Tag Archives: Life

Religion: or Jesus?

For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit ~ 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.

I arise early this morning with a flow of Spirit speaking what I believe to be truth to my heart over an issue that more and more becomes important to me, because it is used by enemy forces to tear asunder and dismember the body of Christ. We are called to be one, yet we are separated by religious doors. It breaks my pea picking heart, as my momma might say.

I have many friends and family members of many differing religious persuasions, and the one thing I find that draws us and closes the gap of our respective belief systems is unity of faith in Christ and common grounds of truth. Oh, I want so for this to flow to you as beautifully as it has to me. Lord, here am I, a conduit looking to You to flow through me.

I am thinking on this subject this early morn because of questions to a friend and Sister in Christ in a group we attend together where she is being asked to share about her religion of choice. Always unnerves me when the body starts talking religion. You see, as I look at this subject of religion or Jesus, what I see is that when we come together through the veil of Christ, we find bonds that bind us as one through the truth we unite under in faith of mutual belief. But religion exists because of differing opinions of truth. There is only one real truth: God’s truth; so how can this be? Where there are differing opinions of truth, at least one in a group of two is living behind a veil of falsehood.

God is truth, and in Him we find fullness of truth that unites. But Satan, the father of lies, throws little twists into our understanding of God’s truth, just enough to work separation and dismemberment in the body. A house divided will soon fall, right? Satan cannot destroy Truth, but he can throw a few wrenches in through weak flesh that is open to the allure of the lie and destroy the fullness of the effectiveness of the body to work together as one. So what is the answer?

This friend I mentioned earlier, I love her so much and I see and experience Jesus in her. It is where our bond comes from. But she was raised in and still resides in a religious faction that is very controversial in our day and is seen by the rest of Christendom as a cult. Now, from what I have been taught of that belief system, when held against the strictest defining parameters that separate the true church from the cultic practices, I cannot argue with that evaluation regarding her religion. But I can argue with any who would try to tell me that she does not know Jesus, the Savior, and God the Father, as I do.

Some others I love warn me, “Darlene, they are being taught how to talk Jesus so as to be more palatable to us Christians.” I have no doubt that can happen in any church, but the Spirit of God and the connection He brings to the equation cannot be mimicked or taught by human reason. I have experienced the sincerity of her faith. We are Sisters in Christ, I have no doubt, but we are divided by religious falsehood in some areas: whether hers or mine, God knows.

Now here is what God showed me that I found to be so beautiful as I awoke with this heartache over religion and its dismemberment of Christ’s body. I believe it is the solution to the division if we can grasp it to walk it out in the earth.

When Jesus gave His life, a propitiation for all sin, the instant He breathed His last breath of His earthly life, God, the Father, reached down to the temple of Israel and rent asunder for all time the veil that divided Him from those who seek His face. In the place of that veil stepped Jesus at the ordination and beckoning of God the Father.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; He is the only Door by which we may be saved and have access to the Father; and all who desire to enter in to the holy of holies must first pass through Him by faith in the sacrifice of blood He paid. None who go through Him are turned away. All who go through Him have personal access to God, as Jesus is our advocate; and in Him we are raised up as part of the Royal Priesthood.  No man or human institution has right to restore the veil God removed in Christ. Any who would hold another back telling them they are not pure enough to enter the holy place of God’s presence are standing in falsehood and resurrecting the old veil, lacking understanding of the fullness of Christ to the equation of salvation and sanctification. How can I say that? (1 Peter 2:9; Hebrews)

There, in the holy of holies we find the purest of love, truth, righteousness, holiness, justice—a justice wrought through grace found in Christ, peace, unity, and wholeness. As I thought on this fact, I saw myself step through the Veil, Jesus, into God’s presence with my Sister in Christ, and I physically felt all the fetters of this life fall away: sin, falsehood, division, enmity, fear, distrust, and separation fell to the wayside and the only thing that mattered in that place was the common ground of the fullness of God’s truth coupled with faith to believe. We were one in Christ. All religion swept away. We both felt this burden removed and turned with amazement to the Door we just passed through in believing faith together.

I long for a place like that. The only way I see of finding it in our earthly existence is to lay down all of our preconceived ideas of truth and walk through the veil. Only as we begin to see churches rise up with only one name over their doorway will we find it. Only as we step through the door of Jesus together and enter into the presence of God with open hearts to full truth will we find healing to bind up the brokenness in the Body of Christ in our day.

My heart breaks as I see lines drawn that seem to say, “Follow me in my religious beliefs and understanding if you want unity with me, even though our separation works disunity in Jesus’ body.” And a flipside to this that furthers the gap between us is the watch groups who are so bent on pointing out the falsehood they see in others, when all that is needed is to present truth and let God draw the hearer through the veil. What separation we breed when we raise the hair on the neck of those who feel they have to fight for their religious right. Truth unites. Speak truth and watch God bring down the veils of separation among us.

I have had the privilege through ministries God has placed me in to walk in the doors of many differing churches of most every differing religious faction. What I have found is this: though I may not agree with all I hear, when I walk in to hear from God, I will receive something, some truth I can cling to that inspires my day and helps me on my way. There I find common ground with believers in that place. When I enter those doors with Jesus-love in heart, I always find, without exception, a brother or sister connection with others who have believing faith on common grounds of truth too.

Religion: or Jesus? Won’t you come through the veil with me where we find wholeness of truth and faith to believe? Let us cast off our preconceived ideas of the things that separate us and bring them to the holy of holies where truth is found. If God is God…and He is…if He desires truth…and He does…don’t you think He will teach our hearts unity of faith to believe and be one in Christ’s beautiful body?

Father, teach us truth that we may be whole and accomplish Your purpose in the earth. In Jesus, the veil, the only true door, we pray. Amen.

Count Your Blessings A Comfort

“If the world were perfect, you would never experience the pleasure of receiving comfort from Me” ~ * Sarah Young.

I know how true this is, but to see it in print brings a whole new dimension to life in a world of sorrow and hardship. How would we know the comfort of God if we never experienced the need of it? This truth is awesome to realize.

If Eden had stood firm and we all lived in perfect bliss, in the constant presence of God with His full provision at arm’s reach, we would not realize how blessed a life the Garden of God provides. We would not know the extent of the joy and security of the Secret Place of His presence if we never knew fear and distress, loneliness and sorrow. And the assurance of His provision would go unnoticed if we never tasted hunger, depravity, helplessness, worry, and hopelessness. Joy and peace would have no measure without sadness and anxiety to mark the other end of the continuum. His righteousness, grace, mercy, and love would escape us if we had no understanding of sin, shame, judgment, disappointment, and even hate.

Thinking on these things brought whole new meaning to these words of Jesus as I read them this morning:

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” ~ John 4:10.

Oh the gift of God; to know and understand Him because we have a gauge of measure for recognizing just how great He truly is. Realizing the contrast raises in me greater hope and anticipation of His coming to take us home to that Garden, my friend. Does it you?

God longs for us to experience His full provision, relationship, peace, and power. For that to be known, we must know the opposite end of the equation. Rejoice, beloved. As difficult as it may be or get here in this life, there is an opposite to be known in the Secret Place of God’s eternal presence.

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]” ~ Psalm 91:1, AMP.

* Sarah Young, Jesus Today, Devotional #15, Page 34.

Caught in the Wake: Part 2b

Humble Enough to Draw Near

Walking on Water06“Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” ~ James 4:5-8a.

Here, in the last portion of our focal passage for part 2 of “Caught in the Wake”, we have a step by step blueprint to walking on water in the midst of stormy seas.

Submit to God:

Sin is failure to walk in unity with God, and walking with God requires us to follow His will, doing so in His way. When we realize our part in causing a surge of sin around us, we must reach up our hand to God by admitting where we got off track in following Him and coming into agreement with Him that our fall was sin and we need His grace again.

Two things I want to look at here is the “Note” from yesterday promising to cover the “personal sin” issue; and we need to look at the work of the Holy Spirit who “convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment.” Without understanding in these two areas, a storm tossed sea that continues even though we submit will confuse us and can be used of Satan to discourage us. So let’s begin with the first, the fact that it is personal sin we have to deal with.

As was hopefully made clear in the introduction to this series, a wake of sin of this proportion is not generally caused by one person,

Returning to walking with Jesus
Returning to walking with Jesus

but by many whose waves of consequences combine to cause surging seas that appear insurmountable. Now, as is the way of God, I can do nothing by way of repentance on behalf of another. Each person is responsible before God to repent for their own sin issues. I can confess in agreement with God that what they did is sin, and I can pray for the Spirit to do His work in drawing them to God, but I can only repent for my own sins and make myself right with Him anew. Why? Because repentance requires one to turn from walking their own way, to walking in God’s ways. That requires a choice of heart, for from the heart flows the issues of life. My feet will follow my heart, so if my heart is not following God in His desires, my feet will continue to struble over the stones of sin coming from my hardened heart. Only I can choose for myself whether I will follow God and obey Him, doing things His way. My relationship with God is my own and yours is yours.

When we get our eyes focused on the surge of waves brought up by the sins of others, we put ourselves in danger of sinking under the emotional assault and fault finding that comes to us with such a focus. When caught on stormy seas, our focus must be to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our attention on making sure we are hand in hand with Him who equips us to walk on top of the water. This is where the Teacher and understanding His role come into play. The Spirit is responsible to instruct our hearts, and His instruction is clearly stated as being that of bringing understanding to us regarding sin, righteousness and judgment.

The work of the Spirit in the life of one not yet united with Christ is to draw him to realize sins grip that has him enslaved in an eternity without God. He causes that lost soul to realize that God is righteous and holy and can have no part with sin. And He makes that person aware of the judgment already passed against sin, which is separation from God for all eternity. Then the Spirit causes the person’s eyes to open to the saving grace of God that is found only in the Lamb provided by God, Jesus Christ, the Savior. That person then has the choice of remaining under sin and slave to it, or having the chains torn asunder by their choosing to enter into the sacrifice of Christ that frees from sin. Once they choose saving grace, the Holy Spirit of God enters into their lives, becoming one with their spirit, granting them access to the Father through their new birth in relationship with Christ.

Now this new Christian has the Spirit forever within, and the role of the Spirit takes on a deeper dimension of grace that starts this new creature in Christ on a road of transformation and the Spirit works to restore the image of God that was created in mankind from the beginning, but was distorted by sin. With every choice that comes before the Christian, the Spirit works to make them aware of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He instructs their heart, if they are listening: “This way leads to sin, the judgment and consequences of which is against God and contrary to Him. That direction leads to righteousness, the effect of which will maintain relationship with God and accomplish His purpose.”

Submission to God heeds the teaching of the Spirit, reaches out from the heart to grab the hand of Jesus, who empowers us through the Spirit to walk on top of the waters of life and complete His sufferings of accomplishing the work of God in the earth. The blood of Jesus keeps us covered while the Spirit of God is doing the work of transformation in us, bringing us to completion until the day of Christ’s return, when eternity in God’s new Kingdom begins. Thus is the path of submitting to God, which automatically produces our next point in overcoming the storm tossed seas.

Resist the devil:

Note that submission to God is automatic resistance to the devil, who is always in opposition to God. We cannot walk with God and with the devil at the same time. When we are in submission to God’s will and way in life, we stand hand in hand with God through Christ, and the devil turns with cringing fear to get away from us.

The devil is total opposite to God. God is truth. The devil is the lie and the father of lies / liars. God is good and loves goodness. The devil is evil and loves evil. God is love – love always does what is best for the one loved, which is to protect unity with the Father-God and our ability to walk with Him. The devil is hate, desiring to be god himself, he does all he can to destroy our relationship to God and cause us to fall away to following after sin.

When we give ourselves to sin, we walk away from God to walk with the devil, making him god of our lives. When we become a stumbling block in the lives of others, leading to their falling into sin, we cooperate with Satan’s desire and work in the earth. So we must resist the devil by submitting to God, which causes us to…

Draw near to God:

Walking on water04When we choose to walk with God, His glory surrounds us as He draws near to us in renewed relationship. The devil will cringe at the presence of God with us and run away from us. This is the cycle that comes from drawing near to God through submission to Him that resists the devil and causes God to draw near to us.

And how much greater still it is when we live a life that not only holds to the hand of Jesus who enables us to walk on the waters beneath us, but we reach our hand out to help another grab His and walk with us to victory.

When we love God and begin to take on His likeness anew, we search for truth and walk in it, making it known to those around us. God’s goodness begins to flow through us like a river to refresh and help those around us. And His love fills us and spills out to the lives of others.

The Spirit grows strong within us, quickening us – making life found in relationship with God come to our eternal spirit. And we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, humility, compassion, and other qualities of God flourish within us, making us holy as He is holy.

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

Even as we practice these spiritual disciplines on a personal level and get on top of the water in the midst of stormy seas, the surge can continue because we are not the sole source of the surge. Remember in our example, one sinned, hurting another in a way that made them an open target as the hurt cracked their armor, allowing the tempter to draw them out from their relationship with God. Sin has a domino effect that brings an avalanche crashing into the calm waters below, and the ripple of sins hitting the peaceful places surges the stormy winds of sin’s consequences. Each person involved plays a role in the cause of the storm that is sending waves of harm to the lives of all around them. And each must do their part to get back on top of the water with Jesus. Until each one is in right relationship with God anew, the storm will continue to beat down on all in its path.

This being true, how do we recoup and press forward while waiting for others involved to do their part in calming the storm around us? What can we do to quiet the winds and bring calm to the waters of life again? See you next post.

Caught in the Wake

Introduction

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

God is Holy. What does that mean?

Holy means separated from sin; set apart from evil; filled with good, righteousness, and truth.

God IS and He IS Holy!

Two things about this reveal to us that God and sin cannot abide or dwell in the same place. One who is separated from sin cannot remain where sin resides. And One who is fully good, righteous, and true will shatter and scatter sin, for sin cannot remain in the presence of the Holy. Sin is dark. God is Light. Light dispels darkness. Thus God tells us, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” ~ James 4:7-8.

As we walk away from sin, we walk into the glory of the very presence of God. But, as we see mentioned in the verse above, there is an Aliveenemy who seeks to draw us away from God. He is the epitome of sin and the father of lies. He desires all God has, wanting to be god himself, so he fights all that God is and all that He loves, seeking to destroy God’s desire and design.

This demon-king, Satan, knows that the flesh is weak. He knows that apart from God, we can do nothing. So he works overtime, appealing to our flesh, enticing us through our lusts, and luring us away from God so that sin can rule. And when he cannot lure us, he will put us on the run in a panic, causing us to forget grace, leading to our struggle to work our way back to a righteous stance, thus, we try to become our own savior and usurp the work of Christ.

In introducing this short series of study, let me tell you a little story that is true of many today, and that could be true for any in our day.

A family of people is going through life with all the normal ups and downs we all have. They are strong Christian people, seeking the Lord fervently. Faithful in church, they are actively involved and growing strong in their personal ministry of faith. Their children are strong in the Lord, growing, and greatly loved as exemplary pupils of the faith.

One day the father, upset over some personal hurt, takes a step toward an old sin struggle and begins anew to look at porn. His sin grows stronger as his addiction renews its old hold and enslaves him. He winds up committing adultery in a way that causes his family to turn from him. Divorce ensues.

In her hurt, the wife reaches out to friends for help. Many come to her aid, both male and female. One thing leads to another and she falls into the arms of sin for her comfort.

Divorce leads to the necessity of moving the kids off from their strong support system. The kids, devastated over their family falling apart, made worse by the loss of strong friendships, begin to struggle with the ugliness of life. One falls into depression. Another turns to anorexia. Still another follows the example of the father and falls to addiction to porn. They begin to be snared by a spirit of falsehood, and lies seem easier to them than the truth.

The mother has pressed on to try to get life back where it should be, but one hardship after another knocks her down. Worry over the children, financial issues, discord with the ex-husband, the struggle of new relationships, all of it begins to take its toll on her weary soul.

All these beloved of God are trapped in the wake of sin—their own and that of those near to them.

Wake – The visible track of turbulence left by something moving through water. A track, course, or condition left behind something that has passed. In the aftermath of; as a consequence of.

Sin starts a ripple effect that disturbs all around it. One wave hits, bringing about another, over and over, each building the next until a surge of insurmountable proportion brings flooding and devastation. Many in our day are trapped in the wake of sin. How to get out? That is the question.

Over the next few days we will look at this phenomenon and discover the answers to the following questions:

  • Did God, who is Holy, allow the sin? Why or why not?
  • What is one to do who finds themselves caught in such a wake?
  • How do we recoup?
  • How do we press forward?

Beloved, no one living in this world is immune to sin, and sin can and will clutch the lives of even the most godly if it is given the opportunity of a crack in our defenses. My hope is that by the end of this series, we will not only have the answers to the above questions, but that we will know and understand this word from James:

“…do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” ~ James 4:5-6.

 

 

 

Living Worshipers’ Jehovah-Nissi Rally

Living Worshipers’ Jehovah-Nissi Rally.

Living Worshipers is a prayer and worship website, calling God’s people in Christ to unite as a Spirit of Worship to seek Him in our day. This is our first call to rally together in Spirit for a day of prayer.

Jehovah-Nissi Rally (The Lord our Banner), is coming together under the banner of our God to cry out for our nation. We hope you will check us out and join us for this event wherever you are.

Look the Right Way!

MM900395755[1]“Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, and as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy and loving-kindness for us” ~ Psalm 123:2, AMP.

Several months ago God instructed my heart that “A Storm” is coming to our land and He began using me to call many to prayer.

When Sandy hit, I said, “Lord, is this it?”

“No,” He replied, “This is only a part of the greater.”

Then He impressed on my heart that our nation will see its economy crumble and immorality increase like a storm never seen before in our land. So we watch and we pray.

MP900443311[1]Over the past numerous days God has been instructing my heart, and these words penned in a devotional by Sarah Young in her book “Jesus Today” sum it all up: Look the Right Way!

As I have pondered all that God is speaking to me through His word and the words of His People, I realized that I have gained 10 pounds since God’s warning me of The Storm to come. Though I thought I was keeping eyes on Him, I would say that I am stress eating, which signals me that my eyes are looking in the wrong direction.

What if things fall apart? Is that not what we anticipate as a sign that Christ’s return draws near? Does the chaos in the earth make God any less capable of tending to His Own? Have not many generations seen similar storms blow through and lived to tell of the Wonderworks of God in seeing them safely to the other side? “Look the Right Way, Darlene, and press forward with hope.”

I know not what “tomorrow” holds, but I know Who holds “tomorrow”.  He has a purpose in all things, and it is for eternal good and glory. I can rest in Him Who is my Rest, Strong Tower, Secret Hiding Place, Firm Foundation, and Possessor of my soul. He is my Rock out of which the Stream of refreshing and provision come. He is Hope and Song. He sees! Nothing escapes His notice and He cares for all that concerns me and those with me who seek to Look the Right Way. When I look at Him and keep my eyes on Him and His purpose, I find peace that passes understanding and hope beyond measure.

As I have looked at Him, He instructed me on some important things I am to give myself to: loving Him first and foremost, and others as I should be loving myself. My eating is not a loving act toward me, nor Him whose temple I am, so that has got to change. Relationships are vital in this hour, and the busyness of life threatens that, so I must be deliberate in taking time for others.

I must keep up my ponderings, reflecting on the things God shows me and sharing them with you in the hope of being a help to lift youdreaming and happy up in these difficult days ahead. Too often we read His word, hear Him speak, and go off never giving Him time to fully instruct and transform us by His Word. Taking time for reflection, “Pondering these things” as Mary did, is vital to our weathering the storm ahead.

And rest is vital in these days; not only the rest of leisure time that physically rests our weary bodies, but entering into His rest despite the approaching storm. We learn in Hebrews that entering His rest comes through faith that believes God and takes action through obedience. We are not without Hope. He is our Hope. But Hope is most often missed because of unbelief that leads to actions of sin—going against God’s expressed instruction.

Join me, and Look the Right Way, my friend, as the days unfold before us, and smile as the rays of Hope lead you surely through the storms of life.

~*~

Bigger God“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle (forbearing) spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, DWELL on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” ~ Philippians 4:4-9, NASB.

Christmas, or Not? The Controversy and Our Choice

nativity 02
Merry Christmas

This morning, as I awoke, my thoughts ran quickly to the controversial issue I have been mulling, and yes, fuming over for weeks now concerning Christmas as a Christian holiday and it being “stolen from us in our day and culture”. I am hearing that there are even people gearing up to fight to get it back. And until I started my research, I was leaning toward getting aboard the boat with them. But after just barely starting my research, God began to minister to my heart and lead me to adjust my understanding and perceptions. I am now leaning toward a thought that has hit my head several times of late; that thought being that we need to celebrate Christ in peace with those who celebrate their “holidays” or set another time as a time for our celebration of Christ. Why do I say that?

The very beginning of my research reveals what I have heard for years; that Christmas as a celebration started out of other traditions of the day. Quoting one article on History of Christmas website:

“Believe it or not, many of the traditions that we observe during the Christmas holiday season began way before the birth of Christ. Exchanging gifts, decorating trees, and the burning of the Yule log were all winter traditions that began before Christ was born, but were eventually incorporated into the holiday that became known as Christmas, and became part of Christmas history.” 1

According to this same article, “One theory about the evolution of the winter celebrations to the celebration of the birth of Jesus is that the Roman emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity, wanted to incorporate the pagan winter rituals together with the celebration of Jesus’ birth. In this way, Constantine hoped to help both pagans and Christians celebrate together. Many believe that this is the reason for celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25th. It is widely believed today that Jesus was not actually born on, or even close to, December 25th. Eventually, the Roman church became more successful in making the December celebration about the birth of Christ, replacing any celebrations that were in honor of pagan gods.” 1

Some interesting facts:

†   The original date of the celebration in Eastern Christianity was January 6, in connection with Epiphany, and that is still the date of the celebration for the Armenian Apostolic Church and in Armenia, where it is a public holiday. 2

†   The first Nativity was created by St. Francis of Assisi in 1224 and was a living nativity, set up in an effort to explain the birth of Jesus. The Nativity is exclusive to the Christian faith and the celebration of Christ at Christmas in many parts of the world. 3

†   Decorated trees were used in celebrations long before Christ, as well as being seen as home décor for luck and other such beliefs. It is believed that Boniface, a Monk who came to Germany in the 7th/8th century, first introduced the use of the fir as a Christmas tree, its triangular shape being used to signify the Trinity. 4

†   The 12 Days of Christmas is believed to come from the Zagmuth in Mesopotamia, a festival in support of their chief god, Marduk, who was believed to battle the “monsters of chaos” at the beginning of winter. 1

†   The Council of Tours in 567 established the period of Advent as a time of fasting before Christmas. They also proclaimed the twelve days from Christmas to Epiphany a sacred, festive season. 5

I could go on, but you can read the articles linked below for more information. The fact is that the celebration of Christmas, meaning “Christ’s mass”, is highly linked with celebrations of other non-Christian cultures through adoption of timing, traditions, and symbols. Do we have a right to celebrate it with freedom and respectful consideration by those who choose not to? Yes. Is this season solely ours? No. There are too many other cultures with similar celebrations, some linked with other gods, who have had this same season for eons, long before our choosing it for our purpose of honoring and remembering the Christ.

So what’s the solution?

†   “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31.

†   Remember that “we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:20.

†   And, lest we forget, “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, INTENT ON ONE PURPOSE. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” ~ Philippians 2:1-8.

Our main purpose for still being here, the reason we continue to watch for Christ’s return, is because He still has a work for us to do in the earth. We are here to represent His interests, and His interests are for us to be an expression of His image in the earth, reaching out to those He died for with arms and attitudes of love. And we are to do so in likeness to Christ, who gave up His high position and all the rights that afforded Him to come here and suffer the loss of all He had for a time so that He might provide a way of saving grace for us. Thus, we are to lay down our lives, if need be, in order to win some. (Read 1 Corinthians 9:19-24)

The celebration of Christ is a heart issue. We cannot force it on others. They cannot truly take it from us. My decision today as I think on these things is this: When I say “Merry Christmas” and someone else responds with Happy Holidays, I will smile and thank them while lifting a prayer for their ultimate blessing. If someone complains about my nativity being visible to all in my front yard, I will do my best to respond to them with grace while standing my ground in celebrating my King. Hopefully as I do so, with respectful consideration for him while still standing firm for my Christ, that person will come to some understanding of my love of my God and will return the respect of my right of choice as I respect their God-given right to choose against Him. Remember, rejection of Christianity and its practices and peoples is not ultimately rejection of the person serving Christ, it is rejection of Christ Himself, and He will deal with that (Luke 10:16; Titus 1:16). Ours is to love Him and love others as He does: unconditionally and incorruptibly.

Are some things worth fighting for? Yes. Are we, as Christians to do so? We are called to “fight the good fight of faith”, so I would say we are to pick our battles well, make sure our heart and attitude in the fight line up with God’s will and way, then stand firm on Him.

We are called to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves in this world. To me, that means to understand the ways of evil and know what God has supplied us in the set-up of world government that can be used to fight the good fight within the legal bounds of His Law and the laws of man, but we must do so always with our role of ambassador in heart, being innocent of unrighteous motive and clear of attitudes that misrepresent Him, standing with His Law when man’s law is in contention with Him.

Christmas is the focus of the Christian in celebrating this Holiday season. But other belief systems coincide with our Christmas. Let them have theirs while we keep ours with respect and peace one to another, or change the date for ours and separate from the rest. It is our choice, people of Jehovah in Jesus, the Christ. What will we do?

References:

History Of Christmas on History of Christmas website: http://www.historyofchristmas.net/page1.html

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas; See also History of old Christmas day: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/ch/old_christmas_day.htm

Nativity History: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/ch/nativity.htm

Symbols of Christmas on The Holiday Spot.Com: http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/christmas_symbols.htm

History of Advent: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/trivia/advent.htm

Sites of interest:

History of Holidays: http://www.historyofholidays.com/

The History of Christmas: http://www.thehistoryofchristmas.com/

The Holiday Spot: http://www.theholidayspot.com/

The Bronze Serpent

John 3:

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life” (vs. 14-15).

~*~

“And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived” ~ Numbers 21:9.

Jesus replaces the bronze serpent on Moses staff, the healing balm that takes away the sting of consequences for standing against God and His way. And He brings healing to our sin stained lives from now into out eternity, delivering us safely to our eternal destination with Him. That is what Jesus is saying. Is that not exciting!

There are always consequences for our actions. When we do good, standing in alignment with God’s will and way, we reap a good reward—the blessed consequence. When we do evil, standing in disagreement with God’s will and way, we reap the cursed consequence. As long as we are in this flesh body that brings its fleshly wisdom leading to lust of the flesh, we can and too often do stumble up in our walk with God. But when we look to Jesus as the snake bit sinners of old looked on the bronze serpent head with faith in God to heal them, realizing the promise of healing represented in Christ, He restores life to us. Though there may be residual effects of the consequences to deal with as a scar from a snake bite, God reveals the way to live to the full where we are. And the scars only act as a reminder to keep us from walking that path to sin again.

Thank You, Father, that You do not leave us without hope. You are there for us and have provided the way of healing, not only for our personal lives when we make bad decisions and suffer the consequences, but for our nation. For as we, Your people called by Your name, humble ourselves individually and corporately, praying in earnest and seeking Your face with whole heart, turning from our evil ways to look to the Christ with faith for healing and strength to follow You fully, then You will hear our prayer, forgive our sin, and heal our land. O how greatly we need You, O God, in Jesus, amen.

Take It To Your Heart

MC900434748[1]…take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other ~ Deuteronomy 4:39.

I, along with many others I know, too often struggle with depression. I wrote an email today to just such a one encouraging them in things they can do to help themselves. As I read this simple statement of truth about God this morning, I am mindful of how the things we take to heart affect our thoughts, mental attitudes, emotional stability, and even the very delicate chemical balance of our bodies, all of which affect our mental health and sense of well-being, and our physical health. The things we take to heart will either make us better in every way, even improving our physical health; or they will make us bitter and sickly in every way: mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, relationally, and behaviorally; and yes, even economically.

I am really taking this insight to heart right now, as I know my beloved friend who is struggling with depression is not alone. I am right there with her as the winter season couples with the holiday events that so often lead to depression. Relationship struggles and fear of the “what ifs” have taken my heart captive again. So as I read this with God’s highlight on the “take it to your heart,” I realize that I have to fill my heart with good thoughts of truth worth holding. Thoughts and truths that will help my heart, mind, soul and strength to be in good health and able to withstand whatever might be.

The truth is that the things I let grab my heart and roll around in my thoughts to be taken to heart usually do not happen. When they do, God is always faithful to equip me to deal with whatever that might be. Truth is that the things I often think about what other people think of me is usually not true, and I judge their hearts unrighteously when I take those thoughts to heart as if true.

When it gets right down to it, the thoughts I think of others color their reputation for me. I will give bad repute toward those I think are thinking bad of me, thinking them harsh, unloving and uncaring, often without cause. But I will give good repute to those I choose to take good thoughts to heart toward, giving them grace when they fall because I choose to give focus to the good in them over the bad.

Truth is that it does not truly matter what others think of me, or even what I think of myself. It only matters what God thinks and knows to be true of me. When I focus on what He thinks, it leads to me being and doing things righteously, in ways and with right attitudes and motives that not only please Him, but make me feel better about me, thus causing my actions and responses to be such as gives me favor with mankind.

Things we take to heart, my friend, will make us, or break us. So weigh every thought and intent of the heart on God’s scales, and think good thoughts: thoughts that are right, true, pure, lovely, excellent, of good repute, and worthy of praise, and peace will come to dwell in the heart in which such thoughts prevail.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” ~ Philippians 4:8-9.

Celebrating Jesus – The Advent 3

El Shaddai“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1).

At the ripe age of 100, Abram is about to receive again the promise of God that he will have a son by his barren wife Sarai (90 years old). God knew that at this point in life when they were not only barren, but beyond the age of child-bearing, that Abram would do what he did later, he would laugh in disbelief; just as Sarai would in the next chapter. So He started the conversation with the proclamation of His might as God Almighty: El Shadai.

In our day and age, with the challenges facing us as a people and a nation, we desperately need to remember our God is God Almighty. The problem in our day is people read scripture without the aid of God’s Spirit to teach them and think the truths shared there about God are impossible. They fail to have faith to believe because they see the wrath of God and decide God must be cruel and unworthy of following. They see the miracles reported in its pages and think such to be impossible. Therefore they choose to not believe. They do not understand that God was creating a holy people through which to birth Messiah, the greatest miracle of all that would bring down the curtain of division and make the Holy of holies available to all.

In the Amplified version of Genesis 17:1, we read “…walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect (blameless, wholehearted, complete).” This is the requirement for the people who would be the lineage of Christ, and it is the requirement of those who today profess Christ as Savior and returning Messiah. God needs a people wholly set apart to Him, and then, as today they had to sometimes be dealt with harshly to get their attention and draw them away from false deities of the day that tempted them away from the purity of a relationship with Holy God. Those who struggle to understand, lacking the help of the Spirit to discern the truth, fail to discern that any God worth following must be almighty in power, able to hold His position as God. Not only is El Shadai a God who is able to hold His rightful place as God, but He is able to meet those who follow Him at their most desperate of needs. Without the ability to believe that God is able, why is He worth following?

God is still working a purpose for eternity out in our day, and it requires that people have the choice to believe or not believe, for in that choice we choose “God” or “not God”. Through allowing evil in the earth for a short time—short in comparison to eternity—He has allowed a line to be drawn that gives us choice in whether to believe in, love and honor God as God or not. True love must make room for love to be returned willingly. True love would never force the one loved to love in return. Thus God’s love made a way for us to have a choice in this life. God, or not God, but some other god. Even those who believe there is no god have set themselves up as god to rule their own way. And though there is no other god except the One True God, Jehovah, other false gods exist with a power that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, says has the power of demons behind it.

God called Abraham to believe the impossible to be possible because the God he chose to serve is ALMIGHTY GOD. Out of Abraham’s faith in choosing to believe God for the HIMpossible, God birthed through Him the lineage of the Christ, who was to come out of a people wholly set apart to God as His beloved people. And out of that Seed of Righteousness, Jesus the Christ, He provided the way for His people, Israel, and indeed the entire world, to come into eternal relationship with Himself.

By faith to believe the HIMpossible of Almighty God found in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, we enter into the family of God, being made through Christ into “…a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The season of Advent is a time to remember and proclaim this gift from El Shadai through the lineage set up in Abraham.

Nothing is beyond the ability of God Almighty to take care of, and He will do so in due season. Just as Abraham’s Isaac was born in God’s timing, so that all would know it was God who did it because of the advanced age of Sarah and Abraham that made conception impossible without God doing it, so Jesus coming as Messiah in ways that are beyond our ability to comprehend reveals the work of the Almighty for a purpose that is His own: the salvation of a world of people in need of One True God.

Our situations today are the same, opportunity to watch the perfect timing of God Almighty at work in ways that show Himself strong on our behalf. God is able. As He said to Abraham at the time of conception, so He says to us who will hear today, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). All we need is to have a mustard seed of faith in God, relying on Him, trusting in Him, being confident that He will do the HIMpossible at just the right time to accomplish the greatest good for all concerned. That is His way revealed throughout the ages, working not only on our behalf for our good, but on behalf of all around us who will see and come to believe El Shaddai.

Celebrating Jesus: The Advent – 2

Jesus_103The great King, anticipated by Israel for millennia, came first in an unexpected way: in the flesh of a human, to die as a sacrificial Lamb for the sin of all mankind. Jew and Gentile alike are called to come in under the blood of the Lamb of God, the covering for sin that brings all who will believe into the Kingdom of God. For He is returning one day as that long awaited King to set up His rule in the earth, and all who do not have this covering of blood will be denied access to His kingdom, just as the first born were lost to all not under the blood at the time of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.

Before the Christ was born into the earth, God brought forth John, who would be called the Baptist, called and equipped with the filling of the Spirit to be the forerunner to the Christ. Of himself He said, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said” (John 1:22).

So what does this, “make straight the way of the Lord” mean? The angel who appeared to John’s father, Zacharias, explains it:

“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

It is our faith as Christians that Jesus is the Christ, first come to purchase back the people of God through blood sacrifice of His own flesh, purchasing Jew and Gentile alike, making us one people for God’s own possession in Christ as we receive the gift of this grace by faith. Jesus is the Kinsman Redeemer, paying the full price as propitiation for sin, so we can walk free in Him. Through the power of the Spirit He gives to all who will believe that He is the Christ come first as sacrifice for sin, we are empowered to turn our hearts back to our children and turn from disobedience to righteousness in Christ. Thus we are prepared for the Lord who will return as the long awaited King of kings, ready to set up His kingdom on earth.

So what are we, His people by the new birth of spirit through faith, to do in our wait for His return? I believe we are to “go as a forerunner before Him (who is returning) in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Advent is a time of remembrance the full and completed work of Jesus, past, present and future. We begin by calling to mind the first coming of the King as the Christ Child, the Bright Morning Star who showed the way of righteousness, then gave Himself as Sacrificial Lamb, becoming the blood covered door by which all who believe and receive His gift may enter into His righteousness and find saving grace that grants us relationship with God the Father in our here and now existence while making us ready for the Kings return. Are you ready, my friend? For He is coming back, and when He returns it will be too late for Jew or Gentile to make that choice.

Make ready, Beloved. Your sin is already covered by grace and is setting before you as a gift of His love and desire for full restoration of relationship with you. For that gift to belong to you, you must now reach out to receive it. That gift is received by simply believing that He first came as sacrifice for all sin, including your sin, then, with repentance for your personal sin and willingness of heart to surrender to His work of grace within, reach out to receive the gift of grace He has for you, surrendering all to Him as Lord who purchased the right over you. By His grace sufficient, He will then fill you with His Spirit to empower the journey of a lifetime as He works to restore the image of God in you, step by step, day by day, working to perfect you as His image bearer until the day of Christ’s return (Philippians 1:6).

Celebrating Jesus: The Advent – 1

mary-mother_of_jesus_21Behold, the bondslave of the Lord

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. FOR NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:26-38, NASB)

Advent—the time of remembering what God did through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; what He is doing in your life today; and the earnest expectation and hope of His promised return. One way we can celebrate Advent is to have this attitude expressed by Mary in each day of life and every situation: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; me it be done to me according to your word.”

A bondslave is slave by choice out of trust in and love for the Master. The saying goes, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will for me.” Total surrender to the will and purpose of God, trusting His fulfillment of all the good He desires even when it puts us in precarious positions, is the most glorious place on earth; safe in His perfect will. Celebrate today the relationship with God that is available to us as Bondslaves set free in Christ to choose this love walk with the Father in likeness to the Son.

Word of God, Speak

 

“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]” (Isaiah 50:4, AMP).

Do you read the word of God, realizing and believing that it is breathed by Him through the men used to author it? Do you enjoy the privilege of allowing God to highlight passages for you that just fit your need in your day? This is one such verse for me.

It has been difficult in this season of dealing with my parent’s paranoia. It has caused me to be clinically depressed, which increases one’s sense if inadequacy in negative ways that hinder one’s ability to feel they can be of use to a Holy God. About two years ago, God highlighted this passage to assure me that I can trust Him still to speak to and through me to the need of others, despite this current pain in life. And today, as it comes up in my journal for review, He gives highlight within the highlight.

Another problem that comes with depression and health issues like fibromyalgia, and with having a lifestyle right now with hubbies work that is in opposition to my internal clock, is sleep issues. I am a morning person that loves rising early to spend time with my God, but all these issues work to hinder my ability to wake and have brain cells to function. It has been a source of struggle and subject for prayer since this new cycle of life began. This morning, as I read and thank God for its truth once again, He highlights promise for my need: HE wakens me. He wakens me morning by morning. He wakens my ear to hear.

I don’t have to fret over when I rise. I don’t have to struggle to hear. All I have to do is rise when I awake and be faithful to listen with earnest expectation and hope in God who promises it is He who wakens me, and He gives me an ear to hear.

Trust God today, beloved. Be faithful to be in His word at every opportunity. Know that He will highlight His word for you, just as he does for me and others.

“Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell]. For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:11-12, AMP).

Word of God, Speak – Mercy Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8cJQMU9Q-U

Worship: Positions From the Heart – Throughout our day

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Part of worshiping God is telling others, especially our children, of His precepts and of our experiences with Him. God is alive, but people who do not know Him are too often blinded to His existence. It is important that we remember to praise Him and tell of Him throughout our day to day lives. This passage in chapter 6 of Deuteronomy speaks of four strategic worship stances: sitting, walking, laying down, and rising up.

Sitting to me pictures relationship. We often sit when we visit with someone. Giving them our focus and taking every opportunity to speak trust in God into their situations is a vitally needed form of praise and worship.

Walking depicts comradery, walking together through life. We all know in this life we do not always see eye to eye. But we can learn to walk together even in our differences and to share God’s presence and how He reveals Himself to us as we walk together for His glory and to His purpose.

Laying down: I see rest. We best worship and honor God when we enter His rest. Too often, in our moments of rest, this life, its struggles, things of the past and worries of the future hinder our laying down times. Such hinders our testimony of God, keeping others blinded to His reality, when they see us as stressed and uptight as they are. It is the greatest form of worship when we can go through this life that can often be difficult, facing those challenges from a stance that is rested in Him.

Rising up: when life does knock us down, what greater worship can there be than to get back up again and carry on with faith in God.

Worship is not a here a little, there a little, word of mouth and sing along action. It is the day in and day out living with earnest expectation and hope that is rested on the reality of our loving, life-giving God.

Here With Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74CNUExD4I8&list=PLFF54F40EEBC31260&index=1&feature=plpp_video

In the Flow of “Now” Living

“…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).

I have feasted on this promise for a very long time now, God highlighting it as true for me, something I can count as a done deal by His grace. As yet I do not fully comprehend all this means, but I am beginning to get glimpses.

The other day I received the following Spirit of Prophesy Bulletin from Faith Tabernacle: a devotional thought written to the body of Christ as from the Lord. It often speaks to me on a personal level, and this day struck me as something worth heeding. Quoting “The Trumpet” devotion by Bill Burns for 10/15/12:

“‘I have set those in this earth, those who are My psalmists, and they shall establish a flow, a flow of My river among My people, a flow that will help My people come higher, a flow of My presence. Because their songs come from heaven and their songs are anointed, they shall indeed impact you and bring you into what I am doing. So when you hear the sound of heaven impacting your heart and when you hear the sound of heaven coming upon you embrace it and let it do its work. Let it bring peace to your soul, let it bring joy to your heart and let it bring healing to your body. Let the Spirit of the Lord flow in the sound that I am bringing forth as promised. For such a time as this embrace My sound,’ says the Lord Most Holy.”

This is my heart’s desire, to be one who sets the flow that encourages and helps others come up higher. Perhaps today can be a beginning.

This morning, before ever cracking open God’s book, He spoke peace to my heart as I began typing thoughts into my journal. I suddenly knew that fretting over things in life not being as I would like or ever dreamed it would be is wasted energy and trashed time.

There is a poem God gave my heart a long time ago and I quote it often.

†   Yesterday is gone

†   Tomorrow may never be

†   Now is all the time

†   God has gifted me

†   Will I use it well

†   Or waste it in the way

†   Time will surely tell

†   The choice I make today

 Life is too short to waste one moment of it on yesterday’s whoa. What might have been is not what is. Fretting over what others did to us and the place their hurt now has us only empowers their hurt to continue ruling our lives. We throw away what we have, giving precious time to nothingness by worrying about the “might have been.”

I am not alone in this struggle. I have family members I love dearly and friends too, who are snared by the “what might have been”. No more, I say! No more. Life is too precious to waste. I decided today to give all I have to my now, living to the full and doing the best I can in it, and let God take care of yesterday and tomorrow.

One of my daughters said something that struck me and may be the source of this decision. Quoting as best I can recall, “I made the best decision I could back then with the information available to me at the time. I am not going to waste time now second guessing that. What we have now is what is. We have to carry on from here to do the best we can in it.”

Fretting over yesterday is like a CSI climbing in the trash bin of life to pull out dead bodies. Now is what is promised to us. Carry on with me, dear friend, doing your best with the information available to you; “And you shall rejoice in the Lord, you shall glory in the Holy One of Israel.”

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 4

Spirit and Fire 

Isaiah 4:4-6 “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”

It was interesting to me to find this passage after a recent conversation with a friend about another passage that I would say goes hand in hand with this. In it, John the Baptist says of Jesus, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). From these two passages we can glean a little discernment of these baptisms from the Father through the Christ.

First of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of judgment, Jesus says that the Spirit He will send us will “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Here we see that the baptism of the Spirit comes to those of the world who receive within themselves this conviction that brings understanding of their sin, God’s righteousness and that sent through Christ on our behalf, and the judgment to come that will be determined by whether or not we believe and receive. This baptism is the baptism of rebirth that brings our spirits fully to life with His, making us one with Jesus and part of the Kingdom of God. After this baptism of rebirth, the work of the Spirit of judgment continues as He teaches us to recognize the source of the choices we have in life, whether they will produce sin or righteousness and wisdom to discern the consequences of our choices. Without this work of the Spirit in us, we cannot walk with God in truth.

Second, this first baptism of the spirit of judgment leads to the baptism of fire or burning. As we grow in our maturity as people of God, His Spirits begins to burn within us to reveal sin habits and patterns that must be surrendered to God and transformed to His likeness. This can be an arduous process to go through, much like burning away our flesh with fire would be difficult to live through. The more we fight the change God calls us to make the more fierce the fire burns through consequences meant to move us toward Him and away from the evil we run after to easily. This fire is not only burning away the rule of flesh in our lives, it is removing the desires and pursuits that make up the dross that hinders His image from reflecting in our lives.

God will do what it takes to make us into His image because He loves us and no unrighteousness can enter the gates of the eternal. The more we work in cooperation with the Spirit of God, the less of the burn we will experience. So be quick to hear and believe; and receive and press forward in faith. Then the fire of God can impassion us for the things of God, empowering us for good and glory as never before.

Father, we cry out for the baptism of Christ to do its work in us, making us a reflection of Your glory, grace, and love. Holy Spirit, have full sway to the glory of God’s name. In Jesus, amen.

The Dream – Part 3

God Intends Good 

Though this dream I shared with you is obviously meant for the body of Christ, as God instructs my heart for the writing of this short series, I can see clearly my own life in its meaning. During the time of many things coming at me and my family in the past few years, I have walked the premise of this dream out with realization that God is doing a work in me and in mine. What the enemy intends for harm, God uses for good (Genesis 50:15-21; Romans 8:28). In my many and growing number of years in this life, one thing I have learned is that any evil allowed to reach me is intended by God to do a work in me that purifies and helps me to grow in Him, so I face such struggles with earnest expectation and hope of seeing God do just that. And I know that He is after a root of rejection that has been with me from my earliest days. A root that has grown so deep for so long sometimes has to be burned and blasted out: thus the fires of testing and trial.

Besides doing a work in me, it also gives me opportunity to bear testimony of His work in my life as doors open for me to share the comfort He gives me with others who struggle. So as I relayed to you these things I perceived from God as the many faces and forms of the enemy, I was made acutely aware that though this dream is for the Body – the Bride of Christ, it is also very much for me as an individual part of that Body, thus, the testimonial of my struggle flowed to the pages. Just as this message is for me, so it is for you in your struggle.

I know that I am not alone in this struggle with the enemy suitor who seeks to destroy our ability to bear righteousness into the earth. Everywhere I turn I meet people of God who have their own story of heartache and challenge to tell: devastating, stagnating, unbelievable things coming at the body of Christ. Beloved, if that is you, please know, what the enemy means for harm, God uses for good.

I also want you to realize something I am increasingly aware of in my own struggle. Our flesh is one of the faces and forms of the enemy. Our own bodies, when under great stress, give way to the stress. Though we fight to do right in our situations, the effects of extreme stressors mess up our hormones and body chemistry in ways that turn our own bodies, minds, and emotions against us, making the body we live in an enemy to overcome. This is the battle I am in, and it is the battle I believe is portrayed by Paul in Romans 7.

It is important for us to realize this truth about the physical body and its limitations for several reasons: one being to protect us from falling to guilt and shame in our struggle. Like Paul, we need to realize the righteousness of Christ that covers us and makes us whole even when our own flesh betrays us.

Try as I may to carry on as the daughter of my daddy, doing right by him, many days my flesh gives way to the stress and breaks down in the effort. I’ll tell you, there are days when I need someone to come alongside me and be the hand of God, grabbing mine and helping me do the good I desire when my own flesh is shut down, destroying my ability. This is especially true when my grief over daddy gives way to social anxiety. We need to not only be alert to our own struggle, but as people of God watching others who are in such a battle, we need to be there for those we can help. This is the time when those of the Body who are weak need the strong to cover them like a hand going to stop the bleeding wound: not just with prayer, but with encouragement, and even walking alongside them in their struggle.

One thing I have learned in my Christian lay counseling studies is that those who are ensnared by paranoia and anxiety issues that are empowered by out of control body chemistry need people who will walk with them faithfully, not turning from them in their time of need. It is difficult to deal with the negativity of those who struggle. It is frustrating to see them begin to make progress, only to fall back again and again in their battle. But let me tell you something, we are the hands and the feet, the arms and the legs, the mouth and the ears, the heart and the mind representing God in the earth. We are the Bride, yes; but we also are the body of the Groom and we need one another.

How are the legs of Christ lopped off? Through the frustration of us, His body, working with individual members of His body who are in the fight of their lives. Through our indifference to those who are in difficulties we want to run from. Through our own protectiveness that pulls away from them instead of sticking it out with them. I’m not just speaking to you, the reader, here; this is truth I need to realize as well. There are times in our lives when we need the physical hand of the Groom, the Body of Christ in the earth, to reach our own and help us heal so we as the body of Christ can move unhindered by disabling forces of life in the world.

Today’s blog is my hand reaching out to those who struggle as I am struggling, sharing some of the things God is teaching me through my experience, hoping that it will be the bandage and balm you need as well. Because of His grace toward me and His work in helping me through this season of life, I have learned many things that are vital to our ability to be the Bride and the Body, bearing righteous fruit in a difficult day and age. Following are some of those things. I have learned…

†   The greater depths of God’s love for me personally and how understanding and trusting that love frees from fear: He loves me with a love that will not be moved.

God, for years, has used my husband’s love for me to teach me of His love. I have heard my husband profess his love for me verbally and seen him show it in ways that amaze me, over and over again, expressing his love in ways that have me convinced of its veracity. When we first married, I feared the loss of his love, wondering of its trustworthiness because of childhood experiences and that of a previous marriage in which “love” proved unfaithful and fleeting. But he has so poured his love into me that I no longer doubt it or fear the loss of it.

Like most children, I learned of love through childhood experiences, and though I have always believed that God loves me, fear of somehow losing that love has been there to hinder. During this season of struggle, God has done the same thing for me that my husband did. He has assured me over and over of His love for me being faithful and trustworthy. I no longer fear that God will turn from me in my struggle. I know He will stick with me until I come out strong, shining like gold, having legs to birth righteousness in the earth as He intends.

†   I can trust God when I can trust no other: That is ingrained into me as never before. He loves me, knows my heart, and will never leave or forsake me. I am His servant. He has chosen and not rejected me (Isaiah 41:8-16). Though my daddy may reject me, disbelieve me, turn with anger and suspicion from me, God knows my heart and He chooses me. He has repeated that Isaiah 41 phrase to me so many times since my struggle with Complicated Grief Disorder began that I believe it with all my being and trust Him in it. My trust in God’s presence, understanding, faithfulness, love and care in choosing me and not rejecting me is beyond measure. I stand in awe of God.

†   God understands better than I where I am right now, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He is the one who led me to the study of counseling that revealed the Complicated Grief Disorder that I am in, which is akin to and treated the same as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He diagnosed it, and He will lead me to healing when He is finished using the grief to work change and maturity in me. In the meantime, His grace covers my “I can’t” with His righteousness while I seek to grasp the Groom’s hand and walk in His “I can.”

†   God’s opinion is true and righteous judgment: As long as I know God’s opinion of me and my situations, the opinion of man has no bearing on me. I do not have to worry about what man thinks of me as long as I walk forward in the Lord’s pleasure. He sings over me when no other will. I was amazed a few weeks back when the pastor called for the weary to come to the altar. As I knelt there alone at the altar, I feel the hand of a woman I do not know on my shoulder. She did not know my pain, but as she prayed, her prayer turned to singing over me, and I knew though she did not know what to pray, God was responding to the need. He is Lord of my life and my relationships, and He alone gives favor with man. Please God and He will take care of the rest.

Though I struggle to minister to daddy right now, I am not without a ministry to my Lord. He keeps me active in His work in other areas while He is building me up to be what He needs me to be as my daddy’s daughter. I know He will be victorious in the situation and I rest with hope in Him to see my legs restored in this struggle.

†   Footstool praying: there is value of what I call “footstool prayers.” Though, in my pain, I may not have words to express the need for which I pray, God does. In the power of His Spirit I have learned that God loves to respond affirmatively to the prayer that is lifted to His throne without words, but with sincere desire for Him to have His will and way in the need. My concern being laid at His feet, beside the footstool of Christ, I can then turn my attention to go on my way without that burden weighing me down. I am freed by faith to know that I can leave that need, whatever it is, with Him and He will deal with it. I may not think of it again until I realize His answer. Some days thought of the need may come with many words of prayer pouring forth in the power of His Spirit. But when it overwhelms me, I know He hears my heart’s groaning, though my mind can form no thought for words, as I lay it beside His footstool for His disposal.

†   I can! When God wants me to, I can press forward to minister to daddy and deal with him, because God through His Spirit supplies power to perform. When that power moves, I go in obedience with it. If that power from Him is not there, I wait for it, trusting Him to meet the need where I can’t. I have grown to trust His covering and His faithfulness to Himself (2 Timothy 2:1-13). Though I may not always be able, He always can, and He will accomplish the purpose of His will.

†   Jesus is our example: The ways He revealed through example are mine to portray as need arises. In the dream, the example of Christ was to have faith to believe God and see Him faithfully supply. I am learning to choose to believe even when my body fails me and fights me.

Did you know that sometimes Jesus walked away from a situation knowing it was not yet His time? I am growing in faith to know that sometimes God moves us to step back and let Him deal with a person or situation that is beyond us to cope with. He does not want us beat down by the assault of those given over to their own flesh.

Earlier I said that we, the body, need to be God’s hand to grab hold a struggling body part and help them heal. But God knows when that part is not open to being helped. So there are times in life when God tells us to step back and get out of the way so that He can deal with it.

Did you know that my daddy, who cannot read, quoted scripture to me verbatim the other day? Years ago when my daddy’s struggle began, I got up in the night, grieved over him, and God led me to pray through whole chapters of scripture for him. During that prayer session, God spoke very clearly to my heart that I would see my daddy sitting fully clothed and in His right mind, sharing His word with those who will listen. Also years ago, God led me to give my daddy the entire Bible on tape. He, for many years now, has listened to it faithfully. Thus, I saw that promise fulfilled as we talked together my last visit and I came to discover that my daddy has the gospel figured out and secured in his own heart—he is fully clothed and in his right mind spiritually. And he spouted several verses as he shared his faith. I am praising God for His hand that can, even when I am without legs to press forward.

~*~

Bride of Christ, nothing shall be impossible with God. Keep seeking the hand of the Groom and give your life to the birthing of His seed. Trust in Him no matter the appearance of the circumstances of life; listen for His voice crying “only believe”, knowing that it is unity with Him that grants us strong legs and a birth canal. Then rise up and go forth to prosper His kingdom, even in the midst of enemy incursion. Hold close the child of righteousness birthed through you by His grace, and trust His protection over you and it. He alone can produce the seed within you, and He alone can protect and empower its growth and maturity to His intent and purpose. Let no enemy-suitor draw you away from holding tight to His hand. Only BELIEVE!

The Dream – Part 1

The Battle Revealed

 

Father, the dream, it is pregnant within me, filled with meaning and power. Here am I, O God. Help me to write it. I can do nothing on my own, but only as You give utterance can I.

~*~

Last night I had a dream that I believe is vital for our day. In my dream there were three main characters: the Groom, the Bride, and the enemy suitor that took many forms and had many faces, all coming at the Bride and Groom at one time.

~*~

Now you have the characters, here is the setting:

The Groom has a Bride that He is absolutely mad about. He loves her more than life itself and she is His by promise and by right. All that He does, He does for her, giving even life and breath to show His love and care for her.

The Bride loves the Groom like no other and desires Him above all. Her heart soars at the site of Him, and her greatest delight is His pleasure.

But there is a rival to the Groom who is constantly trying to separate them from one another and woo the Bride away. This enemy suitor puts on appearances of having love and care for the Bride like that of the Groom’s, but his motives are sinister. Though she is not swayed, this rival suitor is relentless in his pursuit.  

~*~

Now you have the setting, here is the dream.

The suitor is constantly pulling at the Bride. She frantically reaches for the Groom who is chasing hard after her as His rival works to separate Him from her presence, but every time they get near to a firm grip on one another, she is swooshed away by the suitor in some new form or many. The Groom runs hard after her, never doubting her faithfulness to Him as He sees in her eyes her desire, and knows her heart for Him.

As the Groom chases His Bride, the enemy suitor takes His legs from Him. Each time he does, the Groom yells, “I believe!” to His Father, and His legs grow back fully restored. He starts His pursuit of the Bride again with ever increasing fervor. Over and over, the enemy suitor takes the Grooms legs, the Groom cries out His faith to the Father who responds to His faith, restoring His legs with power to perform, and the chase goes on.

Determined to win the battle, the suitor turns and takes the legs up to half of the pelvis of the Bride. The Bride, impregnated begins to show signs of her pregnancy as the fetus grows strong within her. The suitor tells her the child is his, to be raised up for his intent and purpose. Missing half of her body, the Bride puts the whole of her life energy into the focus of growing the child within her to be birthed healthy and strong. She has lost sight of her Groom in her pain and stopped reaching for Him, putting all her energy into growing a healthy child within, trusting that something will happen to free her from the pain as she gives her life for the child.

Meanwhile the Groom is calling to her, reaching and fighting to get to her side only to be hindered and fought at every turn by the enemy suitor’s many forms and faces. Calling out to her, as she focuses to grow the child, she hears with recognition the voice of her Beloved, shouting, “Only believe!” Her focus on delivering a healthy child, filled with hope, increases.

Finally the Groom breaks through to the Bride grabbing hold of her hand and assuring her, “The child is ours! We will raise it to our intent and purpose.” Her legs grow back, full and strong, and the suitor with its many faces and forms steps back for a bit as the child is born. I awake to the scenes of the Bride holding the child close and protected; and the Groom standing guard and fighting off the enemy that is now intent on steeling the child.

As I wake, I come quickly to discern the meaning of the dream. The Groom and the Bride are, of course, Jesus and His Bride, the Church. The enemy suitor is Satan and all he uses to lure the Bride away from the Groom, with all their many forms and faces. They try to stop Jesus from complete, intimate, and faithful union with His Bride, but Jesus looks always to the Father who protects His ability to pursue her and get to her. The Bride is impregnated by the Groom with the seed of Righteousness that will work His intent and purpose in the earth. But we have the enemy suitor that is doing all he can to hinder our union with the Groom and get hold on the fruit of our lives, souring it for his intent and purpose, to hinder the birthing of Righteousness in the earth and the bearing of the good fruits of the Kingdom and Crown.

So what are these hindrances used of Satan to cut the legs to half the pelvis off of the Bride? Next post we will look at some I believe are the biggest influences that make the birthing of Righteousness a challenge to be overcome by faith to “Only Believe.”

Thoughts From Isaiah – Chapter 2

A Work Worthy of Worship

“Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made” (Isaiah 2:8).

Is it wrong to rejoice in the work of our hands? That is the question I find myself pondering as my focus is drawn to Isaiah 2:8 for today’s ponderings.

In today’s reading, the people were literally making images out of wood, stone, and metals that they sat up on mantles and called their god. They bowed down to works of art—the works of their hands, and worshipped them.

As Christians we believe there is only one God and He is One though He is seen in the form of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They are one and the same together, three portrayals of the one God. We worship Him who is One. But what about the idols of life? Do we fall to worshipping the works of our hands?

I stand in awe of the gift God gives me for writing His word. Every time I see the words flow to the pages for posting to encourage His people, my heart soars to the heights with awe of His work through me. I rejoice and find great joy in doing this work He calls me to. That is the way I believe God desires it to be as His people find joy in the works of their hands as gifted and empowered by God. That type of worshiping in the works of our hands honors and glorifies God as we surrender to Him as His instruments in all we do, acknowledging from whence our ability comes and our absolute, destitute need of Him in the doing of it.

At the same time, I have constantly the need to be careful that I do not turn to pride in my own efforts. I constantly have to remind myself that I can do nothing apart from Him, and I continually remind God that He is my first most vital need. I cannot do good work apart from Him, for He alone is good. Without Him my writing is labored and faulty, and I know I must have His power flowing through to do the work He calls me to accomplish.

There is a fine line between rejoicing in the works of our hands through worship of God who equips us, and worshiping the works of our hands as if God has nothing to do with it. No matter what our pursuit in life or the activities we take on, without God, it is nothing.

Father, help us today to honor You in all our ways, doing all things as unto the Lord and in the power You supply, giving You glory due Your name. Thank You that You gift us to do work in life that we can rejoice in, finding life abundant and full at the work of Your hands through us. We are partners with You for life, O God. Be glorified and magnified in all we do. In Jesus, amen.

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 1

Passion Inflaming Gardens

Wow. For the first time in several months I find myself without a clear direction for our time of Pondering together. Seeking the Lord for where He desires to speak to me, I am led to read Isaiah. Until God directs otherwise, we will consider thoughts from Isaiah, most likely looking at one thought for each chapter. Today we consider thoughts from Isaiah 1:27-31:

“Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her [returned] converts with righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God). But the crushing and destruction of rebels and sinners shall be together, and they who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. For you will be ashamed [of the folly and degradation] of the oak or terebinth trees in which you found [idolatrous] pleasure, and you will blush with shame for the [idolatrous worship which you practice in the passion-inflaming] gardens which you have chosen. For you shall be like an oak or terebinth whose leaf withers, and like a garden that has no water. And the strong shall become like tow and become tinder, and his work like a spark, and they shall both burn together, with none to quench them” (AMP).

Passion: What is the passion of your life and focus right now, in this very instant? If you are like me, your desire is to say that God is; that the things that God is passionate about are the things that impassion you. But I have to ask myself as I read this thought for today if that is truth. Or is my passion an idol to be dealt with?

Today’s world has many pleasures to be had in it. We can become impassioned to those pleasures with ease, but do those pursuits help our witness or hinder it? Do those things we give ourselves and our time to bring increase to the kingdom of God? Or do we watch the clock tick by hours and minutes in uselessness?

There is nothing wrong with me enjoying a good game of Jewels 2 or Majong Titans. But when I watch 10s of minutes fly by, hour after hour in pursuit to the higher score and faster win day after day while hurting friends are ignored and the house needs attention, my passion for the game becomes an idol that robs of the weightier things of life more abundant and full.

Consider your passions today. Are they driven by eternity, or driven by the earthly?

Father, grant us to have Your heart of passion for those around us and for meeting needs. Help us to have right priorities that, yes, allows for rest and fun things, but not at the expense of our being Your hands and feet in the world. In Jesus, show us Your glory and help us to be Your light reflecting in the earth. Amen.

Chasing Rainbows With DADDY – Part 3: Earnest Expectations

In the Car

Thus far on our journey with Daddy to chase the rainbow, we considered the fact that we must first choose to go on this wonderful journey with Daddy-God, and that comes through trusting in the faithfulness of God. Next we have to get in the car with Him. That is accomplished as we “only believe”: believe we can hear Him and know His voice, discerning what He is telling us; believe with trust that He will lead the way on paths of righteousness that will reach the destiny; believe what He says is truth; and most importantly believe that God is who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do. Today we seek to discover what that belief looks like, beginning by going back to that car in the commercial:

“Do you see it?” daddy yells.

“There it is!” exclaims daughter.

Later, “Where is it?” asks dad.

“Its gone. We lost it,” the dejected voice of his little girl says.

“We’ll find it,” assures daddy as he turns on a dirt road, splashing through a puddle.

The roller coaster ride of anticipation; oh my, what a journey that can be. Riding in the car with Daddy-God on numerous journeys of my own has been wrought full of excitement too often tempered by time of wondering if we will ever reach our destination. And when the ride is long, the journey can include times of distraction and impatience that can lead us to become disinterested in the journey, detached, apathetic. So what are we to do while in the car of destiny to protect ourselves from the malady of apathy? What does God expect from us? Let’s take a look at this little girl in the car, Noah, Moses, and Abraham to discover some of our roll in the journey.

From our little girl in the car, I am reminded of one of my favorite Paulian quotes found in Philippians 1:18-20: “…according to my earnest expectation and hope….”

Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. Even in long waits, when we catch a glimpse of the rainbow, we should be filled anew with earnest expectation and hope that has us yelling with excitement, “Daddy, I see it!” And what does that earnest expectation and sincere, faith-based hope produce?

Noah:

“Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22).

We do not see any sign that Noah questioned God as Moses did. He simply began collecting the wood and tools, drawing up the plans just as God gave them to him, and making the pitch ready.

Another act of obedience and hint of what Noah did during the time of awaiting the flood is seen in the account of events as given by Christ in the Gospels:

“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

Apparent to me in this account of Christ is that Noah warned the people of the wrath to come, imploring them to repent and turn to righteousness. The hint in this passage to this fact is that the people “did not understand” what they were warned of until it was too late. And who do we think warned them but the one that God told to prepare for it? Surely people asked Noah, “What on earth is this thing you build, and why?” God did not tell him to keep it secret. And I know if it were me, I would certainly be trying to warn other family members and friends to prepare for what was to come. And like Jesus in the parable of the bridegroom’s unwilling guests, when family and friends would not listen, I would tell anyone who would lend me an ear (Matthew 22:1-14).

We also find similar hint to Noah’s warnings in the words of Peter who called Noah the preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). And so must we, in the car with God as off we go, our rainbows to see.

Moses:

Moses is also an example of obedience, as are all who ride in God’s rainbow seeking auto, though, like all of us, he had his moments of slipping to the flesh. So what can we learn through Moses experience about being in the car on a long journey to a rainbow with God? There is probably a lot more than we will cover here, but I see two things about Moses that is important to our ability to make rainbow runs that avoid apathy.

First is his perseverance. As some have been heard to say, it took Moses and Israel 40 years to make what should have only been a 15 day journey. Why?

“For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the sons of Israel, “You are an obstinate people; should I go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you. Now therefore, put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what I shall do with you”’” (Exodus 33:5).

Standing at the foot of the Mountain of God, waiting for Moses to come down, the people of Israel became impatient and questioned the faithfulness and ability of God to protect and keep Moses for so long, and thus, to protect and keep them; so they sinned against God by making a molten image to bow down to as their god. They failed to stay in the car with God, bailing out when doubt came, and wound up wondering the desert wastelands for 40 years. But God remained faithful though they were not, empowering Moses to lead them during that time, helping him to persevere, though their obstinance and rebellion would often test his patience.

Perseverance in life’s journey is a must if we are to stay in the car with God. Life too often challenges our resolve in this journey. But God will help us to persevere if we keep looking to Him as our resource and encouragement. And that brings us to the second thing I see in Moses that we can learn to incorporate into our journey with God. Continuing in Exodus 33:

“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘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.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name’” (vs. 12-17).

Moses had an awesome, personal, real, vibrant and vital relationship with God that was fed and sustained by his sincerity in his communications with God. He not only grew to trust God, but he relied on Him and expected Him to be the faithful God that God made him to understand He was.

God told Moses from the beginning that His name is “I AM”. That name resounds the faithfulness of God by emphasizing that what we can come to know of Him is who He is, thus His story tells us, “I AM Love”, “I AM Real”, “I AM with you”, “I AM Faithful”. To know God intimately in ways that give us confidence to communicate with Him as Moses and other examples of faith have done will keep us in the car with Him even when the journey is long.

Abraham:

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ …” (Genesis 22:1).

Abraham had a promise from God that all the land of the Canaan of his sojourning, as far as he could see, would belong to him and his posterity. But all the life of Abraham was spent as a squatter in the land of promise. Any land he gained was given or sold to him by those who possessed the land in his day. He lived his entire life in waiting, for, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Abraham did not sit around and twiddle his thumbs, waiting aimlessly on the sofa of faith. He did not try to force his way into possessing the land. He trusted God’s timing, waiting on God’s instruction, and he possessed a “here am I” attitude that was prompt to respond to God’s call. He lived the life he had to the full with God while awaiting the promise to come. Even when God tested him, telling him to sacrifice his one and only heir of promise, the one through whom Abraham expected the promises of God to be fulfilled, he did not hold anything back from God, but he trusted two things: that God would provide for Himself in His faithfulness, and that God was able to raise up people even from the dead if that was His way of fulfilling the promise (Genesis 22:2-14; Hebrews 11:19).

Because Abraham believed and trusted God with a “here am I” attitude, the promise of God proved faithful to do as Abraham had come to trust He would and His promise was affirmed to him.

“Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, ‘By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice’” (Genesis 22:15-18).

A “here am I” attitude does not sit on faith as the means to an end. Faith is the engine. But there must also be a can do attitude that willingly does what is required.

“But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:18-24).

Inside the car with Daddy-God we find earnest expectation and hope coupled with faith that produces unquestioning, immediate obedience pouring forth from a “Here am I” attitude of readiness that holds nothing back from God and that perseveres the challenges, tests, and extended journey of life. And where does our time in the car with Daddy take us? To the concluding post in this series of study.

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.)