Tag Archives: love

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.

Heart Matters

“…The Lord accepted Abel and his gift, but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. “Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked Cain. “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. ….” (Genesis 4:1-16 NLThttp://bible.com/116/gen.4.1-16.nlt)

Cain and Abel: we know the story well. Here we see these first born into the world. Bear with me for a little speculation here. Cain was firstborn. The first experience of birth pangs. He is named “Cain” in appreciation of God’s help bearing something Eve never knew before that experience. Thus, Eve describes the meaning of the name, Cain, when she proclaims, “With the Lord’s help, I have produced a man.”

When Abel came, Eve knew from experience what to expect and was better prepared for his birthing. The name, Abel, means “vapor, breath, in the negative sense of having no substance and being something very close to nothing.” Now, considering the implication of Cain being so named out of gratitude for God’s help in going through such unanticipated difficulty, Eve, being better prepared, saw the birth of Abel as a breeze by comparison.

Now, I’ve seen women who had difficult births teasingly, or not, remind their child often of the great pain “they” caused her. This frequent rant often causes a child to feel unacceptable, breeding a need to please with hope of being accepted. If, this was the reality for Cain, we have the root of rejection he dealt with on a daily basis. Abel, on the other hand, would function from a position of being accepted and loved, which breeds confidence. Such differences in there motivational viewpoints led to a sibling rivalry.

With that understanding, we turn to the scene at hand.

First, note that, though they are no longer in Eden, God, the Father, continues to walk with them in fatherly love and acceptance, seeking to relate with and influence their lives for good. He and Abel appear to have a good relationship. Abel, being confident and assured of loving acceptance, out of that love, brings God a gift of the first and best of his herd.

Then comes Cain. Remember, he functions out of rejection and insecurity. He comes with a gift, probably trying to keep up with his brother and somehow win the approval and acceptance of God. His gift is not from a spirit of love and appreciation, thus his gift is a bunch grabbed in haste, not from the first of the crop, and certainly not the finest. Thus, he gives out of a spirit of followship, not fellowship, and most likely begrudgingly given, feeling he had to buy God’s love, while anticipating that nothing will be enough, so why waste the best.

Note here that Abel gave from the blood sacrifice. Cain gave from sin’s curse. Let’s see if I can explain what I see:

Adam and Eve’s sin led to the curse of death, a separation from the intimacy they had with God before the fall. When God cursed the land to bring difficulty to Adam’s work as a farmer and sent them out of the garden, He first made a blood sacrifice for them and covered their nakedness by the power of His grace. Thus, though they were no longer in the Garden, they still had access to God.

Abel not only literally gave a blood sacrifice to God out of a loving relationship with Him, but he gave from the position of the forgiven. Cain, functioning out of rejection, failed to recognize God’s love and grace toward him. His gifts came from that sense of the cursed. Thus, God did not accept a gift given begrudgingly, from one trying to buy what was already there for him to freely possess. Out of his “feelings” of rejection, Cain rejected the truth about God toward him. Dejected, he walked away to sulk and brood in anger that turned on Abel.

Notice something else here. Dejected and sulking in his pity party, God approached Cain, reaching out to him with truth intended to help him make a wise choice toward a righteous path. Cain again rejected God’s hand of love, failing to recognize that God was dealing with him as a Father toward a beloved son.

“For the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes each one He accepts as His child.” (Hebrews 12:6 NLT)

Now look at Cain’s state of mind. Dejected means sad and depressed; dispirited. Synonyms are downcast, down hearted or disheartened, despondent, disconsolate, dispirited, crestfallen. Of these, despondent stands out to me as true of Cain: being in low spirits from loss of hope or courage. And disconsolate: (of a place or thing) causing or showing a complete lack of comfort; cheerless. He was so bitter and angry that he had no ability to receive comfort. Though The Father reached out to Cain in love, desiring to lift his countenance and direct him to truth and the righteous path, Cain gave himself to his dejected spirit and killed his brother.

God’s Word warns us that our fleshly hearts are deceptive, and cannot be trusted. He advises us to keep our thoughts focused on the true, the right, the pure, the honorable, the lovely, the admirable, the things that are excellent and worthy of praise. If Cain had trusted and believed God, leaning into Him to develop his own relationship with Him, having right thoughts toward Him, he would have avoided all his trouble.

Where is your heart toward God, Beloved? Do you trust His love for you? Are you trapped by fears of rejection, dejected in your thinking toward God and man? Is that breeding distrust toward God; jealousy, bitterness, and anger toward others? Are you trying to buy the love and acceptance Jesus already bought and holds out as a gift to you? Where is your heart motive in seeking after God?

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)

(Philippians 4:8 NLT)

Year End Reminder

“But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11 NASB

The example of forgiveness given us by God is to forgive “for my own sake”, just as God did in Isaiah 43:25. In the midst of Israel’s sin, God chose to forgive for His own sake, and we are instructed to forgive as God forgives (Ephesians 4:32).

The main reason to forgive, expressed in this 2 Corinthians passage, is so that Satan cannot take advantage of the situation to do harm to the cause of Christ. Forgiveness “for my own sake” protects me from bitterness, anger, and a slew of other negative emotions that lead to my own sin against God, through lack of love, failure to trust God to tend to the offender, and other bad fruits born out of lack of forgiveness.

Our forgiveness does not free the offender from the consequences of their sin. It leaves those consequences to God, for Him to tend to, and frees us to go on with life, free of the influence those negative emotions can have on our bodies, minds, and souls. It frees us to live a life of peace that glorifies God and bears the fruit of righteousness.

Though forgiveness can aid in continuing relations with those we love, forgiveness does not mean we must maintain relationship with the offender. Bad company corrupts good morals, and wisdom let’s us know when we need to remove a person from our midst. Forgiveness simply lets go of the insult and let’s God tend to the offender.

What do you need to forgive today, surrendering it to God, so you can press forward in peace? Let’s not enter this New Year carrying burdensome, tattered, energy sapping baggage. Bow to God now, and lay it at His feet.

“‘Be still, cease striving, let be and know 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 stronghold. Selah.” Psalms 46:10-11, (multiple versions)

Love from the Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gifts That Last

“I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you…!”” (Acts 3:6 NASB – http://bible.com/100/act.3.6.nasb)

We don’t have to go into debt to give the perfect gift. Peter and John gave the gift of healing. My sweet husband gives me joy and laughter, love and encouragement everyday: like today, as He dawns my homemade, glove potholder like a hat. 😂🤪😂

There are two things mentioned in our Acts verse that is important to gift giving:

First give what you have.

Doing such huge gifts that it puts us in debt for a year is not necessary. It can cause stress that tears at the core of relationships. And it can rob of time with those we love as we work overtime to clear the debt in time for next Christmas.

Most of all, high dollar giving feeds cravings for this world’s goods and hinders growth in the importance of contentment with what we have. Thoughtful, loving, gift giving within budget, given out of love and care, will carry greater value in the long run, breeding a contentment that keeps us free from stress, debt, and greed.

Second, gifting in the name of Jesus, as represents Him, His ways, His love, carries eternal worth into the giving.

The greatest gift I received this year was the gift of three weekends from my granddaughter. She came to help me and be with me. That is priceless. She and her sister gave the gift of taking responsibility for the Thanksgiving meal, freeing me of stress and blessing with rest, love, and joy. My heart flutters still.

The top gifts in life: debt free, joy-filled, love. It ministers to hearts, heals, strengthens, forms strong bonds, and makes long lasting memories that uplift and encourage for ages to come.

Happy gift giving! Merry Christmas!

Finding Who We Are: Part 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Hebrews 13:1-25 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-2

We are The Temple: Outer Court Part 2 – The Laver 1

“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14 NASB)

Looking at ourselves as the Temple of our living God, thus far we walked through the one doorway from which we enter the outer court to find the altar of sacrifice, which for us is the cross of Calvary and Jesus, the Christ. It is our privilege as priests unto God to recognize opportunities to lead people to the altar and point them to the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Anyone who crosses the veil into our lives must be viewed as an opportunity for altar ministry. However, that is just the beginning of our role, as Jesus did not call us to make converts, but to make disciples. An altar opportunity may be to help people to the Savior; or it may be to help a fellow believer grow in surrender to His Lordship.

After the altar, we find the Laver.

“You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing; and you shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it.” (Exodus 30:18 NASB)

Positioned between the altar of sacrifice and the Holy Place of meeting with God, we find a wash basin called the Laver. Every morning, when the priests entered the outer court, they first sacrificed for their own sins. Before they could serve God and minister to His people, they had to repent for themselves through the blood of sacrifice. Then they were required to wash their hands and feet at the Laver.

The Laver was a basin and stand made of pure bronze. The priest not only washed after his morning sacrifice, but before every entry into the Holy Place, and after every exiting from the Holy Place.

Remember, the priests were dealing with the sins and fleshly needs of the people all day, which continually exposed them to the world’s soiling. Thus, frequent cleansing was required. That leads my thoughts to the last supper and Jesus, dawning a towel to wash the feet of the disciples.

Recall here, Peter, being Peter, baulked at his Lord doing something for him that is normally the job of the lowliest of slaves. Jesus warned him that if he would not allow Him to do this cleansing for him, that Peter had no part with Him. So Peter, being Peter, tells Jesus to not just do his feet, but his hands and head too. What was it that Jesus said?

“…He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is COMPLETELY CLEAN…” (Vs. 10 of John 13:1-17 NASB)

The sacrifice of Jesus completely cleanses us from all sin. We don’t have to make a new sacrifice every day; we just have to realize, gratefully trust, and walk in The One. But we, too, deal daily and all day with a sinful world that makes our feet dirty. So Jesus enacted the Laver washing for us, telling us as disciples to wash each other’s feet.

Now, for one, this speaks to our need to forgive each other so we can walk together in peace and unity as the body, bride, and church. But it also has another very important responsibility. For the disciples, this was preparatory for those who would step into their priestly roles after His departure. But what of today? Is it still needful today? Does the following command from Christ extend to us? I believe it does, and that it is a vital ministry opportunity we too readily fail to practice.

“…Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. ….” (Vs. 12-15 of John 13)

Have you ever experienced a foot washing session? It is beautiful to experience. My first experience was at a ladies retreat. Each person had a turn at having feet washed, and then at washing another’s feet. The last one whose feet were washed then washed the feet of the first, so it went full circle.

Note in Jesus’s command to wash each other’s feet, He called Himself the Lord and Teacher. To me that gives instruction for two main purposes in feet washing: we are to lead people to His Lordship in their daily walk; and we are to take the opportunity to teach His truth over our daily struggles.

This is pictured perfectly in the foot washing sessions I have experienced, as while washing the feet, the servant and the served visited together. It is a very intimate time of addressing common struggles and encouraging their righteous stance, especially for those who know each other, as they can be specific with their encouragement in addressing issues.

Note here that, in truth, Jesus is the Laver of Living Water. We don’t necessarily have to wash physical feet to perform this ritual, but oh how beautiful and intimate it is when we do. The action of physically washing feet transports us to this moment with Jesus. The more Christlike we are with each other, the more we realize His Presence in it.

This is a good pause point in this lengthy discourse, so hold these thoughts to be continued tomorrow.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-A

“… we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. ….” (2 Corinthians‬ ‭6:14-18‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

We are The Temple: Outer Court Part 1

Before looking at the thoughts for today, I want to emphasize again that the purpose of this trip through Hebrews is not to delve into what this author is teaching. I thought that is what I was to do when the Spirit inspired this journey. Instead, I find Him highlighting topic matters that we can delve into with the goal of “Finding Who We Are” in Christ.

That said, chapter 9 is discourse regarding temple worship and the priestly sacrifice of Christ. That leads me again to our priestly role and our responsibility as the very Temple of God in our days.

I’ve spent days here trying to make one blog out of the topic of our being the New Covenant Temple and our priestly role therein. However, the topic is vast, my thoughts full. I decided yesterday that it would take several posts to cover properly. Then, this morning The Spirit woke me with discernment that I was starting at the wrong door – the door to the Holy Place; thus, I was missing some important insights on us as The New Temple of God and our priestly role here.

The Temple complex has the outer court where sinner and saint, priest and laymen, could all enter in. This yard is outside the actual Temple, which includes the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, each having only one, covered entrance.

Once a person took care of their business in the outer court, the priest assisting them had to continue the ritual for them, entering the Holy Place on their behalf. Then, as we know, once a year the High Priest, after proper cleansing for his own and all the people’s sins, entered the Holy of Holies on The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).

As I woke this morning, I realized there are important aspects in the outer court that are contributions to understanding who we are as The Temple and Priest unto God in Christ. The outer court is in us as part of the Temple of God through Christ, just as in the first Temple.

When people came to the Temple to worship and tend to business with God, they found only one entrance. Jesus is and always has been the way, the truth, and the life. No one enters God’s Presence without going through Him. The first doorway leads into the outer court, where the unclean is cleansed. Each doorway leading us deeper into God’s Presence requires passing through the Christ. Through Christ, often using one of us, The Father draws those in need of grace. That grace is found in the outer court.

A thought that hits here: as a temple of God, people cannot come near to us without passing through Jesus to get there. If God allows a person to come close enough for us to effect one another’s lives, it is God ordained for eternal purpose. Be alert to the opportunity.

Once a person responds to God’s call, they step through the curtain of Jesus to find a priest, one of us, standing at the altar of sacrifice. The instant they step through the curtain, they step onto holy ground as they are entering the very presence of God.

I realize as I write this that this aspect of Temple service is why the image of Christ in us is so vital. We are the face of this doorway. When people enter our presence, they enter the outer court. What they experience in us either rightly or wrongly represents God.

Our Temple posture is to be one of holiness, revealing a quality that leaves the world and reveals God’s Presence. Our priestly role is to be a conduit of God’s love, wooing people to the altar where the covering of Mercy’s grace is found.

Beloved, we are the Temple and the Temple includes the outer court encounters with people of the world. Wherever we are, we are on holy ground. Wherever we are, we are in our priestly robes, called and equipped by God to perform our priestly duties. The first duty is to lead people to the altar of sacrifice, which for us is the cross of Calvary.

When a person entered the temple of Moses’ day, they had sacrifice in hand. They would take it to the altar, which was near the entrance as first order of business with God. The priest was ready and waiting to make sacrifice for them.

In our bodies as His Temple, Beloved, Jesus has already provided their sacrifice and ours. We stand as priest in representing Him and His interests. Jesus in us makes His appeal to draw people who need Him to the altar as they see His Light – His work in and through us. He does so through us as we remember that we are His priests, having our holy feet set on His Holy Ground, living holy lives as the holy people of God.

“The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered WHICH CANNOT MAKE THE WORSHIPER PERFECT IN CONSCIENCE, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, HE ENTERED THE HOLY PLACE ONCE FOR ALL, HAVING OBTAINED ETERNAL REDEMPTION. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, CLEANSE YOUR CONSCIENCE FROM DEAD WORKS TO SERVE THE LIVING GOD?” (Vs. 8-14 Hebrews 9:8-14, 27-28 NASB)

The outer tabernacle was the Temple made with hands that a person had to attend often. It did not fully cleanse, but was a temporary solution until the time of the Christ. When Christ came, His sacrifice entered the eternal Temple, cleansing us for all time. This is the Temple in us, the Temple we are: the eternal temple in the heavens with God. We are cleansed forever in Christ, made holy as He is holy. That holiness sustains us, cleansing conscience from dead works to serve the living GOD.

“And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.” (Vs. 27-28)

Before we leave the altar of sacrifice leading to salvation in Christ, this seems a good time to breakaway and answer two commonly debated questions: Who are saved? And can one’s salvation be lost?

Finding Who We Are: Part 9

Read: Hebrews 8:1-13 NASB

“For finding fault with them, He says, ” BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH; NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT…”

Jesus came to enact a new covenant with Israel. By grace, after establishing this covenant with His chosen tribes, He graciously extended His Holy Hand to us Gentiles, making us one as His covenant people.

God Himself takes us by the hand in the power of His Spirit, and walks us out of slavery to sin. It is as God speaking to us His promise to Israel, “’Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:10 NASB)

The New Covenant in Christ imparts the righteousness of God to us. He makes us to stand before Him, fully clothed and in our right mind.

“…FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.”

When we receive Christ, being filled with His Spirit, the seal of promise, we are gifted to possess the very mind of Christ.

“For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16 NASB)

The mind of Christ instructs is. With the mind of Christ comes not only the knowledge of the letter of the Law, but understanding discernment of its true intent. Our responsibility is to receive, recognize and fully possess the mind and thoughts of Christ living in us.

Remember the warning of James in chapter 1, verses 5-8?

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

As I’ve shared before, this double mindedness is the battle between the mind of our flesh and the mind of Christ within us. The New Covenant of God in Christ assures us of the Hand of God to lead us, and the mind of Christ, bringing right and true thoughts of truth that frees us INDEED.

“…AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘ KNOW THE LORD,’ FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. ” FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”” (Hebrews 8:8-12 NASB)

As the hand of God leads us and the mind of Christ frees us, the mercies of God clothes us in His own Righteousness: a deep, abiding relationship with God that embodies the very image of God. This clothing is the pure, undefiled birthday suit God intended from the beginning. Instead of hate, we dawn love, mercy, lovingkindness, compassion. Instead of unrighteous pride and arrogance, we put on garments of praise, humility, zeal for God and His ways, desire for His glory.

Besides all this, through Covenant in Christ, God stands us on the broad place of stability in Him Who is able to make us stand because He holds our hand. I can’t recall which Bible teacher pointed this out, but unlike the intent of man to train a child to one day walk on their own, God never intends us to let go of His hand. We need Him. Like a pic on Facebook said in response to the words, “Why I need God,” The man in the pic replies, “Life is a chess game. I don’t know how to play chess!”

Along with standing us on a broad place with Him, God seats us on the throne of grace in Christ, as one in His body; intimately united with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; one in thought, intent, and purpose. Thus scriptural covenant in Christ promises, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB)

We stand by remembering that we are covenant people. As such, we stand wholly united in Him as One, clinging tightly to the hand of God, seated with Christ, being in our right mind, fully clothed, and, empowered by it all, we stand firm.

Finding Who We Are: Part 2

Hebrews 1:3, 8-9 NASB

Last post, looking at Hebrews 1:3, we talked of our need to remember who and Whose we are. Looking at Jesus, The Perfect template of who we are, we see that we, too, are to be expressive of the glory of God, The Father, growing daily as an exact representation of His nature.

“And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.” (Philippians 1:6 AMPC)

Following Christ’s example, Him being the Author and Finisher of faith, we grow strong in our understanding, believing and living out God’s Word, knowing that through our believing, receptive, faith, we, too, stand, live, move, and breathe victoriously by the Word of His power.

Today, we glean the Seed from verses 8-9.

“But of the Son He (The Father) says, “YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER, AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. …”

First, we fulfill verse 3 as we remember that we follow and serve The Risen King just as He did the Father. We not only follow in His likeness, becoming in nature and action as He is, we also act as His representative on earth, His Kingdom Ambassador, charged with always living as best represents His will and way in fulfilling Kingdom purpose here on earth.

Everything we do and say represents Him, right or wrong. As Christians, we are expected to look and act like Him, rightly representing Him. When we don’t, we sully and slander His good name.

His Scepter is righteous. He has earned the right of sovereignty, and we owe Him no less than our best, which only happens as we surrender ourselves to allowing Him to live out His nature through us in the power of the Spirit (Galatians 2:20 AMPC).

As Ambassadors, we are empowered to live in the power and authority of His righteous scepter.

He is King. We are both: His temple, in which He still lives in the earth, by the power of the Spirit at work in us; and we are His Bride, made part of the Royal Court, the Royal Priesthood, empowered with His authority to act on His righteous desire, will and way.

“…YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS…”

As we grow in power as His representatives to the world, we, too, put on the love of righteousness and the hate of lawlessness. We are tasked to act righteously, stand for righteousness, and BE a righteous lot. When we seek to right a wrong, we always act righteously. We are called to Law keeping, God’s Law first, then man’s law, as long as it does not stand in opposition to God’s Law.

Speaking of being a righteous lot, let’s put a cap to that: righteous Lot. Scripture says of Lot, who was led out of Sodom and spared destruction, that God “rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds).” (2 Peter 2:7-8 NASB)

The righteous hate lawlessness, finding their righteous souls tormented by the lawlessness of of sinful flesh.

I don’t know about you, but my heart breaks with every lawless act that too readily bombards our senses. Jesus wept over Jerusalem for much the same reason. However, though Jesus loved and lived righteousness, and He hated and wept over lawlessness, He still loved and spent time reaching out to the unrighteous, lawbreaking sinners. Hate the sin and do not participate with it, but love the sinner and bid him/her to walk our way, straight into the loving arms of the Savior.

Because Jesus loved righteousness and hated lawlessness without hating the lawbreaker, thus continuing even in His heart break to carry out God’s will in the earth, Jesus was blessed with the oil of gladness.

“…THEREFORE GOD, YOUR GOD, HAS ANOINTED YOU WITH THE OIL OF GLADNESS ABOVE YOUR COMPANIONS.”

We can still be joyful, even in sorrow, because God is still God, and Jesus is on His throne; and because we possess the oil of gladness, the very Spirit of God in us. All the promises of God are wrapped up in us, ready to be revealed, as we house within us His Spirit and His Word. One promise of God we watch for is kin to this fulfilled promise to the Christ:

“…When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…”

The promise we anxiously await as we serve Jesus in righteousness that overcomes sin’s grasp?

“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:21-22 NASB)

The Narrow Focus

Listening to a Biblical meditation, the speaker directs to visualize looking as through the big end of a telescope, which makes the view through the small end very narrow in focus. Put that focus on God, refusing to move from gazing at Him. See a temptation come across your field of view, but keep focus on God; refusing to follow the object of temptation. Note that the temptation moves rapidly out of view.

That temptation God allows to float between us is a test meant by Him to prove and strengthen our resolve to keep the focus of our desire on Him. Temptation’s ability to grip and sway us is weakened by our straight and narrow focus on One true and righteous passion: God alone.

Practice keeping a restfully assured focus on Him today, Beloved. When you catch your focus drifting, turn quickly back to your narrow ended telescope, and let that distraction move out of site. Victory over temptation to sin is assured when we maintain that straight and narrow love for God.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. …” (Hebrews 12:1-4 NASB)

Free Will Choice

“Without your consent I did not want to do anything, so that your goodness would not be, in effect, by compulsion but of your own free will.” (Philemon 1:14 NASB)

Have you noticed how some people seem to push for rules and regulations that force people to give to the “under privileged” or to care for those here illegally, or any number of other causes? Have you noticed how some seem to enjoy playing the part of Robin Hood? Does it get your back up (an old saying meaning to rile up, like the hairs of a dog standing up when in battle mode)? Do you wonder why that riles us so? Here’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

God gives us the right of choice. Not only that, but opportunities to give are chances from Him for those WITH A HEART TO DO SO to give without compulsion.

Exodus 25:2 says, “Tell the sons of Israel to raise a contribution for Me; FROM EVERY MAN WHOSE HEART MOVES HIM you shall raise My contribution.”

I believe that, when God desires a person to give into a need, HE stirs their heart with willingness to do so. God doesn’t want us to give from a forced position. He wants the gift to be from a willing heart, as if giving to the Lord, Himself, for that is what it is in His estimation of things.

When someone forces us to give, it steps all over our right in the Lord, leading to giving begrudgingly. A person can’t take much of that without the heart (their willing love and care toward others) growing cold. People who try to force acts of loving care become part of the problem instead of a fix to it.

Trust in the Lord to inspire the good in others, for only God is good, according to Jesus (Mark 10:18), and “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:17 NASB)

God work’s in us, so that He can work through us, to the glory of His Name and the good of our character that grows strong as He works His good out through us who live according to His dictates.

Now, that said, can we get a right attitude in forced servitude? When we live as unto the Lord and in the power of His supply, nothing shall be impossible with God. So put on the Lord Jesus Christ and, in the humility of the Savior, let no worldly rule steal your Joy. Your free will choice is to do every good as unto the Lord and in the power of His supply. Though others require of you by force, they cannot steal your joy of service in and for our Lord, unless you give-in to that begrudging spirit that seeks to still, kill, and destroy the goodness of God in you.

Go forth, and prosper the Kingdom.

LOVE or Love

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17 NASB)

We don’t see it with our all encompassing word, love, but in the Greek, 2 different words are used in this passage: agapao and phileo.

Most know this, but for those who don’t, agapao is God’s kind of deep, abiding love. Like the Father’s, it flows from who we are as empowered by Him and lands on all, whether love for God or man. It is not gifted by merit of the recipient, but flows freely because of who we are in Christ, thus it loves enemy as well as friend.

Jesus, in verse 15 and 16 uses agapao. The amplified version defines this love as being “with reasoning, INTENTIONAL, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father.” Thus, this love functions solely out of devotion to God who imparts His nature to us, then serving Him out of love as a bondservant, we love others in like fashion.

Throughout this passage, Peter uses “phileo”, which is the affectionate care one has for a good friend. Problem is that this love is too readily subject to the merit system, and does not extend to anyone that is not considered a friend. This love is too easily flesh led and dictated.

Again, the AMPC version defines phileo as “deep, INSTINCTIVE, personal affection, as for a close friend.” Jesus is telling Peter, “ If you agapao me, feed my sheep (“out of that love,” I believe is implied).” But Peter can’t comprehend an Agape’ type love: not yet, anyway. So Jesus, in verse 17, brings it down to Peter’s level, asking, “Do you phileo Me?”

This tells me that Jesus, who agapaos us, loves us enough to accept the love we give. But what joy it is to Him and what benefit to us and others, when, in the power and provision of the Spirit, we possess agapao. How much easier it is to serve God and man when this God-love flows to and through us like a river of life.

Father, empower our love today, making us to be love just as You are love. In Jesus’ mighty name and authority we pray, amen.

John 21:15-17 AMPC

They Know Not What They Do

“These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me.” (John 16:3 NASB)

Do you ever wonder what’s going on in a world gone crazy, amazed at how people are behaving? Jesus reminds that such things are done by those who do not truly know the Father or His Son.

Why are we so shocked to see people of a lost world acting worldly? Scripture teaches that evil in the world will continue to increase, being at its worst as we draw near to the Day of Christ’s return. Things are crazy and people out of control because we draw ever nearer to that day. The enemy of God gains ever-increasing control as people refuse God, and as hearts grow cold and unable to truly love.

What should we do?

– Keep our lamps lit through the continual filling of God’s Spirit and stand ready.

– Draw ever closer to God.

– Be ready to bear witness of His grace and to speak wisdom, truth, righteousness, love, and peace wherever we can.

– Don’t waste breath on those who will not hear, nor cast the pearls of God’s Word before swine.

– Keep your heart from hate and your steps from foolishness.

– Remember that bad company corrupts good morals.

– Live the Light of God in all you do.

– And remember the true battle, while involving humans possessed and deceived, is a spiritual one against an evil enemy army. (Ephesians 6:12 NASB)

– Keep your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith.

That Great Day is dawning, Beloved. Stand ready!