Tag Archives: Life

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 11

The Delight of His Kingdom

“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. 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 3:1-3).

Children of God: Princes and Princesses of the Kingdom. We are part of the royal court. God rejoices over each one of us, and the more we come to look like His Firstborn Son, the more joy we bring to Him.

The only real goal we need to have for life more abundant and full is to grow strong in our likeness to Christ, purifying ourselves as God is pure; wholly belonging to the Father, being passionate about Him and all He that is passionate over. If we do this one thing, our weight will line out as we surrender our health practices to Him. We will overcome health issues, if not finding our healing this side of glory, then finding our strength in the wait for the healing. As we learn to deal with the situations and circumstances of life as He would, we will have peace in knowing that we followed Him and we can trust Him to deal with the situation in due season.

Like Jesus, we are to strive to live lives as children of His kingdom in our here and now experience. Jesus spent a lot of time teaching about the Kingdom and what it looks like. That is a clue to us that we should know how the Kingdom of God functions and looks so we can be an expression of His Kingdom as His ambassadors to the world, completing His work of making the Kingdom of God known in the earth.

In doing so, we also must realize that though we are of His Kingdom already, secure in our citizenship, we are not in the Kingdom yet. Thus the reason Jesus prayed that though we are in the world, we would not be of the world (John 17:13-19). Our lives are to continue His work of expressing the Kingdom lifestyle into our surroundings.

We have covered the Kingdom life before in other studies, and I don’t want to belay our time here spending too much time on that again, but just by way of review for those who have read my materials for long and intro to the new reader, let’s touch on a few of the aspects of the Kingdom life that should be in us. The Kingdom is:

†   Love – God is love and those who are truly His will love as He loves for His love abides in them and will flow through them, even to the unlovable (1 John 2-5; Matthew 5:43-48).

†   One – Those who truly belong to God are one with the Son, who makes us one with the Father and with one another. There is unity in the Kingdom and we are to work together toward unity in the earth (John 17; Matthew 12:25-28).

†   Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost – By the power of the Spirit at work in us, we strive to be righteous as He is righteous; we enter into His peace provided for us even in the difficult seasons of life in a fallen world; and we have joy in Him because He empowers us to know our God and trust His hand (John 12-16; Romans 14:17).

†   Kingdom Revelation – The Kingdom is no longer mysterious to the true believer, for it is given for us to know, understand and proclaim His Kingdom on earth; it is ever growing within us; it is a treasure worth discovering and possessing for oneself; it is a resource to us, equipping us to separate the good worth keeping from that which is to be cast away (Matthew 13).

We could go on, but suffice to say that ours is to possess and release the Kingdom of God on the earth in ways that encourage all who will to enter in with us. We are in the world, though not of the world: we are of the Kingdom while yet we await our entrance for all eternity.

While in the world, we are warned, “For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1). We are in the world, but because we do not behave as those of the world, they often find us strange and disagreeable to their way. They cannot know, recognize or understand us because they do now know, recognize or understand Him (Amplified). John 15:18-21 warns:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.”

It is not us they truly persecute; but it is our ways that are not their own. And when they come against us because our ways are not like theirs, it is not truly us they come against, but Christ in us. They do not know, recognize as legitimate or acknowledge the righteousness of our ways because they do not know, recognize or acknowledge Him. Those who stand in opposition to God and His ways, naturally find themselves standing in opposition to all who represent Him and His ways.

Kingdom life is upside down to that of the ways of the world. We love those who hate us, choosing to do good toward them where we can. We find peace in the midst of turmoil; joy in the Lord within the pages of life’s sorrows; and when we are weak, that is when we are truly strong. We do not walk the paths of life as the world does, but while on paths with them we walk the straight and narrow way of the Father. And we seldom fret as the world does, coming quickly to remember and realize our limitless supply is made sure through His grace toward us who believe. This is our call, to finish the work of Christ in our day, making His Kingdom known to all who will hear.

“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23).

“And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing” (Luke 9:2).

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 8

Joyful Cross Bearing

Jesus, in Luke 9:23, said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (NLT).

The Amplified version clarifies the call to “deny self” as “disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself.” And it says of those who choose to respond to Jesus’ “follow Me” as including “cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also.” To me, our passage for today in First John is the call to complete the sufferings of Christ by choosing to take up our cross daily and follow Him.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever” (1 John 2:15-17, AMP).

Too often I hear people define the cross we bear as things that are beyond our control: sickness in our bodies that we can do nothing about, wayward children, a philandering husband, etc. That is so far from the truth. Jesus did not have to bear the cross. He chose too. He even told His disciples when they started to fight to save Him from arrest, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54)

Just as taking up His cross was His to choose, so is our cross. And it is a daily choice of denying self so as to follow Jesus. This passage speaks of one thing that most often hinders our cross bearing. Let’s break it down to discover what that is.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. …”

Love of the world and the things of the word will definitely stand in the way of self-denial and choosing to follow Jesus through cleaving to Him and His ways. When we choose the world and its pleasures, we deny our love for Jesus and choose to love the world over our love for Him and the Father. We cannot love both. That is what this passage is saying.

The world is polar opposite to God and His ways. To choose the world, we must walk away from God. And what is it that the world appeals to in luring us away from our call to bear the cross with Jesus? Self-interest.

“…For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. …”

The world appeals to our flesh through our craving for sensual gratification. Don’t mix “sensual” up with “sexual”. Sensual gratification has to do with the body’s sensory systems that love to be pleasured. That includes our taste buds, music preferences, desire for freedom from every form of pain that is too often used to lead us into addictions that cover up that pain, etc. These are the things that appeal to our physical appetites, and yes, that can and often does include our sexual appetites. The world loves to draw us away from God by appealing to our sensual appetites.

This passage also warns of the world’s appeal to us through a particular sensory organ, our eyes—further defined here as the “greedy longings of the mind.” Think on a desire too long and we will give into it.

Take, for example, my Spark Journey. Try as I may, I struggle constantly to find victory and freedom over my desire for sweets. Why? I see one I like, and though I may walk away successfully, my mind will start thinking about how good it tastes, how the texture is on my tongue, etc. The next thing I know, though it may take several days of thinking, I will fall away from my commitment to stay away from the sweets. Once I taste that sweet, it re-enlivens the desire for more and off on a binge I go.

The world and the desire it parades before us is not our friend. It is a pawn in the hand of the enemy of God that wants to keep us ensnared to the sins of the flesh, working hindrance to our relationship with God. And what does that enemy often use to defeat us? Our own sense of pride, rightly defined here as assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things.

Continuing our example above, do you know what knocks me down for the count every time I fall to snacking on sweets? Pride spurred by frustration to say, “I should be able to do this. I am stronger than this pull to sweets. I can do this”; All the while forgetting that though I can do this, I can do nothing apart from Christ, who is my strength.

Then there is the pride seen in the pity party: “Oh, I fell again. I am never going to get this. I may as well quit trying.” Yes, this is a strike against one’s sense of pride as it centers on the failure of one to have power, forgetting where one’s power is found; calling God a liar who says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Does God never give us anything out of the world? Yes, He does. But when He gives it, whatever it is, it is always for use toward our good and His glory. He gives me and you food for the building up of the body so we may have strength to live good days on the earth, bringing glory to Him whom we look to for our provision. But when we love the world and the things in the world, we go after those things for the sake of meeting our sensual appetites and we glorify the world for its bounty. When we seek God first and foremost, what does He say?

“…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well…” (Matthew 6:25-34). And what is God’s promise in our passage today, given to us who will take up our cross daily, denying self to follow Jesus.

“…he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.”

Life more abundant and full, with all the provision needed for life, belongs to those who complete the suffering of Christ through denying self, daily, in order to please God alone.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 1

Introduction

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

“Lacking in Christ’s afflictions”? The day that statement from Paul caught my attention, I began a quest to understand what it means and how it is that we fill up that which remains to be done. I mean, after all, Jesus on the cross shouted, “It is finished!” In His prayer in John 17, He said to the Father, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (vs. 4).  What is there that remains lacking?

There are several passages that speak of the sufferings or afflictions of Christ, such as Paul’s proclamation in Philippians 3:10-11 talking about his ultimate goal in life being: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Considering these words from Paul, we can surmise that fellowship with His sufferings is part of the process that makes us one together with Him. It is part of the recipe that resurrects in us the Life of Image Bearers that God intended we have.

In this study, which looks like it will take a couple of weeks to cover unless God has more to say than I do, we will see what we can discover about the afflictions of Christ, what they are, and how we have fellowship with His sufferings as we walk with understanding in this journey to filling up what is lacking.

Our text for this study will be the book of 1 John, in which I see many thoughts that give us a picture of our responsibilities that accomplish this call of Paul given to us through his example. Like with so much of the teachings found in the word of God, this study will be a good start to our journey of discovering God’s will for us as people called to this fellowship.

I hope you will join me these next two weeks as we look at this subject. The words “afflictions” and “sufferings” I know do not make this an appealing subject, but I believe you will be pleasantly surprised at the things God has shown me as we consider this vital aspect of our walk with Him. Looking forward to getting started, I anticipate seeing you back here tomorrow as we begin to look at 1 John and find that this work of suffering with Christ truly is cause for rejoicing as we see the fruit produced in it.

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 4

Door Jambs

I thought I was finished with this when I put the last post up; then the refrigerator door jammed open.

Prayerfully considering my options for lunch, I settle on a Spinach Scramble. The Spinach prepped and the skillet heating, I reach into the fridge for the remaining ingredients needed: eggs, cheese, and butter. Setting all down on the cabinet, turning to plop a little butter in the skillet to melt in readiness for the Spinach to go in next, I realize the fridge door is still wide open. It hung on the drawer the cheese was in; left open wide, it jammed the fridge.

Laughing at myself as I shut it, I thought, “Well, there ought to be a devotional thought in that.” Little did I know that God was adding a continuation to this thought on Love So Pure, but as I consider the thoughts that door jamb brought to me, here I am again with part 4.

Thinking on the open fridge, I realized that our lives are food storage pantries and refrigerators to our God. He feeds us through His Word the good things needed to sustain us personally, providing fuel for a life of abundance. But He also supplies for us to be used of Him to feed others out of the storehouses He entrusts to our care as testimony of His work in our lives and our day.

One day along our journey we see God fling open a door of opportunity for us to share sustenance, breaking the Bread of Life with someone in need. As we consider the door before us, held open by the very Spirit of God, suddenly we realize our refrigerator door is ajar, jammed open by some hidden drawer of our life in which we hold to food that hinders and hurts us: we’ll call these the junk-food drawers.

This is when we find ourselves to be a whole lot like Moses, in whose life God worked mightily to provide for him and show His love for him. God had a plan for his life that would make him a conduit through which God could make His love and provision clear to Israel, freeing them from every form of bondage. But Moses fridge was ajar, held open by drawers well stocked with the junk food this world and our flesh feeds us:

Fear: “Oh no, Lord. If I go there, Pharaoh will kill me.” Or ours may sound more like, “Oh, God, I couldn’t possibly do that! I am too shy,” just another way of saying, “I am slave to internal fear of what others may think of me or the unexpected thing that might happen to harm me.” In other words, we do not trust God in affective ways that make us one with Him and His supply.

Inadequacy: “Not me, Lord, for I am slow of speech.” “Lord, I am not talented enough to do that.” “Lord, I am too immature. Sally knows more than I do. Send her,” not realizing that Sally grew to where she is by jumping in feet first to see what the Lord would do, jumping in faith from the exact same spot we find ourselves in now.

Insecurity: “I am not good enough, O God. How can I do something like that?” We fail to realize that God can scarcely use those who feel good enough in themselves. He is looking for willing vessels that will let Him use them beyond their personal ability. Those who think they have it all together usually want to do it themselves, having a junk food drawer full of self: self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, self-reliance, self-preoccupation in abundance. When we know we can’t do “it” without God, we are the perfect one for the job.

Self-Condemnation: “Lord, they know me. Who am I to instruct them? And why would they listen to such a sinner as I.” Who better to instruct others from your position of understanding where they are? It helps me to understand that a “testimony” is “evidence in support of a fact or assertion; proof.” What better proof than that of a life changed forever by His supply? And what better one to tell of it than one who knows and is grateful for the work of God in delivering them from sin’s grip.

On we could go with drawer after drawer placed in our lives by fleshly, worldly, and demonic wisdom that keeps us from sharing all God is doing for us with those who need to see and know His love and supply that is available to “whosoever will believe.”

God fully supplies us out of His love for our good and His glory, giving us a testimony to have ready to share in due season: we are His living proof, living stones of testimonial about His current work in our age. He gifts us to have a comfort to give in comforting others. In this way, we share His love and help others to freedom from captivity.

Beloved, this I give to you from my pantry of supply and my fridge where the clean foods reside. I have to feast on this morsel of Grace sufficient often: “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

Be filled up with Him, beloved, and trust His supply for you. There are lost people, dead in their sins, all around us. Our junk-food drawers work hindrance to His ability to pour His love fully to and through us. We must be willing vessels, cleansed, filled to over flowing and rested in His hands for His use in pouring out His glorious presence, power and love through us to those we love, like or run across for a moment in time.

When a drawer hangs open to provide opportunity for the enemy to discourage or dissuade you, yes, look to see what is in there, but also look to see what God has placed in storage within you for use in overcoming the temptation to the junk food being offered. Then seek the Lord to help you clear out that drawer and remove that foothold of satanic forces from your life, making the space available for His supply.

~*~

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

“…Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass…” (Recommended reading: 1 Thessalonians 1-5).

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 3

Power Supply 

“Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?” (Mark 12:24)

~*~

We covered in Part 1 my struggle and how God used it to grow my understanding of His Love-flow and the heartache it brings Him when that flow toward us is hindered. In Part 2 we looked at God’s love that reaches out to the lost and what it means for those who refuse it.

Now, in Part 3, before some of us who call ourselves “Christian” get haughty against our lost brethren in the realm of mankind; realize that some of us use Christ as fire insurance just as some of Israel did with the sacrifice of cattle. We profess Him with our mouths, but our hearts are not in Him.

Even some who truly are saved by grace through faith live lives that are less than our potential in Christ; His sacrifice has not been received as one that brings life to us, reuniting us with God in ways that change us from the inside out. We fail to tap into the power that He sends us for our supply in performing all His good will and way toward fulfilling His purpose and plan.

My Daddy told me a story the other day that illustrates our plight.

A man he knew bought one of the first Volker’s Wagons that came out on the market, understanding that it would get much better gas mileage than his big car. To his chagrin, it proved much less effective than he believed it would be, so, trying to save some money, he started filling it only half full. Over the next few weeks, he rejoiced with amazement over the great mileage he was getting. Then he learned that someone had been siphoning his tank, and that stopped when they could no longer reach the gas with their hose.

This is how we who profess Christ too often live. We become disappointed that God’s supply is not what we thought it would be for us when we first came to profess belief in Him and His promises. Little do we realize that we are being robbed blind because of a lack of understanding of our situations and the way God works in life. So we get rid of the “vehicle”, letting our relationship with Him slide to the wayside, thinking it a farce, or we go about life only half full.

As we said in part 2, some profess faith in Christ, but their profession is just for show, to fit in with the crowd. These are as those who bought the car because it was new and they would look good to others. They don’t really expect to get anything out of it. They may function well in the church and seem to have power in them, but their power is their own and their goodness is not that produced through relationship that is supplied by God. They are in a show-car, having no real ownership of it.

Some profess relationship with Christ strictly because they believe He will make life easy here and now. As soon as the worries of life and struggle of temptation hit to discourage their journey, they die off. The root of faith never sprouts to take hold in them, so they burn up and walk away from the experience. They are as those who purchased the car, found it lacking from what they expected, and discarded it as useless.

These two groups above, who profess faith in Christ with their mouths, never receiving the work of righteousness within them, are as lost as those who have yet to come to know that they have a choice in life. It is one thing to know of Christ; it is another entirely to be in relationship with Him. Even the demons believe He is the Christ, and they cringe knowing their end because they have nothing of Him within themselves. Take care that your faith is not that of the demon.

Those who truly profess Christ will be affected by Him in ways that change them from a sinner enslaved to sin, to the righteousness of God in action and deed, thought and desire. These are made righteous for eternity instantly by the finished work of Christ over them, and experientially as they grow in grace to live in obedience while on the earth.

Too often we come to faith believing that we will see instant change in our here and now lives, and life will be easy from then on. Our misunderstanding and false expectations leave us unprepared to deal with the flesh, the world and demons siphoning our tanks and discouraging our experience. Those who truly know Him but are not prepared for the struggle that can come as God’s Spirit works to bring the flesh and our will into agreement with the Father are those who too often run on half a tank. Unwilling to deal with the struggle full commitment brings and pay the price of the gas through obedience against all opposition, they settle for half the power potential God brings to life.

The Father loves the Bride fully. Through the Son, she (the body of Christ) enters into familial relationship with the Father, becoming His child; sons and daughters made whole in Christ. In the instant we come into relationship with God through Christ, we receive all His love and care because of that relationship; the blood of Christ, God’s gift of grace to us, covering our sin so the Father can relate with us one on one. And the ring of promise on our finger is the Spirit of God within us that seals the deal for all eternity. We are sealed in the Spirit, and that seal cannot be broken. Our eternity is made sure in Him, but our here and now is still influenced by fleshly understanding and desires / lusts, worldly wisdom, and demons who work hard to discourage us and feed us lies that keep us from knowing and living in God’s full supply. These syphon our tanks and make us weak from lack of realizing our full supply in Christ.

Our challenge as the people of God is to trust God’s supply. We must realize that we are in the world and the world and all that are part of it seek to steal our supply and drain our tanks so we do not see the full effect of God’s work in our lives. To have full supply and function in it, we must learn that though we are in the world, we are not of the world. We are already of the Kingdom of God having full access to its resources by faith, able to experience it here in our now living.

God is ready to supply us with all we need to walk in freedom from those who rob our lives of sufficiency and hinder our journey with Him. For that we have to put a lock cap on our tank; and that lock cap is believing-faith. Believing-faith opens us up in the Spirit, equipping us to recognize and receive God’s supply, no matter how hard the hill we have to climb. Believing-faith covers our supply spout with rested trust in God, knowing that all He allows has a purpose that is taking us to a better place in life. Our supply protected by believing-faith, we are equipped for obedience no matter the pit or curves the enemy of our journey throws into our path.

Believing His word to me all these years that the love pouring into me was from Him, His supply for service in meeting needs this man of God has in his ministry as a modern day Paul, and refusing to let go of faith despite my experience in my struggle with the experience of His love welling up in me is what kept me from running from a lesson that has taught me more about His great love than I would have known otherwise. Faith trusts in God fully and rests in Him despite circumstance to learn the things that change our perspective, bringing us in line with His thoughts and His understanding, making us more like Him; a conduit for His flow to reach our world and change lives. That faith shakes the snakes and vipers off the hand to press forward unharmed by its venom; leaving others standing in awe as they recognize God with us, working in our lives (Acts 4:13).

God desires to fill us up and spill us out to His glory. Sometimes that means taking us through difficult times of training that unclog the fuel system so our tanks are clear and ready to receive of His supply. In our journey with Him, supplied by His grace sufficient for every need and strengthened to face every challenge, God uses our circumstances to remove ugly roots and rocks of stumbling out of the way, where it cannot hinder our reaching His desired destination for us.

Are you going through a difficult time and wondering where God is in it? I was encouraged the other day when I read this picture that was posted on FaceBook: “When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always quiet during a test. Trust in the Lord” (See Psalm 37). Though God may be quiet for a time, and His hands may seem harsh at work in us while getting us into a place of pliability for His molding and shaping, He is always right there with us, doing a good work in our lives.

I hope this encourages you to face the time of struggle with greater faith when the enemy of God seeks to siphon your tank and make you think God’s supply is insufficient. Stand believing and see what the Lord will do. Though the road of your journey may be long and bumpy, He will not leave you disappointed with the outcome. What He will leave you with is a testimony for use in helping others to His grace sufficient for every need.

~*~

“I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8).

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 10b

This has been an awesome journey for me. I cannot tell you what God has taught me and done in my life as we have walked with one another through this time. Seeing all these truths flow together has been like putting the puzzle pieces in order and finally seeing the full picture of what God is showing me personally: a portrait worth affixing to the backing I call “my life”, hanging it up for all to see. My hope is in God that the communication of the things in my heart flowed to the pages of this text well enough to help your journey as it has mine.

Today we conclude our study of “Dispelling the Darkness” as we continue our look at 1 Peter 2:4-10: having covered 4-8 yesterday, we continue through verses 9 and 10 adding to our understanding of who we are in Christ.

“But 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” (vs. 9-10).

As living stones with Christ, we are:

A Chosen Race

We become part of the household of the chosen people of God when we enter the gate that is Christ:

“‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’ …So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Matthew 7:13-14; John 10:7-10).

Those He calls He also chooses, and as we choose Him, we enter through the gate to walk the narrow way found in life through Christ. God turns none away who come with repentant heart, sincerely desiring the new life provide through His Son.

Do you struggle with a spirit of rejection, beloved? To us in Christ, God says, “You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you” (Isaiah 41:9). So smile and take heart. You are not alone and you are not cast away. We are chosen to be…

A Royal Priesthood

We are back at 1 Peter 2:4-5, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a HOLY PRIESTHOOD, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

In Christ we are birthed into the lineage of Levi, made one with Christ in a holy priesthood. He is now High Priest forever, interceding on our behalf before the Father. The curtain is torn and cast away because He stands perpetually in the Holy of Holies as Advocate on our behalf; thus slinging wide the doors so we may enter in through Him, the Narrow Way, to address the Father in the name of Jesus: we are Christ’s own beloved representatives. We are enabled through Christ to be the beloved children God desired we be from the start, having communion and walking with Him in the garden of our lives. Thus we are Royal Priests with all the responsibility that blessed position holds.

I believe we pretty well covered that role yesterday as we went through the traits of living stones, but let us apply that now here as a beginning toward understanding the role of our priestly estate. As priests unto God:

† We call all to the time of response to the Holy Sacrifice for sin, announcing Messiah as the Holy Lamb provided by God, calling all to repentance and to restoration with God through Jesus.

† We encourage others to turn from sin to God, bringing to the altar in their body the sacrifice of denying self to follow Christ, so He may reign in all who respond through Life, making us holy, consecrated to the Father.

† We grow strong in God’s truths, His law and His ways, proclaiming them to all in need of greater understanding of their application in our day. We not only proclaim these truths, but we walk them out in our daily lives, not living as hypocrites that say one thing while doing another, but realizing that we represent Him and His interests in the world as ambassadors of Christ. Thus we walk as He walked, honoring God as Lord, following Him as Master; and we live as He lived, denying self to meet others at their point of need, with hope that they might enter into this blessed union with us.

† We rejoice over God in all His fullness, leading others to join us in celebration as we share His presence in our lives. Encouraging one another in the Beloved, we share God’s comfort as He has comforted us.

Thus we have a beginning of understanding our role as a Royal Priesthood. As each of us rest in the truth that we are a chosen race, seriously taking on our priestly role, He works in and through us to make for Himself…

A Holy Nation

Becoming Holy together: willingly consecrating all that we have and all that we are or ever hope to be to God for His use. To surrender ourselves: taking up our cross daily, denying self-will and our sinful ways so as to follow Christ as God does His work of sanctification in our lives. As we surrender every area of our sinful, fleshly nature to Him, He corrects His distorted image in us day by day, setting us apart to Himself for holy purposes. As this is accomplished in each individual of us, we become…

A People for God’s Own Possession

God takes as His own beloved possession those who willingly give themselves to Him, bit by bit possessing our lives and bodies as His land, making us one with Him. And as we willingly surrender to His Lordship in each area of life, we unite with Him in fulfilling His purposes. In so doing, we become His willing bondservant’s with Christ, AND HE BECOMES OUR PASSION. His desires and purposes become our own and all that we do in life is focused on eternity, serving Him and being His light where we are with hope of many joining us in Him.

As we find for ourselves and make as our own this blessed relationship in Christ, surrendering to it, we do not lose ourselves. Instead we find ourselves as He fine tunes us to make us all He desired we be: all the good and quality that He desired for us springs forth to Light. Bringing us to our full potential as individuals at one with Him, we become…

Proclaimers of His Excellence

What joy it is to express God’s presence and work in our lives. But how much greater still it is when we can rejoice with knowledge of His excellence even when our circumstances are difficult and the hand of God seems stilled. This is the place where we go deeper: from knowing His ways and desiring His hand, to knowing Him and desiring His presence. Being satisfied and content even when we feel He is all we have left to us; we are satiated together with Him. Here we walk with Him as a friend, rested in His care, trusting whatever He is doing or allowing, assured of His love, content and at peace in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. Here we become His…

Light

The light of His glory not only shines to reflect off of us, but it shines in us and through us in this place in our relationship with Him. In this position with Him we become a light so bright, others who see may not understand; they may even resent us because of it. But we and those with us know and understand for we are…

One

United with Him and one another, we become the fulfillment of the answer to the Lord Jesus’ prayer that we may be one with Him, just as He and the Father are one. Here we realize that we are the Bride of Christ. And we become wed to Him who is one with the Father, making us to be united with them in the Spirit.

There are two pictures in scripture that explain this place to us, the first being this relationship of being Bride of Christ. Wed together, us the Holy Bride, Him the Holy Groom, what do we see?

† TOGETHER AS ONE: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23a).

† HUSBAND (CHRIST): “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church. …You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (Ephesians 5:28-29; 1 Peter 3:7. “In the same way”: see 1 Peter 3:1-6).

† HOLY BRIDE, CHRIST’S CHURCH: “In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [SUBORDINATE yourselves as being secondary to and DEPENDENT on them, and ADAPT yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives” of the Bride of Christ (1 Peter 3:1, AMP. “In like manner”: see 1 Peter 2:13-25).

One with God in all His fullness, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, we are made complete as one flesh through Christ, and we become our second picture of oneness with Him: the Body of Christ in the earth. As such we are destined to function in unison with His every move, totally dependent on Him.

Christ is the mind, the head: dictating function as the Father instructs, equipping us to do as He did in only doing what we see the Father do; serving His interests. Thus we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

God is the heart: first supplying the blood, in which is the life, through the movement of His Spirit that feeds and empowers us to live in Him; granting us life more abundant and full. Next He unites our spirit with His to dictate our thoughts, will, and emotions, leading us to one desire with Him.

Thus we are His body, His hands, His feet, His mouth, doing the work of service, being His representatives in the earth. Rested in the unifying force of His love, we become strong and useful…

Vessels of Mercy

All the cracks filled in with the mortar of grace, we begin to hold secure the Living Water of Jesus as He fills us up to spill us out into the earth, thus to effect the heart of mankind bringing them closer to the kingdom of God. Being vessels in the weakness of flesh, we may still spring a leak on occasion, but grace continually brings us back to restoration, and God’s understanding sustains us as He patiently works to bring us to completion.

This is us: the beloved of God in the Beloved of God. One together in Him, made whole and made holy: sanctified and set apart for His glory, shining His Light that dispels the darkness in the heart of mankind. Selah (pause and calmly think of that, letting it soak in to take hold and find its place within you).

~*~

“Now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 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.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

“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” (John 17:13-23).

And all the Children of God said…AMEN!

~*~

If you have never taken the first steps of faith through Christ, I point you to the Good News: Click on -> Here’s Hope, for that is where this journey begins.

Soon to Come

If you are in Christ with me and want more, I will be back next week after the Grand Kids leave to begin a series titled “Completing the Suffering of Christ” (Colossians 1:24). We will be looking at 1 John to discover more about our walk with Him.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 10a

Today we go deep as we begin to close out and conclude these truths we must realize if we are to be His lights, dispelling the darkness. I pray, not me Lord, but You. Only as He flows His Words of understanding through me with clarity can I share what I see in my heart.

In closing our study, we turn to 1 Peter 2:4-10; today covering through verse eight. I want to encourage you who walk in this present age with me, surrounded by darkness and often discouraged by it and brought to depression. We must remember who we are in the Lord if we are to overcome and persevere. We must be His body together if we are to see the darkness dispelled in our land and His hand moving to bless us anew.

Breaking our passage down into areas of thought:

“And coming to Him as to a Living Stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ …” (vs. 4-6).

Drawn to this passage, I asked God to instruct me in this thought of us being living stones. The first thought He brought to heart before building on it is:

Living stones of proclamation and announcement

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:28-44).

We are the living stones of God who cry out, proclaiming and announcing that the Messiah has come. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling the Kingdom of God now in our hearts, soon to return to rule in the earth.

Living stones birthed to Abraham

“Do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).

We are living stones, birthed through Christ into the household of Abraham: his children by a birthing through Christ that adopts us to God. No longer gentiles in sin, we are brought into the covenant of Israel, circumcised of heart, consecrated to God.

Living stones holding His commandments

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “ I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:1-3).

The first tablet of the Law was written on stone. The new tablet of the Law is written in the heart of true believers in Christ who seek His face and receive His word implanted.

Living stones in the Master Carver’s hands

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

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

In the Master Carver’s hands, we are being remade into His image, from one degree of His glory to the next, restored to His intended plan and purpose.

Now, just real quick here, let’s touch on this “predestined” thing. Who did God foreknow? All. God knows all things; He is not bound by time as we are, but sees the beginning from the end; and He foreknew each person who would ever be born. Who did He predestine? All are predestined by His desire and design to be His. And all actually are His if we get right down to it, because each person’s eternal destination is set by His judgment which is already passed through His Word. Those who walk with Him, having received His gift of freedom from the bonds of sin and death have eternity with Him; those who do not…. It is already judged and sentence set. It is our choice which way we go.

Jesus is the way to God, making us priests to God with Him; He is the truth of God, His Word Incarnate, explaining the Father and His ways perfectly and removing all hypocrisy; and He is the LIFE. When death came, separating mankind from God, the breath of Life in God left. Jesus restores that breath as seen in John 20:22.

So whom did He call? He calls to all, for it is His desire that NONE perish, but ALL come to repentance, and Jesus was sacrificed by God so that ALL may be saved. But not all hear so as to accept the call, and not all choose Him, refusing to believe that Jesus is the Christ, come first to pay the price and defeat sin and death before one day returning as King to rule God’s Kingdom. God’s word says we have the choice with good or evil, life or death, blessing or curse at every crossroad, and God cannot lie. To believe in predestination, which removes all choice, is to deem God a liar and the whole of scripture false.

So all are called, but not all respond to the call given through Christ to receive God’s gift of grace in Him. Those who do answer the call are justified through Christ, instantly perfected in the eternal realm, proclaimed set free of sin and death in Christ, and destined for eternity with God, living forever with Him in His Kingdom. These also are continually being perfected from one degree of glory to the next through the finished work of Christ’s redeeming blood as God carves us into His image, purifying us in the flesh and making us whole.

Living stones of memorial and remembrance

“So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:4-7. See also passages like Genesis 31:43-55 and Joshua 22, esp. vs. 26)

We are being built together by God to be a memorial of His story and to bear witness, bringing all to remembrance of God and His ways. We are to so know Him that though evil enemies burn all our Bibles, the story of God and His will for and ways toward mankind will continue in us.

Living stones for honor, commitment and consecration

“Therefore, 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)

“To love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33).

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1).

Because of Christ being the final and complete sacrificial Lamb of God, paying the full price to purchase back His creation, freeing us from sin and death, there is no longer need of blood sacrifice on an altar of stone. Jesus purchased rights to our lives, thus our lives, our bodies become the altar on and in which all sacrifice is achieved. As priests unto God with Christ, we bring the sacrifice of repentance, praise and adoration. As workers with Him, we give the sacrifice of consecration and sanctification in our bodies, committing our all to Him. Our lives—our bodies are a place of sacrifice to God, as we daily take up our cross of self-denial to follow Jesus.

Finally, for now, continuing todays focal passage:

Living stones of stumbling and offense

“This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,’ and, ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. …” (vs. 7-8).

Peter was “Petrose”: a piece of The Rock. Jesus is “Petra”: THE ROCK. Together, through unity in Christ with Peter, we become a piece of the rock of Christ—a truth we will go deeper into in my next series already in the works.

When people turn against us because of our belief in Christ, they truly turn against Christ, thus stumbling over the Stumbling Stone. When people are offended by our righteous stance in Him, they run into the Stone of Offence in Christ. So rest, precious ones, when people come against you because of your faith and faithfulness to God; it is not you they oppose but all He is and stands for, His living in you that they deny.

We are living stones in Christ, set in places where we are to proclaim and announce Him through our lives. We are living stones, birthed through relationship with Christ as children of Abraham, adopted into the family of God. We are living stones, making His commandments known in the earth. We are living stones in the Master Carver’s hands, being renewed and restored to His image as originally intended. We are living stones of memorial and remembrance, telling His story to all who will hear and bearing testimony of His presence in our lives, calling all to remembrance of His truths and His covenant promise. We are living stones, given to the purpose of committing our lives as sacrifice, consecrated in service to and with Him through Christ. And as we live in agreement with Christ, we are living stones with Him, bringing stumbling and offence to a world that is contrary to God.

Okay, people. God apparently had more to say than I did. My plan to finish up today continues into tomorrow as we run to the finish line.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 7a

“For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; And you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land And will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (vs. 9-11).

One of the hardest things to do is to wait. Waiting on anyone or anything will test the quality and character of any person. And waiting on the Lord can be the most difficult of all waiting experiences. Why?

Perhaps it is because we can’t always discern His presence and His activity when we are waiting anxiously for Him. And the more desperate the need, the harder it is to wait with patience, especially when waiting in what is absolutely and only a HIMpossible situation.

But waiting is required of light, do you realize that? If we are His light, requiring His reflection in order to shine, moving forward without Him is to go forth into the outer darkness. Even electric lights must wait for a current to spark the light. Thus we are as His lights, dependent on Him if we are to shine, stuck in utter darkness without Him. So we must learn the patient art of waiting upon the Lord.

There is a scripture I think of that speaks to me about my waiting times. We already looked once at this passage, but let us return again to see what more can be gleaned from Colossians 3. I suggest you reread verses 1-17 in its entirety. I will cover it here a piece at a time using the Amplified version and beginning with verse 10—removing [ ] and ( ) for easier reading:

Clothe “yourselves with the new spiritual self, which is ever in the process of being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image, the likeness of Him Who created it.”

There is nothing that takes longer for us to see accomplished than our renewal, the rebirthing of His image in us. Our clothing in the new self takes the remainder of our lives, only to be completed when we see Him face to face. And waiting upon the Lord is greatly helped as we realize that every challenge we face in life, every opportunity given has at its core the purpose of completing His work in us. That work of God in us includes ever increasing growth in the following areas – skipping to verse 12:

“Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones: His own picked representatives, who are purified and holy and well-beloved by God Himself…” (vs. 12a).

I hope you took the time to read and understand the blog “Be Parhelia”. It speaks of us being the reflection of His light in us, and as we reflect His light, it reaches to others, bouncing off them to reflect out to still more, making the light of God in His people brilliant indeed.

We represent Him in the earth. Remembering our role as His ambassador-representatives, chosen by Him to be where we are as His light where we live, will help us to wait upon Him and His light to be shown forth in our situations. We do this best…

“… by putting on behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, and patience – which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper” (vs. 12b).

Each of these attributes greatly aids our waiting time. You may even have thought of a situation or several of them that will be helped as you put on these characteristics of God’s nature.

The thing in this list that stands out to me most to be proof of successful waiting is the tireless, long-suffering patience that empowers our wait to be done “with good temper.” I see this not only to mean that we wait without getting angry, huffy, or going off halfcocked to do our own thing in trying to get the goal met as we see it. I see this “good temper” to also mean “of good temperament.”

One definition of temperament is “The manner of thinking, behaving, or reacting characteristic of a specific person.” To withstand the wait with good temperament says that we do not lose our godly character in the wait by giving ourselves over to fleshly tendencies. Instead we continue to…

“Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference, a grievance or a complaint against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive. And above all these put on love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony” (vs. 13-14).

In times of waiting for God to work, especially in situations that involve other people, I have learned the value of looking at passages of scripture that give us a picture of love and how it behaves in any given situation, especially where forgiveness is needing to be practiced: passages such as 1 Corinthians 13.

As I look over that passage, often in many translations of scripture for added understanding, I seek the Lord for how I am to practice my love walk in the wait-time brought to a difficult situation. To not keep a running tally of insults has often saved me from falling away from the character and nature of God while waiting on the hand of God to move.

Practicing gentleness, forbearance, grace, forgiveness and love as God would give it forms the bonds that are not easily broken: both between He and I, and between me and others. As I practice waiting with good temper, it is important to…

“Let the peace and soul harmony which comes from Christ rule, act as umpire continually in your hearts deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state to which, as members of Christ’s one body you were also called to live…” (Vs. 15).

Peace with God, following His peace in our decisions, choices, and paths for life, will lead us to fulfill His purpose in every situation we face. If there is not peace that passes understanding coming to us from the very heart of God pointing us in The Way, it is best to remain in wait mode with the peaceful heart of knowing God is doing a great work.

Realize that His peace will be evident even in quaking boots of fleshly fear. God is able to make His peace known to us despite fear. The presence of fear does not mean the absence of peace; it only means we have a choice to make: which will we follow? Fear is a common tool of the enemy of God to stop the good of God from working in and through us. It is important to learn to distinguish ungodly fear by learning to know and walk in the peace that God supplies. God’s peace in us extinguishes fear, keeping us walking in paths of peace with God and protecting us from running paths of fear and folly.

“… And be thankful, appreciative, giving praise to God always” (Vs. 15).

Gratitude to God is vital in any wait. Fretting is best averted by keeping focus on the things of God that bring us to a grateful heart. When we can look with gratitude at the things God is doing and has accomplished in our lives, faith is increased and we are equipped by it to wait anew to see what He will do, waiting with earnest expectation and hope in Him.

“Let the word spoken by Christ, the Messiah, have its home in your hearts and minds and dwell in you in all its richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and with wisdom in spiritual things, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with His grace in your hearts” (Vs. 16).

There is nothing that helps my heart to enter into His peace and wait for His hand with good temperament more than His word. Studying the scriptures to find His instruction to my heart in the time of my need feeds me His instruction and His promises that lead me through the valleys of life and bring me to the mountain top of God’s presence. Sharing with others of God’s people through friendship-camaraderie and the sharing of compassions He has given us brings companionship to me in the wait—and this sharing makes us to be His Parhelia, reflecting the brilliance of His glory. The fellowship of God’s people and the public sharing of scripture give further opportunity for God to speak into my situation, helping me to wait with Him in faith with hope.

“And whatever you do, no matter what it is in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in dependence upon His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him” (vs. 17).

Dependence upon the Lord Jesus at work in me and praise to God the Father through Him, in my roll of being Christ’s representative in the earth adds strength to me in the wait, equipping me to carry on with life while waiting. It is my “…reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship…” when I can wait on the Lord in this way (back to Romans 12:1-2).

Waiting upon the Lord is not always easy, but it is necessary that we do so in the right way if we want to traverse this life in the strength God supplies, without being overcome by any evil. Thus, tomorrow we continue to look at how we are to wait upon the Lord as His lights that dispel the dark of night.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 6

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing” (vs. 7-8).

Did you know that we cannot enter into true, restorative rest and fret at the same time? It is impossible. To understand this fact, we must understand what God considers as true rest, which is the call of this passage. Any command we are given must be viewed from His understanding and meaning or we will fall short. So let us begin our journey to find the “rest” God speaks of here. Again, I am sure this will just scratch the surface, but it will be a good beginning point for our growth in true rest:

~*~ Rest Truth 1 ~*~

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said,

‘Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.’

“For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And 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” (Hebrews 3:12-19).

When we fret, we are not living by faith. Lack of faith, if there are degrees of sin, is probably the most intolerable sin God sees in our lives every day. Without faith it is impossible ~ IMPOSSIBLE! ~ to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Fretting destroys faith, hinders obedience, even leading us to deliberate sin pouring out of our anxious lives, and thereby keeps us from rest. Rest: trusting, believing rest that is godly, flows out of a life of faith that trusts Him fully despite the situations of life, denies fretting, and, trusting His hand in our lives, it removes anxiety from us.

~*~*~ Rest Truth 2 ~*~*~

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3).

This one seems easy to understand, doesn’t it? We all need time to rest from our work and the labors of life, and God not only provides for our every need, but He always sets the example for us, for He never demands of us that which is not His own practice.

Rest is vital to us, and God, knowing this, commanded for us a day of Sabbath rest. That day has traditionally been on the day that we come together to worship God as a body, whether our religious organization chooses that to be Saturday, the last day of the week; or Sunday, the day believed to be the one in which Jesus arose and walked out of the tomb, destroying death’s hold on those who are His.

I don’t know if you have noticed it, but I have long noticed that in the churches I attend, the day of worship is anything but restful. Church life is often too busy to rest, as all are called to work in church related responsibilities. Couple that with family demands, it being the only day the housework can be done in our workaholic society, etc., and rest is far from us. So I have long had Monday as my Sabbath, a day when I draw apart from the hustle and bustle of normal life to seek the Father and rest myself in Him. God’s design is an entire day of Sabbatical. Whatever time it is for us, whether an entire day, or smidgeons of time throughout the week, we are called to enter in to the Sabbath with Him.

Now according to our understanding, God is not one who gets tired, so I asked Him once why He rested and what He did that brought rest to Him. Can you see God, sitting under a tree, chewing on a blade of grass, smiling? Can you envision that with me? What was He doing that applies to us for the Sabbath rest we are called to?

Here is what He revealed to my heart as I saw Him sitting under that tree. He looked back over all the previous week and rejoiced in all that was accomplished, enjoying the product of His hands.

How much time do we give on the Sabbath to looking back over all the good accomplished over the previous week, months, years, and rejoice in the Lord for His bounty? There is rest in the glory of God acknowledged. Too often, however, as we look back, our mind settles on the negatives and we turn to fretting. So what are we to do when we find ourselves in those instances?

Surrender it. Turn it all over to Him.

Did You realize that in creation, there was a negative that God put in place that could have brought Him to fretting? But I do not see God fretting, do you? He had a purpose in the negative, and it would bring glory. He knew this, so He rested without fretting. What was that negative?

“Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day” (Genesis 1:6-8).

Note that this is the only day in all of creation that the passage does not include, “and God saw that it was good.” Why? I believe it is because the expanse reminded Him that there would come a time when separation would come between Him and us, created in His image, and for whose pleasure He created all this glory. So we see that even God most likely looked back and saw that there was a negative there to mar the glory, but His focus was on all that was good, and in the end He looked at the full tapestry of His created work and of it all, including the expanse, we are told, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God does not fret over the flaws found in the product of His hands, knowing that every flaw He allows in His creation has a purpose and it all will work together to fulfill the purpose. Instead He focuses on the good and the flow that will lead to the end product and His ultimate glory.

When we look back and see negatives, it brings with it all too often, a look toward the week, months, years ahead, and the negative we must deal with. I am sure that as God looked over all His creation, He was reminded again of what was coming to His creation. But He knew that Jesus was not Plan B. He was always Plan A. God had a plan and was doing a good work.

We enter His rest with Him when fretting threatens to enter to destroy, and we meet it with faith that God has a plan and He is doing a good work. We will see it if we faint not in the way, but instead keep waiting for the Lord with earnest expectation and hope of glory.

Get excited when difficulty comes! It brings with it the assurance of opportunity to see what the Lord will do. This is where fretting turns into a grateful heart toward our Loving Lord, Who is forever for us and not against us.

~*~*~*~ Rest Truth 3 ~*~*~*~

For this final insight on trusting, believing rest that is godly, we return to yesterday’s passage:

“‘See, You say to me, “Bring up this people!” But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, “I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ …” (Exodus 33:12-17).

Our greatest rest comes as we know and discern and walk in the presence of the Lord our God, knowing Him and trusting His work in our midst.

Can you hear the sigh of Moses after being told that God was not going into the Promised Land with this obstinate people, when God proclaimed, “Okay, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Whew.

Do you think God knew that as weary as He was with the people, it was unbearable to Moses for sure, and he was exhausted? Moses learned total reliance upon God for the power and ability to do all he was called to. The thought of being without Him had to be unbearable. Like with Moses, just to know with belief that God is with us and in us brings us to rest. Thus, if we have any hope of entering into His rest, we must learn to say with David:

“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay.  You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence” (Acts 2:25-28).

We can face any “Goliath” in life when we trust the Presence of Holy God with us.

Rest in the Lord, beloved, and wait patiently for Him. In so doing, know also that you are the apple of His eye; He is always looking after you for your good, and not for harm, to give you a hope and a future. He will never, no never, leave nor forsake you. So take your rest, beloved, and be at peace.

(See John 6:37 and Hebrews 13:5, especially in the Amplified version of scripture.)

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

“Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it” (Colossians 3:9-10, AMP).

One of my favorite chapters of scripture, as you know who have read my materials long, is Exodus 33. In it, God calls Moses ‘friend’, Moses prays to know God’s ways that he may know Him, he asks to see the glory of God, and God tells him how to recognize His glory when he sees it, promising the presence of His glory to Moses…“…And the Lord said, ‘My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. … I will do this thing also that you have asked, for you have found favor, loving-kindness, and mercy in My sight and I know you personally and by name. …”  

The new in me knows and practices His ways, so that I may know Him personally and intimately, and He calls me by name. How sad it would be to come to the end of this life, thinking we are His, never having grasped hold of His ways to make them our own so that He may know us intimately, calling us by name.

Oh what joy it is to hear the Lord call me by name. It fills my heart with the flood of His presence and His ever present love for me. It sets me in awe of His person and causes me more and more to want Him, passionately, and it leads me to greater desire to be like my Father.

Beginning where we left off yesterday, we continue our look at Colossians 3:5-11, which describes for us the new creation we are in Christ, a rebirth that opens to us our opportunity to be a friend to God the Father, knowing Him and being known by Him.

“… It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. …” (vs. 6-8)

Remember, the “these things” that bring God’s wrath are the things of the flesh that produce idolatry: immorality, impurity, ungodly passions, evil desires and greed. These are the outpouring of the dictates of the flesh under the influence of the sin and death that the satanic produce in its offspring. And this outpouring of anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech are the fruit of a life lived in this idolatry.

Jesus said that those who practice such things, living the lie—which is opposition to God, who is truth—are the offspring of their father, Satan (John 8).

“… Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge…” (vs. 9-11).

The new in us turns from the lies of the flesh, the world and the demonic to the truths of God. The new in us never behaves toward others in a way that would steal, kill and destroy through anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech.

“… Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—a renewal in which there is no distinction between…

“Greek and Jew” – we are adopted into the household of the Jewish heritage through Christ, therefore the distinction that separates us is removed in our new-life-relationship;

“circumcised and uncircumcised” – we are circumcised of heart who are true children of God, made right with Him having a heart after His;

“barbarian, Scythian” – these were considered to be the worst of the worst, telling us that even our worst deeds are forgiven, removed and changed forever in Christ. The “changed forever” is a vital component to our new creation life. Repentance requires turning from the old ways of the flesh to the new ways of following Christ in godliness;

“slave and freeman – slave in the earth is Christ’s freed man for eternity. We are instructed that slave / workman and master / boss who are in Christ are to treat one another with the respect due a brother, for though we may remain slave in the earth, we are free in Christ; though we may be boss in the earth, we too serve our Master through Christ. I will resist my soap box J;

“but Christ is all, and in all.”  (Vs. 5-11).

Christ, all and in all, removes these titles from us, no longer defining us as separate from one another. God makes us one together with Him in Christ. We are the body of Christ, a new creation, God’s workmanship, created in Christ for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Christ unites us as one, changing us from glory to ever increasing degrees of glory, continually perfecting us until the day of His return when all His fullness will forever complete this transformation we are in, returning us to the full and complete image of God in Christ Jesus. And the exciting thing to me is that God sees the completed product in us; thus He responds to us through Christ’s “it is finished.”

I love the teaching done by Beth More in her study titled, “Believing God.” It sums up this session of our journey to discover the mind of Christ in us, and if we will remember this, we will go far toward living victoriously in His mindset of our being made new as we realize with belief that:

“God is who He says He is.”

“God can do what He says He can do.”

“I am who GOD SAYS I am.”

“I can do all things through Christ,” including changing to the new creature of His design.

The impossible in our measure of things is the HIMpossible on His scale of measure. That said, whatever our humble estate in life, we can know that we are new creations in Christ with eternal purpose from God the Father for such a time as this.

All who are His in Christ are gifted and equipped to fulfill His purpose and He does not hide that purpose from us: becoming His likeness, meant for relationship with Him and others, a bondservant fully gifted to fulfill His purpose. He continually works in us to make us strong in the mind of Christ, renewing us in His image, equipping us to discover fulfill all His desire and design:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:10-22, NASB).

God can do what He says He can if it is in His will to do so. And child of the Living, Loving God, it is His will. So seek His face expectantly, searching for Him and the fulfillment of His will whole heartedly. He will do it; He will accomplish all that concerns you, transforming you to Christlikeness. And what does Jesus look like?

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.

“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’

“Jesus said to him, ‘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”? 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. Whatever you ask in My name (as presenting all that I AM; representing Me and My interests), that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:7-17, NASB and AMP).

More and more we look like the Father as we surrender ourselves with believing-faith to oneness with the Son in thought, desire and deed, becoming new creations in the power of His Spirit, renewed in the image of God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25, AMP).

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

As I seek the Lord concerning where to go next in our journey to understand the Mind of Christ and its proper function within us, I am led to Colossians 3:1-17. I love the Amplified version of this passage. Let us begin with verses 1-2:

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.”

Set your minds and keep them set on the things above where Christ is. Jesus being our example, let’s look at a few passages that reveal to us His mindset and how it was on the things above, where God is.

First reported indication – age 12, Luke 2:41-51: “…And He said to them (His parents), How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business? …” (AMP).

The mind of Christ focuses us on the Father’s business. Do you know what your assignment in God’s Kingdom is, and how faithful He is to gift you in fulfilling His call? When you are in the work-place, do you fret over the ungodly environment, or watch for the opportunity to do kingdom business and shine the light that dispels the darkness? Do you stand on righteousness, or obey your boss in things that bring you to disobey your God? Where is your focus during the daily grind of life? Having the mind of Christ that is kept on the things above always remembers that we are His light in this life and behaves as light:

“Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:7-10, NASB).

In temptation – Matthew 4:1-11: “…It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God….”

The mind of Christ does not just read the word and go through life without further thought of it. As one dictated by the mind of Christ, we will know God’s word well enough for God to use it in our stand against fleshly, worldly, and Satanic lie and temptation. The mind of Christ always turns to God’s wisdom for direction and says to those who would tempt us, “My Daddy says, ‘…’.’”

I love the response of Joseph to the hour of his temptation. Oh…if we can only get this mind in us to cry out, “How can I do that and sin against my GOD!” Knowing truth protects us from following falsehood.

As a young Christian woman who was not raised in church, I knew one truth for sure. Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and He receives as His own those who seek His saving grace with true and sincere belief. Thinking that all “churches” are Christian, following my first husband’s demands that I be in his faith, I found myself serving in a church I soon found was far from true. He didn’t go, but he insisted I go, and I did, whole heartedly.

One evening my then sister-in-law headed after service further into the building. Asking where she was going, she said she was going to Bible study. Always interested in Bible study, I asked what they were studying. She said, “Oh! We are studying to take the test so that we may receive salvation.”

Using the little bit of knowledge I had, God turned a light on in my heart, and I knew I was in a place that teaches falsehood. That was my last day in that fellowship and I have since come to know that they are a “cult” according to true believing churches.

In even well-meaning opposition – Matthew 16:21-26: “…But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s….’”

The mind of Christ always has its sights on God’s interests rather than man’s. When our assignment from God is clear, it does not allow distraction from completing the course laid out. This requires us to know when to say “no”.

As we talked about before, not every good thing is the God-thing we are called to. Often “good things” will be offered to draw us away from the “God-thing”. The mind of Christ has sights set and keeps them set, discerning good, better, and best and choosing the best that keeps us on target with Kingdom purpose in fulfilling the call of God in us.

When we find ourselves stressing over all we are doing, struggling to keep up, and seeing the thing we are called to slipping into neglect and half-hearted fulfillment, it is time to reevaluate our priorities and back off of the good to walk with God.

I could go on, but this gives us a good start on discerning the mind of Christ that dictates us to have God’s heart. I pray God will add to your understanding in this area. For now let us move on to the next portion of our passage. See you at the next posting!

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 1

“FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness (that which is not upright or in right standing with God). For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (vs. 1-2, AMP).

For over a week now, God has spoken to me, focusing my heart on the deeper truths of Psalm 37. I am excited to get into this passage with you as we begin this awesome study together in a day when understanding and living this passage out into our lives is vital to the Kingdom in our nations.

Last weekend I attended the baptism of a granddaughter. Staying for the service that followed, they showed an interview of Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn who wrote the book, The Harbingers. Here is a link to his message for us regarding the spiritual state of America and the signs of God’s discipline over our land: The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment, Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqWyIL_4kZY.

This morning, as I bowed in prayerful response to God over another passage of scripture, here is what He instructed my heart with regard to evil in our land and how we are to face these days. “FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness….”

As I begin this series of looking at Psalm 37, I recall that evil is depicted as darkness throughout scripture and righteousness is revealed to be as light in the earth. We are called to be light. So what does light do?

Light does not fret over the darkness in the earth. It penetrates and disperses it. Light is total opposite to dark, and it accomplishes its purpose by simply being light. That is what we are called to. We do not have to fret over and fight darkness / evil. We simply have to be light where God has placed us, being a people who live uprightly and in right standing with God: a people of integrity who seek the good for all concerned; a people after God’s own heart.

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the evildoers will be no more; though you look with care where they used to be, they will not be found. But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (vs. 8-11, AMP).

The question is, do we believe God? Then we must realize that fretting over darkness in the land tends only to evildoing. Fretting leads us to either lay down in depression, dulling our light, or it leads us to become like those who do evil, fighting them too often in ways that dishonor God. It leads us to address the darkness out of the dark thoughts of the natural instead of simply being what God calls us to be, trusting that the light He sends through us will dispel the darkness.  

Focus on God, realizing that He fights for us, and simply being all He desires us to be, looking to Him is the path He uses to make us bright with His Light. Contrasted against the night skies of our environs, we are equipped of Him to penetrate the dark places where we are and melt away the night sky in our midst.

Instead of fretting over evil in our midst, we must focus on our own practice of godliness, living life like a sunrise (or a Sonrise) where we are. Be bright to the glory of God. And pray with me over these next numerous days as we delve into this blessed passage that outlines for us the attributes and resources available to us who desire to be as He is, one who chooses good over evil and wins the day by simply BEing the person He created us to be.

Hum…I wonder if that is why He told Moses to tell the people that the God who sends him is simply “I AM”. May we daily live the image of “I AM” and see the night turned to light.

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 4 – Live Defined by Love

“Live life to the full”: that is the goal, despite difficulty that comes to hinder.

In nursing, when dealing with people who enter into a season of learning to deal with a chronic illness, the goal is to help them find a new norm that allows them to live life to the highest degree possible. That is what we have been talking about this week. Disease is part of life in a fallen world. Sometimes God chooses to heal, miraculously or over time; but always He chooses to use the struggle to grow our faith in Him and bring us to greater reliance on Him as our first, most vital Need and Necessity. He is our Resource and Supply, our Great Ally.

Because of love of God and love for those around me, I refuse to waste good days protecting myself for fear I might overdo and flare, never getting anything of importance done, failing to enjoy not only this life God has given me but the people in it. I know better than to constantly push myself, yes; but there are just some days that are worth the push.

When I do push to live life and enjoy it, if a flare follows, I refuse to give my enemy the glory by bemoaning the push of life and the energy of God’s supply for it, even regretting that I possessed a day to live it to the full. I will, instead, choose to rejoice in the good days and rest in God in the bad days until healing comes and the enemy is back in its place.

Finally, with these truths under my belt, I can live life to the full knowing that truth sets free indeed, wisdom directs the path, and faith, hope and love abide: and the greatest of these is love. So love to the full keeping God first, for we can do nothing apart from Him, but with Him all things are possible, for nothing shall be impossible with God. He is for us and not against us. And even when He allows evil to touch our lives, it has eternal purpose for good and not harm. Have faith in Him and follow His directives to the healing of His desire and the glory of His name. Live with hope in God who supplies strength to live life to the full.

In this way we can live to His glory, realizing our resource is in Him. With those resources in mind, having His priorities of faith, hope and love actions, determine your boundaries, and fight the good fight of faith that is defined by who you are in God’s estimation. Remember that He is more interested in how we love Him, self, and others, than He is in a clean house and a meal that takes hours of preparation. Save energy for those you love. The house will fall apart and return to dust for eternity. The people are all we can take with us. Love those kids. Play with them. Enjoy your mate. And give to those in your sphere of influence without fretting over the house being less than you desire.

~*~

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

~*~

Thank You, Father, that You instruct my life and grant me Your wisdom and discernment. I look to You as I seek to understand how to live with my limits, know my enemies, discover the truth, and live this life in the abundance of Your supply. No longer being dictated by my diagnosis, but empowered by Your gracious love and provision in it, I pray I will live this life of abundance to the glory of Your name.

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

 In Jesus I pray You, show me Your glory. Amen

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 3 – Understand with Discernment

Yesterday we looked at the need to know. Yes, we need knowledge of not only what the disease process is doing in us, but how it affects us on a personal level. And we need to recognize the resources available to us in dealing with the issues brought to life by the ailments that attack us. But mere knowledge alone is of little use unless it is coupled with wisdom from God to understand with discernment how to use the knowledge gleaned to our benefit in setting up boundaries that put us in control of the diseases ability to intrude in our lives. As I consider the things I know from my experience, I have come to understand with discernment some key truths that I must put into practice on a daily basis.

~*~

“I am me” sings to my heart. God only made one me. Understanding that “I” am “me” – the only “me” that “I” am, and I am not exactly like anyone else, is vital to my ability to discern my struggle and the resources I have for dealing with it. My disease experience may be common to man, but it is affected and made my own experience by the person I am.

I need to realize that the way fibro works and affects me is individual to me, because I am not like everyone else. My ability to cope with the pain and fatigue is different from others I know. My pain level is not the same as that of others on any given day as the effects of the pain on me are directly linked to my personal ability to cope with the pain. The causes of my symptoms may differ and my ability to deal with the source of my struggle is limited by my resources at hand, my ability to recognize my resources, and my faithfulness to practice the use of the supply available to me. Therefore I must understand myself and discern my own strengths and weaknesses, along with the resources available to me for fighting the good fight against my enemy.

That enemy recognizes these things about me and will attack me, forcing me to surrender my territory. I must know my enemy and myself, and with that understanding, discern my own resources and my best way of fighting my enemy. Though I can learn things from others, encourage and be encouraged by them, I have to know how my enemy works against me personally and realize my actions and reactions that give fibro its place in my life. Then I have to do the things that fit me and my life best, flowing out of my personal strengths and considering my personal weaknesses, in taking back the land the enemy stole. Then…

~*~

Discerning My Limitations I must set the boundaries

There are true limitations that come with living with fibro. I need to consider what those are, how they affect me, and what I need to do to take control of this life God gave me to possess in dealing with and living to the full while being mindful of the limits. Not limits set by the fibro, but those set by me in addressing and overcoming those dictated by fibro out of control.

For example, I know that too much stress will flare me, so where I can control the stress in life, I need to do that. And in areas where I have no control over the stress life brings, I must lean on the supply of my God. God revealed that to me more clearly this weekend as we wound up with three major events planned within a 2.5 day span.

I was in full blown flare because of that medication I told you about, taken for a sinus infection. Since discovering that steroids remove the inflammation in the body for a time, but once the regimen is finished, the inflammation builds back fast and fibro jumps into high gear, I now realize the need to make sure we do not needlessly plan things around the time of their use. I will also share this issue with my doctor and seek to find other means to deal with my sinus issues. But should I have to take a steroid again, this is a fact about my enemy-disease that I must remember and a plan I must put into action.

As the day of cement pouring grew closer with the planned feeding of the friend who helped and his wife, as a thanks for helping that evening, I really started to stress that the house was a mess and I was not able to do anything about it in the two days before the start of those events. That mounting stress over the house was robbing needful rest and making the symptoms worse.

Then, as I shared earlier, God reminded me of Martha, always wanting to do more than was needful, in my case, so as to not be embarrassed when guests come in our mess. He reminded me that she was going all out to impress and honor Jesus, when all He wanted was a simple meal and Martha’s company. With that reminder, cleaning the house took back seat to me feeling good enough to cook the meal for our guests and enjoy their company, and hopefully they, mine.

Now today, as I write this, the cement is pouring and I have the meat in the cooker, I am feeling better. I got several things done for the meal yesterday evening—my only focus for that day of pain, and the rest of the meal will come together with peaceful ease. Meanwhile, feeling better, I will do a few things in the main part of the house, but the rest of it can wait, and I will not worry with the floors at all.

My husband usually pushes the vacuum, which is hard for me to do as it does not “propel” well, so rather than tire out and flare from tired, I will leave the floors as they are. No longer stressing over the house, but resting in the here a little, there a little, trusting that by God’s grace, the house will be pleasant and peaceful, though not perfect in my scale of measure, is a limitation I set for myself to control the fibro. And that is okay.

God’s enemy uses health issues to stop the flow of God to and through us. We can cooperate with God’s enemy by failing to set limits on self that help our health and allowing the diseases that attack our body to dictate and define our lives, or we can learn how to set our own boundaries, getting control over our health issues. It is our choice. I choose limits of God’s design for a life of God’s abundance. And those limits come to us through His wisdom that equips us to discern and understand how to live in the power of His supply.

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 2 – Know…

The first thing I realize as I consider learning how to NOT be defined by my diagnoses is that there is always a need for knowledge. There are things I need to know about my challenge before I can know how to deal with it. But with knowledge there must also be the attaining of wisdom for proper use of the knowing.

Over and over scripture teaches the foolishness of going into a battle without first counting the cost. That means we have to know the enemy: their strengths, weaknesses, resources, tactics, mindset, etc. Then we have to know truth about self: my strengths, weaknesses, resources, abilities, mindset, etc.

What I am seeing in associating with those who struggle with Fibro, Chronic Fatigue, and other such things is those who look too closely at their enemy without also considering their own resources and ability to stand against that enemy are the ones who fall to it.  But we are not without our own resources and abilities. We have it within us to stand and persevere against any assault. And this is especially true for those who face their enemies knowing God as their greatest ally.

So what is it that we need to know in order to prepare for and win the battle over difficulty and disease that seeks to dictate and define us and our lives?

~*~

Know the enemy:

Fibro is not my friend. It hurts my body and hinders my life when it has control. So I need to recognize its presence, what flares it, what holds it back, and learn to control my enemy’s influence in my life. What is this thing that is trying to define my life and my ability to live? – Not so much the science “what” but the personal experiential “what”?

Yes, I do need to know the disease process, learning what it is and how it works to do what it does in me so that I can better understand and recognize its influence and, from that understanding, discern my counter to that way of attack—and more than just to counter it, I want to control it.

For example, pain is a tactic of my enemy, Fibro. What causes me to experience pain that I can control? I know that there are dietary issues that cause inflammation in my body, bringing on the pain. Thus I discern the importance of my setting a boundary in my way of eating that will protect me against that attack.

The same is true with the exhaustion that comes with Fibro. I get extremely tired all over, every pore of my body feeling like limp, wilted lettuce looks. In this year of dealing with this symptom that tries to define me as “I am tired”, I have learned that rest is my resource. I do best when I let myself sleep in the morning until I wake on my own. Trying to set an alarm and make myself get up makes me vulnerable to my enemy. Realizing when I am getting tired, being watchful against my enemy trying to sneak up on me is vital as well, giving myself permission to rest and, yes, even nap.

Then there is mindset and planning: this past week I have learned the importance of these resources in my arsenal of defense. We were preparing for company, so I planned to do little things each day to get the house in good order, getting things ready a little at a time so as to protect from being tired when they came. But the doctor put me on a steroid for a sinus infection, which also helps with body inflammation while on it. When the course of medication was finished, the inflammation returned with a vengeance and I found myself thrown into a full blown Fibro flare. That is when I learned that not only is it important to plan ahead, but sometimes those plans have to be to rest and let my body heal so I will be able to function for the upcoming event. And that necessity led to me realizing the importance of my mindset.

You see stress is a trigger pulled by my enemy to set me into a Fibro flare. Stressing over the fact that I was flared from the medicine leaving my system and that flare was keeping me from being able to get the house in order was only making the flare worse. So I had to rest my mindset and decide the condition of the house was unimportant. The people coming into our home would understand the house being dusty. They would not want me making myself sick by trying to make everything perfect for them.

It is the Martha syndrome that the enemy was throwing at me and my resource for countering was to choose to be a Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, enjoying His presence. Thus God helped me to get the important things done while continuing to rest, the house was in good enough order, the meal was great, our home was peaceful, and we had a marvelous visit with our friends.

Which leads to another thing I have learned about dealing with my enemy: I must…

~*~

Know the truth –

What are lies about the disease that I am catering to? Lies about myself and my ability to cope? What is the truth of the matter? And how do I live in truth?

One lie I fall too often too is that I need to sit a lot so as to not push myself through activity into a fibro flare. That is not true. I need activity to keep the pain under control, but I also need to control the type and amount. When I sit too much, then I do hurt, so when I get up to do something, I don’t feel good. That leads to letting it go until I feel better, which leads to pile up. Then when we do decide to have someone over or do something where I want the house in order, the race is on, perfectionism kicks in, and I over-do it to the point of feeling horrible for the event that led to the clean. Truth is that movement is good for me, I feel better once I am up and moving for awhile, and it is a whole lot easier to keep up here a little, there a little, than to have to catch up all at once.

I keep hearing in my Spirit that “Fibro is a lie!” What God is impressing on me is that fibro is a symptom of an underlying problem, not the problem. The true problem for me is the inflammation and inflammation is made worse by a poor diet and by inactivity, by undue stress and needless fretting. Thus I am learning the necessity of knowing my enemy and knowing the truth of the matter so that I can do the things to put up a guard against attack and that put me in better control of my life experience.

Knowing my subversive enemy, inflammation, and dealing with it gives me victory over the disease of Fibromyalgia so I can live a life defined by the wisdom God gives in the battle, while waiting with hope in Him for healing in my body.

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 1 – The Intro

About a year ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia – lovingly known as Fibro: a disease seen most in those who suffer chronic inflammation and believed to be the breakdown of normal pain reception, causing the sufferer to feel pain more deeply and constantly. The constant sensation of pain wears a person down, too often dictating and defining their life experience. Overwhelmed by unceasing pain and the quest for relief, they often topple to the experience, all of life dictated by their level of pain.

One thing I have discovered and decided in my journey with the diagnosis of Fibro is “that is not the life I want.” I do not want to be dictated and defined by my pain, so I have thought a lot the past several days about the problem of being “defined by my diagnosis” – a phrase used in conversation with a friend one day, and what that phrase means to me and for me.

That phrase, “defined by my diagnosis”, has come to me so many times since my lunch with Betty, my friend I came to learn has dealt with fibro for numerous years. She shared that she used to do all the research for her fibro and join all the support groups and try to follow all the advice. Then she got tired of being “defined by my diagnosis”. Thus she decided to stop all that and live her life defined by the love and pursuit of God.

That is where I am right now: being defined and dictated by my diagnosis. So over the past several days of that phrase flowing to my heart, I have sought the Lord, seriously considering what being defined by fibro means and how to change it. For the next few days I will share here the things God is showing me. Perhaps others who have health issues will be helped through the comfort and instruction God is giving me. As I introduce this subject, I join Paul’s heart in praying for those of us who have health issues that tend to dictate life, praying:

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

Seeking God’s direction and inspiration in determining what I need to realize and address in changing this thing that is trying to define my life, the things that come to mind and that I will cover beginning tomorrow include:

  • Know the enemy – what is this thing that is trying to define me and my ability to live? – Not so much the science “what” but the personal, experiential “what”? Realizing that…
  • Know the truth – What are lies about the disease that I am catering to? Lies about myself and my ability to cope? What is the truth of the matter, from God’s perspective? And how do I live in truth? Then…
  • Understand that I am me – the only me that I am. My disease experience may be common to man, but it is affected and made different by my own experience of it and my ability to cope with it in accord with the person I am and choose to be. In that understanding…
  • Discern my limitations – Instead of letting my experience of the disease set the boundaries, I must learn how to protect from its limitations by setting my own, realizing what I can do when and knowing when it is okay to push the envelope and when it is time to rest. Finally…
  • With these truths and insights under my belt, I can live life to the full knowing that truth sets free indeed, wisdom directs the path, and faith, hope and love abide: and the greatest of these is love.  

Even if you are currently in good health, I hope you return for the remainder of this series so you can store up any insights gleaned to share with others, and for use should an enemy assailant strike you.

You Busy Yourself With My Every Step

God is working hard these days to assure my heart of His care, and instruct me in The Way. The title for this pondering comes from the Amplified version of Psalm 37:23, and the thought of its truth thrills my heart.

“The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].”

When God delights in our way, He busies Himself with our every step. God is a personal God, big enough to give full attention to each one who truly seeks Him with the whole heart.

Something else God impressed upon me this week tells me how to walk in a way where our steps are a delight to the Lord. A friend sent me a word of encouragement, written to the body of Christ, authored by Marsha Burns, wife of Bill Burns, Pastor of Faith Tabernacle in Kremmling, CO, sent out in his Spirit of Prophesy Newsletter. In it, she writes as God gave it to her, and I quote:

“Beloved, I am calling you to a higher and more concrete level of faith that will become the basis for activity and endurance.  Much of your spiritual function has been fueled by hope rather than faith and trust in Me, says the Lord.  I would have you come to a level of true belief according to My will and purposes.”

I need a light bulb coming on right here to picture God’s nudge in my Spirit as I read, “Much of your spiritual function has been fueled by hope rather than faith and trust in Me.”

You see, hope is the product of a type of faith. Hope is something for which we look to happen with faith that God will do it.  I believe God’s word that says Jesus is coming again, and therefore I have hope. Functioning out of hope is trying to live in the product of faith without putting forth the effort of faith.

In Hebrews 3-4, God makes it clear that the faith He delights to see in us leads to belief that produces obedience. Delight-producing faith is active, not passive.

You see, we don’t sit all day watching the east for Jesus to come, doing nothing with our time. If we do, something is wrong with our faith. God has a purpose for our being here. Like with Esther, God implores us, “How do you know that you are not here in this place where you are at God’s ordination for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b, paraphrased)

It is not an accident that we live in our here and now. God has a purpose for our being here. The question is, will we believe God with faith to obey His instruction? Will we trust by faith that He has our days numbered for His purposes and not one will be robbed from Him as long as we trust Him with obedient hearts that deny self in order to fulfill His purpose?

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

Hope alone waits to see what the Lord will do. Faith trusts the Lord to be Master and obeys through action in the wait.

Thinking on that good word of encouragement, I had to ask myself: Am I living by faith that believes God through obedience, doing things He calls me to though they may be difficult for me, showing myself of sincere belief that He is Who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do in and through me and my circumstances? Am I actively waiting with hope for Him to work in my circumstances while using me in the midst of difficulty? Am I living as He instructs me, out of belief that He is not only God in my circumstances, but Lord in my life?

Or am I living by a hope that sits on the sidelines waiting for Him to do the miraculous in my situations, as though I have no part or responsibility to Him in this life He gives me?

I have to admit, with many emotionally wrought excuses, I have been sitting on the sidelines of hope a lot lately, waiting for a miracle from God to end the challenge, remove the difficulty, and give reprieve. My excuses are all wrapped up in my fears and insecurities, my weakness and desire to run from the situations filling my mind’s eye; all of which blind me to the truth that God is bigger than my circumstances and situations. I fail to see the truth that His strength is only made stronger by my weakness being entrusted to Him who is able to make me stand.

No more of that. By faith, believing for His grace and provision, I say, “No more!”

Yesterday God gave me marching orders and geared my day to fulfilling that instruction. The doing of it was a blessing to me; not just in doing it, but in experiencing the provision of His strength for it. I don’t understand why He sent me where He did, other than it being an exercise of faith, but I trust that His purpose was fulfilled as He busied Himself with my every step of obedience, and hope in Him fills me with assurance while proof is yet to be seen.

This morning, as I write, I am up early because He called and I followed. And the minute I sat down to be with Him, His Spirit drew me to write this word. By His grace, faith to believe is renewed, and obedience is achieved, the product of it being hope that His purpose is fulfilled in the doing and His glory revealed.

Father, thank You for caring for my every step and for instructing my heart to walk in the care You have for me. By grace, I will live by faith, this day and each to follow, realizing it to be the basis for activity and endurance, trusting that You delight in obedience, and watching as You busy Yourself with my every step. As I press forward with faith to live as one in whom You delight, it is by Your grace that I pray with hope in Jesus name, amen.

GREEN HIGHLIGHTS

God led me this morning to copy Psalm 37 in the Amplified version to my journal. He led me to highlight everything that He highlighted for my spirit, using green highlight for the things the Spirit gave as specific to me and my life struggle. Then the Spirit instructed me to pull all the green highlights to see what the Lord has to say to me. This is what I wound up with—inputting a few words to connect the thoughts as the Spirit instructed. Psalm 37:

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing for the uncompromisingly righteous (the upright in right standing with God) as evil seeks to slay those who walk uprightly: blameless in conduct and in conversation.

“But the Lord upholds the consistently righteous. The Lord knows the days of the upright and blameless, and their heritage will abide forever. They shall not be put to shame in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

“Remember that the uncompromisingly righteous deal kindly and give, for they are able. And you are able for God makes it so as He busies Himself with your every step. Though you fall, you shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps your hand in support and upholds you. Therefore, trusting Truth, depart from evil and do good; and you will dwell forever, securely.

“The mouth of the uncompromisingly righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks with justice. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. Wait for and expect the Lord and keep and heed His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land. Realize that there is a happy end for the man (or woman) of peace; be a woman of peace.

“The salvation of the consistently righteous is of the Lord; He is their Refuge and secure Stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they trust and take refuge in Him.”

Called to Bountiful Supply

“Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:19-20, NASB)

Many times in the past few years of grieving over a life situation God has brought my heart hope through this passage of scripture. Always before He has highlighted for me the importance of my own prayers in the situation and those of others who pray with me to be filled with “earnest expectation and hope” in Him for His work in the situation, but not so today. Today He is highlighting for me the more important component in this equation: “the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Reading this with that portion spiritually highlighted, I recognize that it is not just my knowing how to pray with true, expectant hope that is vital for life. Every circumstance life presents to us brings with it the foremost need to seek after and rely on the Spirit of God: relying not only on His Spirit to work in the situation, but seeking His filling to equip us to deal properly with the challenge it brings.

Taking me a step further, God leads me to read the passage in the Amplified version of Scripture. Here I find that there are circumstances in life that require not only seeking the filling and work of the Spirit of God, but “a bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”

Bountiful – Giving freely and generously; liberal. Marked by abundance; plentiful, ample.

Ample – Of large or great size, amount, extent or capacity. Large in degree, kind or quantity. More than enough. Fully sufficient to meet a need or purpose.

Now I find myself asking why it is that I so often settle on what I can do – pray with hope. Yes, that is needful, but what am I seeking? A miracle that will remove the need to deal with the situation?

Yeah, I think that is what I have wanted, for God to remove the need to go through this pain. But what He wants is for me to seek Him, His filling, His supply, desiring Him and His glory above my freedom from pain. And the joy I realize in that truth is that the pain will be alleviated by the bountiful supply of all that is needful to courageously face the situation and walk through it in the power of God to the glory of His name.

Father, forgive me. I realize my need of Psalm 51 praying right now, as I seek Your bountiful supply that will equip me to give sacrificially to the glory of Your name. In Jesus, here am I, O God. I pray You, show me Your glory! Amen.

Dear Grandkids, Part 5

Principle 4, the B – “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

This scripture does not mean that we are to look at one person as better than another, being judgmental; nor are we to have an attitude of, “I” am better than “them” so “I” won’t run with “them”. Then what does it mean?

It means that those who practice good morals and try to be good people, when in the company of those with a lesser moral code, can easily be corrupted. We all are corruptible. We never get so good on this side of eternity that we are free from the grip of temptation to do wrong. Running with people who do not have the same moral stance that we desire to walk in puts us into a position where we can, and too often will fall from our commitment to a moral purity in line with God’s will and way for us.

On the same line, giving our eyes and ears to things of lower moral excellence than we want to have can and will lead us to corruption. I don’t know a kid who ever said, “I want to be addicted to porn and a pervert when I grow up.” Or “I want to be a drug addict when I grow up.” Etc. But too often we run with people who are in such things and wind up trapped with them.

Even good friends who are normally good people can take us to places and to do things that are bad, making them in that moment to be bad company. Your job then is to set the standard for yourself and be a leader among your peers, helping others to come up higher as human beings of good character. We are to set our own minds and keep them set on the good paths of God, following His will and way (Colossians 3). By setting a good example and encouraging your friend to leave a bad environment, you protect yourself and them from corruption.

When finding yourself in a bad situation, decide now to have the courage and character to leave that place. If a friend is there with you, encourage them to leave too. If they will not leave with you, you leave, and if they are in danger of corruption, love dictates that you have courage enough to call for help in protecting them. If your friend is in a place that will be dangerous for them mentally, physically or morally, you need to be friend enough to tell someone who can help you draw them out of harm’s way.

Always make sure that you have a way to call your parents or another friend or family member who can come to get you.

Such situations as winding up in less than desirable surroundings and having to call parents to rescue you is one of those times when parents, afraid for your life and future, may overreact and punish you for going to such a place. Principle 1, 2 and 3 all come into play here in helping you to accept the consequence of letting yourself be led to a place of potential harm. Remember you are Keeping God First by Loving and Honoring your Parents, who also desire that you Know Who You Are And Who You Want To Be. God and your parents desire you to do those things that will help you reach your highest goals in life. Your parents actions are dictated by that desire. It is better to call your parents to help you out of a bad situation and potentially have to face a just or even unjust punishment than to stay where you are in the midst of bad company, setting a bad example for your friends, and potentially suffering harm for it.

Am I telling you never to have friends who are not Christian? No, not necessarily. What I am saying is that in any friendship, you need to always be the your own leader making choices best for you, and hopefully drawing others to the good things in life. Being the unwitting follower who falls into the pits of life with them is being a person who cannot take credit for their own bad choices, laying blame on others.

If you cannot have courage enough to say, “I will not do that. It puts me in danger of corruption, so how can I do that with you and sin against God” (Genesis 39:9), then you do not need to run with those who follow a wayward path in a life without moral commitment.

Dear Grandkids, Part 4

Principle 3, the third K – Know who you are and who you want to be:

You know, we cannot be our best self if we do not know who that is, and we cannot become more of what we want to be if we do not know where we are now and how we need to change and grow. Now is the time to begin understanding who you are, who you want to be, and how to discern where work and growth are needed.

Sit down with a pen and pad or Word.doc and write down the following things you see about yourself: what your strengths are; what your weaknesses are; your talents and abilities; your struggles and areas of your personality that leave you open to temptation. Now answer the following: When you die, 150 years from now J, what will you want people to say was true about you, and you be able to know that it was true? Write down the things you want to be true about you. Then ask yourself, “If they set pedestals up center stage at my funeral, displaying things on them that depict things of life that are most important to me, what do I want to be best known as important in my life?”

Too many times I have left funerals after hearing all kinds of good things about someone only to hear another leaving the funeral saying something like, “Were we at the right funeral? I never saw any of those good things in that person. Who were they talking about?” You have to decide now the kind of person you want to be, the character traits you want to be known for, and begin now to be that person, known for the things that are truly important to you.

The place to begin your search for character traits worth having is with God and His word. Some passages to consider in scripture that may help are Galatians 5 (especially verses 22-23); Romans 12; Philippians 1-4, Colossians 3.

Continuing on with the thought of self-discovery, answer the following:

What are things about you that you like and want to protect (example: loving others, caring about others, sexually pure until marriage, not addicted to wine or any other substance, etc.)?

What are things about you that keep you from being the best person you can be (stubborn, know-it-all attitude, unbelieving of the things of God, unteachable, resistant to change, manipulative, mean spirited, etc.)? Be real with yourself and real with God. It is often recommended to ask others what they see as your strengths and weaknesses, as we often times are too easy or too hard on ourselves.

Now that you have a picture of the person you are and who you want to be, it is time to plot the course to becoming that person. That means you have to set up some “do’s and don’ts” for life. Looking at all the things you see that are good about you and all the good traits you want to develop, answer the following:

What must you consistently do in being and becoming the person you want to be?

And what must be avoided at all costs – those things that would destroy your goal of becoming the person you want to be?

I would suggest doing a self-collage: a poster of pictures and sayings, words or scriptures that depict the person you want to be known as. Place it where you can see it and be challenged every day to be that person. Realize that as you grow and mature, you will need to re-answer all these things and update your collage. Mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity changes how we see ourselves and our goals for who we want to be.

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 6

 In our last excerpts we discovered how God created the great lights to distinguish day from night and give light to overcome the darkness. We saw how the Sun might represent God and the Moon, Messiah. We saw how all the bodies created revolve around the Sun and reflect its light. And we saw how the Moon reflects the Sun, overcoming the night, and showing the pathway through the night, just as Jesus lights the way to God. Then we saw that God scattered across the night skies more stars than can be counted (both planets and moons that reflect the light of a sun, twinkling in the night for us and true stars that generate their own light).

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The Stars: Realizing that many of the lights in the night sky that we see as stars give off their light by reflecting in the night the Light from the sun, we see that any cosmic body within reach of the sun’s rays will reflect its light. The sun, representing God in this analogy, is always there. It never moves. Planets, however, rotate as they fly around the sun, thus when we are on the side of the earth farthest from the sun and unable to see it, we are reminded of the sun’s presence by reflected light on planets and moons around us. God has placed the Moon and Stars to reflect the Sun, bouncing light to our path, reminding us on the darkest of nights that He has not moved. He is still there, beckoning us to take our cues from the Sun’s reflection off the Moon and the Stars we see in the night, so we can find our way in the dark. Like the sun, God can reflect Himself into dark places using any object, creature or being that crosses the path of His light.

We who believe and follow the guiding Light of the Moon—representing Jesus in this story I tell, are the star light, scattered, faces turned to the God we companion, reflecting Him in the darkness around us. When the Moon-Jesus is high in the sky, shining bright, He acts as an example for us in how to revolve around the Light of God and reflect His Glory, while simultaneously being in alignment with other beings near us who need the light reflected to them. Jesus gives off the brightest light in the night skies of this life. But, like the moon, there are times when we cannot see the light of Jesus. Remember and take courage that when we cannot see the Light of Jesus, it is because He stands between us and the heat of the Sun, interceding on our behalf. In the darkest times, when the moon seems to be nowhere, that is when God twinkles at us through the reflected light of others on a starry night.

Like the stars in the night sky above us, our light is lesser than that of the Moon, which has greater honor and rules the night, overcoming it through the sacrifice and service of His Love. And we are workers with Him, drawing near to God through Him, and, following His example, becoming a type of light in likeness to Him; thus we Stars are useful for piercing the darkness and giving light to help others find their way as well, by reflecting the light and glory of the Sun—the God of all creation.

But let’s not forget the example seen in the true stars, those other suns in the distance that have light within themselves. To me these flaming stars represent those who have the light of God within them. The Holy Spirit of God enters in to spark light from within. For these, even the darkest nights, when reflected light is absent, is overcome by the light residing within them. These are the people of God who can go through some of the most horrific things, and come through shining brighter than ever, because they have God at work within them, making them like He is.

Thus we have the great analogy of God seen in the sky. But there is more to learn from God’s pictorial.

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Notice now these Lights: the Sun that never leaves its position of authority and that cannot be overcome by the darkness, the Moon that revolves around and worships the Sun with us, the stars both the reflectors of light, and having it within us. The Moon, having overcome the night with its light, now reveals the path to right relationship with the Sun, revolving around and watching over us as victor in the world, showing us how to worship God and minister in His name, with the whole of life revolving around the God of its creation.

Now note that this passage says of these lights that they are all set in place “for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth.”

God, like the sun, holds His place throughout the ages and His authority and reality is not hindered by lack of faith to believe. He is Who He says He is, and He can do what He says He can. He reflects Himself to us and reveals Himself through all creation, whether or not we recognize it. Unlike the moon, Jesus is fully God and one with Him. He, too, is throughout the ages. As example to us, His ageless testimony and sacrifice, follows every generation, beckoning us to follow Him in worship of and service to God.

Then there are the stars. Like the stars, we are in our positions as little lights—lamps, if you will—set here in this particular season of life, for a purpose.  

We’ve discussed the importance of the lamp before in other writings. Like the lamp, stars are scattered according to God’s will, placed in strategic places where their light is most needed. Some stars may seem dim to us, but if you get past the blanket of darkness to draw near, you will see the brilliance of their light, as they reflect the Sun. Our position in life: the age in which we live, the state of our condition, the destiny before us, is no accident. We are strategically placed where most needed for reflecting His light. You are not an accident. You are God’s creation, purposed to reflect His glory, and you are set on course with a plan. Like with Esther, God has a plan for your position in life. He is set to reflect His glory through you to light up the dark places in your path.

The story goes on to tell how God then created the fish of the sea and the birds of the air on the 5th day, with animals of all kinds following on the 6th. Paul, in the book of Romans, tells us that these too are a type of star as they are there to glorify, or shine the light of the Father that reveals the Creator God. But His greatest creation came, also on the 6th day, as God of all created beings worked in all His fullness to create man in His own image, able to know right from wrong and to choose right, thus being companions and friends of God.

We most reflect His glory when we follow the example of the Moon in revolving around the Sun. But notice something more here, as depicted in creation. As we revolve around the Sun—representing our entire being committed to relationship with God; God, in the form of the living Christ, God incarnate, the part of His being that can relate with humankind, seen in the action of the Moon, revolves around us, making all that He is available to us.

God’s greatest desire is for a relationship, a companionship with us. He watches over us in the night. He reflects His own light to us, making Himself knowable. He provides the path and gives light to the way for finding that relationship. He beckons us with His light, shining in the night.

 God can reflect Himself off of any object that gets in the path of His light. Many seem to shine with Him for a time, only to fall away when darkness comes. Thus, we need to note that the true star, the body that can shine light in the night even when something gets in the way of the Sun’s light, are those bodies that catch the flame of His Light. They are so in relationship with Him, that He puts Himself in them in the form of His Spirit, so they then can shine His Light in the darkest night, when the Sun is hidden from view. He grants to those who truly find the path of relationship and receive the gift of His Light within themselves the power to perform. He never leaves them nor can be hidden from them because He is within them. We are told in the Holy Bible that these are the stars that choose relationship with Him through the Sacrificial Lamb. Into these He places His Spirit to light up their life from within.

Over those who choose the position of the Star, those who choose to reflect and be filled with His Light, Creator God who ordained the night as well as the day looks on with a smile. With the beam of a proud Daddy, He says of His creation, “Wow. Attention, angelic forces! Attention all created beings. Look up. See it. It is good. Well done, though good and faithful servant.”

Shine on, beloved star of God. Shine on to light up the place where you stand.

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 3

Thus far in our study we have discovered God’s creation of light and dark that distinguishes day from night and gives visual aid for understanding good verses evil. Then we have covered the introduction of choice as depicted in the creation of the expanse that divided the water. Today, as I read on, I notice something that thrills my soul: the rest of the story that is illustrated in the creation seen in day four. Oops. Before we look at it, let’s not skip day three:

In day three, God collected the water together on the earth to form the seas, exposing the dry land upon which He produced a garden. In that garden He created various plants and vegetation that had its seed in it.

I am sure you have noticed, as I have, that God is a Creator who believes in variety. Yes, there are apple trees and orange trees, each having seed in it by which to reproduce itself. God obviously never meant for everything to be the same. But even in looking at an apple tree or an orange tree—or an apple or an orange for that matter, each will be different from the rest. God created there to be many varieties of plants, animals, and people. And though we have the seed of reproduction in us, and though there is likeness for each, none ever brought forth from that seed is exactly like another. There will be something unique and special about each one. And God looked, and He saw, saying, “It is good.”

We are not supposed to be like everyone else, so quit trying.

Some are smarter with greater wisdom for use of knowledge. Some are more talented in various forms of the fine arts. Others are gifted in craftsmanship. We can learn from one another and become better at being who we are in the process, but we are not meant to be clones of each other. Each creating being is meant to grow and become the best “me” possible.

To try to hold those who are gifted, talented and smarter back in their progress to becoming their best so one who is less apt in that area can feel better about themselves, is to rob society of the contribution those people can one day make if their gifting, talent, skill, and intelligence is cultivated and encouraged. To tell someone that they should be as good as that other one in an area of talent, gifting, intelligence, etc., frustrates their life, causing them to pursue after something that is not theirs to have, while keeping them from discovering what their strong-suit in life is.

We are supposed to discover that unique beauty within, created there by God, and rejoice in who we are, while finding a unity with Him and His companions in which to use our uniqueness in bearing fruit that betters the whole of His creation. It is through each of us becoming the best we can be that He is able to shine the light of His glory through us to those around us. Which leads us finally, to see something beautiful revealed in God’s creation-flannel-board of life, and at which we will begin to look—tomorrow.

Worth My Knee

Reading through John and pulling thoughts chapter by chapter to help me celebrate Jesus in this season of rebirth and renewal, John 18 speaks:

Jesus asked, “Whom do you seek?” (“Who are you looking for?” – NLT). “…When He said to them, ‘I am He’, they drew back and fell to the ground. …Put your sword in its sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it? …You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

It is very interesting that, as I go through John, remembering and celebrating Jesus, I come to these thoughts on this first day of 2012. My focus for spiritual growth in this year is to grow in my surrender to His Lordship, giving Him all that I am for His use in whatever way He desires. There are three things I see here that will help me as I begin this journey of the Spirit in this New Year:

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Realizing, remembering and hearing within, by faith, that He is the Christ, He is the one we look for, will bring me to fall before Him in acknowledgement of His glory. He is God’s chosen King, the Christ, the One we look for.

I have always been amazed by this passage. I don’t take it as a mockery toward Him that they feel down. It is almost as if all who came to take Him to the death that would come to this One who so loved the world that He willing gave His own life, His love covering a multitude of sins; they realized in that instant that this was the One worthy of bowing before. He was worthy of their knee.

I think the fear of the Lord God, the Father, struck their hearts and put them on their knees before His Son and King. This is the heart attitude I must have as I begin this year of growing stronger in giving myself to His Lordship. I must come into greater depths of realization that He is the Chosen King, and He is worthy of my knee in worship and acknowledgement of His rightful position in my life. He is King of kings, and Lord of lords.

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Next, as I read His word to Peter when Peter tried to protect his Lord, I see the example set by Jesus as One who is surrendered to His Lord, “This cup I am to drink is from my Father. How then shall I not drink it?”

Jesus never gave us false hope. He never told us that God WILL heal every disease and keep us from suffering in this life we now live; that all things will be well with us at all times while here in this earth, ruled by the father of lies and lord of sin. That promise of complete healing and total safety is truth and can happen in the here and now, but it is for the life to come, perfected in eternity because of the sacrifice of Jesus in this world, saved for those who believe Him and given to those who receive Him as Lord now, through faith believing even though we do not yet see it in the physical (Hebrews 11:1).

So what did Jesus promise? He said, “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. EACH DAY HAS ENOUGH TROUBLE OF ITS OWN” (Matthew 6:34). He called us to face today’s trouble with His power and leave tomorrow to Him. Grace is promised to be sufficient for each day’s trouble. Wasting that energy on worry over what MIGHT come tomorrow only weakens us and makes today’s trouble unbearable, having insufficient strength for today because we spent our strength yesterday on worries that may never come to pass. And if they do come to our life, we often find that we drained our strength through worry, having little reserve for dealing with it now that it’s here.

He did promise, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” Then He added, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27). Heart-trouble and fear are products of worry and fretting, often over the ‘what-might-be-s’ of life. To warn us to not let our hearts be troubled or fearful in life but to receive and live with peace of heart as He has gifted us to do says to me that there will be cause for us to have troubled and fearful hearts, and resting it in His care, receiving His peace to persevere is the solution that overcomes the troubling of the heart, preserving strength for overcoming.

Also He advised us, “These things (His words of warning, promise, hope and instruction) I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. IN THE WORLD YOU HAVE TRIBULATION, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Following Jesus will mean cups of trouble and tribulation that must be drank with understanding that as we walk through trouble in life with the peace and grace He supplies, we too will be overcomers. As such, we will be used of Him to help others to find relationship with God and His supply through Christ for dealing with troubled lives. Just as His sacrifice for us covered a multitude of sin, He uses our experiences in this life to help others who struggle as we have in knowing how to find hope, peace and restoration in their similar situations.

Someone I love dearly is going through a very troubled time right now, trouble that is too common to our world, the consequence of sin in life. He wants to see God’s mercy as His hand reaching down to remove those circumstances. I cannot seem to help him understand that God’s mercy keeps him in the hand of God, saved by grace through faith for an eternity in His presence, but mercy does not always remove consequences from our here and now. What mercy does do is supply grace sufficient to help us walk through the consequences with peace of heart and hope for eternity as we wait for restoration. And restoration will come; if not here, then there. It can come here. But experience tells me it does not usually come until we say, “Shall I not drink of this cup set before me by my Lord?”

So what is God telling me? He is reminding me that following Him wholeheartedly will not always be easy, but it will always bear kingdom fruit. As I grow deeper in my relationship with Him and as He uses the way I walk through trouble to help others in their struggle, it will make me an example of one who is an overcomer with Him. One cannot be an overcomer without first being one who has overcome, and we overcome by walking in His grace provided to us because He drank the cup and overcame the world, Satan, sin, death, and troubled flesh. We enter into Him who has overcome, receiving within us the hope of His promise and provision, so that we can walk through as overcomers.

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Lastly, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”

The surrendered life requires that I recognize that He is the King, promised by God, and that I listen for and heed His “voice.” John 10 promises that those who are His hear His voice and follow Him. It also promises that the voice of a stranger will not be followed.

God taught me long ago to trust that He can make His voice clear to me. I trust Him to speak and move quickly to obey in faith that I hear my Shepherd-Master and am expected to follow without hesitation. When doubt enters, I begin to ask God if the voice I am hearing is that of the stranger, or if I am hesitating out of fear and disbelief, which leads to disobedience. And I am learning to seek the Lord to help me so greatly to know His voice that the knowledge of it keeps the stranger’s voice strange to me.

Who is the stranger? The stranger is my own flesh, which wages war against me, opposing God’s work in me; the world, which stands in opposition to God and His ways; and Satan, who desires to be God. These three, the flesh, the world and demons—which are the armies of Satan, are called “wisdoms” by James in James 3. These constantly speak a wisdom to us that is in opposition to truth.

As I begin this New Year with focus on growing stronger in follow-ship, in complete surrender to His Lordship, giving all I am to Him for His use, He reminds me to count the cost and realize that though it will be with challenge that I follow Him, He will help me bear it, and through me He will bear fruit for eternity that will make all worth it one day. No matter what this year holds, it is His voice that will lead me to choose life, and live it with abundance that glorifies His name, accomplishes His purpose, brings His eternal Kingdom to my reality, and bears fruit in me that makes me an overcomer through Christ: my Example, my King.

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As we begin this New Year, I pray for us to know the King of kings and Lord of lords. May we walk in His provision to overcome the world. May we have courage to drink the cup He sets before us, and come out of it having born the fruit of righteousness through resurrection power.

Get Up, Let Us Go From Here

“So that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here” (John 14:31).

Through this Christmas and New Year’s season, I am putting up portions of scripture from John on my Spark and FaceBook status in celebration of the Christ for which I observe the season. There is so much meat in John 14, I want to put the entire chapter up on my status bar this morning. But with the New Year coming, this small portion seemed best of all to share.

Look at these words. Don’t they seem a good place to begin in preparing for a New Year? Jesus is our example for life, and what better place to end one year and prepare for another than to check our relationship with the Father.

Through John 14, Jesus tells of His leaving to prepare a place for us. He instructs that He and the Father are one, and we can see the Father by looking at Him – not His physical appearance, which is not truly known, but His character and actions, the things He gives focus to and the preoccupations He sets His mind on. Then He tells that we, too, can be one with Them, Father and Son. How is that accomplished? By following His example, developing like character, and doing as the Father commands us, setting our focus and preoccupations on the things that are important to the Father—on truth as He sees it.

As we draw a close to the year 2011, I must ask God how I have done at developing godly character and in following in Christlike obedience. In this evaluation, it doesn’t matter what I perceive that others have done to me. God is dealing with MY own character and actions right now. He judges me on the merit of my own choices, not what others did that may have led to it. Our relationship with the Father, the building of His character in us and our obedience in following the example of Christ is the true gauge of success or failure.

I first typed, “ask myself”, but our hearts are deceptive. We can fool ourselves into thinking we are better than we truly are. And we can also beat ourselves up pretty bad, beating ourselves down to a point of being useless to God, ourselves and others in the days to come. So let’s ask God for His opinion. God looks at the heart and He is not deceived. He will lead us to truth and work with us to increase righteousness and make us like Jesus, who is like the Father.

As we draw near to 2012, I must ask God what areas of life I need to give focus to in developing godly character; and I must recognize if there are specific instructions God is giving me for following Jesus.

I have a long road to go this coming year as I deal with Fibromyalgia and work to change habits of a lifetime that affect that health issue. It will not happen overnight. I did not develop the habits overnight, and unless God works a miracle, which is not happening yet, it will take time and work to change the habits. But nothing shall be impossible with God. As long as my heart is set on that as fact, there is hope. He will help me, and His patience toward me is unfathomable.

How about you? What challenge do you face this year? God has given me the following passage to encourage my journey. Perhaps it will encourage you as well.

“…Behold, I will make you to be a new, sharp, threshing instrument which has teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest or whirlwind shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the Lord, you shall glory in the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:8-16, AMP). Wow! There is a whole other blog in that.

Father, as I consider this passage, I realize change will not happen overnight. I see this fact clearly as I consider this passage. A sharp threshing instrument which has teeth has to chew the mountain down one bite at a time. It will take work on my part, hard work, and deliberate effort. I pray for each of us as we face our mountains that we will have Your patience and endurance, Father. May we see our progress through Your eyes, and rejoice in Your work in our lives, giving You the glory due Your name. In Jesus, amen.

Jesus Had The Choice

John 10:17-18 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

This speaks to me today as I consider that Jesus is our example in all things. I note here anew that from the day of His birth till the instant of His death, Jesus had the choice. He chose to lay His life down for you and for me, but He had the right, given Him from the Father, to change His mind at any point along that road.

You and I have been gifted with the authority to choose as well. Just like Jesus, we are called day by day to lay down our life—our own wants and desires—and take up our cross—choosing God’s will and way, His assignment for the sake of others, over our own wants and desire, thus following Jesus. At any point along the way we have the right to change our mind, lay down our cross, and take back up our life.

Aren’t you glad that Jesus stayed the course for our sake? I find myself asking today, “Is there an area in my life where I am failing to stay the course for His sake?”

I also note, as I read this passage, that Jesus knew that laying down His life was only temporary. By laying it down to fulfill the will of God, He would win it back again with greater abundance. Sounds like another example worth following, doesn’t it?

In this Christmas season, let’s give back to Jesus the blessed gift of followship.

The Promised Lands of Life

What I have learned about getting older: it wasn’t the big 50 that got me; nor the usual 30 that everyone baulks about. It was facing 40 that nearly did me in. I kept thinking, “There are 70 years allotted to man, and if blessed of God, 80. Half my life is over!”

Then God reminded me, “After 40 years, they entered the Promised Land. There is greater still to come, kiddo.” So I am looking for the promise.

However there is one important thing God didn’t remind me of that I have had to learn from experience: the taking of the Promised Land was one battle after another, and it has been that way for me. I have grown spiritually more in the past 16 years than in all the 40 before them. But it has not been an easy walk to glory. It has been one spiritual up-hill-battle after another, usually focused on digging out some root in me that hinders my walk with God.

In this journey to the Promised Lands of life, I have learned from experience that the battles ordained by God are always with His presence in the fight—He never leaves me nor forsakes me; and it always works a greater good than I can even imagine. So press forward, Beloved of God, knowing the journey ahead may not always be easy, but it will be worth the effort in accomplishing the greater things of God’s glory.

Greener Grass?

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

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

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

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

That You May Be Filled!

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God…” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NASB).

The Holy Spirit at work in us strengthens us through His power in the inner person, making in us a place where Christ may dwell; and that, by faith. Note this: as we surrender by faith to Christ’s indwelling, we begin to grow to understand the depth and breadth of His love for us. The more we surrender to allowing Christ to continue to live in this life through His presence is us, the more we will grow in our understanding of His love toward us. The knowledge of that love enables us to be filled up to all the fullness of God. The greater our understanding and our receipt of His love for each individual of us, the more His Spirit will be housed within us.

As we understand and surrender to this love of God found in this vital relationship with Christ, we are prepped and equipped to be filled with His
Spirit; filled to all the fullness of God—all that He is, available and working in and through us to the glory of His name. Is that not an awesome truth to grasp! And what is the proof of His fullness at work in us?

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (5:1-2).

Love is the proof. And not just any love, but that unconditional love that is self-sacrificing; that love that will die to one’s own agenda in order to honor God in our love-walk through benefitting others through love; even when that love hurts or requires sacrifice on our part. It is through our example of Christ’s love that others around us can begin to comprehend the unfathomable love of God that allowed His Son to get on that cross where the sins of all time weighed down his shoulders. And our filling through understanding and receiving and giving that love becomes a fragrant aroma to the nostrils of our God, bringing rejoicing to His heart.

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit” (5:16-18).

Our time is short in this life. There are only so many hours in a day, so many days in a month, and just 12 months to a year. And our years are truly just a breath in eternity. So few days to make a difference in the lives of those we say we love. There is no time to waste—which is what drunkenness is; whether that drunkenness is with wine, our own sense of self-worth and self-exaltation, the pursuit of riches in this life that are doomed to destruction; you name it. Any pursuit, any preoccupation that deadens our spiritual senses and robs our time from giving into the lives of those we love is tantamount to drunkenness. So we must choose wisely how we use our time, and we must have right motives in it all if we are to walk in the power and filling of the Sprit to make the most of our short time here.

“…Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21, NASB).