Father, I thank you for Your mercy as this scripture comes to assure my heart of Your forgiveness for my selfishness practiced yesterday, leading to my missing an opportunity to minister to others in Your love and grace. It makes me exceedingly sad when I fail You.
Thank You for demonstrating Your perfect patience through Christ toward me. I praise You for loving me enough to discipline and teach me so I may grow strong in following You in faith’s trust (Hebrews 12). Help me remember, and may I be found faithful at Your coming.
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)
Father, thank You for helping me know beyond a shadow of doubt that I am not powerless.
The devil loves making us think we are powerless (helpless, hopeless). But God! Christ living in us, grants us the full measure of Your grace (strength in weakness, the power of God made effective in us). Along with that, Jesus makes us the righteousness of God in Himself, giving us victory to walk in triumph and have full reign over ourselves in life.
Father, thank You. May we each truly grasp hold of this truth, that when we reign over ourselves in Christ’s power and authority, we will know how to live in every circumstance, with full use of all Your good gifts to us, living life abundantly. Thus, we will experience Your abundance, whether in humble means or in prosperity. Like Paul, we will know how to be content in whatever circumstances we may find ourselves. We, too, will be able to “do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Make it so in us as in Jesus, amen.
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus didn’t need the baptism of repentance. He was perfect in all His ways, living for the will of God. So why did He seek baptism?
“Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
Jesus is our example in righteousness. He had nothing to repent, but He did have a call to do all the will of God. It didn’t make sense to John’s way of thinking, and maybe not to ours, but doing things the right way is important. It shows obedience to God, accomplishing His purpose, and expressing our trust in Him that does things His way even when it doesn’t make sense or seem necessary. What was the result, proving Him correct in seeking this baptism?
“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.””
His obedience obtained God’s fresh and witnessed anointing for all He was called to; and it provided those watching the assurance of God’s approval of Him as Son.
We don’t always understand the purpose behind the requirements of God for those He calls into some specific ministry, but our understanding is not required. All that is required is our willingness to trust and obey. Many of these requirements are set to test whether we will humble ourselves before God and trust His way of being and doing as we head into the ministry He has for us. Plus, there is power and authority that comes when we trust God enough to do His will His way. Failure to follow scriptural protocol can, and most often does, work against us, rob us of anointing needed for our success, and even serves to close doors that would have opened had we simply trusted God’s design.
If we believe the inerrancy of God’s Word and that His directives have purpose that works His good in and through us, we will trust and obey, even when it doesn’t make sense to our finite minds.
Father-Patēr, make me to know the humility of forthright and obedient praise and worship You empower me to freely give to You. I want to see and house Your glory.
In that, I again give You my mouth (lips, tongue). Make my tongue the pen in Your hand. Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You. Let them flow from Your fountain of love, truth and grace. Grant me wise discernment of places (hearts) receptive to the pearls You bless me to share. In Jesus, amen.
“Over the years, I’ve become convinced that praise sets up a mantle of protection around the people of God. Praise is an atmosphere through which the Adversary cannot move.”
These are my words, written on my heart. I didn’t write these words. They come from the pen of Jack Hayford. But I could have written them, for this is my truth, too. Is it yours? More from Jack’s pen…
“If you and I really entered into this truth, it would transform our lives. And it’s not simply because praise can insulate or protect us. It’s more than that. It’s because God is worthy, . . . worthy of the best of our praise, the depths of our thanksgiving. As you ask the Lord to teach you more and more about the tireless, ongoing spirit of praise, it will change your circumstances, and it will change you!”
Jack speaks my over-and-over-again experience. Change comes when we quit fretting, fearing, and dreading, look up to Him Who loves us, and turn our hearts to knowing Him, trusting Him, and believing He is able; He is faithful; and He loves to amaze us. At just the right time, when all hearts are where He desires they be, His will comes to pass and we rejoice in awe of His wonder at the glory we walk into.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. [Jer. 6:16.] For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” – Matthew 11:28-30 AMPC
The main ingredient to a healthy, peaceful, restful lifestyle is developing, growing, and maintaining a healthy relationship with God through Christ. Distractions, whether cultural, emotional, physical, financial, relational, or social, rob focus from our main purpose in life. Relationship with God.
I am seeing in these days of my life, and especially in the past few days, how situations and circumstances we face are not so much challenges to overcome, but more invitations to draw nearer still to God. When I choose relationship with God, leaning into all I know of Him, trusting Him, and seeking deeper experience of Him, I discover the greater depths of relating to Him that He is after. It is then that I find all I need to overcome the challenge, most often seeing Him deal with the issues of life in miraculous ways that amaze. In those experiences, God works in and through me to accomplish His purpose in life; and especially in my life, as knowledge of Him inspires new life in me, making me into all He planned me to be.
When I maintain this focus, my emotions stabilize quicker, enabling me to enter/remain in His rest, preventing me giving myself to the bad habits of my flesh in turmoil. I find my load lifted, council for the path, and hope for the outcome. However long the challenge remains, God is faithful to walk with me as I draw nearer still to Him.
The words I profess to hear from You, Father God, are nothing apart from Your Power. If I speak and You are not in the Word, it is vainglory: an arrogant assumption on my part. Father, let my words ring true by the Power of Your Grace Sufficient proving You as the giver of the Word spoken. In Jesus, amen.
You, Lord, tell us that we have the mind of Christ and we must not be double minded – struggling between the mind of the flesh and the mind of the Spirit. Thank You for reminding me of this and helping me see how subtle the struggle can be.
There have been so many times I thought to do something, ignoring it because I didn’t think it was Your thought, only to wish I had listened. That is a flesh mind struggle. Instead of trusting You for the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God to control me, I waiver, vacillate, and procrastinate. Forgive me, Father.
I lay my mind at Your feet and take up Yours. I trust You. Make Your thoughts known and make me faithful to obey. In Jesus, amen.
Father, if there is any part of me that is not completely Yours, reveal it, please, Sir. I desire You in all Your fullness. Only You can make me whole and wholly Yours. Only You can make me Holy, one with You, being all You created me to be, accomplishing all Your good will and purpose according to Your good plan and way. Here am I, O God. I bow.
““After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: ‘I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob.’ Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. But the Lord said to him, ‘Take off the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground. I have certainly seen the oppression of My people in Egypt and have heard their groans, and I have come down to rescue them; come now, and I will send you to Egypt.’” – 7:30-34 NASB1995
“For seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it; then the altar shall be most holy, and whatever touches the altar shall be holy.” — Exodus 29:37
“and the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the laver and its stand. You shall also consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them shall be holy.” — Exodus 30:28-29
That which touches that which is made holy by God is made holy. When God tells our hearts to remove our sandals, He is calling us to receive a holy anointing for His purposes.
Rick Warren rightly points out that You, Lord, give us wisdom to hear You and to follow through with what You tell us. It is true. You give the wisdom to hear and follow, and You give the POWER needed to accomplish Your will in Your way.
Father, Your Word says that I can do NOTHING apart from You. I can’t even promise and be faithful to Your Word to me without Your grace sufficient for me, strengthening and enabling me to obey. I am completely and totally reliant on You for it all. And I am blessed, for You have provided all for me, giving me Your Holy Spirit to teach, instruct, equip, and empower me, walking with me, being in me, living through me. I am eternally grateful. Thank You, Lord.
Now bless me this day to hear You with assurance and accomplish Your purpose with fervor. In Jesus, amen.
Father, I thank You that, in Christ, I am of a chosen race; a royal priestess of a holy nation, a person designated for Your own possession, so that I may proclaim the excellencies of You who have called me out of darkness into Your marvelous light. I once was not of Your people, but now I am one with the people of God. I had not received mercy, but now I have received mercy.
Beloved, Your desire for me as an alien and stranger in the world, but not of it, is that I abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against my soul. Father, grant me Your Spirit’s power to keep my behavior excellent among those of this world, so that in the thing in which they slander me as an evildoer, they may because of my good deeds in Christ, as they observe them, glorify You in the day of visitation. In Jesus I pray, amen.
““You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that
• everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court;
• and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court;
• and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.” – Matthew 5:21-22 NASB1995
What’s Jesus saying?
Scripture tells us to be angry, yet do not sin in our anger, giving the devil an opportunity (Ephesians 4:26-27). It tells us that the anger of man does not accomplish the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20). Anger is the beginning, uncontrollable emotion that is the first step toward harming, or even killing the one anger settles on. It is the doorway by which Satan gets a stronghold that allows him to lead us away from God, bringing discord, bitterness, hate, and disunity: all of which are sin that does not accomplish any good.
2. Devaluation – “You good for nothing”
God created every person and poured Himself into His creation (Genesis 1-2). And God so loved the world that He gave (John 3:16). When we devalue what God values, it is sin, standing in opposition to God and making nothing of the gift of His Son. We are called to love as God loves, which includes pouring oneself into the lives of others out of love that has nothing to do with whether the good done to them is deserved by them (1 John 4; Matthew 5:43-48; Romans 12:9-21; 1 Corinthians 13). Failure to value others leads to a lack of appreciation for them. It leads to a lack of care and failure to give self for the benefit of others. We will not give the time of day, much less energy and resources to the benefit of those we do not value.
3. Murder – “You fool.”
Anger causes us in an instant to devalue a person, killing their mind, soul, spirit, and strength of identity with our words of insult and demoralization. We cooperate with the devil in killing the spirit (emotional stability) of a person when we belittle them, which is hate, by:
stealing away their confidence and courage;
killing their strength of character and stability of life; and
destroying their growth into a mature, sound minded individual of worth and value.
So, what do we do when we realize we used anger as a weapon of destruction?
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.” – Matthew 5:23-26 NASB1995
God, the true Judge, hears the cry of the downtrodden and oppressed. So be quick to repent, first to God who causes us to realize our sin; then to those sinned against. Even children need to see a parent who is strong and brave enough to say, “I was in the wrong. I failed you, injured you, and I am truly sorry. Please forgive me and pray for God to help me do better.”
Once forgiveness is sought out, repent: change your ways to align with God and His ways. Find ways to correct others and express upset constructively, in ways that serve to build up, and not tear down. Remind the one your angry with of the good they possess as a person and the potential that is in them, encouraging them to be and do their best at every opportunity and in all times.
It’s not sin to be angry. It’s not sin to express one’s anger. Sin comes when anger is unjustified, or when the expression of it adds injury to insult that can lead to a type of death. Be angry when it’s rightly warranted, but sin not, and thereby close tight our doors against a devil who is roaming to and fro, ready to pounce on any given opportunity (1 Peter 5:8). Address issues of anger properly and life, made stronger, stable, and secure, will spring forth to build us up for God’s glory.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:6-11 NASB1995
Lord, let Your mighty spiritual awakening and great revival begin in me. O God, refresh and restore my life, myself, my soul, the essence of who You created me to be: the me You planned while knitting me in my mother’s womb. Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me. Know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful way in me and lead me on righteous paths to Your everlasting way.
Create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence, I pray, nor take Your Holy Spirit from me; but draw near to me as I draw near to You. Fill me to overflowing with the Power of Your Presence in me.
Restore to me the joy of my salvation in Christ. Renew a steadfast Spirit in me: more steadfast than ever before, in ever growing strength of stance. Then use me as You will: teaching transgressors Your ways and converting sinners to Yourself, bringing them to their own life giving, eternal relationship with You.
Make Yourself known in, to, and through me for Your glory and crown; Your Kingdom come, on earth as in Heaven. This I pray, in Jesus, Amen.
“…since she considered Him faithful who had promised.” (11:11b)
Amen! Yes. By faith. By faith to trust You, O God, we please You. That faith that pleases You is settled on the Promise Keeper. Not the promise.
Father, we tend to view Your promises from a fleshly standpoint, aligning our hope with our own understanding and desire. We too readily fail to see with Your eyes and realize that You do far above all we can possibly think or ask.
When things don’t go the way we think it should, we believe You failed us and fall into despair. This is sure sign our faith is setting on the promise as we see it, not on trust in You who have the full answer, know the full truth, and always do what is best, accomplishing Your best good for all. Father, forgive me this, and grant me faith that is fully and truly based in You: Your who, Your do, Your will, way, plan, and purpose. In Jesus, amen.
Father, Your peace that passes understanding has walked me through many storms on the raging seas of life. I am so grateful to You for that peace, and I crave it in these troubled days in which we live.
The wind and waves of storms tend to catch our attention, distracting us from focus on being attentive to You – listening for You. Forgive us when distraction wins, leading us to fight the wind and waves from fleshly panic and prideful arrogance. Empower our hearts to turn to You with full focus. Grant us spiritual ear buds that cancel out the noise that leads to fleshly responses on storm tossed seas. Focus us on You, Your presence, Your wee small voice sounding, “This is the way. Walk in it.”
With focus on You, grant us to enter into and remain in Your rest. Empower us to hear and heed Your instruction and walk in Your Spirit to victory over the destructive forces around us. We need You, Father. Make us attuned to paths of righteousness where peace resides and rest rules; where we are made visible lights, drawing others to You. In Jesus, amen.
In my Galatians 4 reading today, this stands out to me:
“Now Hagar is (stands for) Mount Sinai in Arabia and she corresponds to and belongs in the same category with the present Jerusalem, for she is in bondage together with her children. But the Jerusalem above (the Messianic kingdom of Christ) is free, and she is our mother.” – 4:25-26 AMPC
Living a Kingdom life now – realizing oneself as citizen and representative of the eternal Kingdom and behaving accordingly – is the walk of freedom that is found in Christ.
Adding to this thought as I pray over it, the fact that the eternal Kingdom “is our mother” fills me with joy. As we follow Mother in knowing how to live for and serve our Father and our King in the power and filling of His Spirit, we find true freedom. We can look at The Kingdom and know how to live on the earth.
The Kingdom is always full of light, for God is the Light, therefor, we are light in Him. Darkness is a facade. Trust God to light up life and make the path clear. He will.
As Jesus is always present in the Kingdom, so He is always with us. He, somehow, is with each of us individually, and all of us simultaneously, without having to divide Himself or His time among us. We are one with Him. Live that.
And as the Spirit fills all things and flows freely throughout life there, so He is in us who seek Him. Trust His flowing Presence, and release yourself to His rhythm.
As this Trinity is eternal and fills all things, so they fill us and make us one with the Eternal. Having our focus set here in God’s Kingdom, empowers our Kingdom life on earth. Walking out life here in this blessed estate, we walk free!
We are freed from fear, knowing death has no right over us, as we are already walking in Life: eternal, abundant, and full, settled in desire to truly trust God to accomplish His plan and purpose in and through us. Jesus had no fear of death, because He trusted God to fulfill His plan.
We are freed from the cares of this world, knowing the Father cares for us from Kingdom stores. He cares for us watchfully and affectionately, never leaving nor forsaking us.
We are freed from the opinion of fleshly beings knowing we walk as Kingdom citizens, pleasing the Lord.
Whatever comes to this life on earth, we know is temporary and it cannot truly harm us who are eternal with Christ. Jesus took our separation from God on Himself at the cross, so we will never have to be separated from Him again. He is with us through whatever comes. He will help us.
This world may kill our flesh, as it did Jesus, but the essence of all we are is already eternal – and safe with Him who gives us Life. We are one together with Him. Live FREE.
As I begin looking at this morning’s “Refresh” scripture, I am led to read it in context with the entire chapter. In Psalm 139 Father highlights this passage, causing me to pause and ponder.
“Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? I hate them with the utmost hatred; They have become my enemies.” – Psalms 139:21-22 NASB1995
This thought process reveals our human tendency to attach evil to the people who practice it. But is it true that God hates those who hate Him? I don’t believe so, and here is why.
One: God so loves the world that He willingly and freely gave His one true Son as propitiation for their sin. The world / worldly is defined by a mindset that is against God and God’s truth. In other words, the world / worldly moves in opposition to God, His will and His way, which is the defining character of that which hates God. But God doesn’t hate the people of the world. He loves the world and made the ultimate sacrifice to prove it.
Two: attaching sin to the sinner is to keep an account of wrongs suffered. God’s word tells us that love does not do that. God is love. He does not act in opposition to His own word and dictates. He is the perfect example of all He calls us to. Proof?
Jesus says of Himself that seeing Him, we have seen the Father. He is the personification of the Father for us. On the cross, He did not take the sin against Him into account, but instead prayed for God to forgive them, “for they know not what they do.” In this act on the cross, Jesus was exemplifying the Father’s example in 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.”
In the midst of Israel’s sin, God forgave them out of loving desire to fulfill His purpose of maintaining relationship with them. He says He did so for His own sake. He detaches us from our sin for His own sake so He can continue to love us and reach out a saving hand to us for His own sake, that His purpose and plan may be fulfilled, on earth as it is in heaven. We are called to do the same.
God hates sin, and sin cannot stand in His holy presence. When God turns His back, He is turning His back on sin, refusing it. Sin separates us from a right and good relationship with God, but it does not separate us from His love. He still loves us though our sin hinders our realization of that love. Sin is what God hates, not the sinner; He sent His Son to die for the sinner.
When we grab hold of God’s loving hand through Christ, the death of sin found in separation from God is immediately broken off of us. And as we begin to walk in Love relationship with God, He delivers us from that which leads us to sin. He engenders a hate for sin in us that causes us to turn from sin and walk with Him. But He also places His love in us, thus we hate sin while still loving the sinner; and we are able to forgive the sin in order to have a relationship with the sinner, making us useful to God in being the hand of Christ to a lost and dead world.
There is no sin God has not forgiven except the sin of refusing the work of God accomplished through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. So we who are God’s children through Christ are called to love as He loves. We hate sin, but we love the sinner. We do not walk with the sinner into sin, but we are ready to help them find the love of God for themselves. Holding hate toward the sinner because of their hate toward God revealed by their surrender to sin’s grip only hinders us being the picture of Christ to them, following His example as the image of God to the world.
I’ve been meditating on and praying through the “refresh” verse of the day meditation and prayer on the YouVersion Bible App each morning. Today went into following Jesus, which led my thoughts to “take up your cross daily.”
Usually in taking up the cross, most I know – including me – talk about taking our sin / sin nature up, or our sickness or whatever malady plagues us and hinders us: bearing up under it and pressing on despite it. Even just thinking about that is hard and heavy. So I asked God about that, and He brought to me a new understanding.
Jesus bore the hard and heavy of our sin, paying the penalty once and for all. He took that sin and shame to the depths of hell and left it there along with sin’s death. He now gives us freedom from it as a gift. All we need to do is receive it. We have no need to keep bearing that which is removed far from us in Christ. We need to take up our freedom in Christ and walk in it.
Jesus also bore our stripes for sin and sickness. By His stripes, we are healed. We don’t have to take that up and carry it. He bore that for us. And He helps us bear it now while we walk to full healing, whether that healing comes in this life or the next. Our health may prove a challenge, bringing opportunity to trust God and see all He will do in the midst of our struggle, but it can’t stop God’s purpose in us. There is always a way to serve and shine for Him when we seek His heart in every opportune moment.
Jesus also tells us that we should yoke ourselves with Him. Like Simon of Cyrene, Jesus is there to help bear our cross, but He does so willingly, not because He is required to by some enemy force. He says, “My yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” (Matthew 11:30 AMPC)
As I think on that, I realize the view God has of the cross Jesus bore. That cross was not the sin and shame, sickness and death we look at. God sees freedom for His children. He sees the humility, selflessness, and obedient heart of Christ, which now lives in us. He sees mercy made new every morning, compassion that fails not, forgiveness made free and clear. He sees a willing heart made ready for God’s will. He sees Life, abundant and full.
Our cross to bear up under is yoked with Christ. It is freedom from sin and shame, sickness and death. It is one of willing surrender to the will of God, knowing that all He calls us to, He helps, provides for, and empowers us to do. It’s a cross set to please Him, honor Him, glorify Him. It’s a cross of eternal purpose that displays grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, selflessness, courage, strength, joy, contentment, assurance, power, and more.
The cross God left His children to take up daily and bear for all the world to see is light, easy, and an honor to His holy name. It has nothing to do with our physical strength, health, or struggles in this life. Those are simply opportunities to shine His Light and experience His power made perfect in us. Our cross has everything to do with our eternal perspective and assurance; with love for God and others that does hard things made easier in Christ.
Nothing can keep us back and hold us down when our heart is set on the eternal perspective of God’s purpose, plan, and provision. We experience God as we daily take up the heart of God, the mind of Christ, and the eternal perspective of a Life made new and easy in Him. By the understanding that God will complete and fulfill His purpose through our willing surrender, we partner in the cause of Christ to carry out our ministry to the glory of His name.
“Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire.” – Hebrews 12:28-29
Thank You, Father, that I get to represent You and Our Kingdom in this life. Thank You for calling and equipping me. Fill me, Father, with the power of Your presence and with a grateful heart that serves You well. And thank You for highlighting this: that my service to You be aflame with true reverence and awe in You as I serve in the honor given me: that You choose me for the work You place in my path. Those frustrating people You give me to love in Your name from a grateful heart of reverence and awe in You as You flow through me to help them. Let true reverence and awe for You empower my patient love in those moments. That hard task You grace me to do with joy in the Lord and a life song that glorifies You. Thank You, Father. Let Your fire burn in me as grateful awe and reverent love.
There are six examples of suicide in scripture. We’ve looked at two of them. Through these six, we see the heart behind the cause of the choice: fear, anger, depression-oppression, pride, shame, a sense of failure, helplessness, hopelessness, extreme remorse, condemnation, guilt, and the list goes on. (Samuel 31:3-6, 1 Kings 16:18-19, Matthew 27:3-5 ) We even see in scripture example of the telltale signs of one planning to take their own life, as Ahithophel set his house in order before hanging himself (2 Samuel 17:23).
Suicide has been around for as long as our need of God has been met by resistance to Him. Those of us who can’t fathom taking our own life, also can’t reconcile God allowing it. Thus we have the frequent struggle those left behind face as they come to such truths as those proclaiming the sovereignty of God.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 NASB1995
In a video devotional that went with this verse today, the teacher said our partnership with God and His participation in our lives is not a 50-50 or 70-30, our choice verses His. It is 100-100. I understand that concept, as God taught me the 100-100% principle in my married life. Successful, happy marriages are not 50-50. It’s all-in-all.
In relationship with God, He is all in our being one with Him and He with us. He is also all in for our right to choose whether we will be all in with Him and His will and way.
Right of choice is a gift from God. He does not remove our choice from us: we are allowed choice. But whatever choice we make, God is there and He causes all to accomplish His purpose, working it together for good and glory (Romans 8:28).
When we have God as our delight, we give self to His will. When we refuse Him, He does not remove our right of choice from us. He respects our boundaries against Him.
We are His delight and desire, whether or not we choose Him, for God is love, and He so loved the whole, entire world, that He gave His Son for us. He desires that none should perish, but all come to repentance: which means to align our will and desire with His will and desire for us.
God wants a loving, growing relationship with each of us. He also desires what is best for us. One of the things He sees as best for us is that we have right of choice. A love without choice is no true love at all. God wants true love relationships, so He gives us choice: God or not God, life or death, blessing or curse. God is Life and God is Blessing.
The hard thing is reconciling the fact of God’s sovereignty and His love for us with things like hard hearted Pharoah, or, closer to home, a dear friend’s family member who committed suicide. It’s hard for us to comprehend God, who is sovereign, being 100% partner with those horrendous decisions of the heart of man, and, in the case of Pharoah, even increasing his stubborn, hardened heart for God’s purpose. Our finite minds with our limited way of thinking cannot comprehend a loving God allowing, much less seemingly participating in such decisions leading to horrid outcomes. That’s where the truth stated by Joseph fits into the equation: “As for you, you meant evil…but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20 NASB1995 – https://bible.com/bible/100/gen.50.20.NASB1995).
But God! His thoughts and ways are so much higher than ours. He sees things beyond our comprehension. His plans reach to effect far more than our here and now. And He uses the effect of such hard things in our here and now to accomplish purposes far more eternal in nature than we can begin to realize.
Take this beloved’s suicide. I cannot even begin to think that God’s will was his suicide. What I do see is this: a long time struggle with depression-oppression and constant heartache that became unbearable for a precious man, loved by God.
I believe that, in 99.9% of suicides, there is a point where mental health loses the battle. Though he may have wanted to believe in and trust God, the constant struggle hindered him being helped by any degree of hope he managed to grasp hold of through Christ. I don’t believe God wanted his death in that way, but God did want this one He loved free from the struggle. So when this beloved of God could not grasp God and chose death, God allowed His choice and took him out of his pain. Absent from the body…home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).
My understanding about this young man is that he wanted God and new Jesus as the way, the truth, the life, and the gateway. I believe God has him home with Jesus right now, no longer in pain, no longer struggling. He is now safe in the arms of God, freed from that mental turmoil. That is a hope I stand on, and encourage those suffering such loss to grasp hold of.
Now for those left behind suffering the aftermath. What now?
God says, “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will restore….’” (Jeremiah 29:11-14 – https://bible.com/bible/100/jer.29.11-14.NASB1995)
Those left behind have a choice now. Trust that God’s purpose in allowing their loved one’s suicide was not death, but life. They are more set free to live than ever before, never to be troubled by depression-oppression again. Their grasp on the reality and provision of God is finally firm.
Now the ball is in our court. Will we run from God to our own struggle and hardship, or will we grab His hand, get His heart for the good He wants to work through our pain, and walk with Him to the fulfillment of the future He planned for us?
It may not be an easy road. Walking a hard path we can’t understand seldom is easy. But when we grab hold of trust in God, He always leads us to an eternal good that accomplishes through us an unfathomable glory.
So the choice is to run from God in anger and grief, which is death-though-we-live. Or run to God, where healing is found in the grief, restoration to life arises, and a greater good comes out of our pain as we who are comforted by God comfort others.
Love is not an emotion. Emotion can accompany love, but deep, abiding love is a choice flowing from who we are that reveals itself through actions.
Rick Warren writes, “Over and over again in the Bible, God commands us to love each other, and you can’t command an emotion. If I told you right now, “Be sad!” you couldn’t be sad on cue. Just like an actor, you can fake it, but you’re not wired for your emotions to change on command.
“If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it. But love is something you do. It can produce emotion, but love is an action.
“The Bible says, “Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions” (1 John 3:18 NLT, second edition).
“We can talk a good act: “I love people.” But do we really love them? Our love is revealed in how we act toward them.” (From YouVersion’s Forty Days of Love: Day 26)
This is essentially what God and I have been talking about today. Love takes action and shows it’s sincerity. And love is not hypocritical, expecting from others what I fail to do myself.
The example that has been the topic of conversation with my Father today is this. As a new widow, facing a medical test requiring help my sweet husband usually gave, I am having to figure out how to do this without him.
In this situation, I am finding that it is hard for me to call people and seek assistance when they never call or come by to check on me. Though they say, “Call me if you need anything,” the lack of any show of caring without a cry for help calls into question their sincerity. Couple that with knowing how busy people are and how overwhelming life is these days, and I feel like a nuisance in even considering bothering people with my problem.
That is the start of a vicious cycle. Feeling like a nuisance keeps me from calling or going by to check on others, not wanting to be a bother to busy, over stressed people. Which potentially leaves them thinking I don’t really care for them and am too busy to be bothered. Here we go on the round-e-round. 🔄
“So,” I question, “what should I do, Lord?”
Call. Go by. Love actively. Don’t worry about what the other person does or doesn’t do toward me. Be what Father God tells me to be. This love journey fits into the scriptural principle of giving. As we give into the lives of others, it is returned to us.
“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” (Luke 6:38 NASB1995)
I read this verse at the end of a devotional on the importance of committed church membership, and it hit me how important it is for people to have opportunity to make that commitment known by giving themselves “first to the Lord and then to us”. I know of churches who have cut out the necessity of a person coming forward to openly join the membership and work of a local church. The church I’m at now is one.
They have their reasons for that, but I also know people who come as spectators and hide in the background, never really becoming part of the fellowship because the practice makes it easier to hide. I even met one such person who said they preferred a large church because it was easier to hide in the crowd, unnoticed. That person disappeared shortly after and I’ve never seen them again.
As I think about that, I realize that one of the main reasons people I have talked with on the subject give for failing to greet someone they don’t know when they believe they may be a visitor is because of fear of welcoming someone who’s been there for years, unnoticed. So those who are visitors leave the experience feeling unnoticed and believing the church’s members are snobbish and unfriendly.
There’s great benefit to publicly joining a fellowship. It gives the members a chance to realize and acknowledge the new family member. Many members then reach out to invite that new one to get involved in the class or group or ministry they are in. Doors get opened to the new ones, making them feel a part of the whole and encouraging their involvement in the ministry called “church”. It lets the new member know they are welcome and feel there is a place for them in the body. And it gives opportunity for love bonds to form as we cuddle one another into the fold. It also destroys the lie of the enemy that there is better fellowship and acceptance at the local bar than in the house of worship.
I’m just getting back into face to face involvement with my local fellowship after several years absence while caring for my husband, doing church at home with him. The devotional read and these thoughts gleaned help me firm up my need to not only commit myself to the church ministry I am part of, but to make that commitment known. In that, I will seek guidance as to where and how I may serve alongside them.
What about you? Have you committed yourself first to the Lord and then to a local expression of His body called the Church? Won’t you join me in devoted fellowship as part of the family of God?
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” Acts 2:42
When my husband died, we were more ONE than I ever realized we could be. When he took his last breath, all my being felt like it was ripped in half. As I cried out to God, I saw in my mind a crystalline half of a heart move in to meld together with my torn half. It lit up and became one anew, and I inhaled new life.
My God fills me up and completes me. Realizing that benefit, I seek Him wholeheartedly. He is my first, most vital need and necessity. By His grace I live, breathe, and have my being (Acts 17:24-28). I am, only because He is. He is my all in all.
I still miss Johnny, and I feel his absence deeply. But I’m not doing it alone. Ishi is with me.
“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord, “that you will call Me Ishi (my Husband) and will no longer call Me Baali (my Master).” — Hosea 2:16
God wants our all to grow strong and be in good health. As I read this verse, to my understanding it is giving priority to the requirement of our soul’s health and growth. As our soul prospers, so will our body and life.
The soul is our mind, will, and emotions. The mind here indicates our thought life. The will points to our desires and passions that dictate our choices and decisions. And our emotional health indicates the dictates of our feelings in any given moment.
Our emotions are good and intended to help our lives, but not as the leading role for life. Our emotions can prosper and help us only when they are dictated by right thinking and good choices flowing from the dictates of the Spirit controlling our desires and passions.
The soul is covered in scripture as one part because, to function properly, the three aspects that make our soul must function as one. As Father, Son, and Holy Presence work as one, so must our mind, will, and emotions. When mind, will, or emotion go off in their own direction, separate from the whole, that is when struggle, dysfunction, and instability takes hold of our lives.
Give some focus to soul care today and may your entire being prosper as your soul grows stronger allegiance to God and His ways.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. …
“Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”
Satan is the author of persecution. He tempts to the dark side. It is his goal to use the things we face in day to day life to tempt us away from faith-filled trust in God. The tempter desires to tempt us away from a life that honors God as God. He wants to ruin our testimony and rob us of peace, joy, and hope so we are ineffective as Christ’s ambassadors, the image bearers of God. In doing so, he causes us to doubt our Christian faith and walk away from God.
A man once said something ugly, condemning my Christian faith, then in one breath, quickly adding, “and no: I’m not persecuting you.” I don’t remember saying anything to him before or after. He was a passer by I did not know, nor have I seen him since. He spotted me as who I was in Christ, said whatever it was he said followed by the part I remember, and walked on, leaving me looking at him with “How rude” on my stunned face.
On one hand, he was correct. He was simply the unwitting instrument in the hands of him who was using the man to persecute Christianity. On the other hand, he was allowing himself to be that instrument, seemingly without understanding it’s source and purpose.
The same is true of a deadly diagnosis, the sudden death of a loved one, or any number of tragic events that leave us wondering where God is and how He could let such evil come upon one who loves and trusts Him. Anything that tempts us to doubt, fear, and turning from God is Satanic persecution of our Christian faith.
I believe Satan’s being the author and perfector of persecution is why God warns us to realize our battle is not against flesh and blood, but demons and principalities (Ephesians 6:10-18). Not only do we tend to focus anger toward the instruments of persecution, failing to love even our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but we fail to realize enemy tactics of persecution through the temptation to doubt God that comes with our daily struggles.
This belief regarding tactics of persecution coming from the enemy of God has protected me from giving myself to fear, doubt, and unforgiveness. It has helped me separate the sin from the sinner so I can walk in God’s mandate regarding love and prayer. And it has kept me from allowing the fruit of God’s Spirit to be stolen and buried by the evil intent brought to life’s circumstances.
“… Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light And your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” – Psalms 37:1-9
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:8-11
Father, life is filled with continuum experiences, granting us understanding. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately, mainly that You are good and we cannot fully understand Your goodness this side of glory. Evil is the opposite end of that continuum. As we do not know the fullness of Your goodness, we cannot fathom how evil bad can get.
Your call for us to overcome evil with good is vital to our days, Lord. Grant us daily to draw in closer to You so our understanding of what “good” is grows.
Out of the heart flows the wellsprings of Life. May our hearts be cleansed and made good as You are good, and may that goodness flow freely from our lives surrendered to You who are good, the source of good, and the only one who can make us truly good. In Jesus, amen.
Father, thank You that You are taking me deeper in true understanding of trust in You. Trust in You does not just look for what I want and believe should be. Trust in You realizes when things look and are going all wrong, You are still doing something awesome in the situations and circumstances of our lives and the lives of those we love. We may not understand why You allow what You allow or go about things the way You do, but we can know there is good purpose in it. Help me rest things securely in Your capable hands, pressing forward in the things You call me to without fretting while waiting on You to do what only You can do. Show me when I fall away from true trust, and grow me stronger in the wait as an ally to Your will, way, plan, and purpose. In Jesus, amen.
God is calling me (and I believe He is calling all He calls “My people”) to greater trust.
I am in a spiritual battle right now that God is impressing on me as being training ground for increased trust in Him. I stand in awe of His accomplishment in this experience. You are going through something right now that is God’s call to greater trust in Him. God is getting “My people” ready. Cooperate with Him and choose to trust Him.
Believing God feeds trust. Unbelief kept Israel from entering God’s rest because it reveals a failure to trust. Our trust in God increases and releases our faith, which, in turn, strengthens our ability to believe Him. I am discerning that the strengthening of our trust is vital to our ability to stand in these days that are coming at us. I discern that an evil like this generation has never seen or imagined is coming around a blind corner, something we can’t fathom. End of days? Maybe. But for sure an evil beyond our ability to survive without trust in God for it.
We know we’re living in evil days and we know worse is coming, but this thing coming is beyond comprehension to even think. Trust in God is all that will get us through. Blind trust, that doesn’t have to see to have faith that believes God’s love and faithfulness, is the call of this hour. We cannot stand firm without it. We will fall. Proverbs 3:5-6 is vital to live out now.