Tag Archives: Image bearers

Focus on Victory

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

The world or worldly. This passage defines “all that is in the world” as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Considering this malady today, my thoughts settle on the eyes.

I know that lust resides in my dead flesh. The flesh wants what it wants. When revived from the death of sin bought for me by Jesus, that flesh with its passions and desires rises to draw me away from God and His desires for me. That enlivening begins in the eyes.

When my eyes fall to something flesh desires, the lust of the eyes excites the flesh. Then that flesh woman in me raises up from the dead to spark life back into the boastful pride of life in me as it did in Eve.

The lie of Satan is seed that is passed from parent to child. When lust of eye tweaks lust of flesh to resurrect itself, that seed of Satan starts talking in my own voice. “Surely one taste won’t hurt. I am strong and can just have one. God won’t mind as long as I reassert my self control. I can do it.”

I’ve fallen to this trap of fleshly lust over and over, especially in my way of eating. One reason for that is my knowing that no food is evil in itself. It’s my lust of flesh that is evil, and it knows how to trap me into making food an idol that too readily enslaves me. The lie is thinking “I” can be strong enough for anything. The trap is pride that ignores the first step into it: the focus of my eyes on an idol that too easily enslaves me.

Today, as I consider these things, I realize that the first step toward victory over the lust of my flesh is to look away from that which caught my eye’s attention. This may be the physical sighting of a delectable morsel, or it may simply be my mind’s eye allowing it’s focus to shift off course. Look away and turn gaze back on God.

Step two: do battle with pride. Take every prideful thought captive and make it bow to the name of Jesus as Lord and the Spirit of God as ally to our ability to do anything, knowing that “I” is unable to do anything apart from God. Take self thoughts captive to God’s desires for me, His power to overcome given to me. Refocus on relationship with Him and my desire to please Him above all else, keeping Him as the Lord and one true God over me. Set my mind and keep it set on walking in eternal victory. Keep it set on Temple life.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:12-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The lust of the flesh keeps me in the grave of sinful passions. But God! By His grace, it is no longer “I” who live as flesh, but Christ lives in me through the power of His Spirit. His Spirit gives true life to me as I walk in believing faith and trust in God. By God’s Spirit alone, I have power to overcome the passions and desires of my flesh. Walk in victory with me and let’s be made whole.

Planned for Destiny

‭‭Acts‬ ‭17:24-28‬ ‭NASB‬‬

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

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

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

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

“What are you trusting God for today?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭37:5‬ ‭NASB

Stand Firm

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

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

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:1-14‬ ‭NASB

When Jesus says “You”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‭‭James‬ ‭2:14-26‬ ‭NASB

Prep with Assurance

Luke‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NASB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note to the Church

“Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord God be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. …” – ‭‭Micah‬ ‭1:2-5‬ ‭NASB

Church, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ and spared the eternal death of separation from God, saved from being cast into eternal hell. Proof of this grace in us is seen as we turn from sin by the power of His Spirit, to bear the fruit of righteousness in likeness to Christ. And we are continually being perfected, as we, day by day, walk free of our sin nature and become more Christlike, choosing Him more and more. But we, as His people, are not spared from the consequences of sin in this life now.

The world – people who have not received Christ and who are the true “walking dead”, cannot be expected to recognize and walk free of sin, being separated from Him and without His Spirit to teach them what sin is. It is because of us, who know what sin is, but give ourselves to it anyway, or give harty approval of it by condoning sin as ok, that discipline of a nation comes.

By the power of God’s Spirit today, look at self first: where is God calling you personally to repentance? Once you have taken care of personal business with God, then look at the Church as a whole: where are we giving approval to sin? If you share the Name of God in Christ, repent. Perhaps God will have mercy on US again.

The Righteous Way of Anger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God, or Not God

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be On the Alert

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

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

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

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

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

Follow God

His science is flawless.

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

But GOD.

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

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

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Double-minded: tossed to and fro by the mind of one’s flesh arguing with the mind of Christ given in the power of God’s Spirit.)
— James 1:5-8

First Order of Preparedness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lessons From My Garden: Day 6 • Devotional

Love Bears All Things

Love does not keep an account of wrongs suffered, adding them all together and holding them against a person. That’s an easy one to see. But do we realize this?

Counting up the good I do to someone I love, with thought that they aren’t loving me in the same way, adding my good against them, is the same thing.

It is counting up wrongs suffered by lifting my good as opposed to their lack of it as I see it, and that is in opposition to true love as God defines it.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Love trusts God to reward “my good”.

Love loves because it is who I am in Christ, and it is what I do to please my God, who is love.

That counts.

Loss of Love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unmerited Favor: All Powerful Supply

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

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

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

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

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

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Respect. What is it? And what determines the giving of it?

According to The Free Dictionary: respect is a feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard; esteem. The state of being regarded with honor or esteem: a leader held in the greatest respect. Consideration or appreciation. Due regard for something considered important or authoritative: I.e., respect for the law.

My personal answer to both questions is “me”.

In my opinion and, prayerfully, in my personal life, respect is an attribute I must possess and practice. Respect, like love, is who I am and choose to be. It flows out of love, honor, and loyalty, first to God, then to self and others, and finally to the institutions of life: family, church, job, law, nation, etc.

With God in first place, respect is given out of love, honor, and loyalty to Him. He calls us to love Him out of one’s entire being as first, most vital relationship, and love others as self. Respect is first and foremost an act of love that honors God as Lord.

God tells us to honor our parents. He does not specify honoring parents who are worthy. We honor our parents, whether or not they are good at parenting, because God is our God. Honoring parents, honors Him as God. One way we do that as children of God is by living as honors Him in such a way that it makes our parents look good as parents. Honoring Him expresses honor for those He birthed us to. It can be hard, especially if the relationship is a bad one, but God, who requires it, equips us for it.

Loyalty to God spills over to respect self as the temple He chooses as residence. Loyalty to self chooses to BE as He is, through love, honor, and the loyal practice of all He places in us and calls us to. Desire to BE all He desires for me, and all He is making me to BE, requires me to be loyal to self in requiring the best in me. Out of loyalty to being who I am and desire to be, I give respect, at all times, to all people, including myself, in loving care as His temple.

We are called to respect parents, which includes grandparents, because God says to and we respect Him. We are called to respect governing officials, which includes law enforcement, because they are given charge by God to reward good, and punish evil. Respect honors a parent’s wishes through obedience as a love action toward God first. Respect obeys the laws of the land for the same reason. Respect obeys God above all: His laws and requirements take precedence over all others.

When we ignore a request or order given, or do a half hearted job of it, we disrespect God first, denying His Lordship; then we disrespect self, sullying our reputation as God’s representative; and lastly we disrespect the authority figure we dishonor through disobedience or halfhearted service.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T begins and ends with “me”, who I am, who I want to be. And it reflects my true relationship with God, in whose image I am called to live.

Father, as I think on these things and write these words, I can see areas of needed practice using my respect muscles. Make me better at living this necessary attribute. Empower the attribute of respect to flow from me out of love, honor, and loyalty to You as Lord in all my relationships. In Jesus, amen.

Practices of Vandalism

“You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Vandalize – to destroy wantonly, as through acts of vandalism.

Vandalism – the willful or malicious damage or destruction of the PROPERTY OF ANOTHER.

Wantonly – Lascivious or promiscuous. Unrestrainedly excessive. To move idly or playfully. Given to or expressing lust.

This thought of vandalizing God’s temple, which is me and you who house His Spirit, grabbed me. Do I “vandalize” God’s temple, my body?

That question seems to express the first act of vandalism, as it expresses my hold on my body as my possession. It begs the question, have I surrendered what is mine to Him who has bought and paid for me?

I know, a little drastic sounding, since it is the body God birthed me to live in on this earth and it is mine to possess and make full use of. But I am realizing that I fail to recognize and surrender to His right over me, because I forget to whom I belong. I am no longer my own, but His. My body is His Temple.

My focus for two years now has been to grow strong in the reality that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). And with that, belonging to Christ Jesus, I have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). When I fail to remember these truths and practice them, I give permission to my fleshly passions and desires, allowing the old self to rise up to deface the me I am in Christ.

I am learning that I must be purposeful in acknowledging God’s right and ownership over me if I am to prevent self from vandalizing His property. This is not an idle work to trifle with, as playing around with some religious rite. Being the Temple of the living God is serious business, worth deliberate thought and purposeful action.

Forgetting the importance and reality of being His – the one in whom He chooses to live and desires full possession of – is the vandalizing of God’s temple. In misusing, mistreating, and abusing my body by granting the desires of my flesh, I forget to whom I belong. Giving myself to cravings for foods and activities that harm my body, making it weak and hurting its proper functioning, show a life that denies His Lordship, His Ownership, and it fails to give my best, my all, to Him who is worthy.

Now I praise God for His grace sufficient for me. I thank Him that He continues to perfect me day by day until the day of Jesus, when perfection – completion – comes. He leads me from one degree of His glory in me, to ever increasing glory, as I come fully into the image of God in me.

I am a temple under construction, being renovated into His desired dwelling. By His grace and in His power, He will get me where He wants me. My responsibility in our union is to remember to whom I belong and surrender to Him as He takes full possession.

Today I pray to be alert to the choices before me and the Lordship He deserves. May my choices and decisions make Him feel at home and blessed with comfort, glory, and praise in His temple, the expression of His glory in me.

Patience: Waits On and Rests In the Father

In these difficult days, many of us stand in shock, horrified by the worldly things growing more rampant around us. We cry out for God to come quickly, and we plead for our children and grandchildren to be set free from the fleshly, the worldly, and the demonic wisdom ruling the world in our day.

Peter, in 2 Peter 3, exhorts us to be diligent to be found by Christ in peace, spotless and blameless, and to “regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” He is not slow about His promises as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, wishing none to perish, but all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9, 14-18 NASB)

As long as God tarries, there is hope for those we love. And the proof of His patience is “me,” as we say with Paul, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. ….” 1 Timothy 1:15-17 NASB

Remembering the patience of God toward the sinner, especially toward self, is vital to our ability to have patience and walk in His peace during troubling times. Jesus Christ demonstrates His perfect patience through us as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. A study of patience, then, necessitates that we remember God’s patience toward us and the testimony that truth speaks to others.

In 2 Timothy 4, Paul instructs Timothy to preach the word, being ready in season and out of season to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great patience and instruction. In verse 5 He says, “be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, FULFILL YOUR MINISTRY.”

Our ministry in the Spirit is reconciliation: to take every opportunity and be ready at all times to share the faith we have in Christ and His love for us, with the hope that those who hear will be reconciled to God in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Corinthians 5:18 NASB)

“For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who THROUGH FAITH AND PATIENCE INHERIT THE PROMISES.” Hebrews 6:10-12 NASB

Patient endurance in trouble and faithful ministry in the Lord, flowing from trust in Him, inherits His promises. We, who are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus can trust God for every promise made to those who are righteous, including His faithfulness toward the next generations. Patiently wait with peaceful endurance.

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. …” James 5:7-11 NASB

God is patient, and He will keep His promises in due season. We can trust that truth. God is patient, compassionate, and merciful, and He hears our hearts’ cries. Our trust in Him to fulfill His good word to us is vital for patient endurance, assuring our hearts. God’s trustworthiness is the power that produces true patience in us who enter His rest through belief. Think on that when your patience is tested.

Thus, we review our keys as we add two final key to the Unlocking of Patience

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

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

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

Key 4: Patience is an act of love, persevering in the unity of the Spirit, working humbly and gently with diligence of purpose to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Key 5: Patience is our clothing in Christ. It covers our hearts like clothing, protecting and revealing who we are as God’s people in Christ Jesus, as we practice unconditional love toward others.

Key 6: Patience aligns with God’s patience. Remembering the patience of God toward sinners, especially His patient work in us, strengthens our patience as we await His work in others.

Key 7: Patience flows out of and reveals our faith that trusts God to fulfill His promises and bring all to completion.

Patience: Clothing that Proves Life

“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…. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. …” Colossians 3:9-17 NASB

We are new creations in Christ: off with the old; on with the new. This change is both an instantaneous reality by a miracle of God’s grace, and it is a deliberate act of our will cooperating with that work of grace as we seek after and surrender to the work of the Spirit in us.

One thing that catches my attention here is the command, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self.” We are being renewed into the image of God in Christ Jesus day by day. As we grow in the knowledge of Him, we are expected to surrender to His work in us and deliberately choose to put on the new by cooperating with Him.

To say that we are new creatures in Christ while refusing to walk in newness of life as He reveals it is to lie about who we are. We are either still lost in our sin and lying to self and God, or we are failing to put on the new through surrender, thus lying about who God is to those watching for the proof of Life in us. “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.” Romans 8:19 NASB

As new creatures, we cooperate with God in becoming as He is by clothing our hearts. Heart here is the mind, will, and emotions. All that makes our who is to put on Christ as Master of who we are.

Today’s passage instructs us to put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness patience, forbearance and forgiveness. Wherever “patience” thrives, we find hearts dictated by compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, forbearance (long-suffering, endurance) and forgiveness, all of which flows from a heart defined by Agapé (godly, unconditional love), the top attribute of which is patience.

“Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

One way we put on patience is through a heart of gratitude. One aspect of love is to cling to the good found while waiting on God to deliver from the abhorrent. We are protected from the lie of hypocrisy when we learn to love with grateful heart for the good in others that helps us put on patience toward them. (Romans 12:9 NASB)

Patience is clothing for a heart of love. Put it on and wear it well.

Thus, we add a key to the Unlocking of Patience

Key 5: Patience covers our hearts like clothing, protecting and revealing who we are as God’s people in Christ Jesus, as we practice unconditional love toward others.

Key 4: Patience is an act of love, persevering in the unity of the Spirit, working humbly and gently with diligence of purpose to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

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

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

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

Patience Trusts God’s Kindness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, we add a key to the Unlocking of Patience

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

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

Patience: Spirit Fruit

“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 NASB

Patience has always been a struggle for me, but never so much as in these trying times. I decided to follow the example of a friend and hide in my heart the word of God regarding patience. As I feast on these passages, I want to grab truths found that can help me get a firmer grasp on the practice of patience.

The first focal scripture from yesterday is one I know well. The FRUIT of the Spirit working in us, the produce proving His presence in us, is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control or temperance. These are attributes of God revealed in us as the Spirit enlivens the image of God placed in humankind before the fall from grace into sin’s death.

Fruit is that which grows naturally out of a life that surrenders itself to and cooperates with the Holy Spirit of God living in us. The produce of God’s nature cannot mature in soil that is not made ready and fully possessed by God. So the first key to bearing the fruit of patience is to seek the work of God’s Spirit in us from a wholehearted surrender to His will and way, in the soil of a faith that trusts, believes, and receives.

BLESSed Are the Humble

“Blessed (happy, to be envied, and spiritually prosperous–with life-joy and satisfaction in God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward conditions) are the poor in spirit (the humble, who rate themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven!” Matthew‬ ‭5:3‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

To be truly humble is to rate oneself as insignificant, knowing that God’s need of me, His plan and design for my life is by His choice, not by my right. It is to realize that I can do nothing apart from God, yet I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. It is to recognize Him as my first, most vital, need and necessity, knowing that He is my unending supply, going far above anything I can ask, think, or imagine. His power is made perfect in my weakness, making God, alone, my boast.

Feasting on Jesus

“As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” — John 6:57-58

“Eat” here can also be translated “gnaw”. To truly learn of Jesus and feast on Him in nourishing, life giving ways, we must be like a dog with a coveted bone. This “eating” requires persistence, focus, time, and energy. Chewing on Jesus is to meditate on who He is and what His being means for our living. We gnaw on the truth of His being until we get something to chew on that is digestible; and we make that part of who we are.

In Matthew 11, AMPC, Jesus says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” (Matthew‬ ‭11:29-30‬ ‭AMPC‬‬)

This describes feasting on Jesus as a benefit to life. Note that the benefit is such that, when we grasp it into our lives, Jesus becomes a bone to tempt others to covet Him for themselves. They, too, desire the benefit of chewing on Jesus. The exciting thing about our Jesus bone is that we can give Him away to others without losing our own. Make Jesus an appealing truth to gnaw on.

That said, this month on Ponderings (FB) is a call to apply the truths shared as prayer thought for schools: teachers, students, staff, and parents, wherever possible. As I write about gnawing on Jesus, I recognize that all learning requires gnawing on the subject matter. I pray that teachers can so love the subjects they teach, that they can cause it to be a bone so appealing, that the students will desire to gnaw on it too. And may one of the bones found in our schools be Jesus.

The Vital Need of the Rod of Discipline

“Do not hold back discipline from the child, Although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod And rescue his soul from Sheol.” ~ Proverbs‬ ‭23:13-14‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The word “rod” used here is an “offshoot”: a twig. My Aunt says it should be 6-8 inches long, no bigger around than your pinky finger. It is used on small children who have no concept of time and need immediate consequences; and is meant only to sting. As the child gets older, parents often graduate to wooden spoons. The rod grows with the child until the method of discipline changes to meet the child’s way of learning.

The point is, the rod is not a bat or something big enough to do mortal harm. It is strictly for discipline and training, and is vital for life worth living. Those who spare the rod, hate their child, showing lack of care for the type of person they become (Proverbs 13:24).

Another meaning for “rod” here is “authority“. I know many today who just want to be their child’s friend. A friend does not have the authority of a parent. They are equals, piers. They can influence, but have no real authority, so such parents wonder why, when the chips are down, their children do not possess respect for their parental role.

Training children to respect our authority as parents influences their respect for all other authority figures, even their ability to bow to God’s authority. Children need parents to be parents. Those who spare the rod, hate their child, showing lack of care for the type of person they become.

“He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” ~ ‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭13:24‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Peace, Be Still.

In these days, so many are finding themselves struggling with worry, fretting, depression, fear, and so many emotional issues that hinder function and ability to know Wisdom. We need peace of mind, heart, soul. But if we keep looking at things outside ourselves to bring it, we will continue to miss it, thinking it something we must chase after when, truly, if we know The Christ and are home to His Spirit, Peace – True Peace is within us, ready to flow to us and through us as a fresh, spring flow of Living Water.

We don’t have to chase it, learn it, or grapple for it. We only have to be still, cease striving, let be and know God, and He will give it – His good gift, pressed down, shaken together, and running over for others to feed off of while in our presence.

We can’t give others what we, ourselves, do not have, and we can’t truly possess that which we fail to recognize as belonging to us. Love, joy, peace PATIENCE, and all the nine flavors of the Spirit are our personal possession because we are His and He is within us. Take a deep Breath of stillness, receive your Peace, and have a BLESSed day.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:22-25‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Making Criticism Constructive

“Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭27:17‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Words that seem harsh toward us can be a #selah moment that makes us better, or and angry, fuming moment that makes us bitter. The choice is ours to make.

When taken to the Lord for His opinion and understanding, He shows us truth that either leads to positive, godward change; or that lifts our countenance so we stand firm in confidence.

Take every thought captive to God. Let Him transform thought and understanding, renewing our minds, and leading us to surrender all we are to Him as a holy sacrifice, acceptable to God. In this way, we always seek to please Him, entering His Rest for a glorious life.

True Forgiveness: an Agapé Love Action

“If you never forgive yourself how can you forgive others. Just a thought.” (Aleshia Beth Barnett)

“Forgiveness being a love action: how can we love others when we can’t love ourselves.” (My thought-reply in response)

Pictured is a post from a dear friend, daughter to one of my best friends, who struggles as I have. I know many who have struggled to love through forgiveness. Her statement took me immediately to what God has taught me that has delivered me so mightily, setting me free to love as He loves.

With her permission, stemming off her ponderings, I share with you this freedom that is yours in Christ. Only Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, can give this love to and through us.

Here’s my advice to those struggling to forgive self and others: Learn of God’s love. Not only so you can rest in Him and in His presence, free from the fear of eternal punishment, but because THAT is the love He places in us and causes to flow through us. So we should learn all we can to know His love and seek daily to grow strong His image of Love in us.

God’s Agapé Love is the only love strong enough to equip us to forgive our enemies and do good to them, as God desires; and His gift to us in the Spirit is the only love by which we can truly forgive self and those we love, the way we want and need to. To get there, ask the Lord to open your spiritual eyes, ears, mind, and heart to believe, receive, and possess this gift. Then work through the following passages. May God bless you, in the power of His love to and through you. By the living power of God in Jesus, The Christ. Amen

John 15:1-17 NASB

Abiding: God in Christ living through us by the power of the Spirit in us and us possessing Life in Him by the work of His Spirit in and through us, is vital.

Galatians 5:16-26 NASB

Bearing the fruit of God’s image, being as He is by surrender to the work of the Spirit in us, is vital.

1 John 4:7-21 NASB

Being Love, as He is Love in us, is vital.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NASB

Note the actions of love listed that require forgiveness. Understanding what Love looks and acts like is vital.

Luke 6:27-36 NASB

Being Love depends on who “I” am and what “I” desire to be, not on what others do to “me”. Committing to this truth and walking it even toward one called “enemy” is vital to our obedience in rightly portraying God’s image in us.

Romans 12:9-21 NASB

It is vital to realize that Love fulfills the Law, trusting God to be God toward us and those we love, even when they hurt, steal, kill, and seek to destroy us, being enemies to us. Love is first toward God, trusting His Love to do right in all that concerns us.

A little footnote here, for those who might wonder: Love should prevail even in war against those who, as an enemy, would force a fight. We do so, going to the fight out of love for those we fight to protect. And we do so, out of love for God as a people who stand for right as God sees it.

We fight against an enemy for righteousness sake. And we do so as guided by Love, not out of vengeance, hate, bitterness, and anger, but desiring righteousness and trusting God to handle the consequences to those who wish us harm, on whom our weapons of war fall.

Choosing to be love as He is Love, even in war, protects us from hate, bitterness, and anger, that harms self, by destroying God’s image of Love in us. Love: true, deep, abiding Love that forms our “who” to be as He Is, is vital for all occasions.

A Life of Beauty

“For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory.” Colossians‬ ‭3:3-4‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Wow. Think on that for a bit: not only in the eternal, future sense, but in the here and now reality of life. Our new, REAL life is hidden with Christ in God. When we let Christ live in us, surrendering to Him, then the true “me” will appear with Him in the splendor of His glory. BEAUTIFUL!

Want to shine in Life? Die so Christ can Live and we can walk in the beauty of the Lord.

“I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:24-26‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭27:4‬ ‭NASB‬‬

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Chosen For This Hour

Johnny and I went out yesterday for some needful shopping. I was struck by peoples expressions and demeanor. Many returned my smile, some returned my greeting, but most were somber, others obviously frightened, and one in particular looked a combination of these plus hopelessness. And, people, COVID hasn’t hit us here yet. We have no known cases in our county. What must it be like in areas of high impact?

My challenge to us, wherever we are, is be the light of hope: smile, speak greeting, behave as normal as possible. But also, watch expressions and demeanor. And pray as you passerby, stopping to pray, in social distancing manor, with those in need where opportunity presents itself.

We are chosen for this season. There is a purpose for us living in this time of history. There is something in us that God wants to use. He put it there. He planned it. This historic event is no surprise to Him, so He strategically placed each of us in positions of influence according to need. Be as He is: His image bearer. Be His representatives in this hour. “What would Jesus do?” is a good question to find answer for in our here and now living. Be Christlike. (Acts 17:24-28)

I ask You, Father, to inspire our fire for You, that we would shine in uplifting ways. Inspire our hearts to pray for those we pass. Grant courage to speak to needs we see. And place faces in our hearts for those we are assigned in prayer. Lift us up, Lord, and empower us to be uplifting. In Jesus, PEACE. Be still.