Tag Archives: Self-Control

Tactics of Persecution

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬-‭13‬, ‭19‬

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Prayer: 10/9/22

Let God’s Love Transform Lives

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

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

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

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

‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬‬‬

Morning Prayer: 9/13/22

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Prayer: 8/24/22

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭45:1-4‬ ‭‬‬

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

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

Overeating vs. Biblical Gluttony

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morning Prayer: 8/8/22

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

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

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

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

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

The Fear of The Lord

“The Lord favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭147:11‬ ‭‬‬

I read this and ask God, “Do I fear You as I should? What does fearing You mean?”

How would you define “fear of the Lord”? I don’t quake before Him. Hebrews says I can come boldly before the throne of grace. He is my Father. I enjoy His presence. There is not a quaking fear there.

I look around at things going on in the world and quake at the fate of all involved in it when God moves against it. Do I quake enough to reach out a warning hand ready to pull them out of their pit of destruction? Is my fear of the Lord the righteous fear He calls for, expects, and is worthy of receiving? A fear that acknowledges His worthiness, respects His authority, and recognizes His justice and His right as the true Supreme Justice?

Holy Spirit, You come teaching me of sin, righteousness, and judgement. Is the understanding of these truths and humility it brings that causes my heart to crumble before Him “the fear of the Lord”? If this is it, I am there.

Father, I acknowledge Your worthiness, respect Your authority, and recognize Your right and responsibility to delve out justice. I quake at the thought of an eternity without You, Your love, Your mercy, Your grace, Your presence. Father, I need You and I cry out for those wallowing in the pit of a world set against You.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner in need of Your merciful grace. Let this “fear of the Lord” cause me to recognize the difference between the path of sin, the path of righteousness, and the consequences that come with Your judgment. I bow to You, my Daddy-King Jehovah in the name of my Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, our Jehovah-Tsidkenu. Amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/16/22

Ephesians‬ ‭5:22-33‬ ‭‬‬

Father, thank You for my love relationship with Johnny. Thank You that he loves me in deep, abiding ways that satisfies my need. Help me, by Your grace, to respect him in ways that satisfy his needs. Help me…
R – Respond properly to him, Rejoice over his successes, and Recognize the good You’ve placed in him.
E – Edify that good, Encourage his strengths, and Exemplify him, following his lead and acting in tandem with him.
S – Set my heart to Satisfy his needs and desires as aligns with Your will and way, Satiate his needs above and beyond his expectations, Supplement him by being the helpmeet he needs as he needs help.
P – Set my heart to Protect his reputation by speaking highly of him, Promoting his good, and Proving him worthy of respect.
E – May I cooperate with You as You Establish him as a leader among men, Enhancing his strengths where I am able, working with You to Expand his borders of influence, and doing all I can to help Equip him for success.
C – Help my focus to Commune with him – listening fully with hearing ears and open heart, being careful to Communicate righteousness, truth, and love to him. May I practice Continence in my actions and reactions, adding strength to his own self-control and self-restraint, and lift my Countenance toward him in ways that lift his toward You.
T – make me faithful to Toast his successes and righteous effort, Tout his good, and be always available to help Tote his load, partnering with him throughout life.
In Jesus, amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/15/22

“…Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:25-27, 29-32‬ ‭‬‬

Speaking truth in righteousness and with love, rightly using my tongue as honors You, is a constant topic for me with You, Lord. You tell my heart that my tongue is the pen of the Ready Writer. I trust You to accomplish that in evident, undeniable ways, and that each word You send through this tongue will reach ready hearers.

You have helped me break the cycle of gossip so greatly. You have taught me to keep hurts to myself so that I don’t inadvertently hurt the reputation of someone I profess to love. You’ve blessed me with trustworthy prayer partners who hold me to account and who love on those we pray for despite my pain. They know as I do that there are three sides to every relationship issue: “my perception”, “their perception”, and truth usually somewhere between the two. They encourage understanding truth, seeking restoration, and trusting You who know the truth of the matter.

Thank You for praying, accountability partners and friends. Thank You for grace and forgiveness. Thank You for love that prevails, does right despite wrong, refuses to hold a grudge: love that never fails. Thank You for helping me grow and change. I love You. Amen.

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭20:19‬ ‭‬‬ ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭12:20‬ ‭‬‬

Encourage Righteousness

“… Then the disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭15:1-14‬ ‭NASB

I believe that Jesus loved the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day, enough-so that He refused to fear insulting them for their good and the good of those looking to their instruction. Our teaching, exemplary lives, and testimonies of faith matter to God the Father. To me, the greater insult and act of hate is to see a professing Christian bear a testimony that leads others away from God and say nothing for fear of offending them. Better for them to be offended by me, and me by them, than to face God after living offensively toward His Lordship, will, and way.

I also know that we are called to deal with our own issues first and to take care that our attempts to help another is not an act of hypocrisy. We are always to act out of sincere love and care, for the good of others and the glory of God. And I know that we do not always know and judge our own heart rightly. Sin is so deceptive, our own hearts so deceived, that we don’t often realize the sin we practice. Thus, encouraging and building one another up in love is vital when God the Father directs it.

Anytime I am led to encourage a loved one to rethink a position taken or word said, it makes me look at self and make adjustments too. Hope of encouraging righteous living in others, encourages and strengthens self first, as I apply the truths professed to my own life.

It is vital any word of encouragement to look at ones self and adjust direction be based on God’s judgment, standing in agreement with His Word of law, will, and way, and not one’s own ideology. Why should another be dictated by my personal sensitivities, or me, theirs. But all must bow to God’s will and way. Judgment must always be based on what God has already judged.

In these days of lawlessness and evil, self-reliance and personal offensiveness, it is vital that we help one another realize when we are walking in the ways of this world instead of on the paths of righteousness that honors God as God. So if you love me and care about my relationship with God and the testimony I bear, love me enough to encourage my righteousness, even though it may insult or offend me for a moment. If your viewpoint aligns with God’s, He will help me see that and change my ways. And I pray to love you enough to speak truth, according to God’s Word, to you in kind.

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:15-17‬ ‭NASB

To Each Generation

“Let the peace of Christ, to which you were indeed called in one body, rule in your hearts; and be thankful.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭NASB

My dad often told stories of the WWII coupons and sacrifices made for the war effort. I wonder if they felt like I sometimes do in these days of empty shelves and troubled happenings.

Reading other seasons of difficulty in history, I realize that to each generation seems to come a season of wondering if this is the end of life as we know it, or if this is the day the clouds will finally part and the long awaited Christ appear. The thing is that we don’t know – and we won’t know until this, too, is history. All we know is what is right now.

We can’t sit and worry about tomorrow or let fear rule. We have to look at what we can do in each day to be ready to face whatever tomorrow brings. Being grateful for what we do have; gratitude for skills we have, or can obtain and share that mean the difference to our ability to survive: this attitude of gratitude is vital for our sanity and hope.

Without hope, we perish. So look at what is in our now with a survival attitude that includes a focus on gratitude. Prepare for what may be, and cling to hope that when our now is history, we will have faced it with courage, wisdom, and strength to light the way for the days of challenge in the lives of those who read the history we are making.

The Righteous Way of Anger

Anger is not sin, it’s an emotion. God’s Word says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin….” (Eph. 4:26)

In our pictured Mark 3 passage, we are told that Jesus was angry because of the hardheartedness of the Pharisees he was dealing with. He was angry because they held of higher value the keeping of the tradition of doing nothing they counted as work on the Sabbath, above the need of the people around them. He was angry at the distortion of God’s law for personal gain by those lording it over those they were called to minister to as servants in His name.

In other accounts of this work of Christ, He chides them for willingly helping one of their farm animals in need, while ignoring the need of the people they were to serve. They were hypocrites about the type of good work done on the sabbath and would condemn others for doing what they, themselves did when it was important to them. They were good about requiring others to do what they would not do. Their hypocrisy, hardheartedness, and ungodly arrogance toward others made Jesus angry.

Two things from this passage point to what changes anger from godly, to ungodly (sinful). One is the why of our anger. Selfish, self-centered anger does not please God. The Pharisees were angry with Jesus because He usurped their authority, taking away their power and influence over the people. They were jealous. Selfish anger, anger based on getting ones own way in a situation, or one showing carelessness for the need or problems of others, makes that anger sinful.

The second thing is what we do with that anger. Jesus chose to do what was pleasing to God and set a godly example for those watching in making the care of others a priority. He did not let the opinion of the leaders of that day keep Him from doing the good set before Him. And He spoke truth to them.

The full Ephesians verse says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” (4:26-27) We are to do what is right, take care of the issue in a godly manner out of loving care for God and man, and take care of it quickly. When we let anger hang around, coursing through our heart and soul, the devil uses it to get a stronghold in our lives as bitterness takes hold, rising with hate close behind it.

And here’s another thing to note. Jesus did not concern Himself with the Pharisees’ attitude toward Him, whether they liked him or accepted his instruction. He spoke truth to all, desiring that truth to influence their lives for good. But what they did with it was their responsibility. He dealt with it, and left it in their lap. He didn’t cling to the anger or carry it to the next encounter.

We are to do the same: speak truth out of love, desiring to influence the ones dealt with in ways that lead them closer to godliness; do what is right in God’s eyes, despite what others think; then release the outcome to God, not letting anger take hold in destructive ways, but trusting God to deal with the hearts of all involved.

“… If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the WRATH OF GOD, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:9-21‬ ‭‬‬

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Respect. What is it? And what determines the giving of it?

According to The Free Dictionary: respect is a feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard; esteem. The state of being regarded with honor or esteem: a leader held in the greatest respect. Consideration or appreciation. Due regard for something considered important or authoritative: I.e., respect for the law.

My personal answer to both questions is “me”.

In my opinion and, prayerfully, in my personal life, respect is an attribute I must possess and practice. Respect, like love, is who I am and choose to be. It flows out of love, honor, and loyalty, first to God, then to self and others, and finally to the institutions of life: family, church, job, law, nation, etc.

With God in first place, respect is given out of love, honor, and loyalty to Him. He calls us to love Him out of one’s entire being as first, most vital relationship, and love others as self. Respect is first and foremost an act of love that honors God as Lord.

God tells us to honor our parents. He does not specify honoring parents who are worthy. We honor our parents, whether or not they are good at parenting, because God is our God. Honoring parents, honors Him as God. One way we do that as children of God is by living as honors Him in such a way that it makes our parents look good as parents. Honoring Him expresses honor for those He birthed us to. It can be hard, especially if the relationship is a bad one, but God, who requires it, equips us for it.

Loyalty to God spills over to respect self as the temple He chooses as residence. Loyalty to self chooses to BE as He is, through love, honor, and the loyal practice of all He places in us and calls us to. Desire to BE all He desires for me, and all He is making me to BE, requires me to be loyal to self in requiring the best in me. Out of loyalty to being who I am and desire to be, I give respect, at all times, to all people, including myself, in loving care as His temple.

We are called to respect parents, which includes grandparents, because God says to and we respect Him. We are called to respect governing officials, which includes law enforcement, because they are given charge by God to reward good, and punish evil. Respect honors a parent’s wishes through obedience as a love action toward God first. Respect obeys the laws of the land for the same reason. Respect obeys God above all: His laws and requirements take precedence over all others.

When we ignore a request or order given, or do a half hearted job of it, we disrespect God first, denying His Lordship; then we disrespect self, sullying our reputation as God’s representative; and lastly we disrespect the authority figure we dishonor through disobedience or halfhearted service.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T begins and ends with “me”, who I am, who I want to be. And it reflects my true relationship with God, in whose image I am called to live.

Father, as I think on these things and write these words, I can see areas of needed practice using my respect muscles. Make me better at living this necessary attribute. Empower the attribute of respect to flow from me out of love, honor, and loyalty to You as Lord in all my relationships. In Jesus, amen.

Red and Yellow, Black and White! Precious.

All the racist reports of late truly rial me. Stuff like the subject matter of this report causes me to ask who the true racist is? The one pointed at as being racist? Or the one pointing the finger? Top that with raising the blame card at any one race while ignoring each person’s responsibility, no matter the color is socially irresponsible, adding fuel to a fire that’s already out of control.

You know, I believe all any of us want is to be treated fairly, righteously, with respect, and equitably, as people of worth and value. Two examples from my younger years come to mind.

One involves a black man my daddy worked with. No disrespect intended in the use of the word “black”. It’s what we grew up calling one another, black and white; and I was raised to do so, not in disrespect, but as a distinguishing characteristic. We’re still called “white” today. Black, white, brown, red, etc, is fair and equitable.

Anyway, back to my dad’s friend and co-worker, Mr. Benny (given name, not sir-name) was a fellow mechanic in the same shop. He was such a nice, smart, and caring man, and daddy called him “friend”. He still gets credit today for helping my daddy quit smoking. He is a beloved man from our past.

He told daddy one day in some conversation they had, “Just call me niger. It’s what I am and have always been called. It doesn’t bother me.” Daddy balked, “I’ll call you a black man or a negro – which means black, but a niger is a worthless person; and, Benny, that’s not you.”

I am acquainted with numerous black people. Not one of those are a niger. But I know numerous white nigers that I will not run with. Worthless people can come in all colors. I was taught that being a worthless person is a choice we make in the way we live life and the person we want to be. Choose better.

The second memorable occasion happened when I was a young divorcée, working a night job at a local mini-mart. A nice looking black man came to the counter to pay out and struck up a conversation. He shortly asked me out. When I declined, he said, “What? Are you racist? Too good for me?” My facial expression was obviously shocked in a way that put a surprised expression on his face. I never thought such a thing. I replied strongly, “No. it’s just my choice to not mix. I’m simply not interested. Besides, I have a boyfriend and am not in the market.” He then looked pleasantly stunned at the straight forward honesty, and replied, “Well, ok. I can respect that.” That was that. No problem. No trouble when he came in. No trouble with others.

Today I am aunt to three, beautiful nieces, a nephew, and several great nieces and nephews that are black-white mix. They are beautiful people who add strength to our society. And they are greatly loved by my husband and me. I also have a granddaughter who is seriously dating a young black man. I haven’t met him personally yet, but I am told he is a Christian man of great worth, making a good life for himself, and for Savannah, if their relationship continues to flourish.

I am extremely upset with all the racist horror going on in our nation today. Those who are working with honest hearts of integrity to make a better world for our babies, I stand with you. But those using this situation for evil means and destruction, that is worthless behavior. And it’s not just blacks out there. I’ve seen a lot of whites in the mix as well. Racism and the rainbows of colors that could be deemed as a niger is a heart issue. Many pointing fingers reveal the truth of their own hearts. And programs that only serve to bring further separation and produce hate should be outlawed.

All on my friend lists, I know as people of worth. Knowing each makes me a better person by their influence. I am happy to work together for a stronger nation. Red and yellow, black and white, I love you!

True Forgiveness: an Agapé Love Action

“If you never forgive yourself how can you forgive others. Just a thought.” (Aleshia Beth Barnett)

“Forgiveness being a love action: how can we love others when we can’t love ourselves.” (My thought-reply in response)

Pictured is a post from a dear friend, daughter to one of my best friends, who struggles as I have. I know many who have struggled to love through forgiveness. Her statement took me immediately to what God has taught me that has delivered me so mightily, setting me free to love as He loves.

With her permission, stemming off her ponderings, I share with you this freedom that is yours in Christ. Only Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, can give this love to and through us.

Here’s my advice to those struggling to forgive self and others: Learn of God’s love. Not only so you can rest in Him and in His presence, free from the fear of eternal punishment, but because THAT is the love He places in us and causes to flow through us. So we should learn all we can to know His love and seek daily to grow strong His image of Love in us.

God’s Agapé Love is the only love strong enough to equip us to forgive our enemies and do good to them, as God desires; and His gift to us in the Spirit is the only love by which we can truly forgive self and those we love, the way we want and need to. To get there, ask the Lord to open your spiritual eyes, ears, mind, and heart to believe, receive, and possess this gift. Then work through the following passages. May God bless you, in the power of His love to and through you. By the living power of God in Jesus, The Christ. Amen

John 15:1-17 NASB

Abiding: God in Christ living through us by the power of the Spirit in us and us possessing Life in Him by the work of His Spirit in and through us, is vital.

Galatians 5:16-26 NASB

Bearing the fruit of God’s image, being as He is by surrender to the work of the Spirit in us, is vital.

1 John 4:7-21 NASB

Being Love, as He is Love in us, is vital.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NASB

Note the actions of love listed that require forgiveness. Understanding what Love looks and acts like is vital.

Luke 6:27-36 NASB

Being Love depends on who “I” am and what “I” desire to be, not on what others do to “me”. Committing to this truth and walking it even toward one called “enemy” is vital to our obedience in rightly portraying God’s image in us.

Romans 12:9-21 NASB

It is vital to realize that Love fulfills the Law, trusting God to be God toward us and those we love, even when they hurt, steal, kill, and seek to destroy us, being enemies to us. Love is first toward God, trusting His Love to do right in all that concerns us.

A little footnote here, for those who might wonder: Love should prevail even in war against those who, as an enemy, would force a fight. We do so, going to the fight out of love for those we fight to protect. And we do so, out of love for God as a people who stand for right as God sees it.

We fight against an enemy for righteousness sake. And we do so as guided by Love, not out of vengeance, hate, bitterness, and anger, but desiring righteousness and trusting God to handle the consequences to those who wish us harm, on whom our weapons of war fall.

Choosing to be love as He is Love, even in war, protects us from hate, bitterness, and anger, that harms self, by destroying God’s image of Love in us. Love: true, deep, abiding Love that forms our “who” to be as He Is, is vital for all occasions.

Great is Your Faithfulness

“The LORD ’ S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations‬ ‭3:22-23‬ ‭NASB‬‬)

As God is with us, so we are to be with our mates. Trust is vital to this BLESSed union.

Faithfulness begins with our thoughts toward each other. I have found with my husband that his every decision considers its effect on my life and future. He has long worked to set things up so that, if he goes Home to our Lord first, I am provided for and protected. I try to do the same for him.

Directing our thoughts to keep our mates in their rightful position in our lives and to establish and secure their futures is vital. It goes beyond keeping ourselves for them, alone. It considers their every need and our role in meeting it. This goes for you who are single, awaiting the revelation of your life partner from God. Your faithfulness to that mate starts now as you keep yourself for your future mate and do all you can to prepare a place and a future for that union.

Do an inventory of your faithfulness toward your mate, Love. Where do you need to adjust your thoughts and actions so as to increase faithfulness to them?

Life is Too Busy

My Sis made it over last evening for a weekend visit. We are so greatly enjoying seeing her.

It is awful in this age how we can live so close to people we love and seldom see each other. That is one of the saddest things about this era in time. One of my grandkids called last night to see if they could hand deliver a baby shower invitation. I started to say that we got the online one, but decided against it because I wanted the short, but too rare visit.

Life is too busy. I have children I haven’t talked to in months because of their too busy lives. I understand they are busy, but I miss them. It makes me sad.

When I was growing up, my daddy called his momma every Sunday at 1:00. You could set your clock by it. He had to work one Sunday and by 1:30, Grandma called to be sure we were all ok.

When our kids were growing up, we lived close to both sets of parents. I still made sure to see and / or call each of them weekly. Seldom did we go two weeks without some sort of contact with them. That was not the same as when we called my Grandma as a kid and everyone took turns talking with her. Our check in was so commonplace and subtle, I’m sure our kids didn’t even realize we did it.

My kids lives are so busy, I feel like I am an intrusion if I call them. I text one daughter and ask her to call when she has opportunity, and it is never an opportune time. She’ll text when something is going on and say she will call “as soon as…”. “As soon as” doesn’t come. I’m sure she also has the same problem I have.

Me? What’s my excuse? My brain is funky. I’ll think of calling someone at a time when I can’t call, like at 12:30 at night as I’m climbing into bed or when I’m in the middle of cooking a meal. Then when it is a convenient time, 🧠zzzzz: brain-Zs. Our other daughter has the same issue, so there’s that one. I’ve tried setting an alarm, but seems every time it goes off is at one of those inconvenient times when I cannot stop what I’m doing. So the alarm gets hurriedly shut off with note-to-self to remember to call as soon as I finish what I’m doing. 🧠zzzzz

When our son is living and working nearby, we see him pretty frequently. That is the case for now. Eventually work will carry him off again and, with his work hours, we will be missing him too. For now, I am enjoying his presence and grateful to God for it.

Did I say that life is too busy? 😢 Make time to call those you love while you can, before you really can’t and it becomes a regret. This is speaking to me, too. 😢

For Joy, Endure

Written by me on April 3, 2017.

“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 12:1-2, NASB.

Reading this passage, the fact the Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” grabs my attention, as it has grabbed me many times before. Jesus took up a cross that truly belongs to such a wretch as I, for the joy it would lead to. As I read this today, three questions come to heart for me to ponder:

1. What “joys” might have been on the heart of Jesus as He took up that cross?

2. What life challenge or sin that so easily entangles am I in that requires me to take a stand of endurance against it?

3. What joys lie before me that, fixing my eyes on them, will strengthen my endurance?

In this passage alone, I see hint of several things that may form some of the joys Jesus looked to.

1. Joy in the cloud of witnesses that would come forth because of His endurance.

2. Joy in the victory His endurance would produce in us as we overcome the cumbersome trouble this life too often holds.

3. Joy in the deliverance from sin His endurance would provide us.

4. Joy in the endurance we would possess as we set our eyes on His example to us.

5. Joy in the relationship with each of us that would come to Him and the Father because of His endurance.

6. Joy in the gift of grace available to us because He despised the shame and bore the cross in our place.

7. Joy in the fulfilling of the Father’s purpose, leading to His privileged position at God’s side.

There is much more we can add to this list of joys that had the focus of Jesus, strengthening His endurance. I don’t know about you, but there are many troubling situations and temptations to sin that I need this walk of endurance for, if I am to overcome and press through them in fulfilling God’s purpose and accomplishing His desire for me. Today, following Christ’s example, I set my sights on the joy before me that will strengthen my endurance, to the glory of His Name and the fulfilling of His purpose.

Assignment: Reading through Proverbs this month, I turn to chapter 3 and find there the call to persevere in several areas, followed by promised joy for successful endurance. Read Proverbs 3 and note there the call to stand firm. What “joy” do you see as a focus to aid endurance in the successful practice for each area of instruction? Now do this with your own life: List areas where your endurance is challenged. Next, list benefits of endurance that you can look forward to attaining as the joy set before you.

Greater Love Requires Humility: A Quick Study

The best devotionals: The Word of God, coupled with comprehensive understanding of the words read. And the best, most needful Bible study aids are a Bible concordance, a dictionary of Bible words and one for the language being read. Your notes would look something like this.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3 NASB)

Selfishness – (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. “I joined them for selfish reasons” Synonyms: egocentric, egotistic, egotistical, egomaniacal, self-centered, self-regarding, self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-seeking, self-serving, wrapped up in oneself, inward-looking, introverted, self-loving; inconsiderate, thoughtless, unthinking, uncaring, heedless, unmindful, and More.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails….” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 NASB)

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. ….” (John 15:13-14 NASB)

Conceit – excessive pride in oneself. “he was puffed up with conceit” Synonyms: vanity, narcissism, conceitedness, self-love, self-admiration, self-adulation, self-regard, egotism, egoism, egocentricity, egomania; and More.

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3 NASB)

“Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. …. So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life….” (Philippians 2:1-18 NASB)

Love from the Heart

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart….” (1 Peter 1:22-25 NASB)

God’s Word to us instructs us to love each other from the heart, but what does that mean?

“Heart” in scripture most often refers to the core of our being: from all that makes us who we are as individuals. This core being is made up of our mind or thoughts, our will, and our emotions.

Loving from the heart of our mind means to possess right, true, and loving thoughts toward others.

In the love chapter, we are instructed that kindness is a love virtue. All actions begin in our thinking, toward God, ourselves, and others. Doing kindness begins with our thoughts toward each: God, self, and others. Patience, jealousy, bragging, arrogance, actions unbecoming to a Christ follower: all these and more in the outline of love actions are effected positively or negatively by our thoughts. So love begins with our minds, and requires our fervent practice of taking every thought captive in the obedience of Christ, following His example in the practice of love.

Love begins in our minds because true, Agape love, which is the “love” word used here, is a function of our wills. Will flows out of what we think and believe true, right, and good, which is dictated by who we are, our defining characteristics. As Christ followers, we are people of The Word, and we will seek wisdom from that Word in directing our wills.

God loves by choice, because He is Love, and He cannot deny Himself. His love is not led astray by wayward thought processes, nor does He willfully go against who He is. Everything He thinks, says, and does flows true to His character, being dictated by who He is, the main part of His nature being love. When He slew whole groups of people, it was not dictated by hate of those destroyed, but by love that desired to protect those adversely affected by some form of hate or rebellion in the ones slain.

Love is not self-centered, selfish, but God and others centered. It is considerate of those we love in all we choose. It does what most represents God in accomplishing His will out of love for Him. And it considers what is most beneficial and caring toward those within our sphere of responsibility. By choice of our will, we do all out of love, becoming love as God is love, and staying true to who we are in Christ: the image of God.

Though love is a choice of our wills as dictated by right and true thoughts within us, it is not devoid of emotion. Emotions are. Though we should not allow emotion to dictate, devoid of thought coupled with wisdom of will, emotions help our expression of thought or opinion when aided by right thoughts and wisdom bred will.

When my husband looks at me with love’s passion shining in his eyes, I see the depth and sincerity of his love for me. When a controlled outburst of anger rises up to get my attention, I recognize the need to take heed to the importance of the issue expressed by the one angered. Emotion aids expression when controlled by love and wisdom. But be forewarned about being dictated by unchecked emotion.

When emotions rise, it’s important to acknowledge the flare, weighing it on the scales of loving wisdom, and taking it captive to righteousness. Passion unchecked and without love’s focus can lead to adultery. Fear unchecked and without love’s focus is destructive to faith, able to drag us off in opposition to God and His ways. Fear breeds hate, as it is ill equipped to think righteously or choose what is best out of love for God, self, and others.

Note the order given as seen in throughout scripture: mind, will, emotions. Without right thinking, our wills will lead us astray. Devoid of will’s directive, emotions make us fickle.

Love seeks out right and true thoughts. Love takes action deliberately, with clarity of will, as righteousness and wisdom become clear. Love uses right thought and clarity of will to temper emotion as a vital communication and motivation tool. Thus, we knowingly, deliberately, and fervently love from the heart in likeness to our God, who IS love.

Scriptures referenced: 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Corinthians 10:1-6.

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