Tag Archives: Self-Control

The Narrow Focus

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

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

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

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

Temptation’s Lure: My Passion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 – Hebrews 4:15

Incidental Temptation

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

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

Incidental Temptation: Opportunity to Choose Good or Bad

Written 10/12/17 by Darlene Davis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free Will Choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Go forth, and prosper the Kingdom.

Instruction in Godliness

Do not open the chosen passage linked below before reading my instruction to you, Beloved, for this passage provides a challenge for us. In it, Paul is instructing Titus regarding attributes to watch for in choosing Elders for posts he is charged to fill. Now, here’s the thought I want us to consider as we read this passage today.

In life, I’ve oft heard people express opinions about leaders in The Church that leaves the impression that our leaders are to be better people than the rest of us. I believe this is false understanding of the scriptures. I believe that God desires all of His children to live exemplary lives that make each of us ELIGIBLE for leadership positions. Thus, the instruction today as you read this passage is for each individual of us to apply these truths to self. How are we individually doing in our practice of godliness and our life witness?

Every descriptive passage that points to godly character should leave us asking The Father for His opinion of our progress in godliness. With that thought, Beloved, read on!

Titus 1:5-16 NASB

A Standard Set

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Darlene Ingram Davis: 09-28-18

Power to Enjoy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Son of God Appeared for this Purpose

Are storms evil?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reigning in Life

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

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

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

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

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

The Cloud

Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I saw this plant come into view, and my heart leapt! It was just beautiful to me.

These carbon black plants have been here for multiplied-decades, the last remnants of many more that used to be here. I remember momma stepping out to see which way the wind was blowing before daring to hang laundry. And heaven forbid the wind to change directions!

Through the years I’ve heard people express joy in the smell of laundry, dried on outdoor lines. I never understood that. Ours always smelled of carbon and fossil fuels. LOL

As I look at these stacks and the criss-crossed sections of pipelines darkened by decades of carbon soot, I note the mostly white steam escaping the shoots, and my heart rejoices in the Hope of Christ.

You see, no matter how many decades of sin and shame covers our lifespan, we are not beyond the reach of His saving grace. And even in the earliest stages of our surrender and commitment to Him, His Spirit moves in, fills us up, and begins the lifetime work of cleansing, purifying, and transforming us to be the vessel God planned from before time began.

Even in our earthen vessels marred by passing sin, the glory of the Lord seeps out of us who are His, like steam rising to draw the eyes of others in need of a fresh view of Splendor’s beauty and grace. The greater our surrendered commitment to God through Christ, the purer our cleansing flow will be. Rising up as testimony of our relationship with God, His cleansing, Life-giving flow reaches out to touch others in need of His grace, sufficient for them too.

We each choose daily the steam flowing forth: either the dark stench of sin, or the purifying flow of Love’s grace at work in us. Which do you want those you love to be covered by when they are near to or up wind from you?

“And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15, AMPC

“I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live And may love the Lord your God, obey His voice, and cling to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:19-20‬ ‭AMPC‬‬

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

Soul-Dance

“Make glad the soul of Your servant, For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” (Psalms 86:4 NASB)

Soul: our mind with it’s thought-life, beliefs, and comprehensive understanding; our wills, going after what we want in disciplined fervor; and our emotions, too often dictated by our raging hormones and the rush of our bodily chemistry. God desires us to love Him, live for Him and serve Him with ALL OF OUR SOULS. Yet, sadly, many people frown and put down those who let the surge of emotions soar free for the Lord.

God gave us emotions so we can “feel” His Presence and worship Him with exuberance: meeting with Him in the truth of all that we are, overflowing with eager enjoyment or approval. We see it in David, when his joy over the ark of God’s Presence caused him to dance the streets in worship, dressed only in a loin cloth. It took hold of Miriam, who took timbrel in hand and led the women in the excited dance of worship to the Lord, for He delivered them from Pharaoh’s grasp.

God wants our all involved in worshiping Him. He is not ashamed of our dance when done in wholehearted sincerity and in trueness to who we are as an individual. A quiet person, in their quiet, private self, worshipping in silence with whole heart is precious to the Father, Who meets them in the quiet. An emotionally, exuberant person is just as precious to the Lord, and He meets them in the dance flowing from the true of heart.

Beloved, true fellowship with the Father, flowing freely out of sincerity to the true inner person He created us to be is a must in worship. Fearlessly giving our all in love to God is a biblical mandate (Mark 12:29-30 NASB).

“Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalms 86:11 NASB)

Here David asks the Lord to teach him truly, asking Him to unite his heart in fear’s reverence toward Him. In verse 4, the word in original Hebrew that is translated “soul” is lebab. It means: inner man, the mind, the will, and the heart (the essence of the person that includes one’s emotions). The word used in verse 11, translated “heart” is nephesh. It means “a soul, living being, person, with all their desires, passions, appetites, and emotions.”

The soul. It is the sum of what makes us who we are, and God wants us to use all of it to His glory, even – and I believe especially- our “feelings” – emotions. Like David and Miriam, we’re not to fear getting excitedly emotional over the joy of the Lord and His work in our midst. God loves our exuberance for Him.

So, Beloved, if you are emotionally exuberant in your worship, FROM A TRUE HEART, let no judgmentalism from mankind shame you into silence. And if you, being just as emotional in your quiet way, worship God with your all, let no one make you ashamed of your quietness. However, and here comes the warning for us who are exuberant, be careful that you rule your emotional outbursts.

David marched in the procession, worshipping God WITH OTHERS. Miriam led the PROCESSION of worshiping dancers, with song, everyone joining in with her. These were all worshiping together in timely fashion. There is an appropriate time for exuberance, dancing, and loud merrymaking.

However, we are not to be controlled by our emotions. We must control our emotions, knowing when to express them and when to control the expression. Running around, whooping and hollering while the pastor is trying to preach WILL be used of the enemy to distract the heart of man for the purpose of keeping some from hearing and receiving the Word.

Fear not, Beloved, the expression of true and sincere worship. But do fear getting in God’s way through uncontrolled, emotional outbursts. Tongues is an excellent example. God’s Word says, in the absence of an interpreter, keep the tongue between you and Him (1 Corinthians 14). From my understanding, those who believe they have no control over their audible prayer-tongue are mistaken. It is not to be a constant, loud raucous that can be used by the enemy of God to rob Seed from the heart of others who are deafened by the distraction.

God frees us to be who we are, but He also blesses us with the fruit of self-control. Use your freedom liberally in the controlling power and wisdom of the Spirit of God, and bear much good fruit to His the glory of His awesome, praiseworthy Name.

Kingdom Currency

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (Matthew 23:23 NASB)

This verse compares the “weightier provisions” of God’s Law with the currency of the tithe. I am struck by the NASB’s wording regarding these weightier things, calling them God’s provision for us. The combination of wording and the object of comparison makes one think that the currency of God’s Kingdom is the weightier things of God’s Law: justice, mercy, faithfulness, love, righteousness, grace, goodness, etc.

The actions of the faith lay up treasures in heaven for us, Beloved. God has given these to us for our use. These are not to be hoarded, but produce the greatest treasure when liberally spent / applied to life.

Where do you need to overcome fleshly tendencies and spend a little Kingdom currency today? Hear that! The register of the Father, chiming heavenly sounds of rejoicing with each deposit to your account.

“”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NASB)

God’s WORD: Empowered to Save Souls

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” James‬ ‭1:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus came to give us Life: Life, more abundant and full. He gave His life to deliver us from sin’s death.

Jesus also came as the Living Word, sent by God to correct the false understanding plaguing His people. Father and Son left for us the living, life giving Word, compiled and presented to us in the form of our Holy Bible, as written and inspired by God in the power of the Spirit.

As I read this scripture in James today, I realize anew that, when we surrender to Jesus as Lord, Jesus saves us from eternal death – separation from God – and gives us eternal Life, granting us the Spirit of God as our Teacher and as a seal of our union with God. All that God IS, is with us, from that instant to forevermore, never to be separated again from Him who promises to never leave us.

Jesus saves fully and completely. Yet this Word we consider today tells us that God’s Word, left for us, prepared to assist us in our search of the greater depths of God, is EMPOWERED to SAVE our SOULS.

Paul tells us that our fleshly, little-s spirit wars against the Spirit of God, bringing a struggle in our flesh, the purpose of which is to hinder our progress in maturing as a Christ follower and image bearer of God (I.e., Romans 6-8). Our flesh still wants to rule us and fights to control us, making us a slave to our flesh. The spirit of man does not want to give up the false freedom it believes real and true.

When we seek the Teacher to grant us understanding and ability to receive the Truth found in God’s Word, the Spirit empowers that Word to heal our soul. The soul of man (as in humankind) is his fleshly mind, will, and emotions. The fleshly soul is seen in us as the mind of man with it’s earthbound thoughts; the will of man with it’s self-focused desires; and the emotional state of man, unchecked and unleashed to possess the man and rule the day.

When the Spirit increases our understanding of the Word and Truth of God, empowering that Word to save our soul, we find our mind renewed, as God brings to life in us the mind of Christ, dictated by the Truth of God, healing us through His right thoughts within us. His Word reveals the deception of our hearts that dictate our will, our desires in life, and brings healing through aligning our desires and motives with the Fathers. The healing of our mind and will empowers us to possess His Healing Word in us to such a degree that we can now rule and control our emotions. God’s Word often empowers our mind and will to discern the emotional state we are in and align it with the Father’s emotional stability.

Jesus possessed and controlled His body and soul because He IS the Living Word of God. That power for healing the soul of man that the Word of God possesses was in Jesus to the point that The Word IS His WHO. He possessed the Word, lived the Word, and portrayed the very Word of God.

Beloved, we are to do the same. We are to seek the healing power of God’s Word so that it INDWELLS us and makes us the very image of The Father in Christlikeness. Without The Word of God, Living actively and effectively in us, we will continue to struggle as our fleshly spirit fights against the Holy.

Thus we see the reason it is vital for us to feast ourselves on His Word every day, even throughout the day, meditating on its application to our daily living. We must seek to devour it and pick every kernel of truth from it. Beloved, The Word is like the Manna of God, renewed every morning. Only God can give it, and we will never deplete the nourishment found there on this side of Glory. There is always a new, deeper kernel of Truth there for us who truly seek Him with all we are.

May you be healed today, Beloved, and find The Word fully alive and well in your very soul.

Fruit Bearing Truth

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NASB

Throughout my life, this passage has brought teaching on the fact that we cannot bear eternal fruit apart from our union with Christ. This is a very true teaching that is vital to understand. But as I look at this today, my mind settles on the promise of this verse.

The one who abides in Christ and he in the one, that one bears much fruit! Period. The end.

If we truly are in Christ and Him in us, there will be eternal fruit evidenced in our lives. If there is no fruit – the ever growing and glowing image of God shining forth from us as born out of the Spirit – there is reason to question our true alliance.

God’s Parameters of Protection

I hear people all the time saying “God works all things together for good,” and they stop there. These often get a deer in the headlights look when the parameters for God’s good work is pointed out.

Don’t miss the “to those” of this promise. God works good in all things “to those who love God”; and, “to those” who are walking out His purposes according to His calling. If we go outside of God’s calling and purpose, or if we act without love for God, we step outside of this hedge of His protection.

With most of God’s promises there is a parameter, a hedge that sets the boundaries for remaining in His field of promise. Step outside of that, we face consequences God’s hedge is set to spare us from suffering. Don’t get caught in the headlights of danger, Dear. Watch for the parameters set by our loving Father.

Seven Healing Balms for Exhaustion Part 3

Exercise

Sometimes our “tired” is due to sitting too much. This happens to me. When I’m I’m stressed or depressed, and overly tired, I tend to sit too much, desiring to meet my need of rest. The thing is, sitting too much can actually hinder the body’s ability to rest well or to sleep well, and it increases depression. Thus, the encouragement of God’s Spirit to give focus to exercise is good wisdom.

Beginning with prayer and worship:

Prayer and the worship of the Triune God is a spiritual exercise that works wonders in a tired, body, mind, heart, spirit, and soul. Leaving issues at God’s feet lifts weight off of weighed down shoulders and stressed knees. Praise and worship strengthens the heart, lifts and eases the mind, and brings renewed vitality to life.

Work that body:

God made our bodies to move, lift, walk, bend, stoop, and work. When we fail to do that, a sundry of disease processes move in: inflammatory diseases, bone and joint maladies, heart, lung, and vascular disease, to name a few. Then we can add to that depression, appetite issues, insomnia, and more. And let’s not forget the excess weight, increased fat stores beyond the need of a healthy body, and decreased muscle mass and tone.

Exercise works our bodies, putting a good stress on it that strengthens function. A good work out and frequent movement increases endorphins that lifts mood, curbs hunger, and increases energy. Thus it makes sense that the Spirit of God would instruct me to get serious about this area of my health journey in this difficult season of life.

I cannot tell you the number of times hunger and out-of-control appetite has quieted or completely stilled with a good, brisk walk. Exercise actually increases energy levels and aids sleep. So, exhausted friend, let’s “Keep it moving!” (Deron Buboltz, Grow Young Fitness Motto)

13 Unexpected Benefits of Exercise

Seven Healing Balms for Exhaustion: Part 2

Yesterday we covered my need for surrender. I am a stress eater and one stressor is tiredness, which is created and exacerbated by stress, good or bad. Vicious circle, I know. Today, a major area in need of my surrender to the Lordship and reliance on God is in my way of eating.

Diet (beginning with God’s Word).

God’s Word is what led me to realize that surrender is my number one need. God’s Word constantly and consistently instructs and encourages my perseverance, even when I’m tired. Exhaustion tends to hinder ability and desire for God’s Word. Remaining faithful to Him, trusting His ability to get through the fog of exhaustion and to help us is key to our ability to seek and find this vital nutrient. So feasting on God’s Word is my first dietary need, for it keeps me close to God, in a position of pliable-surrender. There, I am best able to deal with…

Diet (the things we physically eat)

The diet we need is not some fad thing that may take weight off, but be of no benefit to our body. These types of diets are generally unsustainable, leaving us to put the weight back on quickly. These fall into the category of things that have no benefit against fleshly indulgence (Colossians 2:23). We go on such fad diets, usually with the simple goal of losing weight, often with little thought toward working long term change in our appetites and desires. We go on “diets” with full intent to return to “normal eating” when we’ve reached our goal.

God led me long ago to the conclusion that “diet” simply means the things we eat. We are all on diets. The question is, are we eating to feed our flesh its desires? Or are we eating to provide fuel for a healthy, well functioning body?

When we eat to fuel our healthy function, our way of eating or diet becomes our way of life; it becomes our new norm. We don’t start it only to finish it and return to old ways. It’s not here for a time; it’s a habitual way of eating that is here to stay. It does not feed our flesh its indulgences. It feeds our body its need. We lose weight naturally by simply feeding our body it’s functional need. We keep it off the same way.

My struggle with stress eating leads me to feed my flesh its indulgence, instead of feeding my body its functional need. Surrender is vital to my freedom from the dictates of stress eating. Surrendering whatever is stressing me to God’s care brings peace to mind and soul. Surrendering my desires to God allows Him to form a good appetite within me and to energize my follow-through. In this way, proper diet strengthens my body, while God empowers my faithfulness to overcome fleshly indulgence. This, my friend, is the best, most freeing diet I’ve ever possessed.

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NASB

Saved From The Empty Life

“For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. ….” 1 Peter‬ ‭1:18-19‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Good afternoon, Beloveds. We had such a glorious visit with our second daughter and two grandkids. We enjoy them so much. Sunday brought the privilege of seeing a niece marry her guy. Today we said farewell to the kids, hating to see them leave and ready for them to return long before they will. Hubby returned to work at a job he loves. I had a dental appointment: a nicety that reveals God’s provision for us through Johnny’s work. Life goes on.

Looking at our days that are filled with family, friends, work we enjoy, love, laughter, celebration, and, yes, caring for health needs and much, much more, we are indeed blessed. However, I see all of these things in the lives of people who refuse God’s eternal gift in Christ, so I wonder, what emptiness did Jesus save us from? How is our lives full in Christ, while theirs are considered empty? I believe it is two things:

One: the barn issue.

Remember the parable Jesus told of the man who filled up his new barns with great wealth, only to die and it all be for naught? We can’t take it with us, so all our progress here is nothing where eternity is concerned. We work for nothing, when we do it without Christ. It is worthless to us once we die and of no benefit to eternity.

“… “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”” Luke‬ ‭12:13-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

And two: it’s a treasury issue.

Remember the teaching of Paul on building with wood, hay, stubble, gold, silver, and jewels? He’s talking about those who are God’s, building our lives. Focusing on building a life that fails to have an eternal purpose to it is like building with things that burn. All we do in that state will burn away and be as nothing as we enter His Kingdom bearing works apart from Christ. It is worthless, unable to reach eternity with us.

However, all we do as unto the Lord, for His glory, having eternal purpose and relying on God is the gold, silver, and jewels. These treasures not only are stored in a heavenly bank, but they don’t burn up in the transition from our earthly existence to our eternal. These are saved alive with us, because they are eternally sourced to the glory of God.

“…The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.” 1 Corinthians‬ ‭3:10-15‬ ‭NLT‬‬

All that we do in Christ, with the glory and purpose of God in our founding it, that goes with us, producing a reward for our eternal transition that will not be taken from us. In Christ, life is eternal: and life done well here, as pleases Him, makes us full and complete, nothing of true worth left behind.

Free Indeed

For some reason, Lord, as I read this verse in Psalm 147, I think of repentance. How greatly we need You if we are truly to repent.

You, Father, see and know the heart to greater depths of understanding than we can even begin to fully fathom. Only You can help us know the true issue of heart that keeps us snared in habits of sin.

I keep thinking of how weak willed I am, frustrated in areas of struggle I feel powerless to change. The thing I discern right now is my need to stop striving against what I see in my struggle and begin sincerely seeking Your revelation of the heart of my struggle. I need You, Lord.

So search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful or grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

What freedom we possess when we trust in You, Lord. Oh, my soul, take a breath and rest in God.

In Jesus and for Your glory I pray, amen.

“Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NASB

The Treasury of Good

“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart….” Matthew‬ ‭12:35‬ ‭NLT‬‬

When called, “Good Teacher,” Jesus, the Perfect Lamb and very God, replied, “Why do you call Me good? No one is Good except God alone.” Mark 10:18

The good treasure of a heart that produces the good that reveals a good man is the Spirit of God, producing as fruit the very nature of God within us. Are you filled and overflowing proof of His glory at work in you?

The fruit of that good treasure is revealed as:

1. Love – God is Love. Because He loves us, He gave His Son for us and fills those who believe with His Spirit so we can love as He loves: out of who we are in Christ. (1 John 4; John 3:16; Philippians 2:1-10; Galatians 2:20)

2. Joy – the joy of the Lord is our strength: RELATIONSHIP with God, as empowered by His Spirit, is our joy and strength. (Nehemiah 8:10; John 15:5)

3. Peace – a gift from Jesus – an “umpire” sent through the Spirit, helping us make the good calls, while trusting Him for His good to come. (John 14:27; Colossians 3:15, *AMPC)

4. Patience – the fruit born of Trust in God that waits upon the Lord with belief that He is working for our good. Through trust’s belief, strengthened by the Spirit at work within us, we enter His rest finding patient endurance that builds our character. (Romans 8; Hebrew 3-4; Romans 5:1-5)

5. Kindness – God’s mercy in action. The word translated as “mercy” in OT passages like Lamentation 3:22 is chesed or hesed. Hesed can also be translated as “kindness” or “lovingkindness”. Mercy and kindness are intricately linked and are the product of the Spirit’s work, enlivened in us. It is part of our Christ cloak. Put it on. (Lamentation 3:22-23; Colossians 3:12-17; 2 Peter 1:5-9)

6. Goodness – good is only accomplished through a life productive of the Spirit-fruit, as exemplified by Jesus who would not claim goodness as His own, giving all glory for any good to the Father alone. (Mark 10:18; James 1:16-18)

7. Faithfulness – God is faithful, and His Spirit graces us with a love for Him that fertilizes a faithful life within us, placing us in the fellowship of The Faithful. (2 Timothy 2:13; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Peter 4:19; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 1 John 1:5-7)

8. Gentleness – we show our good deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. God is the source of all true wisdom. (James 3:13, NASB; James 1:5-8; James 3:13-18)

9. Self-control – Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified Classic version of scripture Paul’s assertion says we are self-sufficient only in the sufficiency of Christ. His work in and through us makes us sufficient in all things. Our self-control is insufficient apart from His sufficiency. (2 Peter 1:2-13; 2 Timothy 1:7, AMPC; James 3:2; Philippians 4:13, *AMPC)

Beloved, all this to say, God is the treasure of a good heart. We cannot be good at bearing the fruit of godliness apart from the One True God, living it out through us. We are utterly and completely dependent on Him. The more surrendered we are to Him, the more spaces in our heart He fills and controls, the greater the abundance of Life He will pour through us as fruit that reveals Him as the source of any good we produce.

“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.” Ephesians‬ ‭5:8-10‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians‬ ‭2:20‬ ‭NASB

Possess Your Own Vessel (Body)

“Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to HOW YOU OUGHT TO WALK AND PLEASE GOD (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For THIS IS THE WILL OF GOD, YOUR SANCTIFICATION; that is, that you ABSTAIN FROM SEXUAL IMMORALITY; that each of you KNOW HOW TO POSSESS HIS OWN VESSEL in sanctification and honor, NOT IN LUSTFUL PASSION, like the Gentiles WHO DO NOT KNOW GOD; And That No Man Transgress And Defraud His Brother In The Matter Because The Lord Is The Avenger In All These Things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, HE WHO REJECTS THIS IS NOT REJECTING MAN BUT THE GOD who gives His Holy Spirit to you” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.

Sexual immorality is rampant in our day, even among those who belong to God. Adultery, fornication, incest, pornography, homosexuality, rape and molestation of innocence: all these are addressed in God’s Word as being against His will for us, and we see it all in our day, in ever increasing prevalence, even among the people of God. I believe all these perversions of God’s ideal way sicken the heart of God who calls us to sanctification that has a vital purpose.

The institution of marriage and the act of marriage, as God intended it to be, is a picture of what our relationship is supposed to be like with our Holy God. It is the giving of oneself fully to one person, able to so greatly trust that person that we can be “naked” – fully exposed before them. Such intimacy is not meant to be shared with any other than the one we are intended for, the one we are to spend our life with. In likeness to our relationship with the One True God, we are to be saved and kept for the one we are meant to be with for all time.

Even to look on another so as to lust after them, which is the business of pornography, is to sin against God and against His holy institution. Premarital experience and fleshly lust rob of experiencing God’s best for us in our relationships and it hinders our ability to trust each other, which is vital to true intimacy. I know this for a fact, not only because of what the Spirit has taught me in God’s word, but unfortunately because of personal experience.

I was sexually active in my youth, not having anyone to teach me these things. I married unwisely to get out of that lifestyle and that marriage ended in divorce. When God brought my husband into my life – and He did! He has made this clear to us in many ways through our years – I struggled over my past as I began to learn the truth of God’s ideal. It hindered our intimacy for a long time, until God healed me of the consequence of my sin, delivering me from the guilt and shame, and set me free indeed. It is my hope in sharing these things that I can spare some of you the pain and struggle.

The pre-marital impurity done by or to those still waiting for their mate-in-Christ is the commission of sin against our Holy God and that intended mate. It is also sin against one’s own flesh, and I am not just talking about STDs or out of wedlock pregnancy.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases and the potential for pregnancy are just part of the consequences we can face. Sexual intimacy with another gets into the depths of our being. When we do find our mate, flashbacks of previous experiences can hit our hearts to bring us to shame. It can keep us from satisfaction with our mates and hinder our healing from that past.

With every act that is not sanctified and set apart in keeping self for one’s future partner, we do harm to these vital relationships as it affects our very personalities and expectations for marital relations. Needing to “practice” so we will be ready for our mate, knowing how to satisfy them, is a lie straight out of hell.

No two people are alike. What one likes and expects, another will abhor. If you “practice” with one and like certain things, then marry another who does not like those same things, you will be constantly dissatisfied with your mate, ill-equipped to satisfy them, and frequently tempted to go back to where your desires can be met. Sexual relations is one area where ignorance is bliss. If you come together in innocence and learn to please each other, you will be satisfied together. When you grow in your intimacy together, learn what each likes, and minister to each other’s needs, that very intimacy satiates desire and makes you one flesh together, protecting you from desire for another.

Realize, beloved one, that until a couple marries, they do not yet know that they will be married. Anything can happen to stop our plans for marriage between the proposal and the “I do”; so “we are getting married” is not a license to take to ourselves the privilege of marriage before we are legitimately wed together. TRUE LOVE WAITS! This false belief that “engaged” is the same as “married” has ruined the gift of purity for many young couples. From the instant of that first kiss of longing that makes one want to touch, all the way to the actual penetration, all of that act of intimacy is sex! It is a gift to be given on the wedding night, AFTER the “I do” is done. Scripturally, marriage does not begin until the parents give the bride to the groom and all human legalities that define marriage are fulfilled.

The next portion of our passage, “That No Man Transgress And Defraud His Brother In The Matter Because The Lord Is The Avenger In All These Things” speaks to me of the insult we do to others through failing to possess our own vessels in sanctity for our marriage partner.

Defraud: to use deceit, falsehoods, or trickery to obtain money, an object, rights or anything of value belonging to another. From the premarital encounter that destroys the gift of purity meant for another, to rape, sexual immorality done with another’s mate or against one’s own mate, any sin of immorality that is done by force against another ~ all of these are transgressions that defraud another. And all of these defraud God, for in that instant we insult the One who loves us most and rob Him of our wholehearted intimacy with Him as God and Lord.

If we are His child, such acts grieve and quench the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. Since God is always with and for the believer, we cause pain to His Holy Presence, who is made to experience our sin by virtue of His intimate knowledge of us. Such acts do great harm to our relationship with Him. And it is an act of blasphemy, as it gives God’s name in us, “Christian”, a bad reputation.

I believe the “brother” in this statement toward those we defraud could be translated “brethren,” which would mean: our brothers and sisters in Christ; our family and those we are kin to; those of the same people group; any people whose lives are touched by our sin. Even the angels in heaven who are watching God’s people and the triune-God with whom we are one are adversely affected by our sin.

When we commit adultery, we sin not only with the person we partner with in the act, but we sin against their present or future mate, their children, and all who will be touched by the pain of the consequences brought about by the sin done and exposed to light. And what does it say? “The Lord is the avenger in all things.” So the consequences that come against us because of our sin come from the very hand of God. STDs that destroy our bodies; out of wedlock pregnancies that sideline our plans for the future; marriages ended because of hurt and lack of trust; these consequences and more are allowed by God because of our sin. HE WHO REJECTS THIS IS NOT REJECTING MAN BUT GOD.

Pray as God leads you today for yourself, those you love, and all God brings to your heart today. If you have committed these sins already, repent, stop what you are doing, get right with God and seek godly council to help you correctly deal with the sin done.

Pray for the body of Christ to be sanctified and set apart in purity, delivered from perversion, and to know how to possess their own body in obedience to the Father. It is better to be a eunuch by choice than to commit acts of such sin and face the wrath of our Holy God.

Jesus-Bride006If you are one who has been hurt by such sin, forgive for your own sake, so that you can be in right standing with God, able to get His perspective on the issue, and seek godly council to help you find healing and strength to carry on. Unforgiveness, bitterness and anger will hurt you! Do not hold on to these but seek the healing power of God to equip you to entrust these hurts to Him.

Whichever side of the insult you are on, beloved, whether the sinner or the one sinned against, God will heal you. He will enable you to love and to trust again as you seek His face and His grace, which is sufficient for ALL THINGS. And, as I can attest to, His healing can establish your ability to experience true intimacy with your mate, renewing the gift He intended you to give to each other alone.

The Stand ~ Hillsong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV5iZBTNYrk&list=PLfiEjLIYhJ9BycuYe34CTDe-q9HZzszNs&index=4

Journey to Self Control: Part 7 of 7

Self-control: The Path to Spiritual Wholeness in all things

Spirit-fruit

“[The] women likewise must be worthy of respect and serious, not gossipers, but temperate and self-controlled, [thoroughly] trustworthy in all things. …” ~ 1 Timothy 3:11; Titus 1:8; 2:4, AMP.

Our ability to live with restraint of passions in the practice of self-control touches every area of life and greatly determines whether we are people of trustworthy character. I have heard it said that if we are out of control in our diet and health practices, it will translate to other areas of life as well. Chaos breeds the chaotic. Thus a focus on self-control will translate to breed peace and victory over chaos.

As I practice self-control in this area of life, I am seeing other areas in which to apply all that I am learning. Life as a whole is improving. And I am praising my God who leads me.

“For the grace of God (His unmerited favor and blessing) has come forward and appeared to us for the deliverance from sin and the eternal salvation for all mankind. It has trained us to reject and renounce all ungodliness and worldly-passion and desires, to live discreet, temperate, self-controlled, upright, devout, and spiritually whole lives in this present world, awaiting and looking for the fulfillment, the realization of our blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Christ Jesus” ~ Titus 2:11-13.

Living devout, spiritually whole lives in this life, what an awesome, godly goal to attain to, and as I readSpirit-fruit3 this passage, I realize that is the journey “self-control in the power of the Spirit” has me on. A devout, spiritually whole life begins with taking the step to live discreet, temperate, self-controlled lives of uprightness that grows out of the grace of God within, leading to a devout life of spiritual wholeness. As I consider living a life of love coupled with self-control, all powered and equipped by the Spirit of God, I can see how that practice of loving self-control and temperance holds in place joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness, to make one whole as a spiritual being in all areas of life.

Joy and peace come to the heart and mind of the person who, out of love for all concerned, is walking in self-control that protects from guilt, condemnation, and struggle. A self-controlled person, surrendered to God and persevering in faith, understands the need to practice patience on the journey; patience with self and patience in all things that would hinder our journey if we did not persevere with patience to overcome the struggle.

Those who are self-controlled by love’s work within are not easily led astray from acts of kindness and Spirit-fruit2goodness. Faithfulness to live lives of self-control that flows out of love produces a gentle soul who also possesses strength of character that is not always understood by those who are not on this journey as well. I realize this truth as I discover that there is not much that is able to shake my resolve as I give full focus to the Spirit-fruit of self-effort (my choosing to take needful action) empowered by the Spirit of God giving control to my fleshly soul that is beyond the natural means of mankind.

I continue to grow strong in maturity as I work toward being self-controlled in all things out of love for God, love for you, and a right love for self that chooses what is best for all I love, faithfully taking action in the power God supplies for doing so as a victor in Christ. And you are in my prayers as you, too, journey this way with me.