Tag Archives: loving-kindness

Awed by God’s Extravagant Abundance to Us

Johnny and I started toying with the possibility of getting a new vehicle a couple or three weeks ago. This past weekend, we did it, and I stand in awe. 
Our Explorer was not old and it has a lot of life left, but the need for a change made itself abundantly clear these past few months. 

Problem 1: We do a lot of traveling with Johnny’s medical treatments. We want to do some traveling to see family and friends, and God’s glorious creation. However, I do 99.9% of the driving these days and the seating in our Explorer got to where it hurts me. I can’t get in a good position and it’s gotten to the point that, by the time we reach Amarillo – an hour away, I’m hurting and squirming. 

Problem 2: The Explorer is reaching a point where it is in need of more maintenance. Johnny’s mechanic ears hears sounds he says are indication of maintenance issues in the works. With his health as it is, he wants me in a good vehicle that has maintenance coverage. Ours is drawing near to its end date. 

That said, we started looking at our options. So, what about it has me in awe?

Last week, while looking at some cars, Johnny pointed to a sports car that would have been his dream choice in his younger years. That started a conversation on high end cars. We talked about the Cadillac lemon his parents had and the Lincolns they had that were so much nicer. I said that I like the Lincoln, “but my all time favorite is the Mercedes Benz.” 

When we got home, Johnny got online looking at various brands and decided to peek in on the Benz. Surprised, he said, “They have models no more expensive than the Explorer. There’s a dealer in Lubbock. We can check them out when we go see mom.” 

So we did and came back home in one of our own: a youthful dream car that amazement to me. 

Our Explorer brought a great trade in deduction from the price of the new vehicle, making for a great deal. In fact, not only was it comparable in price to the Explorer; but we had less out of pocket expense than our little Mustang we bought early in 2000. (Another Awe-of-God moment.)

I am amazed that God made a way for the fulfillment of a youthful desire to come to fruition. And I am amazed at His provision through it. I drove all the way home from Lubbock without an ache one. I’m so praising God for that. It has amenities I never thought we could afford. 

And the stereo system is more than noteworthy. That amazes me because our Christian community has a project going on that has available for use playlists of worship music to aid our efforts. I play them on my cell phone a lot, even while traveling. Not long ago I told the Lord how nice it would be if I could play them over the car’s sound system. Guess what? Yep. You got it. And just in time for the big day when we will go out in mass to pray over our city. 

God has an amazing way of bringing things to pass in ways that are beyond our finite mind. Getting a fancy car is really insignificant in the scheme of the eternal, but I don’t think God gives such BLESSings without a purpose that is eternal. Not only am I brought into awe of Him by His amazing ways, but I am encouraged by His extravagant attention to our needs, and His obvious provision for it. 

Truly God does abundantly beyond all we ask or think when we earnestly seek Him and trust Him for our needs. And He does so for the purpose of glorifying His name. For the purpose of His glory, I share my awe with you. 

Hopefully we can do some of that traveling now. To God be the glory, great things He has done. 

And lest some think, “Well, your husband worked for that. That’s just y’all’s use of his funds.” Consider this:

“But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.” ~ Deuteronomy 8:18 

And…

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 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 1:16-17 

Enjoy the Blessings of life, beloved, and, giving God the glory, put it to use for good, doing so in ways that honor Him as God. 

The Treasury of Good

“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart….” Matthew‬ ‭12:35‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When called, “Good Teacher,” Jesus, the Perfect Lamb and very God, replied, “Why do you call Me good? No one is Good except God alone.” Mark 10:18

The good treasure of a heart that produces the good that reveals a good man is the Spirit of God, producing as fruit the very nature of God within us. Are you filled and overflowing proof of His glory at work in you?

The fruit of that good treasure is revealed as:

1. Love – God is Love. Because He loves us, He gave His Son for us and fills those who believe with His Spirit so we can love as He loves: out of who we are in Christ. (1 John 4; John 3:16; Philippians 2:1-10; Galatians 2:20)

2. Joy – the joy of the Lord is our strength: RELATIONSHIP with God, as empowered by His Spirit, is our joy and strength. (Nehemiah 8:10; John 15:5)

3. Peace – a gift from Jesus – an “umpire” sent through the Spirit, helping us make the good calls, while trusting Him for His good to come. (John 14:27; Colossians 3:15, *AMPC)

4. Patience – the fruit born of Trust in God that waits upon the Lord with belief that He is working for our good. Through trust’s belief, strengthened by the Spirit at work within us, we enter His rest finding patient endurance that builds our character. (Romans 8; Hebrew 3-4; Romans 5:1-5)

5. Kindness – God’s mercy in action. The word translated as “mercy” in OT passages like Lamentation 3:22 is chesed or hesed. Hesed can also be translated as “kindness” or “lovingkindness”. Mercy and kindness are intricately linked and are the product of the Spirit’s work, enlivened in us. It is part of our Christ cloak. Put it on. (Lamentation 3:22-23; Colossians 3:12-17; 2 Peter 1:5-9)

6. Goodness – good is only accomplished through a life productive of the Spirit-fruit, as exemplified by Jesus who would not claim goodness as His own, giving all glory for any good to the Father alone. (Mark 10:18; James 1:16-18)

7. Faithfulness – God is faithful, and His Spirit graces us with a love for Him that fertilizes a faithful life within us, placing us in the fellowship of The Faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Peter 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 1 John 1:5-7)

8. Gentleness – we show our good deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. God is the source of all true wisdom. (James 3:13, NASB; James 1:5-8; James 3:13-18)

9. Self-control – Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified Classic version of scripture Paul’s assertion says we are self-sufficient only in the sufficiency of Christ. His work in and through us makes us sufficient in all things. Our self-control is insufficient apart from His sufficiency. (2 Peter 1:2-13; 2 Timothy 1:7, AMPC; James 3:2; Philippians 4:13, *AMPC)

Beloved, all this to say, God is the treasure of a good heart. We cannot be good at bearing the fruit of godliness apart from the One True God, living it out through us. We are utterly and completely dependent on Him. The more surrendered we are to Him, the more spaces in our heart He fills and controls, the greater the abundance of Life He will pour through us as fruit that reveals Him as the source of any good we produce.

“You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:8-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭NASB

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.

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 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 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.

Difficult Things 2-B ~ A Faith That Moves Mountains

“Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not drive it out?’ And He said to them, ‘Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you’” ~ Matthew 17:19-20.

Last post we discovered that the “littleness” of faith Jesus warned of was not a lack of enough faith, as Jesus says that it only takes faith the size of a mustard seed to move mountains. The “littleness” Jesus speaks of in this analogy is faith that is immature, being unable to sprout forth and grow. It does not matter how much faith we have if that faith is immature: incapable of growth producing the fruit of the Seed. Faith, inadequately mature for growth, is useless, even though we possess enough of it to pile it up to mountainous heights. However, the smallest amount of faith, made ready to grow, is powerful, to the removing of mountains. That is the teaching of Christ I see.

No doubt, we each have many seeds of faith within us, each in various stages of maturation, some already grown into large, mature trees. Trees sprout forth in fruitful glory when, having experienced God enough in some areas of life, we no longer question His ability and willingness. Instead, we readily and easily trust Him in areas kin to our experience. In those areas, we bear much fruit to the glory of God, for we know from whom our help comes.

Facing new needs requiring faith, finding just that tiny seed available for the new situation standing before us, our past-experience of God helps prepare the new seeds of faith, making them ready to germinate at the unction of God’s Spirit. Just a little time with God’s Presence, receiving instruction regarding the path ahead of us, assuring our hearts of His faithfulness, and roots spring forth to produce a harvest. In the process, mountainous issues fall away into nothingness as we grow to know how great God is.

The problem the disciples had hindering their faith was that Jesus, the one who instructed them in the heart of God and His purpose, was unavailable for consultation. The Presence of God they knew was nowhere to be found in that moment of need.

Last post, covering this understanding that the seed Jesus sights as having “littleness” is immature, we ended with the thought that we must realize the mountain God has set His sights on removing. Knowing the mountain set by God for removal with hope set on Him who powers it is vital to victory.

Beloved, we will never, this side of eternity, have sufficient understanding of God and His ways so as to never have need to plant new seeds of faith. There is always new growth and fruitfulness to possess in our knowledge and understanding of God. The thing I am learning is that the mountain we think we see in front of us is most often potting soil, set in our path by God as the soil required for our faith-seed to grow.

We see the difficulty standing in the middle of our road; the hardship that we cannot get past. That thing standing in front of us, causing such frustration and doubt as it refuses to move, becomes enormous in our eyes as we fight the challenge we deem an obstacle. Wanting not to have the difficulty that challenge presents us, we decide it must be a mountain to cast off. Failing to recognize the soil made ready for seeds of faith’s growth, discontented in the place God plants us, we find ourselves fighting against God, thinking we are working with Him to move the mountain in our eye’s sight.

The truth I find is that the bigger mountain God is always after is those things in us that hinder our knowledge of Him and His ways, destroying our trust to believe Him and take Him at His Word. Let us look at our disciples again to glean from that example and see that, though they failed to heal the boy, a mountain did come down.

Before their mission trip, Jesus gave the disciples an assignment (Mark 6:7-14). They listened to the Creator of all things, The Living Word sent from the Father. He prepped the seeds of faith they would plant for fruit bearing as they faced each challenge set before them. That seed fertilized by God through Jesus’ words, commanded what they were going on mission to do, giving them authority to do it. The mountain was not the challenges lying ahead of them, but the things within that would stop up the growth of their faith to believe the command of Christ who gave them their authority. Believing Jesus, they overcame the challenges as they went forth in victory to fulfill Jesus’ Word to them. Their seed, impregnated by His instruction, grew to a fruit-bearing tree as they came to each challenge to their faith. They learned that they too could follow the instruction of God in the power of His supply and accomplish the great things of God’s choosing by trusting Jesus.

Now back home, the disciples faced a similar situation as that successfully met on their mission journey. Unable to perform the work they easily faced before, what happened to their faith? Why were they unable to heal this one brought before them now?  I believe God was working on a new seed of faith they needed to germinate in preparing for the ministry ahead of them, but they had their eye on the wrong mountain. They saw the potting soil set before them in this one needing healing, and failed to see the mountain found in the lack of their knowledge of God that made for their littleness of faith. The healing of the boy was God’s will. Healing Him was within God power to accomplish. The demonized boy was soil prepared by God for a growth encounter that would remove a mountain of doubt standing in the way of the effective ministry He had for these disciples to possess.

Jesus, the one they communicated with to know the Father’s heart, was off doing something else. He was not there, readily available to instruct and prep the soil of their hearts by speaking to them the truth of God’s authority given to prepare their seed of faith to see the boy healed. They apparently did not realize fully that they could speak with and know the Father’s will for themselves, receiving His instruction and authority with power. Prayerlessly skipping the communication phase of their journey, doing what they had done before without clear direction for the “now” situation, they tackled the challenge with immature faith that could not sprout. Chopping at what they saw as a mountain to defeat, they failed to plant the seed of faith there and watch for what God would do. They tried to heal the boy with no root of authority and power established for that particular work. Good as the work they wanted to do was, they were working off depleted resources, using seeds of faith that Jesus called “littleness”.

In this account of the disciples little faith, I see that the disciples needed to grow to know that when Jesus was gone, the Father was with them to help them. They lacked faith to understand that the Father hears and responds to them personally. All they needed was to call to Him and seek His face with earnest expectation and hope of receiving His response. That is the mountain I believe God was after, their lack of reliance on Him as Father, and understanding to know that He was with them even when Jesus was gone. The next verses in the Mark account of this faith encounter, shows Jesus, beginning to prepare them for His soon departure. Jesus being about to leave the earth, we can see that it was vital they grow to know and seek the Father for themselves.

What mountainous challenge are you facing, Beloved? Are your sights truly set on the one to be cast away, or is that challenge in your sight truly God’s field of fertile soil made ready for your seeds of faith to germinate as you discover and overcome the true mountain God is after? If a situation stands, immovable, perhaps it is time to ask God to reveal the true mountain He is working cast away as He uses the experience to mature seeds of faith in you. Seek the Father with faith that knows He is faithful to respond in due season. He will show you what you need to know on the journey to cast out every mountainous obstacle to your mature and effective faith.

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.

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)

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ My Stronghold

“Because of his strength I will watch for You, for God is my stronghold. My God in His lovingkindness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes. …They wander about for food and growl if they are not satisfied. But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to You; for God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.” ~ Psalm 59:9-10, 15-17, NASB.

I love when my heart discerns a name of God in His word that I have not realized before. Any place that tells us “the Lord / God IS” generally translates from Jehovah (I AM). The word following “is” describes a character trait found in our faithful Creator-God that we can bank on. Here, “God is my stronghold (defense in KJV)” translates “stronghold / defense” from the Hebrew word Misgâb (mis-gawb), giving me a new-to-me name for God: Jehovah- Misgâb.

Misgâb means cliff or other lofty or inaccessible place. Translated to refuge, defense, high / strong fort / tower, or stronghold, Misgâb is the place of safety upon which a soldier is safe from enemy fire.

David faced many enemies in his life and he always ran to his Jehovah- Misgâb, the place where he found strength and wisdom for the battle, comfort in time of trouble, and rest for his war-wearied soul. In Psalm 59, David faces an enemy force that is coming against him for no cause; he had done nothing to them that should bring such an assault. The NASB describes his assailant as dogs, searching for food, dissatisfied with any they find. David finds his High Tower by determining within himself “But as for me”, despite the trouble, “I will….”

Stronghold-3The only doorway into the tower of God’s protection that is a stronghold of refuge and rest for a war-wearied soul is through faith that trusts God despite what the war looks like to our finite vision. The key to that door is a heart that praises God even when the war gets long and looks to be lost. That heart of praise and worship that fully trusts God realizes that He alone can give strength needed to continue fighting the good fight of faith while waiting for the Defender of our lives to deliver from the evil coming at us. Despite the exhaustion our tired souls feel, the heart that runs hard after Jehovah- Misgâb sings this song of faith and hope with David:

“But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress” ~ Psalm 59:16, NLT.

Sometimes, beloved, the trouble God allows to chaise us down has but one purpose ~ to drive us to trust more fully in God’s faithfulness, relying only on Him, finding our Resting Place there.

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Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ The Stone of Help; Our Stay

Two names of God stand out to me today, as I seek Him for His Holy Habitation in our days:

EBENEZER – The Lord has Helped us. Literally “Stone of Help”.

JEHOVAH-MISHAN – The Lord your stay.  Literally “I AM your Stay”.

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us’” ~ 1 Samuel 7:12

“They confronted and came upon me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay and support” ~ Psalm 18:18, AMP.

I don’t know about you, but trouble seems to come at us every day. If it is not one thing, it is another. Too often, the thing we thought was behind us yesterday is suddenly in our faces again today. If it were not for our Ebenezer, The Rock upon which we can stand, and our 042Mishan, Jehovah-Our Stay, life’s issues would have destroyed us by now. But God…

God is our ever-present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). He is for us and not against us (Romans 8:31). When we stand with faith in Him to be and do all He says He is, will be, and can do, we find the broad place beneath us, stabilizing us in the fiercest storm this life can bring to us (Psalm 18:19, 31:8, 66:12). As you seek to bring your weary soul into holy habitation with God today, realize what this word means:

Stay –

†   To endure or persist (Romans 5; 2 Peter 1:1-12; Mark 5:36; John 12:35, 15:14).

†   To stand one’s ground; remain firm (Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 2:9; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 1:12, 2:19).

†   To remain in a fixed or established position. To brace, support, or prop up. To strengthen or sustain mentally or spiritually. To rest or fix on for support. (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:6; 4:13; 2 Corinthians 9:8, 12:9)

†   A strip of bone, plastic, or metal, used to stiffen a garment or part, such as a corset or shirt collar (John 15:5; Ephesians 6:10-11; Colossians 3:1-17).

“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you” ~ 1 Peter 4:19, NLT.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 12

“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.’ …’”  ~ Exodus 33:18-20, NASB.

God’s goodness toward us, His giving to us a personal and intimate knowledge of Him, and His grace that meets our need: all are aspects of God’s glory-revelation. Last on this list of visual representations of God’s glory is His compassion toward us.

“…and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion. …”

Compassion ~ Deep awareness of the suffering of another accompanied by the wish to relieve it. God does not like to see our suffering, and so, He is compassionate toward us.

Trouble is part of living in this world that is most often in stark contrast to God and His ways. As long as we live this earthly existence, trouble will touch our lives; and more so as the day of Christ draws near.

Evil increasing and people’s hearts growing cold toward any aspect of God’s reality is what ushers in the coming Christ. As people wax cold toward God, closing their hearts to Him, Christ will come to remove those who are His from this mess, and apocalypse will have its way. Until then, trouble will increase, touching us more frequently and with greater devastation as this world decays and the day of Christ’s return for us draws near. That said, how is God’s compassion revealed?

“It is of the Lord’s mercies (lovingkindnesses) that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” ~ Lamentations 3:22-23, KJV (NASB).

The Lord’s compassions toward us keep us from being consumed by the trouble found in this world. Instead, He uses such to strengthen our faith to trust Him more; leading us to greater depths of repentance and surrender to more of Him, strengthening our resolve as He grows our likeness to Him. God’s compassion produces heart-peace in us when life’s storms hit, that peace that passes understanding, amazing the heart of the recipient. Father’s compassions equip us with wisdom to weather every wave and stand firm in the harshest winds.

We are in this life with a purpose set by God: to partner with Him in making His glory known. Therefore, God does not always remove trouble from us, but His compassion helps us to stand so that we fulfill His purpose in allowing the trouble to touch us. Light shines brightest when contrasting the dark.

No matter how bad the waves of trouble may rise above us, we can trust God’s faithful compassions to protect us from the destruction difficulties seek to bring to us. This world of trouble will not consume us as long as we rest securely in His grace that works His good for us out of every wave on the tossing sea of this life.

Whatever storm you are in, beloved, watch for God’s provision: not 089putting Him in a box of what you think He is doing and should do, but trusting His will, His way. His lovingkindness is with you to provide for your every need out of His compassionate mercies that fail not. He amazes the heart and mind of those who sincerely wait upon and watch for Him in earnest expectation and hope of the glory He will reveal.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 11

“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…’”  ~ Exodus 33:18-20, NASB.

God’s glory is revealed first through every goodness He gives. Next, He says we can know His glory as God personally proclaims the name of the Lord before us. We touched on the friendship with God that increases as intimacy grows through learning His names, which express His character. Later in this series we will cover this aspect of God’s glory in greater detail, revealing the appreciation and the power such intimacy brings to our relationship with Him, as well as the faith, strength, hope, supply, and partnership produced. Today we look at God’s next instruction to Moses, revealing the glory of God we see in life.

“… I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious…”

Grace is often defined as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace couples with God’s mercy to supply all our need as His chosen people, even, and especially, when we don’t deserve it. Any supply we have for any need met is God revealing Himself to us. Even the smallest incidental that makes us smile or wipes a tear of fret and fear away is God reaching out to touch our lives with His presence. The trick is to realize God’s grace at work in our midst.

Too often credit for God’s supply in life goes to that which seems more obvious, that which touches our physical senses. We credit our jobs or our own perceived strength, failing to remember that God’s grace gives both. The laughter of a small child brightens our heart without our realizing God’s hand of grace in bringing that joy. On we could go, listing ways God blesses by grace and we fail to realize Blessing’s source.

Every good comes from God because of His grace toward us. His loving hand reaching to our current deprivation ministers every essential. What joy there is in recognizing God’s grace at work in our lives, not only meeting our every true need, but also equipping us as ministers in partnership with Him in the grace He gives.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, ‘He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.’ Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:8-11.

God graciously meets our need, equipping us for the good He desires we accomplish. God gives to us so that we have supply for giving. We cannot out give God. Every good use we make of His supply is seed sown that will produce a harvest to His glory. As wise stewards of the manifold gifts of God’s grace to us, we partner with God in making His glory known, producing thanksgiving to God. The better we get at realizing God’s grace-supply and using it as seed, the more we find His storehouses open to our need.

Through God’s grace, we are made to be His ministers according to His gift of grace working through us in the power of His supply, thus participating with Him, becoming one as His light in the revelation of Glory (Ephesians 3:1-7; 3:20-21).

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 8

“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.

Throughout our journey to date, it is clear that holy habitation with God flows from a relationship with Him that is real, personal, and intimate. Here we see two ingredients to intimacy ~ finding favor with God (today’s focus), and knowing a relationship with Him that is on a first name basis (tomorrow’s focus).

Finding favor with God:

Type the word “favor” into BibleGateway word search, and 358 scriptures pop up for consideration. From the favor given Noah in Genesis 6:8 to that given those who hate evil deeds just as God does found in Revelation 2:6, we find the things that lead us to the position of a people having God’s favor. Glancing through these, I see that intimate relationship with God that produces His heart in us, leads us to the place of the favored people of God.

One of the greatest things said of Noah forms my heart cry as I seek to be a woman, walking in God’s favor: “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9).

The world found itself condemned by God because the people turned their back on Him to go their own way. Noah, alone, walked with God and, finding the favor of God, became God’s chosen instrument for renewal, leading to his salvation along with that of his family. Walking with God when everyone else goes the other way, having a heart after His heart, wins God’s favor.

Walking in God’s favor brings strength to overcome hardship and power for life abundantly full, thus touching the lives of others, helping them to know strength and power. Though the road may be difficult, as was Noah’s, walk with God day by day, breath by breath, beloved, and His favor will meet you.

1) BibleGateway word search results ~ https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?search=favor&version=NASB;AMP;NLT&searchtype=all

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.

Speak as a Disciple

“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).

When I pray having this verse of scripture in heart, I pray, “Speak, O God. Your daughter is listening. Grant me ears to hear as a disciple so I may speak as a disciple.” Today, as I pray that oft desired heart, thought comes regarding the word spoken about Peter when he denied Jesus three times. Standing around that campfire, warming himself, watching to see what would happen with Jesus, people ask him if he is one of those who run with Jesus. One person there says, “Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away” (Matthew 26:73). Peter’s accent and speech told the story of his heritage.

People who spend time with Jesus, seeking Him as a disciple, desiring to learn of and know Him as a child of the Living God, these hear Him and the things they hear effect the way they talk. Their speech is cleaner, refusing to dishonor God through cursing. They are not bitter, filled with anger, wrath, malice, and slander. They do not use smooth and flattering speech meant to gain approval, being deceptive or manipulative. Nor is their speech abusive, killing the soul and destroying destinies.

Instead, they talk with hope for the future and gratitude for the present. They are bold in speaking truth, showing careWords04 for the listener’s eternity and their here-and-now relationship with Holy God. They are uplifting, having words filled with grace, as though seasoned with salt, knowing how to respond to each person, able to “speak a word in season to him who is weary,” imparting discerning wisdom with truth and love.

Beloved, when standing in a crowd, does your way of talking give you away as being different, as being a disciple of Christ? Does your speech make it clear to others that you have been with Jesus that day as a faithful follower, His Kingdom representative? Do people tag along with you because of the inspiration flowing through your mouth and lifestyle?

Speak, O God. Your child is listening. Grant me ears to hear as a disciple so I may speak as a disciple.

Things Leading to Perfect Peace ~ Part 5

Called Friend ~ Deepening Relationship

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another” ~ John 15:12-17.

Hear these words of Jesus, beloved. “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

What did the disciples have that made them friends instead of slaves? They possessed a vitally growing relationship with Christ. This reality of growing in relationship with God that makes us friends He shares His life with is ours to have and possess in Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit working in and through us. That reality begins with understanding this love that God has for us, a love that lays down His life on our behalf. That love is the perfect love that casts out all fear.

Think about your most trusted friend. What is it about your relationship with that friend that helps you know that wherever you go, whatever you do, that relationship will always be there? For me that ingredient that makes for true and lasting friendship is trust in the love they have for me and me for them.

walking-with-godI have three friends who moved off many years ago. These friends stay in touch through our marvelous technologies that span space and time to bring us closer together. I can be who I am with these friends and know they love me as I am, even when I am not my best self. We may not see each other often, but when we do, it is as if we never parted company. We may not always like what the other does, but we love each other anyway. And we know that when we struggle, there is always the other to reach out a loving hand to help us to come up higher in life as God’s chosen friend.

That is another thing I look for in a human friendship. I look for a growing relationship with God. I want people around me who know Him and are able to encourage my walk with Him. One reason for that is not only that these friends have a growing relationship with God that makes them ably equipped to counsel me from His perspective, but they possess His abiding presence, being available instruments to Him, allowing Him to reach out and touch me through their lives: and me to them. Just now I received a text from one of them that I do not hear from often, but she knows when she is in need, I am here for her, just as she is for me.

Beloved, that is what God wants with us. This desire for a relationship that is vitally growing and available, able to encourage and help to rise up to greater heights is not foreign to God. It is His image at work in us. God is love. Love’s most vital need is someone to give itself to and for; and its greatest desire is to find that love returned in kind.

When we have this growing reality at work in us, knowing God and being known by Him, mutually loving and giving self to bring the other higher, Him lifting us to higher ground as we lift Him to greater glory, shining ever brighter, we have friendship with God and a love that casts out fear.

Fear cannot reside where true love’s trust abides. God loves you. You can trust that even when you are in a pit of despair because of poor decisions that caused you to fall away for a time. He reaches out in love, desiring to grab your right hand and help you to higher ground. When we move away from Him, He is still there, waiting to hear from us andJesus 01 - water walk reach out His hand of love, help and companionship.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing means NOTHING! Not even the bad decisions we make in falling away from Him can remove His love from us. His sacrifice of love remains even in our darkest days. Though He hates where we are and what was done to put us in such a state of affairs, He still loves us and longs for our presence. So reach up and trust His love to grab you and help you be your best self to the glory of Him who loves you more than life itself.

“This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another” ~ John 15:12-17.

Oh, beloved. What great peace it is that comes to the heart of the one who truly understands, receives, believes, trusts and grows strong in this friendship found in a deep and abiding love relationship with God the Father through Jesus the Son in the power of the Spirit abiding within us. And we know this love abides in us as we come to desire His will over our own, laying down our lives by picking up His desire for us and making that our possession for a life of abundance with Him.

Things Leading to Perfect Peace ~ Part 4

Love’s Abiding

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer ~ yes, take courage; BE CONFIDENT, CERTAIN, UNDAUNTED! For I have overcome the world: depriving it of power to harm you, having conquered it for you.” ~ John 16:33, AMP.

These past few years have been hard, wrought with one difficult situation after another. I am sure you know from experience that this world can be difficult to live in as one assault comes too quickly on the heels of the next. As we walked through our troubled waters, God used the time and experience to solidify in me a deep and abiding assurance of His love. It is this deepening understanding of my God that fulfilled this promise of God: “I have overcome the world: depriving it of power to harm you, having conquered it for you.”

Did we suffer loss in some of our troubles? Yes. Did that loss bring us to destructive harm, robbing us of hope in God and the ability to get up and press forward? No. Why can I say that? Galatians 1 begins with a greeting Paul often used that describes this peace I learned of, the peace we have when we fully trust God’s love for us that deprives the world of it power to harm us.

“Grace and spiritual blessing be to you and SOUL PEACE from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” ~ Galatians 1:3, AMP.

As we face each new assault of trouble in this life with understanding of God’s love that is for us and not against us, a love that never allows anything to take us from His hand of care, we find a “soul peace” that is not shaken by rough seas. The soul is our mind (thoughts, beliefs, understanding), our will (decisive choice and sense of purpose), and our emotions. Our soul that makes us who we are as individuals, remains stable and secure, able to function despite rough waters in life, when we know and trust the love of God.

“God is love.” This is what His author tells us in 1 John 4:8. Love is not just an emotional high for God. It is not just something He does when He feels like it. It is who He is. Love flows from Him because it is His nature and He cannot deny Himself ~ He must be who He is: no guile, no façade. That adds deeper dimension to the fact that He calls us to love as He loves.

“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.

This call to love means that love has to indwell our very nature and flow from us out of who we are rather than from emotional highs. Our next abiding place that assures us of “perfect peace” is this deep understanding that God is love, He loves us despite flaws and failures, and His love will not allow ultimate harm to win when trouble comes; it will accomplish His purpose in us. That understanding equips us for a lifestyle love that helps us to cope with and face life issues with a love flowing to us and through us that overcomes the darkest night.

“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” ~ John 15:9-10.

Abiding love, living constantly and consistently in this understanding of God as Love, having His love living and active in us equips us to abide in the love Jesus calls us to possess. It is the love and loyalty of a child to a respectable parent or of a soldier to an honorable General and Chief. No matter the trouble faced, when we know God’s love for us and have love for Him, we easily and readily follow His instruction.

Love always has a good, right, and true purpose in the things it allows. Though the things God allows to touch our lives may be difficult, they possess great worth as each challenge provides us with opportunity for growth. Trouble provides a chance to experience God and grow in greater depth in understanding His nature, how He thinks and functions. Through such challenge, God provides doors of divinely appointed ministry to help others know His love that flows through His people as He grows us to possess the image of God, having His nature living and active in us.

Just as Jesus came to do the will of the Father, knowing that hard times would come as allowed by God for Christ’s fulfillment of His purpose, so we must realize that same love brings doors of opportunity for us to fulfill the purpose God planned for our lives. No trouble comes to us without the love of God toward us purposing good to come out of that trouble. It is through loving obedience to follow God’s will in God’s way that we come to the other side of trouble with overcoming power and success.

“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him” ~ John 15:21.

Spirit-fruit2Love’s abiding assures our ability to grow in our knowledge and understanding of God. With increased understanding of God as Love, I no longer question God’s love for me when trouble comes, and I am more deliberate in my desire to emulate that love to others. I realize more readily God’s good purpose granting me opportunity to make a difference in this life, thus glorifying Him through cooperation that accomplishes the good He intends. Love’s abiding produces peace that prevails within my soul, helping me to see the path ahead and choose the good God desires for a life that honors Him and that reveals His overcoming power in me. This is His desire for each of us who call on His name with faith and hope for eternity with Him. Enter love’s abiding and find soul peace to help in times of trouble.

(Note: Reading Matthew 5:1-12, especially considering the meaning of the word “blessed” given in the Amplified version of these verses, I see Love’s abiding working to produce the good in each situation addressed. I believe this is the blessing that comes to those who know and trust this loving nature of God. Our lives will bear the fruit of those so blessed despite the trouble faced.)

GET UP!

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

My heart leaps every time I read this verse. “Get up, let us go from here.”

Jesus and the disciples are going from the upper room where their last supper together was eaten, heading into the Garden where they will pray together for the final hours of Christ’s life and ministry.

Again, as I read this, the Spirit of God instructs me of its importance to me in my days of walking with Christ. He says to my heart even now, “The world knows your love of the Father in the same way as you follow Christ in doing ‘exactly as the Father commanded.’ Yesterday is gone. Its successes will meet you in glory as reward. Its failures, covered by Christ, He carried to the underworld for all eternity. Today is a new day. Do not let yesterday’s failures hinder your walk of faith-filled obedience today. Do not even allow your last failed breath hinder and rob you of the glory to be had with the next breath you take. Forgetting what lies behind and pressing forward to what lies ahead, get up, and let us go from here.”  (Philippians 3:8-16, *13)

walking-with-godConfess yesterday’s sins and repent of them, yes; but do not let those things define you or hold you captive. It is a new day with new mercy and loving-kindness from God who, because of Jesus, pours forth strength and power for us to overcome our flesh, the world, and the demonic wisdom that tempt us. Show the Love you have for the Lord by following in likeness to Christ’s obedience, and have a BLESSed day in the Lord as you see His purpose for you being in this day unfolding before you to the glory of His Holy Name.

Father, I am confident of this very thing, that YOU who began a good work in me, will perfect it from now until the day of Christ’s return. Grant me faith to believe and receive Your transforming, enabling, perfecting and equipping power for life more abundant and full, proving Your will made sure, complete and accomplished in me. In Jesus, amen.

(Philippians 1:6; Romans 12:1-2)

HE LOVED THEM TO THE END

Opening the word, something caught my attention yesterday in chapter 13 of John that I am drawn to revisit.

“Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, HE LOVED THEM TO THE END” ~ John 13:1.

Looking closely at that wording, the footnote says “to the end” means “to the full extent.” He loved fully, all the way to the finish line. The Amplified version of scripture seems to interject that fact best.

“Now before the Passover Feast began, Jesus knew with full awareness that the time had come for Him to leave this world and return to the Father. And as He had loved those who were His own in the world, HE LOVED THEM TO THE LAST AND TO THE HIGHEST DEGREE.”

“So it was that during supper, Satan having already put the thought of betraying Jesus in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, that Jesus, knowing fully that the Father had put everything into His hands, and that He had come from God and was now returning to God, Got up from supper, took off His garments, and taking a servant’s towel, He fastened it around His waist” ~ John 13:1-4, AMP.

Pondering this scene with knowledge of what is coming to the life of Christ next, I recognize that this is the eve of the greatest hardship of Jesus’ life. In just a few hours, He will take His disciples to the garden for a time of prayer as He prepares for what is ahead of Him. He knows that the weight of the sin of the world will be on His shoulders and that His Father will turn away. He knows the difficulty ahead, and being fully man with all the sensory receptors and emotions of any other, the stress of it affects Him. In just a few hours, that stress will leave Him crying out to God with beads of bloody sweat flowing from every pore of His body. During that time of prayer, it is said of Christ that, “He began to show grief and distress of mind and was deeply depressed” (Matthew 26:37, AMP).

I don’t know about You, but when I know something hard to cope with is coming on me quickly, depression takes hold as the body’s stress chemistry comes into play. Depression too easily hinders my hands and feet, hindering my doing what I need to do while waiting to do what I must. That was not the case for Jesus. Out of love, He sat the good example to the end.

In our focal passage it says, knowing His time was upon Him, that He loved His people to the end, all the way to the finish line, with all the fervor of love possible. Out of His love, He put on the servant’s towel and began washing the feet of the guests. Take a moment to realize, please, that among the guests present, there is Judas Iscariot, the one He knew would betray Him. Jesus loved on His betrayer. (Selah ~ Pause and calmly think on that.)

It was customary when guests entered a home that the lowest servant in the house put on a towel, get a basin of water and wash the feet of the guest. Reportedly, this was the worst job there was to do. Why?

I don’t know if you have ever tended to another’s dirty feet, but it is not a pleasant job to do. In Bible days, people walked most everywhere on dirt paths in sandaled or bare feet. Their feet got nasty. Yes, it was a dirty job; proven in part by the fact that Jesus did not just put on a towel, but he first took off His garments. He knew He would get dirty doing the work of washing feet, so He removed His outer garments to protect them. On this day, no one took it upon himself to tend to the feet of the guests. It was a nasty job and no one wanted to do it, so, as a last act of love, Jesus put on the servant’s towel and did the lowly job of tending to dirty feet.

Pondering this act of Christ, I discern several reasons for His choosing to put that towel on, instead of asking another to do it.

  1. It set an example of selfless service. Asking another to perform that particular service would have embarrassed the one asked, considering it an insult. Jesus, being guest of honor, put the towel on Himself and showed all there that love chooses to do the lowliest, least desirable acts of kindness for those loved. Love is selfless.
  2. Jesus used the opportunity to teach His followers, and us through this account, that the cleansing power of their relationship with Him is complete. Completely cleansed from all sin by Christ, we need only the touch up cleansing when a new soiling of sin occurs. Thus, as they say, it is vital that one stay prayed up with God in their battle against sin. This discourse is one proof for those of us who believe that once we enter into salvation by the blood of Christ through faith to believe Him for it, we do not lose our salvation with every struggle against the nature of sinful flesh. Our spirit is secure for all eternity in Christ. (See John 13:6-10)
  3. It is my belief that Jesus chose to do this job himself because it was opportunity for some one-on-one time with each of His disciples. I do not believe that Peter was the only one Jesus had a conversation with while washingtheir feet. I believe each one responded out of their own fleshly impulse, need, and nature; and Jesus used the opportunity to minister personal lessons all around, encouraging the growth and faith of each one, according to their
    "You gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair." (Lk. 7:44)
    “You gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.” (Lk. 7:44)

    need. This account with Peter is just the one on which we get to listen.

Beloved, a lowly, unpalatable job is not a shame for us in Christ. It is opportunity to make oneself available to God for purposes of His own. It is a chance for some one-on-one ministry time with those around us who can benefit from the perspective we have in Christ. It is love’s greatest act of sacrifice when we do the lowliest job with eternal purpose as exemplified by Christ, our Savior, King, and Lord.

What is it that He said in another example of sacrificial service? Oh, yeah!

“Now go and do the same” ~ Luke 10:37.

The Nature of Light

“All things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” ~ Ephesians 5:13.

Ponder the nature of light for a moment. What does light do? We use light to penetrate darkness and expose things hidden there. Light helps us walk through dark places without stubbing our toe, caught unaware by dangers lurking in the shadows. Light is the exposer of dangers in the night. That is a good thing, right? Then why, when God, the true Light, exposes something hidden in our dark places, do we run from the truth revealed as if that exposure is the thing that will hurt us?

My experience of the nature of God’s Light revealing a dark corner of my life, is this: that revelation exposes something that puts me or others in danger of falling away from the path God sits before us. God’s revelation of the dark place presents me with opportunity to clear out the things that cause the darkness, bringing the full splendor of Light’s glory to my living places, and setting me free from harm’s way.

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” ~ Ephesians 5:6-13.

Every dark dwelling exposed by the light makes that place light when we address the issue as children of Light. Seeing the things hidden in the dark is opportunity to choose goodness, righteousness and truth. Light’s revelation is opportunity to own our sin and walk free of it. However, what is it that too often happens?

Instead of seeing the opportunity God is giving us to come clean and walk free of our sin, we get self-protective and try to turn the spotlight on contributing factors. We return to the root of sin found in Adam and Eve, who, instead of saying, “Yes, Lord. That is what I did.” They said, “Yes, I did it, but that woman YOU gave me tempted me and, therefore, made me do it.” Or, “That serpent, the devil YOU allowed to enter my garden area beguiled me.”

Too often, when sin is exposed, the offender becomes defensive, putting the offended on offense, drawing the battle lines. Relationship destroyed, the true issue goes unchecked; that true issue being the thing in each individual that opens them to temptation’s snare. God reveals things hidden in the dark for a purpose: to deliver those snared from the thing within them that makes them a target for temptation. Delivering us from the root of sin, sins death no longer has hold on us, bringing glory to Himself and to His children as they follow Him in bearing the fruit of the Light.

When we become defensive, pointing fingers at contributing factors, laying blame anywhere but with our own choice made, refusing to work to recognize the thing within that snared us, we fail to own up to our responsibility. True repentance cannot come when we hold to blaming others. We may not even own our tendency to blame another, but that tendency reveals itself every time we choose to site their part in our excuse.

Blame hinders our ability to discern the pain of the one we blame. Often the things we point out as “cause” of our choice have an underlying factor to it that makes the offence we feel unreasonable. Blinders on, we fail to see the pain of the one who caused us pain. Example:

A husband, looking for an occupation he will enjoy and want to stay with, refuses to get a job digging ditches so he can provide for his family in the interim of finding that perfect position he longs to have for himself. The wife, needing security, increases her workload trying to fill in where hubby is failing. The scenario and frustration of financial issues increasing stress on the wife, she loses faith to trust hubby, no longer respecting him as head of family. Failing to meet her need for security, the husband’s need for respect goes unmet.

Worn out from work and family life, struggling to meet her family’s need, having to get up early to do all again the next day, wife goes to bed, a stress headache and exhaustion destroying libido. Hubby, frustrated at his intimacy needs going unmet, turns to pornography for his gratification. Then one day God shines His Revelation Light, unshrouding the pornography. Wife, trust and her sense of security further assaulted, tries to address the issue without the respect needed to aid her attempts. Hubby blames wife for his addiction, citing her failure to meet his need. Further attack on her sense of security, destructive words fly to ears that cannot hear, as he feels no love or respect. With one storming out the door, clothes in hand, a marriage lies dead in the dust.

Add to that a common scenario in our day: a woman in a second marriage, whose first husband hurt the children because of his addiction to porn. Fear and anger take hold, turning wife into a protective momma-bear. Only perfect love can overcome such fear. Do they have it?

Light shines in the dark places of our lives to reveal a problem. That revelation is our opportunity to own our sin and repent of it, not leaning on any crutch of blame or expectation of the other person involved seeing their part in it. True repentance is between self and God alone. It is saying, “I did it. I chose wrong and sinned against my Holy God and those I love. Forgive me and help me enter into restoration, never to turn that way again.” We will not have the right attitude of heart to repent to those we harmed or address issues with them until we first come into a right relationship with God. Only then can repentance do the things needed to correct the course.

The husband realizes he failed to meet the wife’s need, having put her into a stress that she was ill equipped to handle. He gets a job and corrects his error. The wife, trust and her sense of security growing, gets back to a work and home lifestyle that is manageable. Her security growing, respect starts the trek to full restoration with each day the hubby proves faithful. Next thing he knows, she is the one pursuing intimacy.

The Light has purpose. It is never for harm, but is always set to produce righteousness, goodness, and truth. In order to get the full benefit of God taking the time to shine a light of revelation into our darkness, we must realize the purpose of His Light.

Light protects from dark things overtaking our lives and leading us off the path to a road of destruction (John 12:35).

Light grants opportunity to show oneself strong as a follower of Christ (John 8:12).

Light reveals those who are people of truth, having the fellowship of a right relationship with God and with each other (1 John 1:6-7).

Faithfulness to walk in the Light prevents stumbling and protects us from running away from good things, offended and defensive (1 John 2:10-11).

Beloved, God’s Light reveals the problem He desires to address. The solution for situations such as the one sited in this article is this:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal” ~ John 12:24-25.

The solution is simple ~ unconditional, incorruptible love that dies to oneself in order to meet the need of those loved. True love accepts full blame for sin committed despite the part of the other that spurred bad choices set in hidden places. There is a time to address the contributing factors, but the time of sins revelation is not it. That moment is time for the one caught in sin to own their sin. If one truly loves the person they desire relationship with, they will take up the cross of self-denial and sacrifice their own desires to do what is right, good and true, restoring relationship and meeting the need of those we say we love.

True love is choice. Love is action taken for the good of the one we love, even though it leads to one’s own harm. A husband, seeing the wife’s struggle, realizing her need of security, will dig ditches 12 hours a day to meet her need. A wife, seeing her husband’s frustration, will do her part without stepping too quickly to meet her own need, giving him opportunity to step up and be the man she longs to respect. Both will do their part to meet the need of the other while trusting God to open doors of His storehouse, bringing them closer to their heart’s desire for true security and a well-deserved respect.

Light has a nature. Its nature is revelation of secret or hidden things in dark places that threaten harm to those who come near without light for their path. Its purpose is to provide opportunity to clean the dark corners of life and increase a life producing the fruit of the Light. Therefore, beloved, when hidden things are revealed by the Light working in your life, “Walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”

God’s Light is restorative, not destructive. When our reactions to a dark corner revealing our humiliation is to lash out, we bring more darkness into play. Darkness destroys; but take courage, beloved. God’s light dispels darkness, pushing it back so it does not overcome us. Trust His Light and walk the path it reveals with faith in Him for the good He desires for us as He delivers us from temptations snare and the sin that too easily entangles us because of roots that are not set deep in the foundation of God, our Rock.

“While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light’” ~ John 12:36a.

Pondering Tempest’s Calm

“He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” ~ Mark 4:39, NKJV.

“Peace, be still.” That is the phrase coursing through my mind as I think on this past weekend. A family we greatly love was in for a visit. We were so excited for their arrival, and so exhausted when they left. What exhausted us?

The male head of that family is a man of hot temper. He loses his temper easily, being gruff of speech and very impatient with much frustration coming from his tone of voice and mannerisms. As a result, there was constant fussing among them, bad attitudes in kind from the others of that family, and I felt it within myself at times. Scripture instructs us to avoid men of hot temper, and this rippling of the waters of peace is why we are so warned.

“Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways And find a snare for yourself” ~ Proverbs 22:24-25.

It was exhausting to experience; I can’t fathom living in that day after day. Oh, wait! Yes I can.

As I ponder this issue, I remember my younger years and some days since, when my own temper flared in like manner. I too was raised in a home by a hot tempered mother. Thankfully, as I discovered that temper within myself when my children were young, God worked with me to change my ways.

I learned that such temperament is often a bad habit that can be retrained. Learning a new way where temper is concerned begins with “Peace, be still.”

When my children were little and I found myself sounding too much like my mother, I began seeking the Father for a change of temper. “Peace, be still” is the first step revealed to calmer waters of existence. “Be still and KNOW that I AM GOD” (Psalm 46:10-11). I learned to draw near to God and let Him have control of my temper.

Selah ~ Pause and CALMLY think of that.

I learned to send the kids to their room or sit them in a chair or simply say, “be quiet for a bit”, giving me some time with the Lord to calm down. Disciplining when my temper is flared is never a pathway to peace and cooperation. I may elicit obedience with my temper, but not obedience that is coupled with a right attitude. You know what? Heart attitude is vital to true obedience; and we teach our children obedience to God by the way they obey us.

My husband learned to practice this with me and, in doing so, helped me to change my temperament. When an argument rises between us, he will go out to work on some project giving us each time to cool off. Later we can sit calmly together, being able to truly hear what each has to say, and we can come to agreement without arguing and yelling. The important thing is to make sure we come back together to deal with issues in need of attention. Neglecting to do so can breed bitterness as the problem continues unchecked.

Time out allows me not only to get my temper under control, but it also allows me to rightly evaluate the situation. Sometimes I might realize that the real problem is that I am overly tired to the point that kids being kids is that proverbial straw on that proverbial camel’s broken back. That is truer of me now that I am older and no longer used to having children around. I have to be very careful that my being tired does not cause me to sound off in ill-tempered fervor. If that is the case, the time out itself often fixes the problem. I talk to the kids about mom (or now, “Meeme”) being overly tired and in need of them to do something quiet that will allow me to rest. Voila! Peace is restored and we are in good relations again.

At times when a real issue needs to be dealt with, time out calms me enough so we can discuss the issue in ways that allow us to come to an understanding of the right and better way of things. Discipline (training in righteousness) dictated by calmer minds helps the child and parent or husband and wife adjust their way of thinking and doing. When my temper is under control, I am better able to listen to them and understand what they want or need; and I am better able to express my will and reasoning to them in ways that foster cooperation. With a child, when spanking is in order, it is better done in love with reason when calm is the driving force.

Dealing with a child when frustrated and hot tempered breeds frustration and rebellion in the child. It is what scripture refers to when it says, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart” (Colossians 3:21 ~ this applies to mothers as well). Children – and mates for that matter – who are always assaulted by ill-temper and a bad attitude become people of ill-temper and bad attitude. It is exhausting to live that way because it is like fighting the wind. You know not where and when ill-temper will come, how fierce it will be, or how long it will last. One wind rises up a clashing wave of resistance that hits another and another until the seas of our lives are rolling so hard that destruction is imminent. Scripture rightly warns:

“An angry man stirs up strife, And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression” ~ Proverbs 29:22.

Temper usually comes when we demand our own way, often unreasonably. It is a god-complex that is sin, demanding always to be in control without thought of God and His ways, and without practicing love toward others, caring for one’s own needs and desires over those of others.

There is hope for us as we learn that “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, BUT the slow to anger calms a dispute” ~ Proverbs 15:18.

A hot temper is a bad habit that becomes a snare to all touched by it, robbing of strength, energy, love and relationship. But it can be overcome as we “seek first His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). When we choose to take a time out with some deep, calming breaths, forcing our mind and heart to be still and know God, seeking Him for wisdom, He calms and quiets the storm within just as He did that stormy sea. When we are calm, we then have the capacity to see, hear and know truth, and we can speak wisdom with peace that not only trains up those who hear to walk in righteousness, but it trains them in how to deal with their own temper issues.

Josh McDowell said it well, “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” But relationship spawned out of peaceful waters will produce cooperation that calms the tempest. Which do you want for your relationships?

“Peace, BE STILL!”

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

I wrote the following for my Spark page blog and thought I would share it with you here. SparkPeople is a free healthy lifestyle community I am in. If you struggle to eat right and exercise, it is an excellent site providing resource materials, tools for a successful journey, support from other members, and teams to challenge our journey forward. Whether you are young and relatively healthy, handicapped and in need of support, or older and in need of encouragement to change long held habits, their is a support system for you at http://www.sparkpeople.com. (If you join SparkPeople, tell them TRANSFORM-ABBY  sent you and it will link us as friends. Then be sure to tell me who you are.)

So here is today’s blog share with you:

Choose Life! What does that mean anyway?

Scripture encourages us to Choose life. That phrase hit my heart this morning as I reread my own status, and I wondered with regard to our Spark journey, “What does that mean anyway?”

My first thoughts went to the passage itself for my answer (Deuteronomy 30). In that passage it tells us to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. So to choose life on this journey is to:

Do good toward ourselves and, in the doing, to do it for those we love as well. When we eat right, we are doing good for self. And providing good things for self generally will make that same provision available for those we love so they, too, wind up eating better. When we do good toward ourselves by moving our bods and making sure we get needed activity it is good for us, yes, but it also provides an example worth following for our children and grandchildren, and even opportunity for them, our mates and other loved ones and friends to join us. So choosing life is to choose the good by doing what is best for ourselves with that good having the potential to impact those closest to us. And doing good for self adds strength to our days so we are better able to do for others.

Choose blessing: I have a note up on my bathroom mirror that reads, “Choose the things that matter most.” Choosing blessing is to have right priorities so that we are blessed in life, enjoying the good things in it, and so we are a blessing in life, giving self and giving our best to others. The example that came to mind is to know when spending time with that grandbaby that is visiting is more important than making sure the furniture is dusted. And which is more important? A baby that feels loved and safe, or harping at them in anger over the fingerprints left for us to clean? Choose blessing by having right priorities.

There are so many thoughts in scripture to direct us in how to choose life: “set your mind and keep it set on the things above, the higher things” (Colossians 3, AMP); “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…do not merely look out for your own personal interests” (Philippians 2); “treat others as you would like to be treated”. And Luke 6:31-33 brings me full circle as it instructs:

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.  If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.”

Agape love loves others as we love ourselves, doing good to them, having their best interests at heart. It is not based upon a system of reward only for those we feel deserve it. It is based on who we are. And love for others begins with a love for God that knows how to love oneself, and love others in kind. If I will not do something to or toward myself because it would not be good for me, I must not do that to others. If I do good for another, but fail to do the same for myself, I have committed self-neglect. I cannot take proper care of others if I fail to meet my own needs so I have strength and energy to care for others. Thus we are right back to the point of fact that to have life abundant and full, we must do good toward ourselves and others.

Choose life, beloved, and this journey will be a true blessing that makes a life-journey worth taking.

The Representation of God’s Nature

“And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact REPRESENTATION OF HIS NATURE, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they” ~ Hebrews 1:3-4.

CrossDaily05Jesus is our example of One representing the very nature of the Father, and He calls to us, “Come. Follow Me.” When we choose to follow, we become His living stones. Just as Jesus is the Living Corner Stone, we are being chiseled into the very image of God in Christ Jesus. Peter expresses our call as image bearers in 1 Peter 2, telling us that we, as living stones, are…

“a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” ~ vs. 9-12.

As royal priests, we are representatives of God and His interests in the world. The more we know Him, the better our understanding and comprehension of His nature will be. In knowing His nature, the better we will know His ways. And the better we know His ways, the more clearly stated will be our representation of Him, His glory, and His interests.

This is what I believe was the problem for the people of God in Moses’ day: they refused the invitation to experience God for themselves, preferring instead for Moses to relate with Him on their behalf (Exodus 19:16-20:26). Failing to choose to know Him for themselves, they did not have relational experience of His presence to help them stand firm in His ways, and they wound up falling away from the Living God. God calls us to individual relationship with Him still today. And still today, the choice is our own to make, whether or not we will walk with Him.

Paul tells us that once we choose relationship with God through Christ, we become His representatives in the world with a charge to be His light where we are. As God’s representatives, we are continually stripping off the old, unregenerate self in order to put on the new, spiritual self, “which is ever in the process of being renewed and remolded into fuller and more perfect knowledge upon knowledge after the image and likeness of Him Who created it.” And as Paul continues in Colossians 3, He implores us:

“Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones – His own picked representatives, who are purified and holy and well-beloved by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, and patience, which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper. Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference, a grievance or complaint against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has freely forgiven you, so must you also forgive. And above all these put on love and enfold yourselves with this bond of perfectness which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony. And let the peace – soul harmony which comes from Christ rule and act as umpire continually in your hearts, deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state to which as members of Christ’s one body you were also called to live. And be thankful, giving praise to God always. Let the word spoken by Christ have its home in your hearts and minds, and let it dwell in you in all its richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom in spiritual things, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with His grace in your hearts. And whatever you do – no matter what it is in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus and in dependence upon His Person, giving praise to God the Father through Him” ~ vs. 12-17, AMP.

This is our calling and equipping, beloved, as true representatives in Christ, fulfilling the purpose and bringing to completion the interests of Father in the earth. But this is only a beginning of our knowledge. For more clear understanding, each individual of us must seek to know Him for ourselves; and one main place He is found is in the pages of His Word. Learn it so as to have it dwelling within so that you may live it.

Father, as Jesus represented Your very nature, so are we to follow His example. You not only call us to be Your representatives in this life, but You equip us for it, filling us to the full with all that You are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, and more. We are fully supplied to shine Your nature to the world so that they may know You and so they may know Your ways. Grant us to walk by the Spirit so that we will not carry out the deeds of the flesh. In Jesus, glorify Yourself in our very nature. Amen.

My Desire Playlist (8 songs) ~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=113H_ySsBYg&index=3&list=PLfiEjLIYhJ9AfidNKH4ify2vg0Z5t-SSj

All scripture is in New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise stated.