Tag Archives: perseverance

Take Up Your Cross, And Smile

I’ve been meditating on and praying through the “refresh” verse of the day meditation and prayer on the YouVersion Bible App each morning. Today went into following Jesus, which led my thoughts to “take up your cross daily.”

Usually in taking up the cross, most I know – including me – talk about taking our sin / sin nature up, or our sickness or whatever malady plagues us and hinders us: bearing up under it and pressing on despite it. Even just thinking about that is hard and heavy. So I asked God about that, and He brought to me a new understanding.

Jesus bore the hard and heavy of our sin, paying the penalty once and for all. He took that sin and shame to the depths of hell and left it there along with sin’s death. He now gives us freedom from it as a gift. All we need to do is receive it. We have no need to keep bearing that which is removed far from us in Christ. We need to take up our freedom in Christ and walk in it.

Jesus also bore our stripes for sin and sickness. By His stripes, we are healed. We don’t have to take that up and carry it. He bore that for us. And He helps us bear it now while we walk to full healing, whether that healing comes in this life or the next. Our health may prove a challenge, bringing opportunity to trust God and see all He will do in the midst of our struggle, but it can’t stop God’s purpose in us. There is always a way to serve and shine for Him when we seek His heart in every opportune moment.

Jesus also tells us that we should yoke ourselves with Him. Like Simon of Cyrene, Jesus is there to help bear our cross, but He does so willingly, not because He is required to by some enemy force. He says, “My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” (Matthew 11:30 AMPC)

As I think on that, I realize the view God has of the cross Jesus bore. That cross was not the sin and shame, sickness and death we look at. God sees freedom for His children. He sees the humility, selflessness, and obedient heart of Christ, which now lives in us. He sees mercy made new every morning, compassion that fails not, forgiveness made free and clear. He sees a willing heart made ready for God’s will. He sees Life, abundant and full.

Our cross to bear up under is yoked with Christ. It is freedom from sin and shame, sickness and death. It is one of willing surrender to the will of God, knowing that all He calls us to, He helps, provides for, and empowers us to do. It’s a cross set to please Him, honor Him, glorify Him. It’s a cross of eternal purpose that displays grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, selflessness, courage, strength, joy, contentment, assurance, power, and more.

The cross God left His children to take up daily and bear for all the world to see is light, easy, and an honor to His holy name. It has nothing to do with our physical strength, health, or struggles in this life. Those are simply opportunities to shine His Light and experience His power made perfect in us. Our cross has everything to do with our eternal perspective and assurance; with love for God and others that does hard things made easier in Christ.

Nothing can keep us back and hold us down when our heart is set on the eternal perspective of God’s purpose, plan, and provision. We experience God as we daily take up the heart of God, the mind of Christ, and the eternal perspective of a Life made new and easy in Him. By the understanding that God will complete and fulfill His purpose through our willing surrender, we partner in the cause of Christ to carry out our ministry to the glory of His name.

Two Plates

I was praying about this day and the need to get things done. As I did, I told the Lord how weird I feel. I see a plate before me piled so high with things I need to do and get off my plate, but I can’t find focus there to get anything done. My focus is on a second plate that is empty and peaceful. Both plates beacon my attention and seem important.

As I pray, a flash of understanding hits my mind and excites my heart as The Father sets one thing on the empty plate in my mind. He tells my heart, “You don’t have to worry about the plate piled high. Just trust Me to serve you one thing at a time in due season. Together WE will empty both plates.”

Suicide: The “Why” and “What Now” – Part 3 of 3

The Ministry of Comfort

There are six examples of suicide in scripture. We’ve looked at two of them. Through these six, we see the heart behind the cause of the choice: fear, anger, depression-oppression, pride, shame, a sense of failure, helplessness, hopelessness, extreme remorse, condemnation, guilt, and the list goes on. (Samuel 31:3-6, 1 Kings 16:18-19, Matthew 27:3-5 ) We even see in scripture example of the telltale signs of one planning to take their own life, as Ahithophel set his house in order before hanging himself (2 Samuel 17:23).

Suicide has been around for as long as our need of God has been met by resistance to Him. Those of us who can’t fathom taking our own life, also can’t reconcile God allowing it. Thus we have the frequent struggle those left behind face as they come to such truths as those proclaiming the sovereignty of God.

“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NASB1995

In a video devotional that went with this verse today, the teacher said our partnership with God and His participation in our lives is not a 50-50 or 70-30, our choice verses His. It is 100-100. I understand that concept, as God taught me the 100-100% principle in my married life. Successful, happy marriages are not 50-50. It’s all-in-all.

In relationship with God, He is all in our being one with Him and He with us. He is also all in for our right to choose whether we will be all in with Him and His will and way.

Right of choice is a gift from God. He does not remove our choice from us: we are allowed choice. But whatever choice we make, God is there and He causes all to accomplish His purpose, working it together for good and glory (Romans 8:28).

When we have God as our delight, we give self to His will. When we refuse Him, He does not remove our right of choice from us. He respects our boundaries against Him.

We are His delight and desire, whether or not we choose Him, for God is love, and He so loved the whole, entire world, that He gave His Son for us. He desires that none should perish, but all come to repentance: which means to align our will and desire with His will and desire for us.

God wants a loving, growing relationship with each of us. He also desires what is best for us. One of the things He sees as best for us is that we have right of choice. A love without choice is no true love at all. God wants true love relationships, so He gives us choice: God or not God, life or death, blessing or curse. God is Life and God is Blessing.

The hard thing is reconciling the fact of God’s sovereignty and His love for us with things like hard hearted Pharoah, or, closer to home, a dear friend’s family member who committed suicide. It’s hard for us to comprehend God, who is sovereign, being 100% partner with those horrendous decisions of the heart of man, and, in the case of Pharoah, even increasing his stubborn, hardened heart for God’s purpose. Our finite minds with our limited way of thinking cannot comprehend a loving God allowing, much less seemingly participating in such decisions leading to horrid outcomes. That’s where the truth stated by Joseph fits into the equation: “As for you, you meant evil…but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20 NASB1995 – https://bible.com/bible/100/gen.50.20.NASB1995).

But God! His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. He sees things beyond our comprehension. His plans reach to effect far more than our here and now. And He uses the effect of such hard things in our here and now to accomplish purposes far more eternal in nature than we can begin to realize.

Take this beloved’s suicide. I cannot even begin to think that God’s will was his suicide. What I do see is this: a long time struggle with depression-oppression and constant heartache that became unbearable for a precious man, loved by God.

I believe that, in 99.9% of suicides, there is a point where mental health loses the battle. Though he may have wanted to believe in and trust God, the constant struggle hindered him being helped by any degree of hope he managed to grasp hold of through Christ. I don’t believe God wanted his death in that way, but God did want this one He loved free from the struggle. So when this beloved of God could not grasp God and chose death, God allowed His choice and took him out of his pain. Absent from the body…home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

My understanding about this young man is that he wanted God and new Jesus as the way, the truth, the life, and the gateway. I believe God has him home with Jesus right now, no longer in pain, no longer struggling. He is now safe in the arms of God, freed from that mental turmoil. That is a hope I stand on, and encourage those suffering such loss to grasp hold of.

Now for those left behind suffering the aftermath. What now?

God says, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore….’” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 – https://bible.com/bible/100/jer.29.11-14.NASB1995)

Those left behind have a choice now. Trust that God’s purpose in allowing their loved one’s suicide was not death, but life. They are more set free to live than ever before, never to be troubled by depression-oppression again. Their grasp on the reality and provision of God is finally firm.

Now the ball is in our court. Will we run from God to our own struggle and hardship, or will we grab His hand, get His heart for the good He wants to work through our pain, and walk with Him to the fulfillment of the future He planned for us?

It may not be an easy road. Walking a hard path we can’t understand seldom is easy. But when we grab hold of trust in God, He always leads us to an eternal good that accomplishes through us an unfathomable glory.

So the choice is to run from God in anger and grief, which is death-though-we-live. Or run to God, where healing is found in the grief, restoration to life arises, and a greater good comes out of our pain as we who are comforted by God comfort others.

I pray you grab His hand. He will help you.

Love Is Something You Do

Love is not an emotion. Emotion can accompany love, but deep, abiding love is a choice flowing from who we are that reveals itself through actions.

Rick Warren writes, “Over and over again in the Bible, God commands us to love each other, and you can’t command an emotion. If I told you right now, “Be sad!” you couldn’t be sad on cue. Just like an actor, you can fake it, but you’re not wired for your emotions to change on command.

“If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do. It can produce emotion, but love is an action.

“The Bible says, “Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:18 NLT, second edition).

“We can talk a good act: “I love people.” But do we really love them? Our love is revealed in how we act toward them.” (From YouVersion’s Forty Days of Love: Day 26)

This is essentially what God and I have been talking about today. Love takes action and shows it’s sincerity. And love is not hypocritical, expecting from others what I fail to do myself.

The example that has been the topic of conversation with my Father today is this. As a new widow, facing a medical test requiring help my sweet husband usually gave, I am having to figure out how to do this without him.

In this situation, I am finding that it is hard for me to call people and seek assistance when they never call or come by to check on me. Though they say, “Call me if you need anything,” the lack of any show of caring without a cry for help calls into question their sincerity. Couple that with knowing how busy people are and how overwhelming life is these days, and I feel like a nuisance in even considering bothering people with my problem.

That is the start of a vicious cycle. Feeling like a nuisance keeps me from calling or going by to check on others, not wanting to be a bother to busy, over stressed people. Which potentially leaves them thinking I don’t really care for them and am too busy to be bothered. Here we go on the round-e-round. 🔄

“So,” I question, “what should I do, Lord?”

His response?

Call. Go by. Love actively. Don’t worry about what the other person does or doesn’t do toward me. Be what Father God tells me to be. This love journey fits into the scriptural principle of giving. As we give into the lives of others, it is returned to us.

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38 NASB1995)

Here am I, O God. Send me.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

I stepped into a spiritual battle with a friend under siege, which, of course, placed me in line of fire. This is what God is firming up in me.

Take your stand and stand firm.

  • On The Rock of salvation.
  • In the knowledge and assurance of God’s Love.
  • In the security of His promises.
  • Fully dressed in the wedding clothes of Christ.
  • Fully suited in the armor of God with spiritual weapons in hand.
  • Constantly dressed in readiness with Lamps alight.

Stand firm in Truth – know what truth is…

  • About God.
  • About God’s Word.
  • About His power, sufficiency, faithfulness, watchful care, eternal plan, and sure purpose.
  • About the situation and circumstances.
  • About heart issues.
  • About the true battlefield and enemy forces in heavenly places.

Stand firm in Trust, earnestly and watchfully believing and expecting God to be God and do God.

  • Be stilled in quiet faith – enter His rest where peace and calm prevail.
  • Cease striving in own strength.
  • Let be and know with assurance that God is God: the good God who works good in and for each of us, according to His perfect will, plan, and purpose.

Stand firm in Thankful praise and worshipful adoration.

  • God’s throne in our lives is revealed and lifted high on the praises of His people.
  • Praise bows the heart to submit to His will.
  • Grateful submission to God resists Satanic influences, causing them to back off and flee.
  • Grateful praise draws near to God who responds by drawing nearer to us, bringing us under His wings, into His shadow, hedged in by His Presence.

Stand firm as a Testimony of a faithful servant of God: keep living Him into life.

  • Be His image bearer.
  • Be His ambassador, knowing His authority over, in, and through you.
  • Be intentional in faith, love, and action.
  • Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
  • Be His witness.
  • Be found faithful at His coming.
  • Be love as He is love.
  • BE real – strive to BE simply because He is.

Tactics of Persecution

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬-‭13‬, ‭19‬

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. …

“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

Satan is the author of persecution. He tempts to the dark side. It is his goal to use the things we face in day to day life to tempt us away from faith-filled trust in God. The tempter desires to tempt us away from a life that honors God as God. He wants to ruin our testimony and rob us of peace, joy, and hope so we are ineffective as Christ’s ambassadors, the image bearers of God. In doing so, he causes us to doubt our Christian faith and walk away from God.

A man once said something ugly, condemning my Christian faith, then in one breath, quickly adding, “and no: I’m not persecuting you.” I don’t remember saying anything to him before or after. He was a passer by I did not know, nor have I seen him since. He spotted me as who I was in Christ, said whatever it was he said followed by the part I remember, and walked on, leaving me looking at him with “How rude” on my stunned face.

On one hand, he was correct. He was simply the unwitting instrument in the hands of him who was using the man to persecute Christianity. On the other hand, he was allowing himself to be that instrument, seemingly without understanding it’s source and purpose.

The same is true of a deadly diagnosis, the sudden death of a loved one, or any number of tragic events that leave us wondering where God is and how He could let such evil come upon one who loves and trusts Him. Anything that tempts us to doubt, fear, and turning from God is Satanic persecution of our Christian faith.

I believe Satan’s being the author and perfector of persecution is why God warns us to realize our battle is not against flesh and blood, but demons and principalities (Ephesians 6:10-18). Not only do we tend to focus anger toward the instruments of persecution, failing to love even our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we fail to realize enemy tactics of persecution through the temptation to doubt God that comes with our daily struggles.

This belief regarding tactics of persecution coming from the enemy of God has protected me from giving myself to fear, doubt, and unforgiveness. It has helped me separate the sin from the sinner so I can walk in God’s mandate regarding love and prayer. And it has kept me from allowing the fruit of God’s Spirit to be stolen and buried by the evil intent brought to life’s circumstances.

“… 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

“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5‬:‭8‬-‭11‬‬‬

Morning Prayer: 12/7/22

Father, life is filled with continuum experiences, granting us understanding. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, mainly that You are good and we cannot fully understand Your goodness this side of glory. Evil is the opposite end of that continuum. As we do not know the fullness of Your goodness, we cannot fathom how evil bad can get.

Your call for us to overcome evil with good is vital to our days, Lord. Grant us daily to draw in closer to You so our understanding of what “good” is grows.

Out of the heart flows the wellsprings of Life. May our hearts be cleansed and made good as You are good, and may that goodness flow freely from our lives surrendered to You who are good, the source of good, and the only one who can make us truly good. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 11/20/22

Father, as You know, I didn’t feel well when I woke up this morning, so I stayed home out of the cold. Watching church online this morning, the pray-er gave thanks for those who woke up wanting to worship You: wanting to see You. Father, I desire that desire in every day and all day. I cry out for a heart of true, deep, Spirit filled worship. I cry out for a heart of earnest expectation and hope filled desire to see You active in me and my life for You. You are my first love. You are my first, most vital need and necessity. I pray my heart seek You fully, all day, every day, with full recognition of Your faithful Presence and watchful care. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 11/12/22

Lord we need You. You are our first, most vital need and necessity whether or not we recognize our deep destitution apart from You. Please sweep across this nation bringing about a mighty spiritual awakening and great revival. Open our eyes to see You, our ears to hear You, our minds to know You, and our hearts to understand You and Your ways with believing faith. Make us to know our true need and our deepest shortfalls. Cause our hearts to turn to You through earnest repentance, truly seeking Your face. Remove our heart of stone and grant us a heart that is circumcised to You and pliable in Your hands. Forgive our great sin against You and, by Your faithfulness to Your word, heal this land. Restore our strength, renew our minds, and banish everything in us that is not of You. Then glorify Yourself, granting us godly leaders and making us a light of Your goodness, grace, and might in the earth. Until Jesus comes, we seek You with earnest expectation and hope in Your mercy made new every morning and Your unfailing love and compassion toward us who believe.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen!

Morning Prayer: 10/9/22

Let God’s Love Transform Lives

Father, thank You. You led me through a study on patience, the fruit born by Your Spirit in us and lived out through us in Christlikeness. That led to a deep study of love, for “love is patient.” Which led me to this devotional study aid. Love lets Your love transform lives: my own and those around me. Love is patient, trusting Your transforming power and the transformation process.

Love, a bookend flavor of Spirit fruit – it with self-control, holding all other fruit together; love for You first, then for all others as one should love self; love, out of which all other fruit flavors flow. Love patiently waits for Your transforming power to accomplish it’s purpose in those around us and in oneself.

Love is patient. And because it is patient, it chooses to forgive, not holding a grudge or tallying insults, but trusting and praying for Your transformation to be fully accomplished in self and in those we patiently love. Father, I pray to love as You love, not wishing any to perish, but all to come to repentance and be transformed.

Let Love – God is love – abound in me, producing patience that practices kindness; not being jealous or arrogant. Let Your love empower me to act becomingly; not seeking my own desire, nor being easily provoked, nor taking into account a tally of wrongs suffered, but rejoicing in righteousness and truth. Fill me with that love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, knowing that true, godly love never fails. This I pray in Jesus holy name, amen.

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬‬‬

Morning Prayer: 10/2/22

See ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭3:8‬‬‬, ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:9‬‬‬, ‭‭James‬ ‭3:18‬‬‬, ‭‭John‬ ‭15:8‬‬‬, ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:8-11‬‬‬, ‭‭John‬ ‭15:16‬‬‬, ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭21:43‬‬‬, ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:9-12‬‬‬, ‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:15‬

Father, am I bearing fruit in keeping with repentance? Am I bearing the fruit of righteousness? The good fruit of Your Spirit, that honors, glorifies, and reflects You? Am I bearing fruit with perseverance? Am I setting a righteous example in my own life and living?

When people read my prayers or my ponderings shared to encourage and strengthen, are they inspired to pray for themselves and to walk in Your ways? Are they strengthened in You, in commitment to You, in true repentance that makes fertile soil in hearts seeded by You, made ready to grow strong in You and bear Your fruit in their own lives?

When I speak, do I clearly speak the truth in love? Do my actions reflect Your truth and love actively working in me? I’ve entrusted my tongue to You as a pen in the hand of The Ready Writer, that You may glorify and magnify Yourself through me. Am I in the way of that?

I have entrusted my life to You. Am I surrendering all for Your will to be done: as in heaven, so in me? If there is too much of me and not enough of You, Lord, circumcise the flesh of my heart; deaden the old; enliven the new. Let it be in me as it was in the words and practice of Paul: I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me. It is my constant cry.

I can do nothing apart from You, Lord. My heart desire is to fulfill the call of Christ to accomplish Your purpose and plan in these days You give me to choose You and live life-abundant in Your name.

You are teaching me greater depths of working out of Your resurrection power that is living and active in me. Empower me, through believing faith, to trust You more. Make Yourself known to and through me, that You may be glorified and magnified, and these with me edified and strengthened for these days in which we live.

May we who are your people live You out into this world, that all may know that You are God, and we are Your people: the sheep of Your pasture, led, fed, and shielded by You. Kingdom people, representing Kingdom purpose, in the power and provision of Your Spirit in us. In Jesus and to Your glory, confirm for us the works of our hands by the good fruit produced, the evidence of Your Spirit power, amen.

Choose Now

Choose Now

Morning Prayer: 9/18/22

Father, my heart’s cry and great desire is to live as if heaven matters, building up treasure there, being driven by eternity. Thank You that, through Christ, my flesh is crucified and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Empower me now to love You-Him in kind, knowing that, as one belonging to You, my flesh is crucified with its ungodly passions and desires. Fill me with Your Spirit so the fruit of Your nature is born forth in me. As I live by Your Spirit, may I be found faithful to walk by Your Spirit, giving You all glory and accomplishing Your purpose and plan for my life and living. By Your gace, make it so. In Jesus, amen.

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:13-26‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬; ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:1-17‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

Morning Prayer: 9/13/22

Father, thank You for instructing me. Thank You for leading me to have a yearly focus for spiritual growth that includes a focal verse of scripture, a fruit of Your nature being established in me, and an action word. This year’s are Psalm 23 (AMPC), the fruit of patience, and instruction to “be intentional”.

Psalm 23 took me deep into trusting You as my Lord, King, and Shepherd who cares for me. I can trust You. Being intentional in practicing obedience that flows from that trust is empowering.

Then you reminded me that a focus on patience necessitates a study on all Your Word says regarding that fruit. In researching that, You led me to several devotional series focused on bearing the fruit of patience. Thank You for the depth of understanding that taught me. I pray to remember and grow strong in the intentional, faithful practice of these truths.

Now today starts the last devotional You led me to in this focus: And the Lord Shall Be King, by Vance K. Jackson. Wow. It is not specific to patience, but I knew it would be vital to me in my journey of growth in the bearing of this fruit. I barely began the first day’s reading and the switch flipped on. Not a switch of the light of new revaluation, but the switch that opened a floodgate of greater depth of commitment.

Patience is vital to right relationship with You as King. It flows out of a trust that knows You are faithful and trustworthy. Your timing is perfect, Your ways indomitable. To be impatient is to move against You and place my ways above Yours, saying that I know best the way and the time, placing myself as king.

Keeping You as Lord, waiting on You, moving with You, trusting Your ways and Your timing is vital to a life well lived. I know this. Help me better live it. I pray for the fruit of patience to be a vital aspect of my who as I bow before You. Grant me ability to intentionally be still, cease striving, be quiet, know and let You be God. Otherwise I wear myself out trying to do Your part as well as my own, doing harm instead of good. This I pray, knowing it is the heart desire of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

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

“Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭40:31‬ ‭‬‬

“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”
‭‭James‬ ‭5:7-8‬ ‭‬‬

“Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭AMPC‬‬ (Read in several versions)

Morning Prayer: 9/12/22

Thank You, Father, for Your Spirit that works in me, recreating in me the fulness of Your image, bearing forth the fruit of Your nature in me. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, along with the humility of Christ, having His heart to seek You as first and most vital need and necessity, possessing His way of thinking from a mind set on the things above where Christ is, and more grow strong in me as I fully surrender to Your gracious work.

Thank You, Lord, that Your Spirit transforms us who are called by Your name from the inside out, changing each of our mind, soul, spirit, and strength to fully rely on and be like You. When the flesh in us rises up and brings struggle, Your Word reveals to us that such a battle is because of double mindedness: the mind of the flesh trying to sabotage the victory of the mind of The Spirit in us who are Yours in Christ.

Father, empower each of us to realize this battle more quickly and choose You and Your ways. Thank You for growing me stronger in this battle of the minds. “For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:5-8‬ ‭NASB1995‬‬

Morning Prayer: 8/24/22

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭45:1-4‬ ‭‬‬

Father, may our words always be founded on the good theme of godliness, righteousness, truth, and love, honoring You with every word. May our words flow from Your heart, knowing You are first to hear, know, and receive our every thought, bringing blessing or curse to Your name. I surrender my tongue to You as Your pen: the pen of the Ready Writer. May I be known as one belonging to You by my words.

Pour forth grace upon my lips, making Your message through me a blessing to those who hear, blessing me in Christ forever. Help me remember that the words of my tongue are a sword, piercing the heart of the listener for good or for evil. May I faithfully gird the Sword of the Spirit on my thigh, O Mighty One, using it properly for Your splendor and Your majesty! In Your majesty ride on victoriously, through my words from You and for You, for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness. Let the right hand, bearing the Sword of Your Word in the power of Your Spirit, teach me awesome things. In Jesus, amen.

Overeating vs. Biblical Gluttony

I am truly enjoying the devotional study by Alisa Keaton, The Wellness Revelation, 40 Day Journey. She makes excellent points that are helping me turn my heart to a healthier lifestyle. However, I disagree with some points on day 9. Knowing many who teach this understanding of overeating being the biblical sin of gluttony, I give my opinion based on past studies years ago by people whose names escape me, but who foever changed my focus on this battleground.

On day 9, covering what the author calls the sin of gluttony: This teaching I take issue with. The dictionary definition of gluttony as overeating used in this devo is not the biblical view of gluttony.

In Bible days, people would come together for celebrations that lasted days and centered around a constant supply of food and drink. In the guise of celebrating, many would drink to drunkenness and eat until they were so full they couldn’t take another bite. But the glutton didn’t stop there. These would make themselves throw up, emptying the stomach specifically so that they could continue their gluttonous celebration. This is not the illness experienced by the person struggling with bulimia, but the sin of the party animal. This is gluttony.

There are many issues in our lives that can lead to our overeating: bad habits formed from childhood; emotions centered on self; sin or health issues that need to be discovered having nothing to do with gluttony. Overeating is more often out of bad habits like the tendency to eat too fast, or a symptom of unrecognized sin or some mental or physical health issue that needs to be addressed.

Focusing a person on a lesser definition of gluttony when that is not the underlying issue causes their focus on food to turn to a whole different level of struggle, with the wrong enemy of their flesh targeted. And the person fighting a false understanding of biblical gluttony, who cannot get control because of ignoring the underlying cause of their symptom of overeating, falls to feelings of defeat and gives up a fight they never truly engaged in because they were standing on a battle line that was never the issue.

To win the battle of the bulge, we must discern the true issues we as individuals need to address and point our arrows at that target. Lifestyle changes take time and there are many victories on the way to the desired goals. Find a habit or a trigger point in your life with food and drink. Start there. Win that hill, then move to the next habit, sin, or health issue and target that. Maintain possession of victories won while focusing on the next goal. Little by little, hill by hill, feel better and grow stronger.

By the grace of God, you and He together have got this.

The Wellness Revelation 40-Day Journey’. Check it out here:

Morning Prayer: 8/13/22

Yes! This ⬇️

Father, we tend to fight the wrong battles, focus on the wrong enemy, and walk as defeatists while condemning others. The fight before us is not against flesh and blood pawns. It is demons and principalities that deceive and mislead.

As long as there is life and breath, as long as God is, there is hope. We are tasked to fight the good fight of faith until Jesus comes and the final victory is won. We’re not to stop living, loving, hoping, trusting, and sharing the Good News of faith until that Day and Hour.

We wear ourselves out in the fight, not realizing all we have to do is stand firm in You who are able to make Your servant stand. We tend to look at the battle ground when focus on You and Your glory enthrones You and encases us in Your victory. Forgive us this failure.

Father, teach us to pray. Teach us to praise. Teach us Your way to fight the good fight of faith. Bless us with strength and perseverance, and grant us eyes that see Your army surrounding us, fighting alongside us against the true enemies that come against Your glory, Your truth, Your righteousness, and Your justice. Grant us perseverance, faithfulness, and trust until Jesus comes and the fight is done. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/8/22

‭Genesis‬ ‭17:1-11‬ ‭‬‬ (read chapters 16-17)

“… You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10:12-21‬ ‭‬‬

Thank You, Father, that You desire our heart – for us to be wholehearted toward You, practicing our faith through surrendered trust in Your faithfulness.

You have taught me that my faith can only stand firm on You when my focus is Your faithfulness. We too easily make our faith the god that determines our outcome. Faith to believe and trust You is important, for without faith, it is impossible to please You; but, as Your faithfulness did not stop because of Abram and Sarah’s faith that took a wrong turn, in their attempt to make their own way to the promise by using Hagar, so Your faithfulness will prove itself in us and our situations as we put the focus of our trust in You. You still kept Your word to Abraham. You – who know our hearts – will be found faithful by us.

It is Your faithfulness that must be our focus for our faith to stand in agreement and cooperate with You. I pray for discernment of Your promises, trust to take You at Your Word, and clear vision to follow Your lead as we keep our focus on Your faithfulness with earnest expectation and hope in You who will do it. You will accomplish Your Word. Not one tittle of Your word will fall or fail, for, however long the wait, You are faithful and will show Yourself strong. This I’ve seen. This I know of You. In You I trust. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/5/22

Father, they could not enter Your REST because of their unbelief (Hebrews 3:18-19). Remembrance of all You have done, both in days of old and in our days, holding to You with earnest expectation and hope that You, who have shown Yourself strong before are still strong and working on our behalf for Your glory today, increases our faith to believe and trust You in the here and now challenges of life. The things we remember and choose to set our mind, heart, and hope on is vital to our ability to REST in Your faithfulness. Help us, Father, to have right thoughts within us so we believe You and trust You more. Help us to set ourselves apart to You, knowing You will use us and work good in us, to us, and through us as we wait on You and walk faithfully with You. In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/13/22

Torn and tattered, but still smiling.

What a beautiful mess. Thank You, Father, for the half inch of rain that allowed me to turn the sprinklers off last night. And even for the moisture from all that tiny hail that filled the lawn and crunched under my feet in last night’s video. What joy it is to step out into the beauty after the storm.

Thank You for the beauty after the storm and the picture of life carrying on that it gives. Thank You that out of destruction, much can be salvaged, and out of damage, strength reveals itself as restoration begins. Thank You for signs of Your protective cover.

Thank You that we can exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. And hope does not disappoint, because Your love has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Thank You for Your faithfulness. I love You, Lord, and look forward to the future with You as we watch for the beauty You bring out of ashes.

‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:3-5‬‬‬
Last night’s video.

Morning Prayer: 7/12/22

Thank You that Your compassions fail not, and You, Abba-Father, lovingly discipline those You claim as a son or daughter. Your discipline proves our relationship with You as Father. I am grateful that You faithfully discipline me and I watch for Your loving hand that guides me on paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake.

Father, it is true. You already know everything about us, so we can come to You humbly with each sin in our lives without fear of shocking You who already know, and we can earnestly seek Your forgiveness and grace knowing it is already there for us through Jesus Christ our Lord. He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life made for us by You who make a way where there is no way. You are faithful, so we need not fear.

However, I want more of You, so I ask for courage to truly humble myself and let You search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any evil, hurtful way in me and lead me in Your still more excellent ways. I know when I sincerely seek You to create in me a clean heart, You will shock me with the findings and amaze me with Your mercies made new every morning. In Jesus, make it so in me, I pray. Amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/7/22

Father, my greatest desire is to honor You with my all. My “job” feels home bound and often mundane. Help me remember You in each day and every task. It is You who sees me. May I be found doing my best work in these day. Find me faithful, O God. To You be the glory. In Jesus, amen.

Pardoned and Redeemed

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” Psalms‬ ‭103:2-5‬ ‭‬‬

This in verse 4 really struck me. Forgiveness 1: participates with Christ’s redemptive work toward the person we forgive. We accept Christ’s payment for the sin done against us. He bought it, so the sin done against us is no longer ours to punish or exact payment for through vengeance. It’s God’s to deal with. Let it go. And then…

2: He crowns us with lovingkindness and compassion, not only covering us with His, but crowning us with responsibility, authority and resource to give our love and compassion in His name to those we forgive. His mercy is new every morning. His compassions fail not. This is the reservoir – the River – of resource we work out of as we practice forgiveness toward others.

Father, thank You for empowering forgiveness in me through Your redemptive work toward those who sin against me. I accept the price You paid and relinquish their debt to You. Now pour forth through me Your lovingkindness and compassion to them. Make it new and fresh every morning, and may they see You in my eyes and feel You in my love actions. In Jesus, amen.

Get Up and Turn Again

“I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, WHEN ONCE YOU HAVE TURNED AGAIN, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32

We turn away. God doesn’t. Jesus knew that Peter would fall. He also knew that Peter would get back up, dust off, and turn back to follow Jesus: looking to Him and walking with Him anew. And Jesus knew that during the process, Peter would learn valuable truth he would then be able to use to strengthen and encourage others.

We are perfect in Christ, our essence already seated with Him in the Kingdom of God, assured of our position with Christ for all eternity. When we leave this world to cross over the line at those pearly gates, all of this world and worldliness will be burned away, so only righteousness and godliness enters in those Heavenly walls. All of this world that is still attached to us will be no more, but in our flesh existence and fleshly battles here and now, we are continually being perfected.

Just as a child learns by trial and error, gaining strength and maturing, so are we to do in this journey. Get up, dust off, turn back to Jesus, continue walking with Him, take what we learn to heart, and strengthen others. The more we do that, the better we get at letting go of world and worldliness now, the less there will be to burn away when our earthly body gives way to eternal glory.

1 Corinthians 3:10-17

Longing for Free Fish

“The rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.”” Numbers 11:4-6 NASB1995

Oh how dangerous it is and can be to look back at the past and long for it. Here the people of God long for fish they “used to eat free”. They forget their slavery. They worked and died for those “free” fish. An old song I remember called it owing one’s soul to the company store.

The problem with longing for the past is we too readily forget the bad as we covet that which we see as a “good” lost. And we refuse the good of God we possess and are going toward when we long for old days. Longing for the old also robs of power, focus, and success in realizing the new God has for us. We cannot be all we desire to be in Christ while longing for old days and old ways.

Eyes up. Focus now. Press forward.

Numbers‬ ‭11:18-20‬ ‭‬‬

Set Your Hearts

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:1-2‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

The picture from YouVersion uses the word “heart” in place of mind. “Mind, thought, think, be mindful, understand,” is the more accurate translation, but I believe “heart” covers the intent of the passage. We are to set our heart’s desires on the things of God.

All we are is to want the things above where God is, not the things of this world. Beyond simply keeping God’s desire, design, and purpose in mind, we are to hold it as our greatest treasure, desiring alignment with it and achievement of it above all else.

Put your heart into it. Set your heart’s desire, with every thought, on things above where God is.

He Makes Me

From the 23rd Psalm, AMPC

I have had Psalm 23 in the classic Amplified version of scripture as my focus for meditation since the 1st of this year. A friend asked me the other day to share any insights I have in it. Awakened by a noise this morning at about 3:30 AM, I started reciting the chapter in my attempt to get back to sleep. Suddenly, as I quoted one line, new understanding grabbed me, opening up this beautiful passage as never before.

“The Lord is my Shepherd to feed, guide, and shield me: I shall not lack.”

This is God’s “who”. He is the Good Shepherd, not because it’s what He does, but because it’s who He is. It is His nature to feed, guide and shield.

The shield is everything from the Warriors shield, including the armor of God, with its helmet of salvation; to the anointing oil with its protective cover and healing balm; to the shield of shelter that hides us under His wing from enemy attach and the worldly elements of heat, cold, rain, sleet, and snow; hate, menace, and torment.

This is His “Who”. From provision of every need, to guidance – wisdom, discernment, to shielding, whether shelter or protective cover: we have no lack of Him – The Shepherd of our soul.

“He makes me…” “He makes me to…”. This is not force over me. It is action and purpose in me.

“He makes me to lie down in fresh, tender, green pastures.” He made us as receptacles. We are created for Him to pour Himself into us. He gives His first and best to us, satisfying and satiating us so that we lie down full and ready to enter His rest, sensing that we are safe and secure in Him. I am awestruck by the assurance He gives that causes my entire being to rest itself in Him.

“He leads me beside the still and restful waters.” This is not rapidly moving waters that can sound wonderful and make you want to kick back and mellow in the peace of it. It’s another place of provision and protection.

Sheep’s wool gets heavy and is very absorbent. When they get wet in deeper water, the weight becomes too great for their legs. Falling over, unable to get up, they drown. The Good Shepherd finds shallow, still or gently flowing watering spots where sheep can drink without drowning.

He does not “leave” them beside still waters. He “leads” them, remaining nearby and watchful, ready to help them up should they fall. Whether we bear the weight of this world, the weight of our responsibilities, or whatever weight is weighing us down and drowning us, the Good Shepherd is our Lifeguard, standing at the ready to respond to our need.

In these places of provision, guidance, and protection, “He refreshes and restores my life: my self.” “My soul (NASB).” The essence of who I am. We learn who we are – who He created us to be, as we walk with Him, knowing His Who at work in us. Then, as we get good at that…

“He leads me in paths of righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with Him, NOT for my earning it, BUT for His name’s sake.”

He directs us into righteousness for His reputation. As we follow Him, we don’t have to fret our ups and downs; only trust that He will get us where we need to be for the glory of His name. Our reputation should express His effective work in our lives.

I think of Moses prayer in Exodus 33. “And Moses said to the Lord, ‘If Your Presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here! For by what shall it be known that I and Your people have found favor in Your sight? Is it not in Your going with us so that we are distinguished, I and Your people, from all the other people upon the face of the earth?’” (Exodus 33:15-16)

“Yes! Though I walk through the deep, sunless {or Son-less} valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me! Your rod to protect and Your staff to guide, they comfort me.”

No matter how bad things are in the world around us, God is and ALWAYS will be God – The Good Shepherd who feeds, guides, and shields us. I shall not lack! So there is no need for me to fear any evil or dread anything I might possibly find or have to face in the valley. In that valley…

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

He still Shepherds us in desolate, wilderness places of dark shadows. When the enemy is raising a raucous all around us, we can lie down, satisfied, satiated, safe, secure, and rested in Him. Though we may be unable to clearly perceive Him in dark, sunless places, we can trust He is there, working on our behalf. That is His Who and He is always doing Himself. Trusting that will strengthen our stance in dark places, for as He is, so also are we. Keep doing yourself in Christ.

“You anoint my head with oil!” This is a mighty shield of protection, I would liken to the helmet of salvation.

Flies, gnats, and other pests swarm the head of sheep. They lay their eggs in the skin, eyes, and ears. These form itchy sores as the larva eat the flesh and begin to burst forth. It causes the sheep to go nuts. They will thrash around, hitting their heads on rocks, trying to get relief and kill the infestation, even killing themselves in the process. Oil protects from the insects being successful at laying their eggs, kills and heals infested, infected areas, and protects the head from injury in head butts – whether in the battle, in discord, or at play with other sheep.

As we experience God feeding us and protecting us even in the midst of a swarming enemy, “My brimming cup runs over.”

We are the cup. The living water of God gushes from us to role downhill to other sheep, some not of His fold, drawing them in, refreshing them, helping them know, “He makes me to lie down….”

“Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!”

The original language’s first word, given here as “surely or only” can be translated to either surely or only: so take the “or” out.

“Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!”

Back in Exodus 33, in verse 18 Moses requests God to show him His glory. God replies, “I will make all My GOODNESS pass before you, and I will proclaim My name, THE Lord, before you; for I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show MERCY and LOVING-kindness on whom I will show MERCY and LOVING-kindness.” (Exodus 33:19 AMPC)

“Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!” We are meant to know, recognize, and express the glory of God. He who feeds, guides, and shields us does so in ways that expresses His glory and makes His name known…for His name’s sake.

“And through the length of my days, the house of the Lord and His presence shall be my dwelling place.” The house of the Lord…the Temple of God: that is what you and I are, corporately and individually.

His presence is in the house, Beloved. My brimming cup runs over. This is what He makes the “me” I am. He makes me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In difficult times, when it’s hard to see our blessings through the smokescreen of trouble, we must remember that “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

By His grace we have jobs and strength to work it. By His grace, He blesses our hands to put food on the table. For His glory we have family and friends to lift us up and bring joy to our days. Whatever little bit of good you see, thank God for it, knowing that God blesses us as we acknowledge our need of Him and recognize every good He gives, with gratefulness to Him for it.

God desires our good “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Our calling is to grow strong in our ability to recognize and trust the good that comes from Him, and to trust Him in the wait as He works good in the midst of trouble. So find every good today and give thanks to The Giver of Light to see by. 💗🤗🙏🏼

‭‭James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NASB; Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NASB

Focus on Victory

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

The world or worldly. This passage defines “all that is in the world” as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Considering this malady today, my thoughts settle on the eyes.

I know that lust resides in my dead flesh. The flesh wants what it wants. When revived from the death of sin bought for me by Jesus, that flesh with its passions and desires rises to draw me away from God and His desires for me. That enlivening begins in the eyes.

When my eyes fall to something flesh desires, the lust of the eyes excites the flesh. Then that flesh woman in me raises up from the dead to spark life back into the boastful pride of life in me as it did in Eve.

The lie of Satan is seed that is passed from parent to child. When lust of eye tweaks lust of flesh to resurrect itself, that seed of Satan starts talking in my own voice. “Surely one taste won’t hurt. I am strong and can just have one. God won’t mind as long as I reassert my self control. I can do it.”

I’ve fallen to this trap of fleshly lust over and over, especially in my way of eating. One reason for that is my knowing that no food is evil in itself. It’s my lust of flesh that is evil, and it knows how to trap me into making food an idol that too readily enslaves me. The lie is thinking “I” can be strong enough for anything. The trap is pride that ignores the first step into it: the focus of my eyes on an idol that too easily enslaves me.

Today, as I consider these things, I realize that the first step toward victory over the lust of my flesh is to look away from that which caught my eye’s attention. This may be the physical sighting of a delectable morsel, or it may simply be my mind’s eye allowing it’s focus to shift off course. Look away and turn gaze back on God.

Step two: do battle with pride. Take every prideful thought captive and make it bow to the name of Jesus as Lord and the Spirit of God as ally to our ability to do anything, knowing that “I” is unable to do anything apart from God. Take self thoughts captive to God’s desires for me, His power to overcome given to me. Refocus on relationship with Him and my desire to please Him above all else, keeping Him as the Lord and one true God over me. Set my mind and keep it set on walking in eternal victory. Keep it set on Temple life.

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:12-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The lust of the flesh keeps me in the grave of sinful passions. But God! By His grace, it is no longer “I” who live as flesh, but Christ lives in me through the power of His Spirit. His Spirit gives true life to me as I walk in believing faith and trust in God. By God’s Spirit alone, I have power to overcome the passions and desires of my flesh. Walk in victory with me and let’s be made whole.