Tag Archives: Image bearers

Finding Who We Are: Part 9

Read: Hebrews 8:1-13 NASB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 8

Read: Hebrews 7:1-28 NASB

“For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, ” YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.” … The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. …” (vs. 13-17; 23-25)

Jesus is Priest forever because of an indestructible life, in likeness to Melchizedek, servant and priest to the One True God. We, as servant-ambassadors of Christ and priests unto God through Him, enter into this indestructible life. Our days are eternal with Him, as is our priesthood. That should get a resounding AMEN!

Our life here is but a breath. It is ordained and dictated by the Father, who loves us. We can trust Him, whatever comes our way, for we know that He alone is good, and He desires the greatest good for us.

I believe that there are things we need to know and understand about our God, and those things can only truly be known by walking the hills and valleys of this life. Thus, God desiring us to truly know Him, allows a life here where hills and valleys reside.

As we learn and grow, we have opportunities to help others learn and grow. Jesus ever lives to intercede on our behalf so we can accomplish our purpose of knowing God and making Him known: the high calling of a priest in God’s court.

Our eternal existence with God in Christ started the day of our rebirth. Death, the eternal separation from God that was in us before receiving Christ, died to us when we united with Jesus. Our old life passed away. Behold! We are a new creation in Christ. And that new creation will live on, though these flesh bodies die. With our new life came the BLESSed opportunity to be the expression of Heaven on earth.

“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17 NASB)

Beloved, as we truly discern our eternal state and the life of Christ that dwells in and desires to continue through us as one with Him, that is when true righteousness can get hold of all we are. In that holy estate we find deep, abiding peace that umpires and stabilizes our souls. Out of that peace flows joy, true joy from the rivers of His Spirit, everlasting and indestructible joy in God alone. Heaven, expressed in the earth.

An indestructible life, that is what we are in Christ. Rejoice today, Beloved, and let no hardship rob you of the unity we have as His Kingdom people. Learn of God and be indestructible people of God.

Finding Who We Are: Part 7

Hebrews 6:1-20 NASB

“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us….” (6:17-18)

Heirs of Promise! THAT is who we are, through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

I could say, “Rejoice!” and stop there. Enough said. But there’s gold in this here Word, so let’s mine it.

First we see in vs. 17-18 that as heirs of the promises of the Father with Christ, those promises give us hope. But hope set before us is nothing until we grasp hold of it. Grasping our hope in God’s promises requires us to “get it”. We grasp it through comprehensive understanding of the true meaning of each promise. We grab it and hold tight through comprehensive understanding of the fullness of God, recognizing His thoughts as higher than ours, and that His idea of a timetable is set to a different clock. With full understanding in hand, we grab to His promises by trusting faith, receiving them as our very own hope. They belong to us, corporately and individually, in Christ.

For the sake of the whole Body of Christ, it is vital that each part grasp God’s promises personally. We are all responsible to grow strong in faith, for the body is only as healthy as it’s weakest link.

We see it all the time, one member of the body, weakened by insecurity that comes to those with wavering faith and little hope, falls to sin-sickness. Infectious, it spreads to more and more, until the whole body of believers falls apart, and a church dies. The infection of sin-sickness is what led Paul to write 1 Corinthians 5. “…Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” (5:6)

Beloved, hope, the hope of promise made sure, is vital to health.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (6:19-20)

The promises of God, possessed and trusted, anchor us, holding us stable and secure despite what our eyes see. Whatever storm in life, we are secure, unhindered by fear, never swayed by wind or wave.

Driving home after dropping hubby off for work this morning, my attention was captivated by leaves on the roadway. Being driven by the wind, they were dancing, free and unabated. It was beautiful and joyous.

When we have a firm grip on God’s Word to us, no storm in life can rob of strength, hope, Joy, and fervency. We carry on, fueled by faith’s assurance, able to dance in the Spirit before the God we trust.

“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.” And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.” (6:13-16)

God rewards faithfulness! As we bear the fruit of patience into the world and through every storm, trusting God for His promises fulfilled, we reveal Christ to those witnesses watching us. People need the Lord. Our right and good waiting moments proves character and shines the Light of glory into the Earth, making eternal use of the opportunity found in our wait. Doing so with joy, peace, and perseverance, captivates the audience: bringing rejoicing to those who know such hope; and drawing those who don’t into the fold, desiring to find it for themselves.

“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. 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.” (6:9-12)

Through diligence, we realize the full assurance of hope until the end. Hope is the product of assurance raised up in us as we believe in the promises of God by faith, trusting, as Heirs, that we will have our hope fulfilled.

Through our diligent faith, we become imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Our growth as heirs of promise assures that we leave behind the elementary teachings about the Christ to press on to maturity (6:1-8).

See also

2 Peter 1:2-4 NASB

1 Corinthians‬ ‭5:6‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Finding Who We Are: Part 6b

Jesus “has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father-to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:6 NASB)

Walking through Hebrews, looking both at the example of Christ to us, and at the specific instructions to us found there, we are seeking to discover clues to who we are in Christ. In chapter 3 and now in chapter 5, we are looking at our role as priests unto God. Thus far we see the purpose of God for the suffering priest, and we see the changing of our sacrifice as priests because of Father making His Son the last blood sacrifice on our behalf. No more need for the spilling of blood, Jesus leaves us to make gifts and sacrifices of praises to God, coupled with thanksgiving.

Now, in verse 7 of chapter 5, we see in Jesus what I would call the surrendered, reverent heart of a prayer warrior. Bombarded by every enemy’s false wisdoms, “He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.”

All the world of mankind around Him was coming against Him as He faced betrayal, false accusations, desertion, and denial of His reality as King and Savior, ending His earthly existence on a cruel cross at the hands of those He came to save. Along with the world’s assault, the fleshly body of Christ was coming against Him. The screams of His body was so severe, scripture describes His emotional and mental state as being distressed, troubled, in agony, a despair of such magnitude that He sweat blood from bursting capillaries.

Knowing how the devil can trouble me with his lies and accusations, though there is no clear witness of it in scripture, I believe Satan and His minions were surely, busily working his best deceptions in their attempt to turn Jesus from His appointed course.

Scripture says He was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Demons ever live to tempt mankind away from God and His ways for us, away from belief and trust in God. I have to believe they were working hard to tempt our Savior away from trust in God, adding to His turmoil. The death that would come if Jesus turned from His appointed course would be the end for all mankind. Knowing this truth, with love for The Father and for us, He cried out for strength to persevere and drink His cup. God responded through ministering angels.

“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Matthew 5:8-10, NASB)

Jesus continues His Priestly role as Prayer Warrior as He ever lives to intercede on our behalf. We, too, are called and equipped to pray without ceasing. The thing I feel led to point us to in our role as Prayer Warrior Priests unto God, comes from what I discern from The Lord’s Model Prayer in Matthew 6.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. …” Stop there!

This beginning of what Jesus outlined in teaching the people how to properly approach the throne of grace tells me the humility of heart and frame of mind needed before we even think of laying at the feet of God what we see as our needs. The first thing we must do as prayer warriors is recognize the way-above-my-head greatness of our God, which, in turn, causes us to realize our first need to be that of aligning our hearts with God’s will, with full realization that He knows our truest and greatest needs; and He understands the perfect solution and timing in meeting each one. .

We are too small, insignificant, and selfish to really know what our need is apart from Christ. We cannot realize what is truth of our need, until we stand in agreement with God’s will on earth as in Heaven. Jesus knew the will of God for His life, and He sweat blood in seeking to align His desire and strength to achieving God’s will, God’s way.

Jesus exemplified this Truth in His prayer, “Yet not My will, but Thy will be done.” Jesus spent His hour crying out to God in order to refocus His heart to accomplish God’s will on earth as it was already seen as true in Heaven.

Beloved, we are priests unto God, according to the order of Jesus, The Christ, called and equipped to cry out to Him who saves us, seeking for His will on earth as it is in Heaven. We war against the enemy of God as we learn well the way of prayer. “To God be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Finding Who We Are: Part 6a

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

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

~ Our inherited appointment (covered today)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 5:1-14 NASB

Finding Who We Are: Part 5

“While the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it], lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it. For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard and did believe.” (Hebrews 4:1-2 AMPC)

We are a people of faith, believing God and trusting Him with every fiber of our being. That is what God expects from those who are His. That faith to trust and believe God leads us to a life of peace that reveals His rest at work in us.

We are a people who put our trust in the work, will, and way of The Triune God, finding our rest in Him as we lean our entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness. True, abiding faith to trust God unites us with Him in thought, word, and actions.

Thought: all true thought is wrapped up in the Father, the God-head. True thought and true wisdom is from Him, who knows all things, even the date and time of the last day, and He makes truth known, revealing Himself, His will, His ways, to those who wholeheartedly seek Him in earnest. Thus, He calls us to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” and to “think on these things, the higher things that are true, right, pure, lovely, excellent, worthy of praise” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Philippians 4:8-9).

Word (Jesus): Jesus knows and always, from beginning of time, speaks the true Word of God, coming from the very thoughts and intentions of Father, the God-Head. I believe that Jesus has always been the Angel of the Lord, God’s visible manifestation, bringing the Message of God to His people. He always speaks the truth of God, revealing the intent of God, and He came as our Incarnate Lord God to correct our understanding and show the true way of Life in unity with God’s perfection. He is our example, the Lord of our lives, and we are expected to be as He is, following in His footprints.

The Spirit of God is that part of Him that equips and empowers right and true discernment, leading to productive and eternally effective action. We are instructed to be filled and overflowing with Him, cooperating with Him so that His power and affect flow through us.

Surrendering to The Triune in the power and leading of His Spirit, we become one in thought, word, and actions, just as did Jesus. This is the path of ONE, the achievement of the desired unity between The Triune and the Body.

Father led me to look at Philippians 1:6 in The Passion Translation the other day. I love it! The way it reads seems to say that He will keep working in us until He can unveil us to reveal the very image of Christ in us! That is the desire of The Triune for us and it is the desired end of the work of God’s Spirit in us. Love that. Make it so, Father. Grant us faith to persevere and fully cooperate with the work of Your Presence set to overflow in us.

“I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Philippians 1:6 TPT)

Finding Who We Are: Part 4

“Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house-whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (Hebrews 3:5-6 NASB)

I’ve written many times about our being the Temple of God, housing His Holy Presence on earth, fully equipped to represent The Triune and His Kingdom interests in our daily lives. As I looked at this last night and began praying about what I am to cover on this common topic, a list begins to form revealing truths of God’s Temple.

1 – The Temple of God is holy, and that is what you are! And as I often say, wherever we are, we are on holy ground, so behave accordingly. (1 Corinthians 3:17 NASB)

2 – The Temple of God is a house of Prayer, and that is what you are. So pray, realizing that prayer is communion with God, and can – and often should be – more listening for His opinion, heart, instruction, than speaking.

James says we do not have for we do not ask; and we ask and do not receive because we ask with wrong motives so we can spend it on OUR PLEASURES. Having God’s heart and unity with His opinion on life issues is vital to prayers well prayed: prayers I believe will make His heart sing. (Matthew 21:13 NASB; James 4:1-10 NASB)

3 – The house God is making out of us is a place of worship, and that is what you are. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NASB)

4 – The House of God is a dwelling place, and that is what you are. The Spirit of God’s Presence dwells in and with us. He wants to live with, in, and through us in active, visible ways that can be seen by all we associate with in any way. God is making us into more than a place to be: He is building a place to live to the full, abundantly, impacting the world around us. (1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB)

We are called to be a dwelling for God alone, there is no room for another. He wants to fill every nook and cranny; clearing and cleaning every closet and all dark corners.

As we willingly decrease to allow more room for Him, He fills us up and frees us to be more ourselves than we ever knew we could be. As He cleanses and clears away debris, He finds us, the “me” God intended from before time: a son – a daughter, holding fast to our confidence, the boast of our hope made firm until the end.

“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NASB)

Finding Who We Are: Part 3

“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18 NASB)

Listen to what this says and, considering who we are in Christ, take heart.

Jesus came in flesh so that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, having experienced life as we know it. This leaves the impression that He came to know hunger, thirst, hurt, pain, and all the issues of human flesh so that He would understand in a way that grew His mercy muscles and increased the nature of His faithfulness, all of which was already perfect.

I don’t believe He did so because He did not know and understand; after all, God is All Knowing. I believe His need of personal experience of life in flesh was more so we can know with assurance that He understands. His suffering increased His ability to serve as High Priest, being better able to sympathize from a stance of personal experience.

The New Living Translation of verse 18 says, “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.” No one can look at Him on judgement day and say, “But, God, you don’t understand!” When we know someone does understand from experience, we more readily receive their encouragement. Beloved, we can know that God Incarnate understands.

Do I fully understand passages like this that speak as if Jesus had to grow. No, it blows my finite mind. I have spent two days trying to write this so as to explain the indescribable. Here’s the point I see that we need to grasp and understand as we grow into who we are in Christ.

Jesus, called and equipped as High Priest, suffered in human flesh in part to strengthen His ability to fulfill His role. We, too are called to a priestly role as part of the Royal Priesthood Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 2:9. Just like Jesus, we must realize that some of the things God allows us to suffer will be to increase our ability to serve in that blessed ministry.

Going through a hardship makes us better able to sympathize. In those seasons, we learn what is helpful and what is not. We gain a right to speak into the lives of others and a credibility that helps others hear. Sometimes suffering is simply purposed to make us God’s comforters to the hurting.

Are you going through a hard time? Know it has a purpose and, in Christlikeness, become a willing student so you can be a godly Priest.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Colossians 1:24 NASB)

See also 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NASB.

Finding Who We Are: Part 2

Hebrews 1:3, 8-9 NASB

Last post, looking at Hebrews 1:3, we talked of our need to remember who and Whose we are. Looking at Jesus, The Perfect template of who we are, we see that we, too, are to be expressive of the glory of God, The Father, growing daily as an exact representation of His nature.

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Philippians 1:6 AMPC)

Following Christ’s example, Him being the Author and Finisher of faith, we grow strong in our understanding, believing and living out God’s Word, knowing that through our believing, receptive, faith, we, too, stand, live, move, and breathe victoriously by the Word of His power.

Today, we glean the Seed from verses 8-9.

“But of the Son He (The Father) says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. …”

First, we fulfill verse 3 as we remember that we follow and serve The Risen King just as He did the Father. We not only follow in His likeness, becoming in nature and action as He is, we also act as His representative on earth, His Kingdom Ambassador, charged with always living as best represents His will and way in fulfilling Kingdom purpose here on earth.

Everything we do and say represents Him, right or wrong. As Christians, we are expected to look and act like Him, rightly representing Him. When we don’t, we sully and slander His good name.

His Scepter is righteous. He has earned the right of sovereignty, and we owe Him no less than our best, which only happens as we surrender ourselves to allowing Him to live out His nature through us in the power of the Spirit (Galatians 2:20 AMPC).

As Ambassadors, we are empowered to live in the power and authority of His righteous scepter.

He is King. We are both: His temple, in which He still lives in the earth, by the power of the Spirit at work in us; and we are His Bride, made part of the Royal Court, the Royal Priesthood, empowered with His authority to act on His righteous desire, will and way.

“…YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS…”

As we grow in power as His representatives to the world, we, too, put on the love of righteousness and the hate of lawlessness. We are tasked to act righteously, stand for righteousness, and BE a righteous lot. When we seek to right a wrong, we always act righteously. We are called to Law keeping, God’s Law first, then man’s law, as long as it does not stand in opposition to God’s Law.

Speaking of being a righteous lot, let’s put a cap to that: righteous Lot. Scripture says of Lot, who was led out of Sodom and spared destruction, that God “rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds).” (2 Peter 2:7-8 NASB)

The righteous hate lawlessness, finding their righteous souls tormented by the lawlessness of of sinful flesh.

I don’t know about you, but my heart breaks with every lawless act that too readily bombards our senses. Jesus wept over Jerusalem for much the same reason. However, though Jesus loved and lived righteousness, and He hated and wept over lawlessness, He still loved and spent time reaching out to the unrighteous, lawbreaking sinners. Hate the sin and do not participate with it, but love the sinner and bid him/her to walk our way, straight into the loving arms of the Savior.

Because Jesus loved righteousness and hated lawlessness without hating the lawbreaker, thus continuing even in His heart break to carry out God’s will in the earth, Jesus was blessed with the oil of gladness.

“…THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS.”

We can still be joyful, even in sorrow, because God is still God, and Jesus is on His throne; and because we possess the oil of gladness, the very Spirit of God in us. All the promises of God are wrapped up in us, ready to be revealed, as we house within us His Spirit and His Word. One promise of God we watch for is kin to this fulfilled promise to the Christ:

“…When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”

The promise we anxiously await as we serve Jesus in righteousness that overcomes sin’s grasp?

“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:21-22 NASB)

A Lesson From Father’s Gymnasium

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalms 27:14 NASB)

Good morning, Beloved of God. I don’t know about you, but I needed this Word this morning. As I read it today, Father tells my weary heart, “Yes, wait on Me, but do so in strength with courage. Practice active waiting that carries on with life while watching for Me.”

This Word is not new instruction to me. This has been His Word to me from the beginning of our current journey. But tiredness often brings us to rest stops; and weariness requires directional reminders.

You see, God is stretching my perseverance muscles as never before.

In days past, Father has used hard situations and waiting moments to increase faith, hope, trust, and perseverance in me. Usually, He will cause my waiting to take me beyond the limits of strength to carry on, then relieve the tension and give rest until the next perseverance challenge. Just like working our muscles, we increase the amount of weight we lift a little at a time. As the weight becomes easier to lift, we add more weight.

Opportunities to persevere puts us in God’s gym, where faith and hope and trust are increased, strengthened, and stretched, and our character is built up and made strong.

I know you have been to His gym many times as well. No child of God can get out of that membership. It is a required course, for “… we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5 NASB)

The problem with this season my husband and I are walking through in his health challenge is that there are two potential outcomes, and it is not clear yet which way it will go. Will God allow him to continue life here with me, or will He take him to life in His Presence in glory? Will his healing be here, or there? There is a fork in the proverbial road we are standing at, hand in hand. Will we carry on together, or let go and separate?

As I type that, I realize where my thinking is off.

I am seeing us standing at the fork, the bifurcation acting as a roadblock before me. I must realize we aren’t truly there yet. My husband is doing well, carrying on with life. He is not in his death bed yet. That place of separation is somewhere down the path, not yet in sight.

I’m jumping ahead on the path.

What is it Jesus said? “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 NASB)

God is telling me to own THIS DAY, this moment, this breath He gives me to use for His glory. Looking ahead to try to face something I can’t truly even see yet is only robbing me of strength for my now reality.

Yes! I needed this Word today, Beloved. How about you?

“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. …“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Hebrews 10:24 NASB; Psalms 27:14 NASB)

Temptation’s Lure: My Passion

A Comprehensive Look at James 1:14 (In context)

“Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” NASB

Temptation: we all face it at one time or another. It is even said of Jesus that He, too was tempted, even as we are, yet without sin (1). Truly, temptation is opportunity to choose whether we will do evil or do good. Jesus’s first, most vital desire in all things, at all times, was God.

Jesus was God incarnate, yes. Jesus was filled and empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, yes. But He was still a man who contended with human flesh. The thing about the desires Jesus surrendered Himself to, is His fear of, trust in, and desire to please God that kept Him on the straight and narrow path of always choosing good over evil, so as to always please His Father and bring Him glory. He was dictated by lusts, desires, passions set on God, His will, and His way, ONLY. He did not give leeway to His flesh.

As I look at this verse in several translations, I find understanding that can help us follow in likeness to the example of Christ.

“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” NLT

Lusts are focused on the attainment of all our hearts desire. If we are not watchful to keep our desires in line with God, His will and His way, those desires can not only be used to entice us to sin; those desires can grab us and drag us away from the paths of God’s choosing.

Have you ever committed to stay away from a desire, like sweets, only to find yourself running straight to it. I have! In that instant, not only do I find myself eating a sweet, I often fall into gorging myself on them. My lust, desire, passion, literally drags me away from my commitment.

The passion of the Christ was God: first, foremost, and always. That passion protected Him from being dragged elsewhere. Clue?

“Every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).” AMPC

Have you ever found yourself blaming the devil, the temptress, or anyone but self, because they sat the temptation in front of you? I have. It is hard to take the blame for our failures. But truth is, it is our own desires, passions, lusts, that cause our fall.

We alone are to blame when temptation comes and we fall away. We fail to keep our desires in line with godliness, and make ourselves a target. Not only do we make self a target, but we fail to have the right arsenal against the attack of our flesh by having evil passions under our belt. The only passion that can save us from ourselves is desire for God alone. Only then will we do the things that please Him, like studying His Word, so we have knowledge of truth under our belt.

“Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” NIV

It’s “MY”evil desire to blame. Each person is responsible for their own demise. The phenomenon of the individual falling into the group mentality of a chaotic mob is not the mobs fault. There is some desire in that individual that is responsible for their own fall from righteousness. They wanted something that joining the mob could feed them, so they chose the evil of the mob over the good of walking the other way alone.

“Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure them away into darkness.” TPT

When we give self over to the lusts of our flesh, failing to give self to godly pursuits, we leave the Light and walk off into the darkness. Our greatest aid against fleshly desires, lusts, passions, is the transforming of our minds that change the fleshly to the godly (God-centered) pursuits. The more we want Him, the more we want to please Him, the more we desire all He has for us and gives to us, the better off we will be and the closer to His Light we will stay.

“People are tempted when they are drawn away and trapped by their own evil desires.” GNB

We set our own trap, providing the cheese to lure us, when we fail to align our desires with God’s. The tempter knows what to put in his trap, because we give it to him.

One last fact I found comes from the Orthodox Jewish Bible, which introduces us to the “Yetzer Hara”:

“But each one is tempted by his own ta’avah (lust, yetzer hara), being dragged off by it and being allured.” OJB

“In Judaism, yetzer hara (Hebrew: יֵצֶר הַרַע‎) refers to the congenital inclination to do evil, by violating the will of God. … The yetzer hara is not a demonic force, but rather man’s misuse of things the physical body needs to survive.” (From Wikipedia – Also see Self Seduction by Jewish author Dr. Alan Morinis)

“Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” James 1:13-15 MSG

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who LOVE HIM. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. DO NOT BE DECEIVED, my beloved brethren.” James 1:12-16 NASB

1 – Hebrews 4:15

Free Will Choice

“Without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.” (Philemon 1:14 NASB)

Have you noticed how some people seem to push for rules and regulations that force people to give to the “under privileged” or to care for those here illegally, or any number of other causes? Have you noticed how some seem to enjoy playing the part of Robin Hood? Does it get your back up (an old saying meaning to rile up, like the hairs of a dog standing up when in battle mode)? Do you wonder why that riles us so? Here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

God gives us the right of choice. Not only that, but opportunities to give are chances from Him for those WITH A HEART TO DO SO to give without compulsion.

Exodus 25:2 says, “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; FROM EVERY MAN WHOSE HEART MOVES HIM you shall raise My contribution.”

I believe that, when God desires a person to give into a need, HE stirs their heart with willingness to do so. God doesn’t want us to give from a forced position. He wants the gift to be from a willing heart, as if giving to the Lord, Himself, for that is what it is in His estimation of things.

When someone forces us to give, it steps all over our right in the Lord, leading to giving begrudgingly. A person can’t take much of that without the heart (their willing love and care toward others) growing cold. People who try to force acts of loving care become part of the problem instead of a fix to it.

Trust in the Lord to inspire the good in others, for only God is good, according to Jesus (Mark 10:18), and “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17 NASB)

God work’s in us, so that He can work through us, to the glory of His Name and the good of our character that grows strong as He works His good out through us who live according to His dictates.

Now, that said, can we get a right attitude in forced servitude? When we live as unto the Lord and in the power of His supply, nothing shall be impossible with God. So put on the Lord Jesus Christ and, in the humility of the Savior, let no worldly rule steal your Joy. Your free will choice is to do every good as unto the Lord and in the power of His supply. Though others require of you by force, they cannot steal your joy of service in and for our Lord, unless you give-in to that begrudging spirit that seeks to still, kill, and destroy the goodness of God in you.

Go forth, and prosper the Kingdom.

Gifted Bondservant FOR

“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, FOR the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness…” (Titus 1:1-4 NASB)

Okay, Bondservant of God and ambassador of Christ, what follows your FOR? For the apostle, evangelist, prophet, preacher, teacher, Paul expresses it well. Those called to spread the Good News and apply God’s truth to life in their age, the “for” of their ministry is “the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which (we are) entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior.”

For the gift of helps, it might be FOR the purpose of meeting daily needs so as to free those charged with spreading the Good News so they can accomplish their FOR with less concern for daily need. We all have our “for” in the work of spreading truth. And we all are called to be ready with our testimony, so our “for” may cross over into the area of the evangelist. I.e.: “I use my gift of helps in serving at the food bank for the needs of others with hope of having opportunity to share the work of Jesus.”

We have a work FOR the service of our Lord, and we are responsible to fulfill it. Knowledge of our motivating purpose, our FOR, equips us to serve with greater commitment, effectiveness, and strength of resolve.

Know your FOR. We are all vitally needed in the roll God places in us as part of the body of Christ and the church of the living God. Knowing our FOR is a great help in serving with head high, unashamed.

Instruction in Godliness

Do not open the chosen passage linked below before reading my instruction to you, Beloved, for this passage provides a challenge for us. In it, Paul is instructing Titus regarding attributes to watch for in choosing Elders for posts he is charged to fill. Now, here’s the thought I want us to consider as we read this passage today.

In life, I’ve oft heard people express opinions about leaders in The Church that leaves the impression that our leaders are to be better people than the rest of us. I believe this is false understanding of the scriptures. I believe that God desires all of His children to live exemplary lives that make each of us ELIGIBLE for leadership positions. Thus, the instruction today as you read this passage is for each individual of us to apply these truths to self. How are we individually doing in our practice of godliness and our life witness?

Every descriptive passage that points to godly character should leave us asking The Father for His opinion of our progress in godliness. With that thought, Beloved, read on!

Titus 1:5-16 NASB

LOVE or Love

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17 NASB)

We don’t see it with our all encompassing word, love, but in the Greek, 2 different words are used in this passage: agapao and phileo.

Most know this, but for those who don’t, agapao is God’s kind of deep, abiding love. Like the Father’s, it flows from who we are as empowered by Him and lands on all, whether love for God or man. It is not gifted by merit of the recipient, but flows freely because of who we are in Christ, thus it loves enemy as well as friend.

Jesus, in verse 15 and 16 uses agapao. The amplified version defines this love as being “with reasoning, INTENTIONAL, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father.” Thus, this love functions solely out of devotion to God who imparts His nature to us, then serving Him out of love as a bondservant, we love others in like fashion.

Throughout this passage, Peter uses “phileo”, which is the affectionate care one has for a good friend. Problem is that this love is too readily subject to the merit system, and does not extend to anyone that is not considered a friend. This love is too easily flesh led and dictated.

Again, the AMPC version defines phileo as “deep, INSTINCTIVE, personal affection, as for a close friend.” Jesus is telling Peter, “ If you agapao me, feed my sheep (“out of that love,” I believe is implied).” But Peter can’t comprehend an Agape’ type love: not yet, anyway. So Jesus, in verse 17, brings it down to Peter’s level, asking, “Do you phileo Me?”

This tells me that Jesus, who agapaos us, loves us enough to accept the love we give. But what joy it is to Him and what benefit to us and others, when, in the power and provision of the Spirit, we possess agapao. How much easier it is to serve God and man when this God-love flows to and through us like a river of life.

Father, empower our love today, making us to be love just as You are love. In Jesus’ mighty name and authority we pray, amen.

John 21:15-17 AMPC

What I Do Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Live Christ

“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.”” (John‬ ‭10:37-38‬ ‭NASB‬‬ – http://bible.com/100/jhn.10.37-38.nasb)

Our lives should be a clear expression of this truth concerning Christ. We are His ambassadors, priests unto God, bearing forth His Light to the world around us.

So then, if I (Darlene) do not do the works of My Father, in likeness of my Savior, Jesus, do not believe me; but if I do them, though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father through Jesus Christ, my Lord who lives in me.

Amen????

The Unforgivable

“Truly and solemnly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever abusive and blasphemous things they utter; But whoever speaks abusively against or maliciously misrepresents the Holy Spirit can never get forgiveness, but is guilty of and is in the grasp of an everlasting trespass. For they persisted in saying, He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:28-30 AMPC)

This command / judgment through Christ tells us that those who sneer at and dismiss as hogwash the work of God’s Spirit through Jesus are eternally guilty and beyond saving grace. Denying that Jesus is who He says He is and did all reported of Him by the power of God is the unforgivable sin, blaspheming the work of God in the power and authority of His Holy Presence.

This passage also condemns the misrepresentation of God’s Spirit. Misrepresentation: the action or offense of giving a false or misleading account of the nature of something. So for one to claim a work of the Spirit erroneously or to fail to give credit to the Spirit righteously, is dangerous. The question we must ask is whether the death and resurrection of Christ ended this Law, or does it stand today?

Of course, the requirement to recognize the work of God in Christ that provides saving grace as pictured in the scriptures stands. We must believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”; that “He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). But what of the work of the Spirit in our day? Can we walk into dangerous territory through denial of the Spirit working in God’s people today? I believe we can.

Scripture teaches that when we come into Christ through salvation, we receive His Spirit as teacher, guide, and power for service. It is Him working in and through us that gives us any ability to accomplish the work and way of God.

Scripture teaches that those who follow Christ in the power and equipping of the Spirit of God are His representatives, having authority and power as ambassadors of Christ and priests unto God to carry on the work of Jesus through the ages.

When someone refuses our authenticity in Christ, Jesus takes it personally. When Jesus directs our lives, instructing our hearts to know His will in a situation, and someone accuses us of hearing and acting out the demonic, the insult is counted as against Christ and His work through the Spirit.

We must be careful in our judgment concerning the way of God seen in our day. Scripture teaches to judge the fruit produced. God’s Word teaches that a word of instruction from Him is known true when it comes to pass, accomplishing His desire and purpose.

Take care against condemning the work and way of God in others. Though our unbelief may not be so severe as to lose The Eternal, it will hurt our witness and it can work division in the Body.

Matthew 7:15-20 NASB

See also Matthew 10:14; John 13:20; Luke 10:16

Clothed and Ready: Part 1

“Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, WHO KEEP THEIR CLOTHING READY so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” (Revelation 16:15 NLT – http://bible.com/116/rev.16.15.nlt)

Never to feel exposed and ashamed. How glorious it is to have confidence in Christ and live equipped to hold heads high, with no need of shame. This scroll of Revelation caught my attention and called me to check my manner of spiritual dress. It promises that by keeping our clothing ready, we will not be caught in shame at Christ’s return. Sounds like a great time to take a look in the proverbial mirror of our lives and be sure we are fully clothed.

The first garment we need to make sure we dawn and check for any repair needs is the cloak of Christ. The most clear picture of what that cloak looks like when properly worn is found in Colossians 3, starting with verse 9.

“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 – a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:9-17 NASB)

These garments reveal Christ in us as we represent Him in life today. Look at all the colors that should be visible in the cloak of Christ on us: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience – bearing with one another, forgiving each other. Beyond all these, love – God’s kind of pure, unmerited love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And peace from Christ that rules the heart, coupled with thankfulness to Him Who clothes us by grace through faith.

This first part of our garment makes evident to all that we are made one with God in our following hard after Christ, empowered by gratitude for His grace to live free of shame. Tomorrow, part two.

The Cloud

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I saw this plant come into view, and my heart leapt! It was just beautiful to me.

These carbon black plants have been here for multiplied-decades, the last remnants of many more that used to be here. I remember momma stepping out to see which way the wind was blowing before daring to hang laundry. And heaven forbid the wind to change directions!

Through the years I’ve heard people express joy in the smell of laundry, dried on outdoor lines. I never understood that. Ours always smelled of carbon and fossil fuels. LOL

As I look at these stacks and the criss-crossed sections of pipelines darkened by decades of carbon soot, I note the mostly white steam escaping the shoots, and my heart rejoices in the Hope of Christ.

You see, no matter how many decades of sin and shame covers our lifespan, we are not beyond the reach of His saving grace. And even in the earliest stages of our surrender and commitment to Him, His Spirit moves in, fills us up, and begins the lifetime work of cleansing, purifying, and transforming us to be the vessel God planned from before time began.

Even in our earthen vessels marred by passing sin, the glory of the Lord seeps out of us who are His, like steam rising to draw the eyes of others in need of a fresh view of Splendor’s beauty and grace. The greater our surrendered commitment to God through Christ, the purer our cleansing flow will be. Rising up as testimony of our relationship with God, His cleansing, Life-giving flow reaches out to touch others in need of His grace, sufficient for them too.

We each choose daily the steam flowing forth: either the dark stench of sin, or the purifying flow of Love’s grace at work in us. Which do you want those you love to be covered by when they are near to or up wind from you?

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15, AMPC

“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19-20‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Christ Lives in US

“Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.” (Colossians 3:10-11 NLT – http://bible.com/116/col.3.10-11.nlt)

Paul is talking to those true believers, who have entered into the truth of Christ, recognizing their death to flesh, world, and the demonic, and fully entering new life to God through Christ, in the power and equipping of The Holy Spirit of God.

In Christ, we have died to sin, so that we may live to life eternal. Our full calling and work is to put off the old self and put on the new as a true example that rightly represents Him and His Kingdom interests. Like dawning a fresh suit of clothing, we are to put on Christlikeness as a cloak. It requires a complete change in our way of thinking, speaking, being, and doing, taking up God’s ways as people after His heart.

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And SET YOUR MINDS AND KEEP THEM SET on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. …now put away and rid yourselves [completely] of all these things: anger, rage, bad feeling toward others, curses and slander, and foulmouthed abuse and shameful utterances from your lips! Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it. ….” (Colossians 3:1-17 AMPC)

Visual Acuity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Focus On Light: The Qualified Heir

“… joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. …” (Colossians 1:9-14 NASB)

Here’s the Good News, Beloved. If you and I are sincerely and wholeheartedly walking with God in His Light as brought to us in Christ, we are saints in Light, and through that walk, we are qualified as joint heirs with Christ – qualified to receive our part of the inheritance that is set up for the children of God.

Often, we as mere mortals hear the word “inheritance,” and we think possessions and position. That is part of it, Scripture tells us so. Jesus has gone before us to prepare for us a place in which to dwell forever more. There we will have no more darkness. The gold, silver, and precious stones we value highly now will pave the streets and make up the walls and doorways. We will no longer hunger, thirst, get sick, cry sad tears, or die. We will dawn the riches of God and rule with Christ. That’s an inheritance beyond belief. But our inheritance is MORE THAN THAT. It is “PERSON” – PRESENCE.

God is our first, most vital need and necessity. We were made for Him to love and enjoy forever; and we were made to love and enjoy Him. In Him we are perfected, made complete as our person and purpose are fulfilled, finished, made whole in the fulfillment of His desired end. So our greatest inheritance is our forever union with the Triune: made One, complete in Him.

What is it that God says we can’t see or have in this life? We’ve covered it before: probably many times. In Exodus 33, Moses asked God to show him His glory. God agreed, telling him what to watch for: His goodness, His Names proclaimed before him, His graciousness and compassions, all of these reveal His Glory. Then He allows Moses to see His haunches once He passed by him, while he was carefully tucked into a crevice behind the Master’s hand, for he could not look Him face to face and live.

I believe that, for us to see God’s face is to see Him as He is, full strength, and our flesh senses would be overwhelmed by His pure, full-on glory. Seeing God as He is in our flesh bodies would cause such a rush of adrenaline, it would overwhelm our delicate chemistry, killing us instantly. Thus God holds us back until we are as He is, enabling us to handle that excitement.

Right now, we see God as if “in a mirror, dimly” (1 Corinthians 13:12 NASB). We know Him from afar with a finite mind that struggles to comprehend the incomprehensible. But one day, Father will lift His Holy hand, and we will see Him face to face, just as He is. That is the inheritance I look forward too.

Beloved, God is our fulfillment. All we long for is realized in Him. Hungry for love? No need to look for it in all the wrong places. God is Love. Draw near to Him with all that longing, and see your need met as never before – and know we see but a fraction, imperfectly in this life. The full, comprehensive, understanding of His love awaits the heirs arrival Home.

“I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which He will bring about at the proper time-He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and DWELLS IN UNAPPROACHABLE LIGHT, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.” (1 Timothy 6:13-16 NASB)

Feel impoverished and in need. God is our greatest riches, and we are heir. If we have Him, we have our NEED. One day, that unapproachable Light will open up to us who are practicing now to be children of Light -children of righteousness.

“So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. HE HAS ENABLED YOU TO SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE THAT BELONGS TO HIS PEOPLE, WHO LIVE IN THE LIGHT. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,” (Colossians 1:9-13 NLT)

Thus concludes our study on this subject. I pray we each go forth and prosper in the Kingdom of His true, pure, and glorious Light.

A Focus On Light: The Armor of Light

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ” YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ” YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and PUT ON THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” (Romans 13:8-14 NASB)

We covered the Light of God found in our love relationships with God first and foremost; that love then flowing through us to fellow Light Dwellers. Love unites us, fulfilling the will of God in response to the prayer of Christ that we should be ONE. However, Love does not stop there.

Our Romans 13 passage instructs is to “put on the armor of Light.” This instruction is right in the middle of love’s successes and failures, leading me to the conclusion that Love is this Armor. (Love = Agape = perfect love: perfect meaning “to fulfill, accomplish, or complete its predestined course.”)

Love protects and defends us, wrapping us up in God, Who is love, where we are equipped to be true to Him and to self. Thus, enabled through love of God and a righteous self-love, we love others.

The practice of this Love as Armor requires love to be our only debt, as we owe nothing but love, and that debt is to our God Who, out of love, redeemed us. Out of indebtedness, we owe God a life that honors Him in our love for others.

Love is the fulfillment of God’s Law, because love does no harm to another. Thus, Love reaches beyond the fellowship of faith to all around us; and beyond that, even to those tho would be called “enemy” (Matthew 5:43-48 NASB).

The successes of our walk of love as Armor against sin is seen in the good we do that considers what is best for all concerned. Failure goes in opposition to do harm through such things as drunkenness, sexual promiscuity and sensuality, strife and jealousy. When we fall to things such as these, the chinks in our Armor are evident to the harm of self and others in the breaking of Law.

In breaking the Law of Love, we expose ourselves and reveal our lack of circumcision of heart. Breaking the Law of Love reveals a heart that falls short of wholeheartedness to the Father. Exposed skin opens us to enemy assault. Thus, a repeat is called for:

“…let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and PUT ON THE ARMOR OF LIGHT. Let us behave properly as in the day…”

(See also Romans 2:17-25 NASB)

A Focus On Light: The Lamp of God

“Now no one after lighting a lamp covers it over with a container, or puts it under a bed; but he puts it on a lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light.” (Luke 8:16 NASB)

Jesus came as Light to a very dark world. While He was here in flesh, He was the Light of God, revealing through word, deed, and action the truth of the way of Life in God. (John 8:12 NASB; John 9:5 NASB)

Those following Him walked in His Light. But Jesus did not come just to shine God’s Light. He came to make Light on the earth, a Light that would remain.

“You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14a).

Jesus proclaimed His true followers, those who truly received His Light in ways that dispelled their darkness, sparking a flame of growing light within, to be Light as He is Light. They entered in partnership with Him to BE LIGHT in the world, thus carrying on His work of dispelling darkness and leading others to enter that Light. We are the product of those early beginnings. Thus, Beloved, as a true worshipper of God through Christ…

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house” (14-15).

God intends for us to stand out and be on display as Light, set in strategic places where darkness dwells. We are not intended to be like everyone in this world. We are different, called to be like Jesus, a true Light that dispels darkness.

I had an experience once that causes me to hang my head in shame’s embarrassment, but leads to rejoicing in the lesson learned and in a testimony that came out of it to help others avoid the same error.

When I was in nursing school, God had hold on me in a mighty way that stood out to others. Talking with a friend and another classmate during a break, the classmate used some foul language. Blushing, she nodded her head toward me and apologized. My friend said, “Sorry to her! What about me?” The classmate replied “Well, yeah. But SHE’S DIFFERENT!”

The thought that hit my head in that instant was, “Oh, Lord! I don’t want others to be uncomfortable and afraid to be themselves around me.” That enemy assault started me on a downward spiral that dulled the Light in me and did harm to my witness.

Love, the devil doesn’t want us shining brightly into the night, because he knows that the Light in us will destroy his kingdom on earth. He will use whatever trickery he can that will cause us to fall to the flesh, because he knows that as long as we remain as Light, he will lose those trapped in his darkness. If he can trick us into dulling our light so we fit into this world, his dark trap remains strong.

Beloved, God intends us to be DIFFERENT. He does not want our Light dulled by fear of standing in stark contrast to the world and it’s ways. He does not want us to let sorrow for those that are made uncomfortable with there dark ways to cause us to find ourselves spiraling into the pit they are trapped by. Satan sees our weaknesses, mine being fear of rejection, and he plays on those areas to cause us to stumble and fall. God wants us to realize this fact and draw closer to Him for protection.

Wherever the Lord has you, Beloved, you are His lamp for His glory. We are intended to shine bright with His attributes until the world becomes uncomfortable in its own worldliness and turns to enter the Light. We’re not to fear the dark places, for the Light in us dispels darkness: killing it and moving it out of the way so that blinded eyes can see the Light. We are to SHINE where we are without fear of being different.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NASB)

A Focus On Light: The Fruit of Love

“…I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. ….” (1 John 2:7-11 NASB)

One thing we find in the Light is fruit born of the Spirit. When we are in the Light as He is in the Light, Light is what we are, and what is seen is the image of God: His nature, His essence, His glory. The fruit brought into view through this passage of Scripture is love.

By way of reminder, the first thing to know is that God IS Love. He loves us, not because of what we do or who we are. God loves because love is His WHO. To fail to love would be for Him to be untrue to His very nature, which would be to live a lie. God never lies. Lying is evil and evil cannot remain where God is found. Therefore, all He thinks, feels, and does toward us is out of love: an action of love.

Even in His discipline, God wishes none to perish, but for all to come to repentance; into relationship with Him. Father loves us so much, He sent His very Son to die for ALL so we may repent and find Life in Him. When discipline comes, it is His love leading us to repentance, so we become incompatible with evil, just as He is.

When we receive Christ, all of God’s Who comes in the power of His Spirit to reside in us. He grafts His Who to our who, empowering us to BE as He is. We can be His Light by possessing His Who as our own. We possess Him by allowing Him full possession of us. Our surrender allows the grafting to take and come to life, uniting our who to His, thus, making us one with Him, able to bear His likeness.

The proof of our true and abiding relationship is seen in the fruit we bear to His glory, thus revealing us as the Children of God. That glory is the Light of His Presence shining through us, and the first fruit produced is Love, for that is who God is. The grafting that gives us Life makes Love our who, too, so we look like our Father. Therefore we cannot say we abide with Him in His Light, but hate the brother that abides there with us. To do so is to live the lie. And that is evil.

If we are in Christ, grafted into God, we possess True Light, and Love is who we are. Love NEVER fails, falls short, or falters in reaching its intended destiny.

Surrender your all and watch God come to Life in you.

A Focus On Light: The Cleansing Power of Light

“… if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5-7 NASB)

Before pressing on from this passage, we must take a moment to acknowledge the cleansing power of walking with God in the Light of fellowship. When we walk in the Light as He is in the Light, we have fellowship with God and with God’s people. In this place, the cleansing of Christ in us is made evident. And the continual cleansing of Christ in us becomes part of our everyday walk with God, who takes us deeper into Him with each spiritual step forward, placing in us the freedom from sin Christ bought for us to possess through Him.

Fellowship with God is one proof of cleansing, because God, who is Light and is Good, cannot mix with darkness – or evil. Light DISPELS (banishes, eliminates, or pushes away) the darkness (evil).

There is a statement made of the disciples that I believe fits here. It always grabs me and leads me to pray it for my life.

“Now as THEY observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and BEGAN TO RECOGNIZE THEM AS HAVING BEEN WITH JESUS.” (Acts 4:13 NASB)

When we live in the Light as God is in the light, our relationship with Jesus is evident. Our lives reveal us to be a person after God’s own heart, in Christlike personality, choices, and purposes. The way we talk and behave becomes evidence of our close walk with Him.

None of us will draw in close enough to see God’s face on this side of Glory. As long as we are in these flesh bodies, the spirit of flesh will have its stubborn battles, contending against the Spirit of God. But I believe that the Father will never stop wooing us deeper into the Light of His Presence, where freedom from sin increases to us through Christ our Lord.

Freedom from sin and sins effect on our lives is vital for our health and wellbeing, and to our witness and effective service. Come into the Light of fellowship with Father, in the power of the Spirit through Christ our Lord, and be free.

A Focus On Light: Walking LIGHT

“…Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now YOU ARE LIGHT IN THE LORD; walk as children of Light….” Ephesians 5:6-10 NASB

This passage proof texts the pondering from yesterday. God is LIGHT. Our relationship with Him revives His image, set in humankind at creation and revived in us through Christ as God abides in us and us in Him. Thus, He who is Light shines in us and makes us light as He is LIGHT. But what does that look like?

Beginning with today’s passage and pressing on for as many days as I find scriptural descriptions to follow, we will answer this question. I started here in Ephesians instead of continuing with the blueprints found in 1 John, because, to me, this is the clearest picture of the light God is, the Light Jesus portrayed, and the Light we are in Him. Ephesians 5:6-10 is always first in my memory when I consider our call to be His Light.

“…walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”

In our relationship with God, as we grow to know and understand what pleases Him, we begin to bear the fruit of our growing union with Him. The rays of His Light, alive and growing in us, shine goodness, righteousness, and truth. Note these things, Beloved:

GOODNESS

First thing to remember is that “God, alone, is good.” (The words of JESUS when someone called Him good. Mark 10:18) Good or goodness is another attribute of God. Just as true love and pure light only resides in Him, so real goodness is His attribute alone. We can only be good as He bears that fruit into our lives. Goodness is another attribute found in the image of God, and goodness is part of what we see when God reveals His glory (Exodus 33:18-19 NASB).

RIGHTEOUSNESS

Scripture teaches that we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. His Righteousness comes alive in us as we bear the light of His image. (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)

TRUTH

Jesus pointed to the lies portrayed and lived by the Pharisees, telling them that they were bearing the fruit of their father, the devil; then he points out that He is of His Father. Jesus is The Way, THE TRUTH, and The Life. He was the Light of the Father when He was here; and He left us to be His Light, Representing Him through our lives.

The Light of God through us, Beloved: Goodness, Righteousness, Truth. That is who we are, proving ourselves to be His children. Believe it. Receive it. POSSESS it. Walk it.

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 KJV

A Focus On Light: God IS Light

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John‬ ‭1:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God is light. YES! That’s exciting! And it’s worth repeating, Beloved. God is LIGHT. There is no darkness in Him because LIGHT is what HE IS. Try pulling God to the dark side and all you do is brighten up the place, because He IS Light. Wherever He goes, there is Light. So God said, “Let there be light,” and there was because God entered creation and Light had to arise.

I know: a little writers flair there, but you get the point, right? God is light, so wherever He is, there is light. Light proves God’s presence and work in a thing. Darkness cannot remain where Light is because Light dispels the dark. Thus, Beloved, if we have God, proof will reveal itself as Light fills the space called “me”.

Here’s the thing. When we get God, the image of God placed in all mankind at creation and killed in the fall, is REVIVED. Therefore, we, His image bearers, not only receive His Light, but by the power of our union, we become LIGHT! As we abide in Him, He abides in us, and wherever He is, LIGHT! Thus, wherever we go, the Sonshine dispels the dark around us.

Repeat after me, Beloved, “In the name of Jesus, let there BE LIGHT!” Thus we begin our journey to The Light.

Soul Cleansing

The following is a teaching done by my friend, Sara. It is powerful and freeing. You will need about an hour for it, so bookmark the page where you can find it when time permits. You will not feel the hour a loss. BLESSings, Beloved.

Soul Cleansing