Tag Archives: Overcomers

Reach for the Prize

We, the people of God in Christ Jesus, are both fully perfected in Christ as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; and we are simultaneously continually being perfected until the day of Christ, when He is fully revealed in us.

Though we are eternal beings raised to newness of life in Christ, we still live in human flesh that tries to resurrect itself as a dominant force. We have earthbound thinking to overcome, bad habits to change, and a higher calling to walk into.

Long ago, I was impressed by God to stop setting resolutions to try to improve my flesh, and start setting my aim to reach the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. As I turned my attention to reaching for that prize, Father began showing me in scripture a mile marker for that year. My first prize assignment was to grow my knowledge of God in greater, ever increasing intimacy (Philippians 3:10-11, AMPC).

Growing intimacy with God requires time in His Word so He can point our hearts to the prize we are to reach for. My encouragement today is for a commitment to seek God in His Word, asking Him to show us the prize we are to reach for. Get into God’s Word, watching for Him to highlight the prize He has for you to attain in this coming year. Get your spiritual eyes on that prize and watch in awe as He opens His Word and opportunities to help your growth and position you for victory in grabbing that ring in victory.

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. …” (1 Peter 2:1-5 NASB)

Philippians 3:7-16 NASB

Finding Who We Are: Part 14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Hebrews 13:1-25 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 12

The Testimony of Kingdom Coming: The Testament of God

“… Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God. … Urged on by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise. … These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth. Now those people who talk as they did show plainly that they are in search of a fatherland (their own country). …” (Hebrews 11:5, 8-9, 13-14 AMPC)

Chapter 11 of Hebrews brings hope to many people of faith as testimony of people of faith through the ages rolls across its verse. Reading through these precious words today, I see mere humans, lauded for a great faith that led to actions bearing testimony of their faithful God. Several things I note as I read:

First these are people of faith who trusted the same perfect God of promise, but these are not perfect people. Abraham fell more than once to fear: faith’s biggest enemy. Moses, a Christlike leader of God’s people, struggled with anger issues that led to doing things his way instead of God’s way. David, the mighty warrior with a heart for God, committed adultery, then tried to cover it up by committing murder. Yet, though they did not behave perfectly and had to repent more than once, these made the faith hall of fame as recipients of God’s faithfulness.

Second, every promise given is fulfilled, but none saw all fulfilled in their lifetime, and some we still wait for we know as finished in the eternal though we still do not see it. This fact is a picture of faith. And this walk of faith we live bears a testimony of God.

Beloved, we who believe God and trust by faith are His living, breathing, testament, adding daily to God’s faith hall of fame.

“And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised, Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].” (Hebrews 11:39-40 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-C

Into the Holy of Holies

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“…Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:2-4 NASB)

Lifting up the incense censor of personal relationship with Jesus, who has gone before us as a cloud to fill the mercy seat, we do something no ordinary, secondary priest has been allowed before. The old curtain torn away, we enter, having access through Christ to the Holy Presence of the Father, entering safely into the Holy of Holies, our sin covered: set free indeed.

I can sense the awe, the wonder, the reverential, holy fear and abandon that causes me to fall on my face in worship and surrender, acknowledging of His worthiness and sovereignty. Daring to lift eyes to look around, I see the Ark of covenant laid open before us, for our consideration. We are in the Presence of the Holy One. In this instant, nothing else matters as the glory of His Glory rises in us.

As I am there, I realize a familiar place I have been to and been touched by many times in my LifeWalk in Christ: an absolute, undeniable unity with this Holy.

Even now, Beloved, prostrate together with you, I realize that God has already answered the prayer of Jesus for us to be one with them as He and the Father are one. We just have to recognize, trust, and walk out this union. In these days of my life experience, I grow stronger daily in this realization. The rested assurance of being one in Christ: of being part of His very body. His very thought flowing to and through me as every neuron in me connects in surrender to my place in Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect at it yet, and I, too, frequently fight on the battlefield of the mind with the weapons of war that God provides. Taking every thought captive in likeness to the obedience of Christ, daily I grow stronger roots into my eternal reality. And I believe that every breath of this reality that I realize, makes up an undeniable experience of this Holy that will, on the day I fully stand before Him, make this familiar a true homecoming.

As I look at the Ark, open to view, I see the things of God that make this Holy our living reality today: the Ark of the covenant with its mercy seat and covering angels; the golden jar of manna; the budding rod; and the tables of the covenant.

The Ark of the covenant with its mercy seat and covering angels is full of symbolism, a reminder of truths we can still cling to, today. Because of Jesus, us being His body, and Him our covering, we see the faithfulness of God in the Ark before us. We know we can trust His mercy toward us because of Christ in us, the place where Jesus stands between our sin nature and God’s wrath, freeing us from the bonds of death.

The Ark is a visual for the faithful Presence of God, Who is with us and for us so that none can be successfully against us. As He went before the people of Israel, making a way for them, so He does for us who believe and trust His direction and protection.

The Golden jar of manna is assurance of God’s faithful provision. Reminder that we can trust Him with our physical need. No need we face in life is beyond God to meet according to His riches in glory.

The budding rod was proof and reminder to Aaron and God’s people that Aaron was the chosen high priest of there day. It ended all dispute for the people, and it squelched any insecurity in Aaron. He WAS chosen.

For us, Jesus is The Chosen and Eternal High Priest. We, too, are the chosen tribe of Jesus, representing His Priesthood before The Father and in the world. We are set apart in Christ, by God, as His Temple on Earth and in service to it for His glory.

We never have to question God’s calling and choosing us. As people of God in Christ, we simply must possess our position as Priest unto God, trust the sign of the budding rod before us, know our role in His Temple, and do our role. Because of Christ, our time with the Father in the secret place of His holiness provides that budding rod of assurance for us.

As for Israel, the tables of the covenant bear constant reminder to the people that God alone is God. There is no other. His ways are simple and straightforward, and we are to follow in His ways. The laws given provide the measuring rod that leads to repentance. Jesus is the embodiment of God’s Holy Word, making Him the measuring rod by which we are to live, breathe, and find our being, all of which we accomplish by the strength producing grace of God through Christ.

Beloved, as I think on these things, rejoicing in Christ, bowed here before my God and King, I realize that, in the new covenant of Christ, our procession through the temple worship starts and ends here. While Israel started at the door to the outer court and the sanctifying sacrifice at the Altar of Sacrifice, making atonement for themselves before continuing on through the temple service, being stopped at the door of the Holy of Holies, we begin and end our day in the Holy of Holies: in the very Presence of God in all His glory. Only as we start our day here can we press forward in full provision for service.

We start by remembering God’s law and the sacrifice of Jesus that sanctifies and sets us free. We praise God for His calling and choosing us in Christ, possessing and committing ourselves to that service. We entrust all our need to His provision and rest ourselves in His constant and sure Presence with us: in His faithfulness to lead us.

Stepping out in and through Christ, into the Holy Place, we light the incense altar from the fires of our Christ, filling the Holy of Holies with praise and gratitude for God’s loving care, lifting the known needs of others to Him. We stop at His Lampstand, check our Oil, and make sure we bear His Light. We feast ourselves at His table, filling ourselves with the milk, honey, bread, and meat of His Word.

Departing with Christ all over and in us, we enter outer court service. Stopping to check our face in the Laver of cleansing, we wash our feet and the feet of those with us. Prepared for service, we stand at the altar to await our first arrival. Busying ourselves with the good work and daily cares that God entrusts to us. We move freely throughout the rooms of the Temple as need and as opportunity presents itself to us, going in and out of the Holy of Holies as needed to replenish ourselves throughout the day.

At end of day, we reverse course, stopping at the cross to thank God for His sacrificial gift to us. Checking our face in the mirrors of God’s image, we take time needed to wash feet. Entering through the veil of the Holy Place, we feast from God’s table, trim the lamps and check our oil. We light the incense with gratitude for God’s work in our day, offering prayers for the needs before us. Then crossing that blessed threshold into the awe inspiring Presence of our God, King, and Father, we find our place of rest in Him and settle in where personal replenishing takes place, making us ready for the morrow.

Beloved, we are the Temple of our God, and we recognize that the new and vital Holy of Holies is our personal place of meeting with God: the secret place of communion where we fill up with Him. Enter into His service and glory in our God.

“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” (John 16:26-27 NASB)

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B3

Holy Place, Part 3 – The Table of Incense

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:2-4 NASB)

This passage in Hebrews makes it sound like the altar of incense was inside the Holy of Holies, but it wasn’t. However, as we will see, it is so vital to service in the Holy of Holies that it makes sense they would see it as part of that glorious room. According to God’s instruction to Moses in Exodus 30:1-10, the altar of incense was placed in the Holy Place, in front of the entrance to the Holy of Holies. God’s instructions for Arron, the High Priest, are as follows:

“Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; he shall burn it every morning when he trims the lamps. When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations” (vs. 7-8).

Perpetual is never ending or changing. It is to occur repeatedly; so frequent as to be endless and uninterrupted.

Two things to note: One, that no one was to enter the Holy of Holies except once a year on the Day of Atonement. That tells us that the altar had to be outside the curtain, because the High Priest tended the incense daily, in order for it to be perpetual before the Lord.

Second: no other sacrifice was made on this altar, with the exception of the ritual of blood on the Day of Atonement. There was prescribed incense that was for use on this altar. Exodus 30:34-38 gives specific instruction for the incense, a special blend that is holy to the Lord only and not to be used in the same proportions for personal pleasure. It is the Lord’s. God also warns in verse 9 of Exodus 30, “You shall not offer any strange incense on this altar, or burnt offering or meal offering; and you shall not pour out a drink offering on it.”

Other facts gleaned about the incense altar include the fact that the fire for the incense is taken from the hot coals of the sacrifice, beginning with the sacrifice for the priests given each morning, and being part of the ritual with many offerings, such as the peace offering.

Commentaries, along with scriptures describing the Day of Atonement rites, tell us that the smoke and scent from the incense altar wafted up and moved through crevices around the heavy curtain covering the Holy of Holies. On the Day of Atonement, after the sacrifice, the priest was to burn the incense before entering the Holy of Holies. The scripture specified that the cloud of smoke from the incense altar would “fill the mercy seat”, making it safe for the priest to enter. (Leviticus 16:13)

Another telling passage to note is the story of Korah’s rebellion. Korah committed the sin of Lucifer (Satan), that of the pride of thinking more highly of himself than he ought. (Numbers 16:1-50 NASB)

Jealous of Aaron’s position, Korah came to Moses claiming to be righteous and worthy to hold the High Priest’s office. He led 249 others to follow with the same claim. God instructed them to come before Him, bringing censors with burning incense before the Lord. You can read the account of God’s choice of Aaron and Moses and the demise of Korah in Numbers 16. But it is the rebellion of God’s people on the following day that gives a vital picture of the purpose and significance of the altar of incense:

“But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD’S people.” It came about, however, when the congregation had assembled against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tent of meeting, and behold, the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” Then they fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!” Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. HE TOOK HIS STAND BETWEEN THE DEAD AND THE LIVING, so that the plague was checked. But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the doorway of the tent of meeting, for the plague had been checked.” (Numbers 16:41-50 NASB)

Note the tendency to blame anyone other than those who did the deed. Sound familiar.

Beloved, the cross of Calvary is our coals of sacrifice. Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, is our incense; and He is the one who floods the mercy seat, ever living to intercede on our behalf. By Him, we enter the Holy of Holies into the very Presence of God. Through Him we intercede for others, as He takes our prayers and praises to the Father, a fragrant aroma, pleasing to God.

One important thing to note from the rebellion of Korah against the chosen: the difference between them was their heart attitude and surrender to God’s will. We, as priests unto God, chosen by Him in Christ, must bear this heart of humble surrender to Him in our service on behalf of mankind. We must take credit due us for our sin, own it, and, with wholehearted fervor, be quick to repent. We can stand, assured of our priestly rights, when we hold the censor and trust our Altar of Incense in our serving.

As Jesus takes His stand between the dead and the living, we serve as His representatives by standing in intercession for those of this world in need of a Savior. We stand for the needs of those in the body of Christ. We stand in service at the pleasure of the Father because Jesus takes His stand for us. Because of Christ, that heavy curtain is torn asunder, and Christ, the Savior, ushers us into the presence of the Lord God, our Father. Trust in the Sacrificial Lamb is the incense we burn before the Lord. He is our Seed of sacrifice. Bow down and worship the Lord for His glorious gift to us!

“For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11 NASB)

AMEN!

Finding Who We Are: Part 9

Read: Hebrews 8:1-13 NASB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 8

Read: Hebrews 7:1-28 NASB

“For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, ” YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.” … The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. …” (vs. 13-17; 23-25)

Jesus is Priest forever because of an indestructible life, in likeness to Melchizedek, servant and priest to the One True God. We, as servant-ambassadors of Christ and priests unto God through Him, enter into this indestructible life. Our days are eternal with Him, as is our priesthood. That should get a resounding AMEN!

Our life here is but a breath. It is ordained and dictated by the Father, who loves us. We can trust Him, whatever comes our way, for we know that He alone is good, and He desires the greatest good for us.

I believe that there are things we need to know and understand about our God, and those things can only truly be known by walking the hills and valleys of this life. Thus, God desiring us to truly know Him, allows a life here where hills and valleys reside.

As we learn and grow, we have opportunities to help others learn and grow. Jesus ever lives to intercede on our behalf so we can accomplish our purpose of knowing God and making Him known: the high calling of a priest in God’s court.

Our eternal existence with God in Christ started the day of our rebirth. Death, the eternal separation from God that was in us before receiving Christ, died to us when we united with Jesus. Our old life passed away. Behold! We are a new creation in Christ. And that new creation will live on, though these flesh bodies die. With our new life came the BLESSed opportunity to be the expression of Heaven on earth.

“The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17 NASB)

Beloved, as we truly discern our eternal state and the life of Christ that dwells in and desires to continue through us as one with Him, that is when true righteousness can get hold of all we are. In that holy estate we find deep, abiding peace that umpires and stabilizes our souls. Out of that peace flows joy, true joy from the rivers of His Spirit, everlasting and indestructible joy in God alone. Heaven, expressed in the earth.

An indestructible life, that is what we are in Christ. Rejoice today, Beloved, and let no hardship rob you of the unity we have as His Kingdom people. Learn of God and be indestructible people of God.

Finding Who We Are: Part 7

Hebrews 6:1-20 NASB

“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us….” (6:17-18)

Heirs of Promise! THAT is who we are, through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

I could say, “Rejoice!” and stop there. Enough said. But there’s gold in this here Word, so let’s mine it.

First we see in vs. 17-18 that as heirs of the promises of the Father with Christ, those promises give us hope. But hope set before us is nothing until we grasp hold of it. Grasping our hope in God’s promises requires us to “get it”. We grasp it through comprehensive understanding of the true meaning of each promise. We grab it and hold tight through comprehensive understanding of the fullness of God, recognizing His thoughts as higher than ours, and that His idea of a timetable is set to a different clock. With full understanding in hand, we grab to His promises by trusting faith, receiving them as our very own hope. They belong to us, corporately and individually, in Christ.

For the sake of the whole Body of Christ, it is vital that each part grasp God’s promises personally. We are all responsible to grow strong in faith, for the body is only as healthy as it’s weakest link.

We see it all the time, one member of the body, weakened by insecurity that comes to those with wavering faith and little hope, falls to sin-sickness. Infectious, it spreads to more and more, until the whole body of believers falls apart, and a church dies. The infection of sin-sickness is what led Paul to write 1 Corinthians 5. “…Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” (5:6)

Beloved, hope, the hope of promise made sure, is vital to health.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (6:19-20)

The promises of God, possessed and trusted, anchor us, holding us stable and secure despite what our eyes see. Whatever storm in life, we are secure, unhindered by fear, never swayed by wind or wave.

Driving home after dropping hubby off for work this morning, my attention was captivated by leaves on the roadway. Being driven by the wind, they were dancing, free and unabated. It was beautiful and joyous.

When we have a firm grip on God’s Word to us, no storm in life can rob of strength, hope, Joy, and fervency. We carry on, fueled by faith’s assurance, able to dance in the Spirit before the God we trust.

“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.” And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.” (6:13-16)

God rewards faithfulness! As we bear the fruit of patience into the world and through every storm, trusting God for His promises fulfilled, we reveal Christ to those witnesses watching us. People need the Lord. Our right and good waiting moments proves character and shines the Light of glory into the Earth, making eternal use of the opportunity found in our wait. Doing so with joy, peace, and perseverance, captivates the audience: bringing rejoicing to those who know such hope; and drawing those who don’t into the fold, desiring to find it for themselves.

“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (6:9-12)

Through diligence, we realize the full assurance of hope until the end. Hope is the product of assurance raised up in us as we believe in the promises of God by faith, trusting, as Heirs, that we will have our hope fulfilled.

Through our diligent faith, we become imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Our growth as heirs of promise assures that we leave behind the elementary teachings about the Christ to press on to maturity (6:1-8).

See also

2 Peter 1:2-4 NASB

1 Corinthians‬ ‭5:6‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Finding Who We Are: Part 6c

“Concerning Him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:1-14 NASB)

As Priests unto God in Christ, heirs with Him as the children of God, we are to grow to full maturity. This passage says two things about the maturity we are to attain.

First we should grow in knowledge and understanding of the oracles or Word of God. This doesn’t only mean the written word, the general knowledge of what it says. It means growth in ability to apply God’s truths to life in our age. It also means ability to seek God and discern His true response.

The author of this passage points out that he is not seeing the growth there should be in the specific people he addresses with this letter, because they have become dull of hearing. We have the same problem today. People deem the word as archaic and refuse to hear. Others claim it’s words were for that people group addressed and can’t apply to us today. And, as has been the norm with mankind from the beginning, we fail to hear because we want what we want, and listening with receptive ears might rob us of having our desire.

Secondly, as priests unto God, part of our responsibility is to speak, teach, share, and live the truth of scripture. The author, whom I believe was Paul, points out that, because of our failure to hear the oracles of God, we fail to grow in our role as teachers. As mature Christians, we should be able to help the learning and growth of others.

Maturing in our ability to know the truth as God defined it, we should have senses trained to discern good and evil. When we know not only the oracles, but God who ordained the Word, drawing ever nearer to Him who is good, righteous, and true, we more readily recognize things in opposition to Him.

As priests unto God, it is vital that we be people of The Word, not only knowing the Words themselves, but having personal knowledge of the Eternal Orator who spoke His good Word into and through the hearts of men like Paul. We are people called and equipped to know God intimately, drawing ever closer to Him. And we are charged to be people He can use to encourage, instruct, and mature others.

Finding Who We Are: Part 5

“While the promise of entering His rest still holds and is offered [today], let us be afraid [to distrust it], lest any of you should think he has come too late and has come short of [reaching] it. For indeed we have had the glad tidings [Gospel of God] proclaimed to us just as truly as they [the Israelites of old did when the good news of deliverance from bondage came to them]; but the message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness) by those who heard it; neither were they united in faith with the ones [Joshua and Caleb] who heard and did believe.” (Hebrews 4:1-2 AMPC)

We are a people of faith, believing God and trusting Him with every fiber of our being. That is what God expects from those who are His. That faith to trust and believe God leads us to a life of peace that reveals His rest at work in us.

We are a people who put our trust in the work, will, and way of The Triune God, finding our rest in Him as we lean our entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness. True, abiding faith to trust God unites us with Him in thought, word, and actions.

Thought: all true thought is wrapped up in the Father, the God-head. True thought and true wisdom is from Him, who knows all things, even the date and time of the last day, and He makes truth known, revealing Himself, His will, His ways, to those who wholeheartedly seek Him in earnest. Thus, He calls us to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” and to “think on these things, the higher things that are true, right, pure, lovely, excellent, worthy of praise” (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Philippians 4:8-9).

Word (Jesus): Jesus knows and always, from beginning of time, speaks the true Word of God, coming from the very thoughts and intentions of Father, the God-Head. I believe that Jesus has always been the Angel of the Lord, God’s visible manifestation, bringing the Message of God to His people. He always speaks the truth of God, revealing the intent of God, and He came as our Incarnate Lord God to correct our understanding and show the true way of Life in unity with God’s perfection. He is our example, the Lord of our lives, and we are expected to be as He is, following in His footprints.

The Spirit of God is that part of Him that equips and empowers right and true discernment, leading to productive and eternally effective action. We are instructed to be filled and overflowing with Him, cooperating with Him so that His power and affect flow through us.

Surrendering to The Triune in the power and leading of His Spirit, we become one in thought, word, and actions, just as did Jesus. This is the path of ONE, the achievement of the desired unity between The Triune and the Body.

Father led me to look at Philippians 1:6 in The Passion Translation the other day. I love it! The way it reads seems to say that He will keep working in us until He can unveil us to reveal the very image of Christ in us! That is the desire of The Triune for us and it is the desired end of the work of God’s Spirit in us. Love that. Make it so, Father. Grant us faith to persevere and fully cooperate with the work of Your Presence set to overflow in us.

“I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Philippians 1:6 TPT)

Finding Who We Are: Part 3

“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18 NASB)

Listen to what this says and, considering who we are in Christ, take heart.

Jesus came in flesh so that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, having experienced life as we know it. This leaves the impression that He came to know hunger, thirst, hurt, pain, and all the issues of human flesh so that He would understand in a way that grew His mercy muscles and increased the nature of His faithfulness, all of which was already perfect.

I don’t believe He did so because He did not know and understand; after all, God is All Knowing. I believe His need of personal experience of life in flesh was more so we can know with assurance that He understands. His suffering increased His ability to serve as High Priest, being better able to sympathize from a stance of personal experience.

The New Living Translation of verse 18 says, “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.” No one can look at Him on judgement day and say, “But, God, you don’t understand!” When we know someone does understand from experience, we more readily receive their encouragement. Beloved, we can know that God Incarnate understands.

Do I fully understand passages like this that speak as if Jesus had to grow. No, it blows my finite mind. I have spent two days trying to write this so as to explain the indescribable. Here’s the point I see that we need to grasp and understand as we grow into who we are in Christ.

Jesus, called and equipped as High Priest, suffered in human flesh in part to strengthen His ability to fulfill His role. We, too are called to a priestly role as part of the Royal Priesthood Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 2:9. Just like Jesus, we must realize that some of the things God allows us to suffer will be to increase our ability to serve in that blessed ministry.

Going through a hardship makes us better able to sympathize. In those seasons, we learn what is helpful and what is not. We gain a right to speak into the lives of others and a credibility that helps others hear. Sometimes suffering is simply purposed to make us God’s comforters to the hurting.

Are you going through a hard time? Know it has a purpose and, in Christlikeness, become a willing student so you can be a godly Priest.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Colossians 1:24 NASB)

See also 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NASB.

Finding Who We Are: Part 2

Hebrews 1:3, 8-9 NASB

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“…YOU HAVE LOVED RIGHTEOUSNESS AND HATED LAWLESSNESS…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Lesson From Father’s Gymnasium

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalms 27:14 NASB)

Good morning, Beloved of God. I don’t know about you, but I needed this Word this morning. As I read it today, Father tells my weary heart, “Yes, wait on Me, but do so in strength with courage. Practice active waiting that carries on with life while watching for Me.”

This Word is not new instruction to me. This has been His Word to me from the beginning of our current journey. But tiredness often brings us to rest stops; and weariness requires directional reminders.

You see, God is stretching my perseverance muscles as never before.

In days past, Father has used hard situations and waiting moments to increase faith, hope, trust, and perseverance in me. Usually, He will cause my waiting to take me beyond the limits of strength to carry on, then relieve the tension and give rest until the next perseverance challenge. Just like working our muscles, we increase the amount of weight we lift a little at a time. As the weight becomes easier to lift, we add more weight.

Opportunities to persevere puts us in God’s gym, where faith and hope and trust are increased, strengthened, and stretched, and our character is built up and made strong.

I know you have been to His gym many times as well. No child of God can get out of that membership. It is a required course, for “… we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Romans 5:1-5 NASB)

The problem with this season my husband and I are walking through in his health challenge is that there are two potential outcomes, and it is not clear yet which way it will go. Will God allow him to continue life here with me, or will He take him to life in His Presence in glory? Will his healing be here, or there? There is a fork in the proverbial road we are standing at, hand in hand. Will we carry on together, or let go and separate?

As I type that, I realize where my thinking is off.

I am seeing us standing at the fork, the bifurcation acting as a roadblock before me. I must realize we aren’t truly there yet. My husband is doing well, carrying on with life. He is not in his death bed yet. That place of separation is somewhere down the path, not yet in sight.

I’m jumping ahead on the path.

What is it Jesus said? “Do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:34 NASB)

God is telling me to own THIS DAY, this moment, this breath He gives me to use for His glory. Looking ahead to try to face something I can’t truly even see yet is only robbing me of strength for my now reality.

Yes! I needed this Word today, Beloved. How about you?

“Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. …“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.” (Hebrews 10:24 NASB; Psalms 27:14 NASB)

The Narrow Focus

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

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

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

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

Temptation’s Lure: My Passion

A Comprehensive Look at James 1:14 (In context)

“Each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” NASB

Temptation: we all face it at one time or another. It is even said of Jesus that He, too was tempted, even as we are, yet without sin (1). Truly, temptation is opportunity to choose whether we will do evil or do good. Jesus’s first, most vital desire in all things, at all times, was God.

Jesus was God incarnate, yes. Jesus was filled and empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, yes. But He was still a man who contended with human flesh. The thing about the desires Jesus surrendered Himself to, is His fear of, trust in, and desire to please God that kept Him on the straight and narrow path of always choosing good over evil, so as to always please His Father and bring Him glory. He was dictated by lusts, desires, passions set on God, His will, and His way, ONLY. He did not give leeway to His flesh.

As I look at this verse in several translations, I find understanding that can help us follow in likeness to the example of Christ.

“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” NLT

Lusts are focused on the attainment of all our hearts desire. If we are not watchful to keep our desires in line with God, His will and His way, those desires can not only be used to entice us to sin; those desires can grab us and drag us away from the paths of God’s choosing.

Have you ever committed to stay away from a desire, like sweets, only to find yourself running straight to it. I have! In that instant, not only do I find myself eating a sweet, I often fall into gorging myself on them. My lust, desire, passion, literally drags me away from my commitment.

The passion of the Christ was God: first, foremost, and always. That passion protected Him from being dragged elsewhere. Clue?

“Every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).” AMPC

Have you ever found yourself blaming the devil, the temptress, or anyone but self, because they sat the temptation in front of you? I have. It is hard to take the blame for our failures. But truth is, it is our own desires, passions, lusts, that cause our fall.

We alone are to blame when temptation comes and we fall away. We fail to keep our desires in line with godliness, and make ourselves a target. Not only do we make self a target, but we fail to have the right arsenal against the attack of our flesh by having evil passions under our belt. The only passion that can save us from ourselves is desire for God alone. Only then will we do the things that please Him, like studying His Word, so we have knowledge of truth under our belt.

“Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” NIV

It’s “MY”evil desire to blame. Each person is responsible for their own demise. The phenomenon of the individual falling into the group mentality of a chaotic mob is not the mobs fault. There is some desire in that individual that is responsible for their own fall from righteousness. They wanted something that joining the mob could feed them, so they chose the evil of the mob over the good of walking the other way alone.

“Instead it is each person’s own desires and thoughts that drag them into evil and lure them away into darkness.” TPT

When we give self over to the lusts of our flesh, failing to give self to godly pursuits, we leave the Light and walk off into the darkness. Our greatest aid against fleshly desires, lusts, passions, is the transforming of our minds that change the fleshly to the godly (God-centered) pursuits. The more we want Him, the more we want to please Him, the more we desire all He has for us and gives to us, the better off we will be and the closer to His Light we will stay.

“People are tempted when they are drawn away and trapped by their own evil desires.” GNB

We set our own trap, providing the cheese to lure us, when we fail to align our desires with God’s. The tempter knows what to put in his trap, because we give it to him.

One last fact I found comes from the Orthodox Jewish Bible, which introduces us to the “Yetzer Hara”:

“But each one is tempted by his own ta’avah (lust, yetzer hara), being dragged off by it and being allured.” OJB

“In Judaism, yetzer hara (Hebrew: יֵצֶר הַרַע‎) refers to the congenital inclination to do evil, by violating the will of God. … The yetzer hara is not a demonic force, but rather man’s misuse of things the physical body needs to survive.” (From Wikipedia – Also see Self Seduction by Jewish author Dr. Alan Morinis)

“Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer.” James 1:13-15 MSG

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who LOVE HIM. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. DO NOT BE DECEIVED, my beloved brethren.” James 1:12-16 NASB

1 – Hebrews 4:15

Glorious Unfolding

Glorious Unfolding by Steven Curtis Chapman

The Glorious Unfolding, such an uplifting lyric any day; but on this day!

As I listened to the beginning lyrics, God opened my spiritual ears to hear, with clarity, His “voice” speaking hope to my heart in the words so skillfully sung.

“Lay your head down tonight. Take a rest from the fight. Don’t try to figure it out. Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart. ‘Cause I know this is not anything like you thought the story of YOUR life was gonna be. And it feels like the end has started closing in on you, but it’s just not true. There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold.

“And this is going to be a glorious unfolding. Just you wait and see and you will be amazed. You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over. So hold on to every promise God has made to us and watch this glorious unfolding. …”

Such great encouragement, not just for eternity, but for every difficulty in life today. The heartache of watching a mate lose ground in a devastating health battle. The wayward son or daughter living lives we never dreamed or wanted for them; lives they never saw for themselves. One’s own health or life situation closing a dream path, an opportunity seemingly never to come again. Storms rising to destroy all we have, and life as we know it seems suddenly to end. So many heartbreaking situations; yet the words of this song, the encouragement found there, shatters the hopelessness and helplessness with one fell swoop of assurance in God.

He is up to something marvelous; something amazing; something beyond one’s ability to fathom, much less to dream it. The sudden devastation that seems to end everything may simply be a course change that requires a new beginning.

Nothing is too difficult for God. He is never taken by surprise or unprepared. He is not only writing our story on this road we travel. He is writing HIS story. And He is ready and thoroughly equipped to WIN.

Just like in scripture: it’s not just a bunch of stories of many peoples’ lives. It’s the story of God, at work in and through the lives of many. That story continues in and through us: our lives made complete and beautiful by Him working with and in us. Because of Him, there is a glorious unfolding coming to us who wait to see Him with earnest expectation and hope of glory, trusting and believing and KNOWING that He IS working in our everyday situations.

We are part of His life tapestry, and His tapestry is gloriously beautiful and perfect in every way. Wait for it!

Paint Your Picture by Julie Myer

Incidental Temptation

I wrote the following one year ago, on the 12th of 2017. It’s funny, because as I read in Hebrews this morning, thought of writing about the temptation Christ faced every day of His life was brought to heart. Then here it is, in my memories, ready to post.

It’s long, but hopefully it is well written enough to help us know that, if our Savior faced temptation, we will too. As you read it, I pray you realize that He who successfully faced every assault the tempter threw, can surely empower our victory, too.

Incidental Temptation: Opportunity to Choose Good or Bad

Written 10/12/17 by Darlene Davis

Good day to you. I woke up feeling so great! Wow! I didn’t have any pain all night that I know of, then I got out of bed and realized that I am not there yet. Ugh.

It’s amazing how sapped of energy I felt with so little movement. For those who did not read my post yesterday, I went to the doctor with some weird symptoms and chest pain. They suspect Angina and are setting up a stress test. And I just got going good with Grow Young Fitness!

The PA noticed my weight loss as she evaluated my chest pain and, once she knew it was on purpose, she was pleased. She said that I may exercise as long as I am not hurting. The ache is still there, so I will have to take it slow today.

Isn’t that the way life too often is? We get our feet under us in doing something we need or long to do, and something happens to hinder us or test our resolve.

All this attack against my health is upsetting, yes, but it got me thinking about temptation and things God is teaching me. Temptation is much more than a plate of cookies on a table or a bottle of wine in the hand of the addicted. Everything in this life comes with temptation. With the chest pain comes the temptation to lay down and act sick even when I feel better, tempting me to give in to fear of causing more pain. It tempts me to give myself back to my habit of stress eating and give up on getting this excess weight off, giving up on the very thing this health issue needs me to do. Worse yet, it tempts me to question my God and His love and care for me.

All of that is just the tip of the iceberg of tempting things that go on underneath the surface of such times of challenge. Such times can have hidden beneath it the temptation to give up on life and lay down to die: the temptation to despair. They often tempt us to face the challenge in our own strength: the temptation to pride and self-will. Most often such situations tempt us to forget who God is, how much He loves us, and His faithfulness to fulfill His good will in us: temptation to rebel against the reality of God, and His right over me as Lord of all.

I could go on, but the point is all things present a type of temptation. Take Jesus as an example – He’s a good one to follow.

Starting out His ministry, He faced the temptation to forgo baptism in pride that He had no sin to confess or be forgiven of, as John proclaimed, “You should be baptizing me.” But He knew it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness, thus keeping Him from sin, so He pressed John to baptize Him.

Jesus resisted temptation of pride when the crowds wanted to crown Him before His time. He resisted temptation to the fear of the mobs who wanted to throw Him off a cliff, choosing instead to trust God that it was not yet His time and to press past the mob, going on to finish His work.

Jesus resisted worry and fretting so He could rest Himself in the bow of the boat. He resisted the temptation to take glory to Himself instead of glorifying the Father. On and on we could go throughout His days, revealing the temptation each account brought before Him. But He stood in the face of it all to fulfill the work He was here for, glorifying God, and making Himself a worthy Lamb for the ultimate sin sacrifice.

As you and I look at the things we face in this day, I pray we will be faithful to follow the example of Christ who only allowed Himself to give Himself to the temptation to do right and good, fulfilling the work He saw the Father doing, and bringing glory to His name. He only gave Himself to that which required Him to remember the character, nature, authority, power, and purpose of God, and join Him in it. Even when threatened with despair, as He prayed, “Take this cup,” His deeper heart cry was, “Yet not My will, but Thy will be done.”

Surrendering to God’s will, He refused the temptation to self-preservation, self-protection, and self-gratification. He faithfully refused the temptation to call the armies of God to deliver Him from His appointed path, though they were charged to His care and would have come had He called. He also refused the short-lived fame of a false crown in this life, offered by the multitudes ready to follow Him as King into battle to accomplish deliverance as they understood it; He withstood the temporal temptation in order to do the greater work of an Eternal King, preparing an eternal Kingdom.

Jesus stood for Righteousness in every temptation, following instead the temptation to do good, giving Himself to God’s will for the greater good and the greater reward. God does not tempt to evil, but He does stand in opposition to it, holding out to us the opportune temptation to walk His way.

That is the path we face with everything that comes our way. Follow the temptation to evil, rebelling against God’s will in order to do things “my” way.” Or choose the temptation to stay the course as a follower of Christ in fulfilling God’s good purpose, trusting Him despite the challenge, and doing so for Righteousness’ sake.

Look at all your going through today, beloved. What’s the temptation? Like Jesus, choose that which fulfills righteousness.

Whose Prisoner We Are

“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus…” (Philemon 1)

The thing that jumps out to me as I read Philemon is this understanding that Paul, captive in a Roman prison for the cause of Christ, considered himself a prisoner OF CHRIST, not of Rome. He knew why he was in prison, because God warned him and gave him clear understanding of the purpose for this season. He knew that he would not find release until the purpose of God was fulfilled. He also knew that he was there at his own choice in following God’s will, not at Roman or Jewish design.

He had a chance to choose to leave, twice – or at least three times, actually, as God seemed to give him warning with opportunity to choose to turn away from Jerusalem more than once, and as Roman authorized judges saw he was innocent and planned to release him. But he chose to walk the path God told him of, he called for the judgment of Caesar. THE POWER OF THE ENEMY TRYING TO DESTROY THE WORK OF GOD THROUGH PAUL WAS MADE IMPOTENT BY PAUL’S SURRENDER TO GOD’S WILL FOR HIS LIFE JOURNEY. He trusted that it was God, Himself, dictating His prison time.

Beloved, what situation are you in where you feel trapped, imprisoned, helpless? What situation are you walking into, knowing God’s call and refusing the naysayer? Could it be that surrendered trust in God, seeing self as the prisoner of Jesus alone, might well be the key to defeating the work of Satan?

If we truly believe that God is Sovereign in all, we have to know that whatever imprisons us is allowed by Him for a purpose of His own will and way. He is Whose prisoner we are: as we, who belong to Him, live this life with assurance that He cares for us affectionately and watchfully (1 Peter 5:7 AMPC).

God has purpose for all He does or allows. Ours is to trust and to seek Him in it, so as to cooperate and partner with Him in fulfilling that purpose. Just a slight change in view point, a clearer understanding of God’s power at work though our confined state, can well be the shift we need to come out victorious in Christ, bearing a testimony beyond comprehension.

“… I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. …” (Philemon 1:1-25 NASB (vs. 6))

Free Will Choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go forth, and prosper the Kingdom.

From One Cracked Pot to Another

I shared some time ago, early on in our three year journey, telling you of my husband’s battle with prostate cancer (see link below). Throughout this experience, though there have been days of exhaustion and emotional challenge, I stand continually amazed by the Father’s care and provision. When my strength and countenance were challenged, His supply and faithful care uplifted me. When rest was the need of the day, peace and ability to do so has been there. God’s provision and Presence is remarkable.

My husband is the director of the welding program at our local college. Diagnosed at stage four and now stage five, by the grace of God, he has worked throughout this entire ordeal. We can count on one to two hands the number of sick days he has taken. God faithfully sustains him.

Drawing near the end of the summer semester, he finally retired with commitment to stay just long enough to train his replacement. It was none too soon for me, as I could tell that my body was at a limit in its ability to function. Relief was in sight. I was ready, and excited.

Problem? All along he has trained someone to take his position, with plans to hire someone for a lower position, but that fell through, practically at the last minute; so the school hustled to find someone. Problem? The person found can’t start for two to four months. My husband’s commitment to the welfare of the program kicked in and he committed to try to hold the fort until his replacement comes.

Now, I trust the Lord and know He is at work in all of this, but I’ve realized lately that something in my thinking and emotional state snapped at the change of semesters. It has really put a kink in my role in this journey we are on. It is challenging my ability to function. It has also laid me out in the lap of my God. I am absolutely, deeply beyond my own strength and ability. Even my ability to think and “feel” right is challenged. Only by the grace of God am I moving in these days.

But here’s the thing! A brokenness seen is a problem solved when seen through the eyes of our loving God. He is my rest, my strength, my hiding place. Nothing has changed where hope and faith and strength in God is concerned. He is not surprised or caught off guard. He is still with me and He will see this cracked pot through.

The exciting thing about a cracked vessel is more openings for the light of God to shine through, new areas for Living Water to pour out through. God doesn’t throw cracked pots out. He simply refurbishes them, putting them to use in new, creative ways of service. With that understanding in heart, I pray, may it be so, to the glory of God who makes me whole.

Hang in there with me, Beloved. Let’s shine that Light and spill that Water everywhere we go. Even from our weary soul, the Lord be glorified!

Prostate Cancer: Warning to All Men

A Standard Set

“…When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” (Isaiah 59:19 NKJV)

I can understand the heart of a woman’s pain when watching a man she knows as “rapist” from her earlier days, seeing him very likely to be raised up to a position of authority in our highest court system. It must be excruciating to her. And more excruciating is the issue of not being able to prove her accusations to those same courts. But proof is necessary, and righteously so. Thus I feel her pain and I comprehend the struggle.

At the same time, I can comprehend the pain of a man who may not believe he is guilty in the way accused; or who has so greatly changed since then so as to no longer be that person. Fortunately, for him, we live in a society of law that lays the burden of proof on the shoulders of the accuser, counting the accused innocent until proven guilty. And I, for one, am very grateful for our system of law. It is, by the way, biblical, the scriptures making it clear that there must be at least two or three witnesses to a crime.

I am writing today, not to tell any woman they shouldn’t feel or possess their pain, nor to tell them they should not bring their accusation when their hurt was from so many years past. God knows your pain and He can lead you to have strength to stand up to the accused. But I am writing to share how God has so graciously freed me from my pain; the frequency of these cases constantly drawing me into a grateful heart toward my God who set me free indeed.

My experience is different from many of the women coming forward today against men; like that of Bill Cosby. I was not, to my knowledge, drugged. In cases where a man drugs a woman to have his way with her, that is RAPE in one of the ugliest forms. Though I was not maliciously drugged, I was drunk out of my skull, and some of my drunkenness was helped by the boy who raped me.

I was somewhere between mid-16 to mid-17 years old. Though I professed Christ as Savior at the age of 10, I was not raised up to know how to follow Him as Lord, nor to know the importance and freedom-producing purpose of doing so. On that fateful night in my life, I was terribly upset about something I do not even recall the details of now. Instead of turning to Christ for His help in the pain, I had opportunity to turn to liquor. And turn I did.

I chugged a huge gulp of wine, climbed on the back of my car in our secluded party spot, one of my gal-friends beside me, and was immediately surrounded by five or six boys. Someone nearby handed me some type of another liquor; not sure who as I was already feeling the effects of the wine. I took a drink and passed it to the next person.

Somewhere along the way, one of the boys got the others to hand the bottle to me every other turn. I was so drunk, that the details given to you now, to this point in my experience, are all I remember until numerous hours later when I began to sober up. I was passed out drunk in the back seat of my car most of the night, according to friends.

The next day my girlfriends told me what all happened that night. It included me winding up in the back seat with that boy who, in my memory, started the liquor coming my way every other time; which some might say was me being maliciously drugged. That’s a heart issue judgment best left with God.

I don’t know if anyone tried to stop me from getting in the backseat with him. I’m sure if they did, I didn’t cooperate. But I do know that no one fought that boy away from me. Thus, in the sense that I was incapacitated in my ability to make a knowing and wise decision, I was raped that night, the only memory of which that I have is the flash of his face over me.

Despite my lack of memory of the incident, I have never felt that I had no role in what happened. In the sense of culpability, I have always considered myself most to credit for the assault. You see, I knew the results of drunkenness from watching my alcoholic Mom. I knew better than to drink like that. If I didn’t understand its dangers before that night, I certainly did after, and never again drank that way.

I believe God led me to do four things immediately following that night that absolutely freed me from the pain of the experience. That incident has never stunted or harmed my ability to move on in life as a result of these actions.

  • First, I took responsibility for my role in the travesty, owning it, and I repented before my Lord for my actions that led to a drunken state that removed from me the ability to choose good over evil; and I repented the sexual sin that resulted because of my vulnerability in my drunken state, which I deliberately chose for myself. No one forced me to get drunk.
  • Second, I faced my rapist and, after apologizing to him for my part in allowing myself to get into such a state that I would do something with him I never would have done sober, I was able to leave his role in the rape with God for Him to handle. God empowered a forgiveness toward him for my own sake, so bitterness nor any other enemy to my mental health and well-being was able to bind me up. The incident had no talons with which to get hold on me.
  • Third, I both apologized to my friends for things I did that I do not remember doing, and I forgave them without their asking for it, for not fully recognizing my vulnerable state and fighting for me.
  • Fourth, I forgave myself for getting out of control like that and I learned from it.

Some would say that I should have turned the boy in, but truly, it did not occur to me that the incident was RAPE until years later, when we started seeing cases like this bombard our TV screens. In my day the rule was that drunken is as drunken does. I just thought of it as a night of stupidity and loss.

I don’t recall the name of that boy, not that I would share it here if I did. And I barely remember what he looked like then. I would not recognize that boy, now a man, today, unless he came up to me and told me who he was. Even if I did, I would not bring charges against him, not because I see myself as better than women who do bring a charge against a rapist long past, nor because I would be afraid to, but because, for me, it is done, settled, finished. God has it. He is The Judge and He will tend to it.

The only way I would ever even think about bearing witness to his actions in a court of law is as a witness in a case where more current rape victims bring charges against him: to help them make a stronger case, showing a long held lifestyle of raping women to this day. My hope is that God worked in his life and that he never again participated in such horrific acts against women. Until I see otherwise, he has nothing to fear from me.

Beloved, God raises up a standard over His children in our battle against evil, an evil powered by the demonic. For me, it was a standard of owning and repenting my role in the evil done. It was forgiving those who even inadvertently participated in the evil, including myself. And it is (and was) understanding of God’s grace and mercy that equips me to let the past go, and move on to the joy of a life worth living.

The Standard we have over us in Christ is Jesus Himself, His blood that sets us free from sin’s death, whether our own sin or that of others done toward us. I thank God for His mercy poured out to me. And I pray the freeing power of Mercy’s grace toward those hurt so badly by the evil sin of rape.

© Darlene Ingram Davis: 09-28-18

The Reignited Gift

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NASB)

I’ve been in God’s Word to some degree for over 50 years, since childhood; studying and teaching it with intimate fervor for at least 40 of those years, and it never ceases to amaze me how the Spirit can bring a “Well, dah!” out of me. This passage did it for me this morning.

I’ve always read this with thought of “gift” being that of teaching, or evangelism, or leadership, or whatever Timothy’s undergirding service-gift might be. Today I read it with that start of realization, recognizing that Paul is talking about the gift of the Spirit, Himself. He is saying, “Kindle afresh The Spirit of God within you.”

You see, something was raising up great fear in Timothy, such as to quench the Spirit’s freedom to work in His life. That fear was most likely his youth and the challenge of teaching with authority those he saw as older and wiser, leaders in the community. Paul reminds him that the Spirit in Him bridges that gap, equipping him to boldly and confidently speak and teach the truths of God with power.

Beloved, what quenches God’s Spirit in you? Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you. How? Through trust that believes God; faith that realizes unseen truth; and surrender that submits to Him, even when it doesn’t make sense to our finite thinking.

Trust in the Lord today, Beloved, and do the good He sets before you, working out of the power of His sure Presence within you. Go forth in Him and prosper the day.

Recognizing a False Circumcision

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”” (John 8:12 NASB)

Look at this beautiful promise of God, Beloved. Do you believe with trusting faith in this truth? Do you seek faithfully to walk it out in life by the power of God’s Spirit? The promises of God are glorious to us who believe. And to us for whom they are sent and received by faith, believing, they are irrevocable. God’s eternal promises are vital to our living a life of abundance.

What about promises like that found in the best known scripture there is? “”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE” (John 3:16 NASB). Do you believe this promise with saving faith? So do I. Does that make us brothers and sisters in Christ? Some would say, “Not that alone.”

Recently, someone I love and respect deeply, and have learned much from through the years, deemed me lost and apparently decided I’m a false teacher because we do not have the same defining parameters for THE CHURCH. Now that has really bothered me. As I said, I love and respect this person, so like the men of Berea, I’ve been seeking the Lord to confirm truth for me.

Lately, every time I read a promise like these stated, the Spirit of God catches my attention to focus me on the fact that those who have a false definition of The Church nullify the promises of God. Example:

⁃ “So, you believe the Word about Jesus? But you’re not in my fellowship of believers, so your faith is useless.”

⁃ “I see the work of God’s Spirit in and through you, the bearing of The Fruit that is found in every true believer, but you’re not of our association, so your work is pointless.”

Sad, isn’t it, that we deny many of the brotherhood (sisterhood) because of what I would call a false circumcision.

Here’s what I’m understanding. A belief like, “my fellowship is right and yours isn’t, so you are lost” denies every promise of God, making God’s promises secondary to our understanding of The Church/circumcision we profess. False circumcisions we deem necessary for eternal grace nullify all other promises of God found in Christ.

Here’s another problem I see with a false circumcision added to the promises of God. That false understanding becomes a trap, a snare, a stronghold against true faith, true worship, and true fellowship. Continuing the “my church or yours” theme, here’s an example.

I know a woman from a church fellowship with the belief described above. She fell in love with and married a man of another church background. He, as spiritual leader, insisted they attend his church. She dutifully did so. Problem? Every time she came, she felt condemned to hell. She was grieved and unhappy the entire time. And though she agreed with every teaching she heard, she could not get past her definition of The Church.

Now, I believe this type of situation falls in under the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10. Because of my belief of the parameters of The Church, which is true according to my understanding about scripture, I can enter into any fellowship despite our denominational differences, and I can worship freely, even giving my “Amen” to truths taught there. I can do so, recognizing, loving, and enjoying the fellow believers there with a clear conscience and sure faith.

If this woman’s husband has the same faith as I, in my opinion based on my understanding of the teaching of God through Paul, then for the sake of the wife’s conscience, he should have joined her in her church. But here’s the flip side of the problem. What if that husband has the same belief system concerning his church fellowship? Then he cannot join her church with good conscience. These then take the place of the unequally yoked, which is misery for a marriage.

Conclusion: a false belief system that creates a false circumcision, adds the necessity of a work’s action to the salvation equation. That false circumcision then makes the promises of God concerning salvation in Christ alone invalid in ones struggle to keep that circumcision, thus we have a boatload of people believing they are saved while they are leaning on the wrong side of their equation. The person snared by a false circumcision then finds it to be a stronghold that brings separation from much of what Jesus sees as The Church, and even separating them from true faith in Christ. Our false circumcision hinders worship outside of the fellowship that bears that circumcision. Those who demand the bearing of a circumcision take the place of the Pharisee, tying heavy loads on their fellow believer; loads God never intended them to carry. And it brings a false, self-condemnation to the heart of one who finds themselves on the wrong side of that legalism.

Beloved, know this. It is Jesus who knows those who are His, and by His Spirit, He seals and marks them so they have the assurance of their salvation through faith in Him, and so they are recognizable to His true followers. Let’s stop raising up stumbling blocks and walls of divisiveness between us, and let’s walk together in the truth of saving grace through Jesus Christ.

Power to Enjoy

“Every man to whom God has given riches and possessions, and the power to enjoy them and to accept his appointed lot and to rejoice in his toil – this is the gift of God to him. For he shall not much remember seriously the days of his life, because God, Himself, answers and corresponds to the joy of his heart – the tranquillity of God is mirrored in him.” Ecclesiastes 5:19-20 AMPC

I see this truth in Johnny as he works and puts energy into his life’s calling. He has done what God placed in him to do, and the joy of his labors outweighs any challenges those labors bring. And I experience this truth myself, as I find joy and contentment in caring for him, in being his wife and helpmeet.

Thinking back on my life, on both the good and the difficult, the joys far out-way the sorrows, the good memories dimming and deadening the hardship. And in each season of my life, the labors there, the work I found for my hands to do, made much of the joy of my days, each in its season.

What better legacy to leave our children than our exemplary life of serving our God out of His provision of our Power to enjoy our labors with love for Him and each other.

“TO EVERYTHING there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven…

“I have seen the painful labor and exertion and miserable business which God has given to the sons of men with which to exercise and busy themselves. He has made everything beautiful in its time.

“He also has planted eternity in men’s hearts and minds, a divinely implanted sense of a purpose working through the ages, which nothing under the sun but God alone can satisfy, yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be glad and to get and do good as long as they live; And also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor – it is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 10-13 AMPC)

A Time to Disarm

“So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”” (John 18:11 NASB)

A man, born blind, suffered that stigma for many years before meeting Jesus. Upon seeing the man, the disciples asked, “Was it the sin of this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus corrected a false understanding that all who are sick are there because of some sin committed, saying, “It was neither.” Then He stated the true purpose, “It is so that God May be glorified in the Son.” (John 9:1-12)

Lazarus was allowed to die that he might be resurrected to the glory of God (John 11). Jesus warned the disciples that they would be dragged into court on account of Him, but not to worry, for it was opportunity for their testimony to the glory of God. (Luke 21:12-19; Acts 5:33-42)

Jesus walked through life with clear understanding of His purpose in life. He knew when He could fearlessly walk out of a bad situation because it was not yet His time, and He knew when to willingly walk into it, knowing the suffering would work the glory and fulfill the purpose of the Father.

Even today, for us, there are times and situations we are not to fight against. Times come when God’s Spirit inspires us to know this hardship is for God’s glory and purpose. Nothing we can do will get us out of it, because God is planning to take us through it.

Not only might Father take us through a thing rather than deliver us from it, but He may not reveal where we are going beyond the next step. Even if God reveals the end product to us, we must take care to not pick up the gauntlet and run our own path, trying to get there. We will waste precious time and energy, and may well rob the Father of His full glory.

We must note something here. Before Jesus told Peter to stop fighting, that He must drink the cup God has for Him to drink, Jesus spent at least an hour crying out for the Father to remove it, if possible. Then, assured He must drink, God strengthened Him to walk through all He faced. It is not sin to seek deliverance, but it is vital that we willingly receive His strengthening to walk through and drink our God given cup.

Take a new look at your situation, Beloved, and ask the Father if you need to put down your proverbial sword and walk bravely into this opportunity to see His glory. Watch the steps He leads you to, and get ready for a harvest.

Link to all Scriptures referenced

They Know Not What They Do

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

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

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

What should we do?

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

– Draw ever closer to God.

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

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

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

– Remember that bad company corrupts good morals.

– Live the Light of God in all you do.

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

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

That Great Day is dawning, Beloved. Stand ready!

LIVE!

“… “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. IN THAT DAY YOU WILL KNOW that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. ….” (John 14:16-31 NASB)

One reason for the resurrection of Jesus and His 40 days of visitations was to assure the disciples that He was still with them and in them through the power and provision of His Spirit. Still today, we are each, individually one with Father and Son by the power of the indwelling Spirit of Triune God. And in our fully living that out, we are one with each other, the prayer of the Christ fulfilled (John 17). We have the mind of Christ and the heart of the Father within us because of this miraculous union.

I have long believed this truth, yet never as I do now. Father has spent the last few years calling me to deeper, more intimate understanding of this reality: that “I”, ““I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer “I”, I who live, but Christ lives in me (also); and the life which “I”, 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)

The hour Jesus cried out for the cup of His suffering to be removed, I believe one thing heaviest on His heart was the understanding that, in the instant all our sin was piled on His Shoulders, He would, for the first time ever, know life without the Father’s Presence. He took all our sin with the destitute abandonment of a God who cannot abide evil, so we, NOW, can enter into our eternal unity in the Spirit.

No temptation can overtake the one who abides in The Triune, Who abides in us. Holding our Abode as of most vital importance and greatest treasure is our way of escape from sins grip. Though we may slip or stumble and need our feet washed, we will not go down for the count and fall away from victory in Christ.

So enter into the Beloved, sweet friend, then go forth and conquer with every breath of your days in Christ. Nothing can steal that joy from us, the joy of unity with the Eternal, when we live and breathe it in our now-day.

ABIDE!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Old Church Choir

Zach Williams

http://youtu.be/-cRh8NqmXoE

The Son of God Appeared for this Purpose

Are storms evil?

No. Storms happen because they are keeping the law. There are laws in nature that determine when it rains, snows, hails, when the wind blows and how hard, where the lightening strikes or tornadoes form. These things, in themselves, are not evil, though they can bring great destruction; nor are they necessarily good, though they can bring good and needful things to the earth. However, storms can be used for evil, or they can lead to great good.

When a storm produces destruction, we see one of two things come from those effected:

  • Some come out to take advantage of others out of selfishness and avarice.
  • Others come, even out of their own extreme poverty, to help those in need and to build anew.

I read a devotional that eluded to this passage of scripture and the purpose for Christ expressed here:

“Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who ABIDES in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who PRACTICES righteousness (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice out of love for God and allegiance to Jesus) is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who PRACTICES sin (as a deliberate and habitual action of choice, which is rebellion against God and His chosen King) is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.

“The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil (sin and all that stands in opposition to God, His will, His way, His sovereignty). No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” 1 John 3:4-9 NASB (my understanding)

The storm is not evil or good: but the force behind it and the spirit it brings can produce great evil, or healing balms of good through the actions and reactions of people effected by the storm. A person reveals his heart in such seasons.

Jesus came to destroy the work of Satan that leads people to do the evil seen in such times. With Job, when His children were killed in a tornado, the purpose of Satan and the trap of temptation set by him was to prove Job would lose faith in God and rebel against Him. That is what Satan seeks to accomplish through the storms of life.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” John 10:10 NASB

To die, in God’s value of things, is to turn away from Him in lack of faith to trust Him in the storm. It is to rebel against Him out of anger, self-centeredness, pride, greed, or any number of evils that get a controlling hold on our hearts and lead us to turn against God’s way.

Life, in God’s economy, is this relationship with Him from a heart that trusts and follows Him despite the tricks of the devil. We don’t easily and habitually give in to temptations to sin out of fear or because of stressors to faith in God. We stand with God and for God, no matter the length of our waiting for His hand to move, and we find Him faithful. This is the Life, abundant and full, that Jesus provides.

The abundance Jesus provides is peace beyond measure; joy unrelated to circumstance; faith fed by deep pools of belief’s hope; and a River of love flowing to and through us, all fed by God, who is love. Evil that seeks destruction cannot win when God’s people stand firmly planted on Him.

“Do not fret because of evildoers, Be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass And fade like the green herb. Trust in the LORD and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land.” Psalms 37:1-9 NASB

“My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments; For length of days and years of life And peace they will add to you. Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good repute In the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:1-8 NASB

Yes, Satan used a storm and other devastations in Job’s life, intending it for evil; but God allowed it, knowing it would produce the good He desired. The question is, on which side of the equation will we stand?

Reigning in Life

“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17 NASB – http://bible.com/100/rom.5.17.nasb)

Think about what this says, Beloved, for it is freedom for us. With the fall of mankind, sin took over flesh to rule through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life.

When we surrender to Jesus, He frees us to reign with Him in Life: this life as well as in the eternal; the abundant life He desires for us.

Reliance on grace sufficient and the righteousness of Christ, alive and well within us, empowers us to stand firm against the flesh, the world, and the demonic, to reign with His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and SELF-control that is sufficient against sin in Christ’s sufficiency.

Take up the crown of life God gives you today, and, trusting God’s grace, go forth to the victorious life Jesus bought for you.