Tag Archives: love

Necessary Fires

Read 1 Peter 1:1-9.

“…In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls” ~ verses 6-9.

The thing that stands out to me as I read this is the word “necessary”. It says the trials God allows are only allowed IF NECESSARY, and that necessity has a glorious purpose: that some greatly needed “revelation of Jesus” come out of the fire with us.

The trials and tribulations God allows to touch the lives of His people He only allows out of necessity, in order to reveal Christ to and through us. For that to happen, does that not mean that Jesus is in the fire with us, even though we can’t see Him for the smoke and heat burning our proverbial eyes, and the flames blocking our view?

Take courage, Beloved of God. You, who are the “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood” are not alone. God will bring Glory’s good out of the flames of adversity.

Look at what this says and be filled with the confidence of Christ.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” ~ Romans 8:28.

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 2

On this journey to consider truths we need to practice, as we work to take every thought captive and bring them in line with the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-6), our first divinely, powerful spiritual weapon is the possession of true joy that rests securely in the Lord. Joy in the Lord protects us from walking contrary to Him. It is not dependent on circumstance; and nothing can steal that joy away from us when we work with God in taking every thought captive to follow the example of Christ in obedience to Him, and in the likeness of His. Continuing to consider the wisdom of Philippians 4:4-13, we come to verse 5:

“…Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. …”

I see two truths here necessary to our arsenal of weapons equipping us to bring our thoughts in line with God’s ways. One is our attitude or temperament in life situations, addressed here in the call to work out of a “gentle spirit”. The classic Amplified translation defines a gentle spirit, giving other words used in translating that phrase:

“Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].”

Walking in a gentle spirit requires us to be unselfish. Consider the impact selfishness has on our thought processes. We cannot accomplish the will of God or work well with others when we care more about our own desires, needs, and comfort than we do theirs. Being unselfish equips us to work with others in harmony, as it leads us to be considerate of them, their needs, and their opinions, while bowing to the will of God.

Walking in gentleness also requires us to be forbearing. Forbearance means tolerance and restraint in the face of provocation, bearing the fruit of patience toward others. It realizes that no one is perfect, and we all have habits and ways of doing things that differ. Gentleness practices understanding patience in our ability to let others be who they are without constantly insisting we have things done our way. Forbearance is self-controlled, knowing how to motivate and influence others without belittling them.

Our ability to control our attitude and temperament greatly affects the way we think in a situation and toward others. The second thing Paul adds here to motivate us, is that we are to remember that the Lord is near. There are two potential interpretations of that. One shared in the Amplified version is that we must realize that the Lord is returning, thus, we must take care to live in a way where we are ready for Him when He gets here.

Another interpretation of the Lord’s nearness is the realization that God causes His Spirit to dwell in us, to teach us and help us live in that readiness for the soon returning Christ. Wherever we are, in whatever situation we are in, recognizing the presence of God with us and His work in us, and surrendering to that, equips our representation of Him and His interests. We bear the fruit of gentleness when we relate with others out of this realization of His presence in us through the Spirit, living in ways that reveal understanding that Jesus is returning.

People are watching, beloved. They need to see us responding to life situations in line with the nature of God at work in us through the Spirit that indwells us. Our thought life very often affects our attitude and temperament. Surrendering to the Spirit’s nudge to remember gentleness, being unselfish and considerate, while practicing forbearance toward one another, strengthens our arsenal against bad attitudes and temper flares. In this way, remembering we are His representatives, we live in readiness for His return.

Walk the Word, Receive the Promise

“For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush the cypress will come up, And instead of the nettle the myrtle will come up, And it will be a memorial to the Lord, For an everlasting sign which will not be cut off” ~ Isaiah 55:12-13.

Continuing with yesterday’s focus, this promise is awesome as well. Yesterday we saw that, as we practice walking the word out into life, God’s promise instructs us that in seeking His Word, opinion, perspective on our journey and walking His instruction out, His Word lived in and through us will fulfill its purpose. Reading on in the Isaiah 55 passage God promises in today’s passage that we will go out with joy, and be led by peace as we trust His Word (Colossians 3:15-17, See in AMPC). True joy and peace are intimately linked to trust in, faith in, reliance on, and confidence in God, who always does what He says He will do. He fulfills His word.

God also promises in this passage that all of creation will rejoice over our obedience to live God’s word out. That tells me that, when we are truly and fully following God and all others shun us for it or try to discourage our course, we have a cheering section in God and all of His creation. (Luke 19:37-40)

Finally, our passage today bears a promise that took a little research to fully understand: We will see the thorn bush replaced by the cypress, and the nettle replaced by the myrtle.

Thorn bush is easy. Get pricked by a thorn, and we move away from that place in a hurry.  It is a deterrent from drawing near. Sin is thorn bushes that hinder our drawing near to God. As God removes sin from us, He is removing the thorn bush that is standing between us and the intimacy He desires for our relationship with Him.

Replacing the thorn bush with Cypress: the Cypress most often mentioned in scripture is a tree. It is open, inviting one to draw near, and it provides shade for comfort, enticing us to sit and rest under its branches for a while. It pictures a close, welcoming relationship with God.

Nettle has leaves with prickly hairs that cause an allergic sting. The sting of sin hinders our relationship with God, inflaming God against us. Sin inflames our relationships with others. Trouble and fear increases with the sting of the nettle. The allergic sting of sin comes to those who fail to align with God’s Word.

Replacing the nettle with Myrtle speaks of healing: Myrtle is one of the first NSAIDs, a pain reliever that aids against inflammation. Healing comes to hearts, relationships are restored, and strength increases for a life abundant and full. Myrtle can be used as a tea. I see a seeker of God, sipping that healing cup of tea, while enjoying the presence of Jesus in intimate relationship.

The promise of God for us who actively seek to walk in His word, is that we will find welcome as we draw near, receiving comfort and respit under the shade of His provision and healing from the pain and inflammation caused by sin: one’s own, or that of this world.

“… Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. … Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.” ~ James 4:1-10.

Called to Possess: The Spirit of God

“But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the Holy Spirit of God really dwells within you to direct and control you. But if anyone does not possess the Holy Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God]” ~ Romans 8:9, AMPC.

When we truly belong to God, Galatians 2:20 tells us “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. He does that by the power of the Spirit working in us to make us more Christlike (godly), more what God intended from the beginning of creation when He made man and woman to bear His image. The Holy Spirit moves in to direct our lives to bear His image, but He will not force us to follow His dictates. We still have choice. By choice, we must choose to surrender our fleshly ways in order to lay hold of and possess the Spirit within who instructs and empowers us to live God’s way.

One passage that tells us what that looks like is Galatians 5:22-23, where we are told the fruit born in us, as we possess the Spirit through surrender to His lead: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. One example of our possessing the Spirit is in our love walk. Through scripture, we learn that God is love. His love is not dictated by how happy He is with our behavior, but it is dictated by who He is: He is love. Though we fail Him, His love toward us continues, because He is faithful and He cannot deny Himself (1 John 4:8; Romans 8:31-39; 2 Timothy 1:13).

As we possess the Spirit of God, who brings His image to us and empowers us to possess His nature, we too will love because we are as He is: love. Scripture teaches us how to possess this love through a few “Let love” passages, love being one flavor of the fruit born out of one who possess the Spirit of God and is possessed by Him.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good” ~ Romans 12:9, NASB.

This verse, to me, speaks the call of God for our love to be like His, not dictated by the actions of others, but dictated by our possession of His Spirit, as we allow the fruit of His Spirit to grow strong in us.

“Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:1, NLT.

To love as God loves is the greatest goal we can have, empowering us to deny self and serve others’ needs without hypocrisy. One teaching on Galatians 5:22-23 says that love and self-control are bookends that hold all the other flavors of the fruit of the Spirit in place. Without love as God loves and without self-control, we cannot truly possess joy or peace, as every evil that strains love and self-control will rob us of it. We cannot practice patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, or gentleness without a love like God’s love that, by self-control, denies self and chooses to practice these glorious attributes toward others, even when they are not being as we think they should be toward us. Love with self-control as powered by the Holy Spirit fully possessed in us, enables us to maintain joy and peace while continuing to minister patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness to others, even when they struggle to do the same in return.

“Let love for your fellow believers continue and be a fixed practice with you [never let it fail]” Hebrews 13:1, AMP.

God is love and He requires us to love others in likeness to Him. For us to truly accomplish that goal, we must deny self, possess the Holy Spirit of God, and cooperate with Him in bearing the fruit that proves He lives in us with full authority. That authority is twofold: God saying, “Yes, that is my child. Fill them to overflowing, pouring Yourself through them”; us saying, “Yes, I choose God through Jesus and surrender to Him. Fill me. Be mine, and make me His. Empower me to bear His image by pouring Yourself through me.”

Whether by way of practicing and possessing the fruit of God’s Spirit in us, or the gifting He gives for our service and ministry, our unity with the Spirit of God is vital. That unity is a symbiosis, us possessing Him who possesses us. He will not force on us His right over us, but He will fully fill and spill Himself out of one willing vessel, ready to possess all He has to pour through us.

“So it is with yourselves; since you are so eager and ambitious to possess spiritual endowments and manifestations of the Holy Spirit, concentrate on striving to excel and to abound in them in ways that will build up the church” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:12, AMPC.

~*~

(NOTE: My husband’s chemo finished, we are recuperating and getting back into a more routine life. Hopefully I can get back to a regular posting here as we do. Thank you for hanging in with me. BLESSings, Darlene)

Pray For Those Who Hurt You

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you” ~ Luke 6:27-28, NLT.

God speaks this passage as reminder to me today, especially the command to “Pray FOR those who hurt you. Check how you are praying, Darlene.”

People hurt people. There are many causes that lead people to hurt one another, some malicious, some incidental and unintended. Some hurt comes with the best of intentions. We all struggle in various ways that can lead us to carry our feelings as on our shoulders, where the actions and words of others easily knock us around: fear of rejection and other such insecurities. Some carry their “feelings” on their shoulders because they are walking in an ungodly lifestyle, they know it, and they don’t want anyone telling them about it. People who struggle in any of the above tend to hurt those around them out of their own struggle and insecurities. Those trapped in the common sins of our day tend to hurt those around them in the very practice of their lifestyles: drug addicts steal from those they love most; adulterers destroy their own families; etc. We hurt each other, and praying properly for those who hurt us is often a challenge.

What does it mean to pray for those who hurt us? Too often, in praying for someone who hurt me, I find myself truly praying for me: praying selfishly.

“Lord, they falsely accused me. Make them know the truth and apologize.”

“Lord, they stole from me. Make them repent and pay it back.”

Problem is that their heart intent may be nowhere near my comprehension of the truth of their heart. I may have misunderstood their words. I may be reading between the lines and comprehending an accusation they never meant. I may receive insult from actions that truly were not aimed at me as I stepped between them and their target. Praying for others out of our hurt can lead to selfish requests that God cannot answer. Our best, most effective praying seeks the heart of God for His truth regarding the need of the one whose actions / reactions hurt our feelings or did harm to our life, reputation, or sense of security.

We can learn a lot from how Jesus prayed FOR those hurting Him. He cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Praying for others realizes truth: Jesus proclaiming “they know not what they do”. Praying for others refuses to give preference for one’s own desire, right, or recompense. Praying for others seeks God and His desire for them. Praying for others focuses on their deepest, truest needs. We all need God’s grace sufficient for us. We all need truth that sets us free from any lie. We all need repentant hearts that seek wholeheartedly after God.

Until we can pray for others, our own heart toward them will fall short of truly loving and caring for their need. Until we can pray for God to forgive them, just as Jesus did, and mean it, our own ability to forgive will fall short. Until we can pray for them to know His love, our ability to love those who hurt us truly will suffer loss. Until we can pray for eyes that see as God sees, compassion will fail us, transforming-truth will escape us, and love will find no roost for new growth.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good…” ~ Romans 12:9-13 (Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a; Romans 13:7-14).

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 10

God desires unity for His people, that we may be one as He is One. Our flesh, the ways of this world and demonic influences constantly work against that unity, seeking to destroy the work of God in and through us. The Apostle Paul calls the solution to our relationship issues, the “still more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:11), the way that fulfills the law of God (Romans 13:8). Last post, we left our series with the following thought:

“But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” ~ Ephesians 4:15.

Realizing and walking in the truth brings healing to one’s own life and makes us more like Christ. Walking in truth accomplishes His work in our situations.

Series on topics like this are difficult to address as we don’t always like seeing the truth about ourselves. We live in a day when many focus on God’s love and grace to the point that we tend to shun any words used of the Spirit to point to sin issues in need of change. This series is disciplining me on my own issues seen in the course of the study, but the blessing of coming into agreement with God in a way that helps me adjust to Him far outweighs the struggle.  When my struggle helps others in the process, that fruit born in others is glorious!

Controversy between people is like the old quarters with the gold colored strip in the center. There are two sides to every situation between two people. The truth is in the gold strip between them, found only in seeking God, who knows the heart of each involved. He faithfully leads us to know our habitual responses that promote separation. He helps us to work our way to the gold strip where unity and peace reside. I am thankful for the truth God is teaching me about myself in this series; and I am watching for His word to come to pass that He highlighted for me in promise for the produce of this series:

“This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” ~ Psalm 102:18.

I read this promise and I see families, friendships, and churches working their way to healing that will have an effect on future generations, leading to their worship of God. Thus, we continue today to our conclusion.

Have you read the scripture that talks of iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17)? When we have a habitual sin that causes trouble and separates us from God, as well as from others, God often puts people in our lives that rub that area raw. His purpose is to help us let go of old ways of the flesh and walk in the new, testing / proving our obedience. The question is, will we realize God’s purpose and cooperate with His Spirit in taking off the old to dawn the new?

“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.

Truth purifies the soul, making us fertile soil for God’s love to produce a crop through us. There are two things I find God constantly working on me to accomplish: one is my ability to forgive as He forgives. The other is my ability to love as He loves.

The ability to forgive is vital to a love relationship that lasts. Forgiveness must be from the heart as God forgives. God, our example, taught me long ago to forgive “for my own sake” as He does (Isaiah 43:25 Note that Israel was unrepentant when God professed His grace toward them).

The purpose of choosing forgiveness “for my own sake” is so we can move on in life, be all God desires, accomplishing His work as one who is truly able to love even those who hurt us. Our choosing to forgive protects from bitterness, anger, and other emotional snares that hinder love, destroy relationship with God and people, and rob of effectiveness in ministry.

God is our hope and help in every relationship issue. He desires our unity, especially with those who are brothers and sisters with us in Christ. Our true enemy is our own sin nature that opens us to the influence of demons and principalities that work against God, separating brothers, and destroying our witness as God’s people.

In any discord between people of God, we see that battle continue when we fail to realize the true enemy and wind up fighting against each other. The enemy of our soul realizes our fleshly impulses that lead to discord and makes sure, when relationship issues come, our minds keep returning to “what they did to me.” Therefore, when we have a habit that makes us vulnerable to God’s enemy, God puts iron in life to sharpen and hone our character.

The love God calls each to possess as His child is a type we can freely give even to those we struggle to get along with. That love desires what is best for those we love, seeking to help them achieve all the great potential God places within them, leading them to God, and encouraging them to come up higher in Christlikeness. That love is unconditional: not hindered or harmed by insult. It is also incorruptible: it does not act unbecomingly toward the object of love, nor lead the one loved into sin. The very heart of a factious nature seeks to lead others to disunity for ungodly reasons that oppose love.

The love God calls us to possess in likeness to Him does not keep a count of all we believe a person has done to hurt us, bringing that back into play every time a new situation arises. Love, coupled with forgiveness given for one’s own sake, deals with the situation at hand, puts it to rest (RIP), and wipes the slate clean. This is healing, and this series pictures a love-walk God can use for His glory.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” ~ Jude 1:24-25.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 9

“These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage” ~ Jude 1:16.

When a disagreement with others that gets contentious, our flesh getting out of control of the Spirit, we tend to grumble and complain about others involved, finding their every flaw, blaming them for causing the problem. Desiring to believe oneself in the right and true of heart (lust of our flesh), we see things as we want to see them (lust of the eyes), telling others of the situation from that viewpoint (boastful pride of life). Without the Spirit to correct our course, our flesh desiring others to agree that we are right and the other party wrong, we will tell our side with flattery meant to win the advantage.

Seeking God for a more clear understanding of this flattery as seen in a divisive situation, He sent me to the dictionary:

Flatter ~ To show off becomingly or advantageously. Give an unrealistically favorable impression of.

In other words, flattery in the context of our discourse means to make oneself and one’s own actions sound better than they are in order to gain approval. It makes sense that when we are refusing to see our own flaws that add to the discord, we would speak all that we want to believe true of self, desiring others to agree that the other party is at fault. Going to the scriptures for increased understanding, here is what I find:

“They speak falsehood to one another; with flattering lips and with a double heart they speak” ~ Psalm 12:2.

The problem with this flattery when we are a true child of God: the Spirit will not allow us to get away with ignoring our own sin nature and habits. Every time I tell my side from a flesh-driven viewpoint or think my thoughts, bitterly blaming the other party, thinking more highly of myself than I ought, the Spirit nudges me. In that instance of my thinking and telling in opposition to the Spirit’s nudge of truth within, I am struggling with a double or two-faced heart. It is not until I sit still before God and sincerely ask “What?” that I can find the truth in myself that brings the repentance that heals a breach of relationship.

“A lying tongue hates those it crushes, and a flattering mouth works ruin” ~ Proverbs 26:28.

This says to me that in refusing to seek the Spirit for truth, not only does my false understanding and representation crush those I come out against, but it crushes me. When I am walking in sin, refusing the work of the Spirit that convicts “concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8), I hurt myself, putting a wall between my God and me.

I can do nothing apart from God, beloved. Without God working in me, I can’t mend the proverbial fences, repent and change my ways so as to be a better person, or truly forgive and love those around me as I should. Healing in any contentious situation must begin with me coming into agreement with God’s view of the issue by getting still before God, knowing Him and His ways, so that I can adjust to be as He is in truth and in deed.

“He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue” ~ Proverbs 28:23.

One thing this speaks to me is our need to keep the situation between the others involved and me alone. I am not to go around destroying the reputation and relationships of others with my viewpoint. Any complaint I have must be addressed only with those I have the complaint against. Bringing other people into the situation only makes it worse, as we put the other party in a defensive position. When we do sit down with the other person, it is vital to come with a heart set to speak the truth in love, and to have ears attuned to hear their side of things.

Part of this “sitting before God” means considering the complaint on the other side, seeking God to reveal if there is any truth in their viewpoint, with willingness to make amends where needed. Now, I have been in situations where there is no truth in the complaint, only miscommunication and misunderstanding. In those instances, God instructs in ways of clarifying truth. When the other person continues to believe the lie, He instructs to entrust the one choosing to believe the lie to Him. He also frees us from the condemnation that is from demonic sources.

Seldom is there no fault of my own to deal with in a situation. If I am truly seeking God and honest with myself, He will show me my habits that lead to discord. Knowing the truth about my own bad habits that lead me to cause a relationship issue is vital to healing the current situation and to avoiding future encounters from the same type of harmful, inappropriate actions / reactions.

“Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” ~ Ephesians 4:15.

True love requires truth within us. True love cannot exist in a lie. Truly loving others requires that we seek to know and understand truth about ourselves as well as about the situation and others involved. Next post concludes our study as we look at the love-walk that honors God as God in our fickle, fleshly, relationship issues.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 8

“These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage” ~ Jude 1:16.

Thus far, in covering actions and heart attitudes that cause divisions because of our being worldly-minded and devoid of the Spirit in an instant of action, we see that grumbling and faultfinding must be overcome by gratitude to God for the good in others and for His purpose fulfilled in times of trouble.

I read a quote yesterday that said, “God tests our obedience while the devil tests our faith” (Kristina Seymour). Trouble allowed by God comes to test our obedience to Him, while the devil intends it to prove the weakness of our faith and to tear down what we do possess of it. When discord hits our relationships, if we look closely at our hearts in the leading and power of God’s Spirit, at the center of every argument we will find ourselves given-over to some area of lust: God testing, proving, and disciplining us in areas of sin that easily entangle us.

In 1 John 2, God’s Word warns us, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (verses 15-17).

How does this fit our topic? I believe that in every argument each party involved believes they are completely right because they desire to be right (lust of the flesh). Their desire to be right colors their way of looking at the issue so that they cannot see full truth and admit to themselves how they are adding to the discord; instead, they see what they want to see (lust of the eyes). That leads to speaking out arrogantly, believing their position to be righteous and the other’s position set completely on falsehood (boastful pride of life). Statistics reveal that in most all controversy there is a right and a wrong on both sides of the issue. Failing to see where our understanding and actions are false, we speak out arrogantly, hurting our relationship with God and man, doing harm to our witness as a child of God in the process.

Believe me, this is a major struggle in my life. As one who struggles with a fear of rejection, I hate when I do something worthy of rejecting. A person who struggles with this issue I’ve heard called “a spirit of rejection” will go one of two ways in life: they will be a person who participates in the rejection by accepting all blame and beating themselves down in agreement with their accuser; or they will stand up and fight even when they are wrong. I stand up and fight when what I need is to…

“Be still, and know that I am God…” ~ Psalm 46:10.

Scripture tells us that the heart is deceptive above all else (Jeremiah 17:9). Because of our desire to be right and seen in a good light, we tend to lie to ourselves rather than seek the Father, who alone knows the hidden things of our hearts and can lead us to truth, repentance and the “still more excellent way” of love (1 Corinthians 12:31 ~ Read on through chapter 13). We can avoid much controversy and argument if we will get still before the Lord, trust our heart to Him, let Him speak truth to our heart, and trust Him to direct our path and our mouths to a right and true response. In this way, we come into the leading and power of God, avoiding actions and words that are devoid of Spirit.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” ~ Proverbs 4:23.

l685032388I can tell you from experience that I can truly turn to seek the Lord, and in the same step / breath, stumble over my flesh. In the midst of a controversial issue, standing guard over ones heart is vital to success in saying and doing the righteous things. This is the struggle, one Paul portrayed so well in his discourse found in Romans 7, “O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from the shackles of this body of death? O thank God! He will! through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin” (verses 24-25, AMP). Thus my heart cries out day and night…

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” ~ Psalm 139:23-24.

See Proverbs 15:28; Psalm 44:21; 73:26; 19:14; 49:3.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 7

“These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit” ~ Jude 1:19.

Who are “these” our author refers to? Verse 18 says these are “mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” Verse 16 defines those ungodly attributes that produce division:

“These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.”

Here we find warning, alerting us to watch against grumbling, fault-finding, feeding one’s own lusts, speaking arrogantly, and speaking to flatter with hope of gaining an advantage. Acting out of these worldly-minded habits that are not Spirit led and fed, we cause division. Taking action to avert these habits protects unity and heals relationships.

Grumbling and fault-finding

If we learn little else in the books of Moses, we learn how destructive grumbling, complaining, and fault-finding are to ones relationship with God and other people. These habits fail to see what God can and will do in our situation; they refuse to appreciate the good He does and accomplishes for us; and they deny any good in those around us. A focus on the negatives seen in grumbling, complaining, and fault-finding robs us of the ability to find, know, and appreciate what we have in front of us.

During a time of difficulty in our marriage following the death of his mother, the negatives my husband exhibited snared my mind. I learned later the things he was doing are commonly seen in men grieving the loss of a mother. God gradually revealed how my grumbling mind and mouth were hurting the situation. One day, He clearly led me to purchase one of those two-year pocket calendars. He instructed my heart to write in each day something I saw to appreciate in my husband. By the end of a year, I had a new appreciation for my husband, my thoughts focused on his good attributes. Reading the year’s entries, I found 365 different positives about my man. God inspired me to give the calendar for him to use the second year. He told me later that he made his entries keeping his time in his calendar section, and then he read what I wrote on that date the previous year. During that year, he determined to major on those things I appreciated in him. That calendar remained in his lunch box, safely kept in a Ziplock bag, for five years of daily reading. God restored our relationship by changing my focus, and I found my faith in God strengthened by the experience.

When we fall to the habits of grumbling, complaining, and fault-finding, we leave our First Love, failing to trust God and the good He works through our days of struggle. In our complaint, we become part of the problem instead of the solution, pushing people away or causing factions to form a line of dissenters with us that dishonor God. Making the choice to focus one’s mind and heart to discover the good God has hidden within our situations and the people around us equips us to serve as His instrument for healing, unity, and peace.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 6

Wow. I thought I finished this series, and then God spoke again through another passage and added to my understanding of the factious, divisive spirit that grabs hold on us and leads us away from God’s Light and the peaceful unity found there. Beloved, in any divisive situation, it is never one-sided. There are always two sides, pulling away from each other, trying to win a battle.

In the previous 5 devotional thoughts we covered the following thought patterns that are found in the mindset of one ensnared by a factious spirit: 1) the desire for those they tell to agree with their position in their situation with another, thus causing the hearer to feel they must pick a side; 2) holding to a truth that is closed off to hearing the other side of the issue; 3) refusing to seek the whole truth as God sees it, missing out on the Light of God that leads to the peace of unity; thus 4) a factious mindset is snared by the old flesh, the old nature’s way of thinking and being.

There are factious people we are to stay away from completely. We are to avoid and stay away from people who continually lead us away from God and His ways, as in the false teachers spoken of in the Titus 3 passage and in the one we will begin looking at today. God condemns those who would deliberately lead us away from Him. However, if the enemy of God cannot lead us away from believing in and following after God, he will stir up strife between God’s followers in order to divide God’s people. In this way, that enemy of God weakens our effective service to God, separating us from Him in less obvious ways. This divisive spirit is the one I am addressing in these blogs. He tears apart the fellowship of family, friends, and fellow believers. Such division stems from failure to come under God’s light where we find full truth and unity, and it fails to love with God’s unconditional, incorruptible love, thus falling away from God as His image-bearers.

Why write on these things? God never leads me to write things without leading me to evaluate my own life and ways in the area He reveals to me. The things that speak to and help me personally are the things I write about. God desires us to evaluate ourselves truthfully now, so we may come into His likeness and avoid the judgment to come (1 Corinthians 11:31-32; Romans 12:1-3; Hebrews 4:12). Throughout the writing of this series, I have had to look at myself in each area, and repent for my own failures.

The passage we start devouring today speaks clearly to me of my own habits I tend to fall to, causing and adding to division; and it warns me of others I must be alert to. AttitudeWe cannot change to be more like Him if we are unwilling to evaluate ourselves and come to stand in agreement with Him in the light of His word. When we refuse to see as He sees, acknowledge our own sin within, thus, continuing to walk in divisive ways, God says:

“These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit” ~ Jude 1:19.

Worldly-minded actions dictated by fleshly lusts flow from the life that, at least in that moment of divisiveness is devoid of Spirit. God showed me how, recently, I sought Him for direction in a situation, but when it came to implementation of the wisdom given, my flesh got in the way. In that instant, despite the Spirit’s warning, I went my own way, made a situation worse instead of better, becoming devoid of Spirit in that moment of surrender to the desires of my flesh-man. Shifting away from the Spirit to follow my flesh, I perverted the way of God before me, fell to my own sin nature, and stand self-condemned. Praise be to God, who disciplines me, bringing me back to Himself through His Word, by the Spirit and blood of Christ.

Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines His children, and that discipline proves our position with Him as His Kingdom People. God proves we are His when He does not allow us to get away with our fleshly, old-nature behavior. God’s discipline comes through His word that instructs us in righteousness.

As we continue this series on overcoming a factious spirit, we will look closely at this Jude passage touched on above. There we find an outline of potential characteristics found in a person given to being divisive; to which I cry:

“Ouch, Lord! Father, forgive me, a sinner apart from Your grace found in Christ. Set me free in Christ to be in His likeness so I do not give myself so readily to the lust of my flesh. In Jesus, amen.”

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 5

“[As for] a man who is factious [a heretical sectarian and cause of divisions], after admonishing him a first and second time, reject [him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him]” ~ Titus 3:10, AMP.

Answering the question, what do we do about a person that we love when a factious mindset threatens the relationship? How can we reject a contentious, divisive fellowship without leaving the relationship? To answer that, I think of the things God taught me over many years of dealing with my sweet daddy.

In his later years, my daddy suffered depression and paranoia common to aging. He was hard of hearing and often misheard or misinterpreted things. That fed his paranoia, leading to discord with family members. His actions and attitudes became factious, as he freely shared his beliefs about “what people are doing to me”, based on his misunderstanding of truth. There was no consoling him, and no changing his mind about the things he believed. It was very difficult some days to be around him. But I love my daddy, who is now with the Lord, and through that time of dealing with him, God taught me another way to reject the factious fellowship.

  1. First, realize the truth of the person’s mental, physical, and emotional state. What is going on in their life that is wearing them down? What is going on that may have them constantly meditating on the false information, further feeding the falsehood? Put yourself in their shoes and get a little compassion flowing toward them.
  2. Try to speak truth to the situation if you know it, in an effort to console, impart wisdom, and give peace, with hope of correcting the misunderstanding. Point to God’s ability to reveal truth and heal the situation.
  3. If they will not be consoled, try to change the subject.
  4. If they keep returning to their complaint and you cannot get them off the subject, excuse yourself with promise to return another day.
  5. Do not participate in a lie that is feeding discord. We tend to want to let one sharing their contentions have their way and pretend to agree with them hoping they will go on to some other topic of discussion: I.e., saying, “Yeah, that was horrible for them to do that,” when we know the other person did not do the stated deed. That just gives fuel for a factious spirit to use in breeding more discord.

Dealing with people in my dad’s situation, where they truly do not realize what they are doing and the harm it is bringing to relationships can be difficult. Those who do not have a mental issue causing them to behave factiously can be even harder to cope with; but if you want to maintain relationship without taking part in the divisive misinformation, knowing when to leave the conversation and change the subject is crucial.

So is watching oneself to be sure you are not inadvertently adding to the problem by talking with others about the situation with your loved one, inadvertently participating in the battle with a factious spirit of your own. In another situation where a person would not believe I did not do the thing accused of, they shut me out of their life. In my own hurt, when people would ask me how that person was doing, I would respond, “I don’t know.” Dependent on who it was, I would tell why I did not know, “They believe I did something I did not do and have shut me out of their life.” Then one day God inspired my heart to quit telling people about the other person’s insult to my heart or talking about the problem. He instructed that in doing so, I was hurting their reputation and relationship with others, and the reliving of the account was keeping the scab ripped off my own wounds. Following God’s instruction freed me to work toward loving that person anyway.

In another situation, I thought the other party was hearing me incorrectly. Then I realized that I said just what they said I did. With that revelation, it was time for a very sincere and heart-felt apology, first to God, and then to them. God reveals the truth. When He does, we must be ready to deal with it appropriately so that healing and restoration can begin.

Beloved, in whatever situation you find yourself, seek the wisdom of the Lord in dealing with it. Find truth as God sees it. Realize people’s life situation and their tendency to return to old coping mechanisms when wounded. Give yourself that same courtesy, realizing that we learn coping mechanisms over time, and may be walking in old ways that fail to glorify God. Find the truth as God reveals it and walk in the fellowship of His light, learning new ways of coping and dealing with such trouble. Be a peacemaker where you can, shining the light on God and His word, coming into agreement with Him. And most importantly, remember, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

“Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]” ~ 1 Peter 4:8, AMP.

“The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! The Lord, the Mighty One, is God! He knows the truth, and may (God’s people) know it, too! …” Joshua 22:22, NLT (author’s translation).

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 4

In any divisive situation, each person often acts and reacts out of their pain and woundedness. When that happens, we miss the full truth of the current situation, stray from the Light of God, and fall prey to a divisive, factious spirit that is out to steal, kill, and destroy our ability to live together in love, acceptance, and grace. Overcoming that enemy requires us to seek God and His ways. Coming into His Light, we are to seek understanding of truth, repent where needed, and give grace that restores fellowship. Too often, however, our flesh gets in the way of our victory in Christ:

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God” ~ Romans 8:6-8 (read verses 1-8).

Another reason for a factious spirit getting a stronghold set up between us is our refusal to follow the dictates of the Spirit of God. When a factious mindset so gets ahold on us that we cannot, and will not reconcile with another – forgiving the insult, forgetting the injury and pain of it, and going forward in grace and love – we dishonor God. When we refuse to see the separation caused by our falling back to fleshly ways in a controversy, we follow the dictates of our flesh and, denying the work of God’s Spirit of Light, we refuse His direction for our paths.

If the Spirit of God shines a light on something within me that is causing my problem with a friend and I refuse to deal with it, I follow the dictates of the flesh and grieve the Spirit of God. If God reveals to me the truth of a friends situation that is causing them to behave in an unacceptable way, and I refuse to give them grace and show love in helping them wherever I can, I follow the dictates of the flesh and deny the leading of the Spirit.

“The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward GOD.” When we refuse to follow the calling and direction given us by God’s Spirit, we stand against Him.

The verse in the first of our series on recognizing and dealing with a factious spirit said this:

“Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” ~ Titus 3:10-11 (read verses 1-11).

This rebellion against God is, I believe, the reason God tells us to reject a factious person: reject their message, reject their ways and attitudes, and especially reject the dictates within one’s own flesh that leads us to respond inappropriately in a divisive encounter. A factious spirit leads us away from God, and indeed, stands hostile to Him. Participating in that puts us in opposition to God as well. We think we are in discord with another person, but when we refuse to follow the teaching of God as peacemakers, we stand against Him. The Amplified Classic version of this Titus 3:10 verse says this:

“[As for] a man who is factious [a heretical sectarian and cause of divisions], after admonishing him a first and second time, reject [him from your fellowship and have nothing more to do with him]” ~ Titus 3:10, AMP.

Scripture warns us that bad company corrupts good morals. There are times when it is best to leave a relationship than continue on with one that constantly brings us to fall to our flesh. There are also times when we love and care for a person who is given to a factious nature or who has a mental or physical health issue that is causing them to be paranoid and given to complaining about others. We cannot “remove from fellowship” by leaving the relationship when it is a person we care for and those who are within our sphere of responsibility to look after, like my poor daddy who suffered with paranoia for many years. What are we to do then? There is a way to remove ourselves from such unhealthy fellowship without removing ourselves from the relationship. See you next post.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 3

Thus far, we covered that a factious spirit that gets hold of our mind and emotions is one that says, “I need someone to agree with me.” It is a spirit that fails and often refuses to open itself to seeking and finding the full truth of a situation. Defeating this tendency requires us to realize that the only one we need in agreement with us is God. He knows our hearts and if He does not convict or condemn us, then we stand righteous before Him.

Overcoming discord requires us to seek to understand our own thoughts and feelings, and to know that we stand pure of heart before God. Restoration requires us to seek to understand the thoughts and feelings of the others involved in the conflict. Today we discover that successful effort in this accomplishes the main work of a peacemaker.

Reading on from yesterday’s scripture:

“This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” ~ 1 John 1:5-7.

As I read this passage, God’s Spirit reminds me of something He recently inspired me to understand about the true role of a peacemaker. The number one characteristic of a peacemaker, in the way God intends it, is being a person who can walk in the light of truth, and help others do the same. These seek and find the truth of a situation, seek and find the truth of God’s will and way, and bringing all under that light, they seek to lead all parties to find the unity and fellowship we have in Christ and His truth. The true peacemaker seeks after and leads those around them to come to The Light, making amends wherever truth reveals the need, thus restoring fellowship with God first, and then with man.

1 John 2:7-11 says, “Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.”

Fleshly indulgences, worldly ways, and Satanic influence is darkness that seeks to separate us from God, His Light, and those we love, especially from other believers. When we set our minds and hearts on our own version of truth, refusing to seek to understand others and bring a situation into God’s Light, Satan attacks our minds and hearts with thoughts that feed our false understanding, giving approval to fleshly indulgence and worldly ways. He takes us ever deeper into his pit of despair and discord.

We cannot develop a true and lasting fellowship with others unless we are willing to comecomfort002 into God’s Light with them. When we sit together, with ears attuned to hear their heart, eyes focused on seeing their situation and need, and hands ready and willing to give that healing touch of love, we get to the heart of our issues. There we find that any problem between us is seldom a one-sided problem, and often we find the truth of it to be not what we thought it was.

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned” ~ Luke 6:36-37.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 2

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” ~ 1 John 1:1-4.

I love this passage of scripture. This is one of those passages of scripture that speaks my call in ministry, to write the truths God teaches me concerning Himself and His Word. It tells me to write what I hear, see, look at intently so-as-to know with true understanding, and the things I touch or am touched by in life that teach me about God and His truth: the Word of Life. The things we learn from all our senses, touched by God in life, we are to share with others, finding fellowship through the truth of God and His ways. This sharing and the unity it brings is joy made complete.

Today, however, this passage speaks to me concerning a second aspect of the factious spirit. Besides wanting someone to affirm their stance as right and good, the person under the influence of a factious spirit wants others to know their opinion of what truth is. Often fearing the other side is talking, they want their side known.

Here is the problem: when an argument ensues that hurts feelings, or that puts people on the spot, etc., truth is seldom on one side or the other of the controversy. It is somewhere between them. In a contentious encounter, we may see, hear, and feel ok, but when our emotions get involved, we misunderstand what we are looking at. That leads us to take action out of an emotional place where our understanding of what is truly happening becomes even more twisted by misinterpretation of what we see, hear and feel.

In any dispute, the factious spirit convinces each person involved that their understanding of the event and the feelings they felt are full and complete truth. There is nothing from the other side to understand in the pursuit of clarity. It says, “My truth is all right and theirs is all wrong.” For example, a person may interpret things they sense in an encounter with another as the other person being angry, when the fuel of discord is actually heartache over past false assumptions and a lack of trust toward the one making false assumptions. Issues cannot be resolved truthfully when dictated by false assumptions and failure to get to the heart of the problem.

In our focal passage, we see that the proclamation of truth known brings fellowship. However, the thing we must realize is that the truth that brings true and abiding fellowship is not the truth I think I know from the situation experienced. The truth that brings true and abiding fellowship is the one that seeks after God and the truth He sees. God sees the heart in all things and He can lead us to it.

Seeking God’s truth that brings fellowship requires us to sit down with one who has a complaint and understand their heart. It requires each party to be open to facing their own flaws. It requires each to practice grace toward the other, knowing we all are a work in progress, “CONTINUALLY being perfected until the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:6). True and abiding fellowship requires a love for God and a love for one another that hates the division that works destruction, and that determines to find the truth that brings fellowship.

When we can make application of the Word of God to our life situations, sit down together, and work toward truth that brings fellowship, we honor God and participate with Him in bringing LIFE to our words. In seeking truth, we replace the factious heart and mind with the heart and mind of Christ.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 1

“Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” ~ Titus 3:10-11 (read verses 1-11).

Factions form around controversy. It is human nature to pick a side and stand on it.

There are situations in which God calls His people to separate themselves from others. Jesus said in His prayer in John 17 that we are to be a people who, though we live in the world, we are not of its mindset and ways. There is to be a difference seen in us from that of the world around us. As Christians, God calls us to represent His interests, standing on His side of every issue. So, factions form because of sin that stands in opposition to God, but we are not to be a factious people. What is the difference? I believe it is a heart issue.

We have all had times when misunderstanding, hurt feelings, disagreement, etc., causes a problem between one and another. What, in such times, reveals a “factious man”? God is showing me a vital, defining characteristic of someone who is taking actions in a factious spirit or mindset. The realization God is leading me to causes me to evaluate my own reasons for mentioning a controversy to parties who are not part of the situation. We do it for affirmation, wanting others to approve us and disapprove the opposing side.

As people, we often need affirmation. Seeking affirmation from any but God, however innocently, can often lead to fractured relationships. The factious spirit begins by leading a person’s heart and mind to want others to tell them that they are right, and the other side is wrong. The problem is that, when we do that, we put the people we call on for affirmation in the position of feeling they have to pick a side. Only God truly knows all sides and only He can reveal the righteous stance.

When lack of peaceful relations and discord come, seldom are any fully standing with God in the controversy. Asking other people to tell us what only God can know places them in a position of possibly lying to us about what they truly think as they try to placate and pacify our need for affirmation. When they do take our side, we cause a breach in their relationship with the other party. Even if they don’t pick a side, it can still fracture their relationships with the parties involved as they try to avoid them so they are not dragged into the war.

God’s Word encourages us to seek sound counsel and to comfort one another. Sharing controversy with those goals as the heart of our desire is good. However, a teachable spirit must accompany our seeking of counsel and comfort: we must possess a heart to receive instruction, and walk in the sound counsel and comfort given. Also, we must take care that the person we share with is able to give the comfort and counsel without feeling they must choose a side in the controversy.

Today I present the subject matter, the factious spirit that seeks to separates friends and family, causing a breach that puts all in danger of a fall.  Over the next several posts, we will cover things God is revealing we must do to counter and protect against a factious stronghold coming between us in an ungodly way.

“But He knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls’” ~ Luke 11:17.

The King is Coming! ~ A Vision

Yesterday morning, I had a vision that I believe to be from God. Lying in bed, hoping to go back to sleep, eyes closed, in that darkness I clearly see our bedroom filling with white smoke. Immediately following my asking the Lord, “What’s going on?” two angels step into the smoke and lift holy hands to God. I cannot hear what they are saying, but I sense worship in the air and step forward, joining the angel’s song. As I do, the image changes. I see many scenes of people all over the world, running in a panic from something. I get the strong sense that whatever is causing the fear and panic is allowed or sent by God. My heart of worship continues and the vision ends.

Last night, thinking on the vision from yesterday morning, I sought God for greater revelation. As I considered the scene of the Angel’s song, God pointed my heart to the position from and to which all occurred. Noting the position of things, I recognized the smoke, coming from the west, is the sacrifice of praise and worship coming from God’s people. The Angels came up into that worship from the southeast and turned to face due east. All the hosts of God’s creation who believe in and seek Him, were watching for and working to be ready for the King’s arrival.

I said above that I stepped forward to join the Angel’s song. I did not see myself do that. I was not seen in the vision, I was part of it, physically joining in the worship going on. It was a heart movement as I mentally and emotionally turned my focus to the East and began to worship God with full control of my very alert faculties.

As soon as I did that, the scene literally swiped away from the southeast where the Angels came from, to the northwest, being replaced as if seeing the screen of a video swiping up to replace the view of those worshiping God, changing to many scenes in a collage of views from everywhere on the earth.

The first, most evident scene was a woman, climbing a big hill or mountain covered with huge boulders, panic stricken, moving north. The next was a couple in a well-groomed, middle class neighborhood, running in a panic, the man looking over his shoulder to the west where the worship was coming from, dragging behind a woman with a panicked expression. Another had city skyscrapers surrounding many people on the run, with all I can recall seeing looking back as if to escape some approaching enemy, having facial expressions of panic. I vaguely remember scenes including a Japanese style building (a pagoda and huts), forest or wooded areas, and there was more my mind could not focus on before the vision quit.

God told me yesterday that the meaning of the vision would be found in my next portion of scripture reading. I finally got to focus on my reading last night, which was 2 Thessalonians. There, in chapter 1, verses 3-10, God reveals it.

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, AWAY FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD AND FROM THE GLORY OF HIS POWER, WHEN HE COMES TO BE GLORIFIED IN HIS SAINTS ON THAT DAY, AND TO BE MARVELED AT AMONG ALL WHO HAVE BELIEVED—FOR OUR TESTIMONY TO YOU WAS BELIEVED” ~ 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10.

Those who believe God run to Him in every avenue of life, their very being expressive of the true worship of God. Those who do not believe God run from any evidence of His presence and fight against the knowledge of God that makes Him evident.

I believe God is calling all who truly seek Him with a whole heart, desiring and recognizing His presence, to be more overt in our worship of Him in every way that the Scriptures reveal to be the true and evident heart of worship (1). Every part of our being must seek to possess and remain in the presence of the Lord through a holy life that truly and sincerely worships and honors Him as Lord. Those who do not want to know His presence will flee from us because they recognize and do not want the presence of the Lord. We are not to turn from worshipping God, as man pleasers, but as God-seekers, our focus is to be on the presence and power of our soon returning King.

Every act of our worship reaches out to Him as the savory aroma of the sacrifice of praise. Glorify the Lord with every breath, for the day of His return is nigh (very near to us, quickly approaching).

A few passages that instruct in the true worship seen in the saints of God: Isaiah 58; John 4:22-24; Romans 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25; Philippians 3 (esp. AMPCL).

Difficult Things 3: God Causes Good

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” ~ Romans 8:28.

Who of God’s people have not had opportunity to trust the promise of God that He will turn our troubles to a good purpose? The question is, do we have the right to claim this promise?

John Piper, in his revised version of “Future Grace” points out that many of God’s promises to us are conditional. This is one such promise. God does work all things together for good, conditionally, “to those who love God” and “to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Qualification 1) God works all things to good “for those who love God.”

This love we are to have for God, 1) holds love for Him first above all else; 2) proves itself through obedience; and 3) is incorruptible.

We are called to love God first, above all else. My husband knows there is only One I love more than I love him, and that is God. God gets my first and best. Without this, I cannot truly love, nor can I do any good, for God is love, and He alone is good. Only in abiding relationship with Him can I hope to love as He loves or do any good thing. God is the source of true love and we can only accomplish the truly good with His power supplying. That is a good thing for my husband, because, as I keep God first in my affections, then my love for him flows out of my love for God. If we have anything positioned in our life above God, we fail to love God in a way that causes Him to work His good in our lives.

Jesus made it clear that proof of our love for God is seen in our obedience to follow Christ (John 14:15, 23-24; 15:10), practicing the obedience He exhibited as example for us (John 5:19; 5:30; 8:28; 8:42; 10:18; 12:49; 14:10; 16:13; Galatians 2:20). We prove our love for God through our obedience in following Him above all others. A love that keeps God first and obeys Him at all cost is incorruptible and everlasting, not falling away to falsehood or any evil thing. God knows those who love Him in this way will continue to love Him despite every difficulty. He knows they will seek to have His viewpoint for every situation they face in life and that they will watch for the good God chooses to do through those circumstances. He knows they trust Him because they love Him and they know His love always does what is best. So their love remains steadfast even when the outcome of life’s challenges takes turns they may not see as a good thing at the time.

Qualification 2) God works all things out to a good conclusion for “those who are called according to His purpose.”

If we choose to do something God does not call us to do, He is not obligated to work good out of it; thus it is vital that all we do be done in and by the calling and equipping of God. To do less means we do so in our own strength, which will fail us. Doing something even if called to it, but going outside God’s purpose and plan for us, thus walking in disobedience, nullifies His obligation to work good out of our circumstances. Loving obedience within the confines of God’s call to and equipping for us is required if we are to see the promised good from God that this Romans 8:28 promise of God holds for us.

I don’t know if you have ever been on a mission trip, but there are several things I find common to those who go in the calling and equipping of God. Great strength pours through the body of one who goes in the will of God, having God as first love. That power pours forth to accomplish great things, from reaching the masses with the gospel message and love of Christ, to ministering to the physical, spiritual, mental, and social needs of the masses. We often see the miraculous as God’s power pours forth through us, granting us the privilege of experiencing Him as His instrument in ministry. Then we get home and that anointing of His power for that specific time and purpose lifts. Strength seems sapped because that power is not as evident as when on the field for a season of ministry. At the same time, the joy and excitement of the experience spurs the desire for more of the same on the home front.

I believe the disciples, in our Mark 9:14-29 passage for this series, were in this post mission exuberance. They wanted to be God’s instrument for healing the boy, but their faith was resting on their past experience of God’s calling and equipping. They failed to seek God out of love for Him, entering into His equipping for this opportunity in front of them. They were not moving out of the calling and equipping of God, but out of their desire to do the miraculous. They fell to loving the experience of His power instead of truly loving Him, and out of that love, letting His power have control. They came off the mission field too big for their britches, forgot their first love, and found they had only a little power, which proved to be insufficient for the need.

For God to fulfill His promise of working His good into our lives, we must have hearts attuned to Him as our first love: our most vital need and necessity for life. We must also walk in the calling and equipping of God for current situations, with faith firmly resting in what He can and will do through us and for us. Anything less and the good of God may not reach us, His obligation to act on our behalf voided by our failure to fulfill His will through obedience that keeps Him first in our affections.

Listening Prayer (Part 5) ~ The Purpose

Listening prayer is a lifestyle of ceaseless communication with God; making every step and every breath an act of obedience flowing from a living and active relationship with Him as our Lord, our very breath of life. This lifestyle is vital to our function in this age in which we live and to our ability to overcome the challenges of a world that is daily moving farther from Him. In closing out this focus today, I am reminded of the purpose and goal of such a vital, God-breathed lifestyle of prayer.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6.

The goal and purpose of listening prayer is to make all our being and all we do and think acknowledge God as Lord, knowing that He is our first and most vital need. He is our Treasure: our eternal Inheritance. To be still within, lifting every breath to Him, the One in whom we place our trust, acknowledges His right as God over us, and our need of Him in all our ways. Here in Proverbs, God promises that, as we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will make our paths straight.

As I read this proverbs passage today, I found myself praying for God to reveal anything at the heart of my life that fails to acknowledge Him as Lord; anything hindering my seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Shortly after that prayer, a book I am reading led me to Deuteronomy:

“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” ~ Deuteronomy 30:6.

Circumcising the heart is the removal of all that separates us from complete allegiance to and relationship with God. God reveals the things we lean on or want more than we do Him, and He begins the work of removing from our lives all that hinders our relationship with Him. Some things God graciously removes with hardly any notice of it or work on our part. We just suddenly lose all desire for that thing that interfered with our communion with our Beloved. However, there are some things where God will reveal the interfering offender and then tell us, “Circumcise your heart” (Deuteronomy 10:12-21 *vs. 16). Some things God requires us to do the work; He wants us to choose Him as much as He chooses us.

God holds us as the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). He loves us so much that He made a way for us to have relationship with Him by sacrificing His Son on our behalf (John 3:16). God’s desire is for us, not wanting ANY to perish, but ALL to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Repentance means to let go of one’s own way, aligning self with God and His ways, so that we walk beside Him in unity of mind and heart, fulfilling His purpose and plan. That requires us to love and desire Him as He does us.

The question is, do we hold Him as the apple of our eye – the center, most prominent treasure we seek to obtain and hold dearest to our heart when possessed? Do we desire relationship with Him so much that we willingly deny ourselves, and, taking up our cross of self-sacrifice daily, determine to follow Him at all cost (Luke 9:23, see AMPC)? Do we truly see God in all His triune essence as our first, most vital need and necessity, so that we choose Him above all else?

The goal and purpose of this call of God for us is that we may grow to love Him and desire Him above all else, fully possessing the eternal relationship He purchased for us. The love He calls us to grow in our possession of as we practice a living, life-giving, listening-prayer life that fully relates with and works alongside Him is best expressed in these words of Paul:

“Grace (God’s undeserved favor) be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying and INCORRUPTIBLE LOVE” ~ Ephesians 6:24, AMPC.

Loving God with a love so strong and sure, eternally binds us to Him. Nothing can draw us away from relationship with Him, corrupting our walk, when we come fully into this living, breathing walk of love with Him.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

Listening Prayer (Part 4-C) ~ The Way of It

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.

As we covered yesterday, we quench the Spirit in many ways: fear, doubt, disobedience, and more. Along with God’s instruction to not quench the work of the Spirit in us, here Paul gives a specific way we tend to quench the Spirit of God: through despising prophetic utterances.

What is prophetic utterance?

One work of the prophet is to make God’s word clear and evident as a source of truth and wisdom that applies to our lives today. As the pastor, a teacher, or a friend seeks to encourage us in the truth of God and its application to current life situations: that is prophetic utterance. To ignore that instruction and fail to apply it to some situation the Spirit points our hearts to as we learn of His truth is to despise prophetic utterance. To tell ourselves, as our fleshly soul is prone to do, “Oh, it won’t hurt just this once,” going against the nudge of the Spirit who reminds us of the truths of God and its application to some course we are considering is to despise prophetic utterance.

However, prophetic utterance takes another form in the power of God’s Presence that too many fear acknowledging as true and right in our day. Many in our day do not believe that the Spirit of the prophet works any more as it did in the days of the Old Testament. Though prophesy is a gift listed in the New Testament teachings we live by today, people deny this work of the Spirit. Though Jesus and His apostles taught that God will increase the number of His people who dream dreams and see visions as the day of Christ draws near – methods used by God in making prophesy known, many refuse to believe this gifting still works in our day. They deny themselves the benefit of this communication method sent by God to help us in these days.

I am talking here about those sent by God to warn us of things coming in our day so we can prepare ourselves to face those things, yes; but often times the Spirit of prophesy is a work that is much more personal and close to home than that. Let us look at two examples of such occurrences:

When one of my daughters was a teenager, she was obviously struggling with something, growing more withdrawn and depressed with each passing day, but was not opening up to me about it. Seeking God for Him to reveal and heal the problem, I heard in the “voice” I have long experienced as God communicating with my heart, “There is a demon in your house and he is raping your daughter.” Wow! Too weird for words, I shook my head as if to shake off the ridiculous, but I know that voice, so I did not ignore it. Instead, I prayed, “Lord, that thought is too strange to me, but that is the voice I know as You, so I do not want to just ignore it if that is You. What I am going to do is lay that at Your feet, rest it with You, and ask that, if it is truth from You, You reveal the truth of it and prepare us to deal rightly with it.”

A few days later, my daughter finally came to me, “Mom, I have to talk to you.” She shared with me about horrible, too real to fathom, nightmares she kept having of ghostly, demonic beings raping her in the night.” Now if God had not warned me, I might have shook it off as something other than a battle to be fought on the eternal frontlines.

We covered together all the possibilities: a real life rape forgotten or denied; someone bothering her and causing a fear of potential harm, etc. Anything thought of as a possibility, we discussed and dealt with, but nothing was clear to us at that time. We began fighting on the spiritual frontlines and called on believing friends to help us, praying protection over her and seeking the revelation of any contributing factors. Eventually God did reveal that our daughter saw something as a child that was perfectly innocent, but that was beyond her understanding. It caused a fear in her that revealed itself through this demonic attack against her, along with other troubling dreams. The battle was long and we saw God move in ways that are awesome to my understanding, all of which we would have missed experiencing if I failed to trust that God speaks to us today in such ways.

Then there is the more recent experience of a person in my life who awoke one morning to God telling her, “You need to check your husband’s computer. He has thousands of pornographic pictures.” Again, the message came to her in the “voice” of God, as she knows it.

Her husband struggled for many years with pornography when he was young. When they married, he assured her that God delivered him from that issue. Later she discovered he was again delving into that evil. It led them to separate, but they were trying to work through it and get their marriage back on solid ground. She asked him frequently how he was doing in that area, holding him accountable, and, every time, he told her that it was not a problem. Then there came this word of God’s warning to her.

When opportunity presented itself, knowing the prophetic proves to be from God with revelation of the truth of it, she got on his computer to check things out. Sure enough, there were thousands of images on his computer just as the Spirit said, along with numerous thumb drives full of the stuff. The truly disturbing thing she found is that he had one folder full of pictures of her teenage daughter that he saved from the daughter’s Instagram account. She could find no other family pictures anywhere, not of herself, or of his blood-born son from his previous marriage, only that one folder of her teenage daughter’s pictures, innocent headshots of her, saved among all that porn.

This was not the first time her family’s life was touched by perversion. There were things going on that had many praying for the revealing of truth concerning her current husband, as warning signs kept rising up to cause us to question what was going on with him. The prophetic warning from God received in answer to many prayers for the truth of his heart intentions, a marriage is in shambles, but a child is safe from harm’s way. I shudder to think what might happen if this woman of God despised the prophetic voice of God within, thus, failing to check it out for herself and find the truth.

God gave prophets to the people of Israel because the people were afraid to hear from God for themselves (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). God sent Jesus to restore us to full relationship with Him, bringing this work of the Spirit as a resource to help us. Do not let fear and doubt keep you from trusting God’s voice in you and having the full experience of Him that He desires for you. Trust the Lord who promises to make His word to us known as from Him through His faithfulness that brings all to pass just as He says it will.

Know the voice of God. Cooperate with the work of the Spirit within you. Do not despise and deny the prophetic word sent by God for your good. Instead, examine everything carefully, looking for the truth revealed. Hold fast to that which is good, following the lead of God into righteousness. Abstain from every form of evil, being quick to flee harm’s way when God lovingly reveals an area of danger. God promises that if He is the author of the word sent, we will see the truth of it. Trust Him, and only believe.

Listening Prayer (Part 4-A) ~ The Way of It

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Recall from previous posts in this series that listening prayer is two-way communication.

We speak: God hears and responds. When He responds with words in the Spirit, whether through scripture, the encouragement of other believers, or that gentle inner voice, the work of the Spirit is to grant us understanding of the voice of the Lord. Our work is to hear with the listening ears of a disciple possessing a heart to obey. When God speaks to us in the work of His Spirit in us to encourage our wait for His action, we know the word is from the Lord as it happens in the earth.

He speaks: by faith, we listen and hear with understanding ears open to the Spirit of God who brings knowledge and remembrance of things we need to know so that we can follow through to accomplish the will of God in every situation. The Spirit gives wisdom with understanding comprehension. Listen! And give Him glory.

In today’s focal passage, we see that the will of God for us is that, in every situation of life, we rejoice in Him, praying without ceasing, possessing a grateful heart that expresses itself in us.

Note the “pray without ceasing”: How do we possess a ceaseless prayer life? We accomplish this as we realize that listening prayer begins with communion – friends, walking together in the partnership of life, and it culminates in action. We seek the Lord. He instructs us. We follow His instruction, doing what He equips us to accomplish. Meanwhile, we watch to see Him do what only He can do through our situations and in response to our obedience. We praise the Lord for His work in and through us all along the way. The topper? He rejoices over us who walk so closely with Him.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” ~ Zephaniah 3:17.

Now, what of the “Rejoice ALWAYS…in EVERYTHING give thanks”? That appears easiest to do when things are good—or is it? However, things are not always good. When things are bad, it is definitely difficult to always rejoice and give thanks in everything—isn’t it? Difficulty being part of our always and everything, how do we continue to rejoice and be thankful?

It should be easiest to rejoice in the Lord with grateful heart when things are good; however, that is too often not the case. When God brings us out of a season of difficult and delivers us into the good land, we rejoice in recognizing His work on our behalf. However, when we neglect to realize God moved on our behalf, or when we are long in the good land, we too easily take for granted that goodness and neglect to rejoice and give Him thanks as we should.

Listening prayer maintains constant communion with God, being always aware of the good He does for us, and being faithful to this call in our rejoicing over Him with thankfulness. The stronger we grow in this practice of prayer, the more ceaseless our walk in this will of God for us. Be alert in the good days that you fulfill the will of God in listening communion with Him, laying claim to no good thing as if of your own making, taking nothing for granted.

What about the difficult days, how do we rejoice and give thanks when we see nothing to rejoice over and definitely are not thankful for what is going on? The answer is in our focus during such times, and in our understanding of what this passage teaches us.

Rejoice always: in what? Certainly not in our situations: good or bad. Rejoicing in our situations or in the provision God makes for our life circumstances and possessions He provides for us makes these an idol in our eyes. Rejoicing is always to be in our God – who He is in all seasons, His faithfulness, His help toward us, His presence, etc.

Scripture tells us, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of Your heart.” When our greatest desire is God, we will find Him in every situation, good or bad, and we will be satiated, strengthened, and helped. The scripture says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. Growing strong in our ability to find joy in the Presence of our Lord, whatever is going on in life, is what brings us strength to be able to face all that comes to our day. (Psalm 37:3-6; Nehemiah 8:10)

Focus in rejoicing is always in the Lord. When our lives focus on delighting in Him, thankfulness comes easy as we note His work and provision more readily, seeing Him move in to help us, in good days, and in difficult ones.

~*~

“Rejoice in the Lord always – delight, gladden yourselves in Him; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know, perceive and recognize your unselfishness, your considerateness, your forbearing spirit. The Lord is near…” ~ Philippians 4:4-5, AMPC.

Listening Prayer (Part 1) ~ Requires Circumcised Ears

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

Dialogue - one person is speaking and one listening
Dialogue – one person is speaking and one listening

I love this verse in the Amplified Bible version. God often highlights it as a truth for my life, a life-goal to walk out into my reality.

As the saying goes, “God gives us two ears and only one mouth for a purpose; so that we will listen twice as much as we talk.” Listening is a skill God calls and equips us to develop. As Isaiah says, the tongue of a disciple speaks a word in season to those in need of it because that child of God first listens to hear the words of God as His disciple.

God not only gives us physical ears, but He wakens our spiritual ears, circumcising our ears and our hearts so that we hear Him in the power of His Spirit and understand what He is telling us.

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit…” ~ Acts 7:51 (See also Revelation 2:7; Luke 8:8; Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 6:10; John 8:43; Romans 11:8).

Have you dealt with instructing children any? How do we know a child fully understood and received an instruction we gave them? We know when they do what we told them.

The title, Listening Prayer, comes from a book on prayer I read many years ago, bearing that title. In all my years of studying prayer, that book included, my understanding and practice is this: Prayer begins with seeking God on any subject or need; it progresses through hearing and receiving His opinion and instruction; and it ends in our obedience to do as He instructs. Prayer goes from faith filled seeking after God, to belief-fed obedience in action.

Listening prayer flows from a heart that is completely dependent upon God. We humans have a tendency to see our need and pray as if we know what the solution is, failing to realize that, without the Spirit of God’s help, we see dimly, as through a glass.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV.

See self through God's eyes.

 

Have you ever looked at things through a glass? Glass greatly distorts an image. Some versions translate the word “glass” used here to “mirror.” Even our modern mirrors can greatly distort our understanding of reality. Plus, when we look in a mirror, the focus is on what we see of self and our surroundings. It is not on God and His purposes.

Only God sees all things clearly. He knows our hearts better than we know our own. He knows the hearts of those for whom we pray. He knows how our little thread in the tapestry of eternity fits best into His great plan. Understanding these truths makes it vital that we learn to first seek the Spirit’s instruction even in how we should pray. Once we have his heart on how to pray, it is finished. Once God says, “Here is my opinion,” ‘nough said! Standing in agreement with God says all that needs saying. This is one reason I believe we are to listen more than we speak.

Thus, we begin our journey to understand and practice listening prayer with understanding of our need to seek the Father first in every situation: seeking Him for His circumcision. We need Him to remove our fleshly focus and give us spiritually astute eyes that see as He sees, spiritually astute ears that hear His thoughts on the matter, and a spiritually astute heart that understands fully as He gives discernment in the leading power of His Spirit.

~*~

NOTE: My plan is to do this series of blogs quickly, getting them out each day to its conclusion. However, we have a family health situation that may take precedence over my time for writing. I will do my best to maintain the flow by getting the next posts out quickly. See you next post for part two.

Jesus, Our Example in Representing God’s Interests

“All whom My Father gives (entrusts) to Me will come to Me; and the one who comes to Me I will most certainly not cast out [I will never, no never, reject one of them who comes to Me]. For I have come down from heaven not to do My own will and purpose but to do the will and purpose of Him Who sent Me. And this is the will of Him Who sent Me, that I should not lose any of all that He has given Me, but that I should give new life and raise [them all] up at the last day. For this is My Father’s will and His purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in and cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up [from the dead] at the last day” ~ John 6:37-40, AMP.

This really speaks a truth to me this morning that I need to possess and walk out into my daily life. I am really bad to not answer the phone or the door if I do not know who it is and feel like dealing with others. This practice is not expressive of God’s way, nor does it fulfill His purpose. He does not cast out or reject those seeking Him. He is THE LIGHT of the World. I am a part of His light on a hill, a lamp set in a place where darkness needs dispelling (Matthew 5:14-16; Matthew 10:27; Romans 13:12-14; 2 Corinthians 4:5-7; Ephesians 5).

Jesus constantly remembered His purpose. Jesus kept at heart the truth that God sent Him to do His will and fulfill the Father’s purpose. Therefore, He turned none away without seeing what the Lord would do through Him in the lives of those He met. His purpose was to be the Savior, granting eternal life to all who sought Him, and lifting them to their eternal dwelling with God. He also possessed the purpose of making the Father and the truth of His Word known to all. He embodied the essence of God’s image, bearing forth the fruit of His presence, power, and love into every situation.

God speaks to me this day, reminding me that, like Jesus, it is vital to remember that we are here in this life at this time with a purpose. Jesus alone is Savior. We are Light to draw others to Him, representing Him and His interests in the world. As He did, trusting God to use Him in the lives of those seeking Him, we must do the same.

Now, not all who came to Jesus were truly seeking Him. Some came to oppose Him or to try to expose Him as a fraud. Others came out of curiosity. Many came to see what He could do for them in the physical. Whoever came, He did not turn away, but dealt with them where they were in life. Many, once touched by His love, grace, wisdom, and power, returned to truly and sincerely seek Him. Others never did. With all who came, Jesus fulfilled His purpose in dealing with each, individually or corporately, shining the Light of truth, lovingkindness, hope, and righteousness into their reality. This is Jesus’ example to us, and it is our call in Christ.

God is the same, yesterday, today, and forever: His purpose unchanging. Thus, this remains the Father’s will and His purpose: that everyone who sees the Son in us, those who, through our testimony, He leads to believe in and cleave to and trust in and rely on Him, these too should have eternal life. By following Christ’s example to us, loving on all who come near, shining the light of truth to them, we can take part in the work of God in the lives others with hope of His raising them up at the last day.

~*~

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” ~ 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

(See also Matthew 10:16-20; John 3:33; Acts 4:33; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9; 2 Corinthians 1:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:9-12; 2 Timothy 1:7-11; Hebrews 10:14-25; Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 John 5:9-12; Revelation 12:10-12)

Convinced of This: God is With Me

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” ~ Isaiah 41:10.

As I have my time with the Lord each day, it is amazing how much of His Word is set in place for our benefit, to lead us surly to Holy Habitation with God. None more vital than this promise expressed in Isaiah 41:10. For personal and full assurance that no matter what comes into our lives in this earth, whether through persecution or penance, we must fully believe that God is with “ME”! He is with ME to help ME.

None of the other promises I can think of, that assure our hearts, can stand-alone. They are dependent on this one fact, sealed and secure in our hearts. We cannot believe that God will truly help us if we fail to know that He is with us. We cannot hope for His deliverance or protection if our hearts tell us He is nowhere around.

Say it aloud, beloved, “God is with ‘ME’, working ALL THINGS for my good and His eternal glory!” Say it over-and-over, throughout your days, until it is settled and unstoppable in your spirit. Only with this sure knowledge are our fears, qualms, and uncertainty assuaged. Only with this sure understanding can we face even the best of days with the victory God desires and designs for us as His Holy Children.

Realize that God is our single greatest possession: no one or thing can snatch us from His hand. Only if we let this truth go without care can we fall away from Him. He is our inheritance: our exceeding, great reward. Only as we possess fully the relationship that knows God’s presence is with us can we overcome the flesh, stand in the midst of trouble, or live free in the challenges of this fallen world.

Put God’s word in your heart, beloved, where no thief can steel and no rust rot it away. Remind yourself continually of this vital truth, “No matter where I am, God is with me, and His heart desire and design is for my good.”

~*~

“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money, including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions, and be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have; for God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake you, nor let you down or relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!” ~ Hebrews 13:5, AMP.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you” ~ John 14:16. 

Convinced of This: God Loves Me!

“Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith” ~ Philippians 1:25.

A plaque hanging on my wall displays this G. K. Chesterton quote, “The Hebrews11.1only faith that wears well and holds its color in all weather is that which is woven of conviction.” Today, as I read in a devotional the words, “I am convinced,” I know that one’s ability to remain in Holy Habitation with our Living God depends on a heart of conviction.

Conviction stands firm on that which we are fully convinced to be true. Today seems a good day to begin looking at truths about God that we must be convinced of if we are to weather the storms of this life, and the place to start on a day focused on love, is…

“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” ~ Romans 8:38-39.

The stones of conviction we must have under our feet to stabilize our path and keep us alert to God’s forever presence with us, begin with knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that God, our Father, truly loves us. His love never fails or gives up on us who have entered His love through Christ. He loves because He is love and He cannot deny Himself: He is Romans10.17-1duty bound to be who He tells us in His word that He is.

No matter what harsh thing comes to life that causes one to wonder if God truly loves them, it is vital for that one to take their stand on this truth. Believing God’s love by faith, despite the difficulty found in this fallen world, will sustain the soul weary from life’s difficult challenges.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 10

“Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’ But He said, ‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’”  ~ Exodus 33:18-20, NASB.

God’s glory is the manifestation of His reality into our finite existence. Moses, the man who stood as close to face to face with God as could be experienced, wanted more of the manifest presence of God. He wanted to see God so as to recognize Him and His work in his life. I am sure with the pressure of leading millions of people who could be exasperating in their demands, his overwhelmed mind and heart needed a little extra assurance from God. God graciously responded by telling Moses how to recognize His glory at work in His midst. Breaking this down, we find the evidence of God’s glory that is available for all who see: His goodness, His names, His grace, and His compassion.

“I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you…”

~ Scripture tells us that, “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). Anything coming into our life that is truly good and good for us comes at the hand of God, working on our behalf, making Himself and His power known to us.

Jesus made it known that God alone is good (Mark 10:18). There is no good besides Him or without Him. He is the same always and at all times, so anything coming to our lives from His hand, though perhaps hard in the moment, will work good in the end. Trusting these truths, watching for every sign of His goodness, being grateful for the smallest good we find, helps us realize His presence with us and empowers us to walk through the most difficult days.

Look at your circumstances, beloved. Watch for even the smallest good there and give God glory for it. It truly is His glory shining: God waving at us, “Here I am. Take courage, stand strong, knowing this too shall pass.”

“We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose” ~ Romans 8:28, AMP.

“So understand that it is the people who live by faith [with confidence in the power and goodness of God] who are [the true] sons of Abraham” ~ Galatians 3:7, AMP.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 9

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name’” ~ Exodus 33:17, NASB.

Walking in God’s favor empowers our lives and makes us fruitful as His people. It is a sign of intimacy with God, being a people after God’s own heart. Along with that is the increased intimacy of friendship with God as ones knowing each other well, privileged to call each other by name.

Known by name:

I know many people when I see them, but those I know best, I know by name; and those I am most intimate with, I know by their chosen or preferred name. This passage leads me to the understanding that it is the same with God.

Some have a shallow acquaintance with Him, while others draw near on a first name basis. People who possess a depth of knowledge as His chosen people that goes beyond mere acquaintance come into a friendship with God that is real and alive.

When God speaks to my heart, 99 times out of a hundred He begins by getting my attention as He calls out, “Darlene”. That sign of intimacy goes the other direction as the child of God learns the names of God, calling on Him with intimate knowledge of who He is (something we will look at closely in days to come).

Deeper intimacy still is found in a relationship that has God naming us according to His desire for us (Revelation 2:17). We see this in instances of people’s relationship with God in Scripture:

Abram (exalted father ~ Genesis 11:27, NASB footnote) becomes Abraham (father of many ~ Genesis 17:5, NASB footnote). Abram’s name change takes him from being the start of a nation to the promise of being the father of more than can be numbered.

Jacob (heel catcher, trickster, supplanter) becomes Israel (he fights or persists with God in prevailing prayer). Jacob no longer relied on himself and trickery to get what was his. He learned to rely on God and receive from His hand.

Simon (he has heard) becomes Peter (rock – one who stands on what he knows and speaks what he believes).

And in my time, Darlene (Beloved) becomes Abigail (Rejoicing – One whose heart rejoices in God. One in whom the heart of God rejoices.) God gave me this name long ago during a time of drawing near to Him and it became my mantra, my life goal, to live so-as-to bring Him rejoicing as I rejoice in Him. For someone who has suffered much rejection and the fear of rejection, this name inspires hope and helps me to know that God does not reject me, but has chosen me, and He finds joy in my presence with Him.

Knowing God inspires faithfulness that wins favor. Him knowing us produces an intimacy that is deep and abiding, as face to face as we can possess in this life, based on a love that never fails.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 3

“…the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend…” ~ Exodus 33:7-11.

Moses relationship with God began as a curiosity. God reached out to Moses’ physical senses through a burning bush, unsinged, drawing him in for a look. There God offered Moses the opportunity of a lifetime: the experience of being God’s instrument in the earth to bring freedom to millions. Thus, scripture depicts Moses as a picture of Christ. (Exodus 3; 1 Corinthians 10:2)

At first, Moses was afraid when God spoke through that bush, so God drew him in closer: “take off your sandals.” Reverent obedience seen in removing the shoes draws us intimately close to God as Lord, where the touch of His holiness enlivens our spiritual senses. That instruction for entering the holy presence of God gave Moses the comfort of feeling welcome and wanted, adjusting his fear to that of reverence. His drawing in close to visit in earnest with God about His plans for Moses and Moses qualms that hindered started him on a road to a relationship with God that grew strong.

Day by day from there, drawing him ever closer, God formed a bond with Moses that led to a trusted friendship.

atside1Relationship with God is vital to our seeking after Him in ways that bring His reality to life for us. The people of Israel had an ungodly fear of God that led them to push Him away when He sought to draw them in, so their relationship with God was standoffish (Exodus 20:18-21). That fear brought harm to their ability to come into personal relationship with Father. Fear, disbelief, busyness, anger, lack of trust: there are so many bad emotional states that rob us of relationship with God.

We must shake that off and come into His holy presence.

Moses pushed past his issues to enter into relationship with God. Exodus 33:11 tells us that Joshua, wanting that relationship for himself, stayed in the tent of meeting with God, seeking Him on his own – he was unafraid to draw near and hear, and as such, was chosen successor to Moses. We, too, must lay every encumbrance aside and draw near.

“… Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. …” ~ James 4:7-10.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Series introduction

“You in Your lovingkindness and goodness have led the people whom You have redeemed; in Your strength You have guided them with care to Your holy habitation” ~ Exodus 15:13, AMP.

I have, for years, had in my heart to do a series of devotional thoughts that lead the reader to their seat at the feet of Jesus, our Lord, and of the Father God. It amazes me the number of Christians who do not realize personally the nearness of God. I am not talking about a “feel good shiver”. I am talking about assurance of heart that has no doubt of His nearness.

People who fail to know God’s nearness too easily fail to recognize His voice: His way of communicating to them in personal and applicable, heart knowledge. That inability to recognize God speaking His instruction for life in our personal situations leads to our stumbling about in darkness, struggling to find our way to the other side of chaos.

I cannot fathom life without this knowledge of God, so real, near, and dear to me; and yet many go through life never achieving this deep and fulfilling relationship with the Father of all eternity. How very difficult our life is when recognition of His sure presence with us eludes us.

Recently Father reminded me of this call and desire to write devotionals intended to help the seeker of God to find this place of His sure presence, impressing upon me that now is my time for this project to flow forth from His heart, through mine, to you. As I began the journey, God led me back to this recently read Exodus 15 verse in which two key words grabbed me, drawing me to seek even greater, more consistent realization of God, His presence with me, and His desire for me.

The desire for God’s presence with us is a desire that will constantly see fulfillment and will not come to full satiety until we enter the eternal with Him. This desire for God is there to keep us seeking, wanting more of Him until we see Him face to face. Holy Habitation: Those words altered the title of this devotional focus and intensified its purpose.

In this devotional series, we will see how God’s glory is recognized in His lovingkindness and goodness expressed toward us. Out of that lovingkindness and goodness, Exodus 15:13 tells us that God supplies the power for us to come into this ‘holy habitation’ relationship with Him. Every detail of our lives is His instrument, carefully used to lead us to this place of understanding His reality with us, and His desire for our lives.

Holy ~ the word is pregnant with meaning: set apart to God; sacred; personal; unified oneness with the Eternal; commitment to His Likeness; obedience to His headship, as a hand moves with the impulses of the brain, as feet go where those impulses point. Holy…

Habitation ~ the state or process of living in a particular place: in this instance, being continually in this state of holiness. The act of inhabiting or the state of being inhabited. Note the unity of this a Holy Habitation: “me” in God and Him in “me”. Habitation is the work, process, experience and reality of possessing the Promised Land of God’s holy presence with us, now and forever made one together with Him.

Look up the word “Kingdom” on this site, and you will find many devotionals and articles on my journey to realizing that we are here and now a part of the Kingdom of God, with all of its resource and responsibility ours to possess and walk out each day. We are people of destiny, having eternal purpose in every experience of every breath. No trouble in this life is without this eternal purpose, providing us opportunity to fulfill our destiny.

LonelyCryNumber one in that purpose is to KNOW God as surely as you know the person most important to your reality. He is with us and for us. He longs to know us and for us to know Him. He reaches out to us, desiring we possess such great oneness with Him that we become the extension of His reality in the world.

When we enter the eternal Kingdom at the exhale of the final breath of this life, He wants us to recognize Him when we take our first breath on the other side of glory. He wants us to be one who has long known His voice and become accustomed to His features. The Eternal should not be strange, foreign, or different to us when we enter that Kingdom ~ though we will see completely who and what He is and have our desire for Him fully satiated only then, there should be familiarity that causes us to recognize Him as our most intimate, well known Lover, Companion, Life Partner.

Our entry into that eternal Kingdom should be the greatest homecoming ever experienced, fully entering into the familiar place of His eternal presence, having lived it every day in the Holy Habitation of God’s sure presence here and now. Are you ready? Watch for each excerpt of Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet.

PS: This introductory post will most likely be the longest post of the series of devotional length excerpts. Enjoy and be BLESSed, refreshed in His reality with you.

The Language of God

“For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:2.

I believe the gift of tongues is still active in the body of Christ today. It was not until recently that I have sought the Lord for deeper understanding of this gifting. The teaching I have heard has downplayed this gift. It also has told me that this “tongue” is the language of the “angels” and that Satan cannot understand it. That never came across to me as true because Satan, fallen as he is, is an angel. He knows the language of the angels. That being true, to seek that gift and long for it rather than for greater experience of God puts one in danger of a false tongue. That raises up fear in me that hinders my desire for the gift.

I have heard stories of people who received a false tongue and the work of the demonic that came with that to hinder their effectiveness as God’s instruments. One such story reports from a missionary of a time on furlough when he stopped in for worship while traveling to his destination. The church he visited was a tongues speaking church. They had people come up to the interpreter with their tongue and the interpreter would expound on the message of the speaker. After one particular message, the missionary stood up. Apologizing for interrupting when he was but a guest, unknown by the body, he explained that he was a missionary to an Asian area of the world. Then he told them that the last person speaking was speaking in the language of the people group he worked with. He said, “In that language, this man just cursed God and Jesus.” Tongues can be falsified and work in the heavenly realm and on the earth to do harm if we are not careful to seek God rather than a language.

Nevertheless, I have experienced the gift of tongues and the interpretation of it enough to desire the closeness with God and I have prayed many times that, if I can have more of Him with it, I want it. Yesterday that desire increased as I contemplated the scripture above and God instructed my heart with understanding that corrected the teaching I have received. He brought to my heart the memory of the language of twins (triplets, etc.). On the earth it is observed many times that twins from the same egg often share a language that is known by no other than themselves. Parents and other siblings may pick up on the language as they observe the twins. The twins may teach the language to another, but it is their own voice, and no others. Suddenly I understand that the true “tongue” of God to His people is not the language of the angels, but the language of the Triune.

Now I see how no one else would know it, not even the devil. Wow! Now I see how awesome this gift is and my desire is increased by the understanding that this gift can only be had by those whose desire is for Him and greater understanding of the Triune Glory.

Now I see why tongues edify the person speaking it. It is a sign of the nearness of God, personal communion with Him in His personal language. Not even the angels have that. It is God’s gift to us who house the Spirit of God, given to those with whom the Spirit wills to share it. I experience the groaning of the Spirit often, even as I type this. How blessed it would be to me to know the language, not only to speak it, but to interpret it so my mind is edified and I can share it with others. Now I pray with increased understanding and faith in God, who can protect from the false, if it be Your will, O God, here am I.

“Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner” ~ 1 Corinthians 14:39-40.

Mirror Image

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

Beloved, if we are believers of God through The Savior, we are God’s image bearers in Christ Jesus. When God looks at us in the Spirit realm of the eternal, in the gracious provision of Christ, He sees us as He designed and desires we be. That fact is awesome to me: that God sees the image of Christ in me that I will bear eternally while the Spirit works to transform me, making my earthly existence bear that image in the life I now live.

Transformation is our physical person taking on the image that is already ours in the eternal through Jesus. In these days in which we live, it is vital that we realize the image we bear and walk it out in our daily, moment-by-moment, breath-by-breath life. For that to happen, we must realize the advice given us by James.

“…if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” ~ James 1:19-25.

God’s word teaches us of Himself and His ways. When we look intently at His Word in the power and leading of His Spirit, we come to know our God. We also come to know our eternal selves in Christ through knowing, believing, and living this same word out into our days.

I know I will hear many “Amen” voices from those who have the experience of Paul in Romans 7. Paul’s account of the struggle between the Spirit man in us and the flesh that jumps up like a headless chicken to bring struggle to our walk of righteousness is a picture of this “forgetting what we look like” analogy in James. It is so frustrating to receive an awesome word of instruction from 088the Lord, stand in agreement with Him that this truth is righteousness, determine to walk it, then go into the day to fall away, forgetting the truth we know only minutes later. So frustrating!

Thankfully, God is patient toward us, not wishing any to perish, but for all to come to repentance. It is vital in these days that we not give up on ourselves in utter frustration, but keep working to see our salvation express itself through the image of God in us made increasingly clear as we press on toward the goal. Get up; dust off; take another look in that mirror as many times as needed through the day and keep walking forward until the image sticks.

Ask God to focus your heart and mind on one aspect of His nature that He wants you to focus your heart to possess in this day. Ask Him for one scripture to carry through this day as reminder of who you are in Christ. Begin today to take an active role in holding to the image in the mirror of God’s presence, perfection, and refining parameters. Thank God that He who is faithful to complete His good work and word in you.