Tag Archives: love

Chosen For This Hour

Johnny and I went out yesterday for some needful shopping. I was struck by peoples expressions and demeanor. Many returned my smile, some returned my greeting, but most were somber, others obviously frightened, and one in particular looked a combination of these plus hopelessness. And, people, COVID hasn’t hit us here yet. We have no known cases in our county. What must it be like in areas of high impact?

My challenge to us, wherever we are, is be the light of hope: smile, speak greeting, behave as normal as possible. But also, watch expressions and demeanor. And pray as you passerby, stopping to pray, in social distancing manor, with those in need where opportunity presents itself.

We are chosen for this season. There is a purpose for us living in this time of history. There is something in us that God wants to use. He put it there. He planned it. This historic event is no surprise to Him, so He strategically placed each of us in positions of influence according to need. Be as He is: His image bearer. Be His representatives in this hour. “What would Jesus do?” is a good question to find answer for in our here and now living. Be Christlike. (Acts 17:24-28)

I ask You, Father, to inspire our fire for You, that we would shine in uplifting ways. Inspire our hearts to pray for those we pass. Grant courage to speak to needs we see. And place faces in our hearts for those we are assigned in prayer. Lift us up, Lord, and empower us to be uplifting. In Jesus, PEACE. Be still.

Trust in The Lord

And Do Good

Do you truly trust God as Lord of all, Beloved? It is times like these days in which we live that truly test the caliber of our faith, belief, and trust in God and His word to us.

In these days, the questions we must personally ask ourselves are these:

* Do I truly believe that God is working an eternal plan that includes me? …and that even things meant for evil against me, and bad things that come at me are sifted through God’s capable hands for His purposes in my life and ministry to the glory of His beautiful Name?

* Do I truly believe that God knows what He is doing, and that He has a good plan that includes me, personally and intimately?

* Do I truly believe God’s promises and that they are for me, personally: that He is with ME and for ME; that He never leaves nor forsakes ME; that He cares for ME affectionately and cares about ME watchfully, looking after every minute detail of His good plan for ME; that every challenge He allows to touch MY life carries opportunity for ME to be His witness, His ambassador in the World – His Light, shining in the darkness around ME?

* Do I trust, as Jesus did, that not one breath will leave MY earthly body before the time He has set for ME?

* Do I believe that not one enemy, even a viral one, can have its way in MY life, apart from God’s watchful care as the Potter who forms ME and the Goldsmith who tends the heat and clears the dross from MY life and being?

* Beloved, do you believe and trust God’s Love for you through Jesus Christ, our Lord, and that He is preparing an eternal dwelling where you – personally – will join Him for all eternity? Do you trust that God sees and honors the righteousness of Christ imputed to you? Have you possessed that blessed sacrifice as your own gift from God Almighty who loves you that much?

If you can answer “yes” to all these truths from and about our Holy Father, Jehovah-Ishi (The Lord our Husband), then enter His rest and face this day with the strength of His supply to you for such a time as this. If you cannot answer yes to any of these facts, I recommend a visit with a godly, Christian friend you trust to help you receive and grow your faith in God during these days.

“Be still and rest in the Lord; wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; Do not fret ….” ~ Psalms 37:7 AMPC, NASB

“Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Selah [pause {Rest yourself in Him, acknowledging and trusting His care for you}, and calmly think of that]!” ~ Psalm 46:10-11 AMPC {Darlene’s understanding}

Always Remember Me

“I appreciate and commend you because you always remember me in everything and keep firm possession of the traditions (the substance of my instructions), just as I have [verbally] passed them on to you.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭11:2‬ ‭AMPC‬‬)

Our 1 Corinthians verse is Paul, speaking of his appreciation for the Corinthians church and their respect for him as a leader in the church. They always think of him and his teachings so as to give honor to him as their leading model by following his instruction and example.

The verses before this one reveal this truth:

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I DON’T JUST DO WHAT IS BEST FOR ME; I DO WHAT IS BEST FOR OTHERS SO THAT many may be saved. And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:31-34‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

The hierarchy of the church and the hierarchy of the family are alike. The heads of each are supposed to be leading examples of Christlikeness. They set the tone and give direction to the rest of the body.

As I read the words of Paul in chapter 11, verse two, I thought, “That is the desire of every man and woman in their mate. They want to be appreciated. They want the things that are important to them to be in the considerations of the other.”

I.e.: a husband who sees as important their preparation for the future, such as saving for retirement, appreciate’s when his wife is frugal and thoughtful in the way she handles household finances because she understands his need and desire and has adopted it as her own. At the same time, the wife appreciates when her husband remembers their now needs and does not focus so much on future planning that he cuts them short on their needs or does away with all present life comforts.

Just as the church should be unified in working together toward common goals, so should the family. It requires that we always keep each other in mind and heart so our decisions help the function of the whole. Each realizes that what one does effects the reputation and life journey of all others in that family body. For this to occur, communication is vital. Look at Paul’s words again.

“I appreciate and commend you because you ALWAYS REMEMBER ME in everything and KEEP FIRM POSSESSION OF the traditions (THE SUBSTANCE OF MY INSTRUCTIONS), just AS I HAVE [VERBALLY] PASSED THEM ON TO YOU.”

In the family, this communication is not just statements that proclaim my way as law. It is a discussion that comes to common understanding. In the example above, the husband instructs the wife on his intent to make sure they have a retirement portfolio that will provide for their elder years. The wife agrees with her husband’s lead and intent, but should feel free to express her concern that present life needs and reasonable comforts not be neglected. Together they come to an understanding of the plan and the need to work together toward a common goal: they possess the goal, each considering the sensibilities of the other, consulting together often on big needs and changes made, as they do their part in bringing their goals to pass.

When we achieve such unity of heart, mind, and purpose, what joy it is as we walk it out together.

Also read 1 Corinthians 10:1-11:2.

Great is Your Faithfulness

“The LORD ’ S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-23‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

As God is with us, so we are to be with our mates. Trust is vital to this BLESSed union.

Faithfulness begins with our thoughts toward each other. I have found with my husband that his every decision considers its effect on my life and future. He has long worked to set things up so that, if he goes Home to our Lord first, I am provided for and protected. I try to do the same for him.

Directing our thoughts to keep our mates in their rightful position in our lives and to establish and secure their futures is vital. It goes beyond keeping ourselves for them, alone. It considers their every need and our role in meeting it. This goes for you who are single, awaiting the revelation of your life partner from God. Your faithfulness to that mate starts now as you keep yourself for your future mate and do all you can to prepare a place and a future for that union.

Do an inventory of your faithfulness toward your mate, Love. Where do you need to adjust your thoughts and actions so as to increase faithfulness to them?

Value Your Mate

“For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.” (1 Peter 3:5-6 NASB)

It has long been recognized that a man’s greatest need from wife and children is respect and honor. A woman’s greatest need is affectionate love and a sense of security. And both need a sense of value. I believe that is why Peter calls women to an attitude of submission that trusts God’s use of her husband in his care for wife and family, not giving herself to fear, but praying for him. And, men, your wife’s need is why Paul speaks his instruction to you in Ephesians 5.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her…. 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, because we are members of His body.” (Ephesians 5:25-30 NASB)

To cherish your wife is to value her. One very important way you value her is by listening to her counsel and considering her opinions. It is much easier for a woman to respect and follow the lead of her man when he helps her know her opinion is important, valued, and added to the basis for important decisions.

I cannot tell you the times my husband has let me know that my opinion helped him adjust course to a better decision. And there have been times he has changed my understanding or took a course of action I quickly saw was the better path choice. We work as one with God leading the way and it has grown a strong trust between us.

So, wives, we walk without fear by trusting God to direct our husbands, even if that direction goes against our opinion. Remember, your faith is in God, trusting Him to lead your man; and your prayers and encouragement should resource his success as a spiritual leader of your family.

A nurturing husband not only feeds his wife the affection, love, and appreciation she needs, but it also means to help your wife become her best and most productive self: helping her achieve goals that grow strength and ability in her, making her a capable person, secure and equipped for life. It does not keep her out of the loop, but makes sure she knows what is going on and why, so if anything happens to you, she can carry on in confidence.

In reality – though true, godly love flows unconditionally from who we are and respect is expected to be given as unto the Lord, these must flow freely both directions to work properly. The wife is not commanded to love her husband because the act of love comes easier to the female species. A man is not commanded to respect the wife, because respect is more readily expected and given as protocol by the male species. But both male and female need and desire love, respect, security, and to be valued.

Determine today, Beloved, to lift one another up through these practices toward each other and enjoy a strong marriage that will last forever and glorify God. If, however, your mate is not as God intends toward you, your concern is to be the mate God wants you to be while praying for your mate to be His ideal toward you. Don’t set your sites on your ideal (what you think that should look like), but God’s, asking Him for eyes to recognize His answers to your relational needs. Like me, you may well be amazed at the glory you find in your mate.

(1 Peter 3:1-2, 7-9 NASB)

Perfect Love

“… We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. …” (‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:14-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Perfect love casts out fear. My God loves me so much, He made The Way for me to come to Him boldly, as a child bursts through to reach her daddy. Through Christ, this sinner made clean can approach His throne and touch the Holy of Holies. I am safe in God’s love.

In like fashion, my husband has loved me so much that he has put me at ease with him. I don’t fear coming to him with anything, because his love for me has proven me safe with him over and over again. I never had to hide clothing purchases, fear telling him of things going on in my life, or feel he would stay mad at me forever, because he made his love safe for me. And I believe he feels the same safety net in my love for him.

Love. God is love; and marriage is the first place where that image of God should be visible in life.

Our Mission is Freedom

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “LET MY PEOPLE GO, THAT THEY MAY SERVE ME.” (Exodus 9:1 NASB)

We who truly and fully profess and possess Christ are already saved by grace through faith. It’s not a result of working to please God and each arn salvation. If someone is telling you that you must work to earn salvation, and work to keep salvation, they are a false teacher. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him. Thus, we don’t have to work and keep working to get and keep saving GRACE. It’s a gift freely given us because Jesus paid the price. Once we truly receive it as ours to fully possess, it is forever.

Now our salvation is worked out for all to see by walking in the gift of freedom to serve and please God, living as His righteous and true representatives, loving God and others in Jesus Name. We are set free to serve Him alone as our one true and only God of gods, Lord of lords, and King of kings.

It is not a hard work we do, for God has put His Spirit in us to make us as He is, living out of who we now are in the power of His supply. I,e.:

  • God is good, and all true goodness seen is Him expressing Himself to the observant. By His gracious supply, we are freed to be and do good in serving and living for Him.
  • God is Love. He loves out of who He is, thus our “do” or “not do” does not stop His love. All true love coming to us and pouring from us is Him. As He lovingly transforms us, He restores us to His likeness so that we are free to love as people who are love as He is Love. Thus, we prove ourselves to be His.

By His grace, as we trust Him, we work out our salvation by walking in the freedom to be as He is and do as He does, free to serve God in the power of His supply. And we have the mission to help others receive and possess this freedom as their own. So go forth in faith, believing, and prosper this day as you carry out your mission for King and Kingdom. As we get into marriage and family through February and our role as God’s Warriors through March, remember that OUR MISSION IS FREEDOM!

Ephesians 2:8-10; John 14:6; Philippians 2:12-13; Romans 5-6.

Deuteronomy 30:11; Romans 12:1-3; Galatians 5:18-25; 1 John 4:7-21.

Life is Too Busy

My Sis made it over last evening for a weekend visit. We are so greatly enjoying seeing her.

It is awful in this age how we can live so close to people we love and seldom see each other. That is one of the saddest things about this era in time. One of my grandkids called last night to see if they could hand deliver a baby shower invitation. I started to say that we got the online one, but decided against it because I wanted the short, but too rare visit.

Life is too busy. I have children I haven’t talked to in months because of their too busy lives. I understand they are busy, but I miss them. It makes me sad.

When I was growing up, my daddy called his momma every Sunday at 1:00. You could set your clock by it. He had to work one Sunday and by 1:30, Grandma called to be sure we were all ok.

When our kids were growing up, we lived close to both sets of parents. I still made sure to see and / or call each of them weekly. Seldom did we go two weeks without some sort of contact with them. That was not the same as when we called my Grandma as a kid and everyone took turns talking with her. Our check in was so commonplace and subtle, I’m sure our kids didn’t even realize we did it.

My kids lives are so busy, I feel like I am an intrusion if I call them. I text one daughter and ask her to call when she has opportunity, and it is never an opportune time. She’ll text when something is going on and say she will call “as soon as…”. “As soon as” doesn’t come. I’m sure she also has the same problem I have.

Me? What’s my excuse? My brain is funky. I’ll think of calling someone at a time when I can’t call, like at 12:30 at night as I’m climbing into bed or when I’m in the middle of cooking a meal. Then when it is a convenient time, 🧠zzzzz: brain-Zs. Our other daughter has the same issue, so there’s that one. I’ve tried setting an alarm, but seems every time it goes off is at one of those inconvenient times when I cannot stop what I’m doing. So the alarm gets hurriedly shut off with note-to-self to remember to call as soon as I finish what I’m doing. 🧠zzzzz

When our son is living and working nearby, we see him pretty frequently. That is the case for now. Eventually work will carry him off again and, with his work hours, we will be missing him too. For now, I am enjoying his presence and grateful to God for it.

Did I say that life is too busy? 😢 Make time to call those you love while you can, before you really can’t and it becomes a regret. This is speaking to me, too. 😢

The Mighty Mustard Seed

“When He entered the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They *said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.”” Matthew 9:28-29 NASB

“It shall be done to you according to your faith” is not talking about the degree of faith, but the presence and focus of faith. Jesus also said that the smallest seed of faith can move mountains (Matthew 17:20).

When people try to convince us that God didn’t answer the way we wanted because our faith is too small, they don’t understand the scriptures. Such a focus makes “faith” a little-g god and our will the master.

Faith that believes says, “LORD, if You are WILLING, I know You CAN …” (Matthew 8:2; Mark9:22-23). The mustard seed of faith to believe clings to His Lordship and trusts His will. Those with believing trust will not be disappointed (Romans 10:11), whatever the answer, for trust knows His Love does what is best.

Do you believe God can do what you ask. Then whatever amount of faith that comes with belief is enough. God responds to all that is within His will for us. Only believe and let faith grow strong.

Father, I believe! Help my unbelief. In Jesus, amen.

Pearls Trampled

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

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

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

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

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

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

Receive it!

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

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

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

Know He is Lord!

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

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

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

BLESSings, Beloved.

Praying FOR Our President

My husband and I pray every day, often several times a day, for our President and our country. It is our privilege and the best way we can influence our course. All who pray should be praying FOR our President, whether or not we agree with his political stance and ways. Prayer has nothing to do with politics. It has everything to do with Life, liberty, and security.

To pray for a president or anyone means to agree with God for His desire for them. Our President needs prayer to be a person of righteousness, truth, justice, and integrity. He needs wisdom, discernment, revelation, and clarity. We should pray that he is a God-fearing man who seeks after Him and His ways and seeks to lead our nation to be its best.

Where a potential impeachment is concerned, again we pray for truth, righteousness, justice, and integrity; for revelation, discernment, wisdom, and clarity. We also pray protection from every evil, injustice, harm, and injury.

To seek God for our President is to desire God’s greatest good for our country.

Proclaiming the Power of Unity

Proclaiming the Power of Unity

December 1, 2019 through January 20, 2021

Ezekiel‬ ‭37:15-28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

https://www.bible.com/116/ezk.37.15-28.nlt

As I read this passage this morning, I see clearly, God’s heart for these United States. He proclaims to my heart…

PEACE, UNITY, and WISDOM are POWER in GOD’S HANDS.

I see the pieces of wood and hear His call to place the words on the wood: 1 – “This represents Democrats and their allies.” And 2 – “This represents Republicans and their allies.” I hear the Lord proclaiming: “These United States in My hands: peaceful, unified, and powerful, with Me as their One Wisdom.”

I see the people of God throughout these United States, making their wood pieces with these markings, holding them up as one piece, proclaiming God’s sovereignty in our unity from now through the 2020 Vote, all the way to Inauguration Day (January 20, 2021).

Who will share this vision and answer the call to proclaim God’s power over all? Who will make their wooden pieces and hold them up as one with me?

Get your wood ready by December 1. Snap pics of each, and then as one. Post them as commitment to the call and begin lifting them up and proclaiming our unity, praying as God leads throughout this year of election. Get your church family, Bible study groups, and praying friends involved. Let’s see what our Lord will do.

PEACE, UNITY, and WISDOM are POWER, and it begins with God’s people placing all in GOD’S CAPABLE HANDS. Let’s do it as ONE PEOPLE UNDER GOD.

Grasp The New

“… At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. …”

When first converted, someone saying to me that I am now a new person brought the thought, “That’s nice.” Oh to fully realize the height, depth, width, and length of this truth. That we are in Christ and He is in us is our New Reality. That our surrender to Him brings true life to living, making us new from the inside out.

We are no longer trapped by this finite life and it’s self-centered, worldly philosophy, but we have already entered the new, eternal Kingdom, possessing through Christ His thoughts, purposes, desires, and understandings. How different life is. What a difference this truth makes for life.

Oh, to teach that to the very young in Christ, that though this shell will one day pass on, we are already eternal with Christ, charged and empowered by Him to pass these Kingdom truths and realities to others along the path of this world assignment. Missionaries of The Kingdom of God. All else pales when we begin to grip our New Reality.

“So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21 NLT)

Forgiveness or Consequence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lord, Alone, Exalted

“The pride of man will be humbled And the loftiness of men will be abased; And the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” ~ Isaiah 2:17.

Humility is when we fully realize it’s not about me, it’s all about God.

Humility bows to Him out of realization that it’s not about me, it’s all about Him.

That realization helps us evaluate every decision, every situation, every emotion and thought from His eternal perspective. That realization helps us overcome fear, embarrassment, pride, guilt, and shame, as it helps us die to self-interest that puts “me” on the throne, so I may truly die to self and fully live for Him. That realization ~ It’s not about me, it’s all about Him ~ empowers victory in a life that reveals “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” ~ Galatians 2:20.

This understanding hit my heart today as never before. I am bowed down and totally undone.

(2017)

God Looks Down

“I trust in the Lord for protection. So why do you say to me, “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety! The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right. The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?”” (Psalms 11:1-3 NLT)

The relational climate in our land is very troubling to me. From the heads of government down, we’re so busy fighting against each other that we can’t hear one another, much less find points of agreement. No outside enemy has to come against us to bring us down, for a house divided will quickly fall (Luke 11:17). But what better time for an enemy assault than when a people are too busy looking inward at each other to see out where an enemy lies in wait.

This passage of scripture asks, “What can the righteous do?”

Father, As the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, we can pray and seek Your face, Lord. Thank You that, as we humble ourselves before You, You hear from Heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. In Jesus, let it be so.

When we humbly seek God, He opens ears to hear, eyes to see, minds to know with comprehension, and hearts to move in line with His will on righteous paths to unity and victory.

“God looks down from heaven on the entire human race; he looks to see if anyone is truly wise, if anyone seeks God.” (Psalms 53:2 NLT)

Unity comes to those who stop yelling at each other and bow down to align heart, mind, thought, and desire with God and His way.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 NLT)

What God did for Israel, He can and will do for us who follow His plan for finding and achieving His purpose.

Forward Goes the Row

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God’s Patient Hand

A repost from May 7, 2015. Be encouraged – anew.

This morning, reading John 11, the following catches my attention:

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was” ~ vs. 5-6.

This passage has caught my eye before, but this morning, it stops me for a pondering moment. Jesus loved them, so He waited, postponing his response to their need. Why?

Two possible reasons come to mind immediately: so their need would reach a point beyond human intervention; and so their experience of God’s hand working to meet their need would be beyond imagination.

074I have long understood that we cannot truly comprehend the good end of a continuum until we understand its opposite. We cannot truly discern what love is without some experience of hate. We cannot know how great our God without experiencing our need for Him. We cannot discern how awesome God’s presence with us without some experience of life apart from Him.

God’s purpose is always to fulfill His good word. He does so in a way that reveals Himself to us, contrasting His personality, presence and power, from that of the natural. Moreover, He does so in a way that not only gives us life more abundant and full, but that births within us a sincere gratitude for all He gives to us. When He does finally take action on our behalf, He does so in ways that touch the lives of those around us, giving hope to them for His help in their life-circumstances.

In my life journey, I have discovered that God often waits while that mustard seed of faith in me sprouts and puts down deeper roots. (Faith requires something hoped for while yet unseen.) As a tree puts down deeper roots and gains a stronger hold into the earth during seasons when drought and high winds causes it to reach deep into the earth, so that which makes us reach deep into God strengthens our foundation of faith, increasing our commitment to believe in, trust in and rely upon Him.

So, Beloved, “let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint” (Galatians 6:9, AMP. See also 2 Corinthians 4:1; Romans 5:1-5).

Be careful not to give yourself to thinking God’s patience is a lack of care. He loves you! Therefore, He waits for the best time to produce the greatest results that reveal His love in unfathomable depths of glory.

At All Times, Pray

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. ….”. (Ephesians 6:18-20 NLT)

Prayer. Communing with God. Seeking Him in relationship. Searching His wisdom and direction. Turning to Him who is ready to give, assist, empower, direct, instruct, comfort, ease, know and be known.

Prayer is a lifestyle of companionship with the one Who gave His Son so we may be sons and daughters. Prayer is with and through Him who died that we may be companion, helpmeet, ambassador, priests unto God. Prayer is a lifestyle of companionship empowered by God’s Spirit, His Presence with us, enabling our hearts to meet God’s, our minds to comprehend His, our souls to mate with Him as fellow member or joint occupant of this body He claims as Temple.

We’re instructed be alert, persistent, and pray without ceasing. Lifestyle companionship is the only way I see of doing that. Through lifestyle prayer, this three in one God of ours unites with us, effecting a four in one unity, the answer to the prayer of Jesus in John 17.

When we walk with a companion, we talk about life situations along the way. We point to things seen and discus it’s beauty, placing, need, reasoning. We share opinions and work to achieve unity and understanding. We “Life” together. And we love and encourage one another.

I believe walking in persistent, constant, companionship with God requires alertness to His Presence, having comprehensive understanding of His watchful care and real interest in us and our lives. It requires a parent-child, teacher-student, Master-servant, companion-helpmeet attitude that humbly surrenders to His greatness and superiority. It receives encouragement from Him that empowers us to live life well, and it encourages Him to have full sway and access to us and our lives.

God knows prayer is vital for true Life to be lived. Walking with Father God, through Christ, in the power and equipping of His Holy Presence with us, we successfully pray at all times, in all occasions, with every petition, and without ceasing.

“Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”” (Matthew 26:40-41 NLT)

Short of Glory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Commended by God

“When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.” (2 Corinthians 10:18 NLT)

As I read this today, the commendation first in my thoughts is God’s commendation of Job to Satan. I know! That doesn’t sound so good, does it? But listen to how proud God is.

“Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”” (Job 1:8 NLT)

Wow! I can but only live with hope of catching God’s eye in such a way. But that’s not the ultimate proof of God’s pride toward Job. That which followed is the proof text.

“Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.”

“So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (Job 1:9-12 NLT)

Note that God pointed Job out to Satan. The test coming is God’s idea. God knew the heart of Job toward Him would prevail. He knew that whatever Lucifer threw at him, Job’s heart would reach out in faith to His Father and proclaim truths like, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”” (Job 1:21 NLT)

And then there’s the frustrated discourse with his heart broken wife:

“His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.” (Job 2:9-10 NLT)

I cannot think of one person in scripture, commended by God, who did not walk through trial and testing that proved not only the caliber of their character, but the faithfulness of their God as they continued in faith toward Him. Moses was tried, tested, and grown as he led the people he was charged to guide. Joseph faced trial and testing that grew him to be strong in the skill and character necessary to rule a kingdom. Jesus faced every trial and passed every test on His way to the throne of Glory.

Sweetheart, those God loves, He proves and prunes. Are you going through a hard time, seeing your faith and integrity tested at every turn? It’s not that God has left your side, but more likely that He has recommended you as His righteous child of faith and integrity. He will not leave your side through the journey. And we pass the test by making sure, with every challenge of our faith, that we refuse to walk away from Him.

Look again at the challenge from Satan regarding Job.

“Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” SO SATAN LEFT THE LORD’S PRESENCE.” (Job 1:9-12 NLT)

In order to do the evil Satan intended toward Job, Satan had to leave the Lord’s Presence. That is the test we all face, Beloved. Satan temps us to lose faith and leave the Lord’s Presence. Will we remain with Him, or will testing see us walk away.

Let’s turn now to Jesus:

“…As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” …” (John 6:52-71 NASB)

Difficulty coming into one’s life is not proof one is lost and failing to align with God. Difficulty in life is not necessarily an act of punishment from God. Difficulty can well mean we are commended by God for proving. And all through our test, Jesus asks us, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Those who pass the test are those who remain with Him despite the difficulty that comes to test and try our faith and character.

Stand firm, Beloved. God will not leave you alone in the fires or lion’s dens of life. He is forever with and for you. Your privilege is to stand firm with and for Him, so as to come out not only unscathed by the challenge, but stronger in character and skill for service and smelling like Jesus.

Bright Light!

Welcome to my home. Please excuse the mess. I’m behind everywhere with my husband in the hospital, but look at this picture of our pup. It doesn’t show as clearly in this photo as it is to my weary eyes, but as the glare of the sun’s light begins to pierce through the window, the extreme light hits my eyes, distorting clear view of Missy’s face.

Realizing that brought this spiritual truth into clear view:

“…In your light we receive the light of revelation.” (Psalms 36:9 TPT)

Today my mind is bombarded by the accusations flung out to rob my focus and lead my tired brain to major on minors. You ever been there? The accuser of souls often strikes to bring us down in our weakest moments. That’s the way of a lion hunt, isn’t it: separate the weak, isolating them for an easy kill.

Today, as I experience this isolation tactic of God’s enemy attacking me, Father points out this phrase, “In your light we receive the light of revelation.” God highlights the truth for me in the light of the sun behind Missy. When that light hit, Missy’s face hidden by the glare, all my mind perceives is the light.

God wants our focus on Him: His Light that reveals the truth of our hearts and circumstances, thus overcoming the tactics of the enemy’s entrapment. For me today, that light tells me of God’s love and His understanding of my situation. He cares for me and steps in to break the successful attack on His Beloved daughter. That is who I am, a Beloved child of God, just like you.

May the Light step in the way, distorting and blocking view of the lies of accusation toward you, making clear revelation of truth as God sees it, wherever your weakness meets with enemy attack today.

Truth in Action

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

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

Let us show the truth by our actions.

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

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

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

Greater Love Requires Humility: A Quick Study

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Directed by Bit and Bridle

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

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

This piece is the bit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meager Wages

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Call to Firm Commitment:

With Insight on the Mark of 666

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Going on with Jesus?

Oswald Chambers

My Utmost for His Highest

Holy Bible App

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

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

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

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

Faith Made Whole

“… Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. …” (James 2:17-26 NLT)

Faith is made complete when it leads to agreement with the Father, producing actions of obedience that accomplish His works and glorify His Name. We know that “in the mount of the Lord it will be provided” because Abraham’s faith produced obedience out of trust in God’s faithfulness and provision that revealed The Lord our provider (Genesis 22). Faith works with God out of a trust that takes the opportunity to reveal God’s faithful character. Thus faith is made whole through actions that flow from trust that God will take His opportunity through our faith to show off His glory.

Father, increase our understanding that faith is a muscle. Faith not flexed disintegrates. Faith is made strong, mature, complete, whole, as trust moves it into action. Let our faith move us to where it sees You working. May every spark of faith press us forward to join You in making You known as You reveal to all Your faithfulness that will not deny Yourself. Open our eyes to see opportunities You give us to flex our faith muscle. May we be complete in Christ, who saw where You were working and joined You there to produce Your glory in the earth. In Jesus, amen.