I do the diet and exercise right, chances are I will not need the med. If, after a sufficient time of diet and exercise, I do see a need for that balm, then is when I take that script. But the script will do little good without the commitment to leave my personal Baals behind and walk with circumcised heart. To rely on the med for my life without commitment to change and healing is to refuse the circumcision.

My prayer for each of us, as we make this journey to a Christ-mindful, healthy lifestyle, is that we will recognize our personal Baals: those things we give ourselves to in the place of God, especially where our diet and exercise, mindset and dealing with emotional situations is concerned. I pray that we will allow Him to circumcise our heart through changes in our way of thinking and responding to these things, bringing us surely to His healing in our bodies.

Under Compulsion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greener Grass?

“You can picture a million lives and never have one of your own” (Character on CSI).

Wow, that line hit my heart whenever I heard it. Not that I don’t have a life, mind you. I have lived dreams. But that line made me think of times when dreaming can take over and lead us to discontent with the now we have to the point that we lose the life set before us.

I wonder, are you — like me — one who needs someone on occasion to give you a good boot and say, “Wake up! Smell the roses where you are”? We have to realize that though the grass may be greener on the other side, it can also be bitter with a hidden poison that will destroy the deceived and weary grazer.

“…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. …” (Philippians 4:11-13, NASB).

Out of The Wilderness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What grumbling has me snared?

  ~~*~~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darlene Davis © 7/30/11

Grace Defined #5 – an annonym: The Idol Lie

“LABORING TOGETHER [as God’s fellow workers] with Him then, we beg of you not to receive the grace of God in vain [that merciful kindness by which God exerts His holy influence on souls and turns them to Christ, keeping and strengthening them—do not receive it to no purpose]” (2 Corinthians 6:1).

I have a very dear friend that I love greatly, who, in a season of trouble, was going through a very difficult time of life. I wanted so to be there for her and walk with her to its conclusion, but she turned to fleshly things and began running in ways contrary to God’s ways. Sitting with her, trying to encourage her to trust the Lord and stay close to His ways, she quickly informed me, “God understands that I am but flesh, and He will forgive me.” Is that truth? Yes. But is it truly applied? No.

My friend continued on her path, and God instructed my heart, “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33). I was not allowed to walk with her in her season of trouble as she walked quickly into the consequences of her sin.

This morning, as I visited with the Lord, He led me to see that the philosophy spoken of by my friend is a lie about grace. That lie is used of Satan to set up a type of God’s grace as a false idol in the lives of those who would be God’s people, and it works to defeat them because they do not fully know, understand and acknowledge the truth of who God is in all His fullness when they practice that idolic grace. In leading me to understand this truth, God took me to some Old Testament passages.

“Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me. An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master’s manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand’” (Isaiah 1:2-3).

So what is it that we must know and understand if we are to avoid falling to this idol lie?

“Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:23-26).

Four things we must know about God in order for Him to protect us from falling to this idol lie about His grace:

FIRST, God is LORD. If we truly know His grace, we must not only call Him LORD, but walk in ways that reveal His Lordship in our lives. That walk in His Lordship comes day by day, in good times and in bad. The practice of that Lordship is what brings us into the obedience of Christ, who says, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23, NASB). What does it mean to take up ones cross?

I have many times heard people say of some illness, “It is my cross to bear,” but is that what Christ is speaking of here? No. That may be their thorn in the flesh, but it is not a cross. When I hear of bearing a cross and think of choosing to pick it up, I think of the example of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, when, facing His own cross, Jesus cries out, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42, NASB).

Our pastor pointed out the other day that this cup Christ speaks of is not that of taking up the cross. The cup was bearing the sin that would bring separation from the Father. Jesus never once in His life of ministry had to face anything without God’s presence. He knew that taking up the cup meant separation from the Father in the moment of His bearing our sin. For us, to take up our cross, we must lay down the cup that separates us from God.

In every situation where we are caused to cry out, “Lord, not my will, but Yours be done,” as we press forward in obedience to His will and way, we lay down the cup of separation to take up our cross and follow Christ in His example of obedience to God. Thus, through obedience to God’s will in every circumstance, we successfully remember His Lordship so as to walk in His grace, trusting His power to perform the requirements of the path God sets before us.

SECOND, God practices lovingkindness toward us: God is love and He always acts toward us out of that love, giving grace as unmerited favor and spiritual blessing in His lovingkindness toward us. That is the part of His grace that covers us through Christ-crucified, bringing us into salvation. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NASB).

But the truth of that Ephesians passage continues on in verse 10 to say, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

God expects that His work of grace in us will bring us to be the living image of God revealed to us through Christ’s earthly ministry. When we receive His gift of grace through Christ with thought that we can go on our merry way and do what we want without fear of eternities death, we walk quickly out from under that cover of His lovingkindness in Christ to this idolic grace that deceives us. In so doing, we commit the sin Paul speaks of in 1 Timothy 3:1-8:

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, HOLDING TO A FORM OF GODLINESS, ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE DENIED ITS POWER; avoid such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

True knowledge of God’s grace brings with it the power to overcome evil and perform the good works of God. When we deny that power, we believe a lie about grace and set it up as an idol we bow to as if we have no call or responsibility to live righteously in the earth. When we walk away from God in this way, we quickly find the next characteristic of God for ourselves, for love always does what is best for the one loved, in order to bring them to good and glory. But some choose to learn the hard way the next truth about God’s character.

THIRD, God is just and He delves out justice to those who sin against Him.

Now that sounds horrible, and it is for the one who is not truly in Christ, for they are doomed to an eternity without God. When I see people walking in this false-belief my friend has about God’s grace, I have to wonder if they truly know His salvation, for scripture teaches that the tree is known by the fruit it bears, whether good or evil (Matthew 7:15-23).

For those who are truly in Christ, yes, we have a tendency to fall to the flesh from time to time, but sin is not a habit we willing run toward. What does scripture say to assure our hearts of God’s grace to work in our lives when we as His true children do sin?

“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:7-11).

This brings us to our FOURTH truth about God: God is righteous. For those who are true sons, understanding the power of grace as well as its favor, He disciplines us as sons in order to develop His righteousness and holiness in us. What is “discipline”?

In 2 Timothy 3, Paul, teaching Timothy about God’s way of training His children says the following, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (vs. 12-17).

Thus, the true child of God is trained by God through the teaching of His word that they may know truth, through reproof that points out sin’s stain, through correction of wrong doing and believing, and through training in righteousness, thus equipping the true child for good works.

 Jeremiah 9 ends with the following:

“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised…for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.’”

God works in us as sons to circumcise our hearts, removing from us the flesh-man and making us new creations in Christ, image bearers who are wholehearted toward God. As He removes the flesh from our hearts, He establishes us to be Spirit led, seeking Him first in all things, trusting His power to work in us the glory of God’s grace, sufficient for every need even in difficult times. That work of His Spirit changes us from glory to glory, making us to be more like Him day by day, perfecting us until the day of Christ’s return. For those who truly know and surrender to God, they do not deliberately and rebelliously walk away from God and test Him by taking advantage of His grace in ungodly dissipation. Instead, we long for Him, to be clothed in His righteousness, thus we are quick to repent and remain in fellowship with Him in Christ.

Am I better than my friend who fell to sins grip? No. Scripture warns, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11-12).

It is dangerous to think too highly of self, for “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” as the old testament King James passage says (Proverbs 16:18). But what does God’s word promise in the 13th verse of 1 Corinthians 10?

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”

What is the way of escape? Grace in all its power! We can trust God to empower us to walk in the victory of His grace: unmerited favor and spiritual blessing with power to both overcome evil and perform what is good.

Is my friend beyond help? How about your loved ones who walk in this falsehood? No. Grace can minister healing to her still, and when grace moves in to do so, I am here. “Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:6-7, NASB).

God would not let me walk with her into destruction, but He has me ready, willing and able to walk with her as His hand of grace and love brings healing from sin. Before I can, there must be proof of sincere repentance and understanding of these truths of grace, otherwise the crushing pain of watching helplessly as she falls again will be the experience, for those who set grace up as an idol constantly fall away to follow the flesh of their heart.

“Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (1 Peter 3:14-18, NASB).