Tag Archives: Rest

Capturing Stinking Thinking: Part 5

Considering the wisdom of Philippians 4:4-13 in our focus to follow the dictates of 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, which instructs us to take every thought captive, we finish up our arsenal from this Philippians passage. Beginning with joy in the Lord that brings strength, to it Paul adds the godly attitudes and temperaments of gentleness, an unselfish consideration, with forbearance, restraint, tolerance, and patience. To this Paul adds trust in God that produces peace of mind and heart, protecting against anxious thoughts. Last post Paul’s instruction added the need to make sure our thoughts dwell with God, letting His truth and perspective dictate so that we turn to thoughts that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely; thoughts of good repute, excellence, and praiseworthiness. Dwelling with such thinking causes those characteristics to work their way out in our life practices. Today we add what may well be the most needful and effective weapon for our arsenal against stinking thinking:

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” ~ Verses 10-13.

Trust in God that empowers us to be content despite life’s circumstance is one of our greatest tools against skunk-thoughts. This contentment is not that fed by discouragement, but by hope. True contentment is not the passivity, apathy, or indifference that leads to us lying down to die in defeatism, instead of getting up to move forward in faith. This contentment Paul speaks of requires us to enter into the rest of God: a rest fed by faith to trust Him, leading to those actions of obedience required of us wherever we are in life; trust filled action flowing from those right and true thought processes. This active-rest holds us in God’s sure peace while believing with assurance of heart that He is in control and will get us safely to wherever He is taking us through the situation at hand (consider Hebrews 3:12-19; Philippians 3:1-14).

As I think on these things, I realize that contentment is greatly dependent on our ability to place our joy in the Lord Himself, instead of in His gifts or provision, or in our wants and desires. When we let our joy fall on what God does for us instead of realizing Him as our exceeding great reward, we will fall easily to discontent when a desire or even a perceived need goes unmet. Thus, we come full circle, beloved.

Where are you in your life journey today? Do you readily rest things in God’s capable hands, following His instruction in obedience as you walk through life’s challenges? Or do you kick against the goads of thoughts not settled and secure in God’s will and way? Let’s close with God’s words to us through James:

“What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.

“You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose:

“‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’?

“But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.’

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” ~ James 4:1-10 (consider the Amplified version of this passage).

Contentment in whatever circumstance life brings us begins with God being our first, most needful joy, knowing Him to be our exceeding great reward. No other perceived need or want truly sustains us.

Walk the Word, Receive the Promise

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Called to Possess: God’s Favor and Grace

“Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous—POSSESSING the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!” ~ Matthew 5:8, AMPC.

“Grace. Grace. God’s grace.” Oh how happy we are when we possess full understanding of the blessing and work of God’s grace in us.

This Amplified Classic version of Matthew 5:8 speaks of possessing the happiness of Spirit that comes from personal realization and experience of God’s favor and grace, producing purity of life. That speaks to the importance of each individual of us personally possessing true understanding of God’s grace. We possess assurance of God’s grace through understanding our life of purity in Him by the power of work of Christ Jesus, our Savior.

As people made fully pure when we receive Jesus as Savior, our lives covered by the grace of that supply, Jesus instantly makes us eternally right with God in Christ through the power of His Spirit. The death that separates us from God is destroyed and we are made alive forever in Christ. However, God also calls and equips us in this life to grow in purity as we grow our ability to follow the dictates of the Spirit, thus producing the fruit born out of a life, saved and made whole by grace. Being pure of heart leads us to produce words and deeds that are pure, revealing us as the children of God in Christ. When we fail to produce the fruit of a pure life, the gift of Christ’s purity covers our failure through grace, holding us eternally secure, while working through repentance to lead us back to a life that bears the fruit of purity.

Grace is not a license to continue as we are, living as people dictated by fleshly desires. Instead, God, through grace supplied in Christ, gives us His Holy Spirit to direct our lives as we grow in righteousness: the product of purity. A person who truly possesses grace follows the dictates of the Spirit to live righteously for conscience sake. These produce fruit in keeping with a repentance that reveals the purity of heart graciously gifted to us in Christ (Matthew 3:8; Romans 14:13-23).

Possess God’s grace, beloved, for His grace brings us to true purity of heart, mind, soul, and strength that produces God’s blessing in and through us.

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. …And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach…” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 1:21-23.

Ever Present Peace

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!” ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

Paul often opened and closed his letters with a blessing of peace and hope of the realization of God’s presence for the reader. He knew it was vital for the heart of the person to trust the presence of the Lord in life and circumstance so they would walk in the peace of God.

Peace disturbed signals that the mind’s eyes shifted focal point, turning from trust in God and His presence in life to the problems inherent in life’s difficulties. Peter sank when his eyes shifted from Jesus to the enormous waves coming at them, faith disturbed by his eye’s understanding of the situation. As a baby learning to walk, falls when looking away from the outstretched arms of the parent, so we find ourselves stumbling through life when we fail to fix our eyes on Him who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Trouble in life is often overwhelming, for when in the midst of it, it is difficult to see the path through it. Turning eyes to God, knowing He sees and knows all fully, while trusting His greatness that far exceeds any trouble, quiets the soul. Realizing His closeness to us, His presence in our day-to-day lives, His trustworthiness toward us who look to Him, brings His gift of peace and the assurance of His hand made ready to move on our behalf. Looking to Him stills us so that we may know God and receive from Him the wisdom needed to face the storm. With eyes on Him, we hear the voice of the Lord speak to our storm, “Peace! Be still” (Mark 4:35-41, KJV).

~*~

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen” ~ Hebrews 13:20-21.

See also John 14:1; 23-27; Hebrews 13: 5, AMPC; Psalm 37:3-9; Psalm 46.

Difficult Things 2-C ~ A Faith That Moves Mountains: Personal Testimony (Long)

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord” ~ Lamentations 3:21-26.

My journey of learning to walk by faith, knowing I can trust God for every need, began with a very small issue that was mountainous to me. A wart on my hand refused to heal, despite every effort.

On the day I was considering the need to go to our medical doctor and let him take care of it, I walked into our living room where a TV program was talking about a little booklet, just out at that time, titled, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” They were talking about the “room” of our heart where faith resides. Struck by the discourse, I went back to the kitchen I was in the process of cleaning, praying along the way for God to grow my faith. The person sharing the booklet suggested asking God to point to a particular need that He would use to enliven our journey to increased faith that fully trusts in Him. Doing so, as I reached into the sink for the next dish, I bumped the wart.

Memory of my mother telling me of a time when I had several warts on my hand came instantly to mind. She said they could not afford to do anything medically for it at that time, so she prayed for God’s healing, and He took care of it: within a week, they were gone. There it was! Revelation of the conduit for my beginning on the journey to grow in faith that fully trusts and looks to God. Praying for God’s healing to increase my faith to trust Him more, I went on with life. Not many days later, again doing dishes, I saw it, my perfectly healed hand. I forgot about the wart after giving it to the Lord and paid no attention until reaching into the water again reminded me. Ever since then, just the inkling of a wart meets with prayers of faith that trusts God. I have not had one wart since. In fact, one threatened to rise up just last week, and it is gone because God is faithful.

My journey of growth to greater levels of faith continues today. Our God is so very great; He is beyond any ability we have to fully comprehend His glory and power this side of eternity. I am convinced that, no matter how strong we grow in our knowledge of and understanding of Him, when we meet Him in eternity, amazement will be ours as we meet a Father much greater than we can ever comprehended in this life. Every situation we face presents us with opportunity to grow in faith as we come to better understand our God. Acts 17 tells us:

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist…” ~ vs. 24-28.

God’s desire is that we grow in our knowledge of Him, and the purpose of every experience under the sun is that we reach for His hand expecting to find it. This is the journey of ever-growing faith.

My husband and I are in new territory for us even now that is giving ample opportunity to seek and find the hand of God in ways never before experienced by us. My beloved husband of over 40 years received a diagnosis of stage 4 prostate cancer just a few weeks ago. He had no common symptoms of prostate issues, thus the advanced state (Men, it is vital you have a physical every year that includes a prostate exam and PSA lab work). The symptoms he does have pointed to a myriad of possibilities. Addressing the most likely cause first, his presenting symptom went on for 10 months before another symptom finally led to looking more closely at what was going on. So here we are, on a journey that, short of God’s work in my husband’s body, has us facing the reality that his life may end sooner than desired by us.

Seeking God as the shock of the diagnoses of earthly medicine hit, Father made it clear that He is in control. This thing is not outside the scope of His plan nor beyond the reach of His hand. He has purpose in this season and will accomplish it. This is a journey set by God to increase faith in us as we seek the Lord’s direction for each and every step. God’s purpose in this health issues is to give us opportunity to seek Him so we may grow in our knowledge of Him. As we do, we take every opportunity to share the journey in ways that help the faith and growth of those walking with us. You are now part of that group.

In our journey, we are discovering as never before the greatest of faith that cries out as Jesus did, “Yet not my will, but Your will be done.” We seek God, having our desire in the outcome, but we know God’s will is of greatest importance and must prevail, for His purpose will see its fulfillment. The soil for the seed of faith is always and only in the calling and equipping of God available to us in the things that challenge our faith. If we are not in the center of God’s will, reaching for His Hand in any given situation, His power and supply for our ability will not be there to help us. Faith either fails to sprout forth to accomplish any good thing because of immaturity, or because of lack of obedience that fails to receive the nutrients available to us in the soil of life-challenges. Growing and productive seeds for abundant life root out by faith in God, revealed as such through trusting obedience to Him, bearing the fruit of righteousness.

Faith seeks God first, finds His will and way for the path ahead, and walks that path with assurance that He is in control, leading to the outcome of His choosing. Faith trusts that the One who sees and knows all things, from beginning of time to end of days, is working a plan that establishes and accomplishes our divinely appointed role in this life.

All the good we seek to do can only come to fulfill His will and purpose as we grope for Him, finding His hand to lead us to it. Fighting death as if it is the mountain is a waste of energy apart from God’s leading in the fight. Short of the Rapture coming to take us, death is a promise to all human flesh. Death is the natural course of life in this shell we call “body”, and God is the one who sets in place the time and method of our death. Unless raptured, we will all one-day die.

God’s word tells us that He plans the number of our days while there is yet one of them. Before we are born, He knows our hour of death, because He set the course of our life and planned how each breath fits His eternal purpose. Our walk of faith is to grasp for His hand with every step, trusting Him to direct our paths to fulfill the purpose He planned before we were born. Continue in attempts to do what we see as good without waiting on God to direct, equip, and establish our path, and we deplete the soil of the heart, using up resources meant for other things, and missing the mark of fulfilling His purpose.

Depleted soil cannot bear good fruit. That is when our everyday ministry begins to falter as we deplete resources given for it while trying to do more than God calls us to do. Johnny has strength to keep working because God set His feet on the path and Johnny trusts God for each step. He is not fretting over things He cannot control. Though he is putting up the fight against cancer as God leads us to, He knows God is the only one who can bring the victory. God’s will for Johnny’s life will be done.

My husband’s health issue is a huge mountainous challenge in our lives, but it is not the only mountain, nor even the main one. Death being part of life, the mountain to cast away is anything in us that hinders our facing it with faith, hope, and trust in God, knowing He will not allow our death one instant before He fulfills His plan in us. The mountain God reveals to me is most important to Him is the things in us that hinder our faith and rob of strength needed for us to walk this journey well, in ways that glorify Him. Oh how sad it would be to come to the end of our days and fail to finish strong in faith filled obedience to God, being too busy fighting death to live the life He gives us!

One of the biggest challenges revealed so far on our journey is the mountain of my need to control things. My routines are messed up, and my calendar is no longer my own. I know. It never truly was, not if I truly follow God; but all sense of time ever belonging to me to control is falling to the wayside, as we must do what is necessary to travel the path God has us walking. We often get calls to remind of appointments one of his doctors set up without consulting us. The reminder for the appointment becomes the first we knew of it, reminding us that our calendar is not our own: it must rest in God’s capable hands (Psalm 37:23; 40:2; Proverbs 16:9). Household duties and my husband’s work duties pile up as we spend time normally put to those things, running to appointments and tending to health needs.

As we seek God in every challenge Johnny’s health journey brings, God directs us step by step. He is pouring strength to my husband, thus far protecting him from the side effects of chemo and symptoms common to his illness, empowering him to keep working and to get the work done as he gets to it. Hubby’s patience has always amazed me, and his ability to let God be God in this hour is strengthening my own.

As for me, God told me shortly after this journey began to fret not over things that can wait, but pick my battles with His priorities at heart, reserving the energy I need to be the wife Johnny needs in this season. That wisdom and the faith to let God have control, knowing God will provide the energy and ability for each thing in its time, brought down a huge mountain in me as I surrendered my times to God’s care, trusting my days to Him.

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; save me in Your lovingkindness. Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon You…” ~ Psalm 31:14-17a.

When faced with an issue that looks like a mountain to overcome, the first step is to go to the Father and ask if we are the one to tackle it. The voice of persecution from God’s enemy often comes as a sense of urgency to jump on tasks that are truly unimportant in that moment, only serving to rob of needed strength for things we do need to take care of. We must seek His revelation to know if that thing in front of our eyes is a mountain He wants us to face, and whether it is one to cast aside or whether it is His provision of a place of fertile soil for our spiritual growth and service. His answer fertilizes our faith, making it ready for germination. Planting that seed by trusting Him for each step, following in obedient faith, grows in us the fruit bearing trees that glorify Him.

Knowing our calling and equipping, and having God’s focus, requires a vital and growing relationship with the Father. That begins and ends in prayer: communication with God that earnestly seeks Him with seeds of faith ready for His provision for growth. Seeking Him must be in faith that trusts Him to give the right answer, with commitment to follow the wisdom He supplies without wavering (James 1:1-8).

The question that comes to my attention next is, how do we know that our faith is planted in the fertile soil of God’s making so that mountains fall and good springs forth? Next post we address another difficult thing about God’s word and way that is necessary to understand if we are to see His good worked out into our circumstances. Hoping to see you back here next week as our life circumstances allow me time to write subsequent posts.

Difficult Things 2-B ~ A Faith That Moves Mountains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Difficult Things 2-A ~ Faith That Moves Mountains

In the first “Difficult Things” post, speaking of truly trusting God, we mentioned that the disciples were unable to heal the demon-possessed boy brought to them by the man who came with a small seed of hope that Jesus “can” heal. We talked about what Jesus said to the man, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”

Jesus spoke straight to the point, both to the man seeking healing, and to the disciples, standing by, wondering why they could not perform the healing. The man’s “if” revealed how small his faith, but the man was not the only one struggling with faith…

…and “small faith” was not the true problem. …

We see this fact in the response Jesus gives the disciples when they seek answers.

In Matthew 17:14-21, we see the same story told by Mark in the Mark 9 passage covered two posts back. Here Matthew tells us that the disciples come to Jesus afterward and ask, “Why could we not drive it out?” Jesus replied, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’ …And He said to them, ‘This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer (Mark 9:29).’”

Difficult thing 2: How much faith does it take before we see a mountainous issue thrown aside?

Jesus said the disciples problem of faith was in its “littleness”.  Was He talking amount or size of faith? I don’t believe so, because Jesus then says it only takes a mustard seed sized faith to move mountains. The mustard tree seed is one of the smallest seeds there is: reportedly, the smallest of seeds known by man at the time Jesus spoke this analogy. Use of the word “littleness” was not talking about size.

I believe the “littleness” Jesus speaks of implies the seeds maturity. There is a point in the life of a seed when it is not of sufficient maturity to germinate, therefore it is incapable of producing fruit. Jesus is not talking about having great faith, but a faith that is capable of growth: a faith that makes us fruit bearing trees in God’s eternal purpose.

In the analogy used by Jesus, we see that faith does not have to be big to grow, but it does have to be capable of resting in God and receiving the nutrients He gives that springs forth life in Christlikeness, producing the fruit of that Good Tree. Where do I get the need to rest the seed in God from Jesus’ analogy? From His remark that told them they were not prayed up enough.

What is it that resources our spiritual growth of faith? Where does that seed have to be in order to grow? That seed must fully and completely rest in hearts that fully and completely rely on God: trusting His resources as we cooperate in His work, seeking His instruction, and watching for the great things He can do in response to our faith. The disciples had faith, but the One they looked to for instruction and equipping was not with them when the man came with his “if you can” hope. Jesus, out doing a work of God’s choosing, unavailable to help them, they apparently did not think to go to the Father for themselves and plant the seed in the soil of hearts relying on Him. All it takes is a mustard seed of faith, the smallest inkling of trust to believe God, seeking Him to meet our need, but in order to get that, we have to seek Him.

There lies the key: He meets our need, whatever it is, however great or small, once we seek Him with a faith ready for growth. He grows our faith from glory to glory, here a little, and there a little more. The “can you?” of a hope filled seeker, and “I know You can, if You are willing,” sprout from the smallest of seed, mature enough to search for Him and find Him.

No matter how small our faith, if it has maturity for growth, it will find God ready to nourish it, growing our faith with ever-deeper roots into the One who moves mountains. But realize too that our eyes may be sighted on the wrong mountain. What do I mean? See you in our next posting for the answer.

 

Difficult Things 1 ~ To Truly Trust: Side 2

Last post we began looking at the difficulty of truly trusting in God. We saw the seed of faith that leads us to seek the Father with trust that He who can, if willing, sees no impossible task and is able to respond to our need.

The problem is that we too often put God in a box of our making. We see a need, and, from our limited understanding, we see a potential solution. Working out of our finite mind, we too readily demand that God work in the way we perceive is best. We often fail to understand that God has the greater plan in heart, the eternal good of all concerned.

God always responds with the purpose of fulfilling the ultimate good. That understanding leads us to the flip side of our trust coin, and our greatest picture of this trust is found in Christ as He poured out His heart to God that last night in the garden He loved.

“And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done’” ~ Luke 22:41-42.

“Yet not my will, but Yours be done” is the flip side of the trust coin that we too easily miss out on. Jesus, in this day of His life, sought the Father knowing that if willingness to do so was there, the Father had power to remove the cup He was about to drink.

God’s ability was not in question. Truly, even His willingness was not the issue, for Jesus later tells Peter, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? HOW THEN WILL THE SCRIPTURES BE FULFILLED, WHICH SAY THAT IT MUST HAPPEN THIS WAY?” (see Matthew 26, especially verses 46-54).

Jesus knew that God had a greater purpose in the cup sitting before Him and this was the plan from the beginning. Yes, in the stress of facing the pain and suffering that cup meant for Him, He asked for the cup to be removed, and He asked in faith, knowing God could do what He asked if willing. However, in that faith and belief, He asked with a willingness to drink the cup for the sake of fulfilling the eternal purpose of God. True trust in God overcomes the stress hormones of our flesh and the desire of our limited understanding to desire God’s will above our own.

Jesus knew that Father God is the perfect Father, having the perfect plan for the perfecting work of humankind and the completion of His eternal Kingdom. He knew this God is all-powerful and can do anything He has a mind to do. That included the power to equip this Son of His to face the pain of 40 lashes and the nail scarred hands and feet of one placed on a cross. He knew the suffering He walked toward included the moment in time when the whole of the sin of humankind would go on His crucified shoulders and the Father He loved would turn His back on the Lamb bearing the sin. He knew, as hard as it was to face that pain and the separation it would bring for that brief moment of His life, the Father is trustworthy. He trusted God to do all He promised by the best means, working the greatest glory, and He trusted Him even in death.

This trust in God on the flip side is the meaning of the second, seemingly repeated trust found in our Jeremiah passage:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord” ~ Jeremiah 17:7.

What if Jesus failed to trust God to be God? What if He let fear and dread of the pain cause Him to be unwilling for God’s will? What if He ran from that cross, refusing to bear it; where would we be? This passage, more than any other, helps me to understand that the body’s natural response to such, with hormones surging and leading us to question the sanity of such a time as this, is not sin. The sin is in giving ourselves to it and letting it destroy our willingness for God’s will.

When we only want what God can do without trusting that He knows and does what is best for the situation so that it works His purpose, we place ourselves in a position to fall away from true faith if His greater purpose refuses us our desire. Trust in what God can do must ultimately flow from trust in who God is and the understanding that He who sees all will most assuredly see more than we can fathom. He, knowing more than we do about any given situation, always does what is best for our here and now, for that of those we entrust to Him, and for the eternal destiny before us.

Back to my husband’s situation. Do I believe my God can heal Him? You better believe I do, and I am praying with faith for that outcome. Not only do I believe God can heal him, I believe He is willing. The question is, what does God’s idea of healing look like for my husband? Do I trust God enough to surrender my husband to God, trusting His best for all concerned, even if that means his healing is for God to take this mate I love to his eternity? Yes, I do. Do I know that God will be my help to face the days without this man I have spent over 2/3s of my life with, when I cannot fathom life apart from him? I know I can trust my God.

Beloved, we put those we love and all we want in danger if we cannot truly and earnestly say, “Yet not my will, but Thy will be done.” To fail full trust in God, surrendering this one to Him, is to hold my husband as an idol, desiring him above my God. I will not put my husband in that dangerous place, for God says, “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another” ~ Isaiah 48:11.

That said, my prayer becomes, Father, I know You can heal my husband. I know You can help us through these days we face. I long to face these days with Your strength that brings You glory. I believe You are willing to heal my husband and my hope is for more time together here, this is my prayer and desire. But I also know that You know what is best for all concerned. So let Your will be done, on earth and in us, as it is in heaven. I receive every word of hope You highlight for me in this hour, and I stand on You who speak Your will into existence according to Your way and for Your glory. In Jesus, amen.

Oh! Yeah. What about the disciples in the healing they could not perform? I believe there were two problems that hindered their ability: 1) the desire of their affection; and 2) the authority in their desire. See you next post for Difficult Things 2, when I will endeavor to explain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

Listening Prayer (Part 2-A) ~ The Work of The Helper

“For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:4-5, NLT.

God calls and equips us to listen as His disciples, having His provision for our ears to hear and our mind to understand and our heart to stand in agreement so-as-to fulfill His plan and purpose for our being in this time in history. There are two main things God supplies us to equip us for success in our journey as His disciples: The Spirit of God and the mind of Christ. For these two resources to have full sway in accomplishing God’s will in us, we must understand their work in us, and BELIEVE! Today we look at the work of The Spirit of God in the lives of His children.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. …These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” ~ John 14:16-17, 25-26.

Jesus tells us a lot about the work of the Spirit in Scripture. Here we see the PROMISE from Jesus that He sends His Spirit to help us. The promise is that we will receive the Spirit and KNOW Him. We can and must as God’s children discern when the Spirit is speaking to us, doing His work as Helper. What is that work?

The Helper empowers us to understand the truth of God and His word.

We cannot fully comprehend the truth of God and His word to us without this work of the Spirit, so when understanding comes, that is not ours to brag about. All credit for our ability to understand the Holy Writ belongs to Spirit-God.

By the same right, when we set under the teaching of our church leadership, they must share with us what the Spirit taught them. The Spirit uses their teaching to take us into deeper understanding, and it is the Spirit of God that raises an “amen” in our Spirit when we hear His truth.

The Spirit is our Teacher and our Brain of Remembrance.

Think about what it takes to teach. There must be clear communication between teacher and student / disciple. The Spirit of God instructs our hearts and enables us to understand the teaching so-as-to apply it to our daily lives. When we forget some instruction, the Spirit is the one who brings it to our remembrance.

Though it may seem to us that our thoughts are our own, that is not always true. The Spirit is God’s response to the prayer of Jesus that we be one with them as they are with each other. Every good and true thought that leads us to the good God desires is from Him in the power of His Spirit that unites us as one with the Father. We cannot take credit for any good that comes to our understanding and actions.

The scriptures tell us two things about God that lead me to this assertion. One, God alone is good, and every good and perfect gift comes from Him (Mark 10:18; James 1:17). Two, when we ask for wisdom, believing and trusting Him to give it, He answers (James 1:5-8).

There is a true and good wisdom available for our possession in the power and equipping of Spirit-God. That wisdom is a gift from God in the power of His Spirit. It is not our own. We can take no credit for it. (James 3:13-18)

I believe this truth is why Proverbs describes Wisdom as if speaking of a person (i.e.: Proverbs 1:20-33). The Spirit of God is true and good Wisdom.

Often people will hear me proclaim, “God said to me” or “God told me”. These truths that I believe are why I do that. Every true and good understanding of truth that comes to me from Him is His speaking to me the instruction needed for life more abundant and full. Giving Him credit for it keeps me mindful that such good is not my own, but His.

I believe He speaks clearly to my heart because I have heard Him. He, many times has told me what is about to come; He gives understanding of what is going on, and truth I need to remember. It comes as a clear thought rising up as my own, but clearly not from my physical mind. Such thoughts always prove to be truly from Him and they lead my feet surly to the path of His choosing (Jeremiah 28:9; Ezekiel 33:33; Isaiah 30:21). I dare not take credit for it.

There is much taught concerning the work of the Spirit in scripture. We continue our journey tomorrow.

Standing on the Promises

“By His divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know Him, the one who called us to Himself by means of His marvelous glory and excellence. And because of His glory and excellence, He has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share His divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires” ~ 2 Peter 1:3-4, NLT.

The promises of God my King, Savior, Champion, Companion. We are in a season that has me leaning heavily on God and His faithfulness.

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post. In that time, we busy ourselves with life as we go through the beginning of what may bring us to a long medical challenge in my sweet hubby’s life. He has a biopsy coming up to determine if his issue is cancerous, so we stand, waiting, to see what the Lord will do. (Prayers appreciated)

That said, I am so grateful that, though this life has its twists and turns that can throw us for a loop, we stand fixed and stable because of God’s faithfulness. Here in our focal passage, the author instructs us that we can share the divine nature of God as His image bearers and escape the world’s corruption caused by fleshly desires, by standing, firm in faith, on the promises of God.

God’s promises come to us by His grace alone, but most all we enter into by way of some act of obedience. Jesus promised us His Spirit to guide and equip us for life abundant and full in Him, but that Spirit comes only as we choose to believe the truth of Christ and His life, work, and sacrificial death. Most promises have something we must do to take our stance on that Rock.

This week, as I contemplate what life holds for us in these days of 102facing whatever we may face with Hubby’s health issues, God speaks to me through 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. Through this passage, God reminds me that His promise to reveal Himself through me comes to pass as I go about my daily life, keeping my hands busy with the tasks at hand. Through this season of unknown challenges ahead of us, standing firm on God means doing what comes next with hope in Him to accomplish His will through even the most mundane of tasks.

God promises strength in our weakest hours as we make Him our greatest joy and song (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 13:4; 1 Corinthians 1:27; Hebrews 12:13; Nehemiah 8:10). Knowing God’s promises, receiving His instruction, we take our stance on the Rock of our salvation, fully trusting that God will reveal Himself to and through us in this season we enter in to possess for His glory.

~*~

“Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” ~ 2 Peter 1:5-8, NASB.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” ~ Hebrews 10:23, NASB.

Convinced of This: I Can Believe God

“The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life He brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through Him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to His own people, but they didn’t want Him. But whoever did want Him, who believed He was who He claimed and would do what He said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten” ~ John 1:9-13, MSG.

God leads me to John 1:9 often, especially when things in life look dark and grim. Sometimes my heart wants to just say, “Yes, Lord, I know You are The Light and You enlighten the heart of every person seeking You.” Then I pause, knowing God ALWAYS has something to say to my heart when I obediently and expectantly revisit such familiar passages. Lately God uses the wording of The Message to inspire greater depth of understanding with greater breadth of hope. Today is one such day.

Someone I love greatly; someone we trusted with others we love; he made choices that did great harm to our beloveds and put himself into the legal system of our nation, sanctioned by God. After five long years, he faced his days in court and lost the battle. Yesterday our little ones said goodbye to their dad. Today he goes into his confinement. My heart breaks for all concerned. My cry goes to God for each. He leads me to His promises, and through this passage reminds me to “only believe!”

My heart is especially with this man who I still love despite his sin and the consequences it brought to all. I cry out to God for his protection and for his strength in this new journey he is on. I believe God, who tells my heart that He is with him to protect Him and I cry out for his faith to know this as well. And I believe this promise that through this difficult season, God will use all to make this man into the true self God planned for him.

only believe1Faith often grows strongest in the winds of adversity. God takes us to greater depths of understanding His faithfulness through the challenges this life presents us. The darker the hour, the closer to the heart of Christ it requires us to come, so His light can shine on the truth of God’s faithfulness toward us. God assures my heart today that through faith, He is making each of us into our true, Child-of-God selves. The requirement: see the Light of God shining on His promises and only believe. Trust His hand in the journey, and cling to His word.

Whatever difficulty you are in today, beloved, I pray the promises of God for you. I pray you will only believe that God is who He says He is, and that He will do all He says He will do. I pray that He enlightens your heart, your day, your path, your experience, leading you surely to become the true, Child-of-God person He planned from before time began.

~*~

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn entirely away from evil. It shall be health to your nerves and sinews, and marrow and moistening to your bones” ~ Proverbs 3:5-8, AMP.

Convinced of This: God is With Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction’” ~ Exodus 16:4.

Today, as I seek the Lord to make Himself known and to minister to the need He sees in me, He begins by speaking to me concerning the habit of fretting tomorrows issues and needs. Fretting wastes time, energy, and supply meant for use in this day’s need, giving it to things that have not and may never come to our lives. Praying about where to begin on our journey to holy habitation with God, He reminds me of the next portion of the Lord’s Model Prayer, and through that, He leads me to the verse above.

In the Lord’s Model Prayer, we looked at the need to begin every prayer with realization of God: who He is, how He works, His might and power and supply available to us, surrendering to His sovereignty. Next Jesus instructs we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:9-13).

Remember, Jesus, in His Model Prayer is giving the people an outline to help their understanding of how to properly approach God’s throne of grace. He begins with leading the people to realize and acknowledge all the glory of God, His power and sovereignty, so they realize that He is the one able to respond to their every need. Then He says, “Now, with this understanding, pray for your daily bread.” Bread / food is a need common to all. Here Jesus is saying to trust God for our daily food supply, but it is more than that. He is more fully instructing us to “trust God for Your daily supply to meet your every need.”

God-Jehovah, in ministering to His people, Israel, promises them His supply to meet their daily need of bread. The daily manna is a symbol of God’s supply for what He sees as our daily need. Whether it is food, finances, strength, grace, wisdom, instruction, or whatever the need, God is the source of our supply, and He sends it to each day as needed. The example found in Exodus tells us that God often only sends what we need for each day with His instruction for its proper use, and He does so for the purpose of revealing whether or not we will follow His instruction.

Fretting and worrying misappropriate God’s supply given for our today. Fretting and worrying tends to miss the opportunity before us in this moment. Fretting and worrying shows lack of faith to trust God’s daily, moment of need, supply. Fretting and worrying denies God’s sovereignty in life and puts us in danger of running rogue. Fretting and worrying too easily leads to our taking things in our own hands, denying the sovereignty of God, and His supply for life’s challenges and opportunities.

God is telling me today to realize His presence with me, leading, Jesus003guiding, supplying my need moment by moment, and empowering me for this day. He is reminding me to trust Him for each day yet to be and to partner with Him in the now as His child, ready to walk with Him in accomplishing His purpose in this day. He reminds me that He knows me and my need better than I know myself. He is my first most vital need and necessity in this life. He is my portion. I cannot make it through a day without Him. In holy habitation with Him, He gives me my true need.

(Numbers 18:20; Psalm 16:5; 73:26; 119:57; Ecclesiastes 3:22; 5:19; Isaiah 61; Lamentations 3:20-25)

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ The Shepherd’s Crook, Part 2

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. …” ~ Psalm 23, NASB.

Following the Good Shepherd, Jehovah-Raah, requires complete surrender that trusts Him to be God and Father, leading us to the place of His desire, designed for the glory of His name. Faith in God to be the Good Shepherd for a life of abundance despite the issues of life in this world realizes that He has a purpose in all things. Resting with surrender that trusts His purpose equips us to find in His pastures the resources He provides for our growth and maturity as His children, made in His image. Equipped to trust in the Lord and do good, in His pastures, we find opportunity to make a difference in the situations of life. With heart attuned to Him…

“He leads me beside the still and restful waters”

Surrender to trust in the Lord to do the good He has for us produces a faith toward Him that equips us to find His rest in the midst of difficult experiences. Jesus exemplified this when He slept in the bow of a boat while His disciples panicked (Matthew 8:18-27). Jesus fully trusted His destiny to God, knowing God would fulfill His good word to Him; so much so that He was able to rest in the midst of life’s literal storm.

Temptation to panic is a sign of one’s need to be still and know God. Seeking Him to reveal the faith we must possess in Him concerning our situations will find Him responding to lead us to the place of still and restful waters in the midst of hardship. Hope filled with earnest expectation that God will be God even in the storm, is the ingredient of His Spirit at work in us that leads us to His rest. This restfulness of Spirit resides in us even though we often see the rushing waves of the river nearby and feel the winds of life’s storms around us. Despite such torrents, God faithfully provides a place of safety and security. Finding us completely reliant upon Him…

“He refreshes and restores my soul – my life”

When storms come to life, they tend to change the dynamics of the life we know. Those times can make it difficult to press forward. The solution is to find His hand and trust The Good Shepherd, who faithfully leads to green pastures and quiet waters. Refreshed in His presence, restoration comes as …

“He leads me in the paths of righteousness…not for my earning it, but for His name’s sake.”

Following the Lord requires faith to trust Him to get us to the place He has for us in life’s situations. Scripture tells us that, “A man’s mind plans his way as he journeys through life, But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them” (Proverbs 16:9, AMP). When we are truly following the Lord, He establishes our steps, making them effective.

There is always eternal purpose for the paths upon which God puts our feet. Trusting and following Him step by blessed step, with faith that knows His sovereignty that works good things out of all we face, will lead to the glory of His name and fulfillment of His purpose and plan.100

Trust in Jehovah-Raah, Beloved. He will bring you through this life with a testimony of your experience of His peaceful pastures. He, whose thoughts are higher than our own and whose ways are beyond our comprehension, faithfully astounds us as we see His glory come out of experiences that are unfathomable to our finite minds.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ The Shepherd’s Crook, Part 1

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. …” ~ Psalm 23, NASB.

When life gets hard and my body wants to hide under a rock, denying all that is coming at me, The Lord comes to me as a Shepherd, reminding me of His sure presence and instructing my heart anew that I can follow Him, step by step and breath by breath, through each day. Jehovah-Raah, The Lord my Shepherd, calls me to follow Him so I do not fall away in the storm and lose my way in life, trying to do for myself what only He can do. The Amplified version of Psalm 23 further increases hope for the help of my God in difficult days.

“THE LORD is my Shepherd to feed, guide, and shield me, I shall not lack”

When the waters get rough, the first thing I too easily strive for is to try to fix things. I run around like the proverbial headless chicken, wearing myself to a frazzle, trying to do what is only God’s to handle. Too often I do this without first seeking Him and His ways.

The best thing for me to remember in any situation is my need to follow my Shepherd, trusting His provision for all the need I see before me. This trust calls me quickly to seek Him and His righteousness first before taking any action. Often He uses the Shepherd’s Crook of His Spirit, urging me forward or pulling back to right paths. Through His Word and the Spirit’s lead, He lets us know when there is something to do. Following God’s Spirit, I learn the benefit found as I walk where He walks, feast on His supply, and find my rest under His Fatherly wings. Doing so…

“He makes me lie down in fresh, tender, green pastures”

In “fix-it” mode, I too easily miss the good God has for me in life. “Fresh, tender, green pastures” speak two things to me:

†   This is a place where I can find food and God’s resource meant to nourish, grow, and change me to be all He intended when He planned me.

†   This is a place of opportunity where, with reliance upon God, He can use me in right ways that accomplish His purpose.

I don’t have to be the “fixer”. I can trust God to take care of all I entrust to Him.

God often takes us through seasons that are too hard for us to faceJesus005 without Him. He uses these things to make us “lie down”, a position of complete surrender to His will, trusting Him, placing all reliance upon Him. When we lie down in His pastures, we find ourselves in a place that requires our full trust in His protection, provision, and direction.

In the pastures of our Good Shepherd, Jehovah-Raah, we learn to know God. God is in the business of creating for Himself a people after His own heart, readied for His Kingdom. Life’s storms are part of that work of God, revealing areas of needed change, growing our faith, changing our hearts and our nature to the image of God. Here God, feeds, guides, and shields us so that we have no lack of any true need in life. He is our only true need, and He gives Himself to us as we walk in the pastures in which He places us, trusting Him to be the Good Shepherd over all we find there. The things He allows us to experience on the paths of His pastures causes us to lie down in surrendered trust of Him, believing with faith in His supply for our ability to discover and accomplish His purpose for life.

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

“Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’ …’”  ~ Exodus 33:18-20, NASB.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Scripture tells us that, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). Anything coming into our life that is truly good and good for us comes at the hand of God, working on our behalf, making Himself and His power known to us.

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

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

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

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

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 7

“… You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people” ~ Exodus 33:12-14, AMP.

Looking at the passage covered in yesterday’s devotional thought, I notice that those who abide in God, remaining with Him in Holy Habitation, can still have their lives touched by the consequences of the sins of others.

God told Moses that He knows him by name and that He finds favor in him, yet still, Moses, along with Joshua and others who did not follow the sin of the people, were to go into Canaan without God’s presence with them, just as those who sinned.

I know you have seen this truth for yourself, as I have. We can suffer hardship because of the sins of those near us. This fact is part of our participation in the suffering of Christ that God’s word warns us we will bear in this life (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29-30; Colossians 1:24; see also 2 Peter 2:4-10). Jesus’ entire journey to the cross was because of sin not His own.

As people in Holy Habitation with God, it is vital when hardship comes that we get God’s perspective regarding its source and cause. If we find conviction of sin from Him, repent so-as-to remain with Him in righteousness. If it is not our sin revealed as the cause, hunker under His wings for His protective cover in that area of life. Also, realize that there is another truth seen in this discourse between God and Moses that we are to practice when a storm is not of our own making:

Those in Holy Habitation with God receive the consequences of a righteous life that is blessed by God, and that blessing can reach beyond us as grace toward those struggling in sin.

When God threatened to destroy the nation of Israel for their sin and begin anew with Moses, Moses jumped into the breech, begging for God’s mercy to save the people (Exodus 32:7-14). Now, as God threatens to remove His presence from their journey, Moses again steps into the breech to pray for mercy. God’s response to Moses translated into His doing good toward those who fell in sin, though they deserved the consequences of His holy discipline.

Holy habitation with God owns one’s own sin and seeks quickly the restoration of relationship with God. Holy habitation with God also realizes the effect our ability to commune with Him can have for the benefit of those we love. Realize, beloved, the heart of God toward you that longs to meet your every need, for yourself and for those you love and desire to see in Holy Habitation with Him.

“And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’” ~ vs. 14.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 6

“When the people heard this sad word, they went into mourning, and none of them put on his ornaments. For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the sons of Israel, “You are an obstinate people; should I go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you. Now therefore, put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what I shall do with you.”’ So the sons of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward” ~ Exodus 33:4-6.

Longing for the Lord this morning as I lift each difficult thing to Him who is the answer for each one, I long for His glory. In that longing, I turn to Exodus 33 anew and begin reading from verse one. There I see the removing of the ornaments that signify the repentance of the people who became discontented with God and His way, leading to their using their ornaments to create a god of their choosing.

Discontent produces every kind of covetousness in us, leading us to diverse fruits of sin’s seed. Discontent that leads us away from longing after God produces in us every kind of unrest. Longing for God and His presence, seeing Him as the answer in all things, leads us to cry out as Moses did, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people” ~ Exodus 33:12-14, AMP.

Recognizing one’s first and foremost need to be a real and true relationship with Father-God, totally dependent upon Him, is the only way to remove the ornaments of sin.

God promised to send His angel with the people in His stead and that He would give the Promised Land to the people through the angel. This still required trust in God to fulfill His promise, but it removed personal relationship. Moses knew that was not good enough. He knew their one true need was God. Only He was big enough to tend to the need of the people and make them stand out as belonging to this God he served. So he cried out, “Tell me that You will go with us, and not another. I need You! And this people needs You.” To which God responded, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.”

The Presence of God with all His manifest glory is rest that delivers from discontent, fear, uncertainty, hopelessness, helplessness, and a slew of other tiring maladies ~ THE PRESENCE. When unrest, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty come, beloved, who or what do you seek?

“Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually, longing to be in His presence” ~ 1 Chronicles 16:11, AMP.

“We should be able to perceive that the crucifixion of self is going on and that the opposite most desirable grace, that of humble dependence and universal submission to Christ is increasing” (Sarah Hawkes)

(See also Isaiah 55:6; Hosea 10:12; Amos 5:6; Zephaniah 2:3)

A Good Thing

I awoke yesterday and headed to the kitchen to make coffee. Preparing myself to get ready for church, it was my day at the East door, so I was up earlier than normal for a Sunday. Heading up the hall, I heard it: water running. I thought, “Did I forget to turn the dishwasher on and Johnny get up in the night and, seeing it, start it for me? … No. I remember starting it. Why is it still running?”

Getting closer to the kitchen door, I feel the water on my feet. Turning the light on, I see it: water gushing out from under the sink. What a mess! Running back to the bedroom, I wake Johnny with, “We’ve got a problem!” That was the start of our beautiful Sunday, experiencing God’s provision.

flood002As quick as possible, Johnny gets into the kitchen and shuts off the water (I need to learn how to do that, by the way). As he heads for the shop vac, I am already pulling the carpet shampooer out of the closet, and off we go, 6:00 AM to 4:00 PM, ten hours of sucking up water. I pushed the heavy Hoover, Johnny used the shop vac. By noon, I was hurting and spent. Johnny sent me to the grandkids guest room to rest while he finished up. It was a long day, and I am full of gratitude for God’s obvious and awesome provision. Gratitude for…

  • My sweet husband, who, during our coffee break, said, “Well, at least we won’t have to run the humidifier for a few days.” His attitude was so great during the entire ordeal that it helped mine and, hopefully, mine helped his.
  • God’s provision of equipment, readily available, and the strength to persevere.
  • Peace and rest in the turmoil.

I am forever grateful for an attitude of gratitude and the ability to deal with the spills and gushes of life. Over many years of dealing with such trouble, I find that a right attitude and gratitude is a necessity to us as we go through our days in an uncertain world. Stuff happens, and it is there to test and prove or improve our character.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but 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.

It is in those moments when unexpected life issues interrupt our plans that we learn who we are. Either we add to the turmoil with a bad attitude and failure to realize God and His provision for handling the problem, or we make it a memorable part of our journey through life that adds strength and resource for future upsets to our days. Hopefully, in so doing, we help others along the way.

Disappointment is God’s appointment. It is opportunity for God’s people to shine with the glory of the Lord that makes us an asset in helping others weather the storms of life. Faith in God expresses itself during times of disappointment to reveal the hope and the help we have in the One who cares for us. Whatever comes your way today, Beloved, may you shine with the glory of God found in a proven character of hope in God that trusts in His loving provision.

~*~

“May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob set you securely on high!” ~ Psalm 20:1.

“For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock” ~ Psalm 27:5.

“Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you, and you will honor Me” ~ Psalm 50:15.

“Lord, you are my strength and fortress, my refuge in the day of trouble! …” ~ Jeremiah 16:19, NLT.

“The Lord is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble, And He knows those who take refuge in Him” ~ Nahum 1:7.

The Heart-Song of Godly Promotion: Humility of Mind

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped” ~ Philippians 2:4-6.

Humility of mind is vital to one’s ability to empty oneself and obey God at all cost. By implication, I see that failing to humble self before God stems from the prideful desire to be God. It sets our desire over His, failing to surrender to His right over us as Creator-God, Savior, Lord, and King. Humility is a major issue in the human condition, being difficult for us to truly achieve apart from the work of the Spirit of God within us: leastwise, that is my experience. Even in times of appearing most humble, there is too often a self-centered motive involved:

False humility says, “If I allow them to lead (humility to consider the interests of others as more important), perhaps they will like me (self-centered motive).”

God-centered humility says, “I must allow them to lead (humility to consider the interests of others as more important), because that is God’s will in this situation (God-centered motive).”

False humility says, “I must surrender to their ideal (humility to consider the interests of others as more important), because I want the managerial position opening up (self-centered motive).”

God-centered humility says, “I must surrender to their ideal (humility to consider the interests of others as more important), because I appreciate God giving me this job and I serve in this position, doing my best as unto the Lord (God-centered motive).”

True humility of mind forgets self, thinking only of God. It asks, “What is God’s heart desire? What is His will and way in this particular situation?” Note in our focal passage that, though humility “regards the interests of others as more important” than one’s own interests, that practice does not rule out times of one’s own interests taking precedence, as it says, “do not MERELY look out for your own interests.” This tells me that true humility of mind allows God to inspire a right system of prioritizing, so we know when to meet the need or desire of others, and when it is important to follow our own heart desire.

Following the lead of the Spirit to know the will and purpose and pleasure of God is the key to true humility. This humility before God is the ingredient that enables a wife to know when it is important to give self to a friend for the day despite the dishes in need of attention, and when it is important to remain faithful to the duties of homemaking so the needs of the family are met. Humility that allows God to be God is the practice that helps us to discern when our mate’s or child’s need for our undivided attention trumps our desire to read or to watch a favorite TV program, or when our physical need of destressing takes priority so we can have a right attitude toward meeting their need. Our humility is toward God, and that humility has a vital purpose in life:

“Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” ~ James 4:5-10.

Promotion03The Spirit of God empowers true humility; therefore, God is jealous to find His Spirit active and effective within us. The benefits of this humility toward God that surrenders quickly and completely to the leading of His Spirit, allowing Him to be God in our lives, include:

  • The Spirit of God increased and effective in our lives.
  • Increased work of God’s grace in our lives.
  • Automatic resistance and victory over the devil / demonic / evil.
  • Greater nearness to God, increased experience of relationship with Him.
  • Deliverance from habits and acts of sin.
  • Singleness of mind, settled on eternal purpose, having one heart with God.
  • Possession of God’s heart: rejoicing in the things that cause God’s heart to rejoice; weeping over that which brings Him to tears.
  • Exaltation / promotion by God as part of the royal court of God’s Kingdom.

Humility before God removes the joy that our sin once brought – sin being anything that goes against Him as Lord and His desire and purpose for our lives. With this heart toward God, we grow to desire the experience of God in every area of life. Anything that pushes away from Him brings remorse and bitter weeping. Growing to love God more than any other selfish desire produces ever-increasing love and desire for more of Him. When we reach this point in our love relationship with God, we grow stronger in our ability to obey at all cost, desiring that nothing come between our God and us. Beloved, as the day of evil increases in the world, it is vital that we develop this humility so our love of God protects us.

~*~

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. …The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who really loves Me; and whoever really loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him” ~ John 14:15, 21, AMP.  (See also John 3:36; 1 Peter 4:17; 1 John 2:3-5 and Romans 6-8)

God Purposed Justice

Looking at several scripture passages today I ran across Isaiah 30:15-18 where God enlightened my heart regarding His idea of justice.

“For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, ‘In repentance and rest you will be saved, In quietness and trust is your strength.’ But you were not willing, And you said, ‘No, for we will flee on horses,’ Therefore you shall flee! ‘And we will ride on swift horses,’ Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift. One thousand will flee at the threat of one man; You will flee at the threat of five, Until you are left as a flag on a mountain top And as a signal on a hill. Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him” ~ NASB.

Wow. God desires us and wants to provide for and protect us, but He will not force himself on us. God’s justice is this, if we choose to flee His will and purpose for us, He allows us to experience life without His presence and care, suffering all the consequences of running from Him, His will, and His way. When we trust Him, desire and seek Him, following His lead, His justice is that we have Him, His presence, His provision, His power, His protection. All that He is He justly gives to those who seek Him.

Beloved, every storm tossed moment in life is opportunity to choose. Will we seek and follow God, or will we run our own way and leave the path He has for us? Every road upon which He leads us to traverse has one purpose, that we may know Him. As we discover Him on the road, we learn of His ways for us. He leads us safely through every storm when we trust Him and choose to follow His instruction to us.

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left” ~ Isaiah 30:21.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, “No, that’s not the road we want!”’” ~ Jeremiah 6:16, NLT

Do you fully believe and trust that God is with us and for us at all times, in all seasons, and in every place upon which we put our feet, having a good purpose in all things we walk through in this life? Do you know that He desires us and His greatest desire for us is Himself? Is God your greatest desire, keeping Him of first, most vital need and necessity, so much so that you will trust Him in the fire, knowing that as long as you have Him, all is good and very good? These are vital questions we must answer and make firm within self today, for the days are storm-tossed and we will be lost at sea if we are not standing with Him. Say “Yes” to God and see what the Lord will do.

Thank You Father. We need YOU. Instruct our hearts and help us to follow Your instruction. In Jesus, amen.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification… that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5.

We Thrive at God’s Side ~ Part 4: Stability

“You have a strong arm; Your hand is mighty, Your right hand is exalted” ~ Psalm 89:13.

As I look at verses describing God’s arms and hands, I note that the right hand of God makes His strength and stability available to us. We are strong and stable at the right side of God.

“My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me” ~ Psalm 63:8 See Psalm 37:24.

God orders His creation. There is order found to the right and to the left side of God. He determines at any given moment the side on which we stand according to His purposed plan, our need, and His authority over our lives. He is the creator God who is Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end, the first and the last. All provision is in His hand and He teaches us to prosper at His right side.

Jesus-Bride006At His right side, as we learn of Him, we gain strength of body, character, soul, and mind. As we grow strong in knowing our God and trusting in Him, we grow stable, able to stand firm in Him even when the earth quakes beneath us, shaking up our lives, and tempting us to question and doubt our God, His faithfulness, His love, His power. Knowing God as an apprentice at His right side, He equips our…

Stability ~ Empowering Strength

“Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself” ~ Psalm 80:17.

In my dream shared in the introduction to this series, revealing the place of God’s positioning for me to possess, He has me at His right hand side, facing Him, having a throne of authority and responsibility that is just my size. All my concerns are before Him, all the people and things I seem impotent to influence in life. His positioning my throne to face His, Jesus makes it clear that there are things I must trust Him to deal with, trusting His “I’ve got this”. As I trust Him with all the things that concern me and rob of strength, keeping my focus on Him as my throne faces His, He empowers me to know the things for which I do have authority to influence, strengthening my stability and stance as partner with Him in His Royal Court. At His right hand, we learn to know our part and the power and authority He grants for doing our part in His will and way.

“Surely My hand founded the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together” ~ Isaiah 48:12-22.

God is the Perfect Coordinator of all things. He placed the planets in their orbit. He gave the birds their distinctive song. He knows the plans He has for us; plans for good and not for evil, to give us hope and future (Jeremiah 29:9-14). Trusting God’s direction equips us to stand with those who stand firm in Him, accomplishing His purpose and plan in our day. Trusting Him and following His instruction for life enables us to live eternity now as we prepare to enter His eternal Kingdom for all time. Trusting God stabilizes us while we walk in this world as people of His Kingdom, representing Him and His interests for eternity.

“…behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst. …the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” ~ Luke 17:21; Romans 14:17.

We Thrive at God’s Side ~ Introduction

“You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, and Your right hand has held me up; Your gentleness and condescension have made me great” ~ Psalm 18:35, AMP.

Upon waking on the day I write this, grieving over so many family issues, I saw myself standing in a desert place, crying out with arms outstretched to God. Immediately the Spirit exclaimed, “That’s not where you are!” In that instant God reminded me of another dream, shared with you before, and again here and now.

The Dream

Jesus, sitting on his huge throne leans over the arm to His right hand side where He has me sitting on a just-my-size throne, like His own but much smaller and turned facing His right hand side. As I weep before Him, He leans over the arm and says, “You rest here. I’ve got this.” Looking up at Him, I scan to my right and see all those I love and weep for standing as brilliant, gold light before Him. Realizing they are His and He has this in His righteous and holy Right Hand, weeping fills with hope.

~*~

Today as I realize He continues to seat me at His side where His authority in all things great and small is made sure to me for areas of concern, I also understand that He has me sitting on a throne of my own, smaller – just my size. God grants us authority and choice in life. We have a throne of authority gifted to us by Him. He expects us to be responsible stewards of all He grants us authority to handle. The challenge comes in realizing what we are empowered to do as opposed to those things we must know is His to handle.

WALK-WITH-GODThe things going on in my family and in the world around me are too big for me and they are out of my control. As the Spirit asked my heart upon waking recently, so I recall to mind now, “Why are you fretting over things you can do nothing about?” These things I must entrust to my Lord, who has “got this”. Otherwise, I have no strength and focus for handling the things He gives me authority to possess.

As I consider these truths on this day of God reminding me where He positions me, I find myself wondering what I can learn about those positioned by God on His right hand side. Researching that, I find several things that help us understand not only what it means when we are on the right of the Lord, but also what is means when He positions us on His left. Thus begins a study to know how we can thrive as we learn how to function to the right or the left hand side of God.

Beloved, we thrive at God’s side.

 

Praise the Lord! For June 8, 2015

We have just come through a very busy three weeks, chocked full of challenge, stress, joy and peace. Good things and not so good; easy things and things that took energy; it was all good because:

“Before the mountains were born, before You gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, You are God” ~ Psalm 90:2, NLT.

From the beginning to the end, God is still God. He is in control of all things. He has purpose and plan to get us safely from point A to point Z, whole, complete, and continually perfected in our work as His image bearers. We can trust our God who is still God no matter the challenge this life brings to us. So praise the Lord in the good and the not so. Remember that God is still God with a purpose and opportunity central in every thing that comes to us in our day. And have a blessed day.

~*~

NOTE: I hope to press forward soon to finish the last two blogs for our series on peace.

 

Lawdy! Lawdy! Lawdy!

“If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me” ~ Psalm 139:9-10.

Walking on water04There is a situation going on that has me crying out to God again over same old stuff that seems constantly to hit our lives. It is tiring.

I heard a song today that formed my prayer as we wait to see what the Lord will do to deliver us; what path we will walk; what direction He will give. I found it peaceful.

It reminds me of a time my momma told me of. I woke momma one night crying out. She found me, standing in my crib in a soiled diaper, crying, “Oh, Lawdy, Lawdy, Lawdy!” (Translation: “Oh, Lordy, Lordy, Lordy. I need help.”)

I laugh about the scene my momma painted for me as she often reminded me of that event in my toddlerhood. However, today I feel the cry of that small child rising up in me as we seem, again, to find ourselves standing in a soiled mess. This song, “Lawdy”, by The Vespers, brings me to peace in the midst of the mess.

A friend came by today and shared the place God led her to just before receiving the answer to their most recent soiling event. She said that when she was little, her daddy tried to teach her to float on the water. She could not do it because everything in her screamed to fight to stay afloat. It took a long while for her to learn to lay back and relax on top of the water. She failed to trust the mechanics of floating.

That is the way we are when a mess comes up around our feet and everything in us screams, “Fight!” We find ourselves l109149486either in quicksand, sinking fast; or in storm tossed seas, surrounded by sharks, as we try to kick and scream our way out of our mess. One thing my friend’s daddy told her goes something like this, “LeAnn, if you can float, you can survive a long time in the water.”

Whatever the stormy seas of life bring, when we can inhale faith in God and rest atop those waters, we can survive the waters for a long time while awaiting instruction that will get us to solid ground. As I hear that song rising up with my own, “Lawdy, Lawdy, Lawdy” cry for help, I find peace enabling me to lay back in the waters of this life and wait for God to say, “Now Let’s swim this way.”

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” ~ Jeremiah 33:3.

Lawdy! By The Vespers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o28a-U4QvlU&index=8&list=PLfiEjLIYhJ9D5uO8HPNrboor4Oa8LaJdA

The Cure For Destructive Fretting

One thing God’s Spirit said to me this weekend that I sure wish I had written His wording down, goes something like this: “Just because someone is busy with life does not mean that they are free from fretting while they do it.”

072The thing I understood immediately upon perceiving that thought from Him is this: we can push ourselves to get busy in an attempt not to think about the things that bother us, the things we are trying to surrender or think we successfully surrendered to God, believing thinking about other things ends the fretting. However, when the stress over the things we are concerned about dictate or fuel our actions or eating, we are truly in the heat of destructive fretting.

I am one who stuffs my face when stressed and fueled by fretting. A friend cleans and scrubs everything in sight: TWICE. Her activity would appear more healthful than my eating would, but both are destructive. They do not alleviate the stress, but often add to it.

Our Pastor’s wife tells us that when she is stressing something, the best place she can be is working in her garden. Tending to her flowerbeds help her to get peaceful. Therein lies the difference between my friend and my habit during stressful times and our Pastor’s wife. Her activity leads her to embrace peace, aiding her to let the stress go, refreshing her and strengthening her to deal with the trouble. My friend and I feed the stress with our frenzy, wearing ourselves out, weakening our bodies, leaving oneself ill-equipped to deal with our issues.

I am so grateful God spurred this pondering in me. Life is hard on several fronts right now, and though I am trusting God’s promises for the things going on, quickly turning to Him when tempted to fretful thinking, watching earnestly for His hand to move, the stress has me out of control in my diet. Since hearing the word behind me instructing, “This is the way, walk in it,” my diet is better, my activity more peace oriented, and I feel better (Isaiah 30:21).

Beloved, what are you stressing? If it is something for which God is giving direction for addressing, do the things He says and watch to see what He will do. If it is something that you can do nothing about, check the power behind your actions. Is the fuel behind your activity an agitation that just increases the stress? This too is fretting. Fretting is destructive enough without adding fuel to the fire through our activities.

God’s word in Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying” (NLT). Rejoicing 073with confidence in the hope God gives and learning patience as we wait on the Lord increases peace and destroys fretting. Find that place where distraction leads to peace.

I’m not talking the local pub for too much ale, nor any other place where addiction is fed; this too is a destructive action fueled by fret’s stressing. Where are you able to live life to the full, enjoying where you are in peace, while trusting the Lord with the things that are hard. What helps you leave things with God while continuing a life lived in His peaceful pastures? Let that be the place from which you watch for the Lord to deal with the issues that tempt you to fret.

The Priestly Order: Part 3-d

Wilderness times in life are difficult. The first step in traversing it is to realize where we are and draw near to God Who can lead us out to the cool of His garden place. I pray you discovered any wilderness places in your life, beloved, and that this first step is behind you. The days ahead, journeying with God to the end of the Wilderness Road, is full of glory that God will reveal as He leads you forward. Though it is a hard road to travel, the end result is worth the trouble. I am excited for you.

Be warned, the path ahead will most likely be rough, and you need to make sure to keep eyes on God, hand in His. You will know the instant you lose connection with Him, as confusion, fear, and weakness overtake your life. When it happens, stop where you are and wait. You will find Him faithful to reconnect with you as you wait patiently for Him, watch for His hand, and listen for His whisper, “This is the way; walk ye in it.” Sometimes what seems to us a delay is actually God providing a “Selah” moment: an Oasis where we rest a bit and calmly think on the things He is showing us while He refreshes us and prepares us to go forward. Though it may take time, be faithful to stay close to the side of your Good Shepherd and you will soon find yourself…

Walking in the garden in the cool of the day.

SOS1: “Awake, O north wind, And come, wind of the south; Make my garden breathe out fragrance, Let its spices be wafted abroad. May my beloved come into his garden and eat its choice fruits” (SOS 4:16).

When time on earth began, God set a garden within it where His chosen ones thrived. In the cool of the day, He came into the garden for a leisurely walk with His beloveds. We can still have that walk with Him today. In Song of Solomon, several things stand out that instruct us concerning time in the garden.

Here in chapter 4 we see that the wind of God’s Spirit comes into the garden and breathes out the fragrance of His presence and the scent of fruit bearing. He flows through the lives of those who know how to commune with Him in His garden, like the fragrance of the finest spices, ministering to us at the area of our need. From His garden, of which we are to Him, as He is to us, He enjoys its produce and bears it forth to nourish those around us.

Beloved, the fruit born out of our lives because we know how to abide in the Secret Place of God and walk with Him in the cool of the garden pours in two directions. First God pours to us as nourishment and through us to feed those around us. Then we flow out of that fruit bearing to produce a fragrance that blesses the Lord, causing His heart to rejoice over us.

Coming out of a wilderness experience is not the only garden God provides for us. God is an Oasis along the wilderness path. With Him at our side, we have frequent garden experiences, pauses on our wilderness journey where He feeds us and refreshes us so we may press onward and upward. Even out of our wilderness areas, His produce comes out of us to touch those around us and bring Him glory and gladness.

SOS2: “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved? Beneath the apple tree I awakened you; there your mother was in labor with you, there she was in labor and gave you birth. …” ~ SOS 8:5-7. Selah ~ Pause and calmly think on that.

The wilderness is a place where we discover complete reliance on our Beloved. We leave the wilderness leaning on God who is our companion, bringing us safely to the garden. Beneath the tree of life, He awakens us. Hardship and struggle, like a mother, have birthed new life in us, giving us a ministry to use on His behalf. God never wastes the wilderness, but works in us to make us ready for the next phase of life as part of His Royal Priesthood.

SOS3: “…Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death, Jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the Lord. Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised” ~ SOS 8:5-7.

From wilderness’ starting point to garden’s quickening, the ultimate purpose is our unity and commitment to the Beloved and our coming to understand His for us. Walking with God as our first most vital love, we realize our need of Him and are fully committed to Him, sealed shut to any other would-be god. Having our Beloved’s scent upon us, bearing the fruit of His love, He marks us with the seal of His image, making it clear to all that we are His.

Marked by the assurance of this love, we know that no other love will satisfy like His love, none else will fill the banks of our being to produce the flow of love that we have with Him. Any attempt of some other suitor trying to break the seal of our commitment to our beloved and lure us away we despise. We have danced with our beloved in the garden having come through the wilderness victorious, and no one can steal us away.

SOS4: “‘We have a little sister, and she has no breasts; what shall we do for our sister on the day when she is spoken for? If she is a wall, we will build on her a battlement of silver; but if she is a door, we will barricade her with planks of cedar.’ I was a wall, and my breasts were like towers; then I became in his eyes as one who finds peace” ~ SOS 8:8-10.

Breasts are instruments of nourishment. The little sister represents those still young in their faith who have yet to find the Secret Place of His presence, giving their full commitment to Him, seeking sustenance only from the garden of His provision and pleasure. As the young in the Lord find their relationship with God and keep it pure, not giving self to another god, they make of her a “dowry” or “battlement” of silver.

Transcripts that translate the Greek word to “dowry” give rise to instruction that such a person has something to give to the Beloved: something to add to their union. Battlement speaks of security and trust. One whose life is a battlement has no other God. Kept safe behind the parapet of Love’s rampart, they live fully satisfied. Such love is greatest treasure, worth protecting at all cost.

The young who are loose, like a swinging door, easily swayed by every passing whim, God encloses for their own protection. God often will hedge us in until we mature in our relationship with Him.

Once mature, we enter fully into our union with God and rise up as a tower where love is secure, treasured and made to thrive, being lit up for all to see. There God’s peace is the produce for life. Safe in the arms of our Beloved, fear and insecurity gives way to love made sure and pure. No matter what goes on around us, we always have our tower made bright with love’s unity, useful in drawing others attention, desiring to see what powers the Light within us.

SOS5: “Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; He entrusted the vineyard to caretakers. Each one was to bring a thousand shekels of silver for its fruit. My very own vineyard is at my disposal; the thousand shekels are for you, Solomon, and two hundred are for those who take care of its fruit. …” SOS 8:11-14.

As with the woman of our text, it is our choice how we use our garden and whether we keep it for Him alone. Solomon, in our analogy, represents God. God has a vineyard in the world: our lives. We are the caretakers of our area of His vineyard. He expects to receive the produce of the vineyard.

We are each responsible for our vineyard: it is our choice whether we cooperate with God and glorify Him with our lives. We do so by bearing fruit that makes us breasts of nourishment: first to God, feeding His need for our love through relationship: giving praise, worship, our attention and commitment to Him. Second, to others who, like babes in arms, are in our sphere of influence. Together we help and encourage one another to find our Secret Place with Him and to come to His garden where fruit is born to His glory.

Note that God’s due from our vineyard is five times that we are to give to others. The majority of our attention, focus, and energy must go into our relationship with Father. He is our life, abundant and full. He is our joy and delight, bringing strength to our existence. He is with us and for us 24/7. We must be with and for Him in kind. Then we will have what we need to live fully with surplus to give to others in helping them at the point of their need.

SOS6: “… O you who sit in the gardens, My companions are listening for your voice—Let me hear it! Hurry, my beloved, And be like a gazelle or a young stag On the mountains of spices” ~ SOS 8:11-14.

Beloved, Father longs for us and seeks after us, desiring us to be His beloved in a one on one, personal and intimate relationship that cannot be broken. Are you watching for Him, listening to hear His voice; calling out “Come quickly, my beloved”? If we will faithfully seek after Him, He will come to us in the fullness of His glory. With the fragrance of His essence permeating us, He readies us for life and ministry as part of His Royal Priesthood, making us productive of the fruit of His garden.