Tag Archives: Kingdom Living

Pondering Tempest’s Calm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selah ~ Pause and CALMLY think of that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Peace, BE STILL!”

Pondering ONE

Jesus, in the Lord’s Prayer found in John 17, prayed, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (vs. 16-17).

Reading that passage in my younger years, my mind and heart always went to thought of the church being made one together in Father and Son. But today, in light of my pondering, I see something more, something deeper. I see in this passage the prayer for each individual that makes up the “they” of the church. As we each, individually, come into this unity Jesus speaks of, we are perfected in that unity, and yes, together we come closer to each other for a more unified body of Christ, the Church. But it begins with our individual relationship with the Father.

What led me to these thoughts?

I am at a place in my walk with Father that amazes my heart when I experience its reality. I am coming more and more into the realization of the Eternal.

Don’t get me wrong. I still struggle in areas of weakness of flesh. But more and more I am experiencing the perfecting power of His sure Presence. And as more and more I surrender to this unity with Him, this reality of His sure presence with and in me, trusting in Him, less and less is my struggle to conform to the transforming power of His Person with me. And as more and more I surrender to His Presence working in and through me, greater and greater is the increase of this peaceful, trust, increasing my assurance of His faithfulness to complete the work He began in me. He is faithful who will also do it.

And more and more, as I realize His presence with and work in me, less and less is the distance to the eternal. My now is no longer limited by time and space. It is empowered by Him who is all in all, beyond comprehension, boundless His dimensions. More and more I trust the words He places within me to encourage another, and I speak them with greater assurance and boldness of faith, realizing He is in them. More and more I trust Him to lead my steps and orchestrate my day, and I follow more surely without question of actions resource, knowing He will bring the faithful work to produce His desired results in His perfect time. Less and less does fear of failure or fear of being rejected hinder my walk with, in, and through Him. Surrendering more and more to meld into His reality, I find more and more of the real and true “me” He created me to be, and I am set free to know eternity with Him today.

Jesus sat the example for us with professions like “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing…” (John 5:19-20). Then in John 14:10: “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” We, too, can know and do the Father’s will, following His initiative, and speaking His words, as His eternal presence is made real to our earthly existence.

As sons and daughters of the Father through the Christ, the same love is there for us, ready to show us all things He Himself is doing. “I and the Father are one,” Jesus said, then prayed in later text, “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one” (John 10:30; 17:22). He is talking about our here and now existence. Not just our heaven-bound, future reality. He is talking about our unity with each other as we come into our unity with Him, making us ONE as He is ONE.

More and more I see people who are whole heartedly seeking the Father, coming more and more into the reality of this unity that removes all separation from the Eternal. Our “now” is just a momentary instance within our eternal. Our “now” is not separate from the Eternal, it is partner with it. And the produce of our now existence being made one with the Eternal will be seen in the earth and in our eternity with Him as we enter His presence more and more until end of days comes.

How much easier it is to live godly in the now when the Eternal is real within us. When we realize our partnership with God through the Christ; when we understand our lives as being an extension of His own, Him at work in us to continue His work in the earth, bringing about all His good purpose and plan: with that realization the Eternal then comes to live within each individual of us and we see His hand move mountains as His power pours forth through our willing hands and feet, mouths and heart’s beat.

Sound charismatic? Sound New Age? It’s not. It is the living God and Father responding to the heart-cry of His Son as prayed for us by Him before His final translation to Glory at the right hand of the Father. If we are saved through Christ now, we are saved for all eternity, and our eternal existence is partner with our now as we surrender to His initiative. I’m not perfect in this unity yet, but I am growing in it and it in me. God, living and well within us, freeing us from the mortal so that the immortal can thrive to the glory of His name. Many, seeing this eternal reality springing forth in the lives of others, question its varsity, just as they did in Jesus’ day and ministry, because they do not understand its truth and they fear what they fail to believe.

Truth is found in the truth, beloved. Want to know the truth of what I am professing today? Dig into the Word of God, asking for His initiative to be made evident. It is truth that helps us to know truth. And it is truth that contrasts the false.

In every false religion that is functional and able to progress, there is an element of the truth that is stolen by the deceiver – that enemy of God at work to make the distortion of it palatable, leading many astray. We do not discern the false by studying the false. We discern the false by knowing the truth. Studying the false to try to learn of the false can cause one of two things:

* We can grow to believe the false and partner with it when we do not have understanding of the truth.

* We can grow to fear the false and become judgmental of people who practice truth we don’t understand because of a distorted focus on the false and failure to grow in our own understanding of the truth.

Want more of the eternal that God desires we possess? Chase after knowledge of the truth found only in Him, doing so without fear of believing Him and taking Him at His word. He contrasts the truth that is His from that twisted by the lie and used to deceive, helping us to find His truth perfected within us, drawing us more and more into the Eternal that influences and equips our righteousness and lifting us up to all He desires we be: the Eternal colliding with our now existence. That is power at work in God’s eternal beings, His sons and daughters, making us lights to lead many to freedom found only in the truth of Christ and unity with Him.

“…He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father” ~ John 14:9-12.

ONE: it is an eternal principle: Jesus in the Father who is in Him; them in me and me in them, and us in one another with Him, empowered and equipped by this Eternal for the greater works of God in our here and now existence. Great things come to ONE, Eternal with God, fulfilling His purpose in the earth.

Today is the first day of our eternity, beloved. Come into the Father with me and let us be busy about the Father’s business, having His power for salvation, before time runs out for those in need of this Eternal connection.

Pondering The Lord, God of Heaven’s Armies

“Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people” ~ Amos 5:14-15, NLT.

I love the wording of this verse in the New Living Translation. Of course, it is beautiful in any true translation, but this one captures my heart as I think on “The Lord of hosts”, “God of Heaven’s Armies”. It brings me to restful, peace to think of our God, fighting for us as commander of the Angelic hosts of heaven.

We are encouraged, “Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have said.”

In scripture, righteousness is defined as true living; and sin or evil is called “death”. Death separates oneself from God; life walks in unity with Him.

Every evil we face has a spiritual component to it that most often requires a spiritual response. When we choose to do good and fully follow God, He gives His angels charge concerning us, to fight the demonic forces behind the evil that seeks to destroy us.

Most often, the things going on in the earth are a picture image of what is going on in the heavenly realms. When we choose the good of God’s desire, God works to bring good to us in the spiritual realm. When the good of the Spirit is our influence, we choose the good of God’s desire.

Satanic forces influence the hearts of men to actions contrary to God using the wisdom of the flesh, this world, and demonic whisperings to deceived hearts. Such battles require angelic forces to deploy in response. When we choose good, recognizing and fleeing from evil influences, we have the assurance of God’s help. These armies of God fight the demonic forces so that the message of God can reach our hearts and influence our good.

I believe this war on terror is such an instance of evil’s influence on mankind. Only as we choose the good and fully follow God’s lead in this battle will we see victory. And that victory must be aided by His angelic forces coming against the demonic forces that influence and use the evil we see.

“Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people”

Goodness and justice are our spiritual weapons against evil. These weapons of our warfare loose God’s mercy toward us and move Him to take action on our behalf in whatever evil we face. But the definition of what is good is not ours to determine. It is dictated by God, requiring us to come into agreement with His desires. We must seek to know His heart on the issues before us if we are to do the good that flees from doing evil and moves the hand of God on our behalf.

Good is to do the will of God in the way of God to the glory of God.

“Evil”, everything contrary to God, His will and His way, is the only thing in scripture that I can think of in which God calls us to hate. We do not hate the person given to evil. They are only a vessel of evil, just as we are only a vessel of Good. Even Jesus says, “Why do you call Me ‘good’? No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18). Thus we hate the evil itself, but we are called to love the person.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” ~ Matthew 5:43-48.

“Sons” or children of God look like Him. Father God is our example to follow when it comes to love, and if we are His, we will look like His child, being in His image. He loves because He is love and He can do no less. We are “perfect as He is perfect” when we love because that is who we are. His love is perfectly within Him, dictating His actions toward all mankind. Though He hates the evil produced by those who are “enemy” at the time of their evil and He comes against that evil that is standing against Him and the good He desires, He still loves the sinner enslaved by evil.

It is letting love be in us as it is in Him that produces the good that reaps the reward of His hand at work on our behalf to protect us from the evil desires of enemy forces. Love has nothing to do with the recipient of its affections. Love, true love that desires and does what is best for the one loved, cannot be bought with a price or lost with any evil done. Love is what it is at all times. It assumes responsibility for itself, being unconditional and incorruptible. We love God because He first loved us and He shows us the way of love as He lives and breathes through us. Therefore our love for God always chooses the good He desires even for those who stand in opposition to Him.

We always have God’s love, Him doing what is best toward us as He works to bring us into agreement with Himself and His perfect desires. Even in the midst of consequences for past evil done by us or to us, when we turn back to Him through goodness and justice, His hand moves to help us face evil’s consequences.

We have God’s help when we surrender to His good and run after righteousness and justice as He defines it. We accomplish good when we seek to be as God is in character, thought, motive, deed and action. We accomplish justice when we agree with Him who defines evil and its consequences, divvying out and taking the consequences earned by evil practices, but doing so with a nature of love that desires the good, even and especially for those we call “enemy”.

Today, I check my stance with God the Father. Today I pray the God of angel armies be with you as you continue to fight the good fight of faith in the love He provides through the moving of His hand of help and hope.

Pondering the Hard Places of Life

I have learned much in my 60 years of life. God used many people to train me up. From my daddy, I learned faithfulness and frugal living. From Aunt Peggy and Aunt Shirley I learned how to care for a home. From Aunt Maxine I learned the importance of Scripture to daily life. From Aunt Edna and Uncle Bobby, I learned the importance of living those Scriptures through a faithful, Christian walk. In the power of His Spirit, God has used His Word to instruct me, His Church to build me up, and His people to encourage and help me. God uses many things in this life and in our situations in order to grow and mature us. Today my thoughts are on the hard places He takes us to for His purposes and our good.

Why am I thinking on such and side tracking from my pondering of Hebrews? Two reasons:

During what I call my “Prescription walk” I am currently listening to the book of Jeremiah. In it, over and over again, God uses Jeremiah to warn the people of Israel and Judah of His hand coming against them, sending them into captivity. Over and over they are told to give themselves freely to their captors or suffer destruction. With each warning comes promise that if they will willingly surrender to God’s will and put themselves under the taskmasters He is sending to enslave them, that in their time of captivity they will find their lives fully restored.

That’s one reason I am pondering our subject today. And these words catch my attention for the second reason.

I have a friend who is facing a very difficult decision, one in which he has to choose whether he will surrender himself to captivity, or fight to see if he can win his freedom. I don’t envy his decision one bit: in fact I grieve it for him and all involved terribly. Nor do I know the answer. Only God does. But as I think of his situation in light of the words in Jeremiah, this I do know:

In any situation we face where the choice is to surrender ourselves to go through a very hard place in life or fight to see if we can win our freedom, the opinion of God is vital. He knows which direction is our ideal soil for growth, maturity, service, obedience, and the glory of the Lord. He has a purpose in the mountains, and He knows which way will bring true freedom.

Sometimes God calls us to go around a mountain and avoid it at all cost. Sometimes He leads us to go over that mountain and defeat it by fighting our way to the other side. And sometimes He calls us to go through that hard ground to the other side, trusting His hand for us.

If we choose to fight when He says to surrender, we fail to trust His hand and His purpose, and we find ourselves actually fighting Him. So discernment of God’s will is vital. If we are called by Him to surrender to a challenge or enemy force, it is truly Him we surrender ourselves too. And God is faithful. He will see us through those difficult places and bring us through with greater understanding of who He is and how faithful He is to us who choose to trust Him. If we choose to fight when He says “surrender”, we may find ourselves facing the very terrors we fear.

In my times of surrendered trust in God, as He took me through the middle of my hard places in life, I found these reasons for His doing so:

Sometimes it takes the crushing things in life to remove those deeply imbedded, huge roots of sin that we often do not even realize we have. God is always at work to make us into the image of God, and if that means captivity for a time so that we can be made truly free, that is what He requires. Cooperation with Him is the only way to survive such experiences.

Sometimes there are things and people in our lives that we value more than God, making them an idol. God will take us through hard places in order to lead us to trust Him alone, to relinquish our idols, and to more fully bond with Him as our first, most vital necessity. These are the times He calls us to realize Him as our greatest desire above all else, choosing first His Kingdom and His righteousness. And once we make that choice, we find more of all the good things in life, only they are rightly prioritized, having no power to pull us from Him as the One possessing first place in everything. Having Him first and foremost as our greatest desire makes everything else taste sweeter.

CrossDaily05And then there is the reason of His need of our special gifting and life experience to bring light into dark places. Sometimes our captivity is nothing more than a mission field and opportunity to bring Him glory.

Many of us have hard decisions to make from time to time. Before balking at a place that looks like enemy captivity that will harm and destroy you, stop to ask the Lord His opinion. Get His heart for the situation. Hear His promises for the call of the captive. If He is there, in the hard place before you with some purpose of His own in hand, your only choice is whether to surrender to Him there and have His help for the journey, or fight against Him where you are. Whichever side of the issue God is on, that is the safest place to be. Discern where God is standing; enter into His rest through faith-filled, believing obedience; and follow Peace to the pastures of His choosing.

“Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” ~ James 4:10.

Pondering Restful Pastures: 2

Read Hebrews 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pondering Our Privilege of Right to Restful Pastures

Read Hebrews 2:14-3:19

Focal passage: Hebrews 3:7-11

“Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, “They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways”; as I swore in My wrath, “They shall not enter My rest.”’

Again today, I am in awe as I think on what God is speaking to my heart, beloved, and I pray I can paint the picture I see for you to capture as your own. It’s not new truth to me. It’s just the fresh winds of God’s breath reminding me of the fullness of His provision for us, which always produces awe of Him in me. So bear with me while we approach His glory.

Our chapter begins by pointing us back to chapter two:

“Since (Jesus) Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession” ~ Hebrews 2:18 and 3:1.

Like sheep, beloved, we too easily turn to grazing on our heart’s desire and go astray from the pastures of the Good Shepherd where His provision and rest are found. Even the godliest of us have times of “going astray in their heart” and failing to know God’s ways. Temptation to stray from the pastures of God is common to mankind (Romans 3:10; 1 Corinthians 10:13. Link to Scriptures on sin’s death).

Scripture tells us that even Jesus, who came in flesh, was “tempted in all things as we are”. Yet He faced temptation without sin and became our example to follow on our journey to freedom from this death – separation from God. (Hebrews 4:15)

For us to realize the truth of Jesus’ temptation, we must realize that His flesh was fully flesh, like our flesh, responding to temptations just as we do. This being true, we must understand that when he saw a beautiful woman, for example, His physical hormones responded as any man’s would. But He did not give Himself to those fleshly impulses.

I believe the picture God is giving me today about our heart’s path to restful pastures is the reason for Christ’s success that makes Him our example to follow. Thus following the instruction of this passage, we “consider Jesus” as we look to find the solution to those times when our desire tempts us away from the restful pastures of God’s presence. The following passages hold the KEYs I see that leads to our victory:

“(Jesus) was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but CHRIST WAS FAITHFUL AS A SON OVER HIS HOUSEWHOSE HOUSE WE ARE, IF WE HOLD FAST OUR CONFIDENCE AND THE BOAST OF OUR HOPE FIRM UNTIL THE END” ~ verses 2-6.

We are the temple of God, the body of Christ, being built up in Him. As such, beloved, we have full access to both the mind of Christ, who is the living, life breathed Word of God, and to the very heart of God, where the ways of His desire is made clear.

KEY: Jesus succeeded in walking in the righteousness of God by always maintaining the very heart of God within Himself. He has built us up into the House of God as the body of Christ, in which the very heart of God resides. When we “go astray from (our) heart”, this is the heart from which we stray.

Yesterday we pointed out in our pondering of our authority in Christ that Jesus always walked in His authority. How did He do that? Let’s take a peek:

When Jesus was called to fast in preparation for His earthly ministry, Satan tempted, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” In response, Jesus kept the heart of God by remembering the Word of God: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’” ~ Matthew 4:3-4.

KEY: Jesus always held in the forefront of His mind the word of God as His spiritual weapon of choice against the whiles of the enemy of God: an enemy that includes the wisdoms of the flesh, the world, and the demonic (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; James 3:13-18).

This enemy is alive and well today, hard at work to lead God’s people astray. In following the example of Christ, the mind of Christ is ours to possess and access as our first line of defense, grabbing hold of the Living, life giving Word and wielding it with deadly accuracy at the head of that which comes against us to tempt us away from God (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Matthew 4:1-11 is the most common passage used by preachers whose teaching I have sat under when talking of Jesus’ way of handling temptation. Hebrews 4 tells us that Jesus was tempted in all things as we are. Though I have heard pastors use Matthew 4’s temptation account to say that His temptation there covered “all things”, the question of a student in one of my Bible studies tells me we need to show His temptation more clearly than that. She rightly observed that the temptation Jesus faced in His wilderness experience did not touch a lot of the things that led her to be tempted. As I sought the Lord for a response to this students inability to see Matthew 4 as an account of Jesus being tempted in “all things” as we are, God revealed to me how Jesus’ entire life journey reveals His temptation and shows us how to remain in the Heart of God in our own journey of facing the tempter. For example:

When Jesus wound up by a well alone in John 4 and a woman of ill repute showed up there with Him, his flesh had opportunity to be tempted to sin, and I sense in the Spirit that this was the intent of Satan. No one was there. He could have taken advantage of the situation to feed His flesh. But what kept Him from it? I believe we get a glimpse in the words of this passage that reveal His heart for the situation:

“Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, eat.’ But He said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples were saying to one another, ‘No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?’ Jesus said to them, ‘MY FOOD IS TO DO THE WILL OF HIM WHO SENT ME AND TO ACCOMPLISH HIS WORK. Do you not say, “There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest”? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest’” ~ verses 31-35.

KEY: Jesus always maintained the heart of the Father for the work He was to accomplish, having His purposes in mind, holding it as the most needed food for life.

I could go on to talk about the times when Jesus was tempted by the push of the people to make Him King or to throw Him off hills to an early death rather than face a cruel cross: opportunities refused by Him who (KEY) trusted God’s timetable and His way. We could talk of the temptation to act the Pharisee by refusing to dine with sinners or be touched by them so as to please the spiritual leaders of the day, but Jesus countered that temptation by (KEY) remembering that it was for these He was sent. As the Apostle John said, the whole world could be filled with the books we can write of all Jesus did while He was here on the earth, setting the example for us.

The point to our discourse, Beloved, is that we fail to enter the rest God provides for us when we go astray in our hearts. We do that when we fall to the desires of our fleshly heart and fail to realize that we have the very heart of God beating within us in the power of the Spirit, through Jesus, the Christ.

God is always at the ready to direct us to His desires through the mind of Christ that is ready to breathe the Living Word into our being. He, the Living Word, is the Bread of Life, feeding every pore of our existence with right desires that accomplish God’s purpose, having knowledge of His ways.

Realizing these things equips us to remain in our right Heart, being a people after God’s own heart, believing in Him and desiring Him above all else. Believing God, taking Him at His word, living and breathing His purposes as fed by His very heart beating within us is the KEY to keeping our heart and remaining in the restful pastures He provides for our fulfillment.

“They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways”. This does not have to be the truth of our reality when we realize the Heart that beats within us, and hold tight to the KEYS that feed us truth and righteousness. Only believe!

Pondering Subjection-Authority

Oh wow. I am seeing something in chapter two of Hebrews this morning that I have knowledge of in my head, but I think that knowledge is about to take deeper root and move about 18 inches south of my brain. Bear with me a minute and pray I can get there.

To begin, this passage tells us that “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” ~ Hebrews 2:1. Now the author is talking about our hearing the whole truth of God sent through the Christ, but it prefaces that call with “for this reason.” So let’s take just a second to review “this reason.”

In chapter one, we see that Jesus is the Word of God, not only revealing its power, but revealing the life that is in the very real and living Word of God. The Word is a person, it is Jesus. Therefore God’s Word is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword even today because Jesus not only was, but He IS. That Word is given to us with all the power it possesses. When God speaks His truth to us in a personal way, it becomes our own, passing to us the responsibility for its use and the authority to walk it out with power, assurance, and boldness.

Jesus, having fulfilled all God’s good will and purpose, is lifted to the throne of God’s Kingdom, having full authority as King of kings and Lord of lords. He has a name that makes Him greater than any other of all God’s creation because He fulfilled His purpose in accord to the Word of God. What was the purpose He accomplished? Off the top of my head:

  1. He brought the Word of God, imparting to us the full message of God He was charged to bring.
  2. He corrected all false teaching and understanding, giving us not only the letter of the Law, but its intent of Heart.
  3. He did not come to destroy or do away with the Law, but to perfectly fulfill it, setting the example for our obedience.
  4. In fulfilling the Law, He set the example we are to follow, not only showing us how to live a life that honors and glorifies God as the One and Only, but showing us how to walk in the fullness of our authority as a child of God, possessing His power for all things.
  5. He paid the price of sin, being the perfect Lamb of God, so that through Him, we may believe and receive the inheritance of salvation.
  6. He took His seat at the right hand of God, receiving unto Himself the full authority of King of all God’s Kingdom and all His creation, being empowered to impart to us His power for life and living that belongs to us as the heirs of promise.
  7. He ever lives to intercede on our behalf until His return, which is soon, and very soon.

Having these facts under our proverbial belt, beloved, now we come to verses 5-8:

“For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, ‘What is man, that you remember him? Or the son of man, that you are concerned about him? You have made him for a little while lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, and have appointed him over the works of Your hands; You have put all things in subjection under his feet.’ FOR IN SUBJECTING ALL THINGS TO HIM, HE LEFT NOTHING THAT IS NOT SUBJECT TO HIM. BUT NOW WE DO NOT YET SEE ALL THINGS SUBJECTED TO HIM.”

Here is what I know and have known for a while: Adam and Eve had full authority from GOD, who subjected all the earth to them, but they did not walk in the authority God imparted for them to possess. Thus came the fall of man as sin entered in, bringing death to us. Death came because we did not realize and walk in the Living Word to possess the authority we had for life. So instead of subjecting the world by possessing the authority God gave mankind, we fell to being subject to the laws of nature. Death entered, and we surrendered to that taskmaster. Then in walks Jesus (verses 9-15):

“But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. …Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”

God gave all to mankind, but mankind fell to the lie that there was “more and better” to be had; that God was somehow holding back from us and keeping us from having it all. So separation from God and from His authority and power entered into our lives, death, bringing us to a meager existence indeed. Fear of death took hold as powerlessness ruled, subjecting us to slavery to sin, robbing us of all God’s ideal best for us. Thus Jesus came in flesh of man, contending with all its weakness, but rightly possessing the full authority of the Word of God. Setting the example for us, He subjected all things to Himself, as was intended by God from the beginning, fulfilling the perfect will of God, thus becoming for us the sacrifice that frees us from death.

“For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (verses 16-18).

Because of Christ, we who hear His Word are standing at the threshold of eternity. When we enter into the Kingdom with and through Him, we again stand as a people charged to subject all things to the authority of God’s Word. Through the practice of that faith, death no longer has a hold on us. We can let go of fear of death, no longer walking in separation, and receive the power and authority of God as one with Him who rules over all things through Christ. We king-jesus4bfully partner with Him to rule through obedience to Him who subjects all things under the feet of the Body of Christ, of which we are.

The question is, will we receive and walk in the power we have to possess? What fear holds you back, beloved? Receive the Word implanted and walk in the authority of God by way of the Help He supplies through Christ, the mediator.

“For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, GOD ALSO TESTIFYING WITH THEM, BOTH BY SIGNS AND WONDERS AND BY VARIOUS MIRACLES AND BY GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT ACCORDING TO HIS OWN WILL” ~ Hebrews 2:2-4. Bear the fruit, beloved.

Pondering the Angelic

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they” ~ Hebrews 1:3-4.

Jesus is the manifest presence of God come in flesh for the purpose of sanctification.

Manifest ~ Easily noticed or perceived; obvious; plain. To show plainly; reveal or display. To prove beyond doubt. Of a disembodied spirit: to appear in visible form.

Yesterday’s blog mentions the fact that Jesus is the Word of God, the Message of God sent to accomplish all of the Father’s purpose. He is the Messenger of God revealed in the Old Testament as The Angel of the Lord, manifesting the presence of God in the earth, the visible proof of the invisible God.

In the New Testament, this manifestation is named Jesus, the exact representation of the Father. When Philip asked, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us,” Jesus replied, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:7-9)

Jesus is the manifestation of the Father in the earth, exactly representing Him and His interests in every way. Jesus is The Angel of the Lord, the Living Word of God, a true and clear Manifestation of the Father in skin. And here in Hebrews, we see Him given the righteous scepter as King over the Kingdom, anointed with the oil of gladness above His companions, the angelic hosts of heaven included.

Angels: manifest spirit ministers, are seen throughout scripture. The Angel of the Lord was the manifest presence of God, sent to His people for the purpose of imparting to them the Word of His will in their hour of need – He was always recognized as God standing before the person He was sent to. Many other angels are mentioned in scripture, being also God’s creation with a purpose to fulfill. But Jesus, having fulfilled His purpose, is lifted above all God’s angelic hosts, given a name above all names as King of all God’s creation.

Here in Hebrews we are instructed of the reality of God’s angelic hosts. They are said to be winds; God’s ministers that go out as a flame of fire…having power from God. And they are ministering spirits, sent out to render service.

We live in a day when many are enamored by the thought of angels watching over us. And they do watch over us, being given charge to guard all the ways of those they are sent to minister to (Psalm 91). According to Hebrews 1:13: angels are sent into the earth to render service to those who will inherit salvation. Salvation is inherited by those belonging to God through Jesus, the Christ. They are servants of God charged with the care and service of us who believe. As such, they are not to be worshiped by us, for these, too, were created by God to be His worshipers, worshiping God as God and Jesus as King through service, praise, adoration, and honor.

God is teaching me a lot about these ministers in life, revealing how He gives them charge for my care, and how He gives me authority to call on them to fulfill their charge.

As I have shared before, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a diagnosis given to a group of symptoms with an etiology yet to be understood. Since the true cause is unknown, there is no real treatment. The only treatment is to deal with the symptoms.

The enemy of God often uses this disease process to hinder God’s people and hold them back from life and living. I have often felt it to be as much a spiritual battle as a physical one.

Recently God used the story of Lazarus to instruct me with regard to my struggle with fibro. The words, “This sickness is not unto death, but is for the glory of God” drew my heart to the fact of this being true of my Fibromyalgia. Then the Spirit instructed me to start speaking as Jesus did when Lazarus came forth, “Unbind him and let him go!” Only I was instructed to say, “Unbind ME and let ME go.”

At first that was hard for me to do. I kept wanting to say, “Jesus says for you to unbind me…”. Then God told me that He has given me the authority to speak the command as representing Him, and I am to do so boldly. So I do.

To begin, I thought I was saying this to the demons or the sickness. But then the Spirit asked me, “Darlene, who was I speaking to when I said that concerning Lazarus?” Jesus was speaking to His companions there with Him.

Jesus-Bride006As I discerned that truth, I realized that 1) I do the same when I share with others who pray with me for my release from the bonds of Fibro. But 2) when I am alone and speak the command against a flare, I am speaking to the Spirit of God who has power to set free, and to the angels of God who are given charge to fight the enemy in the spiritual realm.

I seldom have a flare these days, and when I do, my faith in God for this weapon given me to wield in the Spirit has greatly increased. I see very fast results as the Spirit and the angels so charged deliver me from this enemy that would bind me.

The angelic hosts are not for us to worship. These are brethren in the fact that they also are God’s created beings with us. And in the heavenly kingdom of God, they are the army of God that fights the enemy of God known as the demonic forces, and they are charged with our care. We can call on them to fulfill their charge in the power and authority of God’s Spirit. And we do so in the name of JESUS, the name above all names who is seated on the throne of God’s kingdom, charged as overseer of all His will and way.

Jesus, the manifest, exact representation of God: He set the example for us to follow. We are called to be His representatives in the earth, just as He represented the Father. And we are to do so with power, in the authority He gives.

Even the angels of God show their understanding of this truth when they are sent with God’s word for a person and that word is shunned. I think of the time Gabriel came to Zacharias with word of the birth of John. Zacharias, being small in faith, couldn’t believe his eyes or his ears as this angel stood before him telling him he would have a son in his old age by a barren wife, just as experienced by his father, Abraham. He questioned the validity of the word. The angel did not run to God and say, “He didn’t believe me. What should I say?” He stood on the power of God’s word, in the authority of his charge from God, and he handled the problem:

“I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”  ~ Luke 1:19-20.

Beloved, all of God’s created beings are intended to be His manifest presence in the earth, being the exact representation of His nature, bringing Him glory. When we said “I do” to Jesus as Savior and King, the image of God was restored to us fully in the Spirit and is being manifested day by day as we surrender to Him. Therefore, when people are with us, they should have a God encounter. When we speak, we should hear His voice and speak His words with the authority He gives us.

The angels also watch for the manifest presence of God in us, and they are here, charged by God, to help us achieve that goal. Being His witnesses in all the earth and making disciples is accomplished as we represent Him in all His glory, will, and way, being one with Him in the Power of the Spirit so that He is seen and heard in the earth. This is our calling and equipping in the name of Jesus.

“You are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation”  ~ 1 Peter 2:9-12.

Pondering The Living Word ~ Power for Life

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” ~ Hebrews 1:1-2.

Hebrews is an awesome book, filled with word pictures that explain the Christ in detail, instructing in all He accomplished on our behalf, and giving meaty promises we can cling to for a life of peace and power, assurance and abundance. Many credit Paul for its writing, but I lean toward John as the author because he is the one most often to point out Jesus as the Living Word of God.

Today, as I read these first verses, my heart is full of the Power of God’s Word found and exhibited in Jesus, and passed on to us. As I read God’s word, it inspires my faith, strengthens my hope, enlightens my path, and empowers my efforts. God’s Word is our authority for life.

Here and in verses 9-10, the author points us to the fact that Jesus was the Word that Spoke and caused all things to come into existence. That point takes us back to Genesis 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then GOD SAID, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (vs. 1-3). With the spoken word, God caused all creation to come into existence. He speaks, and it is done. He watches over His word to perform it, always! Scripture inspires me to believe that His Word is as good as His Presence with us. We can clasp hold of His instruction to us and walk in the authority of His reality, present and effective through us.

John 1, speaking of Jesus, tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (vs. 1-3).

God’s word instructs us that His word is alive. It is a person, Jesus, the Christ. And in the power of His Spirit, it is living and active still today (Hebrews 4:12).

My heart is aflame with this truth today. Jesus is the Word. He is the Angel of the Lord who brought God’s word to those He was sent to in the Old Testament account of God’s interaction with mankind. He is the Word sent to us after 400 years of silence, bringing a new covenant of redemption to our reality. The Word is still living and active today in the power of the Spirit, teaching us truth: convincing of sin (what is a wrong path), righteousness (what is a right path), and judgment (giving ability to discern consequences for our choices) – (see John 16:8).

The thing that breaks my heart is when I see people reading God’s Word as if it is an archaic book that is no longer relevant to life. Seeing them read it as if God is not a big enough God to protect its translation through the ages, keeping it righteous and maintaining its integrity and application to life at any age. If God is not big enough to protect His word; if He is not powerful enough to make it relevant to our lives today, He is not big enough to be God.

You want power for life? Seek the Spirit of God to breathe life into you as you read His word. Seek Him to enlighten the eyes of your heart so you hear the Living, Life giving Word as He sent it to be, filled with power that is relevant for you today. Read God’s word, not as an archaic history book we are required to know, but as one inspired by the Word that lives and breathes truth to us, and you will receive power for life more abundant and full.

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power” ~ Hebrews 1:3a.

The Living Word of God is still alive and well today. When we press forward with His Word as our guiding light, the power of that Word will reveal itself to us as the living and active power of God, bringing all He speaks into existence. “Only believe!” (Jesus, Mark 5:21-42)

Pondering Church, Body, Bride – Setting Sights on Intimacy with Christ

Today I am pondering our position in Christ as the people of God. As I do so, I recognize three pictures of our position that we find expressive of us in Scripture: Church, Body and Bride.

As the Church, we know that a building does not a church make. We can have buildings used for the purpose of gathering, but it is not a church until the people come into it. And wherever the people gather, whether in a building designated for such, around a dinner table with family and friends, or on an isle at Walmart, we are the church, called and equipped by God to encourage the Body of Christ, equipping that Body to function as it is intended to by God. A church can only be a church where two or more are gathered in the name of Jesus.

The body of Christ is the collective of the whole of all who are His, saved by grace through faith, and surrendered to Him for the work He has planned before hand for each of us to do. Collectively we work together in the world to accomplish God’s purpose and to fulfill His ministry as light to the world, drawing others into His saving grace. We are His hands, His feet, His mouth, His spleen. Each individual member of the body has its function, but we need one another to be all God desires and fulfill all He planned. We are the body. One malfunctioning part can hinder the whole, and without the help of all, one is hindered. Thus Body and Church are dependent upon each other or we are not Body and Church.

Finally, we are the Bride of Christ. But as I ponder our relationship as Bride, I am struck by the individuality of that. Though we all make up His Bride together, our relationship with Him is dependent on our individual relationship with Him. I cannot make you a Bride and increase your intimacy with Him. It is up to you; and mine is mine alone.

I don’t know if this makes sense, but what I am seeing is this: The work of the Church is to build up and equip the Body, all working together to accomplish this. The Body is made up of all who are Bride to Christ, each individually part of the whole, all needed for full and proper function of that called “Body of Christ”. But each who are “Bride” must come into their own personal relationship with God in Christ.

We can come together as the Church and help the individual grow in their relationship with the Bridegroom, but being Bride is a personal choice and a personal, completely individualized journey for each one called “Bride”. And only when each individual of the Bride comes into their own as Bride can they function fully in their role as part of His Body and His Church.

Question: How real is God to you? How alive is His Word to your Spirit? How PRESENT is His Spirit of Power in your understanding and function? If we struggle in any of these areas, we have not yet come into our own as His Bride, able to fully and intimate relate with Him. As we come into this New Year of life, I pray the heart of Paul for us today.

“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, in the hope that if possible I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body.” (Philippians 3:8-11, AB)

In marriage, the two become one flesh. That is what this heart of Paul says to me. I want to know Him more intimately and personally with every breath of every day. Through knowledge of Him comes my resurrection to life made new, full and abundant every day; life not bound by time, but empowered by the eternal.

Jesus-Bride001Such intimacy knows the heart of the Beloved, rejoicing when He rejoices, grieving when He grieves, and giving one’s all: one’s own life to see all His desires fulfilled, thus suffering in likeness to His Own. Such intimacy with the Beloved makes it possible for me to attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead even while in the body. I transcend this mortal when vitally united with the Immortal.

This level of intimacy requires of us the dying to oneself Jesus spoke of when He instructed, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” ~ Luke 9:23. It is the death Paul speaks of in Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

Are you there yet, Beloved? Are you acutely aware of your position as Bride and sold out to “one flesh” intimacy with Him?

I have come a long way, baby. But I am not there yet, not fully. Come join me in 2015 as we seek to grow in our intimacy with Christ, to be one with Him individually so we can have power and provision needed to be the Church and fulfill our role as part with them in His Body.

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” ~ Philippians 3:12-16.

The Christmas Story Revisited

Pastor Marshall shared the Christmas story yesterday from Luke 2, giving details that truly speak great significance into that beloved account. I share it in my own words here, hoping to inspire Christmas in you and yours.

Luke 2

Mary-Joseph02“1 Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth. 2 This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, 5 in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child. 6 While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

First point: Caesar thought he was in control of these events. He did not realize that truly it was God pulling the strings in order to bring about the fulfillment of events which long ago prophesied that the Christ would come out of Bethlehem, of the house of David. So God inspired events leading to the taking of the census.

And what were those events? Corrupt government and overspending that led to the need of increased taxation, leading to the new census so they could both collect taxes and know what the taxes would produce. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. Could it be true for us now as for these back then that God is pulling strings for a purpose all His own?

Thus God led Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem so that Jesus would be born there.

Then note the meaning of these events:

Bethlehem means “House of Bread”. Jesus called Himself the Bread of Life. The manger is believed to have been a feeding troth. Nativity 03The Bread of Life was laid in a manger inside a hill in the House of Bread. Jesus came forth from the House of Bread, heir to the house of David, king of Israel, destined to take the throne of David and rule for all eternity. Jesus, the Christ Messiah, King of kings and Lord of lords, calls to us, beckoning us to come and feast ourselves in Him, who feeds us with lasting life from the House of Bread and the Father’s table.

And the cave in a hillside? Belief in Jesus is an issue that must reach the very heart of our being. This is a story that must tuck itself within us, reaching the core of our being, if it is to feed our lives for all eternity.

“8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’”

good_shepherd2A shepherd was considered a low life individual in their culture: They stunk of sheep and were not even allowed in the temple because their job required them to do things that made them “unclean” and, thus, unable to enter the temple without first going through ritual cleansing. These shepherds not only had responsibility for the care of the common cattle, but they were responsible for the care of the lambs used in the temple sacrifices. They were keepers of the sacrificial lambs and, I am sure, longed for the Messiah to come and remove their need of that job.

In this time of history the people of God had not heard from God in 400 years. But I can imagine that, despite the growing evil that is mimicked in our own day, the people who most often thought of the eternal would be the ones caring for the sacrificial lambs being readied to take away their sin. How true of God to go to the lowliest and give them the honor of being first to hear the good news and see the Lamb of God enter the scene. I wonder if they transferred their role as keepers and caregivers to the Lamb of God, helping Joseph and Mary to look out for Jesus as He grew. I know that if I were in their shoes, I can see myself wanting to be by Mary’s side as much as possible, helping with the care of the one the angels announced as the Lord’s Messiah, come in human flesh. As Mary did then, today we ponder these things and rejoice with the angels.

“13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

“14 ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.’”

Pastor pointed out that the day before this day these angels were stationed around the throne of Heaven, worshiping the God of all HeraldingAngels04Creation. And now they continue their worship around the same God who has miraculously come in human form to show us the way of truth and pay the price that paved the way of our salvation. They rejoice as they see the plan and purpose of God birthed into the earth.

“15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’ 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.”

Umm, yum, yum. Taste and see that the Lord is good. God sends the message of Good Tidings to our hearts, then feeds us in ways that give us firsthand experience as we go in search of Him. He promises that those who seek Him with whole heart will find Him (Jeremiah 29:11-14, especially see the Amplified version). May we hear the good tidings, then go to see it for ourselves, finding Him faithful to make Himself known.

Mary034“17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”

Like the shepherds, we have to respond to the message of the Christ, go to the House of Bread and eat of the Bread of Life receiving that life for ourselves so that we may then go and tell others of His work on our behalf. We are called to recognize the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And when we receive and believe Him we are sent out with responsibility for the care of His pastures.

Hear the Christmas story, beloved, and respond today. The Lamb of God and the Bread of Life call us to a feast where Living Water is the drink of choice, springing up in the recipient as an artesian well bringing life to those we touch in His Name. Rejoice, beloved, then go and tell the good news!

Firm in Faith – Firm in Stance

Yesterday God highlighted for me Isaiah 7:9b…

“If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all” ~ ESV.

“If you will not believe, you surely shall not last” ~ NASB.

Looking at verses 1-12, we see Ahaz facing three kings who are out to destroy him and take his territory over. Ahaz starts out to gain the aid of Assyria, but God sends Isaiah to stop him and encourage him to trust in the Lord instead.

This passage so hits home for me in so many areas. I feel God’s call to do something, then, when it gets hard, I want to elicit others help to do what I am called to do, often so I can back out altogether. Many of us desire to do right: work at a job God opened for us, reach a goal, obtain a dream, minister to another in our sphere of influence; but when obstacles get in the way and the road gets rough, instead of trusting in and relying upon God, we wimp out, back pedal, or look to others besides Him for our solution. God may send His word of assurance through many avenues, telling us it will be okay if we will just stay the course and trust Him, but we don’t like pain, so we run in fear, and fail to hear or believe. When this happens, we rob ourselves of the opportunity we have to participate in the great work of God and experience Him as never before.

See self through God's eyes.
See self through God’s eyes.

Here in Isaiah 7, God tells Ahaz that the army coming against him will not succeed. He does not tell him that the battle will not come. Nor does He tell him that his victory will be easy. What He does say is, “If you trust and believe Me, you will be able to stand firm, withstand the battle, and come through to its completion having your kingdom and your crown in tact. BUT if you will not believe, you will not last, but will fall away.”

I read a devotional thought today from SparkPeople.com that spoke to me on this issue. The quote they used is from Frank Tyger, saying, “Most barriers to your success are man-made. And most often, you’re the man who made them.”

Regarding this thought, the author of the devotional writes, “What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to stick to a fitness plan so that you will look great this summer? Are you trying to improve a relationship with a friend or loved one? …Whatever you are trying to do, think about a time when you’ve allowed yourself to think, ‘I can’t!’ Why did this happen? Most of the time, it is because of a barrier that you yourself created.

“It is completely natural for you to have this reaction in life. For most of us, when things get tough or when we start to fail, we try to find ways to justify our actions instead of trying to find ways to get over the hurdle. …”  (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/quotes_translation.asp?id=262).

I remember a time when I said to myself, “I can’t do this anymore.” It broke something in me and, for a time, it robbed me of my ability to cope with my daddy’s paranoia issues and minister to him. It even hindered my ability to relate with many others – for a time. When I realized the enemy assault in those words that were not based on truth in Christ and that robbed me of faith in God who equips me for all things, I began the slow road to healing and got back in the proverbial saddle of life again.

We must take care when the hurdles come upon us that we keep our eyes on and our faith in God, or we will be easily knocked off our horses and off the path God has for us. Life is hard, but God is faithful. Seek His face for the assurance needed and stay the course that will get us to the finish line, having accomplished all His good will and purpose. The center of His will is often hard, but it is the safest, most blessed place to be.

Know the True Battle Lines

“Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?’” ~ John 18:10-11.

Jesus knew His hour of glorification was at hand. Peter did not understand fully what was to come, so he drew the sword to fight for the life of the One he loved, and found himself standing in opposition to the Christ. Jesus, on the other hand, understood the evil coming at Him was from the Father for the fulfillment of all things good and glorious. Fighting against drinking that cup would be fighting against Father. Fighting against the very will and way of the Father would keep Jesus from fulfilling the purpose for which He was sent into the earth.

As I read this today, I am reminded that we must have this insight within us that Christ had for His hour of Glory’s opportunity. Every hard thing that comes at us, though the enemy of God intends it for evil, we must realize that God intends to work good out of it. And there are some hard things that come for God’s purpose that are not sent by the enemy of God, but are sent through that evil by God for a purpose that may be beyond our comprehension at the time. Seeing the glorious purpose of God fulfilled requires us to cooperate with Him in addressing our life circumstances. (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20)

Take the Patriarch Joseph as example. He suffered much hardship because of what looked like the cruelty of his brothers. But God laid out the plan in which He trained Joseph and put him into position for the dreams sent him by God to be fulfilled. Though Joseph did not fully understand why he had to go through such hardship, he kept faith and trust in God, cooperating with Him by making the most of each situation. As a result, those very things suffered were used of God to grow his faith and his gifting in preparation for his ultimate role that fulfilled the purpose of God in saving his people in the time of famine. Just think what might have been if Joseph fought his captivity instead of making the best of it?

Thus I find myself asking today what situations I am in that are God’s road for training and equipping me for the opportunity ahead that will allow me to work with Him in fulfilling the glory He has planned for my life.

We all go through days of difficulty, beloved. Sometimes those hardships come because of our sin: Father’s disciplining hand reaching down to deliver us from those tendencies that too often lead us astray of His will and way. Beloved, when it comes to God’s desire for a right and eternal relationship with us, He is not afraid to break our leg as a good Shepherd would do to a wayward sheep, putting us into a position where we will seek Him and where He can have quality time with us, gaining our undivided attention. He would rather put us on our backs now to keep us from eternal damnation and separation from Him than see us perish for all eternity. He uses such times to increase our faith, enabling us to fully trust Him who is making us into the person of His design, ready to fulfill His purpose.

Most often the evil one sends difficulty meant to knock us off kilter in an attempt to stop the work of God in and through us. The devil hates God and he hates us who follow him. Lucifer wants to be God, and he wants as many as he can possibly deceive to be with him in his eternal punishment. So he works overtime, doing all he can to hinder the work of God in and through us who are his witnesses and his chosen vessels meant to help others come to Christ. If Satan can lead us to destroy our testimony so we are useless in the work of helping others to discover the truth of Christ, he wins a battle. If not that, he will work to get us so wrapped up in our hardships and difficulties that we have no time or energy to minister to others, thus bringing us to defeat.

Then there are the times, like with Christ and Joseph, when God is the one who sends those things into our lives that bring difficulty and are hard to understand. He uses such hardship to train and prepare us for some work ahead that may not be evident yet. Or those very difficult things may very well be the very path that gets us into position for God’s very glory to come forth and accomplish His very purpose for our very lives. It is the “verily, verily” of God’s very truth.

Joseph, like Christ, chose to not allow evil to win, but to cooperate with God’s goodness in the midst of the hardship faced in order for God’s purpose to be fulfilled for the good of all concerned. These are examples to us in our own times of difficulty. No matter the source of the evil, cooperate with God. Don’t put self in a position of fighting God. Know the true battle lines and turn to face the frontlines with Father.

The question for us today is, will we fall to the will of the evil one who is out for our destruction, or will we cooperate with God? Choosing cooperation with God for the good He desires is vital, lest we find ourselves fighting against the One who is doing us good, and not harm meant for evil. God is always working in us to give us a future and hope for our final outcome. And He may even use hardship to put us into a place of being His resource for the salvation of others (Jeremiah 29:11).

Sanctified “For Their Sakes”

“As you sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. FOR THEIR SAKES I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth” (John 17:18-19).

Sanctification – being set apart with a purpose. We are set apart BY God for His use in His intended purpose. He is creating for Himself a Kingdom of people, and we are part of that, if indeed He is our God and us His people. We are set apart by God for His purpose, and we are set apart TO God by right of our choice. He gives us choice, the right of determining to bow the knee now, and to work with and for Him in fulfilling His glory in the earth and bringing His Kingdom purpose to pass.

Jesus was Sanctified and set apart by God to be our Savior. Jesus here lets us know that He was set apart to God by His choosing to follow God’s will for the sake of us who are the object of His desire. Because He loves us, Jesus wants us, and He wants us to be sanctified in truth, therefore He chose to live a sanctified life in fulfilling the purpose of God for Himself so that we, too, may be sanctified in truth.

As I read this today, Father instructs my heart that this is my call and purpose as well: to be sanctified, set apart, fully consecrated by God for His purpose; and to choose sanctification through cooperation of obedience for the sake of those in my sphere of influence, so that they too may find, know and enter into their sanctification in truth and righteousness. For me this truth and call of God in this day is instructing me to have right priorities in all I choose to do and say, so that I may be His vessel, fully surrendered for His use in making Him known in the world.

My life is too scattered right now. I have felt that for a while and have prayed, seeking the Father for right priorities and focused living, for Him to aim me at the target of His design so I do not fail to fulfill His purpose. This teaching through the life example of The Christ comes to me as God’s answer, to focus my choices on “sanctification for your sakes” so I have right priorities in these last days.

What about you, beloved of the Lord? Who have you sent out into the world today? Did you sanctify yourself in your encouragement of them so that they have an example of set apart living? As you live as in the world, though not of it today, choose now to live in such a way as to encourage and give example to a life dictated by sanctification to Father God through Jesus The Christ.

“If anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

(For a biblical definition of sanctification, read http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/sanctification/)

God is Building His Temple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Other signs currently happening include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

BLESSings, Beloved One!

Darlene

King’s Daughter

 

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

Chosen, Not Rejected Part 3

Here is part three of God’s instructing my heart in this area of my life. Thank you for reading my often long blogs! BLESSings.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=5809245

Chosen, Not Rejected

Hello, friends. I have written two blogs lately on another site that I thought I would point you to. They deal with my struggle with feelings of rejection and what God is teaching me. I you are one of God’s children, struggling in this area of your life, perhaps there is a word for you in the following posts:

Secret ID and Super Hero Moments that Makes is a response to a team I am on with SparkPeople: http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=5808225

Today’s blog is a response to yesterdays titled “Off the Mask and Cape; Dawn the Heroic Robe. As I attended a ladies night at church last night, God spoke to my struggle address in the above blog. Find His answers for me at http://www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_journal_individual.asp?blog_id=5808649

Thank you for your patronage. May The Lord bless you, and keep you; The Lord make His face shine on you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance on you, And give you peace. (Numbers 6)

Propitiation Love

“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved” ~ Matthew 24:13-14, NASB.

Endures what? Lawlessness? No. The endurance we must possess is to persevere against the assault to one’s love-walk that lawlessness produces.

Love is key to our survival in these days. As lawlessness increases, giving love can be challenged by frustration with those who sin against us; defeated by a spirit of discouragement toward those we see as never changing from the evil that ensnares them. Key to our love-walk in such times of difficulty is the fact that God loves because He IS LOVE: and we are to BE as HE IS. Grab this key, beloved and meditate on it today as you deal with those who stress and strain love. And as you do, consider the following:

Never turn away a loved one because of frustration with their sin without first seeking the Father for the best love-action that needs to be taken. Sometimes leaving the person to wallow in the mire is the greatest love we can give them, so they learn to hate their own sin and to long for the good they can have with the Father they have experienced, hopefully through us. Other times, surpassing frustration to meet a physical need is the love act that expresses God’s care to them and shines the Light that draws them in. But only the Father knows their heart and which is the avenue of destruction to sin that frees them. So we must seek His discernment in our love-walk. Teacher-Test

Unfortunately, in this life with the evils we deal with daily, we also have to consider the protection of innocence, turning from those through whom sin touches us in order to protect the innocence affected by it. Thus knowing how to rightly love requires God’s wise discernment. His love will prevail to accomplish its purpose if we seek to follow on the heels of LOVE-Persona.

While studying for a Bible Study lesson the other day, I discovered an interesting truth about our love walk and what it should be. To endure lawlessness with a spirit of love toward those who do wrong against us, I believe this truth is necessary for us to consider.

In 1 John we are told that Jesus is “propitiation” for sin (2:2). He fully satisfies the payment required by GOD’s Law for the sin of all mankind, the whole world of us! Even ISIL right now, Jesus paid the price of the atrocities they are committing right now; but blinders hinder their receiving His gift of grace, freedom from their sin, and the eternal life they think they are fighting to acquire. Think of missing the very thing you think you are achieving through your works that are sin against the one true God, because you cannot see that God as reality or His propitiation love as true in the Christ you deny. That is sad indeed, a pitiful situation.

We are the people of God if we have chosen Him in Christ just as He chooses us through the same. Though we continue to struggle against sin, because of Jesus this propitiation love of God for us does not hold our sin against us. John 3:16 tells us that God gave Jesus to this role because He loves us—ALL of us, thus the gift purchased reaches out to the whole world, even those ensnared by philosophies like that of ISIL. This is God’s love for us all, the whole world of us. He wanted us with Him for all eternity so much so that He sent His son to pay the full price for sin for all mankind everywhere. And He holds that Christ out for all to see as The Way by which we receive that eternity as a gift, paid for by Him.

That is not news to me, beloved, as I am sure it is not to you who believe as I do, but the following grabbed me! 1 John 4:10-11, NASB, instructs us:

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the PORPITIATION for our sins. BELOVED, IF GOD SO LOVED US, WE ALSO OUGHT TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”

We are to love with Propitiation!

Through love we desire to be His light to a world that needs our Savior. Love growing cold hinders our desire and ability to share Christ. Love growing cold hinders our desire and effectiveness in making sacrifices for the sake of the Gospel. Being propitiate toward those who are unworthy of love from our standpoint means to love them despite sin, not holding their sin against them so as to become cold hearted toward them and fail to hold out to them the ONE they most need to achieve the goal they so greatly desire. Propitiation-love seeks to love fully by continuing even in the face of atrocities done to us, to be God’s light and a conduit of His love toward them with hope of their salvation.

To desire that others know the one who loved us enough to give His all on our behalf, especially those who sin against us, is Propitiation-love. There is no room for self-centeredness, self-preservation, pride, greed, resentment, grudge and anger THAT HINDERS our love-walk and keeps us from giving our all in order to share our Christ with the least of these. If we as God’s people in Christ are sitting in their torcher chamber, this love and Light should prevail against the dark; and by His grace at work within us, it can and will, but we have to understand the call and trust Him who is able to make it so.

Does that mean we never fight against evil? No. We are called to expose unrighteousness and stand firm against it (Read Ephesians 5:6-21; 6:10-20). To fail to do that is to leave those who can be reached with the love of God ensnared by those who would never allow their exposure to the love God has for them in Christ. Thus we fight the good fight of faith, doing good wherever we are able, and routing out sin wherever it seeks to destroy the Light that is there.

One of the hardest things I have ever experienced came when I asked God to fill me with His love for another; and He did, fully. Love you still! I know you are reading this. Receiving that love for the beloved was easy. But when they committed what for me was an unspeakable, unfathomable sin, that love did not quit, and the lesson concerning the fullness and power of God’s love began. To be so hurt and disgusted by sin, but still to love and long for a right and good relationship is hard; it is beyond comprehension to me who is still hindered by flesh. And to have such sin form a wall of hindrance to the full experience and expression of Love is heart breaking.

This is God’s love for us. It is the hurt I believe God bears for those He longs for every second of every day because of the gift of Jesus, but who cannot see or walk in truth because they are blinded to Jesus and ensnared by sin. When we are covered by Christ, that covering brings low the walls that divide so we can continue in relationship with Him. But when we refuse the covering, His love for us does not die. It just goes unfulfilled, and don’t you know, that hurts!

This is a picture of the Propitiation-love we are to have for each other. Love never fails. It puts the sins of the past in the past and works to go forward, not adding up the sin to keep using it against the one loved. Though sin may separate us because of the walls that fly up as created by the sin, love does not die, but continues to desire and seek the best for the object of its affections. God sends rain on the just and the unjust because, though sin hinders relationship, love continues.

There are many “Walking Dead” in the earth, beloved. Those who refuse the gift of propitiation love found in Christ are dead in their trespasses and sins. Only as we grow to love others as God loves us will we endure the days of lawlessness ahead of us so that we can continue to reach out into their darkness as His Light. And only as we get understanding of this Love He has for us and calls us to have for others can we truly be a conduit of that love to the unlovable in our midst.

Fully Vested

“Don’t divide your life into things you can do by yourself and things that require God’s help. Learn to rely on Him fully, even when you feel adequate for the task. This discipline will enable you to enjoy life more and to face each day confidently.” (Adapted from Sarah Young’s Devotional from “Jesus Calling” for October 10)

I still have the alarm on my phone set to sound off at 7:31 PM. 7:31PM is a ministry of Living Worshipers, a call to prayer. All participating have an alarm set—suggested to be on their cell so they don’t go off without and can include others when they hear it. The reminder is to take 1 second to 7 minutes every evening at that time to acknowledge God’s sovereignty, in our lives, in our nations, in the world and the whole of creation. He holds the plan of eternity in His hand and it is a time to acknowledge trust in His sovereignty. You may read the call at http://livingworshipers.org/731-pm/.  Though I may only bow for a second in the busyness of life to acknowledge His Sovereignty for life and its circumstances, I love when Holy Spirit gives thought to consider as I bow. This is one such thought.

In her devotional adapted above, Sarah addresses the tendency we often have to “project” ourselves into some anticipated future event with the purpose of making ourselves adequate for the situation while leaving trust in God on the sidelines, however inadvertently. From my own experience of this sin-struggle I know that, though I may be crying out for God to be in control, my hope is for my own sufficiency. Grant it, I know that comes from Him, but I want to be sufficient. In that instance I am so focused on being right, doing my personal best, and having all the right words that I wind up fretting over the situation instead of resting with trust in God.

This habit often leaves me wallowing in anxiety, self-pity, and other such upheavals that rob of peace and joy. It also too often robs me of my present and the opportunities to be had in my here and now.

One example God brought to my remembrance is my first and last women’s retreat speaking engagement. I was in just such a state as I traveled to and went through that time with those precious women. I so wanted to be great at this thing God placed in me to do for Him and His glory. I got wrapped up in my ability to perform and be that caring person that wins the hearts of the women and ministers to them just what they need. Not a bad desire. The problem was that I so wanted to be that person that I forgot that, to do so, I had to first and foremost be the conduit through which God could BE, reaching to them through me. It was not me who could do it, but Him in me. And with Him in me, fully trusting Him to be, what I wanted was assured by Him. I wanted to be that conduit, mind you. But I was so wrapped up in my ability, I missed out on His.

As I recall these things in light of current opportunities, it dawns on me that all I need is to Know my God and His truths. As I focus on Knowing HIM, He will make Himself known though me. I don’t have to fret it or try to be what I think I should be. Knowing Him who is Love will assure that Love flow to be my Artesian Spring of resource and equipping. That is what Jesus did. He KNEW the FATHER intimately and fully TRUSTED Him to make Himself known in and through Him, being in Christ the Living Water flow of His Presence to the people.

That is my greatest desire: to be fully vested in God; trusting Him and His sure supply with absolute commitment and without contingency. KNOWing Him as my Artesian Spring, readily flowing and gushing forth to supply every need, is my need for every opportunity.

Rested in Him, I can and will live today with full focus while trusting tomorrow’s journey to His care with full assurance that He, who is already there, has all made ready in His capable Holy Hands.

“My God will liberally supply and fill to the full your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” ~ Philippians 4:19, AMP.

So, I hope you will join us tonight as we bow in remembrance and in honor of His sovereignty in all things, and do so as fully vested vessels that “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. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday” ~ Psalm 37:3-6, NASB.

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

I wrote the following for my Spark page blog and thought I would share it with you here. SparkPeople is a free healthy lifestyle community I am in. If you struggle to eat right and exercise, it is an excellent site providing resource materials, tools for a successful journey, support from other members, and teams to challenge our journey forward. Whether you are young and relatively healthy, handicapped and in need of support, or older and in need of encouragement to change long held habits, their is a support system for you at http://www.sparkpeople.com. (If you join SparkPeople, tell them TRANSFORM-ABBY  sent you and it will link us as friends. Then be sure to tell me who you are.)

So here is today’s blog share with you:

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

Scripture encourages us to Choose life. That phrase hit my heart this morning as I reread my own status, and I wondered with regard to our Spark journey, “What does that mean anyway?”

My first thoughts went to the passage itself for my answer (Deuteronomy 30). In that passage it tells us to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. So to choose life on this journey is to:

Do good toward ourselves and, in the doing, to do it for those we love as well. When we eat right, we are doing good for self. And providing good things for self generally will make that same provision available for those we love so they, too, wind up eating better. When we do good toward ourselves by moving our bods and making sure we get needed activity it is good for us, yes, but it also provides an example worth following for our children and grandchildren, and even opportunity for them, our mates and other loved ones and friends to join us. So choosing life is to choose the good by doing what is best for ourselves with that good having the potential to impact those closest to us. And doing good for self adds strength to our days so we are better able to do for others.

Choose blessing: I have a note up on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Choose the things that matter most.” Choosing blessing is to have right priorities so that we are blessed in life, enjoying the good things in it, and so we are a blessing in life, giving self and giving our best to others. The example that came to mind is to know when spending time with that grandbaby that is visiting is more important than making sure the furniture is dusted. And which is more important? A baby that feels loved and safe, or harping at them in anger over the fingerprints left for us to clean? Choose blessing by having right priorities.

There are so many thoughts in scripture to direct us in how to choose life: “set your mind and keep it set on the things above, the higher things” (Colossians 3, AMP); “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…do not merely look out for your own personal interests” (Philippians 2); “treat others as you would like to be treated”. And Luke 6:31-33 brings me full circle as it instructs:

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Agape love loves others as we love ourselves, doing good to them, having their best interests at heart. It is not based upon a system of reward only for those we feel deserve it. It is based on who we are. And love for others begins with a love for God that knows how to love oneself, and love others in kind. If I will not do something to or toward myself because it would not be good for me, I must not do that to others. If I do good for another, but fail to do the same for myself, I have committed self-neglect. I cannot take proper care of others if I fail to meet my own needs so I have strength and energy to care for others. Thus we are right back to the point of fact that to have life abundant and full, we must do good toward ourselves and others.

Choose life, beloved, and this journey will be a true blessing that makes a life-journey worth taking.

The Need of the Graphic

Since yesterday’s blog post, where I shared a peak into my youth and exposed a little of myself to you, I have been thinking about graphics.

I am sure you realize, Christian brothers and sisters, that we live in a terribly graphic society. Movies and even games get increasingly realistic. The more real the graphics appear, the better these do at the box office. The news shows us real life action of the storylines of our day. And our graphic society is made most evident in the live-action footage shared on U-Tube type sites where the day’s good and evil acts are posted for all to see: from beheadings, to our grandbaby’s birthday celebrations and their cute antics, all shone in brilliant, lively color.

We are a very graphic society, except where we most need to be.

jesus-stripes
Jesus died graphically that we might be saved. Fear not living graphically that others may know.

As I have considered this topic, I realize that we, the church, are too often muted. I am not just talking about being too quiet. Some of us shout well enough, but we fail to speak the language of the day. I am talking about failing to be clear and real enough to be noticed. We fail to tell people the details of our lives and how God has moved to deliver us, often out of shame, and sometimes because we believe people see enough evil in the world without seeing “mine”. I’m not talking about play by play, gory detail, but enough detail so they understand and see our experiential understanding of the world they live in and the difficulty they face. Beloved, if we cannot match the graphics of the day, not as hanging our dirty laundry out there, but showing the detail of the dirt and contrasting the work of God in delivering us from it, how will we catch the attention of those who are captivated by a very graphic world.

I have often wondered how much stuff my children might have been spared experiencing if I had been more graphic in my instructing and teaching them. It is one thing to tell them, “Save yourself for the marriage bed.” It is another still to say, “1 Here is the mistake I made. 2 Here is how it affected me. 3 This is God’s way that I learned too late. 4 You learn it now so you are spared the mistake. 5 God is faithful and gracious, and here is how He has restored me. 6 But I wish I would have had someone to tell me what I am telling you today so I could be spared the shame and regret and the struggle. 7 I am thankful that God used the struggle to reveal Himself to me in this way. He is gracious, and I am set free. Live the freedom I am teaching you today and spare yourself the need of the grace to heal the wounds of the sin and shame.”

By the way, that I just stated as example is the outline for a graphic testimony. Hang the dirty laundry with the cleaned up version right beside it. Let the contrast be used of God to catch the attention of those looking for help in a world that seems hopeless. People are asking us, “How do you know there is a God.” In a world of graphic evil, destruction, heartache, sorrow, and many whoas, they need to see very graphic proof of God’s work in us.

First Corinthians 14:6-9 fits here, brethren: “Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you SPEAKING IN AN UNKNOWN LANGUAGE, How Would That Help You? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, That Will Be Helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.”

Paul is talking about speaking in tongues, but the same can be applied to our too often religious speeches. We must learn to speak the language of the people so they can understand. In a graphic society, graphic truth is needed, spoken loud and clear above the roar of the world. People need to hear how we know there is a God. Shout it out above the roar, beloved, by speaking clearly and distinctly so as to be heard and understood, and be not ashamed to show graphic proof of how God has made a difference in you.

“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” ~ 1 Peter 3:15.

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Seeking to please man instead of God, our fear of being found out may well be the weapon used against us that is hindering our providing another with the graphic proof of God that will save them the trouble of sin.

Possess Your Own Vessel (Body)

“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to HOW YOU OUGHT TO WALK AND PLEASE GOD (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, YOUR SANCTIFICATION; that is, that you ABSTAIN FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY; that each of you KNOW HOW TO POSSESS HIS OWN VESSEL in sanctification and honor, NOT IN LUSTFUL PASSION, like the Gentiles WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD; And That No Man Transgress And Defraud His Brother In The Matter Because The Lord Is The Avenger In All These Things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, HE WHO REJECTS THIS IS NOT REJECTING MAN BUT THE GOD who gives His Holy Spirit to you” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.

Sexual immorality is rampant in our day, even among those who belong to God. Adultery, fornication, incest, pornography, homosexuality, rape and molestation of innocence: all these are addressed in God’s Word as being against His will for us, and we see it all in our day, in ever increasing prevalence, even among the people of God. I believe all these perversions of God’s ideal way sicken the heart of God who calls us to sanctification that has a vital purpose.

The institution of marriage and the act of marriage, as God intended it to be, is a picture of what our relationship is supposed to be like with our Holy God. It is the giving of oneself fully to one person, able to so greatly trust that person that we can be “naked” – fully exposed before them. Such intimacy is not meant to be shared with any other than the one we are intended for, the one we are to spend our life with. In likeness to our relationship with the One True God, we are to be saved and kept for the one we are meant to be with for all time.

Even to look on another so as to lust after them, which is the business of pornography, is to sin against God and against His holy institution. Premarital experience and fleshly lust rob of experiencing God’s best for us in our relationships and it hinders our ability to trust each other, which is vital to true intimacy. I know this for a fact, not only because of what the Spirit has taught me in God’s word, but unfortunately because of personal experience.

I was sexually active in my youth, not having anyone to teach me these things. I married unwisely to get out of that lifestyle and that marriage ended in divorce. When God brought my husband into my life – and He did! He has made this clear to us in many ways through our years – I struggled over my past as I began to learn the truth of God’s ideal. It hindered our intimacy for a long time, until God healed me of the consequence of my sin, delivering me from the guilt and shame, and set me free indeed. It is my hope in sharing these things that I can spare some of you the pain and struggle.

The pre-marital impurity done by or to those still waiting for their mate-in-Christ is the commission of sin against our Holy God and that intended mate. It is also sin against one’s own flesh, and I am not just talking about STDs or out of wedlock pregnancy.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases and the potential for pregnancy are just part of the consequences we can face. Sexual intimacy with another gets into the depths of our being. When we do find our mate, flashbacks of previous experiences can hit our hearts to bring us to shame. It can keep us from satisfaction with our mates and hinder our healing from that past.

With every act that is not sanctified and set apart in keeping self for one’s future partner, we do harm to these vital relationships as it affects our very personalities and expectations for marital relations. Needing to “practice” so we will be ready for our mate, knowing how to satisfy them, is a lie straight out of hell.

No two people are alike. What one likes and expects, another will abhor. If you “practice” with one and like certain things, then marry another who does not like those same things, you will be constantly dissatisfied with your mate, ill-equipped to satisfy them, and frequently tempted to go back to where your desires can be met. Sexual relations is one area where ignorance is bliss. If you come together in innocence and learn to please each other, you will be satisfied together. When you grow in your intimacy together, learn what each likes, and minister to each other’s needs, that very intimacy satiates desire and makes you one flesh together, protecting you from desire for another.

Realize, beloved one, that until a couple marries, they do not yet know that they will be married. Anything can happen to stop our plans for marriage between the proposal and the “I do”; so “we are getting married” is not a license to take to ourselves the privilege of marriage before we are legitimately wed together. TRUE LOVE WAITS! This false belief that “engaged” is the same as “married” has ruined the gift of purity for many young couples. From the instant of that first kiss of longing that makes one want to touch, all the way to the actual penetration, all of that act of intimacy is sex! It is a gift to be given on the wedding night, AFTER the “I do” is done. Scripturally, marriage does not begin until the parents give the bride to the groom and all human legalities that define marriage are fulfilled.

The next portion of our passage, “That No Man Transgress And Defraud His Brother In The Matter Because The Lord Is The Avenger In All These Things” speaks to me of the insult we do to others through failing to possess our own vessels in sanctity for our marriage partner.

Defraud: to use deceit, falsehoods, or trickery to obtain money, an object, rights or anything of value belonging to another. From the premarital encounter that destroys the gift of purity meant for another, to rape, sexual immorality done with another’s mate or against one’s own mate, any sin of immorality that is done by force against another ~ all of these are transgressions that defraud another. And all of these defraud God, for in that instant we insult the One who loves us most and rob Him of our wholehearted intimacy with Him as God and Lord.

If we are His child, such acts grieve and quench the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Since God is always with and for the believer, we cause pain to His Holy Presence, who is made to experience our sin by virtue of His intimate knowledge of us. Such acts do great harm to our relationship with Him. And it is an act of blasphemy, as it gives God’s name in us, “Christian”, a bad reputation.

I believe the “brother” in this statement toward those we defraud could be translated “brethren,” which would mean: our brothers and sisters in Christ; our family and those we are kin to; those of the same people group; any people whose lives are touched by our sin. Even the angels in heaven who are watching God’s people and the triune-God with whom we are one are adversely affected by our sin.

When we commit adultery, we sin not only with the person we partner with in the act, but we sin against their present or future mate, their children, and all who will be touched by the pain of the consequences brought about by the sin done and exposed to light. And what does it say? “The Lord is the avenger in all things.” So the consequences that come against us because of our sin come from the very hand of God. STDs that destroy our bodies; out of wedlock pregnancies that sideline our plans for the future; marriages ended because of hurt and lack of trust; these consequences and more are allowed by God because of our sin. HE WHO REJECTS THIS IS NOT REJECTING MAN BUT GOD.

Pray as God leads you today for yourself, those you love, and all God brings to your heart today. If you have committed these sins already, repent, stop what you are doing, get right with God and seek godly council to help you correctly deal with the sin done.

Pray for the body of Christ to be sanctified and set apart in purity, delivered from perversion, and to know how to possess their own body in obedience to the Father. It is better to be a eunuch by choice than to commit acts of such sin and face the wrath of our Holy God.

Jesus-Bride006If you are one who has been hurt by such sin, forgive for your own sake, so that you can be in right standing with God, able to get His perspective on the issue, and seek godly council to help you find healing and strength to carry on. Unforgiveness, bitterness and anger will hurt you! Do not hold on to these but seek the healing power of God to equip you to entrust these hurts to Him.

Whichever side of the insult you are on, beloved, whether the sinner or the one sinned against, God will heal you. He will enable you to love and to trust again as you seek His face and His grace, which is sufficient for ALL THINGS. And, as I can attest to, His healing can establish your ability to experience true intimacy with your mate, renewing the gift He intended you to give to each other alone.

The Stand ~ Hillsong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV5iZBTNYrk&list=PLfiEjLIYhJ9BycuYe34CTDe-q9HZzszNs&index=4

Destructive Heart Issues

I miss my daddy. I have missed him for a long time. You see, my dad was the most loving, caring, giving man I have ever known. He would give the shirt off his back if it would help. And he was often trusting of others to his own harm. He tried to see and think the best of people.

It was not until his elder years that I was also introduced to his insecurities and hurts. He had many hurts in his heart because of things others did or did not do. And those hurts sat there, hidden, until he could hide them no longer.

In his latter years he became increasing less trusting, and the bitterness that came of the festering heartache became more evident. For those closest to him, his bitterness and anger and suspicious nature became difficult to see day after day. His lack of ability to trust and his bitterness that came out more and more incessantly through his words, facial expressions, and actions began to erode his relationships. It was the saddest thing to me, to see this very sanguine tempered, outgoing man, close himself off more and more from life and from people who loved him.

Such is the way of anger, bitterness, and contention. It is destructive, and it robs us of life and love and joy and peace. And, as we observed with my daddy, it robs us of who we are and always have been. Bitterness and anger robs of the ability to see things as they truly are. Lack of trust leads to slanderous statements given out of obscured observations. The one who is hurting becomes the one who hurts.

I am not telling you this to put my daddy down. I love my daddy. Father took him Home last November and freed him from the pain and heartache he carried. And Father graciously removed the pain and heartache that has such potential to rob me of the memory of the man I knew my daddy to be. He has replaced the hurt and heartache with memories of the good days, freed me through His Spirit-given ability to forgive. And in the areas where daddy’s obscured accusations crushed my heart, God has filled me with understanding that He knows the truth and I can stand before Him with confidence when my day comes to meet Him in the air.

I do tell you this to bring you to alertness over your own heart. Hurts and heartaches need to be dealt with in right ways that free us from anger and bitterness. Having courage to address issues with those we are hurt by; having ability of Spirit to forgive “for My Own sake” as Father forgives, so we can let it go and continue on in relationships unhindered by bitterness, anger, etc. (Isaiah 43:25): These are vital skills to develop in our day.

I urge you, if you are one snared by such destructive heart issues to seek sound counsel from godly people who can help you grow past the hurt to healing in Christ. In the words of Paul, I implore, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” ~ Ephesians 4:31-32.

Relationships can be hard work, but broken relationships brought about by inability to forgive and show grace are destructive to all concerned, and mostly to the one bearing the grudge within themselves. If you are in such a state, I pray the Lord will equip you to love, forgive, and live life to the full in good relationships with those who so long for that love connection with you.

Word of Life: Review and Final Word of Encouragement

This series started as God spoke to my heart things I need to remember and put into practice as I see things in our day that disturb the heart and have me watching more steadily to the East for the Rising Son. Then, as I shared in our intro, the Spirit led to realization that something coming upon the earth will happen soon, causing the hearts of even the elect to quake. In preparation for knowing how we are to face such days, this study began.

By way of review, our study began in the intro with a call to remember that God is God and we are not, therefore we must trust in, lean on, rely on and be confident in Him. As the Architect and Builder, He holds the plans for all eternity in His Holy hands. He alone has the full blueprint. We see in part and know in part, but He sees fully with full knowledge. We must trust Him in these days that even the chaos and the quaking yet to be revealed are birthing pangs leading to the great things of God. (See the intro)

In our days together, we have covered many Words for Life that will see us safely through the birthing process. To come through this time of new birth, we must to ACTIVELY ABIDE in all that God’s word instructs us to abide in, especially in His Light. As things around us grow steadily dark, signaling the passing of the old and the birthing of all God’s design and desire, it is vital that we remain in His Light and be His Light to dispel the dark and draw those in who are open to the truth. (See blog post 2 of this series)

One reason we must be faithful to abide in His light is because darkness can cause even the elect to question whether He even exists and if His saving grace is real. God is weeding and pruning in these days, revealing those who say they have faith, but, having a head knowledge of God,  do not truly believe from the heart (see 1 John 2:18-19; John 15:6); and pruning off branches from those who do truly believe, but still hold to the old that hinders fruit bearing (John 15:1-8).

In the Light of God we are able to know that He is faithful and His Saving Grace through Jesus is true; the full payment – propitiation for sin. To weather the coming storms, we must TRUST THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD AND HIS PROVISION for our eternal destiny. And we must trust with believing hearts that JESUS IS OUR ADVOCATE, forever and always interceding before the throne of God on our behalf, day and night. (See blog post 3 of this series)

Blog 4, “Sanctified – Set Apart”, reminds us that, like Esther, we are here for such a time as this. God has a purpose for us to fulfill in working with Him as builders on His eternal project. To fulfill our purpose we must have our minds and hearts set on the things above, the higher things of God’s eternal purpose and plan.

A major aspect that is needful for our living Sanctified – Set Apart lives is learning that we are called and EQUIPPED to BE as He is (blog 5). We are given His Spirit whose number one work in us is to restore the IMAGE we were meant to have: that of being like God in all aspects of our character and nature, will and purpose, thought and emotion / desire, deed and action. Scripture calls us the Body of Christ. We are to be an extension of all that He is, able to complete the work of Christ in the earth as His hands, feet, heart, mouth, etc. It is vital in these days that we find our place in His body and become all He desires us to be for His use in these days.

Then the blog posted yesterday on “Kingdom Reality” (blog 6) calls us to realize if we haven’t already, that our eternity began the day we said “I do” to Jesus, becoming part of His bride that is being made ready for Him. In that instant, we became citizens of the Kingdom of God, having authority and responsibility as part of the Royal Court to fulfill Kingdom purpose in this world. Like Queen Esther, we are here for a purpose. If we truly know Jesus as Savior and the triune Godhead as Lord, we are now and always will be of God’s Kingdom, and not only of God’s Kingdom, but of the Royal Court of Christ, working out of His authority. So act like it. Remember it. Let that reality direct our decisions and actions, our thoughts and desires, and our way of treating others.

In this final blog, I must remind us, as John did, “Children, it is the last hour,” and antichrist is alive and well in our day (1 John 2:18-23).

The war of terror brought by “radical Islamists” is the spirit of antichrist. People like one of my nieces, who say, “no god is my judge”, is ensnared by the spirit of antichrist. All who come against Christendom and the Jewish population out of which the Christ was birthed, whether a people group or a philosophy, that true enemy force is antichrist. All that seeks to lead God’s people from their faith and the truth we are to live is antichrist. Thus it is vital in our day that we:

Test our faith (2 Corinthians 13:5): *1 John*; Romans; *Galatians* – Colossians; these are excellent texts to read, praying for the Spirit to bring us to true and right evaluation of ourselves as to our hope in Christ and whether we are of true faith (Romans 12:3).

Just believing that Jesus is, is not enough beloved. Even the demons believe and they shudder (James 2:19), but their faith is not that of one who is saved for all eternity, one with Christ in His Body and part of the Bride – citizen of His Kingdom. There is more to it than just believing Jesus is / was. If our faith in Him does not bring His Spirit to possess us (1 Peter 2:9; John 16) and change us from the inside out to be as He is, producing the fruit of God in us (Matthew 7:15-23), we need to make sure of our position in Him. Today is the day of salvation, beloved, for JESUS IS returning at an hour we do not know, and on that day it will be too late to make that decision. Be sure of His calling and equipping you for all eternity.

Test the spirits (1 John 4:1): “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” ~ 1 John 4:1-6.

Beloved, I can’t say it better than that. If the Spirit of God resides in us, He testifies with the truth. If what I have shared is truth, the Spirit of God in you has done summersaults within you, confirming for you that these things are of God and convicting our hearts that these truths are to be heeded with understanding and with determination to do them. Even testing to see if we have the Spirit of God can be done by simply asking, do I truly believe all that Jesus says about Himself and all that others of scripture profess as truth concerning Him and is that understanding effecting the way I live, think, and prioritize life?

When we do doubt, and even the strongest can have moments of weakened faith, the Spirit quickly rises to assure the heart of the one who is truly His through Christ. If the Spirit within confirms our faith, we have hope of eternity and are called and equipped to become as He is, the very image of God, bearing the fruit of it. If we have doubt that remains, today is the day of salvation!

“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning (the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth). IF WHAT YOU HEARD FROM THE BEGINNING ABIDES IN YOU, YOU ALSO WILL ABIDE IN THE SON AND IN THE FATHER. This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.

“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing (Spirit) which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing (Spirit) teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him (in God by the Spirit of God)” ~ 1 John 2:24-27 (Authors notes of understanding).

BE Strong and Courageous:

“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, THAT WE WOULD BE CALLED CHILDREN OF GOD; and such we are.

“For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. …”

Antichrist is all that does not know or acknowledge God in all His fullness, especially the Christ who is our propitiation. The “world” is all that is dictated by the wisdom of the spirit of antichrist. That world sees that we are the Children of God because of our faith in Christ that brings to us the hope of eternity with Him, making us to be as He is; and being convicted, they hate us because they hate Christ because of the spirit of antichrist within them. That world spirt will come against us more and more as the day of Christ’s return draw near. Therefore we must be strong and courageous, drawing ever nearer to God, assured of the Spirit and the faith that is in us, filled with His Spirit, and ready to give an account for the hope that is in us, in season—when it is popular, and out of season—when it is not popular.

The birthing pangs we are experiencing are those of the coming tribulation that will usher in the 1000 year reign of Christ and the final and forever defeat of Satan and his evil. And, unfortunately, it will bring the destruction of all who are enslaved by the spirit of antichrist and fail to turn to receive the Spirit of Christ. But 7 years of tribulation will lead into that final hour of judgment and condemnation of antichrist in all its forms.

I am of the belief system that we who are now in Christ will be raptured out at the beginning of the tribulation period. Scripture seems most to teach that philosophy. But there is precedence for a later rapture time, and we must be ready for either scenario. We must test our faith and the Spirit in us to be sure that we are ready when He comes to go with Him, ready to stand before His throne with confidence in Him and His advocacy for us. And we must be strong and courageous, so if we are part of the tribulation saints who will suffer those days, we will have the ability to stand firm in our faith even when antichrist comes to kill us. That spirit of evil is doing and will do all he can to destroy those who truly and sincerely believe with whole heart.

“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” ~ 1 John 2:28-3:3.

Cling to the Hope that is within you, and let no one and no thing steal IT from you or you from IT! Realize these are the last days, and many are perishing because of the spirit of antichrist that rules the world and it philosophy / wisdom. Be bold and courageous to share your faith wherever you are able, with hope that the Spirit of God will use it to deliver yet another ensnared by sin before it is too late.

Matthew 11’s Dot to Dot

Reading chapter 11 of Matthew, suddenly all these dots begin to connect. You know what? Matthew 11 is one exciting chapter of scripture! Picture this:

John the Baptist is imprisoned, probably being mistreated, ridiculed and scorned, and I am sure he realizes his time on earth is short. So, like most of us would do, he begins to wonder if his ministry was really what he thought it was. So he sends his most trusted disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are You truly Him?” How does Jesus answer?

“Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.”

Jesus not only taught that the tree (or true believer) will be known by its fruit, whether it be good or evil, but when asked if He is HIM, He did not simply say “Yes, I AM”, He said “Tell him of the fruit you see that proves Me to be.” In so doing, Jesus assured the heart of John to believe he himself is who he was sent by God to be: the voice in the wilderness preparing the way for Messiah.

Once they left, Jesus turned to the crowed and told them the fruit born through John that proved who he was, in essence saying, “In fact, he is Elijah, returned in flesh as promised.” In so doing, he removed the speculations of those who wondered if John was truly a prophet of God or what. Afterall, if he is God’s profit, wouldn’t God deliver him from the hands of his enemy?

Then Jesus prayed to the Father, and what does He say? Essentially He says, “Father, no one else truly knows who I AM, but You know Me and I know You. So it doesn’t matter to Me what others may say about Me. My assurance is in You.” And why did He pray so? He was giving example to us, as was a large part of His purpose in the world.

Training Yoke
Training Yoke

And what comes next but that well known and beloved passage, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

What do I hear here, in light of the previous connected dots of those wondering who they or another truly are? I see Jesus saying, “When life in this world gets so rough that you begin to question not only your own worth and who you really are, along with whether the produce of your hands is accomplishing any good thing – but also maybe you begin to wonder if I am truly who I AM, then come to Me. I will remind you who I am and who you are, and you will find rest and restoration when you yoke with Me in assurance of faith.”

And what is accomplished by yoking with Him? I see:

†   The cooing of love for His betrothed child of God made sure to you who believe.

†  Growing our faith in Who He is.

†   Firming up what He knows to be your person and purpose.

†   Training in righteousness, restoring the image of God through Christ and in the power of His Spirit.

†   Assurance of purpose.

†   Strength and supply for success in accomplishing all God’s will in all God’s way.

†   Intimacy of relationship.

†   Safety of presence.

†   Aid in time of need.

†   Unity from the heart.

†   Undeniably proof of being in the eternal Kingdom now and forevermore.

Beloved, if no one recognizes the work of God born into the world through you, like Jesus you may take courage in knowing that the Father knows you and you know Him, and He is faithful to assure our hearts. And when life is so difficult you begin to wonder, “Lord, are you truly Him and am I truly Yours,” He has a yoke that is light and easy to bear, where you can stand hand in hand with Christ, finding assurance and supply along with rest for your weariness.

Come, beloved. Yoke with Christ today, receiving assurance of who He truly is, and the beauty of who you are in Him.