Tag Archives: Righteousness

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 8

Joyful Cross Bearing

Jesus, in Luke 9:23, said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (NLT).

The Amplified version clarifies the call to “deny self” as “disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself.” And it says of those who choose to respond to Jesus’ “follow Me” as including “cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also.” To me, our passage for today in First John is the call to complete the sufferings of Christ by choosing to take up our cross daily and follow Him.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever” (1 John 2:15-17, AMP).

Too often I hear people define the cross we bear as things that are beyond our control: sickness in our bodies that we can do nothing about, wayward children, a philandering husband, etc. That is so far from the truth. Jesus did not have to bear the cross. He chose too. He even told His disciples when they started to fight to save Him from arrest, “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?” (Matthew 26:52-54)

Just as taking up His cross was His to choose, so is our cross. And it is a daily choice of denying self so as to follow Jesus. This passage speaks of one thing that most often hinders our cross bearing. Let’s break it down to discover what that is.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. …”

Love of the world and the things of the word will definitely stand in the way of self-denial and choosing to follow Jesus through cleaving to Him and His ways. When we choose the world and its pleasures, we deny our love for Jesus and choose to love the world over our love for Him and the Father. We cannot love both. That is what this passage is saying.

The world is polar opposite to God and His ways. To choose the world, we must walk away from God. And what is it that the world appeals to in luring us away from our call to bear the cross with Jesus? Self-interest.

“…For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. …”

The world appeals to our flesh through our craving for sensual gratification. Don’t mix “sensual” up with “sexual”. Sensual gratification has to do with the body’s sensory systems that love to be pleasured. That includes our taste buds, music preferences, desire for freedom from every form of pain that is too often used to lead us into addictions that cover up that pain, etc. These are the things that appeal to our physical appetites, and yes, that can and often does include our sexual appetites. The world loves to draw us away from God by appealing to our sensual appetites.

This passage also warns of the world’s appeal to us through a particular sensory organ, our eyes—further defined here as the “greedy longings of the mind.” Think on a desire too long and we will give into it.

Take, for example, my Spark Journey. Try as I may, I struggle constantly to find victory and freedom over my desire for sweets. Why? I see one I like, and though I may walk away successfully, my mind will start thinking about how good it tastes, how the texture is on my tongue, etc. The next thing I know, though it may take several days of thinking, I will fall away from my commitment to stay away from the sweets. Once I taste that sweet, it re-enlivens the desire for more and off on a binge I go.

The world and the desire it parades before us is not our friend. It is a pawn in the hand of the enemy of God that wants to keep us ensnared to the sins of the flesh, working hindrance to our relationship with God. And what does that enemy often use to defeat us? Our own sense of pride, rightly defined here as assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things.

Continuing our example above, do you know what knocks me down for the count every time I fall to snacking on sweets? Pride spurred by frustration to say, “I should be able to do this. I am stronger than this pull to sweets. I can do this”; All the while forgetting that though I can do this, I can do nothing apart from Christ, who is my strength.

Then there is the pride seen in the pity party: “Oh, I fell again. I am never going to get this. I may as well quit trying.” Yes, this is a strike against one’s sense of pride as it centers on the failure of one to have power, forgetting where one’s power is found; calling God a liar who says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Does God never give us anything out of the world? Yes, He does. But when He gives it, whatever it is, it is always for use toward our good and His glory. He gives me and you food for the building up of the body so we may have strength to live good days on the earth, bringing glory to Him whom we look to for our provision. But when we love the world and the things in the world, we go after those things for the sake of meeting our sensual appetites and we glorify the world for its bounty. When we seek God first and foremost, what does He say?

“…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well…” (Matthew 6:25-34). And what is God’s promise in our passage today, given to us who will take up our cross daily, denying self to follow Jesus.

“…he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.”

Life more abundant and full, with all the provision needed for life, belongs to those who complete the suffering of Christ through denying self, daily, in order to please God alone.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 7

Delighting in Victory Over Evil

Thus far in our study to cover our role in completing what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings and find the joy of victory in those afflictions, have you noticed as I have that we are finding in that work our calling, equipping and purpose in the earth?

We are called and equipped to be His witnesses, not only repeating what we read in Scripture, but knowing its truth and knowing Him by experience of Him through our faith in Him. We are called and equipped to build up the body of Christ, helping others find their way into the fold, all the while promoting unity in the body. We are blessed to know with assurance of faith our freedom in Christ, freeing us from sin and death. We complete His sufferings through our own walk of obedience, no matter the cost that comes to us as we obey God’s will and accomplish His purpose. And finally we are called to complete His suffering-affliction in our love walk, even and especially when hurting people hurt people in the body of Christ.

As we grow in our ability to successfully do all these things in completing His afflictions, we have a good start in completing the next of His afflictions:

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” (1 John 2:12-14).

“…you have overcome the evil one (the devil).”

Throughout His life, from the womb to His ascension, Jesus was in the business of overcoming evil. The devil was after Him while in the womb, but God led Him to victory through directing the path of His earthly parents. He overcame with every temptation, and believe me, there was more temptation than seen in His wilderness experience. He overcame in His love walk, the speaking of truth, the revealing of the Father, and lest we forget, He defeated sin and death authored by the evil one when He went to the cross and walked out of the tomb to rise again as King of kings over the Kingdom of God.

We complete this aspect of His sufferings in every way when we face evil in life as He did. How? I see numerous avenues by which we walk in this victory with Him in this passage. Looking at the Amplified version, let’s see what is there:

“I am writing to you, little children, because for His name’s sake your sins are forgiven [pardoned through His name and on account of confessing His name]” (vs. 12).

We defeat evil when we confess His name through repentance from sin and walk in assurance of faith. But look at our assurance. Our assurance has not so much to do with our repentance as it has to do with the “for His name’s sake.”

God forgives first and foremost “for His name’s sake.” As we realize that He forgives us fully for the name of Jesus, Immanuel (God with us) who paid the full price for sin, we increase in our assurance that He forgives our sin, great and small. But take it a step further to Isaiah 43:25.

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

God desires relationship with His people. Just as He chose for His own sake to forgive Israel even while they were still in sin, doing so for His own sake so that He could fulfill His purposes in building the lineage of the Christ; in like fashion He forgives us for His own sake in completing the work of Christ, leading us to assurance and trust in our relationship with Him while He builds for Himself a people for God’s own possession.

And note the exciting thing about Him choosing to forgive for His sake instead of for ours alone. He promises that He will remember our sin no more.

Now God is not forgetful, is He? I don’t think so. He leads His prophets to recite the sin of Israel before them as reminder several times in scripture. What this means to me is even though it may cross His mind as we keep doing like or same things over and over in our journey to freedom, He does not remember it in ways that bring it up in condemnation.

Condemnation is not from God. For His own sake more than ours, He chooses to forgive so He can continue to strive toward a Kingdom of strong relationships with a people of His possession. When we walk in assurance of such a grace as this, we are encouraged to walk in victory as He is victorious over evil. Our walk with Him is strengthened through this trust and we are equipped by it to walk free of sin and stand firm as His servant. And when we do sin, our relationship is protected by the assurance we have in His forgiveness and commitment to help us walk free in victory.

“…I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know (recognize, be aware of, and understand) Him Who [has existed] from the beginning…I write to you, fathers, because you have come to know (recognize, be conscious of, and understand) Him Who [has existed] from the beginning…” (vs. 13a, 14a).

Here we see a growing relationship with God that is not only aware of Him, but grows strong in its ability to be conscious of His presence in our here and now lives. We not only recognize that He is, but we realize He is with us. We are aware, alert and conscious of Him. And we grow in this knowledge of Him to understand Him and His ways. When we come into this knowledge we are equipped to walk in victory against the schemes of the evil one. For what does it say of those who hear Him in John 10, being alerted to His presence and led forward to follow only Him?

“When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers” (vs. 4-5).

The better we know Him, the more easily we recognize His voice—the way He talks to and leads us. And the better we know His voice, the easier it will be for us to recognize that of the stranger who would lead us astray. We know victory over the evil one as we grow to know Him, becoming fathers of the faith in our maturity.

“…I am writing to you, young men, because you have been victorious over the wicked [one]…I write to you, boys (lads), because you have come to know (recognize and be aware) of the Father…” (vs. 13b).

In growing in our ability to know and recognize and trust Him, we come to know Him as “Father.” Walking close to our Father, learning to emulate Him, we find victory over evil.

“…I write to you, young men, because you are strong and vigorous, and the Word of God is [always] abiding in you (in your hearts), and you have been victorious over the wicked one” (v. 14b).

Learning to listen to God as Father and follow hard at His heals as a child that wants to be just like Daddy not only pleases the heart of God, but it wins the victory over evil. As we listen to and learn from God, treasuring His word, we have our weapons and armor in place and at the ready for any battle that may ensue. Each victory won strengthens us to win the next with greater ease.

Like Jesus, our growing faith in and reliance upon God grows us strong in the ways of God so that we can then “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). There is a lot to learn from Romans 12 on overcoming evil. We won’t go into great detail—I will leave it to you to read the passage, but just to do a quick run by these truths, we overcome evil:

  1. As we present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice to God (vs. 1).
  2. By refusing conformity to the world and choosing instead transformation of mind to God and His ways (vs. 2).
  3. By not thinking more highly of self than we ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, according to our measure of faith (vs. 3).
  4. Through unity as His body, learning to serve one another through our giftedness (vs. 4-8).
  5. Loving without hypocrisy (hypocrisy says one thing while doing another). Vs. 9-11 give us a picture of a proper love-walk.
  6. Abhorring evil, but clinging to good (vs. 9).
  7. Bless those who persecute and curse you (vs. 14).
  8. Being there for one another in times of joy or grief (vs. 15).
  9. Not being haughty or arrogant, but being likeminded toward each other, treating one another with respect (vs. 16).
  10. Not paying back evil for evil, leaving judgment and revenge to God, we do good even to those seen as “enemy” (vs. 17-21).

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).

We overcome evil through good, and the greatest good is love, God’s kind of love that is not based on emotion, but on choice and desire for the greater good for all. In these ways we fulfill what is lacking of Christ’s affliction in bringing victory over the evil one.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 5

Delightful Obedience

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:3-6).

Jesus came to do the Father’s will. He made it clear in my perception of things that this was His greatest delight and ultimate goal, to please the Father and accomplish His purposes. When we come to this place in our walk with the Christ, we enter into His delight found in accomplishing the Father’s will and fulfilling His purpose.

Obedience is not a choice for the true believer. It is the ultimate sign, the proof of sincere and eternal relationship through Christ. When we receive Christ, He places His Spirit within us. His Spirit, like Father and Son, will not say one thing while doing another. That is the spirit of hypocrisy.

When we are in true relationship with the Father through the Christ, His Spirit comes to make us one with them in thought, intent and action. Though we may fall on occasion, we will quickly rise up as soon as we realize it, dust ourselves off with the brush of repentance and turn to walk in fellowship with Him through obedience again.

The amplified version can be a challenge to read, but remove the brackets and note the beauty of fellowship: “And this is how we may discern daily, by experience, that we are coming to know Him—to perceive, recognize, understand, and become better acquainted with Him: if we keep, bear in mind, observe, practice His teachings, His precepts, and His commandments.”

Can it be any clearer in showing the importance of our coming into agreement with His ways as sign-proof that we walk in relationship with Him? If that is not enough, look again at the next sentence, minus the brackets: “Whoever says, ‘I know Him, I perceive, recognize, understand, and am acquainted with Him,’ but fails to keep and obey His commandments and teachings is a liar, and the Truth of the Gospel is not in him.”

There are whole people groups that believe it does not matter what they do Monday through Saturday as long as they are set apart and sanctified to Him on Sunday. This passage blows that philosophy out of the water, as that old saying goes. It does not float. It does not flow with the stream of God’s righteousness. It sinks to the bottom with the sludge and slime.

“But he who keeps and treasures His Word, who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety, truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected, completed, and reached maturity” (vs. 5, AMP). This verse instructs our obedience. Here we see that true obedience:

† Keeps His word as a treasure: Oh what joy it is to read and study God’s word as a treasure hunt and, finding nuggets of great worth, to hide it in one’s heart as resource for life and living; bounty that dictates and directs one’s path. Those who truly know Him are not afraid of His discipline, realizing that is what proves them to be His chosen child and it is what He does to make us more like Himself, the spitting image of our Father. These rejoice with understanding that His word is used by Him in the power of His Spirit to teach us, for “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What joy it is to know that God cares how we think and that even the littlest of choices that direct our path with Him is important to Him. Treasure it and let that treasure supply and equip your adequacy as His beloved child. In doing so, we…

† Bear in mind His precepts: Every decision in life is brought under the microscope of His word. It is what we use in choosing life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. His word is truth and will lead us to the truth of His will for us even in this day and age. It is not obsolete. It is a guiding light, a lamp to the feet of those who know how to treasure it and rightly use it.

† Who observes His message in its entirety: God can and does use a verse to give us direction, especially in situations that are not clearly defined in Holy text; but that one or two verse message from Him will always stand in agreement with the whole of His word. It will never lead us contrary to Him and His ways. This is why it is important that we know the whole.

I.e.: if you want to know what God’s word says about giving, you don’t just look at one verse and say, “That is it!” You look at all places in scripture that speak of giving and, reading it in context, pull it all together to get the full picture. Someone just looking at one verse may believe that they are required of God to give to their own harm and the harm of their family. A little digging and we find that God’s word says to give according to our means and what we are able to do without harming self and those we are tasked to care for.

Does that mean we never have to give sacrificially? No, but it does mean that God does not put us on the street while using our means to put another in a mansion. That is the world’s way, not Gods. God’s way uses the surplus of those who have to help those in any true, proven need and it does it in a way that does not keep the needy dependent on us, but that helps and even requires them to come up higher. God’s way requires all to grow to a place of no longer being needy, but being able to give.

“…truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected, completed, and reached maturity.”

When we get to the point in our walk with God that reading His word is no longer a chore, but a joy; coming to a place where even His words of discipline are a treasure to us that we hide in our hearts for use in directing our path, we come to a place of maturity in Him. Those who are mature in Him hear His voice calling us to dig deep and find the whole of His truth on the subjects of life.

“By this we may perceive, know, recognize, and be sure that we are in Him: Whoever says he abides in Him ought, as a personal debt to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.”

We can have full assurance of our relationship with God and our eternal destination by the growth we have in us in this area of our Christian walk and faith.

Jesus knew the whole of the Word of God and how to use it. And He has given us His Spirit to teach us. What does John say at the God-breathed inspiration of His Spirit: “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (1 John 2:27).

It is good to have teachers. They are tasked with and help our spiritual growth and understanding. But the greatest joy of any teacher is when the student becomes the teacher, surpassing even them in their growth and understanding. That only happens as we realize that Jesus gave us His Spirit to be our teacher in His stead.

We can trust the Spirit to instruct us, and He often will use others to confirm our hearing Him. It is exciting when God teaches me something new to me, and then I hear that same teaching from behind the pulpit or out of the mouth of some teacher of His word that I know to be trustworthy.

Really, unless the Spirit helps us to learn, even understanding what is said to us by others who teach is impossible without Him. We should never go into an instructional setting without seeking the Spirit to teach us and help us discern truth.

Jesus, at the age of 12, sat with the teachers of His day and learned from them. Of course, He astounded them with the level of His understanding, but nonetheless, we know He had to grow His childlike mind in preparation for His glorious ministry as Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

We too are charged with growing and showing ourselves to be of Him through our growing wisdom and understanding and wise use of His precepts and commands. Child of God, if you are not growing in the power of His Spirit, you are not abiding with Him.

(Have a great weekend. See you back here next week.)

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 4

Rejoicing in Freedom

“If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts]. If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. If we say (claim) we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be false and a liar, and His Word is not in us [the divine message of the Gospel is not in our hearts].

“My little children, I write you these things so that you may not violate God’s law and sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father—[it is] Jesus Christ [the all] righteous [upright, just, Who conforms to the Father’s will in every purpose, thought, and action]. And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world” (1 John 1:8-2:2, AMP).

~*~

Together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God within us, we make the Father known to the world, continuing that work of Christ in our age. Together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God, we are not only tasked with continuing the work of Christ in building the church, but we are tasked with His work of unifying the body of Christ. Now we add that together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God within us, we spread the gospel message. In this work, I see several things that we are tasked with in our day.

First is cooperating with the Spirit in making distinction between sin and righteousness and the judgment (or consequences) that comes to each.

In our day, truth is too often seen as relative. Each person can decide for themselves what truth is, and therefore what is wrong and what is right as dictated by circumstance, according to their value system. To the world there is no absolute right or wrong and therefore, no absolute truth. But God has a different opinion and we are tasked with finding, portraying, and promoting His truth that makes sin as He sees it clear to the observer.

This responsibility in completing Christ’s afflictions includes being humble enough to admit our own sin nature, and surrendered to Him in not only turning from our own sin, but in allowing Him to use our experience of His grace as witness of His work in our lives to those who struggle as we do.

Our Minister of Evangelism at our church shared a visit they had with a young girl who said she never sins. Everything they suggested as a possibility, she said she never did. Her mother agreed that she was just a good kid. But this passage proves her sin, for those who refuse to recognize they are a sinner in need of a Savior call God a liar.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we just don’t always recognize our sin for His thoughts are higher than ours and His ways higher than our ways. Our sin may be so subtle that we do not realize it is sin, but it is there.

This is our task, to help others realize that we cannot be all that God desires and designed us to be in the limits of our fleshly nature, no matter how “good” we seem to the world’s ways. Thus we fall short of His glory and prove ourselves to be sinners in need of a Savior.

Second we are tasked with the gospel message: sharing with all who will hear that Christ chose to give His life as atoning sacrifice for all sin. The sin of the entire world is covered by His victory as the Lamb of God, sacrificed for all. That victory belongs to God alone. But it is passed on to all who will receive the work of the Spirit in imparting His freedom from sin and death to us who choose to believe by faith and surrender by grace.

Third, we are tasked with the responsibility to help people grow strong in faith and in the bearing of the fruit of the Spirit. We are called to make disciples, students of Christ and the ways of God, of all who believe. Only as we begin to grow in the knowledge of the intricacies of the nature of God can we recognize deep underlying roots of sin that we would otherwise be unaware of possessing.

Fourth, we are tasked with the privilege of helping all who trust in Him to come into the assurance of His victory, gifted to them.

Though we are saved by grace through faith, made whole eternally in Christ, we are here and now a work in progress. Each of us, too often get caught off guard and stumble into sin’s traps. The enemy can defeat us through a spirit of condemnation if we are not walking in the assurance that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord, who forever lives to intercede on our behalf. In the power of the Spirit, Father and Son “[continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].” We are tasked with helping the elect come into this assurance of faith in His finished work, and trust His continuous work in us as He leads us from sins grip and increasing degrees of glory as we surrender all to Him.

Working together with God’s Spirit in making sin and righteousness and judgment clear, rejoicing over one another comes to us. We become one another’s testimony of the work of God through us in encouraging and helping one another grow strong in faith and in assurance through Christ that we have died to sin and death and are raised to life in Him. Anyone who has children or other loved ones they have prayed long over and poured themselves out to in hope of seeing them grow in the Lord knows the joy of watching their faith and obedience blossom strong.

As I sought God in where to go with this portion of our study, He led me to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. The Amplified version of this passage seems a fitting close to this thought as it illustrates these points:

“Grace (favor and spiritual blessing) be to you and [heart] peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, [So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech [to speak of your faith] and complete knowledge and illumination [to give you full insight into its meaning].  In this way [our] witnessing concerning Christ (the Messiah) was so confirmed and established and made sure in you that you are not [consciously] falling behind or lacking in any special spiritual endowment or Christian grace [the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in your souls by the Holy Spirit], while you wait and watch [constantly living in hope] for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and [His] being made visible to all. And He will establish you to the end [keep you steadfast, give you strength, and guarantee your vindication; He will be your warrant against all accusation or indictment so that you will be] guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

May we all be busy about the Father’s business, bearing witness of the Gospel message, and know the joy of seeing those we love come into their own strong and growing freedom from sin and assurance in Christ.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 1

Introduction

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

“Lacking in Christ’s afflictions”? The day that statement from Paul caught my attention, I began a quest to understand what it means and how it is that we fill up that which remains to be done. I mean, after all, Jesus on the cross shouted, “It is finished!” In His prayer in John 17, He said to the Father, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (vs. 4).  What is there that remains lacking?

There are several passages that speak of the sufferings or afflictions of Christ, such as Paul’s proclamation in Philippians 3:10-11 talking about his ultimate goal in life being: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Considering these words from Paul, we can surmise that fellowship with His sufferings is part of the process that makes us one together with Him. It is part of the recipe that resurrects in us the Life of Image Bearers that God intended we have.

In this study, which looks like it will take a couple of weeks to cover unless God has more to say than I do, we will see what we can discover about the afflictions of Christ, what they are, and how we have fellowship with His sufferings as we walk with understanding in this journey to filling up what is lacking.

Our text for this study will be the book of 1 John, in which I see many thoughts that give us a picture of our responsibilities that accomplish this call of Paul given to us through his example. Like with so much of the teachings found in the word of God, this study will be a good start to our journey of discovering God’s will for us as people called to this fellowship.

I hope you will join me these next two weeks as we look at this subject. The words “afflictions” and “sufferings” I know do not make this an appealing subject, but I believe you will be pleasantly surprised at the things God has shown me as we consider this vital aspect of our walk with Him. Looking forward to getting started, I anticipate seeing you back here tomorrow as we begin to look at 1 John and find that this work of suffering with Christ truly is cause for rejoicing as we see the fruit produced in it.

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 2

The Ache in God’s Heart

 In the last post, I shared the love that God pours through me toward others, citing for our discussion three examples of those times and how Satan uses fleshly and worldly limitations in understanding God’s love for us as he works to distort our experience of it and ability to rightly express it to others. Today let’s look at God’s love for us and what that means with regard to our right of choice and our eternity.

Revelation 3:5 says, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I (Jesus) WILL NOT erase his name from the book of life, and I WILL confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

Talking to the church of Sardis, Jesus warns that there are people of the church (the gathering of those who profess Christianity) who are alive in this life, but they are dead. These have never made a true decision to follow Christ and receive the gift of true and eternal life, but they play the part as if they have. There are a few in the Sardis church who have done so, and for these who overcome in this way, they receive these promises stated in verse 5 of Revelation 3. This scenario is still true in life today. There are some who truly know and walk in the promise of God. But there are many, even among the church goers of our day, who have a false faith, being no faith at all.

Note: the book of life. My understanding as I study the “book of life” is that every name of every person ever born into the earth has their name in this book. Some who were of the pre-Christ, faith in our God continue to have their name remaining in the book because they walked in vital relationship with the Father, and they trusted in the coming of the promised Christ. They chose to believe and receive their righteousness through believing faith in God and His promises before Christ arrived.

Then Jesus the Christ came as the Lamb of God, and He paid the price required to defeat sin and the death sin brings us, revealing Himself to be the only doorway to the Father and the King who will come to fulfill God’s promise to Israel as rightful Ruler, having defeated the enemy of God (John 10). There is now a new covenant with God and that covenant requires relationship with God through Christ for entry into His Kingdom family. This covenant promise reaches the hand of God out to all, Jew and Gentile alike. Only those who truly and fully choose to wed themselves to God through Christ’s sacrifice that redeemed right over us from the hand of the enemy that enslaves us will find their name still remaining in the book when Jesus confesses as our advocate before the Father those belonging to God’s family.

In Colossians 3 we are told that those who enter into relationship with God through Christ are made one together, removing all separation of circumcision. In the old covenant, circumcision was a sign of consecration of a people; revealing to all their commitment to God and His right of Lordship over them. It was meant to be an outward expression of an inward work. True commitment to Christ works that intended purpose in us through the power of His Spirit within us, proving circumcision of heart through the fruit of lives consecrated to God.  

Through Christ we all enter into relationship with God, being made one with Him in Holy Matrimony for all eternity. Without Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, there is no circumcision that is sufficient. Apart from Christ, we cannot be set free or made right with God, and are the poorest of the poor no matter our wealth in this life. And even our greatest good, if not coupled with Christ and the work of His Spirit in us, is as filthy rags before a Holy God; for our heart motives, intentions and purposes are too often distorted from His, destroying our ability to be in relationship with a God who cannot even look on sin.

Still, God, Who is love, loves fully, completely and purely: the Barbarian (those who refuse to conform to God and His ways) and Scythian (considered to be the worst of the worst of mal-conformists); the Jew (the people of God’s possession), the Gentile (those not part of God’s possessed people); the slave and the freeman (rich or poor matters not, His love just a great toward both alike). All who have yet to enter into relationship with Him through Christ, who is our freedom from sin and death, God loves as fully as He does those who are His.

But He is hindered in giving that love fully to you who refuse His saving grace, because you have not chosen to separate yourself from your sin by receiving in your body the Sacrifice for sin found in Christ that vitally unites us to God, the Father. Until you do, you are in danger of having your name removed from the book of life, being eternally separated from God because of sin that is only cleansed and covered by the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus; the Messiah. And for some, booing my words right now, know that hearts can harden to the point of passing over the threshold of no return, passing up your opportunity while yet you live.

God grieves over you with love unfulfilled. This is the reason God revealed to me for the pain and the struggle I have experienced, so I may understand the heart of God toward those lost to sin, making me able to somewhat express to you the depth of God’s love for you.

One day all will stand before the judgment seat of God. Oh, hear me people. There we each, the Bride, and those scratched out of the book, all will stand before this God who is pure love, the love we all look to find; love that we need in order to be whole and complete. This love exudes from His every pore, for it is who He is, and all will know it. We each will fully know His love for us as individuals of His creation. Then the roll will be called and Jesus will separate out the sheep, those birthed to God through the Lamb. As He leads us sheep into the eternal Kingdom to live forever with our God of love, He will confess us as His own beloved Bride (1 John 5:13).

Then, with the ache in His heart akin to what I have experienced for years now as shared in part 1 of this article; an ache multiplied to His heart exponentially by each person who is no longer on the rolls of God’s book of life, He will shout, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:31-46). His love has flowed to me over one I felt hindered to express it to fully, and I thought I would be crushed by the ache within me. I cannot even fathom the weight of the pain He feels over the masses who refuse to believe and receive His love.

In Matthew 8, Jesus speaking to a Jewish crowd, says that those who were sons of the kingdom but failed to choose relationship with God through Him will be “cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs. 12). This proclamation of warning from Christ to the people of God He reached out to is true for all mankind. To understand this agony that will bring the castaway to a fire burning constantly and bringing them to weeping and gnashing of teeth, we need to recognize two things:

First is this love of God that is equal for all, the sheep (children of God) and the goat (castaways—lost for eternity). He loves us, yes; and His love desires that we willingly choose to love Him back, living for Him in line with all He holds dear and true, which requires an obedience of us to be and do as He is.

But man is unable to do that on His own. If we learn nothing else in the Old Testament, it is that mankind is incapable of the righteousness of God’s desire. So God ordained that there be sacrifice for sin and, through the lineage of Israel, because of His love for us and His desire for a relationship with us, He raised up a Holy Seed to be the Lamb of God: the Seed of Adam that would stomp the head of the serpent; the Seed of Abraham that would bless the nations.

God’s love is pure and complete, loving us as we are, but, desiring the best for us, loving us too much to leave us in our current spiritual condition. So He sent His son to pay the price of blood required, and He sends His Spirit that we may know His ways so we may know Him, receiving and becoming a conduit of His love and His righteousness, empowered by His Spirit. In the Day of Judgment, all will fully know this truth, but for those who refused to believe, it will be too little, too late.

The second understanding we must have is that, in the Kingdom of God, there will no longer be need of a sun because God will be the light of that place (Revelation 21:23).

Standing before God, two things are revealed to those scratched out of the book: revelation of the full and complete awe of God, who is love; the truth that He is and knowledge of all that He is. They will see Him as He is and experience for a brief moment His pure love for them and the completeness He brings to those who see Him in His glory. And two: They will see Him in all His goodness through His Light that brings full revelation of all that is good. They will know in an instant their sin, contrasted with His purity; sin that can no longer be forgiven, for they will again realize that it is too late.

As quickly as they come into contact with God, in all His fullness so as to discover His pure love and glorious light of truth and righteousness, they will be cast away from Him forevermore. As they are sent away, they will go knowing that without God, true love cannot exist, for God is love. Without God there is utter darkness. Those who fail to choose Him through Christ will be sent away to an eternity without any Light to a place where no love resides.

If you have ever experienced utter darkness, where you cannot see your hand in front your face, you know how unnerving that can be. Imagine that for all eternity. Imagine being in that place of darkness with no one you love or who loves you; for love cannot exist separated from its Source.

Jesus speaks of the eternal fire that these will experience. Could it be that the fire that will burn forever, torturing those cursed for an eternity without God, is the fire of desire to experience for a second that purity, that love, just once more.

People say that the fire is flames of heat because of the parable of the rich man who asked for a drop of water to quench the heat of his tongue. But could the water he requested be the Living Water that quenches thirst forever? Could it be the desire to experience His glory and worship at His feet one more time? For I believe they will fall on their knees in worship before Him on that day of judgment, and they will profess Jesus as the Christ, the King and Lord of lords, but theirs will be as the confession of the demon who knows it is too late for them to enter into His rest and find life made full and complete (Philippians 2:1-11).

And what was Abraham’s response to the man? “Between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us” (Luke 16:19-31). The cursed are not within reach of the Water they long for, and none who might have compassion to share with them can do so. It is too late.

In the parable, this tortured man requested that Lazarus be sent back to life to bear witness to his brothers so that they might repent and be saved his agony. But Abraham essentially said that those who will not listen to the testimony of their own patriarchs who bore witness of the Christ, why would they heed the testimony of another, though resurrected from the dead. Thus many refuse to hear the witness of those who are reborn in Christ and bear the testimony of His presence and work in our lives. Many are enslaved by refusal to realize there is a God. Many are snared by pride that believes we must somehow be good enough for God, not realizing that we are incapable of goodness without God.

The sacrifices of Israel, short lived as it was while yet ordained by God, required it to be done over and over again to keep their sin covered because they were incapable of maintaining purity then, just as we are incapable today. Even the exercise of sacrifice for sin became sin, as many did so as a habit that had no true effect on their lives. They refused change, continuing in their sin, and the act of sacrifice given in outward observance of the Law was nullified by lack of the circumcision of heart that separates from sin.

Then enters Jesus: His sacrifice was once for all. All the sin of all mankind that would ever exist was placed on His shoulders. God, paying the full price required in blood, sent His only begotten Son as a Lamb to the slaughter, First Born among many brethren who would be birthed through Him. The sacrifice of Christ Jesus covered the sin of those who trusted in His coming before He came, and the sin of all who would believe in His ministry of love and sacrifice after those days.

Why did God plan for and provide this sacrifice. Because He loves us all and desires that we have a vital, effective and growing relationship of love with Him, and that requires us to realize that we cannot achieve that relationship without His work in us. Thus, He provided the way by which we may know Him as God.

This is the love of God for us that put Jesus on that cross. And all – ALL – saved and lost alike, who stand before God on that Day of Judgment will fully know that love poured out on their behalf. The sheep of God will enter into His Kingdom to eternal joy and rejoicing; and those who refused to believe will fully experience His pure love that makes one whole, only to be cast away from it for all eternity. Their weeping and gnashing of teeth will be the constant ache of knowing that pure Love and revealing Light for an instant in eternity, knowing only never to experience it again. They will be fully alive in their understanding of what they could have had, while fully dead in the outer darkness, experiencing the pain of utter death found in separation from God for eternity. They will know the ache of God’s heart over love lost.

As I said before, God has allowed me this forbidden love experience, with the ache of longing that was grievous and sorrowful to me, so I can understand how He feels toward those who have yet to choose Him through Christ. My heart now relaxes and releases its struggle with a sigh of relief in understanding that purpose. And I thank my God who has allowed me this experience so that I can share it with you and so that I can have His heart to grieve over those who refuse to believe as I love the lost masses with Him. I have prayed many times to understand God’s heart toward the lost. Little did I know that my struggle was His answer to my prayer; discerning the longing for those loved and the ache of sin’s separation.

The time is growing short, and the Day of Judgment draws near when no man may choose. Beloved of God, do not let that hour come on you as if unexpected. To say to self and God, “I will sow my wild oats, and then I will come to salvation” is foolish. Today is the day of salvation, for you have no promise of a tomorrow. Choose now, while you are able, surrendering fully to the transforming grace of God’s pure and holy love that will make you whole as never before. I urge you to call upon someone you know to be true of faith as a Christian so they can help you take the first steps in your journey of faith through Christ.

~*~

The next post I thought was separate from this, but God has revealed that it is part of this series, making it three posts instead of two. It is for those who know Christ, or think they do. See you soon with the rest of the story.

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 1

The Struggle Revealed

 I have experience of numerous deep, abiding, holy, pure loves in my life. They are equal to each other and beautiful to behold, bringing rejoicing to my heart; but distinctions in relationships make equal expressions of love forbidden, hindered by rite of Law. What do I mean?

This will be a two part article, first looking at our love relationship with and in Christ; then looking at God’s love relationship to us through Christ and the effect that has on our eternal destiny.

So what do I mean and how can love equality be? Aren’t we to love God first and foremost and each relationship falls in a line under that? God’s love flow is the answer. In making the point I am to share with you today, I tell you of three of my love relationships; made equal by the degree of God’s love flowing through me, but unequaled by rite of relationship Law.

My first Love, of greatest importance, though equal to the others because of its source, is for my God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I choose to love Him and be in relationship with Him as my God, but the love, which is my own, is limited by the weakness of my flesh. However, as I choose to love God with my all, keeping Him as first in my life, trying as I may to love Him as He deserves despite this limitation of flesh, God moves in with His supply and I am helped by Him Who fills me with love that goes beyond the bounds of my ability. He, who is Love, couples His supply with my own, making my love for Him pure and full blown for His glory. It wells up in me and I soar to the heights of the knowledge of His presence.  In this way I am equipped by Him to love Him in ways that please and honor Him fully.

My second love is my husband. Now, I have always said that my love for my husband is less than that I have for my God, because I BELIEVED that was as it should be. As far as hierarchal Law goes in determining who I will follow first as Lord, that is true. But lately, as God has grown and blossomed my love for my husband, God has shown me that my love for my man should equal my love for Him, for it too is supplied and made whole and full through our union as one with Him in holy matrimony: our love making us one flesh together through Him, His love for my husband swells in me and the experience of it is equal to what I have when love soars to God.

God is not a jealous God when our love for others is based out of our love for Him. The only jealousy He has is when we turn from Him to others as a type of god. I can love my husband fully, as I love my God, because God pours His love through me. In this way I am capable of loving my husband as God desires and designed me to, and through the purity of God’s love flowing through me, I am protected from sinning against my first love, God.

The purity of God’s love desiring the very best for and toward the object of love, whether God or man, protects my relationship with God as God, keeping me from seeing my husband take God’s rightful place in my life. My love for my husband is kept in right priority and rite of relationship by this love of God that flows through me to him. And I am protected by the full and pure love I have for my husband from sinning against my marriage vows, whatever temptation the enemy may send. Now, if that is clear as mud, let’s throw a third party in the mix.

I love my husband as I love my God, with whole heart that is helped and empowered by His love-flow, desiring to please God in my relationships. And like with my love for my God, my love for my husband, empowered and made strong by my God, is pure love, and I cannot fathom ever sinning against that love. Nonetheless, there is a love in me that has been there and grown strong for many years. It, too, is pure and holy and supplied by God, and when it wells up in me fully, it is equal to my love for my God and my husband. It is different in its expression and intent and purpose from that of my love for my God, but part of that love. And it is different in expression from my love for my husband, but a love made great and soaring strong in me in likeness to my love for my God and my husband because of the source of love’s flow.

This love has a forbidden dimension to it because it is love toward another man, not my husband. By rite of marital Law, though I love this other man of God fully and have enjoyed serving God together with him on many projects for many years now, I cannot act on this love in the same way that I do toward my husband.  Still there is the call of God in me to minister alongside this other man as is proper, just as the women who served at the feet of Jesus, and those who were ministers with Paul and Elijah. Our union of heart desire toward God swells in my heart with the love of God toward him, filling me with love that equals my love for my God and my husband, pure and holy in its intent and sourcing.

Then enters Satan: often Satan will try to distort love, for our experience of love is the closest thing to sitting in the lap of God, who IS love. Satan does not want us to truly know that heart of love where we may come to greater understanding of and stronger relationship with God, so he works to make our experience of love into something it is not meant to be.

Satan often moves in when that love for my Christian Brother soars, using my misunderstanding of God’s love-flow, my fleshly wisdom and that of this world to bring thoughts that make this love seem wrong. When love toward my Brother wells up so strong in me, lies of evil regarding it using the way the world thinks about love, twists the love into something different in my mind, causing me to feel guilty though I have done nothing wrong and have no wrong intent or desire toward him, for I can see no other man for me than my husband.

In that moment of struggle, this love that, if acted upon fully in accord with the temptation of the distortion Satan seeks to work, would be sin against my God, my husband, and this man. When it is full blown in me, Satan working to make it appear ugly, I struggle with guilt and anguish over it, and it hinders my ability to work with peace together in our common desire to fulfill the purpose of God. It has been a confusing journey and a long lessen I am grateful to have lived through, for it has shown me great things about my God who knows and understands our struggle in life, and He allows it for our good, not for harm.

I know this love that swells in me for my Brother is of God because I know the love of my God personally and intimately. God, in His grace, has always helped me to deal with this twisting of satanic ploy, putting my thoughts and my relationship back in the position it belongs, thus equipping me to continue serving God in righteousness alongside this other man. But the twisting of distortion has hindered me from fully living in the love-flow of God toward him for fear of the struggle, and I often pull back from things I feel called to alongside him in order to avoid the struggle.

When I shared the turmoil of heart with my husband, he encouraged me with his understanding of how it can be when people of opposite sex work together and have like desires in the work. He prays for me and helps me with his trust and support. And I have grown to trust this love to God for His protection, so that I may serve as He leads without sin, at the time, not understanding its source because of the hindrance within.

God’s love toward my friend wells up in me unexpectedly and often, calling me to prayer for my friend in Christ who is often in harm’s way in his ministry, helping me to reach out to meet the need of my ministry with him with right heart and priority. But false wisdom and understanding hinders the joy of love’s purity.

I have cried out often for deliverance from these wrong emotions that hit me with this love and for understanding of the struggle demonic thoughts throw into the works; but until now there has been no response from God. Today I share this struggle with you so that I may make clear God’s answer that finally came to my understanding.

Now, before you get all judgmental and close off to the moral of the story, hang with me. Like with Hosea who was led to take a bride of harlotry in order to understand the message God had for Israel, there is a lesson here that God taught me and wants you to hear. And believe me, you are not thinking anything about it that I have not thought during my struggle. You may even be able to relate to it from your own experience. If so, I hope you had God’s help to protect you from sin as well. So, setting the judgment aside to God, now that you have the background, let’s continue to the truth God revealed to me through this situation.

Last night I had a dream that this man came for a visit. When he comes, we open our home to him as Lydia and her family did to Paul. My husband and I love him and we minister to him together in the Lord. And he loves us with a pure love. It is a joy when he comes.

During this visit in my dream, he became very ill and I began to minister to him, doing what I could for him in our home, in the hospital, and after his release. As I did so God’s love welled up in me. Again, that temptation of forbidden love came and I began the struggle anew in my dream, feeling guilty over a love so strong toward one who is not my husband. Crying out to God as I ministered to him, drawn of God to care for him, I am as grieved and confused as ever.

Waking from the dream, that love still overwhelming my heart, I cry out to God as never before, seeking understanding of why He would allow such a struggle to exist in me. Seeking discernment as never before, do you know what God said to my heart?

“For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVES in Him shall not perish but have everlasting (eternal) life” (John 3:16).

In that instant knowledge of why God allowed me to experience this love from Him was clear to me: God is love! He cannot help but love. And He loves all equally and fully: saved and sinner alike, He shows no partiality in His love. But like with my love for this other man who is not my husband, His love is hindered toward some because it is forbidden by rite of the Law He himself set, limiting Himself toward us so that we can have rite of choice to love Him in return.

God loves all who are in the world, giving His Son for all, but He has set up a law, the law of sin and death, where sin was allowed to enter by His design that we should have choice regarding our personal relationship with Him.

Mankind began with full access to God, but sin entered to separate us from full relationship with Him, working a spiritual death that would set the stage for spiritual birth to new life, where those who receive it will never to be separated from Him again.

God had this plan from the beginning. He developed for Himself a people, out of which He sent a Healing Balm to restore life anew to all who choose to receive it, and that is found in the sacrifice of the Son, the Messiah Christ Jesus.

Blood has long been required as sacrifice for sin, and before Christ there were long lines of people bringing their offerings for sacrifice in order to be seen as pure in God’s eyes. But sin and death reigned in the earth, and very few were allowed to know the presence and reality of God as a result.

God loved all His created beings, wanting so much to have a personal and living relationship with each one, so His plan from the beginning included the Gift of a final offering on our behalf. Therefore, sending Jesus, His Son, who willingly gave His life as a sacrificial Lamb, God provided in likeness to His provision for Abraham on the mountain with Isaac, his son. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, God removed the rite of sin and death to hold us captive, returning to us the right to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing with Him, or curse of living without Him, never to know His love flow. He desires to flow His love to all, but He chooses to honor our decision regarding Him and holds back from forcing Himself on us.

Do you see the flip-flop effect here? Where Adam and Eve had God in all His fullness right there with them and their choice was to remain with him or depart to a life of death, separated from Him by sin; we are birthed to a life without right to God and must choose to be born again in our spirit by receipt of the Sacrifice for sin that restores our relationship with God to its full intent. He then, begins the work of restoring our love relationship with Him to its full capacity, giving Himself fully to us, making us whole, and reviving His likeness in us, including our ability to love as one in Him.

This remedy to the law of sin and death says that all who choose God by accepting the sacrifice of the Son as the work of the Spirit accomplished at the hand and bidding of God will be cleansed and set free forever from the consequence of sin and death; and they who choose life in Christ then receive all of God’s love with all the perks of relationship with Him. With Christ as our covering, God then can pour out His full love on us through the vital relationship He desires to have with every person born to the earth.

God ministers to all, sending the blessing of rain on the just through Christ and the unjust alike: He must by right of the pure love within Him, do what He can for those He loves. But, for those who have not chosen to enter into a marriage relationship with Him through Christ, He cannot give Himself fully to them and sin against His law of sin and death, nullifying His marriage vows to the church, the Bride of Christ; His beloved children through Jesus. Those who are born to the earth are separated from God by the death brought to all mankind that separates them from Him because of sin, and our God of Love struggles in His affections toward them, desiring to give Himself fully to them, but hindered by Law.

Just as by rite of relationship laws, I can only show my love for my friend to a small degree of the full relationship of love I have with my husband, so God is limited by the Law regarding rite of relationship with Him, mankind being separated from experiencing all that He is by sin’s right over them. For those who receive by faith the sacrifice for sin in Jesus, the gap between God and that person is closed, and God again has right and delight in giving all He is and all He has to us for our joy and fulfillment. We are made whole together with Him, made one in the Beloved. Thus the flow of equal love to many in my life is made clear, and the struggle that the flesh, the world and the demonic would work to hinder that love flow and the power it brings to work together in unity is squelched. I am free.

God loves all fully, and through relationship with His Son we experience His full love when we choose Him through believing faith. So what does our choice or lack thereof mean for our eternity? See you tomorrow for the conclusion of this thought…

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 10b

This has been an awesome journey for me. I cannot tell you what God has taught me and done in my life as we have walked with one another through this time. Seeing all these truths flow together has been like putting the puzzle pieces in order and finally seeing the full picture of what God is showing me personally: a portrait worth affixing to the backing I call “my life”, hanging it up for all to see. My hope is in God that the communication of the things in my heart flowed to the pages of this text well enough to help your journey as it has mine.

Today we conclude our study of “Dispelling the Darkness” as we continue our look at 1 Peter 2:4-10: having covered 4-8 yesterday, we continue through verses 9 and 10 adding to our understanding of who we are in Christ.

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (vs. 9-10).

As living stones with Christ, we are:

A Chosen Race

We become part of the household of the chosen people of God when we enter the gate that is Christ:

“‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’ …So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Matthew 7:13-14; John 10:7-10).

Those He calls He also chooses, and as we choose Him, we enter through the gate to walk the narrow way found in life through Christ. God turns none away who come with repentant heart, sincerely desiring the new life provide through His Son.

Do you struggle with a spirit of rejection, beloved? To us in Christ, God says, “You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you” (Isaiah 41:9). So smile and take heart. You are not alone and you are not cast away. We are chosen to be…

A Royal Priesthood

We are back at 1 Peter 2:4-5, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a HOLY PRIESTHOOD, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

In Christ we are birthed into the lineage of Levi, made one with Christ in a holy priesthood. He is now High Priest forever, interceding on our behalf before the Father. The curtain is torn and cast away because He stands perpetually in the Holy of Holies as Advocate on our behalf; thus slinging wide the doors so we may enter in through Him, the Narrow Way, to address the Father in the name of Jesus: we are Christ’s own beloved representatives. We are enabled through Christ to be the beloved children God desired we be from the start, having communion and walking with Him in the garden of our lives. Thus we are Royal Priests with all the responsibility that blessed position holds.

I believe we pretty well covered that role yesterday as we went through the traits of living stones, but let us apply that now here as a beginning toward understanding the role of our priestly estate. As priests unto God:

† We call all to the time of response to the Holy Sacrifice for sin, announcing Messiah as the Holy Lamb provided by God, calling all to repentance and to restoration with God through Jesus.

† We encourage others to turn from sin to God, bringing to the altar in their body the sacrifice of denying self to follow Christ, so He may reign in all who respond through Life, making us holy, consecrated to the Father.

† We grow strong in God’s truths, His law and His ways, proclaiming them to all in need of greater understanding of their application in our day. We not only proclaim these truths, but we walk them out in our daily lives, not living as hypocrites that say one thing while doing another, but realizing that we represent Him and His interests in the world as ambassadors of Christ. Thus we walk as He walked, honoring God as Lord, following Him as Master; and we live as He lived, denying self to meet others at their point of need, with hope that they might enter into this blessed union with us.

† We rejoice over God in all His fullness, leading others to join us in celebration as we share His presence in our lives. Encouraging one another in the Beloved, we share God’s comfort as He has comforted us.

Thus we have a beginning of understanding our role as a Royal Priesthood. As each of us rest in the truth that we are a chosen race, seriously taking on our priestly role, He works in and through us to make for Himself…

A Holy Nation

Becoming Holy together: willingly consecrating all that we have and all that we are or ever hope to be to God for His use. To surrender ourselves: taking up our cross daily, denying self-will and our sinful ways so as to follow Christ as God does His work of sanctification in our lives. As we surrender every area of our sinful, fleshly nature to Him, He corrects His distorted image in us day by day, setting us apart to Himself for holy purposes. As this is accomplished in each individual of us, we become…

A People for God’s Own Possession

God takes as His own beloved possession those who willingly give themselves to Him, bit by bit possessing our lives and bodies as His land, making us one with Him. And as we willingly surrender to His Lordship in each area of life, we unite with Him in fulfilling His purposes. In so doing, we become His willing bondservant’s with Christ, AND HE BECOMES OUR PASSION. His desires and purposes become our own and all that we do in life is focused on eternity, serving Him and being His light where we are with hope of many joining us in Him.

As we find for ourselves and make as our own this blessed relationship in Christ, surrendering to it, we do not lose ourselves. Instead we find ourselves as He fine tunes us to make us all He desired we be: all the good and quality that He desired for us springs forth to Light. Bringing us to our full potential as individuals at one with Him, we become…

Proclaimers of His Excellence

What joy it is to express God’s presence and work in our lives. But how much greater still it is when we can rejoice with knowledge of His excellence even when our circumstances are difficult and the hand of God seems stilled. This is the place where we go deeper: from knowing His ways and desiring His hand, to knowing Him and desiring His presence. Being satisfied and content even when we feel He is all we have left to us; we are satiated together with Him. Here we walk with Him as a friend, rested in His care, trusting whatever He is doing or allowing, assured of His love, content and at peace in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. Here we become His…

Light

The light of His glory not only shines to reflect off of us, but it shines in us and through us in this place in our relationship with Him. In this position with Him we become a light so bright, others who see may not understand; they may even resent us because of it. But we and those with us know and understand for we are…

One

United with Him and one another, we become the fulfillment of the answer to the Lord Jesus’ prayer that we may be one with Him, just as He and the Father are one. Here we realize that we are the Bride of Christ. And we become wed to Him who is one with the Father, making us to be united with them in the Spirit.

There are two pictures in scripture that explain this place to us, the first being this relationship of being Bride of Christ. Wed together, us the Holy Bride, Him the Holy Groom, what do we see?

† TOGETHER AS ONE: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23a).

† HUSBAND (CHRIST): “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church. …You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (Ephesians 5:28-29; 1 Peter 3:7. “In the same way”: see 1 Peter 3:1-6).

† HOLY BRIDE, CHRIST’S CHURCH: “In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [SUBORDINATE yourselves as being secondary to and DEPENDENT on them, and ADAPT yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives” of the Bride of Christ (1 Peter 3:1, AMP. “In like manner”: see 1 Peter 2:13-25).

One with God in all His fullness, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, we are made complete as one flesh through Christ, and we become our second picture of oneness with Him: the Body of Christ in the earth. As such we are destined to function in unison with His every move, totally dependent on Him.

Christ is the mind, the head: dictating function as the Father instructs, equipping us to do as He did in only doing what we see the Father do; serving His interests. Thus we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

God is the heart: first supplying the blood, in which is the life, through the movement of His Spirit that feeds and empowers us to live in Him; granting us life more abundant and full. Next He unites our spirit with His to dictate our thoughts, will, and emotions, leading us to one desire with Him.

Thus we are His body, His hands, His feet, His mouth, doing the work of service, being His representatives in the earth. Rested in the unifying force of His love, we become strong and useful…

Vessels of Mercy

All the cracks filled in with the mortar of grace, we begin to hold secure the Living Water of Jesus as He fills us up to spill us out into the earth, thus to effect the heart of mankind bringing them closer to the kingdom of God. Being vessels in the weakness of flesh, we may still spring a leak on occasion, but grace continually brings us back to restoration, and God’s understanding sustains us as He patiently works to bring us to completion.

This is us: the beloved of God in the Beloved of God. One together in Him, made whole and made holy: sanctified and set apart for His glory, shining His Light that dispels the darkness in the heart of mankind. Selah (pause and calmly think of that, letting it soak in to take hold and find its place within you).

~*~

“Now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:13-23).

And all the Children of God said…AMEN!

~*~

If you have never taken the first steps of faith through Christ, I point you to the Good News: Click on -> Here’s Hope, for that is where this journey begins.

Soon to Come

If you are in Christ with me and want more, I will be back next week after the Grand Kids leave to begin a series titled “Completing the Suffering of Christ” (Colossians 1:24). We will be looking at 1 John to discover more about our walk with Him.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 9b

Yesterday we began looking at attributes of the righteous lot found in the remainder of Psalm 37 and forming for us a good review of the majority of the study, adding some to our thought process as we go. In it we covered the attributes of 1) graciousness; went in depth on 2) the giving heart that wisely uses the provision of God; touched on 3) the assurance of heart that comes to those established by God through Christ; finding that the righteous 4) delight the heart of God by delighting in His ways, thus; 5) departing from evil in order to do good. Today we finish up the review as we cover these last verses:

“The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.The wicked spies upon the righteous and seeks to kill him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged. Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found.  Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him” (vs. 30-40).

6) The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice:

The righteous who continually seek the Lord and grow in Him are often called by Him to speak or write His word in ways that add understanding to the heart of the reader. Those righteous speak a wisdom that points to justice, instructing us in the way we should go.

All of the righteous lot are called of God to “go to a friend” and talk with them about the path they are on. We are all to bear witness of our faith and the work of God in our lives whenever opportunity presents itself. These will couple their words of truth, justice, and wisdom with love, knowing that without a heart of love, the words come across as a clanging cymbal to the ears of the listener. Whichever way we are called of God to use our wisdom, whether friend to friend or publically, we must remember to couple our witness with love.

Let’s take a look at what the word of wisdom and justice looks like by turning to two key passages that give us a clue:

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:7-8).

Jesus promised that when He went away to be with the Father, He would not leave us alone, but would send the Helper, the Spirit of God charged with teaching us wisdom and righteousness and empowering us to walk it. This passage tells us that part of His role as Helper-Teacher, is to convict or convince us of sin, righteousness and judgment. He does this in two ways:

1) He reveals the sin we are practicing, He instructs us in the righteous path needed to correct our lives, and He warns us of the judgment of God against such sin should we choose to continue in our own ways, refusing the work of our transformation in the power of His Spirit. This is the work of discipline accomplished by the Spirit in the life of a wayward child of God.

2) He grants us wisdom to discern right from wrong and understand the potential consequences for our choices so we can make right decisions that keep us on the righteous path. In other words, He helps us to weigh the pros and cons of a crossroad point of choice, equips us to discern the potential outcome, and gives us wisdom to make the right decision.

When people keep coming into our lives, telling us the same thing about what we should be doing and why; we would be wise to realize that the Spirit of God may be using those who love us to convict of sin, instruct in righteousness, and warn of consequences. Remember, the Father disciplines those who are sons and daughters through Christ. It is not a disgrace to enter in to a season of discipline that removes sin from us. It is an honor that proves we are His child.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).

Here James contrasts for us the false wisdom that comes from the fleshly, the worldly, and the demonic; putting it up against the backdrop of true wisdom that comes from God’s Spirit at work in us.

False wisdom produces bitter jealousy, selfish ambition of heart, arrogance, falsehood, disorder and every evil thing. Sounds messed up, doesn’t it? God is orderly and full of peace and love. Evil dwells and rules where there is discord, disorder, and chaos. So let’s contrast the false wisdom with true wisdom, breaking it down some to explore each characteristic found there. True wisdom that is from God is:

First pure – true wisdom will be based in good, godly motives and desires that protect and produce purity.

Peaceable – true wisdom handles things in peaceful ways that most often bring peaceable results not lending to an atmosphere of chaos.

Gentle – true wisdom has strength of resolve that comes across with gentleness.

Reasonable – true wisdom knows how to reason things out so as to lead to truth and unity.

Full of mercy – true wisdom recognizes the limitations of the immature and of those without the Helper, so as to grant mercy and deal properly with those of opposition to sound judgment.

Good fruits – most of what we have covered as traits proving wisdom are on the list of the Fruit of the Spirit, thus we conclude that true wisdom produces the Fruit of the Spirit in us. But we also see that following true wisdom brings about good results.

True wisdom is also unwavering: one who has true wisdom receives with it a heart of assurance and conviction that helps them stand, firm and resolute in the course laid out.

It is without hypocrisy: because true wisdom produces the fruit of God’s character in us and leads to the paths of His choosing and the heart of His purposes, it will always line up with a flow that comes from who we are in Him, and it will stand in agreement with what we profess to believe. We will not say one thing while doing another when dictated by wisdom.

“And the SEED whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

I think “seed” should be in caps here, as scripture teaches that the “seed whose fruit is righteousness” is Jesus, the Messiah King, Lord of lords, and Saving Grace. This Seed of righteousness in us is sown in peace and produces peace, the first in the list of flavors found in the Fruit of the Spirit. One Fruit—many flavors, all restoring the image of God in us.

Thus wisdom flows from the peace of God to bring peace to us that allows us to walk in wisdom with purity, being peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. We cannot have true wisdom without first surrendering to receive the Seed of Righteousness, Jesus Christ the Savior. Why?

Because His ways are higher that our ways; His thoughts are higher that our thoughts. We can reason in the flesh and come up with wisdom that sounds good to us and is agreeable with the wisdom of others, but we cannot discern right and true motives, or discover the higher road of His purposes without His righteous wisdom.

7) The Righteous Holds God’s Law in his heart to direct the sure step.

Oh, my. Don’t ‘cha know that to those of us who possess the Seed of Righteousness—being filled with His Spirit, seeking His wisdom—His Word is precious to our hearts? We long for the Word as our bread of life and living water. We don’t just grab it, finding what looks good to us and making it our own, for use often to promote and give excuse for ungodly ways. It grabs us. And by the power of the Spirit of God at work in us, His Word is used of Him to make us His very own possession.

The passages that affect me most and have done the most to change my life forever reached up off that page and grabbed my heart of flesh, circumcising it and kneading it into His own heart, filling me with desire for their proof to be in me, and making me one with Him in belief, desire, and purpose of action. Many of them continue to grab me and revitalize my commitment.

When I read “For my DETERMINED purpose is that I may KNOW HIM…”, my heart soars anew with increased resolve to grow ever stronger in this relationship (Philippians 3:10-11, AMP).

When I recall “Set your mind and keep it set! …” I get excited and check my course to be sure my focus lines up with His (Colossians 3:1-2).

My heart often cries out with Moses, “Show me Your glory” (Exodus 33). My life has changed forever, watching for Him with “earnest expectation and hope” (Philippians 1:19-20).

My boast is forever in Him, looking to Him for my approval as I remember that “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”, for I realize that I “can do nothing apart from Christ,” but “I can do all things through Christ who is my strength” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, John 15:4-5; Philippians 4:10-13).

“Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 3:11-16).

Through Jesus, we enter the presence of God through the Grace He supplies, and hiding His word in our hearts, we find our protection from sin, being transformed into His image anew.

8) The righteous rests in the shelter of God’s protection, trusting His judgment and advocacy when assaulted by accusation.

There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. When we hide His word in our hearts, letting Him tell us who we are, heeding His instruction for life choices, receiving the assurance of His promises by faith, we are protected from the false prophet and from the lies of the enemy who would beat us down and hinder our progress of faith.

By hiding His WORD in our heart, we know that through Christ we are saved by grace through faith, being adopted into the household of God, having right of inheritance with The Son as the adopted through Christ: and knowing this we know that when we commit sin, the Father of lights then disciplines us as children (Ephesians 1-2; Hebrews 12).

As children of God who seek the Father’s pleasure, we come in under His protection where no evil can eternally harm us. And when accused, He who does not condemn us helps us to know truthfully whether we are guilty of sin—equipping us to correct that area of life; and if we are not guilty, He assures our heart and has given us an advocate in Christ who “ever lives to intercede on our behalf” (Romans 8:31-34; Hebrews 7:25).

9) The righteous waits for the Lord while keeping His way.

While waiting for God to move in our lives, defending us from assault, changing us from one degree of His glory to the next, delivering us from trouble and sorrow, we do not wait as those without hope, but we keep doing what we know to do until He changes our course. No matter the difficulty, by faith in God, forgetting what lies behind, we keep pressing forward to the goal through righteousness in Christ. Not taking our own revenge, we leave that to God and choose rather to “…overcome evil with good” (Romans 12), knowing:

10) The righteous is a person of peace because they take refuge in God:

God, through grace found in Christ, is our hiding place and our secure tower. Through Him we can have peace and walk in peace knowing that no matter what goes on in the earth, we, His children, have a posterity protected by God, an inheritance held secure in the heavens with Him.

Through His provision we have strength to face each day. Because He loves us, we do not fear facing any struggle or challenge, trusting that by the power of His Spirit, we are helped by God to face each day with His comfort in us. And because of the Christ who paid the price as propitiation (full and complete payment) for sin, bringing those who truly believe from their heart into the kingdom of God, we know we have deliverance from death through God.

There is no sin that can keep us, no trouble that can stop God’s will for us, no sword that can come against us to keep us from our appointed course, when we live the righteous life of faith in God: rested in Him, trusting Him, serving Him with a willing spirit of obedience and coming quickly to repentance when we fall.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no [filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming;] but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.’

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:1-17).

Tomorrow our concluding thought.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 9a

By way of review we will finish our study of Psalm 37 today and tomorrow in Part 9a and 9b as we cover attributes seen in the righteous lot; then we will have Part 10 in another passage to conclude our study of Dispelling the Darkness. This excerpt of our study is long as I seek to finish this series this week. Hang in there with me. We are almost at the conclusion.

“The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, but those cursed by Him will be cut off. The steps of a (righteous) man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, and his descendants are a blessing. Depart from evil and do good, so you will abide forever. For the Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” (vs. 21-29).

The remainder of Psalm 37 reveals attributes seen in those who practice His righteousness in likeness to Christ. Our righteousness is the product of a life surrendered to God for His use in the earth. God’s light shines bright through those who willingly surrender in obedience to His ways, portraying Christlikeness in all they do. Here in the remainder of this passage of Scripture today and tomorrow we learn 10 attributes that will bear out of the life of the righteous as fruit from the Spirit of God at work in them.

1) The righteous are gracious:

One fruit of a righteous life is the ability to be gracious. As I think on what graciousness looks like, I see that it requires the practice of Agape (Godly love), for the act of the gracious is to give grace. Grace requires forgiveness of wrongs done against us and it requires us to be able to relate with those forgiven with a spirit of graciousness.

This fruit of graciousness practices patience toward others. It portrays kindheartedness even toward those who hurt us, not being arrogant or vainglorious, and it does not act unbecomingly through rudeness and unmannerly ways. Graciousness is not self-seeking or self-centered; it does not merely looking out for one’s own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). All that is found in 1 Corinthians 13 is part of a gracious heart.

I am not going to go back over forgiveness again (see my blogs on that subject). I am going to say this. God hates broken relationships, because it is contrary to His desire for His creation and it misrepresents Him and His harmonious nature of unity. He desires our unity with Himself and with one another. But He understands that sin exists in the earth, and though we may forgive someone for a harm they do to us or another we love, that does not mean we will have a heart to go back to the same old relationship. That is why Jesus said that God allows divorce, because of the hardness of our heart.

Our ability to relate is adversely affected when trust is broken. Even God has shown this to be true of relationship with Him. When we break trust through sin against God, it brings a separation in our ability to have relationship with Him. But even in relationships that are broken by sin done toward one another that destroys trust, the practice of graciousness can and should be the trait of the righteous in Christ. There is still a relationship potential with those we forgive. It just may be hindered and changed by a wall of mistrust. If that is the case, the only thing short of a miracle from God that will heal the breech if for trust to be restored, and that takes time that often changes the dynamics of the relationship.

2) The Righteous are Giving:

As we said before, the righteous in relationship with Christ through saving faith have already inherited the land: we are part of His eternal kingdom and one way we experience His kingdom on earth is through our righteous practices. As the children of God, we are promised that we will receive of His supply: sufficient for every need, sufficient for every good deed, and surplus to help those who are in any need.

God graces us with His supply, giving us the ability to work and make a living. He supplies for us through the inheritance of wise parents who saved so as to take care of themselves in their old age and to have some to pass on as inheritance to their children and grandchildren. And He supplies for us in miraculous ways. All of His supply to us belongs to Him and is given to us for our wise stewardship. The principles of God are as stated above, and if we practice them well, we will find His provision in abundance. Read the following passages of scripture, and then I will give my opinion in the matter of our finances and wealth:

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

“I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it (collect an offering). But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality—your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality” (2 Corinthians 8:10-14).

God supplies us sufficient for our need. He calls us to give to others “according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” He does not expect us to go hungry or let our children be without necessities while we give it all away to others. God expects us to meet the need of our families and to pay our bills—beginning with the Tithe to God through our home churches. It is obedience here in the use of our finances for our daily needs that shows God we can be trusted with more. As we show Him we will not fritter away our supply on our lusts, but will respect and follow His principles for their use, He trusts us with surplus.

Once we prove faithful with the little, He begins to call us to do good deeds, and He supplies extra, sufficient to cover the good deeds He leads us to. His heart desire and goal is that we grow strong in our stewardship in these areas so that He can then pour out abundance to us above and beyond the need and the good deed. Out of that abundance we are called to help in meeting the need of others “so that there may be equality.”

But it is our choice whether we prove faithful in the use of His supply or not: that should not fall to government. Governments take these passages out of context, thinking that no one is to be wealthy in this world’s riches while others are poor. Jesus said, “The poor will ALWAYS be with you” (Matthew 26:11). So what is it that we are to work at bringing to equality?

I believe it is that needs be met: that none be in desperate need while growing in their walk as stewards of His supply. If a man loses his job, we are to help him feed his family while he seeks another. If a woman’s husband leaves her and the kids, we are to help her get on her feet. Are we to give to all who have need? NO!

“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

God desires those who are His to grow to be good stewards of His supply, and He supplies through our ability to work. “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

Ephesians 4:28 says, “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” This tells me that God desires us to grow through these stages of stewardship in our wealth, working up to a level of faithfulness that brings His abundance, so He can pour out His blessing through us to meet the need of others from the abundance He gives us. That is the call of every believer, and this giving heart will be seen in us as the fruit of righteousness springs forth.

Now there is a problem in our day, not only of people who take advantage of the welfare system and the benevolent organizations, stealing what could help another when they are either unwilling to work or are unwise in the use of their finances. There are also those who steal from the funds that should be used to pay their bills, “sowing” into God’s work as if to bribe Him for more so that they can spend it on their lusts and make more bills. This is backwards from what I see in scripture. God expects us to pay our bills, to owe nothing to anyone but love, and to be wise in what we deem to be a need.

Does that mean we should never get any of the niceties or things that bring us pleasure? No, but it does mean that we must seek the Lord’s opinion and bring our desires in line with His first, making sure He is wanting to bless us in that way and that we are not spending funds intended for meeting a need on our greed. If His peace is not umpiring the transaction, best to step back and wait awhile.

“For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12). All have a responsibility to learn how to live in sufficiency, recognizing and meeting their need, being content with what they have and not robbing the surplus that could be used to meet another’s need. The wealth God gives is His, trusted to us as stewards of His kingdom for our use in ministry to our own needs and the needs of our family, and to His church through the first fruits of the tithe, then to meet the need of others around us. And when we do help another, we should help them to realize their role as steward of the gracious gift of God, helping them on their journey to abundance.

Do you think this principle explains why scripture says more than once that the children of the righteous will not be seen begging bread? I do. If we are setting the good example of stewardship and righteousness, we will raise up a righteous lot of good stewards. But if they do come into any need, they will find the family, godly friends and their church standing at the ready to help them get back on their feet, and they will seek after and find the faithfulness of God to supply them with ability to again make wealth.

3) The steps of a (righteous) man are established by the Lord

The righteous seek the Lord for their step by step instruction for living. They trust the Lord to direct their path and establish their course. They also know and trust that when the path takes an unexpected turn, it is at the Lord’s bidding for a purpose of His own: whether as consequence for some sin, as pruning and refining our lives, or as a door of opportunity with some eternal purpose.

The righteous realize that they are secure in Christ with an eternity made sure. Any difficulty along the way to the eternal has Kingdom purpose, either to work something wonderful in their lives, or to help them on their path to transformation to Christlikeness. When the path takes an odd turn, ours is to seek the Lord for the next step and to discern the purpose, knowing that we are in the place we find ourselves for a reason.

Knowing that we are established for all eternity through Christ, “WHEN we fall, we are not hurled headlong, for God holds our hand” to keep us from undue harm. We are eternally perfected in Christ; but we are continually being perfected in our earthly existence. There are times in all our lives when we stumble over some root sin, or stone of temptation. God will allow it only as far as is necessary to get our attention and lead us in dealing with the root issue that makes us vulnerable to stumbling. But He never lets us go so as to lose us from eternity with Him.

Even if we die as the consequence of a momentary sin, being unable to repent for that particular sin, if our faith and belief in Christ is active and working in us, we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, secure with Him in the eternal realm.

Realizing that God only allows me to stumble in order to promote my growth in righteousness helps me to get back up, dust off, and be transformed to His likeness. And you know what causes that goal to be important to me?

4) The Righteous Delight the Heart of God

The righteous man seeks to know the ways of the Lord so that they may know HIM, and so they may walk in the way of the Lord, growing stronger in relationship to Him. This process of growth in the knowledge of God is important and vital in the life of the righteous who desire to be known by God, called by name as a friend of God.

5) The righteous, when he discovers sin within, departs from evil to do good in order to show His delight in the Lord and to bring delight to God. I have shared the following in my writings many times, but it bears repeating here:

Years ago, I was reading God’s word and, coming upon one of the passages that speak of us getting a new name from God in eternity, I sensed a familiar prayer to know mine well up in me from the depths of the Spirit of God as never before. And just as I thought I would burst with desire for the answer, I heard clearly in my spirit, “Abigail.”

Knowing God had something awesome for me to discover through that name, I pulled out my concordances and other books I have that show the meaning of words and names. In my study I discovered that Abigail has a twofold meaning, like the flipside of a coin. On one side it means “One whose heart rejoices in God.” On the other it means “One in whom the heart of God rejoices.”

This is the call of all who would be the Righteousness of God. We are to so greatly rejoice over the Lord and our relationship with Him that we will do anything to protect the relationship. And as we do that, He finds rejoicing of His heart in us.

Thus is the call of this study, be sanctified, set apart to God as never before. Be Abigails in the Kingdom of God on earth.

Scripture teaches that the sins of the parents are visited on the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. I believe that not only means that they will suffer from the consequences of our actions, but it provides a loophole in the law that gives Satan permission to set up stumbling stones before them, tempting them in the same area of sins we have fallen too. But the descendants of the righteous shall see the lovingkindness of God to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 20:4-6)! And we are told in our passage today that the descendants of the truly righteous – the children of us who delight the heart of God, will be a blessing.

We want our nation to rise up from the ashes? We want the prosperity of our children protected? “If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

Beloved child of God, seek righteousness, it is the only cure for our land and the best hope for our children. Sanctification begins in Christ, covering you with the blood of the Lamb of God, and making you His delight. And your righteous sanctification is perfected as you seek God wholeheartedly, desiring Him first and foremost, having no other gods before Him. As we in this way become the delight of God, the apple of His eye, He will heal our land.

Tomorrow, more on righteousness.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 8b

“The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming. The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, to slay those who are upright in conduct. Their sword will enter their own heart, and their bows will be broken. Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord sustains the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance. But the wicked will perish; and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish—like smoke they vanish away” (vs. 12-20).

Yesterday we covered the first of three truths about the Lord that give example to us and resource that will brighten the light through us to dispel the darkness of evil around us. That truth covered is “The Lord laughs at the wicked, for He sees his day is coming.” We discovered that the wicked one that God laughs at is not the man or woman or child deceived by sin, but the evil spirit behind it. We, too, can find laughter when evil strikes, knowing that their day is coming. Today we cover in this passage the last two truths about God that we need to adopt in brightening our reflections of His light in dark places.

Two – “The Lord sustains the righteous.”

My first thought as I read this focus for today is that the Lord provides sustenance, meeting the need of those who walk in righteousness and right standing with Him. And that is true; the Lord blesses those who seek to please Him through righteous living. It can also be concerning to us when we consider the frequency with which we fall on our faces, hurled headlong by some sin that too easily entangles us. If it is true that God sustains the righteous, knowing that His sustenance continues through grace even when we fall on a daily basis, then there must be some deeper truth to be had here, right?

We are a people called to righteousness, yet still, I know of none who are without sin, even among us called “saints” through Christ. As we said before, our greatest good is as filthy rags before our Holy God, because apart from Him, we are incapable of doing good, thus true righteousness that honors God eludes our grasp as we traverse daily the path to righteousness found in His transforming grace at work in us.

Transformation can take place immediately in our lives, and I know some in whom that has happened, but it more often is a process over a lifetime, and too often we can find ourselves falling back into old ways when we least expect it. Paul, speaking of the people of the true circumcision in Christ, says:

“And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), ‘Let us do evil that good may come’? Their condemnation is just. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one’” (Romans 3:8-12).

We are told in John 15 that we can do NOTHING apart from Christ. That includes the practice of our righteousness. We are completely dependent upon the work of God in us through the sacrificial gift of Christ. Our light shines brightest in the earth when we stand in the light of His righteousness reflecting through our lives.

I love the exclamation of Paul as he debates his own struggle with sin found in Romans 7:14-25. Proclaiming his desire, Paul cries out, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do(in following the Spirit of God), but I am doing the very thing I hate (following the dictates of the flesh)” (thoughts added by author). Desire to do right in God’s eyes is often hindered by fleshly indulgences.

I struggle with this as did Paul, and as I am sure do you in some area of life. Right now I am coming against an addictive level sweet tooth, fighting for my freedom from that bondage. Things go well most days, then, wham! That tooth will flare up and, if I am not mindful to heed the Spirit’s lead in dealing with it, the next thing I know I am hurling headlong into a sweets-frenzy. In those times, like Paul, I cry, “O unhappy and pitiable and wretched (wo)man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? (AMP)” Then God leads me to remember with him, “O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!”

Concluding His discourse, Paul interjects, “So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” We are free from the eternal grasp of sin’s death through Christ, and as we stand firm with Him in this life we are able to walk away from it. But we must continually be mindful of the flesh and, taking care to lay aside every encumbrance, we must stand firm against the sin which so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1).

What is God’s instruction to us when we are hurled headlong into a stumbling fall to sin? We, who are in Christ, are free from condemnation, knowing that through Christ, “When (we) fall, we will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds (our) hand” (Psalm 37:24). Our God promises that He is able to make His servant stand (Romans 14:4). We are a work in progress, yes; “continually being perfected,” and during this process and all through eternity, the righteousness of Christ is imputed or credited to us, covering us even while He works transformation in us (Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26, 4:5; 1 Corinthians 1:30). When God looks at us, He sees the Righteousness of Christ all over us.

Realizing these truths will keep us from falling away in discouragement when stumbling comes to make us feel unworthy. We are unworthy: apart from Christ. So just get that settled now, and praise God for sustaining our righteousness through the gift of grace He provided through the sacrificial gift of God found the in Lamb who hung on the cross.

Three – The Lord knows the days of the blameless and their inheritance will be forever:

God knows the days of the wicked and laughs with joy that evil will be put away from influencing His creation on that day. And I believe He smiles with satisfaction over all who enter into His rest through their relationship with Him in Christ, God’s provision for our sanctification. Those who are in Christ, saints—yea, though they occasionally fall to sin—are covered with His blood sacrifice for all eternity.

Remember the “O thank God,” of Paul as he considered the struggle in his flesh even as strong as he was in Christ? The next verse in Romans 8:1, Paul resounds, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And for those who remain in Christ, this remains their truth forever, their inheritance with Christ assured.

So does that mean we can profess faith in Christ and carry on our lives as always? Remember what we covered earlier, the truth of our faith will be seen in the transformation of our lives that bears the fruit of the Spirit of God into the earth.

As many have been heard to say, “God loves us where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there.” If there is no change in our lives, no work of the Spirit through transformation, then there most likely was no sincere commitment to God through Christ. One sign that we are His is the hand of His discipline in our lives, working transformation in our person.

“…It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. …” (Hebrews 12).

True children of God through Christ are children forever, their eternity and their inheritance secure. There is no one, not even we ourselves, who can take us out of the hand of God and remove His love from us when we are in sincere relationship with Him through Christ. To think that every time we stumble as we struggle with sin, we somehow fall anew into condemnation and must be saved again, is to deny the power of God through the finished work of Christ. It is to think the words of Jesus a lie as He breathed His last and said, “It is finished!” Death and sin were defeated at the cross for all who will believe and enter into this vital, life changing, transforming relationship with Him.

So laugh with God in knowing the day is nearing when wickedness can no longer influence our lives; smile with Him in knowing that He sustains our righteous stance in Christ; and bow to Him as a son, rejoicing that He cares for you to much to leave you in the condition in which He found you. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 7b

“For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (vs. 9-11).

“…But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.”

Yesterday we discussed the need to grow in patience to wait upon the Lord. Taking another look at our passage, we see that waiting is an act of humility.

It takes humility to sit and wait on the timing of another, especially when it is God and we can’t fully discern what He is doing. To know His call in our lives and trust His timing on things, when we think we are ready to go, challenges our humility, forcing us to the choice of falling away to our own path, or growing strong in the bearing of the fruit of humble patience in our lives. Choosing humble-patience in God produces assurance of our “inheriting the land”—accomplishing the goals and plans of God for us, and leading to our abundant prosperity.

God’s word has a lot to say about the humble, and Jesus, again, provides the example of true humility for us.

Jesus waited 30 years before coming into God’s timing for His ministry and the building up of disciples to carry on the work. We know He was anxious to get going because, when He was but 12 years old, His parents ran back to Jerusalem in a panic, finding Him busy about His Father’s business in the temple. And He was believed to be 33 years old before He saw the plan and purpose of God brought to completion through His willing sacrifice and resurrection power. For He who is the King of kings to wait so long, humbling Himself before His earthly-parents and others of authority in His world, very-God in the body of a child being taught of man; His wait required humility, the cornerstone of patience.

I also have the privilege of having my husband as a visible example of humility at work. For several years I watched my Choleric, organized, perfectionistic husband work under the authority of a Phlegmatic, laid back, disorganized, Sanguine. But my sweet, patient, humble man would fold his arms, taking a relaxed, hands-off stance, and sitting back, he would wait until the boss was ready to go, having just enough Phlegmatic personality to calm his get it done temperament.

Through these examples, I see that humility is an important trait to develop if we are to wait well.

We have talked some about humility in Parts 4 and 4Aa of this study when we covered the roll of the Bondservant, who humbles himself through surrender to his Master, going from temporary and unwilling slave, to eternal and willing bond-service, having the humble mind of Christ. Seeing that humility is vital to our ability to wait upon the Lord, let’s see what more we can learn from scripture about those of humble heart.

†   “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way” (Psalm 25:9),

Humility is vital to our ability to learn, grow strong in, and know God’s ways. And remember, it is through knowing His ways that we truly come to know Him. Therefore it is the humble in heart that will truly grow to know God intimately and personally.

†   “The humble have seen it (the salvation of the Lord) and are glad; you who seek God, let your heart revive” (Psalm 69:32 – vs. 29).

The humble who seek the Lord will see His salvation and find their heart revived. It takes humility to seek the Lord first in all things, with wholehearted faith in Him. But as we do so, we will find the reward of His presence and work in our lives. Is your heart weary, your light dull? Revival comes to the humble who seek the Lord in earnest, and finding Him faithful, see the darkness dispelled by His light revived and made new within.

†   “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).

It takes wisdom to live a good life, knowing when and how and to whom to humble oneself. Being humble before God requires us to know when to bow to His authority in any given situation or to His authority found in the high position of other beings. Wisdom also knows when to bow to His authority by standing firm with His authority in us against another. Wisdom is promised to the humble of heart.

The meekness of humility is not wimpy. It is surrender to authority: surrendering first to God’s authority as God, then recognizing the authority of others ordained by God; and, being surrendered to God, taking up His authority when He calls us to stand against that which is not of His choosing. Humility requires much strength of character. Humility is always that of bowing first to God; then knowing when to bow to the authority of others, we choose when to surrender and when to stand firm; both requiring strength of character in trusting God.

†   “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

Do we really honor God as God in our lives, or do we take for granted His lovingkindness and grace? When His word convicts us of sin, do we humble ourselves through contrition of spirit, trembling at His word, or give half-hearted thought to it and go on our way unscathed: without true and sincere repentance? This, by the way, is the heart of hypocrisy: saying we walk with God while failing to receive His word implanted by surrendering to His will with our all. Lack of humility treats God and His word as commonplace.

Look at the Amplified version of Isaiah 66:1-4:

“THUS SAYS the Lord: Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house would you build for Me? And what kind can be My resting-place? For all these things My hand has made, and so all these things have come into being by and for Me, says the Lord. But this is the man to whom I will look and have regard: he who is humble and of a broken or wounded spirit, and who trembles at My word and reveres My commands. The acts of the hypocrite’s worship are as abominable to God as if they were offered to idols. He who kills an ox then will be as guilty as if he slew and sacrificed a man; he who sacrifices a lamb or a kid, as if he broke a dog’s neck and sacrificed him; he who offers a cereal offering, as if he offered swine’s blood; he who burns incense to God, as if he blessed an idol. Such people have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations; so I also will choose their delusions and mockings, their calamities and afflictions, and I will bring their fears upon them—because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not listen or obey. But they did what was evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight.”

Lack of sincere obedience, true humility, honest contrition, and wholehearted earnestness toward God as God fails to delight the heart of God because it is hypocrisy. He will not listen to nor heed the plea of those of us who fall short in this practice of humility through our practice of hypocritical, feigned obedience. We want our nation to revive and be healed? It begins with “me”, knowing, “…to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

†   Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger. …I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the LORD” (Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12).

The humble of heart know God as their refuge in time of trouble. They are not overcome by fear, nor do they fall in the way of the “terrible” and imagined, because they have found The Secret Place of God as Shelter, Shield, and Buckler (Psalm 91).

As I think on this with my recent struggle in Complicated Grief Disorder and Social Anxiety nearing agoraphobia, I realize that fear is sourced in pride. We fear that which we feel we cannot stand against or control. Fear says, “If I cannot stand against it to protect myself, how can God protect me?” Fear refuses to surrender in faith to God and His will and way for us, whatever that may be.

Fear is self-centered. Faith is God-centered, trusting God’s love to be for us and not against us. His perfect love, trusted by faith and flowing to and through us, casts out fear. Humility bows when “I cannot” turns to acknowledge “but God…”: realizing that “Nothing shall be impossible with God, Who can.” Through trusting Him even when fearsome things happen or may happen, with humility we deny fear’s grip on our lives and trust God’s love which is always for our good and not harm, to give us a hope and a future that honors Him. Through faith in Him, we accomplish His purpose in the earth, living with Him in the eternal.

†   “…who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:21).

Humility is required for transformation to take place. Wondering why your life is not being transformed according to God’s promise? Look to see where pride, arrogance, and stubborn obstinance still holds its grip.

†   “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.’ …Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:6, 10).

True greatness comes most to those who are truly humble-putty in the hand of their God. Humility trusts God to make us sufficient for His use. Humility believes God. Humility knows that the place in which God’s will takes us is the best and safest place we can possibly enter into.

True humility waits for the Lord with patience for the path ahead, while keeping His way where we are.

The humble walk with God as Enoch did, and he was not, for God took Him to be with Him desiring his presence with Him. The humble believe God as Abraham did, and it was counted to him as righteousness. The humble are people after God’s own heart as David was, and God called him “the friend of God” with Moses. Humility exalts us to enter into the presence of God, putting us in direct contact with His light, equipping us to be His reflection in the earth, dispelling darkness on our way with unity in Him. Thus, the humble, who wait patiently upon the Lord, will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity, being exalted to know God and His ways for all eternity.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 5a

As God’s people in the earth, we dispel the dark of evil by being His lights. This is accomplished in us as we “trust in the Lord and do good,” knowing that He alone is good, and only with His goodness at work in us can we do good that He can count as such. Also we are light as we “delight ourselves in the Lord,” knowing that our delight in Him is best accomplished as we seek Him through the Mind of Christ that instructs us, granting us the heart of God, the character of God, and His desires of heart that He can give to us. Pressing forward in our study of Psalm 37 we find:

“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” (vs. 5-6).

“Commit your way to the Lord.” Too often what we tend to do is make a plan and ask God to bless it. Is that what this call means? Can we choose the paths we want to walk and expect God to make us successful in it? Then there is the understanding I have long had since learning the planning, then committing is not the way to go. That is that we seek the Lord for the plans we are to make, only following His lead, seeking His blessing from the beginning of our planning session to its fulfillment. But God took me to something even more than that.

As I sought the Lords counsel in where to go with this portion of our study, He called me to Romans 12:

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).

Could that be it? Commit your way to the Lord by presenting your body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, thus worshiping Him with our lives. Commit your body to the Lord by refusing to be conformed to this world order; instead letting Him transform us through the renewing of our mind so that we may know and approve His will, proving it to be good and acceptable and perfect as we walk it out with right mindset, motives and attitudes. Kind of removes the need of concern about whether the plan or the commitment of the plan comes first if we are committing all that we are to Him to start with, doesn’t it?

Verse 1 in the Amplified version adds the following to our understanding: “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a DECISIVE DEDICATION OF YOUR BODIES, presenting all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted, consecrated, and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable, rational, and intelligent service and spiritual worship.”

We are to set our minds and keep them set, making a once and for all decisive dedication of our bodies to Him. Here the Amplified adds that we are to “present all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted, and consecrated to God,” for this is well pleasing to Him.

Let’s break that down a bit: this is speaking to each individual in the body of Christ, each called to present the individual “members” of their personal body to God. I believe this is saying that all the parts and pieces that make up the physical housing called “my body” are to be committed to God. My heart, my lungs; my mind, my thoughts; my hands, my feet; my arms, my legs; my mouth, my ears, my eyes; all are His for His use. And if I am committing my members to Him day by day, He will direct my path for how they are to function for His use.

As we surrender our bodily members to God for His use, so we surrender our faculties. To discover the full meaning here, let’s look at part of the definition of faculty:

1. one of the inherent powers of the mind or body, such as reason, memory, sight, or hearing

Our thoughts, our emotions, our senses, all are to be surrendered to God for His use.

2. any ability or power, whether acquired or inherent

No matter how strong a person we may be in the physical, it is nothing compared to what it can be when surrendered to God. Any natural gifting is only made stronger when committed to Him for His use.

3. a conferred power or right

Any power, authority, or perceived right we think we have in this life is only partial and impotent until it is sanctified to Him for His use.

So we see that all that we are, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually must belong to Him for His use. Everything we do, every talent, gift or ability; all power or authority we are entrusted with in the earth, we are to give over to Him for His use. And the “rights” that we think we have truly belong to Him alone. When we commit our way to Him, He will accomplish in and through us all that concerns us. And in so doing, “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.”

But that is not all! See you tomorrow for more on this passage.

BE PARHELIA

Walk as Children of Light

Parhelia DiamondsLike a sun dog, shining bright to make the sun’s presence known,

so the children of God shine.

 Have you ever seen a sun dog, or a picture of one?  I have seen them but didn’t know what they were called until my husband sent me some excellent pictures of the phenomenon.  Here are two he sent that are just spectacular, each speaking volumes to my heart. 

In the first I see the brilliance of God shining forth in the center of the darkness.  His rays radiate out to us on either side through Jesus Christ and the power of the Spirit of God, and through us to the world that cannot see because of the darkness. 

In the second, the sun cannot be seen well because of the clouds.  The spots radiating out on either side of the sun are what is trulyParhelia - Clouded visible and bright.  In this photo, I see the Son, hidden from the world by clouds of doubt, discouragement, disillusionment, falsehood, and everything else that keeps one from recognizing the truth of God in this life.  The only sense that the unbelieving, wayward and discouraged get of Who God is and how He works is through the spotlights shining bright from the reflection of the Son.  That would be those of us, His children, who know His presence and trust His hand, even in the times of darkness and storm-tossed, clouded days.

The Greek word for Sun Dog is Perihelia. The truly interesting lesson to be learned is found in the science behind the making of Parhelia. We see the Parhelia phenomenon when there are ice crystals in the air. The sunlight hits the ice crystals, reflecting out from them to form the spots. The brighter spots are formed as the light from the sun reflects off a crystal, which then reflects those rays out to reflect off of the crystals around it, which reflect out to others. It is the reflection of the sun bouncing off the crystals to touch one another that makes the brilliance of the spots.

Scripture says of Jesus, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5).  Jesus says of Himself, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John8:12).  He says of us, His disciples, “You are the light of the world.  …Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew5:14-16).  In Ephesians 5 we are told that we, the light of God in the world, are not to be partakers in the things of this world, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to God” (verses 7-10).  This is our calling and equipping as lights in the world. We are to be Perhelia, following close to the Son, filled with and shining forth His light, so that all may see Him and glorify God.  

So tell me, how does your lamp light glow?  “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).  Walk as children of light.

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4D

This is the final excerpt of our study of the mind of Christ and its dictates that bring us to the heart of God and right desires that He can respond to affirmatively. If these things live in us and are growing, we can know that we are in Him and He is in us. But this is only the beginning of the journey as we continue to grow in understanding the mind of Christ in us. Following this excerpt, God will continue to reveal to you what the mind of Christ looks like in the life of God’s children.

Continuing as we consider our passage in Colossians 3:

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a HEART of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:12-17, NASB).

Remember in the beginning of our discussion in considering the mind of Christ within us, we found that, like in our own body, the mind of Christ in us sends signals to the heart telling it how to function, and the heart pumps that food to the our mind, giving it needed nourishment for proper function as it dictates and directs all bodily functions. The heart nourishes the body as a whole and the mind dictates function. So it is with the mind of Christ in us. God’s heart feeds Christ the good He wants us to possess and walk out. The mind of Christ teaches our hearts, giving to us the very heart of God with the ability to be as He is. The heart of God then nourishes every part of our being, bringing us into the new life He has for us. And the mind of Christ dictates, instructing us in how to live that life. This passage tells us some of the attributes of the heart of God that the mind of Christ imparts to us. Breaking it down, we discover:

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a HEART of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience….” These are aspects of the fruit of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5. The mind of Christ, producing the heart of God in us, grows from us the fruit of Life in God; the godly characteristics that prove us to be in Him, sealed by the Spirit in relationship to Him. We are called of Him to put these on and wear them as our outer garment, revealing our inner beauty. We still have “choice” in Christ: will we follow the dictates of His heart desire or our fleshly wants? The proof of relationship is found in our choice. Choosing His ways, we put on His character.

“… bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. …” Unforgiveness separates. Forgiveness is an act of Agape-love that protects unity (1 Corinthians 13).

The mind of Christ at work in us equips us to live together with grace and unity, forgiving insult as God has forgiven us, and granting us wisdom in relationship. It equips us to love with God’s love, which goes beyond how a person acts to see and desire for them their potential in Christ. It helps us to truly discern that we are to owe nothing to anyone, but love, for love done God’s way fulfills the law. In owing nothing but love, we leave vengeance to God (Romans 13:8. See also Romans 12).

“… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body …” Have you looked at the peace of Christ? The peace of Christ was able to sleep rested in the arms of God through the worst of storms. The peace of Christ walked on water without weariness over the crashing waves. The peace of Christ faced His accusers, sometimes debating with them, even taking time to stoop down and doodle in the dirt while awaiting God’s response, often leaving them with truths to ponder. And sometimes, as at His final persecution, He stood silent knowing that no amount of talk would change their mindset or alter the path before Him. He trusted God, and it translated to peace that passed understanding, and that umpired His life. This is the mind He brings to us.

“… and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. …” Christ brings to us right thoughts and perceptions; truths and a hope that develops within us a heart of gratitude to God that can encourage the brethren in every circumstance of life. It brings to us a heart of gratitude that equips us to withstand the hardest difficulties with good temper (vs. 12, AMP), so that we can live life to the full in one accord with His purposes.

“… Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” As we grow in our ability to understand, comprehend and work out of the mind of Christ, we become His representatives in the earth, His ambassadors, able to fulfill His purpose. In this way, we share His sufferings and complete what is lacking in His afflictions by representing Him and His interests in the world (Colossians 1:24).

I hope this short beginning on discerning the mind of Christ in us will be the first steps to your discovering the greater depths of His mindset made available to us. It is awesome that God not only promises to give us the desires and secret petitions of our heart, but He makes provision for us so that we can have desires and deep seeded longings that He can respond to.

Delight yourself in Him, beloveds, drawing near to Him, listening to His heartbeat. Let His thoughts become your own, filling you with desire that brings His “yes” in Christ Jesus.

“But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (Christ) they are yes; therefore also through Him (Christ) is our Amen to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” (2 Corinthians 1:18-22, NASB).

All that we are is wrapped up in understanding all that He is and in receiving unto us the mind of Christ and heart of God that tells us all that we are and are able to be in representing Christ in truth:

“…But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (see 1Peter 4:1-10).

~*~

NOTE: A good place to go in continuing to grow in understanding the mind of Christ in you is Philippians 3:7-16, Amplified version. I pray the mind of Christ for you, my friend. May you grow to know God (Father, Son, and Spirit) as never before.

As a family gathering this weekend draws my attention, our study of Psalm 37 will pick back up on Monday. Tomorrow I will repost an old devotional I wrote numerous years ago that fits our theme of the study of our being light that dispels the darkness. Everyone have a great weekend break, filled with His glory.

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4Cb

“Do not lie to one another, for you have stripped off the old (unregenerate) self with its evil practices, And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it” (Colossians 3:9-10, AMP).

One of my favorite chapters of scripture, as you know who have read my materials long, is Exodus 33. In it, God calls Moses ‘friend’, Moses prays to know God’s ways that he may know Him, he asks to see the glory of God, and God tells him how to recognize His glory when he sees it, promising the presence of His glory to Moses…“…And the Lord said, ‘My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. … I will do this thing also that you have asked, for you have found favor, loving-kindness, and mercy in My sight and I know you personally and by name. …”  

The new in me knows and practices His ways, so that I may know Him personally and intimately, and He calls me by name. How sad it would be to come to the end of this life, thinking we are His, never having grasped hold of His ways to make them our own so that He may know us intimately, calling us by name.

Oh what joy it is to hear the Lord call me by name. It fills my heart with the flood of His presence and His ever present love for me. It sets me in awe of His person and causes me more and more to want Him, passionately, and it leads me to greater desire to be like my Father.

Beginning where we left off yesterday, we continue our look at Colossians 3:5-11, which describes for us the new creation we are in Christ, a rebirth that opens to us our opportunity to be a friend to God the Father, knowing Him and being known by Him.

“… It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. …” (vs. 6-8)

Remember, the “these things” that bring God’s wrath are the things of the flesh that produce idolatry: immorality, impurity, ungodly passions, evil desires and greed. These are the outpouring of the dictates of the flesh under the influence of the sin and death that the satanic produce in its offspring. And this outpouring of anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech are the fruit of a life lived in this idolatry.

Jesus said that those who practice such things, living the lie—which is opposition to God, who is truth—are the offspring of their father, Satan (John 8).

“… Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge…” (vs. 9-11).

The new in us turns from the lies of the flesh, the world and the demonic to the truths of God. The new in us never behaves toward others in a way that would steal, kill and destroy through anger, wrath, malice, slander and abusive speech.

“… Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices,and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him—a renewal in which there is no distinction between…

“Greek and Jew” – we are adopted into the household of the Jewish heritage through Christ, therefore the distinction that separates us is removed in our new-life-relationship;

“circumcised and uncircumcised” – we are circumcised of heart who are true children of God, made right with Him having a heart after His;

“barbarian, Scythian” – these were considered to be the worst of the worst, telling us that even our worst deeds are forgiven, removed and changed forever in Christ. The “changed forever” is a vital component to our new creation life. Repentance requires turning from the old ways of the flesh to the new ways of following Christ in godliness;

“slave and freeman – slave in the earth is Christ’s freed man for eternity. We are instructed that slave / workman and master / boss who are in Christ are to treat one another with the respect due a brother, for though we may remain slave in the earth, we are free in Christ; though we may be boss in the earth, we too serve our Master through Christ. I will resist my soap box J;

“but Christ is all, and in all.”  (Vs. 5-11).

Christ, all and in all, removes these titles from us, no longer defining us as separate from one another. God makes us one together with Him in Christ. We are the body of Christ, a new creation, God’s workmanship, created in Christ for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).

Christ unites us as one, changing us from glory to ever increasing degrees of glory, continually perfecting us until the day of His return when all His fullness will forever complete this transformation we are in, returning us to the full and complete image of God in Christ Jesus. And the exciting thing to me is that God sees the completed product in us; thus He responds to us through Christ’s “it is finished.”

I love the teaching done by Beth More in her study titled, “Believing God.” It sums up this session of our journey to discover the mind of Christ in us, and if we will remember this, we will go far toward living victoriously in His mindset of our being made new as we realize with belief that:

“God is who He says He is.”

“God can do what He says He can do.”

“I am who GOD SAYS I am.”

“I can do all things through Christ,” including changing to the new creature of His design.

The impossible in our measure of things is the HIMpossible on His scale of measure. That said, whatever our humble estate in life, we can know that we are new creations in Christ with eternal purpose from God the Father for such a time as this.

All who are His in Christ are gifted and equipped to fulfill His purpose and He does not hide that purpose from us: becoming His likeness, meant for relationship with Him and others, a bondservant fully gifted to fulfill His purpose. He continually works in us to make us strong in the mind of Christ, renewing us in His image, equipping us to discover fulfill all His desire and design:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called ‘Uncircumcision’ by the so-called ‘Circumcision,’ which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:10-22, NASB).

God can do what He says He can if it is in His will to do so. And child of the Living, Loving God, it is His will. So seek His face expectantly, searching for Him and the fulfillment of His will whole heartedly. He will do it; He will accomplish all that concerns you, transforming you to Christlikeness. And what does Jesus look like?

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.

“Philip said to Him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.’

“Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?

“The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name (as presenting all that I AM; representing Me and My interests), that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 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” (John 14:7-17, NASB and AMP).

More and more we look like the Father as we surrender ourselves with believing-faith to oneness with the Son in thought, desire and deed, becoming new creations in the power of His Spirit, renewed in the image of God.

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4Ca

Thus far we have discovered that the mind of Christ in us is revealed through us as we grow in our humble estate before our Holy God, bowing to Him alone as God. We recognize Christ-mindfulness within when we set our minds and keep them set on the Father’s interests, tending to His business. This in place, we are equipped to maintain focus and abide in His Kingdom as good citizens while living in the earth, accomplishing the work and purpose of God for such a time as this. Today we press on to look at Colossians 3:3:

“For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God” (AMP).

The mind of Christ in us constantly reminds us that we are a new creation in Christ as, entering into His death with Him, we are raised with Him to new life, born again into the image of God in Christlikeness.

Our experience in the earth will often lie to us about our reality where our eternal being is concerned, as our old flesh, the world view, and demonic whisperings try to keep us bound in our old ways. But Christ sets us free indeed, free from the sin and death that resides in the old flesh. Our realizing our new estate with ever increasing understanding equips us to walk as new creations of God in Christ Jesus.

The fall of our first ancestors brought us into slavery to sin and death and distorted our originally intended image: the image of God in us. That distortion began with introducing a worldly, self-centered, demon-generated thought process that was passed down from generation to generation.

Two lies Satan loves to tell to keep us in ungodly frame of mind is “I can know what God knows.” Failing to seek God’s input, we make our own decisions without consideration of His ways. And, “I can be God / like God,” as in being ruler of my own world in need of no other. We see all sorts of philosophies in the earth that stem from this lie: everything from “there is no God,” making me ruler of my life and destiny, to thoughts of “I am good enough to be god” denying our need of Him to generate goodness and produce the fruit of His likeness within. They are all out there. But God warns that no other can have His place; no other can steel away His glory. We cannot truly accomplish life and goodness without Him.

Thus we discern the importance of growing our surrender to following the dictates of the mind of Christ in us, having our minds restored to right and true thinking. Relationship with Christ and having His mindset restores us to God’s intended image for us, an image in which we do find His likeness in us and we do have His knowledge available to us, but God is God, and we, His children through Christ, victorious through the eternal ages by the grace He supplies.

With the mind of Christ directing our thoughts, we will follow the instruction of our passage in Colossians 3, verses 5-11, considering “the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”

Note the picture painted for us here: 1) immorality—the distortion of godliness, the destruction of God’s goodness in us, bringing us into slavery to sin; 2) impurity—failure to be sanctified to God as God, we give ourselves over to diverse evil; 3) passion (ungodly passion)—those things that grab our love and desire away from God, robbing Him of His rightful place in our lives and robbing us of knowing Him; 4) evil desire—those things that link us with the heart of the satanic and bring us to continue as if still slave to sin and death; and 5) greed—covetousness and the pursuit of earthly things out of an unhealthy desire for prestige, power, things, money, etc., replacing our desire for God in all His fullness. All these are “idolatry”. They put the things of the world and the flesh in a place in our lives that belong to God alone.

Christ brought these to death in us so that life may come to us. His Spirit works continually, renewing in us 1) morality—the image of God-generated goodness renewed in us through Christlikeness; 2) purity—sanctified living in Christ-led surrender to God as God-alone; 3) God-generated passion—for God and the things that God is passionate about; 4) godliness—being one who has a heart after God’s own heart, filled with His goodness and good desire; and 5) surrendered contentment—knowing that God meets our needs fully and completely, granting sufficient for life and for every good deed and surplus to help others in any need. As we surrender all we have to Him for His use, we find contentment in whatever circumstance we are in, knowing God has a purpose, a plan, and a provision.

“… It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside….”

Next posting we continue through verses 5-11 to look at the New Creation of God’s likeness in us. Understanding and discerning this new creation that we are in Christ is vital for our victorious life, as scripture teaches that the fruit born out of our lives through His Spirit is the proof of our true and sincere relationship with Him, for His fruit cannot be counterfeited. Though there are look-alikes out there, with close examination, the false will be revealed and the true will stand:

“…So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. …So then, you will know them by their fruits. …depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:15-23).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

“…For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. …” (2 Peter 1:1-12).

“O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25, AMP).

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4-Ab

In our last excerpt of this study we looked at the humility of Christ that comes to us through the mind of Christ. Today we continue looking at this vital aspect of walking in the dictates of His mindset as we consider the first half of our scripture passage.

Philippians 2:1-8

 “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 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. …” (vs. 1-4, NASB)

You know, I think the thought of humbling ourselves too often frightens us because we do not truly understand the heart of humility. Humility is linked with meekness and many mistakenly believe that to be humble and meek of spirit is to be a rug under the feet of those who would take advantage of our humble estate. This is so far from the truth of what I perceive it means to be humble and who it is we humble ourselves to.

Jesus never bowed to the wishes and whims of man. He always did as He perceived the Father doing. His obedience was always to God first. He only did what God instructed Him was in God’s will for Him. Therefore, as a mob tried to throw him off a cliff, he walked away because it was not yet His time to die and it was not the way in which death would come to Him. When His brother’s tried to goad Him into going into the city and revealing Himself, He stood in the will and authority of God to refuse their demands. When those came, mistakenly believing that Messiah would come to rule and deliver them physically as king before first delivering them spiritually as the Blessed and Beloved Lamb of God, He did not allow them to crown Him knowing God had a bigger plan in heart.

Also, when He saw men doing evil against God’s will and way, He took a stand against them as God instructed His heart to stand. He stood against the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He did not cower under them or give Himself to their wishes.

And then there is the episode in the Temple. With whip in hand, He overturned the tables of the money changers and ran those selling livestock and other goods for use in sacrifice out of the temple, because they were defiling the purpose of the temple, which was to be a house of prayer.

There is a verse where Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39. See also Isaiah 50:6-7). People too often think that we should back down in a fight. Do you think Jesus backed down in that day when He cast the seller of goods out of the temple court? Do you think that no one of those selling their goods tried to stop Him? Who or what do you think He used that whip on? The cattle alone? Or do you think a few men left the temple with whelps on their person as He stood firm despite their fists flying?

Scripture teaches us to stand firm in the things we know to be God’s will and way; to stand firm in godly righteousness. I have come to understand that turn the other cheek means to stand ones ground in the authority God gives us to stand, even if it means we will be hit again.

The humility and meekness God desires is rug to no man. It is surrender to the authority of God in and over us. That surrender often puts us under the authority of others, but only as far as is God’s will and as is in agreement with God’s way.

Yes, there are some in life who are given authority over us. Giving self to God’s authority in those instances is to bow to the authority of those who are in authority at His ordination for the purpose of harmony and peace—the boss at work, our mates, the governing authorities, etc. But never do we bow to any authority that tries to force us to come out from under the authority of God over us. God and His way is our check and balance. He has first rule and right in our lives, and our surrender is always to Him above all. The mind of Christ humbles itself to God first, and then to others as God leads.

That said, we are to pay our taxes, because God ordains through the example of Christ that we give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is His. We are not to kill abortionists because God tells us “Thou shalt not kill,” and Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, showing us the way to live and providing a righteous sacrifice for sin. We are not to burn down their clinics, because God tells us to obey the laws of the land which are in place at His ordination in raising up one leader over another and setting the laws by which good is rewarded and evil is condemned.

How do we then, stand against laws that fail to surrender to God’s Law? By our being faithful to vote the heart of God: doing all we can to vote into office godly leaders and laws that agree with His ways; and by teaching and promoting truth in raising up those godly leaders.

God gives to every person of mankind the right of choice. It is the choice of the individual to decide whether they will obey God, or walk in the will of the flesh.

By making sure each person has full understanding of the choices before them and the consequences their decision will bring according to God’s viewpoint, we give them the knowledge needed to make their decision. By praying for their wisdom and ability to bow self to the authority of God and take up His authority in doing His will, we help them make a better choice. Do this sufficiently, and we remove the need of the abortionist and their clinics. By letting the abortionist live, we give him opportunity to see the light and enter into the gates of God’s paths for life, knowing that God desires that none should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Humility bows to God, always. It is through bowing first to Him that we are equipped to meet the needs of those around us, knowing when to put them before our own need and desires. Humility stands on God’s Right, not my perceived rights. Humility has His purpose in heart for every person we deal with and every decision we make. Humility stands firm on His truth and denies the will of any flesh, whether my own or that of others over me.

Thus we begin our journey to discover the mind of Christ in us. Wow. What a beginning this has been for me. I hope it has blessed your heart as well. Our next excerpt will move on to discover other passages that reveal the mind of Christ to us.

(Passages referenced in this excerpt: Luke 4; John 7:1-13; John 6:15; Matthew 23, Mark 12:13; Matthew 21; Matthew 22:15-22; Exodus 20; Matthew 5:17; Romans 13:1-8; Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 2 Peter 3:9.)

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 2

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” (vs. 3, AMP)

One day, when questioning Jesus, the seeker called Him “Good Teacher.” Jesus stopped right there, correcting with His own question. “Why do you call Me good?” He asks. Then He responds with His own answer, “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

Scripture teaches me that my greatest good is as filthy rags before our Holy God (Isaiah 64:6). Why? Because my motives and desires fall far short of those found in our Holy God.

And Jesus taught that no one is good but God alone. He emphasized for us that one cannot get good from the bad. “You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy, sound tree bears good fruit worthy of admiration, but the sickly, decaying, worthless tree bears bad worthless fruit. A good, healthy tree cannot bear bad worthless fruit, nor can a bad, diseased tree bear excellent fruit worthy of admiration” (Matthew 7:16-18, AMP). Good fruit has a flavor that is out of this world! It draws others to seek after it for themselves. And it lasts into eternity.

So how is it, me being one who certainly cannot be called good when my Lord refused the title, how then is it that I can do good in God’s eyes? David tells us right here in his Psalm: by trusting in, leaning on, relying on, and being confident in the Lord, I am then equipped to do good. With His goodness flowing through me, my evil nature is transformed and I am empowered to produce good fruit.

Jesus showed us the way as He spoke often of His own reliance on God and His seeking after Him:

“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. …I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:19, 30)

“So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.’ … Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.’” (John 8:28, 42)

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10)

God desires our good, but our good begins and ends with Him. Only as we follow Him with faith in Him as our confidence in likeness to Christ do we have any hope of doing a good He can approve. And we have the promise from God that as we trust in, lean on, rely on, and find our confidence in Him alone, we will “… dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.”

How is your faith, Brothers and Sisters? Are you trying in your own strength and way to do good? Without first aligning with God in full assurance of faith that believes and trusts in Him, obeying Him out of that faith, our greatest good is only filthy rags. And if we are doing good as in His name while failing to believe Him and follow His will for us in the good we do, our good is in our eyes alone, falling short of His glory. There is a difference between what we call good things and our doing the God-things that are truly good.

A friend of mine prayed the following the other day: “I don’t want You to go with me, Lord. I want to go with You! No more of Your permissive will for me. I want to walk in Your perfect will” (Brother Steve, PRAYHOUSE). That prayer so echoes my own heart desire as I realize daily with greater depth of understanding that God is my only true need and vital necessity for life.

God has spent the past year and a half calling me to greater faith and reliance on Him. He has brought me to a point where I know that I know that He is my only true need. Without Him, I am nothing and can do nothing. With Him I know that I can do all He leads me to, because He will make sure I have sufficient for every good deed.

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” What great faith! “ Trust in the Lord, my friend, and do good.

“…The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity…” (John 17).

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 1

“FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness (that which is not upright or in right standing with God). For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (vs. 1-2, AMP).

For over a week now, God has spoken to me, focusing my heart on the deeper truths of Psalm 37. I am excited to get into this passage with you as we begin this awesome study together in a day when understanding and living this passage out into our lives is vital to the Kingdom in our nations.

Last weekend I attended the baptism of a granddaughter. Staying for the service that followed, they showed an interview of Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn who wrote the book, The Harbingers. Here is a link to his message for us regarding the spiritual state of America and the signs of God’s discipline over our land: The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment, Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqWyIL_4kZY.

This morning, as I bowed in prayerful response to God over another passage of scripture, here is what He instructed my heart with regard to evil in our land and how we are to face these days. “FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness….”

As I begin this series of looking at Psalm 37, I recall that evil is depicted as darkness throughout scripture and righteousness is revealed to be as light in the earth. We are called to be light. So what does light do?

Light does not fret over the darkness in the earth. It penetrates and disperses it. Light is total opposite to dark, and it accomplishes its purpose by simply being light. That is what we are called to. We do not have to fret over and fight darkness / evil. We simply have to be light where God has placed us, being a people who live uprightly and in right standing with God: a people of integrity who seek the good for all concerned; a people after God’s own heart.

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the evildoers will be no more; though you look with care where they used to be, they will not be found. But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (vs. 8-11, AMP).

The question is, do we believe God? Then we must realize that fretting over darkness in the land tends only to evildoing. Fretting leads us to either lay down in depression, dulling our light, or it leads us to become like those who do evil, fighting them too often in ways that dishonor God. It leads us to address the darkness out of the dark thoughts of the natural instead of simply being what God calls us to be, trusting that the light He sends through us will dispel the darkness.  

Focus on God, realizing that He fights for us, and simply being all He desires us to be, looking to Him is the path He uses to make us bright with His Light. Contrasted against the night skies of our environs, we are equipped of Him to penetrate the dark places where we are and melt away the night sky in our midst.

Instead of fretting over evil in our midst, we must focus on our own practice of godliness, living life like a sunrise (or a Sonrise) where we are. Be bright to the glory of God. And pray with me over these next numerous days as we delve into this blessed passage that outlines for us the attributes and resources available to us who desire to be as He is, one who chooses good over evil and wins the day by simply BEing the person He created us to be.

Hum…I wonder if that is why He told Moses to tell the people that the God who sends him is simply “I AM”. May we daily live the image of “I AM” and see the night turned to light.

Choice Point

“Because of and through the heart of tender mercy and loving-kindness of our God, a Light from on high will dawn upon us and visit [us]; To shine upon and give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, TO DIRECT AND GUIDE OUR FEET IN A STRAIGHT LINE INTO THE WAY OF PEACE.” (Luke 1:78-79, AMP) 

A friend sent me a devotional thought written by Sarah Young in her book, “Jesus Calling.” In this devotional sent me, written for June 12, Sarah writes, “Stay alert to the many choice points along the way, being continually aware of My Presence.”

“Choice points”: Stirs my heart with excitement as I realize anew that God desires our step by step, breath by breath following after Him. Our God, high and lifted up as He is, desires and provides for us to be His constant companions, walking with Him just as Jesus did: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).

 Every step we take in a day, every breath breathed brings with it a choice point. He desires that we recognize His Presence with us in all of our path and in every breath of our life, following Him not only with our every action, but with every motive and heart attitude.

He longs for us to have the heart of Mary and of Sam (the Samaritan woman at the well), seeking Him to find Him, desiring Him above all else, having a heart that sits with Him before moving to any “doing”, bringing our every experience of Him to delight, and making our every encounter with others an opportunity to shine His light. God’s desire is you and me, intimately and personally, in ever deepening love relationship.

Father, it is awesome to me that You delight in the intimate knowledge of Your people, and in our desire for You. Today, Father, as we hear Your voice, let us not harden our hearts toward You, but help us to choose life, following hard after You at every choice point. Grant us faith to believe Your presence and walk in obedience with You so as to enter Your rest and the land of Promise You lead us to: that place of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. In Jesus, I pray You, show us Your glory. Amen.

The Call

The following is long, but well worth the read. It is written by a minister of God in the land of His calling; a dear friend and fellow servant to Yah / God. He is the Under-Shepherd of a House of Prayer called PRAYHOUSE. And he is a witness likened to a modern Paul. As is his habit, the following is chalked full of insight through his testimony and encouragement to be a people of godly character, totally sold out and surrendered to the God we serve. With his permission to do so, I share the following in its entirety; nothing held back. Some of his longer paragraphs I seperated into smaller ones that, for me, end with a “Selah” moment: “Pause and calmly think about that. I pray that you too will see what I see in his word and be encouraged. Blessings, Darlene. (FYI: “Our” / “we” / “us” spoken of himself is Steve and the Triune-Godhead.)

The Call

Written by Brother Steve

A pastor recently told me that when I reach Heaven I will be judged on how many souls I bring with me. I replied, “I will be judged according to my obedience or disobedience.”

A lady having a very strong calling to evangelize the Jews stated I am in error if I am not evangelizing the Jews. Another lady who’s personal call was recently refined to seeking “the one” rather than the multitudes claimed I must be doing the same.

While we are all called to be involved in making disciples, we are not all called to do the same job in the making of disciples.

The reason I bring this up is because it is something we are seeing more and more: brothers and sisters defining and judging others and their ministries according to the specifics of calls that are not their specific and individual callings. Be careful beloveds! Do not be caught up in this!

As a new believer and follower of our LORD Jesus, GOD began using me very powerfully in evangelizing, teaching and discipling, so powerfully that even now it amazes me. Did you know that I have been blessed to personally pray with over 2000 individuals for salvation, been personally involved in healings and diverse miracles? Most of us do know this. All of us involved together in this ministry became accustomed to seeing testimonies of these things and we all more or less fell into the habit of using them as the factors determining whether this is a successful ministry.

Then the LORD did something different. He called me to our 1st long term mission, in Israel no less, something I had never sought. When people used to ask me whether I wanted to go to Israel and walk where Jesus once walked, my very truthful answer was that I was walking with Him now and had no need or desire to go to Israel.

GOD called me to come to Jericho, using a NGO/ministry that was then operating here to bring me and establish me here. He shifted me physically and also began shifting the specifics of His personal call on me and my life. He gave revelation that the 1st manifestation of PRAYHOUSE is a House Of Prayer (HOP) birthed in Jericho. This did not surprise me as much as some would think. From the very beginning of our walk together GOD anointed me as a man of prayer, one who delights in praying.

When GOD shifted me to Jericho and then to birth a HOP, His imperative / directives were/are so clear that there are only 2 options for me: either deliberately obey, or deliberately disobey.

His call is so clear that obedience, in the beginning, was an easy joy. GOD had seen to it that I was properly trained and accustomed to working in foreign cultures. I love praying to Him, hearing from Him and adore seeking His face. I had not been exposed to HOPs prior to being called here but GOD is a patient teacher, One who knows exactly what He wants.

GOD took a sinner, one who’d been addicted to alcohol, nicotine and things of the flesh for decades….. and called this man to become a saint, a sinner who had been saved by grace. In the process He transformed me into one who loves Him much. He gave me a heart to reach the lost, teach, disciple, to set captives free, and once His heart was firmly established He brought me here, to Jericho, a city in the desert, a dry place. He brought me here to be His tool, His vessel, to open springs of living waters in the desert. He brought me here to have my heart broken in compassion by the condition of the peoples. He brought me here to pray from the depths of my being with the heart He gave me. He tells me He trusts me to obey and love Him.

It is still a joy being obedient to GOD. There is a difference though. Now I have to fight and fight hard for my joy. That probably sounds odd but I rejoice in the battle. I am a priest/warrior. Even so, there are times I lose my joy. There are times I allow myself to think of things that undermine my effectiveness.

Sometimes I allow myself to dwell on the loneliness of this calling even though I am seldom alone. Sometimes I get caught up in murmuring that the fruit we are accustomed to seeing in/through this ministry are not visible at this time. There are times I allow myself to miss my family and friends to such a degree I wind up crawling into a spiritual cave for long or short term pity parties.

But GOD!

But GOD!!!!!!!!

But GOD drags me back out into the open, into the battle, into His arms.

YAH, GOD, reminds me of our victories, the ones we see and the ones we don’t see. Often we don’t see that victory and overcoming come with a price. Often we focus so strongly on the price that we miss seeing the win.

GOD often sends to PRAYHOUSE as many as four groups per week. All these get to hear some of the teachings GOD is giving stemming from Jericho. Many of those who come are in Israel with 3 month tourist visas and we are involved in diverse ways in their discipling. I get to watch as GOD touches many visitors through us. Just last Thursday, in Jerusalem, I watched a man weep as GOD used me to assist him in learning how to find a site that was on his heart for years, a small thing perhaps to us, yet something immense for this fine gentleman. Shortly after that experience the LORD had me pray over a young lady, speaking as He gave utterance. The tears of joy she wept were so huge that it appeared as if each one came from the entire eye rather than her tear ducts. In an instant her entire cheeks were awash and overflowing.

We have several Arabs that privately ask me to pray for them and a couple that will ask no matter who is around. We often have awesome conversations with IDF personnel and others. We are in a unique position in that both governments, Jericho and Israel, know we have a HOP in Jericho and that I live there and they both welcome us. The PA knows what we pray for the local people, community and region. Israel knows all this and even more… what we pray for Israel, the Land and the People. The favor GOD bestows on us grants us an annual visa, something most people will tell you is impossible for someone living in Jericho. But GOD!

Never forget! But GOD, the Holy One of Israel, is strongly showing His hand upon us. The Israel MOI (Ministry Of Interior) even told the PA MOI to relate to me what they, the Israel MOI, want me to do in order to be guaranteed another year next January. Only GOD could accomplish this!

My mom recently turned 75. I was in Jericho while she is in the States. I could have been blue but GOD shows me I love and honor my mom best when I love and honor GOD most. This is also true for each of you. I love and honor y’all best when I love and honor GOD most.

Some of you wonder when I am coming ‘home’. GOD told me before He moved me here that this is my home. How He plans this I do not know. I just keep believing His revelations. When will I visit y’all? I thought perhaps in August yet no confirmation has been received yet.

GOD has been teaching me more about seeking to live in His perfect will rather than His permissive will.

Our current laptop began showing a box last Dec stating the hard drive was in danger of imminent failure. I was foolish and spent too much trying to save it rather than ordering another hard drive from the States. So much has disappeared and been lost. The cursor jumps and types all over the page and sometimes not even on the page, a mystery. A beloved partner loaned us this one for a short time and another older one will be delivered this Friday. We won’t have wireless capabilities but this will carry us ’til the LORD opts for something else and it should be dependable.

I pray this answers any questions you might have. Thank you for your faithful prayer and financial support.

YAH bless Y’all!!!!!!!!

Brother Steve

Kora Elohim Israel

P.S. I’ll be in trouble if I don’t share my health news. The improvements in my health astound and amaze me. There is still a lot of room for improvement but I am able to do more than I’ve been capable in a long time. It is not uncommon for the LORD to keep me on the go for 24 or more hours straight once or twice a week. And this is while He is teaching me to say “no” prayerfully and “yes” prayerfully. Too many groups and individuals want to come than we can handle at this time. There are also those that want to come with their own agenda, doing things and going places that is not where the LORD has us at this time; so knowing how and when the LORD says “no” is imperative.

PRAYHOUSE needs more cleaning than I am capable of maintaining right now so I try to focus on the main worship area, the toilet, the kitchen plus whatever number of bedrooms are needed for the group. I have to have two ready by Friday so I will start cleaning little by little today as I am physically able.

GOD bless you!!!!!!!!

me

GREEN HIGHLIGHTS

God led me this morning to copy Psalm 37 in the Amplified version to my journal. He led me to highlight everything that He highlighted for my spirit, using green highlight for the things the Spirit gave as specific to me and my life struggle. Then the Spirit instructed me to pull all the green highlights to see what the Lord has to say to me. This is what I wound up with—inputting a few words to connect the thoughts as the Spirit instructed. Psalm 37:

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing for the uncompromisingly righteous (the upright in right standing with God) as evil seeks to slay those who walk uprightly: blameless in conduct and in conversation.

“But the Lord upholds the consistently righteous. The Lord knows the days of the upright and blameless, and their heritage will abide forever. They shall not be put to shame in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

“Remember that the uncompromisingly righteous deal kindly and give, for they are able. And you are able for God makes it so as He busies Himself with your every step. Though you fall, you shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps your hand in support and upholds you. Therefore, trusting Truth, depart from evil and do good; and you will dwell forever, securely.

“The mouth of the uncompromisingly righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks with justice. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. Wait for and expect the Lord and keep and heed His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land. Realize that there is a happy end for the man (or woman) of peace; be a woman of peace.

“The salvation of the consistently righteous is of the Lord; He is their Refuge and secure Stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they trust and take refuge in Him.”

Grace Defined #3: Power to Overcome

“But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it)” (James4:6).

What a powerful statement about God’s grace. Grace—God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing, flows to us in order to bring power to our lives that will equip us to overcome every evil tendency. Read this full passage, James 4:1-10, in the New American Standard Bible Version:

“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.”

Wow, what promise this grace is. Here is what I know about God’s work of grace:

God desires us so much that He provided a way through Christ for salvation to come to us weak willed beings who falter and fail so constantly. Sending salvation to us through His grace found in Christ, as we humble ourselves to admit our need of it, He gives to us His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing. As we humble ourselves to receive His grace, He then places within us His Holy Spirit to teach us and to do a work of transformation, making us back into the image of God first placed there in creation. But this work of transformation is not instantaneous, though some may have more instantaneously obvious results than others, all will have a lifetime of work yet to accomplish. We become a work of art, God bringing healing to us a little at a time as we are ready and able to humbly submit ourselves to Him and receive it.

Step by step, God reveals to us our ungodly pleasures, our self-centered motives, our murderous adulteries: all the while He jealously longs for more of His Spirit to be found in us. So He keeps heaping on grace as we will receive it, using the hope that grace brings to our struggling hearts to empower our victory. Equipping us to recognize our own need of His grace, He empowers us to receive His Spirit through Whom He equips us to stand against our every evil tendency, thus He is able to make you stand (Romans 14:14; Jude 1:24-25).

Is there an evil-issue you find yourself constantly struggling to overcome? Ask God to reveal the root of the problem to you and surrender to the grace He gives you to stand.

Second Corinthians 1:11-12 (AMP) encourages us further as we note this work of grace, “While you also cooperate by your prayers for us [helping and laboring together with us]. Thus [the lips of] many persons [turned toward God will eventually] give thanks on our behalf for the grace (the blessing of deliverance) granted us at the request of the many who have prayed. It is a reason for pride and exultation to which our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world [generally] and especially toward you, with devout and pure motives and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God (the unmerited favor and merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, and keeps, strengthens, and increases them in Christian virtues).”

This is the work of God’s grace, found in Christ Jesus, and brought to bear in our souls by the power of His Spirit. All things are possible for me, for nothing shall be impossible with God. Therefore I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me through the power of His Spirit working within a humbled and submissive me, as I stand in agreement and surrender to my All Knowing, Almighty, and Omniscient God.