Tag Archives: Image bearers

Pearls Trampled

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matthew‬ ‭7:6‬ ‭NKJV‬)

It hurts when the Father tells your heart to stop casting your pearls – your wisdom and understanding of Truth – into the life of someone you care for deeply. But when they trample it – and you – under foot in their refusal to receive it, it dishonors God. To keep casting our pearls becomes like grains of salt hitting an open wound, or stones, scarring a closed and barred door.

Think about what a pearl is. It is the product of an ulcer, an irritated spot. Pearls are the product of God’s healing and growing us through His Word and the experience of His ways. They are the treasure of our experience of God in transforming us into His likeness. They are our passion for the goodness of God in those we love.

Casting pearls is throwing them at a hurting, often angry or discouraged person, who is not ready for healing. When first cast, the words are seeds God can use as He heals their areas of irritation to form pearls in their lives. To keep casting when the person is unreceptive is useless and harmful. It brings about sin in their lives as they resent and mistreat the things of God and His treasure formed in us. And it can raise up sin in us as frustration brings discouragement or, worse still, a fight to have our way in the life of another.

When God tells us to stop sharing the treasures of our experience with someone, we knock the dust off in witness against them, surrendering them to God with hope’s assurance that He is working where we can’t. Our job then is to trust the Lord, and pray. I can tell you from experience that it brings great joy when they speak our words as their own because God softened the soil of their hearts with the seed planted and formed a pearl that is now their‘s to treasure.

Question: Have you bit the head off of anyone in your life, someone who loves you enough to throw their treasure trove of pearls your way? What would God have you do with that?

Linking Word to Action

My Aunt Edna shared about training their baby bird to talk. Repeat a phrase often enough and they will begin to try saying it. As they continue speaking it, their words get more and more clear. She also shared a story that told me the use of the phrase at appropriate times, linking action with word, helps the bird link words to actions, helping them learn the appropriate use of the words spoken.

As I read her story, it made me realize how true that is for us, listening to the word of God. The more we hear and see it appropriately used, the more we begin to speak it appropriately. The more we hear and speak it truly, the more our minds and hearts soak it up by believing faith that produces appropriate actions. The stronger our faith to believe the word received, the stronger our walk in living it out, bearing the fruit it produces in us.

Hummmm…. perhaps having child like faith means – in part – to have hearts and minds constantly ready to hear and receive God’s Word to us, never getting so big for our britches that we are unable to learn of Him and grow stronger in living the Word He gives.

“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Matthew‬ ‭7:17-21‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Written December 8, 2017

Receive it!

“If, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who RECEIVE God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!” – Romans‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

By our RECEIVING, so as to possess as our own, God’s GIFT of abundant grace and His Righteousness to us in Christ, we possess the ability to rule by the power and leading of God’s Spirit in us. Possessing as our own these grace gifts from God, we receive authority over our sin nature and power to rule in this life, adding victory to God through Christ. What better gift to give our King who won eternity for us than a victorious life lived in His name, as good stewards of His supply. (#thinkonthat, #ambassadorarise)

Father, we praise and thank You for Your gifts of grace and righteousness. As for Paul, Your grace is sufficient for us, for Your power is perfected as it accomplishes it’s purpose through our weakness. Amaze us by Your work in and through us. By the power of Your grace and the righteousness You supply, grant us victory over our fleshly impulses and authority to overcome life’s challenges. May we be found as good stewards of this supply of grace sufficient, equipping us to shine forth our righteousness in Christ. In Jesus and to Your glory, amen.

Know He is Lord!

Reading through Ezekiel, I’ve noted over and over where God pronounces that those He is addressing will know that He is Lord because of His hand toward them. Most of the book pronounces judgment against Israel and Judah for sin, sending other nations to enact His judgment. At the end of their sentence, God begins pronouncing judgment against the offending nations and restoration for Israel and Judah. At the conclusion of each proclamation, He announces, “They will know I am Lord.”

Conclusion: I would much rather know His Lordship by the good He does toward me, than by His discipline for sin. That said, live each day as if He is Lord, for He is! Reap the reward of righteousness, rather than the consequences of sin.

Father, in Ezekiel 36 You proclaim Israel’s restoration as Your faithful people, practicing faithfulness to You by Your power at work in them, doing so for Your name’s sake. I pray, Lord, empower faithfulness in us so Your Name is honored in our lives. We desire to know You are Lord by living like it. Make it so, O God, to the glory of Your Name. Amen.

BLESSings, Beloved.

Sons (and Daughters) of the Living God

“THEREFORE, SINCE these [great] promises are ours, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates and defiles body and spirit, and bring [our] consecration to completeness in the [reverential] fear of God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 7:1 AMPC

Led to this verse of the day, the question I must answer for complete understanding is “What are the promises Paul references that I must remember if I am to fully consecrate myself to Christ, thus perfecting holiness in me?” The answer in this case is found in chapter 6, verses 17-18.

“So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; THEN I WILL receive you kindly and treat you with favor, AND I WILL be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” ~ 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 AMPC

God receives kindly and treats with the favor of a Father to sons and daughters those who separate themselves from the ungodly, the evil, the unrepentant. We consecrate ourselves, working in agreement with the Spirit’s perfecting work of holiness in us, when we desire to please our Father by acting like sons and daughters should, desiring to rightly represent Him and His interests.

When we separate ourselves from worldly pursuits and those who chase after evil (evil being all that rebels against God and His will and way), we prove ourselves as God’s children. The Spirit of God then has full sway to accomplish His purpose in the heart, mind, and life of one fully surrendered to pleasing God above all, just as a small child loves and lives to please their Father. That is the life seen in those who are perfected in holiness.

“Just as He says in Hosea, Those who were not My people I will call My people, and her who was not beloved [I will call] My beloved. [Hos. 2:23.] And it shall be that in the very place where it was said to them, You are not My people, they shall be called sons of the living God. [Hos. 1:10.]” ~ Romans 9:25-26 AMPC

Making a God List

And checking it twice.

“Set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.” ~ Colossians‬ ‭3:2‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

I read a devotional in one of my YouVersion’s Holy Bible App Christmas devotionals that suggested making a God List. The author, Samantha Hanni, defines a God list as follows:

“A God list is a list of qualities you’d like to develop or things you want to learn about the Lord. …If I were to make a God list right now, one of the things on there would be help in renewing my mind, resting in His love, and continued courage to wait on Him.“

This will go well with what God led me to do as my New Years resolve many years ago, so I’m excited to add this to my New Year’s preparations. For many years now, Father has led me to seek Him for a scripture to direct my focus for spiritual growth and maturity in the coming year. The last two years have focused on living the resurrected life: Galatians 2:20 (2018) and Galatians 5:24 (2019).

Today, in preparation to share these thoughts, Father highlighted my 2020 focus. As I looked up the verse Samantha used in her devotional, Colossians 3:2, 3:1-17 being one of me life passages, I was led to add verse 1 and use the Amplified Classic version of scripture. There it was, my verse for 2020:

“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.“ ~ Colossians‬ ‭3:1‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

In 2018, I grew strength in realizing Christ, living through a more surrendered me. In 2019 I grew stronger resolve to surrender my passions and desires to His. And now, with Colossians 3:1 as my focus and Samantha’s encouragement under my belt, I will begin today to make a God list to aid my focus to “aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above”, available for those living a resurrected life.

Are you ready for Christmas? Are you ready for a New Year? More importantly, are you ready for the breath you breathe now. Our now-breath is all we can know as ours to live for sure. Enjoy this season as God gives breath for it. Plan for a new year that honors Him. And apply your resolve to each new breath so your life honors Him.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Forgiveness or Consequence

I heard it said recently that God does not forgive the unrepentant. There are two reasons that come quickly to mind that tells my heart that such a statement is a false understanding. One is found in Jesus. The second is found in God’s relationship with Israel as expressed in Isaiah 43.

First, Jesus. Scripture tells us, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us ALL TO FALL ON HIM.” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB)

Jesus paid the price for our forgiveness before we could repent, and He paid it for ALL. I don’t know about you, but in my understanding, all means ALL. All mankind goes astray from God and His way. Jesus took ALL of our sin to the cross and paid the price of sin for ALL, purchasing God’s forgiveness from sin.

God’s forgiveness stands ready to receive by each of us because of Jesus. God’s forgiveness has nothing to do with us. We cannot earn it or buy it. Though repentance is required, our repentance does not buy God’s forgiveness. Our repentance simply reaches out like a hand ready to receive that which is already ours in Christ. It is ready and available for us before we seek it when we bow to the Lordship of Christ, admit we are sinners, and commit ourselves to following God in Christ’s likeness. Failure to seek it through repentance is failure to possess that which is ready and waiting for us.

Point 1: God has already forgiven ALL HUMANKIND because of Jesus.

My second reason for belief in God’s forgiveness even toward the unrepentant is found in Isaiah 43 as recorded in the NASB. Here we find Israel in the throws of rebellious sin. As God calls their sin against them, he proclaims His heart over them, forgiveness issued despite unrepentant sin.

“You have bought Me not sweet cane with money, Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; Rather you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities. I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I WILL not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:24-25)

This is the very definition of forgiveness. “I wipe out your transgressions (erasing the record of them) and I will not remember your sins (holding them in account against you)” was a present tense promise to Israel. Forgiveness was already there for them, in the midst of sin. God is proclaiming here, “Though I am wearied by your constant sin, I forgive you for My own sake.”

When God pointed this out to me, I asked Him why He chose to forgive for His own sake. Clearly to my heart came this understanding, “Darlene, if I had not chosen to forgive in the midst of sin, I never would have put My Son on a cruel cross for such a wretch as you.” I’m so grateful God forgave all, and held it out for me to receive.

Point 2: God’s forgiveness is for His own sake, that love may reach out to the unlovable.

God’s forgiveness is already there for hands of repentance to receive. Repentance is the hand that possesses God’s merciful forgiveness. But consequences can still come even though we are forgiven. We must not confuse consequences in this life as unforgiveness.

In our Isaiah passage, God proclaims, “… I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I WILL not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together; State your cause, that you may be proved right. Your first forefather sinned, And your spokesmen have transgressed against Me. So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary, And I will consign Jacob to the ban and Israel to revilement.” (Isaiah 43:24-28 NASB)

God forgave Israel’s sin for His own sake, but the consequences of sin were not stopped.

God has warned us from heaven’s throne, giving us the laws that teach us how to keep His way. With those laws God set the consequences that come to sin, not the least of which is the consequence of failure to acknowledge Christ and receive Mercy’s forgiveness. That consequence is eternal separation from God. Though God has already forgiven, failure to receive it requires the consequence for that sin.

Despite God’s forgiveness that is ready for receipt, we can refuse the gift and suffer the consequence. But God’s forgiveness remains intact. It honors the price Jesus paid. And we, who have received God’s gift of eternal mercy through Christ, may still have to deal with consequences for choices in this life. Sex out of marriage, though repented of, can still lead to pregnancy. Your consequence does not mean God has failed to forgive. Consequence is the law of life in a fallen world. But God, out of love and grace, will walk with us as we deal with the results of wrong choices.

Now here is the thing, Love. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:32, that we ought to “forgive others, just as God in Christ also has forgiven us.” God’s forgiveness in Christ was before creation and continues to us post Christ’s fulfillment. It stands at the ready for our reception. Our forgiveness must do the same. We forgive in Christ for our own sake, making forgiveness a gift made ready in likeness to our God.

Who are you holding unforgiveness toward? Jesus paid the price so you, who are forgiven, can escape the shackles of unforgiveness and walk free from sin. Get a box and wrapping paper and make your forgiveness ready for that one to receive when the hand of repentance reaches out to you.

Stolen Profit

“Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMPC

Most of us have times of struggle to be in the Word of God, to even read it comprehensively, much less to have any depth of personal study in it. Why is that?

Scripture tells us that the Word of God is profitable to us. God’s word is the seed of God’s Kingdom, sent to establish us as His people (Luke 8:4-15). God’s Word is a mirror, helping us to look more like our Father (2 Corinthians 3:18, AMPC). God’s word is a sword, useful for defeating enemy assaults, and faithfully used by God in separating old man mentality and fleshly desire from the eternal purpose of making us the new creation we are in Christ (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12-13). And, as Paul tells us in 2 Timothy, God’s Word has purpose for us, instructing in the ways and will of God, convicting of sin, correcting error, disciplining us in obedience, and for training in righteousness (in holy living; in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).

All of this has the purpose of making us complete and proficient, being adequately equipped for the good work that God planned for us to accomplish. So, yes, our flesh, the world’s demands, and demonic influence (all being the false wisdoms of this life) is going to fight against our time in God’s Word. God’s enemy, Satan, does not want this profit produced in us. He does not want to admit his defeat.

Scripture is vital food for fruitful lives God can use. Think for a minute, asking the Father for inspired insight. What most often hinders you having time every day in God’s Word? Is there something you can do to thwart that enemy assault on your God given treasure?

Even a few minutes to grasp a portion of scripture to carry with you throughout your day, meditating on it, digesting every morsel of nourishment from it, will be life changing: increasing profit for the need of your life. Refuse to let the enemies of godly wisdom to steal one more seed of profit from you (James 3:13-18).

Forward Goes the Row

God showed me long ago the dangers of looking back, but it is probably one of my biggest battle grounds in this season. In plowing, looking back often leads to crooked rows. We are charged to walk the straight and narrow. It requires focus on our here and now steps into the opportunities of the day.

I think we all know that it is dangerous to look back to days of sin and failure, letting guilt and shame for our past grab hold to stop, hinder, and deaden us. Through life experience, I have learned that the most dangerous thing to do is look back to when things seemed better, easier, more vital. We invite discouragement, dissatisfaction, discontent, when we fail to be where we are, giving attention to the challenges and opportunities in front of us. We miss out on better, easier, and more vital before us when longing for what used to be. Our ability to appreciate what we have is easily dammed up by yesteryear’s bygone-victories.

Keeping focus on next step challenges seems especially difficult in seasons of life when health issues and discerning the path of retirement are the tasks before us. Discerning the significance of daily care of a mate or child can be hard to appreciate. Seeing the path of retirement as vital to eternity is challenging, especially in light of debilitating health issues. The same is true in the slumps of daily life and changing paths of younger years. The subject is ageless and timeless.

The thing I see, as my husband and I go through this time of life, is that others are watching how we face the life challenges that come to each day. They look at our faith and trust in God and His Word. They watch our peace and contentment barometers.

Our biggest prayer right now is that we will maintain stable and loving relationship with each other now that we will be together more. We’ve seen couples in this season get on each other’s nerves and become soil for constant bickering, gripping, and complaining. We have never been that way before, and we don’t want to be that now. So we cry out to the One who makes us one.

Beloved, people watch us as we go through life. Even when we are not in ministry, our way of life, our doing and being, impact those watching. We are of a Holy Priesthood, charged to represent Christ as priests unto God. What is it Jesus said?

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:40 NASB)

The way we treat one another is important. It is our greatest ministry to God, when we care for one another. Even the smallest graces have huge rewards potential that may not be evident until we stand before our God and King. The things we deem great in ministry likely count for nothing if we fail to minister grace, love, and light to those with us.

The older I get, the more I believe that this is true because we are one in Christ. When we fail to set a godly example in our care for each other, we break unity and look more like the worldly, rather than the godly.

Beloved, keep eyes forward, on the row ahead, making it straight and ready for a harvest, fed and watered by faithfulness to God and each other. Learn from the past and bear the fruit of it into the present, but don’t let what was dictate what is to come.

The way we are in each mundane day makes a difference in the fruit born out of it. It requires focus on where we are and where our next action step falls. It requires us to keep our hands on the plow, pushing forward to the end of the straight and narrow row. And it requires us to remember that our attitudes and care for others top the charts of importance where successful ministry to God is concerned.

These late years for us are not a time to slow down, but a time to lean in on the plow. It’s the smallest of kindnesses that can reap the greatest harvest. Our work has only just begun.

Transformed Ideals

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” (Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭AMPC‬‬)

Be transformed – changed forever by surrender to God, who works to renew our minds, bringing into us the new ideals and new attitudes that line up with His. We become one with Him, being like Him, as we surrender to His transforming work in us.

Note the wording used here. It doesn’t say that He gives us new ideas, though He can and does do that. The word used is “ideals”.

An idea is a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action. An ideal is satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable. God changes our understanding of good, right, true, and the perfected best as our understanding of the ideal adjusts to meet up with His.

When our way of thinking lines up with God’s IDEAL, our IDEAS will flow from that understanding of what is perfect and most suitable. Our choices and decisions will be directed by the IDEAL He births within us. The more we seek to understand and line up with God’s IDEAL, the more of His character, nature, and image we will possess and live out into the world around us.

Seek God for His IDEAL today, and see your attitudes, actions, and reactions lifted to the greater heights of God’s glory and grace.

Short of Glory, But Covered by Grace

Do you believe that God’s grace is sufficient? I do. Do you truly believe, deep within all that you are, that Jesus is propitiation – fulfilling the full requirement, as pleased God, in full and complete payment for ALL sin?

Whether you believe or not, it is true. Jesus paid the full price to cover all sin for all of human kind. He took your place. He took my place on that cross. He took the place of those who refuse to receive that gift. The sentence for sin is death, and Jesus paid it – all for all. This gift from God, The Father, sits like boxes on shelves, waiting to be GIFTED to all who will, by faith, reach out and take it.

That truth in itself is beyond our full comprehension. We hear and receive it, but because of our finite understanding of sin, we too easily miss the “WOW” factor that is God’s full grace to us. I don’t believe we can fully comprehend it this side of Glory. When we get Home, full comprehension of God’s gift will amaze us! But that’s not the end of the gift. There is more! There is another, awesome item in our boxes.

This great gift, that the God of all the Universe loved us so much, He sent His only begotten Son to be propitiation for us, is only half the story. Along with paying the penalty of sin on our behalf, Jesus did something more. He gave us HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)

Thus…

WE, who have accepted His Gift, ARE, now and forevermore, The Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! That is who we are – period! The end!

Though we struggle in this flesh to fulfill our finite understanding of living as the righteous people of God, because of Christ, God sees us as righteous. Even in Christ, our greatest good in this fleshy struggle is still as filthy rags before a holy God. We fall to sin and are deceived of heart as to our “good” every day, failing to remember that God, alone, is good. Our flesh hinders our being the kind of “righteous” God requires. Only by the Spirit can we even come close and grow stronger.

So should we quit working to live righteous lives? No! Keep striving forward to be an example of the glorious image of God, for though we can never be good enough in our own right to enter the Kingdom gate, we can get better, draw closer, glorify God in the earth, and win crowns as our highest goal becomes that of pleasing Him.

That dreaded list is true, when it says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” That word also says, “Such were some of you; but you were WASHED, but you were SANCTIFIED, but you were JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the SPIRIT of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

He, who knew no sin, sanctified us, imparting to us the righteousness of God by the power of God’s grace. On the day God calls us home, His fires will burn away all remaining wood, hay, and stubble, to reveal the glorious image of His righteousness in us: the gold, silver, and precious stones of His glory in us. Our old sin nature burned away, only His righteousness, gifted for us to possess, will remain.

As we choose to live the life of Christ today, shucking off our old nature, bit by bit, as God’s Spirit works in us, we grasp hold and live the righteousness of God in the earth. That is the journey of this life: more of Him and less of me.

When He calls us home, all that is not like Him falls away, and it is in His righteousness that we enter the Kingdom of God. None of the evil we failed to walk free of will enter the Kingdom. Only His righteousness in us will survive. And rewards for areas of righteousness we succeeded in grasping hold of will be waiting.

So keep pressing forward to the goal, reaching for the prize, striving with Him to be the best you of His heart’s desire and design, trusting in faith that Jesus has you covered in the areas of greatest battle. We are saved by grace through faith. Faith looks to things we don’t yet see, but know to be true anyway. It reaches forward to grasp Kingdom reality and make it our now life. Faith recognizes that we are a work in progress, eternally perfect in Christ, and continually being perfected in this life, all the way up to the Day of Christ, when He comes for us.

See also: Mark 10:18; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 1 John 1:5-2:2; Philippians 2:12-14, 3:7-16; Romans 7:14-8:25 Philippians 1:6

For Joy, Endure

Written by me on April 3, 2017.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2, NASB.

Reading this passage, the fact the Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” grabs my attention, as it has grabbed me many times before. Jesus took up a cross that truly belongs to such a wretch as I, for the joy it would lead to. As I read this today, three questions come to heart for me to ponder:

1. What “joys” might have been on the heart of Jesus as He took up that cross?

2. What life challenge or sin that so easily entangles am I in that requires me to take a stand of endurance against it?

3. What joys lie before me that, fixing my eyes on them, will strengthen my endurance?

In this passage alone, I see hint of several things that may form some of the joys Jesus looked to.

1. Joy in the cloud of witnesses that would come forth because of His endurance.

2. Joy in the victory His endurance would produce in us as we overcome the cumbersome trouble this life too often holds.

3. Joy in the deliverance from sin His endurance would provide us.

4. Joy in the endurance we would possess as we set our eyes on His example to us.

5. Joy in the relationship with each of us that would come to Him and the Father because of His endurance.

6. Joy in the gift of grace available to us because He despised the shame and bore the cross in our place.

7. Joy in the fulfilling of the Father’s purpose, leading to His privileged position at God’s side.

There is much more we can add to this list of joys that had the focus of Jesus, strengthening His endurance. I don’t know about you, but there are many troubling situations and temptations to sin that I need this walk of endurance for, if I am to overcome and press through them in fulfilling God’s purpose and accomplishing His desire for me. Today, following Christ’s example, I set my sights on the joy before me that will strengthen my endurance, to the glory of His Name and the fulfilling of His purpose.

Assignment: Reading through Proverbs this month, I turn to chapter 3 and find there the call to persevere in several areas, followed by promised joy for successful endurance. Read Proverbs 3 and note there the call to stand firm. What “joy” do you see as a focus to aid endurance in the successful practice for each area of instruction? Now do this with your own life: List areas where your endurance is challenged. Next, list benefits of endurance that you can look forward to attaining as the joy set before you.

Short of Glory

“… we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:12-18 NASB)

Sin is defined as anything that falls short of the glory of God. All that God created and set in motion was good, possessing intent and purpose. The God-ordained good, intent, and purpose of all things were set to rightly and truly represent Him, His good, His reality, His will and way. Anything that falls short of His glory (His good, purpose, and intent) is sin.

There is an issue in Christian news today concerning a very popular female worship leader and singer who refused to name homosexuality as sin, reportedly for fear of upsetting friends and family in that lifestyle, and supposedly out of fear of losing her fan base.

First off, her failure proves Romans 3:23. When we fail to connect with God’s good, His purpose, and His intent with the goal of giving expression to His glory, we chance actions or words that offend those who are committed to His glory. And, worse still, we chance offending God.

We are to be people of truth, speaking and living truth AS GOD DEFINES IT. Truth is that which rightly represents God’s evaluation of life issues. He tells us in His Word of the morality we are to possess, standing in agreement with His good, His purpose, and His intent. We cannot call what God deems to be evil, good, and good, evil and be true to God. Anything not true to God is a lie.

When we set our eyes on pleasing man instead of God, we tend to turn from the good and correct purpose and intent of God proving ourselves to be sinners. Guess what. She is one, and so are you and I. We sin daily, every time we take our eyes off of Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith.

Second, she denied the truth of God’s Word which clearly reveals the sexual sins humans fall into, including homosexuality. To discern what makes homosexuality, adultery, and fornication sin, we must look at the clearly defined good, intent, and purpose God laid out for sexual relations.

God created mankind beginning with the male of the species. Looking at him, God proclaims man’s need of a helpmeet, thus, God created for that purpose the woman. These two genders have different anatomy that equips them to have sexual relations with the purpose defined through God’s instruction to populate the earth through the bearing of children.

A man and a woman are to come together in COMMITTED UNION (monogamy), and out of that union, they are to make children in the way provided by God; thus making clearly defined family units that spread across the face of the earth.

Homosexuality diverts from the glory of God as they cannot unite as couples and make their own babies. Yes, there are ways to get babies, but not in the way prescribed by God at creation. That being the case, the homosexual lifestyle falls short of God’s glory.

Other sexual sins include fornication: two people who are not married to each other or anyone else, having sexual relations. Some people say, “Well, in the eyes of God, when we have sex, we are married.” The problem is that there are clear indicators in scripture of the rituals or ingredients that make the couple wedded partners. It does not start with sex, but is consummated by sex.

True, God honoring marriage begins as a commitment between the bride and groom to be and their parents, guardians, or the head of the family group, coming into agreement in their union. Most cultures have laws for the legalized, setting apart of that BLESSed union, and we are instructed in scripture to obey the laws of God and the laws of man.

We see in scripture from early days the various ceremonies that set a couple apart in marriage. Though the man and woman were considered set apart to each other from the point a marriage agreement (engagement) was made, they were not to have intimate relationships until after the marriage ceremony.

God fathered both Adam and Eve through creation. Then He, as Father, committed them to each other and gave them to each other in holy matrimony that met the requirements of maintaining His glory. Then sex consummated their marriage. To have sex outside of the order that practices God’s glory, fulfilling His good, intent, and purpose is the sin of fornication. Fornication breaks God’s law of purity in commitment.

Adultery is when two people come together in sexual relations with at least one being married to a third party. This breaks the law of purity in commitment to one partner, and it tends to destroy family units.

Failure to keep commitment often leads to the permanent separation of divorce, which God hates. When a divorced person remarries, this, too, is deemed an adultery. Remarriage flows from the broken commitment to one’s first love, aligning itself with another lover. Thus, God’s Word warns:

“I say that a man who divorces his wife, unless she has been unfaithful, causes her to commit adultery. And anyone who marries a divorced woman also commits adultery.” (Matthew 5:32 NLT)

God is ONE Being who represents Himself to us in three entities: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. These three rightly and truly represent God, standing together as One being, fully committed to one another, working together in unity to accomplish all God’s righteous good, intent, and purpose. It was intended that God’s created beings enter into this same commitment and become One in Union with THE ONE.

True commitment requires choice, the opportunity for which God provided in two trees with rules to keep. As we know, Adam and Eve chose death’s separation from God, instead of Life in Union as part of His ONEness. Thus, sin entered the world through sinful flesh that perpetuates itself from generation to generation.

Unity with God requires full commitment to all righteousness, which always moves with Him to accomplish His good, intent, and purpose, out of a trusting relationship with unbreakable bonds. Marriage is to mirror the commitment and unity that is God toward Himself and His creation. Anything that goes outside of God’s design for the bonds of matrimony destroys the image, falsely representing God. So, though divorce was allowed by Moses because of the hard heart of mankind that fails to maintain this unity, divorce is not God’s will. In fact, scripture warns us that God hates divorce.

When we divorce, severing our commitment to be one with our first love, remarriage produces an image of one who leaves the ONE and true God to unite itself to a false god. It pictures the fall of humankind as it chose to leave God and align itself with the intent and purpose of Satan.

Marriage done well pictures the oneness of the ONE God; and Family the oneness of God with His created beings. Divorce distorts both, and remarriage pictures changing alliances from one’s First Love.

Thus we see why God hates divorce. And we see why sexual vice outside of God’s plan is a major focus in scriptural warnings, telling us that those practicing these sins will not enter through the gates of Heaven. Only the righteous get through. And there is the Good News, we will cover in the next post.

Empowered for Radiance

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3 NLT – https://www.bible.com/116/heb.1.3.nlt)

Jesus, still today, from His throne in Glory and His seat in the soul of every Christ follower, lives and breathes to radiate God’s own glory and express the very character / nature of God Almighty, the Father and creator of all. Jesus sets the example for all the children of God to follow. We too are the image of God’s glory on earth, tasked to live and breathe His character for all to see and know Him.

Now, after providing for our cleansing for all eternity, Jesus is seated in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. The right hand of God is the position of imparted power and authority. Jesus has full right as King of glory to rule on God’s behalf and see to the completion of all things as God wills. Part of that includes enduing the children of God to take up the work of Christ on earth. We now bear the responsibility to radiate God’s own glory and express the very character of God, in the name and authority of Christ.

Scripture even tells us that, in Christ, we are seated with Him in the heavenlies. As the body of Christ, we are at the right hand of the Father with Him (Ephesians 2:6). Therefore, we are given authority in Christ, and that authority empowers us in likeness to Him so we may radiate God’s own glory and express the very character of God, in the name and authority of Christ. By His Power from the Father, Jesus sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. In Christ, we go forth to complete what is lacking. As His lights, drawing many to Him, we prosper His Kingdom in His authority.

“Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing….” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NASB)

Ephesians 2:4-10 NASB

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NASB

Galatians 3:26-27 NASB

Colossians 2:9-23 AMPC

Truth in Action

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18 NLT)

Let us not merely say we love, but show the truth of it in action. This call to visual proof of the truth of our claim to an attribute of godliness can be applied to so many other words.

Let us show the truth by our actions.

We don’t have to tell people we love them, we care for them, we honor and respect them when they see it in the actions we take toward them. We don’t have to tell others how faithful we are, how big on integrity, how trustworthy the truth of our words, when our actions reveal it to be our true nature.

Actions do speak, and they speak loudly. Words without visible proof speak louder still. Let us decide who we are as the people of God and prove the truth of it in action.

“We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him” (1 John 3:19 NASB)

The “Then” Keys

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” (Isaiah 58:8-9 NKJV)

I love Isaiah 58. It is one of my favorite passages of scripture, filled with promises from God and instruction to us for a sincere heart of fasting before the Lord.

In verses 1-7 begins instruction on the fast, which expresses the “Then Key” to obtaining the Promises. It expresses the fast God has chosen, which in short is to die to self; laying down one’s own life for others; counting the lowest, most destitute above self; taking up our cross of self-denial to follow Jesus.

And what are the promises we can unlock and possess with these keys?

Then keys unlock:

🗝 your light which breaks forth like the morning.

🗝 your healing, springing forth speedily.

🗝 your Righteousness, going before you;

🗝 The glory of the LORD as your rear guard.

🗝 you shall call, and the LORD will answer;

🗝 you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

The chapter is full of keys of selfless fasting that gains the keys to unlock the BLESSings of abundant life. Read it often. Practice it with every breath. And watch in scripture for other Kingdom keys.

Greater Love Requires Humility: A Quick Study

The best devotionals: The Word of God, coupled with comprehensive understanding of the words read. And the best, most needful Bible study aids are a Bible concordance, a dictionary of Bible words and one for the language being read. Your notes would look something like this.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 NASB)

Selfishness – (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. “I joined them for selfish reasons” Synonyms: egocentric, egotistic, egotistical, egomaniacal, self-centered, self-regarding, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-seeking, self-serving, wrapped up in oneself, inward-looking, introverted, self-loving; inconsiderate, thoughtless, unthinking, uncaring, heedless, unmindful, and More.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NASB)

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. ….” (John 15:13-14 NASB)

Conceit – excessive pride in oneself. “he was puffed up with conceit” Synonyms: vanity, narcissism, conceitedness, self-love, self-admiration, self-adulation, self-regard, egotism, egoism, egocentricity, egomania; and More.

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3 NASB)

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. …. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life….” (Philippians 2:1-18 NASB)

Directed by Bit and Bridle

“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.” (James 3:2-3 NASB)

We looked last post at the coal of fire used to cleanse the whole of Isaiah’s person by the cleansing of his lips; at how control of the tongue prevents sin. Then James points out how a horse is controlled by the bit and a bridle. That begs the question of what we can learn from the purpose and function of a bit and bridle.

This piece is the bit.

Looking at it in position on an animal, we see the bit lies over the tongue.

Researching the purpose of the bit, one thing jumps out to speak to me. The main purpose I found for the bit is to allow the rider to communicate with the horse. With training, the bit equips the horse to know the direction the rider wants to go, as well as how fast or slow to travel and when and where to stop. The amount of pressure used increases to get an unruly animal in check, and lessens to reward cooperative obedience.

As noted, the bit lies over the tongue. With regard to our relationship with God, this speaks to me of the importance of keeping the mouth still so the ears can hear and the senses can comprehend. One of the best definitions of this quiet alertness to God is Psalm 46:10.

“Cease striving, be still (quiet), stop fighting, let be and know that I am God” (KJV, NASB, AMPC, early translations of TLB, GNB)

Our listening ears have to focus. Rattling our mouths will hinder hearing with discernment. So we literally need to quiet our mouths and perk up our ears. As God’s people, we are to listen fully. In ministry to others, we are to listen to the person in front of us, listening both to their issues and listening to discern if God just placed an assignment before us. Any speaking should be to aid comprehension of the person’s true need until understanding comes and wisdom from God rises.

So, we need literally to quiet our mouths and open our ears: first to perceive God and His will, purpose, plan; and then to hear, perceive, understand those around us and their needs.

But there’s another way our “tongues” must be still. We talk without a word. We let our minds wander. Our emotional state toward the person or situation before us can lead to fuming, griping, complaining, fidgeting, feeling put upon, upset over an intrusion, excited for some opportunity, or a sundry of other thoughts, emotions, and desires that hinder ability to hear God or people. To hear we must cease striving against the situation, get our body and emotions still, quiet our thoughts, know God may be in the situation, and let Him be God in His leading and using us.

The reins connect to the bit rings, via a bridle: headgear that connects all together and aids to control the head, and thus, the whole body of the animal. Tugging left or right, pulling back or leaning forward let’s the horse know the direction, speed, and stopping place. Some animals are easily distracted or startled by things on the sidelines, so blinders are used to aid their focus. All of this aids both communication and control of the animal.

But here’s the thing we most need to know about James’ analogy:

“Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.” (Psalms 32:9 NKJV)

When love and trust connect a horse and rider, the horse wants to be with and please the rider. With such a relationship, the rider can ride and communicate without bit and bridle, and the horse obey willingly and immediately. They trust each other and work together well as partners.

This is the relationship God wants with us, Beloved. He wants us to recognize and know when He is directing us and communicating His desires to us. It requires a trust that comes out of a love relationship.

When I first started really seeking God to understand His communication with me on a personal level, I first had to choose and commit myself to trust Him. I chose to first trust that He would distinguish Himself to me and protect me from the trickery of the “stranger”. I had to trust Him to give me comprehensive understanding of His “voice”, His way of speaking to my understanding. Not that I hear an actual voice, but understanding of His will and direction in a situation comes so clearly that I can say with surety, “God says to me, ‘This is the way. Walk ye in it’”

God has purposes for life that is common to all His people. But He also has a purpose and plan for each of us that is ours to discover and walk out faithfully as His servant ambassador to the world.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV)

Wherever we are, God has us there for His purposes. We are to do our work as for Him, living our lives as represents Him. Some have a call to special service as ministers of God’s choosing. To fulfill that purpose we must grow to discern His lead and cooperate with His directives as He leads us to that place.

Then there are those like me, called to write (or speak) His Word of encouragement, making it clear. Without trust in God to put His Word in our hearts and minds and empower our communication, well, we better put our pen down, for a word given without faith that we truly received it from God is sin.

Beloved, how are you doing at following the will of God for us all expressed through the teachings of scripture? Does God have to force His will with His spiritual bit and bridle? He cannot entrust us with His greater calling for our lives, if we can’t obey His directives required of all who say they are His people.

What is your calling and equipping from God? Does your love for and trust in Him empower discernment of His true leading? Do you obey despite any fear of the opinion and rejection of humankind? Stubborn faith to trust Him fully is revealed through obedience productive of the fruit of righteousness. If it is Him directing your path, it will come to the fruition of His will for you.

“Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Psalms 37:3-5 NASB)

Meager Wages

“For sin’s meager wages is death, but God’s lavish gift is life eternal, found in your union with our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Romans 6:23 TPT)

God, through Jesus Christ, delivers us from sin’s wage of eternal separation from The Father.

Scripture tells us that all will stand before Him on the day of judgment, when sentencing is passed and all will go into their eternal reward, whether Life or death. I believe that all, goat and sheep alike, will fully know, in that instant before His throne, all the glory and love of His essence. All entering Life with Him will know the full joy of their reward. All cast into eternal death will fully comprehend the loss of everything they ever truly desired. The major flame of hell’s fires will be the burning desire to know that Presence one more time, with the sure knowledge that it is lost to them forever.

That said, as I read this passage this morning, my thoughts go to other wages of sin we receive in this life. Many who profess Christ live like whatever they do in this life is ok, seeing themselves covered by fire insurance. That is all Christ is to those with this frame of mind. Walking in relationship with Him to become like Him, bearing the image of the Father, is beyond the scope of their desire. No change that points to relationship with God through Christ is evident in them. These, I believe, are in for a rude awakening on that day.

Then there is the daily bad choices we all tend to fall into, though our focus is on following Christ in all things and our nature is obviously being transformed from glory to glory in the power of His Spirit. My thought today runs to these sins where, knowingly or not, we run headlong into the desire of our flesh, without thought of the consequences.

Consequences are wages. For good done, consequences generally produce a good wage, and that good wage will find us in glory as the gold, silver, and precious stones of our testing.

For evil we choose, consequences produce the wages of sin. These wages produce separation from God as we walk away from Him and His path for us. We may go a long while before realizing that we left His side. Repentance regains our position beside Him and is met by His leading us to get back on course.

Sin’s evil can also produce separation of relationships we value: some forever ruined, others temporarily put on hold. They produce wages such as teenage pregnancy that can throw our desired destiny off course, loss of a job, health issues, broken fellowship, etc. The list is long and unending.

Sin has a wage it gives, but it’s wages steal, they do not prosper. They always take more than they give, though we may not recognize it at the time.

God’s Grace can come in, turning our sorrow into laughter. I.e., the teenage pregnancy that robs of a destiny, but produces a child to love, find joy in, and raise as an arrow in God’s arsenal. God’s Grace toward us can restore what was stolen. But there is always a wage for sin.

Learning to stop and count the cost is a valuable habit to develop. But for our cost counting to produce a wise choice, we must value our relationship with God above all else.

God values relationship with us, thus His mercy and grace moves in to cover when we forget our love for Him and choose the lesser as more valuable. But what a waste to turn from Him as our first love, our first, most vital need and necessity to partake of the wages of sin that give little, truly only robbing of the Life of abundance that God desires for us.

Father, empower us with wisdom to count the cost of sin and choose protected relationship with You. Thank You for grace sufficient and mercy that comes to repentance, and for the covering of Christ that sets free indeed. We pray, also, for those who do not know Jesus to come into vital relationship with Him. In Christ, amen.

“So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Romans 8:1 TPT)

(Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NASB)

A Call to Firm Commitment:

With Insight on the Mark of 666

“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (John 6:66 NKJV – https://www.bible.com/114/jhn.6.66.nkjv)

As I read the following devotional, the address of our focal scripture caught my attention. The question hit my understanding, “Could this define the mark of Satan’s 666?”

I’m not a, what are they called, numerologist, but could the number on this address be a God thing? These chapter and verse numbers weren’t in the original writings. They were added to the scriptures later, when people preparing our text worked to make them available to all. It is to aid study and memorization.

I believe God guided the compilation and functionality of our scriptures. And, because of that question rising up as it did, I find it telling, this 666 address that points to people’s refusal to walk with Jesus.

Take this thought for what it’s worth. May the reading of Pastor Chambers devo firm up our commitment.

Are You Going on with Jesus?

Oswald Chambers

My Utmost for His Highest

Holy Bible App

“It is true that Jesus Christ is with us through our temptations, but are we going on with Him through His temptations? Many of us turn back from going on with Jesus from the very moment we have an experience of what He can do. Watch when God changes your circumstances to see whether you are going on with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We wear His name, but are we going on with Him? “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66).

“The temptations of Jesus continued throughout His earthly life, and they will continue throughout the life of the Son of God in us. Are we going on with Jesus in the life we are living right now?

“We have the idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings around us. May it never be! It is God who engineers our circumstances, and whatever they may be we must see that we face them while continually abiding with Him in His temptations. They are His temptations, not temptations to us, but temptations to the life of the Son of God in us. Jesus Christ’s honor is at stake in our bodily lives. Are we remaining faithful to the Son of God in everything that attacks His life in us?

“Are you going on with Jesus? The way goes through Gethsemane, through the city gate, and on “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13). The way is lonely and goes on until there is no longer even a trace of a footprint to follow—but only the voice saying, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19).”

Know Your Enemy

“Abram replied to the king of Sodom, “I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’” (Genesis 14:22-23 NLT)

Wow. The commitment Abram had toward God, putting His faith and trust in Him, desiring to protect God’s image at all cost. Is my heart there?

This leads my heart to another scripture I read with note today:

“… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. …” (Matthew 6:19-24 NASB)

The desire of Abram for God and His glory was strong. Because of that desire for God and His work in his life, Abram’s eyes were set on having that desire met. He did not look away from God and the assurance He gave to him for the good coming from God’s hand. He knew any treasure of man could not compare to what God had in store, so he chose the treasure of heaven over that which his physical experience could grasp.

Abram proved faithful, having spiritual eyes full of the Light of Glory.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” (Genesis 17:1 NLT)

It was this focus on God that won Abraham the reputation of being a righteous man, a man of faith, one God called “friend”. Note what this verse says, because it contains the way, the truth, and the life: “Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.”

It is in faithfulness that we find the path of the blameless. The faithful keep their eyes on God, the Prize. The faithful have their desire set on God and His ways, being excited to see what the Lord will do. The faithful lay their treasure in Heaven. The faithful have eyes filled with God’s Light. The faithful trust God and follow His directives. The faithful protect God’s image at all cost. The faithful know their true enemy is their own fleshly , darkened eyes, set against God, His will, and His way.

“I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’”

How many of us have our senses so trained on God and godliness, that we can recognize temptations to rob God’s glory? Anything that is set to steal us away from the path of God’s desire for us, is set to rob and pilfer the glory of our God. That flesh eye, filled with darkness, is what opened Eve to temptation, leading to the fall of humankind. We don’t want to be on the wrong side of that line between Light and dark.

Father, this heart of Abram is also the heart of our Christ and King. Grant us eyes full of Light found in hearts set on Your glory, that we may stand with You and for You. In Jesus, amen.

Finding Favor

I love the story of Noah. He was good at everything I aspire to.

When everyone else catered to thoughts snared by mortal flesh, he held to thoughts of God and His ways. While everyone else catered to the ways of the world and fitting in with friends, Noah loved God and ran hard after Him.

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, being numbered by Him as “a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time”. And “he walked in close fellowship with God.” (Genesis 6:9 NLT)

Noah was so close to God that God not only let him in on His plans to destroy the evil, but entrusted to him the job of saving the good and preserving life. Noah’s relationship with God pictures everything I want my relationship with Him to portray. The last verse of Genesis, chapter 6, gives the clue needed for achieving this life goal:

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22 NLT)

We’re not told whether Noah questioned God. What we are told is that Noah obeyed. He TRUSTED God and followed His every dictate out of that trust. This fellowship with God is possible for you and me, too. God has provided for us to possess this relationship.

“I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I (Jesus) go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…” (John 16:7-8 NASB)

God gives us His Spirit so, through Him, we may fellowship with God. This Spirit empowers us to live lives that cooperate with God in accomplishing His will, His way. Our Spirit filled and led love work with God to convict the world of sin that separates from God, righteousness that unites with God, and the coming judgement that is already set against this world of sin. It is this knowledge imparted to us that led us to choose The Christ and receive the seal of His Spirit. And how does He do that?

Through the Spirits work in us, we learn of God, His will and His ways. And by that Spirit power, we choose obedience. We see it in this same work of the Spirit: granting understanding of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Once we understand our sin nature and God’s provision of righteousness in Christ, receiving that gift to escape the power of the judgment of sins death, the Spirit works in us for change and transformation. As we grow in fellowship with the Father in the power of His Spirit, the Spirit empowers us to look through God’s eyes at every choice that comes. He empowers us to discern the path of sin, evil, death, and the path of righteousness, goodness, Life. He imparts good judgment to us so we may choose the path of obedience to God. Our lives become a testimony to those watching this change in us, making us partners with God in saving some.

Beloved, who is your hero of faith. Like me, you may have many. Look at their lives and realize that God makes a way for us to follow their example. By grace, in the power of God’s Spirit, we, too, find favor with God in following hard after Jesus, empowered by the Helper Spirit of God.

The Right Helpmeet

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”” (Genesis 2:18 NLT)

I can’t recall what had me pondering this well known verse several weeks back, but it was probably some little annoyance that had me taking a thought captive: you know those proverbial socks. This is usually the verse I ponder in those moments as I thank Father for my precious man. On this occasion, however, a question arose in my pondering heart.

“What original word is used for ‘man’ here? Is it a word meaning ‘the male of the species,’ or is it like most occurrences where the word used means mankind, human, or humankind?”

Last night, as I again found myself pulling this sword of praise out in that proverbial battle, I remembered the question and looked it up.

The Word for man in this verse is the word “adam” (little a), meaning Man (cap M), mankind, human, humankind. It can also be translated “any, anyone”. God is saying that it is not good for any of us humans to be alone. We need each other. We need not only companionship, but a helpmeet – helper for Life.

For one, it is obvious that the propagation of the species requires a male and a female. God’s design is for each male to find the female that best suits him and him her. They are intended to commit themselves solely to one another in holy matrimony, a picture of God’s unbreakable commitment to us, and together, to make a family.

A woman cannot have a baby without a man. Not even today, with artificial insemination, can it be done without some male, somewhere, donating his part in that process. A man not only needs the eggs of a female, but a womb. A “he” cannot make a baby without a “her”. We need each other.

Then there is the need of each other in living life. In my experience with my man, we so perfectly fit each other. He is good at needful things in life that I either can’t do or have no inclination towards. And he frequently tells people that he does not want my job as homemaker and mom, and how much he appreciates all I do. Now, he is very good to help me with things when I need it, or just to be nice and get me on the sofa with him quicker. But he is very thankful for the many things I do that he has no desire for doing. And I have him as my most frequently lifted source of gratitude in my thankfulness for God’s provision. We need each other.

But there’s more to this story.

“So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:21-25 NASB)

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” This clicks into place better with the understanding that we each, husband and wife, are helpmate to the other.

Children look to their parents through their growing up years to help them with their needs. They are used to running to mommy and daddy when they need something. When we marry, that reliance is meant by God to transfer to our mate. We are no longer to depend on our parents, but on each other.

A wife who runs to daddy instead of her husband for every little thing she needs breeds jealousy in her husband, belittles him as a man, and hinders his growth as a husband. A husband who belittles the wife, berating her for failing to be and do like mommy, breeds jealousy in his wife, belittles her as a woman, and hinders her growth as a wife. Such habits breed discord and hinder the unification this passage reveals as God’s will for us.

When we marry, it is intended that we each bring the best of our family forming resources and experiences to make our own family life. Done well, we make a home for ourselves and our children that is very possibly better and stronger, not necessarily in comparison to our childhood homes, but in recognition of our individual tendencies and preferences. We mold our home life to fit “us”.

As we work together, rely on each other, learn each other’s strengths, and incorporate the best of our childhood family rituals and practices, we build our own family and make a home. It most likely will not look exactly the same as our childhood family because of the differences our individuality brings to the table, but as we seek God and become one together with Him as our glue, it will be a home that is perfect for us.

“… FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33 NASB)

Residing as Aliens

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” (1 Peter 1:1-2 NASB)

Peter addresses his audience as alien residents. These He addresses are physical aliens, scattered across foreign lands, away from their God-given homelands. But I believe he is also addressing them as Kingdom people, living as aliens in this world.

That being true, this letter is for us as well. We, too, are a peculiar people: being in the world, but not of it. We are strategically place in the earth, according to the foreknowledge of God, positioned for a work planned for each individual of us, prepared by Him before we were borne.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB)

We “are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood.”

The sprinkled blood both cleanses from sin and sets apart for special service, set apart and sanctified to God for His purposes: Chosen, for a sanctifying work of the Spirit. The Spirit of God in us is tasked with the work of sanctifying us to God, setting us apart to Him. This sanctification reveals itself as we grow in obedience in two ways: obedience that follows the dictates of Christ, who is The Word of God incarnate. An obedience that not only recognizes the authority of the Father behind the teachings of Jesus, but that recognizes Jesus as the example we are to follow in our acts of obedience. We obey best when we obey in the obedience OF Christ. Obedience done as Jesus would obey, in keeping with the image of God seen in Him, is our weapon of warfare.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NASB)

Learning to think as Christ thinks and take action in agreement with Him, chasing hard after God’s will and way, doing all as glorifies and honors the Father. This is the obedience of a sanctified life, proving the successful work of God’s Spirit in us, making us obvious aliens in this world, clearly defining us as Kingdom dwellers.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 NASB)

Reach for the Prize

We, the people of God in Christ Jesus, are both fully perfected in Christ as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; and we are simultaneously continually being perfected until the day of Christ, when He is fully revealed in us.

Though we are eternal beings raised to newness of life in Christ, we still live in human flesh that tries to resurrect itself as a dominant force. We have earthbound thinking to overcome, bad habits to change, and a higher calling to walk into.

Long ago, I was impressed by God to stop setting resolutions to try to improve my flesh, and start setting my aim to reach the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. As I turned my attention to reaching for that prize, Father began showing me in scripture a mile marker for that year. My first prize assignment was to grow my knowledge of God in greater, ever increasing intimacy (Philippians 3:10-11, AMPC).

Growing intimacy with God requires time in His Word so He can point our hearts to the prize we are to reach for. My encouragement today is for a commitment to seek God in His Word, asking Him to show us the prize we are to reach for. Get into God’s Word, watching for Him to highlight the prize He has for you to attain in this coming year. Get your spiritual eyes on that prize and watch in awe as He opens His Word and opportunities to help your growth and position you for victory in grabbing that ring in victory.

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. …” (1 Peter 2:1-5 NASB)

Philippians 3:7-16 NASB

Love from the Heart

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart….” (1 Peter 1:22-25 NASB)

God’s Word to us instructs us to love each other from the heart, but what does that mean?

“Heart” in scripture most often refers to the core of our being: from all that makes us who we are as individuals. This core being is made up of our mind or thoughts, our will, and our emotions.

Loving from the heart of our mind means to possess right, true, and loving thoughts toward others.

In the love chapter, we are instructed that kindness is a love virtue. All actions begin in our thinking, toward God, ourselves, and others. Doing kindness begins with our thoughts toward each: God, self, and others. Patience, jealousy, bragging, arrogance, actions unbecoming to a Christ follower: all these and more in the outline of love actions are effected positively or negatively by our thoughts. So love begins with our minds, and requires our fervent practice of taking every thought captive in the obedience of Christ, following His example in the practice of love.

Love begins in our minds because true, Agape love, which is the “love” word used here, is a function of our wills. Will flows out of what we think and believe true, right, and good, which is dictated by who we are, our defining characteristics. As Christ followers, we are people of The Word, and we will seek wisdom from that Word in directing our wills.

God loves by choice, because He is Love, and He cannot deny Himself. His love is not led astray by wayward thought processes, nor does He willfully go against who He is. Everything He thinks, says, and does flows true to His character, being dictated by who He is, the main part of His nature being love. When He slew whole groups of people, it was not dictated by hate of those destroyed, but by love that desired to protect those adversely affected by some form of hate or rebellion in the ones slain.

Love is not self-centered, selfish, but God and others centered. It is considerate of those we love in all we choose. It does what most represents God in accomplishing His will out of love for Him. And it considers what is most beneficial and caring toward those within our sphere of responsibility. By choice of our will, we do all out of love, becoming love as God is love, and staying true to who we are in Christ: the image of God.

Though love is a choice of our wills as dictated by right and true thoughts within us, it is not devoid of emotion. Emotions are. Though we should not allow emotion to dictate, devoid of thought coupled with wisdom of will, emotions help our expression of thought or opinion when aided by right thoughts and wisdom bred will.

When my husband looks at me with love’s passion shining in his eyes, I see the depth and sincerity of his love for me. When a controlled outburst of anger rises up to get my attention, I recognize the need to take heed to the importance of the issue expressed by the one angered. Emotion aids expression when controlled by love and wisdom. But be forewarned about being dictated by unchecked emotion.

When emotions rise, it’s important to acknowledge the flare, weighing it on the scales of loving wisdom, and taking it captive to righteousness. Passion unchecked and without love’s focus can lead to adultery. Fear unchecked and without love’s focus is destructive to faith, able to drag us off in opposition to God and His ways. Fear breeds hate, as it is ill equipped to think righteously or choose what is best out of love for God, self, and others.

Note the order given as seen in throughout scripture: mind, will, emotions. Without right thinking, our wills will lead us astray. Devoid of will’s directive, emotions make us fickle.

Love seeks out right and true thoughts. Love takes action deliberately, with clarity of will, as righteousness and wisdom become clear. Love uses right thought and clarity of will to temper emotion as a vital communication and motivation tool. Thus, we knowingly, deliberately, and fervently love from the heart in likeness to our God, who IS love.

Scriptures referenced: 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Corinthians 10:1-6.

Finding Who We Are: Part 14

Back to the Temple, to the Holy Place, Where We are The Church

When I finished up the section covering who we are as the Temple of God, I felt that I did not adequately emphasize a vital aspect of our being that is found in Holy Place life. In the Holy Place, where only the priests can enter, all who are true followers of Christ being Priests unto God in His Royal Priesthood, life in the Holy Place is Church.

We are The Church. We wash each other’s feet through encouragement and love as we enter together. We fellowship around the Showbread Table, Light each other’s lamps at the lampstand, and worship through prayer and song at the table of incense.

I was kicking myself for missing or failing to emphasize that, praying about doing an addendum, when God advised my heart to not worry about it. Now I know that He knew the last chapter.

So here we are, the final post of our trip through Hebrews, looking at who we are as the people of God in Christ. Until now, we have focused most on each of us individually. We are each tasked as priests, standing ready at the altar of sacrifice, poised to give an account of the hope we have and share with those who want it. We are responsible to watch with care for the image of God in us and encourage it in others as we wash holy feet. We enter the Holy Place on behalf of others, yes, but also in living our lives as honors God, fellowshipping with His people at the showbread table; checking our light and lamp oil at the Lamp Stand; praying and worshiping as incense at the table of incense. There we find our entry into the Holy of Holies for very personal time with the Father.

In the Holy of Holies, we visit with our Father about His Word, growing our personal understanding and surrender to His ways. We know and are reminded of His healing from the bite of sin’s serpent of death. We remember His loving care that meets our need as manna from His storehouses, all while being acutely aware of His mercy seat where Jesus ever lives to intercede on our behalf. Here, in our individual, very personal time with the Father through Christ, we are rested, revived, and replenished to return to The Church in renewed strength for ministry.

Now we see in chapter 13 who we are corporately. We are The Church. As I read Hebrews 13, the words speak to me, giving an excellent picture of what “Church” looks like. As I read these words, here is what stands out to me for us to realize about being part of The Church.

In Verse 1, we find our first, most vital responsibility as members of The Church: unfailing, unconditional love. We are to excel in living out the Agape love that flows from Father, through Son, to and through us individually, to each other. And guess who gets the first dose after love of God in all His forms? “ME!”

As we love God, His love flows to us to empower us to fully and truly love Him more. In this exchange, we come to know His Agape for us individually, as His beloved Child. His love for “me” empowers our love for self to be a love that rightly evaluates self, frees from self hate and self worship, and empowers a humility that equips our ability to truly love others. It is a love that does not fail as God’s righteous thoughts toward “me” and those in “my” sphere of influence equips our right relationships.

This love extends to empower our fulfillment of verse 2, “Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood–being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Thus, we open our homes for fellowship, bible studies, overnight guests, etc., giving hospitality out of Love’s flow.

Love is gracious, merciful, humble, and giving. True Love, as God defines it, motivates and empowers everything we think, feel, say, and do. Thus, Love’s “…hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. ….” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 AMPC)

Out of love, we recognize our fellow countrymen and women, feeling the plight of those in persecution of every form. As The Church, we pray for and do all we can to help those imprisoned because of their faith (Verse 3)

As The Church, we recognize that our relationships are a picture of God’s Kingdom, beginning with the marriage bed. We hold human marriage in highest honor, knowing that as the Bride of Christ, our marriage in this life is to emulate that BLESSed union.

We know that adultery and any infidelity breaks the heart of God, as it mimics the separation of sinful man from their Holy, Creator God and His loving desire for our best good (Verse 4). Infidelity is the same sin toward our mate as idolatry is toward our God. It robs from our mate that which belongs only to them, and gives it to another. And this infidelity, though usually given to another person, can be given to things, just as an idol can be a thing or a pursuit that robs what belongs first to God or our mate.

As the people of God we hold God and His nearness as greatest value, knowing He who will never leave us, meets our every need. We do not give His glory to the monetary temptations of this world or hold any other treasure above Him, who cares for us affectionately and watchfully (Verse 5-6). This, too, fits the marriage bed, as we are called to cherish and nurture our mates.

As The Church, we work together to grow in our relationship to Triune-God, learning to truly love, honor, cherish, and nurture that Holy Union with God. ”So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?”

As The Church, we pray for and support the leadership of our assemblies. We call them to accountability for righteousness in their leading, and we follow their holy example, imitating their faith as we grow by their example, a faith that leans the entire personality on God to become the real individual He wants of us (Verse 7-8).

Verse 17 adds instruction to “Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them continually recognizing their authority over you, for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account of their trust.”

Their “trust” is from God, the responsibility given as shepherds of their flock. We are charged to do our part “to let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you either.”

At the same time that we are to follow our leaders, helping them lead victoriously, learning and growing faith because of their example, making sure we do not become a source of hardship and sorrow by bucking their authority, we are to be watchful for false teaching. Verse 9-15 warns that there should not be alien traditions added to God’s Word of instruction. Nor are we to trust any other altar of sacrifice for sin than that of God’s Son. “It is good for the heart to be established and ennobled and strengthened by means of grace (God’s favor and spiritual blessing) and not to be devoted to” unnecessary rituals and sacrifices.

As The Church, we care about others, meeting the needs of others (Verse 16). We pray for the work of The Church, its ministries, evangelists, preachers, teachers, etc., ministering to their needs (Verse 18-19). Following these guidelines, we accomplish the fellowship of Holy Place ministry.

“Now may the God of peace, Who is the Author and the Giver of peace, Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood that sealed and ratified the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), strengthen, complete, perfect and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; while He Himself works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it). …” (Verse 20-25).

(Hebrews 13:1-25 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 13

We Are the Children of God: Recipients of The Father’s Discipline

“… The Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. …” (Hebrews 12:5-15 AMPC)

Beloved, as people who are rebirthed into Christ, we are the blood born children of Holy God. He loves us completely and unconditionally. One proof of God being our Father who loves us is His discipline working righteousness in us.

Discipline gets a bad rap in our day. The ways of discipline are toned down, often calling actions common to discipline abusive. Spanking is taboo, yet God’s Word says that if we spare the rod (some define as a small switch for stinging the legs), we HATE our son (child). (Proverbs 13:24 NKJV)

The main reason that I believe “discipline” gets a bad rap is that many define discipline as harsh, linking it only with spankings, grounding, or other punishments given for wrong doings. But God’s discipline, though it does respond to wrong doing and may respond harshly, is always done out of love, and is much more than reactive.

The defining parameters of discipline is training in righteousness, that we may be holy as He is holy. The number one verse I run to when describing discipline, which speaks of the purpose and work of scripture, is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. This oft quoted verse uses words like teaching, reproof, correction, training, instruction, conviction. The goals of such discipline are to increase righteousness, to make adequate and fully equipped for good work; to train in discerning good and evil. So we don’t just get onto a child for doing wrong. We train them to understand why it is wrong and teach better ways and reasoning so they find value in righteousness. That is God’s purpose in all He allows to touch our lives.

God does not tempt us to evil, but as He trains us to know the difference between good and evil, He does grant opportunity to recognize and choose between them. The older I get, the more I realize that any choice between good or evil is actually a choice between God and not-God.

Scripture teaches to avoid bad company because desire to fit in with those we call friend, when they constantly lean toward evil, erodes at and corrupts our good morals. The Father practices what He preaches, another vital aspect of discipline, desiring us to follow suit. Our walking with corruption separates us from the Father. If we truly want a close relationship with our Father, we must run with Him and with those close to Him.

Training involves time. We cannot teach a child how to love on a puppy without hurting it and expect them to fully understand in that instant how to love and treat others. It takes time and practice with ever growing subject matter to bring us up in how to love and treat others. And those that learn fastest and easiest are those who have parents who are good role models. Consistency is a must.

Now, I know parents can be abusive, but instead of training parents how to discipline righteously, we are training them to coddle children, making for kids who are selfish, unable to truly care for others, making them targets for evil.

Beloved, as blood born children of God, because He loves us and desires us to be all He knows we can be, having a right estimation of ourselves, God disciplines us. This discipline aimed at helping us become all He knows we can be is the meaning of training a child according to his (or her) “individual bent” (Proverbs 22:6,AMPC). It means recognizing one, the type of discipline that works best in training the child without breaking their spirit. Secondly, it requires the parent to recognize their child’s strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents, and abilities, helping them grow and develop in line with who they are and can be.

When training a child to overcome their weaknesses, discipline helps them recognize resources that make them strong in weak areas. A child learns to hold on to things that stabilize them while growing strong walking legs. As we teach a child to walk by giving them our fingers to hold while we stabilize them, so we must help them learn to grab God’s hand and rely on His resources. The thing God wants us to learn and to pass on to our kids is this: where we help a child learn to walk, the goal being to eventually let go of us, God wants us to grow to know to never let go of Him. Our true weakness comes when we run in our own strength, forgetting that we still will do best by holding His hand. We are at our best when willingly surrendered to His care.

Beloved, we are the most BLESSed kids around, because our God loves us enough to care what we do and who we become. Because God loves us, He is always ready to forgive failure and, taking us by the hand, He shows us the still more excellent way of love, righteousness, peace, and joy, breeding heavens glory into all we are, say, feel, believe, and do, so we are the best “me” He created us to possess.

“My son, keep your father’s God-given commandment and forsake not the law of God that your mother taught you. Bind them continually upon your heart and tie them about your neck. When you go, the words of your parents’ God shall lead you; when you sleep, they shall keep you; and when you waken, they shall talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the whole teaching of the law is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:20-23 AMPC)

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMPC; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 5:14, 12:11; 2 Peter 2:14, NASB; Proverbs 22:6 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 12

The Testimony of Kingdom Coming: The Testament of God

“… Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God. … Urged on by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise. … These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth. Now those people who talk as they did show plainly that they are in search of a fatherland (their own country). …” (Hebrews 11:5, 8-9, 13-14 AMPC)

Chapter 11 of Hebrews brings hope to many people of faith as testimony of people of faith through the ages rolls across its verse. Reading through these precious words today, I see mere humans, lauded for a great faith that led to actions bearing testimony of their faithful God. Several things I note as I read:

First these are people of faith who trusted the same perfect God of promise, but these are not perfect people. Abraham fell more than once to fear: faith’s biggest enemy. Moses, a Christlike leader of God’s people, struggled with anger issues that led to doing things his way instead of God’s way. David, the mighty warrior with a heart for God, committed adultery, then tried to cover it up by committing murder. Yet, though they did not behave perfectly and had to repent more than once, these made the faith hall of fame as recipients of God’s faithfulness.

Second, every promise given is fulfilled, but none saw all fulfilled in their lifetime, and some we still wait for we know as finished in the eternal though we still do not see it. This fact is a picture of faith. And this walk of faith we live bears a testimony of God.

Beloved, we who believe God and trust by faith are His living, breathing, testament, adding daily to God’s faith hall of fame.

“And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised, Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].” (Hebrews 11:39-40 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 11

People of Conviction

“For still a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay. But the just shall live by faith – My righteous servant shall live by his CONVICTION…” (Hebrews 10:37-39 AMPC)

Beloved, as God’s righteous servants, we are God’s People of Conviction.

People of conviction are fixed: strong in their belief, not easily swayed from the course of following and growing strong in Him. These have received God and His Word as full truth and are convinced by Him that all He is and says is true. There is no turning us from our course, for our full trust is in Him. We believe! We are oak trees, having roots set deep and ever growing in the soil of God’s Kingdom, constantly refreshed by His River of Living Water. Having set our minds, we keep them set on the things above where God resides; the higher things (Colossians 3:1-4 AMPC).

Our Hebrews 10 focal passage goes on to say that, as people of conviction, we respect “man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it.” Many passages of scripture make it clear that we human Christians are in a state of constant growth. As long as we live in this world, our experiences will work maturity in us, helping us to know God better and come into stronger conviction of faith.

Romans 14 warns us to not put one another down for the faith we have, siting the faith for or against the eating of food sacrificed to idols. Respecting each other’s faith in truth, we are to be considerate of one another’s sensibilities, not condemning each the other’s degree of faith.

Faith begins as a mustard seed. It takes time to grow into a mighty, fruit bearing tree. One may be strong and mighty in an area where I am weak and frail; but I will likely have great faith in something they are just coming into. Realizing we are all at different levels of faith according to our level of maturity in Christ, we are tasked to accept each other without condemnation or becoming a cause for stumbling.

“The faith (based on truth) which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14:22-23 NASB (thought added by author)

As I consider our being people of conviction, living the faith we possess, looking at it in context with the chapter it resides in, I note an exciting truth we can possess with sure conviction. The thing that jumps out at me from Hebrews 10, verses 1-2, sets my heart aflame. What freedom will be ours who hold to this sure conviction.

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, CAN NEVER, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, MAKE PERFECT those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, WOULD NO LONGER HAVE had CONSCIOUSNESS OF SINS?” (Hebrews 10:1-2 NASB)

Did you see it? IF the previous sacrifices fully cleansed, they would have no consciousness of sin.

Beloved, Jesus fully cleanses. (SELAH!!! Pause…and calmly think about that.)

This does not mean freedom to sin, but freedom FROM SIN and the ultimate consequence of death (eternal separation from God). When we sin, we have a sure place in Christ for forgiveness and cleansing that frees from condemnation. No sin can ever again get a deadly hold on us because Jesus paid the full price of all – ALL – sin. We who receive, believe, and cleve to Him can never be lost from Him again. So, though we sin, we can run to our loving Father who will wash our holy feet so we shine in Christ again. This conviction is ours to possess. Praise the Lord!

Beloved, if you are truly in Christ, having received by faith this precious gift of Mercy’s grace, that guilt trip the enemy of righteousness keeps goading in your mind’s eye is destroyed by a sure conviction of God’s powerful grace. Lean yourself fully on Him through trusting repentance that sets free from condemnation. Grow strong in Your sure understanding of God and His ways, being fertile soil for faith-filled fruit bearing. In this way we live a life of conviction, with a freedom that draws the longing desires of those in need of what we possess.