Tag Archives: Spirit-fruit

Stolen Profit

“Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, and for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMPC

Most of us have times of struggle to be in the Word of God, to even read it comprehensively, much less to have any depth of personal study in it. Why is that?

Scripture tells us that the Word of God is profitable to us. God’s word is the seed of God’s Kingdom, sent to establish us as His people (Luke 8:4-15). God’s Word is a mirror, helping us to look more like our Father (2 Corinthians 3:18, AMPC). God’s word is a sword, useful for defeating enemy assaults, and faithfully used by God in separating old man mentality and fleshly desire from the eternal purpose of making us the new creation we are in Christ (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12-13). And, as Paul tells us in 2 Timothy, God’s Word has purpose for us, instructing in the ways and will of God, convicting of sin, correcting error, disciplining us in obedience, and for training in righteousness (in holy living; in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action).

All of this has the purpose of making us complete and proficient, being adequately equipped for the good work that God planned for us to accomplish. So, yes, our flesh, the world’s demands, and demonic influence (all being the false wisdoms of this life) is going to fight against our time in God’s Word. God’s enemy, Satan, does not want this profit produced in us. He does not want to admit his defeat.

Scripture is vital food for fruitful lives God can use. Think for a minute, asking the Father for inspired insight. What most often hinders you having time every day in God’s Word? Is there something you can do to thwart that enemy assault on your God given treasure?

Even a few minutes to grasp a portion of scripture to carry with you throughout your day, meditating on it, digesting every morsel of nourishment from it, will be life changing: increasing profit for the need of your life. Refuse to let the enemies of godly wisdom to steal one more seed of profit from you (James 3:13-18).

Forward Goes the Row

God showed me long ago the dangers of looking back, but it is probably one of my biggest battle grounds in this season. In plowing, looking back often leads to crooked rows. We are charged to walk the straight and narrow. It requires focus on our here and now steps into the opportunities of the day.

I think we all know that it is dangerous to look back to days of sin and failure, letting guilt and shame for our past grab hold to stop, hinder, and deaden us. Through life experience, I have learned that the most dangerous thing to do is look back to when things seemed better, easier, more vital. We invite discouragement, dissatisfaction, discontent, when we fail to be where we are, giving attention to the challenges and opportunities in front of us. We miss out on better, easier, and more vital before us when longing for what used to be. Our ability to appreciate what we have is easily dammed up by yesteryear’s bygone-victories.

Keeping focus on next step challenges seems especially difficult in seasons of life when health issues and discerning the path of retirement are the tasks before us. Discerning the significance of daily care of a mate or child can be hard to appreciate. Seeing the path of retirement as vital to eternity is challenging, especially in light of debilitating health issues. The same is true in the slumps of daily life and changing paths of younger years. The subject is ageless and timeless.

The thing I see, as my husband and I go through this time of life, is that others are watching how we face the life challenges that come to each day. They look at our faith and trust in God and His Word. They watch our peace and contentment barometers.

Our biggest prayer right now is that we will maintain stable and loving relationship with each other now that we will be together more. We’ve seen couples in this season get on each other’s nerves and become soil for constant bickering, gripping, and complaining. We have never been that way before, and we don’t want to be that now. So we cry out to the One who makes us one.

Beloved, people watch us as we go through life. Even when we are not in ministry, our way of life, our doing and being, impact those watching. We are of a Holy Priesthood, charged to represent Christ as priests unto God. What is it Jesus said?

“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:40 NASB)

The way we treat one another is important. It is our greatest ministry to God, when we care for one another. Even the smallest graces have huge rewards potential that may not be evident until we stand before our God and King. The things we deem great in ministry likely count for nothing if we fail to minister grace, love, and light to those with us.

The older I get, the more I believe that this is true because we are one in Christ. When we fail to set a godly example in our care for each other, we break unity and look more like the worldly, rather than the godly.

Beloved, keep eyes forward, on the row ahead, making it straight and ready for a harvest, fed and watered by faithfulness to God and each other. Learn from the past and bear the fruit of it into the present, but don’t let what was dictate what is to come.

The way we are in each mundane day makes a difference in the fruit born out of it. It requires focus on where we are and where our next action step falls. It requires us to keep our hands on the plow, pushing forward to the end of the straight and narrow row. And it requires us to remember that our attitudes and care for others top the charts of importance where successful ministry to God is concerned.

These late years for us are not a time to slow down, but a time to lean in on the plow. It’s the smallest of kindnesses that can reap the greatest harvest. Our work has only just begun.

Transformed Ideals

“Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” (Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭AMPC‬‬)

Be transformed – changed forever by surrender to God, who works to renew our minds, bringing into us the new ideals and new attitudes that line up with His. We become one with Him, being like Him, as we surrender to His transforming work in us.

Note the wording used here. It doesn’t say that He gives us new ideas, though He can and does do that. The word used is “ideals”.

An idea is a thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action. An ideal is satisfying one’s conception of what is perfect; most suitable. God changes our understanding of good, right, true, and the perfected best as our understanding of the ideal adjusts to meet up with His.

When our way of thinking lines up with God’s IDEAL, our IDEAS will flow from that understanding of what is perfect and most suitable. Our choices and decisions will be directed by the IDEAL He births within us. The more we seek to understand and line up with God’s IDEAL, the more of His character, nature, and image we will possess and live out into the world around us.

Seek God for His IDEAL today, and see your attitudes, actions, and reactions lifted to the greater heights of God’s glory and grace.

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.

Empowered for Radiance

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3 NLT – https://www.bible.com/116/heb.1.3.nlt)

Jesus, still today, from His throne in Glory and His seat in the soul of every Christ follower, lives and breathes to radiate God’s own glory and express the very character / nature of God Almighty, the Father and creator of all. Jesus sets the example for all the children of God to follow. We too are the image of God’s glory on earth, tasked to live and breathe His character for all to see and know Him.

Now, after providing for our cleansing for all eternity, Jesus is seated in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. The right hand of God is the position of imparted power and authority. Jesus has full right as King of glory to rule on God’s behalf and see to the completion of all things as God wills. Part of that includes enduing the children of God to take up the work of Christ on earth. We now bear the responsibility to radiate God’s own glory and express the very character of God, in the name and authority of Christ.

Scripture even tells us that, in Christ, we are seated with Him in the heavenlies. As the body of Christ, we are at the right hand of the Father with Him (Ephesians 2:6). Therefore, we are given authority in Christ, and that authority empowers us in likeness to Him so we may radiate God’s own glory and express the very character of God, in the name and authority of Christ. By His Power from the Father, Jesus sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. In Christ, we go forth to complete what is lacking. As His lights, drawing many to Him, we prosper His Kingdom in His authority.

“Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing….” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NASB)

Ephesians 2:4-10 NASB

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NASB

Galatians 3:26-27 NASB

Colossians 2:9-23 AMPC

Truth in Action

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (1 John 3:18 NLT)

Let us not merely say we love, but show the truth of it in action. This call to visual proof of the truth of our claim to an attribute of godliness can be applied to so many other words.

Let us show the truth by our actions.

We don’t have to tell people we love them, we care for them, we honor and respect them when they see it in the actions we take toward them. We don’t have to tell others how faithful we are, how big on integrity, how trustworthy the truth of our words, when our actions reveal it to be our true nature.

Actions do speak, and they speak loudly. Words without visible proof speak louder still. Let us decide who we are as the people of God and prove the truth of it in action.

“We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him” (1 John 3:19 NASB)

The “Then” Keys

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’” (Isaiah 58:8-9 NKJV)

I love Isaiah 58. It is one of my favorite passages of scripture, filled with promises from God and instruction to us for a sincere heart of fasting before the Lord.

In verses 1-7 begins instruction on the fast, which expresses the “Then Key” to obtaining the Promises. It expresses the fast God has chosen, which in short is to die to self; laying down one’s own life for others; counting the lowest, most destitute above self; taking up our cross of self-denial to follow Jesus.

And what are the promises we can unlock and possess with these keys?

Then keys unlock:

🗝 your light which breaks forth like the morning.

🗝 your healing, springing forth speedily.

🗝 your Righteousness, going before you;

🗝 The glory of the LORD as your rear guard.

🗝 you shall call, and the LORD will answer;

🗝 you shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’

The chapter is full of keys of selfless fasting that gains the keys to unlock the BLESSings of abundant life. Read it often. Practice it with every breath. And watch in scripture for other Kingdom keys.

Directed by Bit and Bridle

“For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.” (James 3:2-3 NASB)

We looked last post at the coal of fire used to cleanse the whole of Isaiah’s person by the cleansing of his lips; at how control of the tongue prevents sin. Then James points out how a horse is controlled by the bit and a bridle. That begs the question of what we can learn from the purpose and function of a bit and bridle.

This piece is the bit.

Looking at it in position on an animal, we see the bit lies over the tongue.

Researching the purpose of the bit, one thing jumps out to speak to me. The main purpose I found for the bit is to allow the rider to communicate with the horse. With training, the bit equips the horse to know the direction the rider wants to go, as well as how fast or slow to travel and when and where to stop. The amount of pressure used increases to get an unruly animal in check, and lessens to reward cooperative obedience.

As noted, the bit lies over the tongue. With regard to our relationship with God, this speaks to me of the importance of keeping the mouth still so the ears can hear and the senses can comprehend. One of the best definitions of this quiet alertness to God is Psalm 46:10.

“Cease striving, be still (quiet), stop fighting, let be and know that I am God” (KJV, NASB, AMPC, early translations of TLB, GNB)

Our listening ears have to focus. Rattling our mouths will hinder hearing with discernment. So we literally need to quiet our mouths and perk up our ears. As God’s people, we are to listen fully. In ministry to others, we are to listen to the person in front of us, listening both to their issues and listening to discern if God just placed an assignment before us. Any speaking should be to aid comprehension of the person’s true need until understanding comes and wisdom from God rises.

So, we need literally to quiet our mouths and open our ears: first to perceive God and His will, purpose, plan; and then to hear, perceive, understand those around us and their needs.

But there’s another way our “tongues” must be still. We talk without a word. We let our minds wander. Our emotional state toward the person or situation before us can lead to fuming, griping, complaining, fidgeting, feeling put upon, upset over an intrusion, excited for some opportunity, or a sundry of other thoughts, emotions, and desires that hinder ability to hear God or people. To hear we must cease striving against the situation, get our body and emotions still, quiet our thoughts, know God may be in the situation, and let Him be God in His leading and using us.

The reins connect to the bit rings, via a bridle: headgear that connects all together and aids to control the head, and thus, the whole body of the animal. Tugging left or right, pulling back or leaning forward let’s the horse know the direction, speed, and stopping place. Some animals are easily distracted or startled by things on the sidelines, so blinders are used to aid their focus. All of this aids both communication and control of the animal.

But here’s the thing we most need to know about James’ analogy:

“Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.” (Psalms 32:9 NKJV)

When love and trust connect a horse and rider, the horse wants to be with and please the rider. With such a relationship, the rider can ride and communicate without bit and bridle, and the horse obey willingly and immediately. They trust each other and work together well as partners.

This is the relationship God wants with us, Beloved. He wants us to recognize and know when He is directing us and communicating His desires to us. It requires a trust that comes out of a love relationship.

When I first started really seeking God to understand His communication with me on a personal level, I first had to choose and commit myself to trust Him. I chose to first trust that He would distinguish Himself to me and protect me from the trickery of the “stranger”. I had to trust Him to give me comprehensive understanding of His “voice”, His way of speaking to my understanding. Not that I hear an actual voice, but understanding of His will and direction in a situation comes so clearly that I can say with surety, “God says to me, ‘This is the way. Walk ye in it’”

God has purposes for life that is common to all His people. But He also has a purpose and plan for each of us that is ours to discover and walk out faithfully as His servant ambassador to the world.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NKJV)

Wherever we are, God has us there for His purposes. We are to do our work as for Him, living our lives as represents Him. Some have a call to special service as ministers of God’s choosing. To fulfill that purpose we must grow to discern His lead and cooperate with His directives as He leads us to that place.

Then there are those like me, called to write (or speak) His Word of encouragement, making it clear. Without trust in God to put His Word in our hearts and minds and empower our communication, well, we better put our pen down, for a word given without faith that we truly received it from God is sin.

Beloved, how are you doing at following the will of God for us all expressed through the teachings of scripture? Does God have to force His will with His spiritual bit and bridle? He cannot entrust us with His greater calling for our lives, if we can’t obey His directives required of all who say they are His people.

What is your calling and equipping from God? Does your love for and trust in Him empower discernment of His true leading? Do you obey despite any fear of the opinion and rejection of humankind? Stubborn faith to trust Him fully is revealed through obedience productive of the fruit of righteousness. If it is Him directing your path, it will come to the fruition of His will for you.

“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.” (Psalms 37:3-5 NASB)

Meager Wages

“For sin’s meager wages is death, but God’s lavish gift is life eternal, found in your union with our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Romans 6:23 TPT)

God, through Jesus Christ, delivers us from sin’s wage of eternal separation from The Father.

Scripture tells us that all will stand before Him on the day of judgment, when sentencing is passed and all will go into their eternal reward, whether Life or death. I believe that all, goat and sheep alike, will fully know, in that instant before His throne, all the glory and love of His essence. All entering Life with Him will know the full joy of their reward. All cast into eternal death will fully comprehend the loss of everything they ever truly desired. The major flame of hell’s fires will be the burning desire to know that Presence one more time, with the sure knowledge that it is lost to them forever.

That said, as I read this passage this morning, my thoughts go to other wages of sin we receive in this life. Many who profess Christ live like whatever they do in this life is ok, seeing themselves covered by fire insurance. That is all Christ is to those with this frame of mind. Walking in relationship with Him to become like Him, bearing the image of the Father, is beyond the scope of their desire. No change that points to relationship with God through Christ is evident in them. These, I believe, are in for a rude awakening on that day.

Then there is the daily bad choices we all tend to fall into, though our focus is on following Christ in all things and our nature is obviously being transformed from glory to glory in the power of His Spirit. My thought today runs to these sins where, knowingly or not, we run headlong into the desire of our flesh, without thought of the consequences.

Consequences are wages. For good done, consequences generally produce a good wage, and that good wage will find us in glory as the gold, silver, and precious stones of our testing.

For evil we choose, consequences produce the wages of sin. These wages produce separation from God as we walk away from Him and His path for us. We may go a long while before realizing that we left His side. Repentance regains our position beside Him and is met by His leading us to get back on course.

Sin’s evil can also produce separation of relationships we value: some forever ruined, others temporarily put on hold. They produce wages such as teenage pregnancy that can throw our desired destiny off course, loss of a job, health issues, broken fellowship, etc. The list is long and unending.

Sin has a wage it gives, but it’s wages steal, they do not prosper. They always take more than they give, though we may not recognize it at the time.

God’s Grace can come in, turning our sorrow into laughter. I.e., the teenage pregnancy that robs of a destiny, but produces a child to love, find joy in, and raise as an arrow in God’s arsenal. God’s Grace toward us can restore what was stolen. But there is always a wage for sin.

Learning to stop and count the cost is a valuable habit to develop. But for our cost counting to produce a wise choice, we must value our relationship with God above all else.

God values relationship with us, thus His mercy and grace moves in to cover when we forget our love for Him and choose the lesser as more valuable. But what a waste to turn from Him as our first love, our first, most vital need and necessity to partake of the wages of sin that give little, truly only robbing of the Life of abundance that God desires for us.

Father, empower us with wisdom to count the cost of sin and choose protected relationship with You. Thank You for grace sufficient and mercy that comes to repentance, and for the covering of Christ that sets free indeed. We pray, also, for those who do not know Jesus to come into vital relationship with Him. In Christ, amen.

“So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.” (Romans 8:1 TPT)

(Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 NASB)

A Call to Firm Commitment:

With Insight on the Mark of 666

“From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” (John 6:66 NKJV – https://www.bible.com/114/jhn.6.66.nkjv)

As I read the following devotional, the address of our focal scripture caught my attention. The question hit my understanding, “Could this define the mark of Satan’s 666?”

I’m not a, what are they called, numerologist, but could the number on this address be a God thing? These chapter and verse numbers weren’t in the original writings. They were added to the scriptures later, when people preparing our text worked to make them available to all. It is to aid study and memorization.

I believe God guided the compilation and functionality of our scriptures. And, because of that question rising up as it did, I find it telling, this 666 address that points to people’s refusal to walk with Jesus.

Take this thought for what it’s worth. May the reading of Pastor Chambers devo firm up our commitment.

Are You Going on with Jesus?

Oswald Chambers

My Utmost for His Highest

Holy Bible App

“It is true that Jesus Christ is with us through our temptations, but are we going on with Him through His temptations? Many of us turn back from going on with Jesus from the very moment we have an experience of what He can do. Watch when God changes your circumstances to see whether you are going on with Jesus, or siding with the world, the flesh, and the devil. We wear His name, but are we going on with Him? “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:66).

“The temptations of Jesus continued throughout His earthly life, and they will continue throughout the life of the Son of God in us. Are we going on with Jesus in the life we are living right now?

“We have the idea that we ought to shield ourselves from some of the things God brings around us. May it never be! It is God who engineers our circumstances, and whatever they may be we must see that we face them while continually abiding with Him in His temptations. They are His temptations, not temptations to us, but temptations to the life of the Son of God in us. Jesus Christ’s honor is at stake in our bodily lives. Are we remaining faithful to the Son of God in everything that attacks His life in us?

“Are you going on with Jesus? The way goes through Gethsemane, through the city gate, and on “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13). The way is lonely and goes on until there is no longer even a trace of a footprint to follow—but only the voice saying, “Follow Me” (Matthew 4:19).”

The High Calling of Heroic Servitude

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you.” John 15:13-14 NASB

“Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said to the Lord, “I will lay down my life for Your sake,” and he meant it (John 13:37). He had a magnificent sense of the heroic. For us to be incapable of making this same statement Peter made would be a bad thing—our sense of duty is only fully realized through our sense of heroism. Has the Lord ever asked you, “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” (John 13:38). It is much easier to die than to lay down your life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling of God.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest)

To lay down my life as friend of Christ: my heart thrills at thought of such commitment, faithfully lived. To truly accomplish such a desire, I must lay down my will and way so as to walk in obedience to His will and way. I must trust Him, His leading, His Presence, His provision.

It takes a heroic Spirit to trust the lead of God, pressing past fleshly fear and one’s own desires and ideas of what’s best, to accomplish that which for fleshly, limited minds, is the unthought of, unimaginable, heights of God’s glory.

Who would have thought of the promised Kingdom of God rising up from the death of its King? And who, looking for that Kingdom to line up with their limited brains understanding, would lay down their life to walk that King to His death, feeling they might die with Him and the Kingdom be lost. Only those possessing a heroic Spirit.

Though we are on the side of more complete revelation and able to see more clearly than the disciples who saw the face of Christ, I wonder how many of us are dictated by fear rather than faith to lay self down as friend to the King and, trusting Him fully, to follow His lead dutifully, even to end of days. Following Jesus today still requires a heroic Spirit, and God has made provision for that need.

A hero is not someone who doesn’t know fear. A hero is one who does the needed right despite fear. He (or she) stands in the strength of God’s supply, laying fear at His feet, and does the needed righteousness out of faith’s commitment and trust. The better we get at heroically refusing to let our fears quench God’s Spirit in us, the more we will experience the fulfillment of His high calling in life.

Father, grant us to trust You enough to obey Your lead even when Your will and way makes no sense to our finite brains. Grant us courage to embrace Your directives, and, in the power of Your Spirit, to walk boldly into the glory of Your high calling. In service to The King, Amen.

Residing as Aliens

“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.” (1 Peter 1:1-2 NASB)

Peter addresses his audience as alien residents. These He addresses are physical aliens, scattered across foreign lands, away from their God-given homelands. But I believe he is also addressing them as Kingdom people, living as aliens in this world.

That being true, this letter is for us as well. We, too, are a peculiar people: being in the world, but not of it. We are strategically place in the earth, according to the foreknowledge of God, positioned for a work planned for each individual of us, prepared by Him before we were borne.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB)

We “are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood.”

The sprinkled blood both cleanses from sin and sets apart for special service, set apart and sanctified to God for His purposes: Chosen, for a sanctifying work of the Spirit. The Spirit of God in us is tasked with the work of sanctifying us to God, setting us apart to Him. This sanctification reveals itself as we grow in obedience in two ways: obedience that follows the dictates of Christ, who is The Word of God incarnate. An obedience that not only recognizes the authority of the Father behind the teachings of Jesus, but that recognizes Jesus as the example we are to follow in our acts of obedience. We obey best when we obey in the obedience OF Christ. Obedience done as Jesus would obey, in keeping with the image of God seen in Him, is our weapon of warfare.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NASB)

Learning to think as Christ thinks and take action in agreement with Him, chasing hard after God’s will and way, doing all as glorifies and honors the Father. This is the obedience of a sanctified life, proving the successful work of God’s Spirit in us, making us obvious aliens in this world, clearly defining us as Kingdom dwellers.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 NASB)

Gifts That Last

“I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you…!”” (Acts 3:6 NASB – http://bible.com/100/act.3.6.nasb)

We don’t have to go into debt to give the perfect gift. Peter and John gave the gift of healing. My sweet husband gives me joy and laughter, love and encouragement everyday: like today, as He dawns my homemade, glove potholder like a hat. 😂🤪😂

There are two things mentioned in our Acts verse that is important to gift giving:

First give what you have.

Doing such huge gifts that it puts us in debt for a year is not necessary. It can cause stress that tears at the core of relationships. And it can rob of time with those we love as we work overtime to clear the debt in time for next Christmas.

Most of all, high dollar giving feeds cravings for this world’s goods and hinders growth in the importance of contentment with what we have. Thoughtful, loving, gift giving within budget, given out of love and care, will carry greater value in the long run, breeding a contentment that keeps us free from stress, debt, and greed.

Second, gifting in the name of Jesus, as represents Him, His ways, His love, carries eternal worth into the giving.

The greatest gift I received this year was the gift of three weekends from my granddaughter. She came to help me and be with me. That is priceless. She and her sister gave the gift of taking responsibility for the Thanksgiving meal, freeing me of stress and blessing with rest, love, and joy. My heart flutters still.

The top gifts in life: debt free, joy-filled, love. It ministers to hearts, heals, strengthens, forms strong bonds, and makes long lasting memories that uplift and encourage for ages to come.

Happy gift giving! Merry Christmas!

Finding Who We Are: Part 11

People of Conviction

“For still a little while (a very little while), and the Coming One will come and He will not delay. But the just shall live by faith – My righteous servant shall live by his CONVICTION…” (Hebrews 10:37-39 AMPC)

Beloved, as God’s righteous servants, we are God’s People of Conviction.

People of conviction are fixed: strong in their belief, not easily swayed from the course of following and growing strong in Him. These have received God and His Word as full truth and are convinced by Him that all He is and says is true. There is no turning us from our course, for our full trust is in Him. We believe! We are oak trees, having roots set deep and ever growing in the soil of God’s Kingdom, constantly refreshed by His River of Living Water. Having set our minds, we keep them set on the things above where God resides; the higher things (Colossians 3:1-4 AMPC).

Our Hebrews 10 focal passage goes on to say that, as people of conviction, we respect “man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it.” Many passages of scripture make it clear that we human Christians are in a state of constant growth. As long as we live in this world, our experiences will work maturity in us, helping us to know God better and come into stronger conviction of faith.

Romans 14 warns us to not put one another down for the faith we have, siting the faith for or against the eating of food sacrificed to idols. Respecting each other’s faith in truth, we are to be considerate of one another’s sensibilities, not condemning each the other’s degree of faith.

Faith begins as a mustard seed. It takes time to grow into a mighty, fruit bearing tree. One may be strong and mighty in an area where I am weak and frail; but I will likely have great faith in something they are just coming into. Realizing we are all at different levels of faith according to our level of maturity in Christ, we are tasked to accept each other without condemnation or becoming a cause for stumbling.

“The faith (based on truth) which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and whatever is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14:22-23 NASB (thought added by author)

As I consider our being people of conviction, living the faith we possess, looking at it in context with the chapter it resides in, I note an exciting truth we can possess with sure conviction. The thing that jumps out at me from Hebrews 10, verses 1-2, sets my heart aflame. What freedom will be ours who hold to this sure conviction.

“For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, CAN NEVER, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, MAKE PERFECT those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having once been cleansed, WOULD NO LONGER HAVE had CONSCIOUSNESS OF SINS?” (Hebrews 10:1-2 NASB)

Did you see it? IF the previous sacrifices fully cleansed, they would have no consciousness of sin.

Beloved, Jesus fully cleanses. (SELAH!!! Pause…and calmly think about that.)

This does not mean freedom to sin, but freedom FROM SIN and the ultimate consequence of death (eternal separation from God). When we sin, we have a sure place in Christ for forgiveness and cleansing that frees from condemnation. No sin can ever again get a deadly hold on us because Jesus paid the full price of all – ALL – sin. We who receive, believe, and cleve to Him can never be lost from Him again. So, though we sin, we can run to our loving Father who will wash our holy feet so we shine in Christ again. This conviction is ours to possess. Praise the Lord!

Beloved, if you are truly in Christ, having received by faith this precious gift of Mercy’s grace, that guilt trip the enemy of righteousness keeps goading in your mind’s eye is destroyed by a sure conviction of God’s powerful grace. Lean yourself fully on Him through trusting repentance that sets free from condemnation. Grow strong in Your sure understanding of God and His ways, being fertile soil for faith-filled fruit bearing. In this way we live a life of conviction, with a freedom that draws the longing desires of those in need of what we possess.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B2

Holy Place, Part 2 – The Lampstand

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“You shall set the table outside the veil (covering the Holy of Holies), and the lampstand opposite the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south; and you shall put the table on the north side.” (Exodus 26:35)

The lampstand of God’s Temple is located in the Holy Place, deeper in the Presence of God. Remember, the outer court is holy ground. It belongs to God and He is there. The outer court is where ministry to others happens. But only the priests are allowed into the Holy Place. As we will cover, the Holy Place is where intimate relationship with God happens.

We are His Light to the world, so in one sense, we are His lamp. But we are also His Temple. Within us as His Temple, we find a place in us that is the Holy Place. As we look at this reality, I discern with increasing clarity that the Holy Place in us is where we commune with God. And in that place is His lampstand that illumines our lives before Him.

God’s Lamp sheds light that illumines our personal darkness first, helping us to come more and more into His Light, where we receive ever increasing fullness of His Spirit, Who lights us up as His Light to this world. It happens in the Holy Place of God’s Presence. Let’s take a look at that earthly tabernacle to discern what the Holy Place looks like in us.

The tent of meeting and God’s Holy Temple built by Solomon was positioned to face East, facing the direction of the coming King. They didn’t know who their coming King was, and, in many cases, they still don’t. But we in Christ do know who He is, and we watch with expectant anticipation.

Stepping into the Doorway of the Holy Place, the table and showbread are on the right (north side), the lamp on the left (south side). Pictures show them about midway of the wall.

The lampstand was shaped to represent a tree: from root to branches. Jesus is our tree of life. I see the Lampstand as representative of our connection to the Eternal we have through Christ. We live through Him.

The lampstand set in the Holy Place was made of pure gold. The purification of gold by fire is likened to the work of God in purifying us as His servant representatives.

Scripture also likens our connection with Christ to trees and vines, Him being the root and us the branches through which His fruit is borne with it’s seed in it. For me, the lampstand being of pure gold speaks to the reality of our cleansing, already complete in Christ. Our eternal life is secure in Him, who is able to make us stand. He is our Light, leading us to God. We are His Light, illuminating Savior and King that all may see and know Him.

The tree shape is a picture of the tree of life that feeds us and produces the fruit of life in us. Jesus is the tree of life in us who are sealed with His Spirit. It is vital to our lives that we realize our connection to Him as the tree of life in us. Only as He feeds us like the root of a tree to branches producing leaf and fruit, can we produce any fruit or be His Light on the earth.

“”You are the light of the world. … Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16 NASB)

One purpose Father designated the shape and position of the lampstand to accomplish is that the lamps “light up the space in front of them” (Exodus 25:37 NASB)

Reading the complete Matthew passage above, Jesus reminds us that we don’t hide a light, but we strategically place it where it’s light can be seen. As His light to the world, God has us strategically positioned. As part of His Temple Lamp, it is vital we understand that there is a purpose for our position.

One thing we covered in the outer court passages is that, when someone walks into our sphere of influence, it brings opportunity for ministry. We may find ourselves introducing them to Jesus, or aiding their understanding of His Lordship. Wherever we are in any given day, our lives should spotlight our Savior and King.

I find the wording of Exodus 25:37 interesting: to light the space in front of the lamp. If we are not careful, our focus drifts. We get stuck in the past, on things and regrets behind us; or we get distracted by sideline issues and minutiae. God intends our focus to be on the opportunity right in front of our eyes.

Most often throughout scripture, the lamp or light, with or without the stand, represents the light of God’s Presence. Thus He calls us to be His Light: Jesus as the Light of the world, commissioned us as His light to the world, the work of His Spirit in us being the fuel for our lamps. We can accomplish God’s purpose best when we trust His supply of oil as His Light, and when we face forward to tend to things in front of us.

In Revelation, the lampstand, complete with lamps, represents the Church as a whole and its angel or leading minister (see chapters 1-3). If our church is full of dry bones and dark corners, having no power to draw those into it from outside, that church has a problem. And that problem begins with members that are dulled of senses and content to be as they are.

God seats us on The Lampstand of Christ, the root of David, His life force flowing to and through us as we are vitally united with and through Him. A lifeless, darkened, and fruitless assembly has lost touch with its root and died or is near death.

Applying this to our being the temple of God and it’s effect on our daily walk in life lived as being within the gates of the Holy Place, our lamp is our relationship with God in Christ, our obedience to Him bearing the fruit of relationship with Him, making us to be as He is. Our union with Him grows stronger in the purification process, connecting us more securely to the trunk and root of the tree of Christ, through which is our spiritual nourishment. Our ministry and life-song as bondservant and ambassador, and, more importantly, image bearers who look like their Daddy, shines His Light, bearing the fruit of a life in His Light. Only from here can we worship and obey God, and minister to and empower others. Only through personal time in our Holy Place, communing with God in front of His Lamp, can we hope to be a vital and thriving asset as His light to the world.

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-A-1b

We are The Temple: Outer Court Part 1-b Saved, Or Not

As we look at our being God’s Temple and Priest, we see our first duty is to take those who enter our outer court area to the cross of Calvary, where sin is defeated and sinner is redeemed. That leads me to answer questions recently raised in a conversation with some who believe we can lose our salvation. It leads me to answer the questions, “Who are truly saved? And can that salvation be lost?”

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. There are many passages that appear to say salvation can be lost; and there are many that say, “No way!” I give my opinion, and I encourage you to be like the men of Berea and search it out for yourself.

The following passage is one that many use to prove salvation can be lost to us:

“… in the case of those who HAVE ONCE BEEN ENLIGHTENED and have TASTED of the heavenly gift and have BEEN MADE PARTAKERS of the Holy Spirit, and have TASTED THE GOOD WORD OF GOD AND THE POWERS OF THE AGE TO COME, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame..” (Hebrews 6:1-8 NASB)

There are three words we must understand to find the message here: enlightened, tasted (X2), and partakers.

Enlightened – having or showing a rational, modern, and well-informed outlook; spiritually aware; handed light; introduced to truth; made aware; made or enabled to see.

Enlightened says they heard and saw, and they may have even believed, but it does not say that they chose to receive and profess it as their reality. It did not become their who.

Tasted – to perceive or experience the flavor of; to eat so as to experience.

To me this speaks of curiosity: to get a feel for the flavor, try it out, see if it is desirable. They may have tried it out, but this seems to indicate that they did not take to it so as to make it their source of nourishment and life. They again did not choose it as their own.

Partakers (partake) – To take or have a part or share; participate; sharers; partners; companions.

All of these speak to me of a trial period, a participation and companionship that does not prove wholehearted commitment. They may have been sincere in desire to be part of the group, but their motive, intent, and purpose was not true – set on the same mark.

“…For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God…”

This part of our passage speaks of those who are committed and true. They bear vegetation that is useful to God because they received the Seed and the care that makes for growth. They are proven true of faith, believers with committed purpose, fruit bearing trees.

“…but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”

These are people who were sown with Seed from God, but they held to the seed of this world and produced the crop that proved alliance with the ungodly. This says they are “close to being cursed.” That says to me that the true Seed was still there, though dormant. These can still choose to receive that Seed and the nourishment needed to produce proof of a true salvation. I see this in people who are in love with this world and refuse to give it up. If they continue to refuse the true Seed, they will be burned with the rest of the thorns and thistles.

I believe the truth we must focus on in this debate on the loss of salvation requires a true measuring stick in determining who is saved. For that, we look at The Seed (Read Mark 4:2-9 NASB and 4:13-23 NASB)

“”Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow…”

The Seed is the Word of God, the Truth, which technically is wrapped up and made evident in Jesus. The sower of the Word is God. He uses us most of the time, but He can get the Word to people without our help.

“…as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up….”

The birds are Satan. These were given a taste of God’s Word, but they have no chance to decide they want to have it as their eternal nourishment as the enemy of God robs it away from their understanding.

“…Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. …”

These tasted, but their hearts were infertile and unable to do anything to sustain the seed. They had no depth of understanding, and no real desire for the commitment required. They may hear the Good News with joy, but they don’t want to be nourished so as to live by it. So the seed dies and they walk away.

“…Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. …”

These, too, may receive the Word with joy, and the Seed May even be able to put down some roots, but, as Jesus explains it, “the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” These May even stay with us, but they won’t truly be one with us, because their roots are shallow and their commitment is divided. They are a fruitless tree.

“…Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” …”

Here, The Seed finds good soil and will grow to produce much Fruit. They may have times of struggle, but it only leads to more growth. They may stumble, they may even be a prodigal for a time, but they always return home, and they never stop producing fruit.

This verse says some will produce 30 fold; some 60; and some 100. From my personal experience, as well as seeing and hearing the experience of others, we will most likely go through seasons of 30, then a hundred, then 60, and so on: but the fruit of a true and growing relationship with the Sower is always there. God’s desire is that we set ourselves to grow 100%, trusting Him for even the smallest of produce.

For this reason, speaking of knowing the difference between those who are true and those who are false, Jesus said, “So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:15-23 NASB).

If we are bearing fruit in keeping with righteousness, He who lives in us, keeps us and makes us stand as belonging to Him. No one and nothing can take us from His hand.

“…And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.””

Thus you have the reason I believe that one who is true in God cannot lose their salvation. Only the true are truly saved.

Realize, too, Beloved, that God made us to be people who bear fruit with its Seed in it. When we bear forth and drop fruit, the Seeds are planted in the soil sown.

“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18-20 NASB)

Beloved, we are not called of God to go and sow seeds to save souls. Too often I see people who live by the philosophy that we are in the business of saving souls, walk away and leave the Seed untended. We are not called to save souls – only God can do that. We are called to “MAKE DISCIPLES!”

Disciples are people taught to feed on the Word and grow strong in following that Word so as to bear fruit in keeping with the righteousness found there. An Evangelist, called to spread the gospel, must be careful to work with groups they know will be faithful to water and fertilize that Seed sown until disciples sprout forth. Never leave your Seed untended. Remember the wisdom of Paul who said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NASB)

Romans 8:37-39 NASB

Romans 14:4 NASB

Finding Who We Are: Part 7

Hebrews 6:1-20 NASB

“In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us….” (6:17-18)

Heirs of Promise! THAT is who we are, through Christ Jesus, our Lord.

I could say, “Rejoice!” and stop there. Enough said. But there’s gold in this here Word, so let’s mine it.

First we see in vs. 17-18 that as heirs of the promises of the Father with Christ, those promises give us hope. But hope set before us is nothing until we grasp hold of it. Grasping our hope in God’s promises requires us to “get it”. We grasp it through comprehensive understanding of the true meaning of each promise. We grab it and hold tight through comprehensive understanding of the fullness of God, recognizing His thoughts as higher than ours, and that His idea of a timetable is set to a different clock. With full understanding in hand, we grab to His promises by trusting faith, receiving them as our very own hope. They belong to us, corporately and individually, in Christ.

For the sake of the whole Body of Christ, it is vital that each part grasp God’s promises personally. We are all responsible to grow strong in faith, for the body is only as healthy as it’s weakest link.

We see it all the time, one member of the body, weakened by insecurity that comes to those with wavering faith and little hope, falls to sin-sickness. Infectious, it spreads to more and more, until the whole body of believers falls apart, and a church dies. The infection of sin-sickness is what led Paul to write 1 Corinthians 5. “…Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” (5:6)

Beloved, hope, the hope of promise made sure, is vital to health.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (6:19-20)

The promises of God, possessed and trusted, anchor us, holding us stable and secure despite what our eyes see. Whatever storm in life, we are secure, unhindered by fear, never swayed by wind or wave.

Driving home after dropping hubby off for work this morning, my attention was captivated by leaves on the roadway. Being driven by the wind, they were dancing, free and unabated. It was beautiful and joyous.

When we have a firm grip on God’s Word to us, no storm in life can rob of strength, hope, Joy, and fervency. We carry on, fueled by faith’s assurance, able to dance in the Spirit before the God we trust.

“For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.” And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.” (6:13-16)

God rewards faithfulness! As we bear the fruit of patience into the world and through every storm, trusting God for His promises fulfilled, we reveal Christ to those witnesses watching us. People need the Lord. Our right and good waiting moments proves character and shines the Light of glory into the Earth, making eternal use of the opportunity found in our wait. Doing so with joy, peace, and perseverance, captivates the audience: bringing rejoicing to those who know such hope; and drawing those who don’t into the fold, desiring to find it for themselves.

“But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (6:9-12)

Through diligence, we realize the full assurance of hope until the end. Hope is the product of assurance raised up in us as we believe in the promises of God by faith, trusting, as Heirs, that we will have our hope fulfilled.

Through our diligent faith, we become imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Our growth as heirs of promise assures that we leave behind the elementary teachings about the Christ to press on to maturity (6:1-8).

See also

2 Peter 1:2-4 NASB

1 Corinthians‬ ‭5:6‬ ‭NASB‬‬

Finding Who We Are: Part 4

“Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house-whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (Hebrews 3:5-6 NASB)

I’ve written many times about our being the Temple of God, housing His Holy Presence on earth, fully equipped to represent The Triune and His Kingdom interests in our daily lives. As I looked at this last night and began praying about what I am to cover on this common topic, a list begins to form revealing truths of God’s Temple.

1 – The Temple of God is holy, and that is what you are! And as I often say, wherever we are, we are on holy ground, so behave accordingly. (1 Corinthians 3:17 NASB)

2 – The Temple of God is a house of Prayer, and that is what you are. So pray, realizing that prayer is communion with God, and can – and often should be – more listening for His opinion, heart, instruction, than speaking.

James says we do not have for we do not ask; and we ask and do not receive because we ask with wrong motives so we can spend it on OUR PLEASURES. Having God’s heart and unity with His opinion on life issues is vital to prayers well prayed: prayers I believe will make His heart sing. (Matthew 21:13 NASB; James 4:1-10 NASB)

3 – The house God is making out of us is a place of worship, and that is what you are. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” (Romans 12:1 NASB)

4 – The House of God is a dwelling place, and that is what you are. The Spirit of God’s Presence dwells in and with us. He wants to live with, in, and through us in active, visible ways that can be seen by all we associate with in any way. God is making us into more than a place to be: He is building a place to live to the full, abundantly, impacting the world around us. (1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB)

We are called to be a dwelling for God alone, there is no room for another. He wants to fill every nook and cranny; clearing and cleaning every closet and all dark corners.

As we willingly decrease to allow more room for Him, He fills us up and frees us to be more ourselves than we ever knew we could be. As He cleanses and clears away debris, He finds us, the “me” God intended from before time: a son – a daughter, holding fast to our confidence, the boast of our hope made firm until the end.

“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NASB)

Finding Who We Are: Part 3

“Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18 NASB)

Listen to what this says and, considering who we are in Christ, take heart.

Jesus came in flesh so that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest, having experienced life as we know it. This leaves the impression that He came to know hunger, thirst, hurt, pain, and all the issues of human flesh so that He would understand in a way that grew His mercy muscles and increased the nature of His faithfulness, all of which was already perfect.

I don’t believe He did so because He did not know and understand; after all, God is All Knowing. I believe His need of personal experience of life in flesh was more so we can know with assurance that He understands. His suffering increased His ability to serve as High Priest, being better able to sympathize from a stance of personal experience.

The New Living Translation of verse 18 says, “Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, He is able to help us when we are being tested.” No one can look at Him on judgement day and say, “But, God, you don’t understand!” When we know someone does understand from experience, we more readily receive their encouragement. Beloved, we can know that God Incarnate understands.

Do I fully understand passages like this that speak as if Jesus had to grow. No, it blows my finite mind. I have spent two days trying to write this so as to explain the indescribable. Here’s the point I see that we need to grasp and understand as we grow into who we are in Christ.

Jesus, called and equipped as High Priest, suffered in human flesh in part to strengthen His ability to fulfill His role. We, too are called to a priestly role as part of the Royal Priesthood Peter speaks of in 1 Peter 2:9. Just like Jesus, we must realize that some of the things God allows us to suffer will be to increase our ability to serve in that blessed ministry.

Going through a hardship makes us better able to sympathize. In those seasons, we learn what is helpful and what is not. We gain a right to speak into the lives of others and a credibility that helps others hear. Sometimes suffering is simply purposed to make us God’s comforters to the hurting.

Are you going through a hard time? Know it has a purpose and, in Christlikeness, become a willing student so you can be a godly Priest.

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

See also 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 NASB.

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.

Gifted Bondservant FOR

“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, FOR the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness…” (Titus 1:1-4 NASB)

Okay, Bondservant of God and ambassador of Christ, what follows your FOR? For the apostle, evangelist, prophet, preacher, teacher, Paul expresses it well. Those called to spread the Good News and apply God’s truth to life in their age, the “for” of their ministry is “the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which (we are) entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior.”

For the gift of helps, it might be FOR the purpose of meeting daily needs so as to free those charged with spreading the Good News so they can accomplish their FOR with less concern for daily need. We all have our “for” in the work of spreading truth. And we all are called to be ready with our testimony, so our “for” may cross over into the area of the evangelist. I.e.: “I use my gift of helps in serving at the food bank for the needs of others with hope of having opportunity to share the work of Jesus.”

We have a work FOR the service of our Lord, and we are responsible to fulfill it. Knowledge of our motivating purpose, our FOR, equips us to serve with greater commitment, effectiveness, and strength of resolve.

Know your FOR. We are all vitally needed in the roll God places in us as part of the body of Christ and the church of the living God. Knowing our FOR is a great help in serving with head high, unashamed.

You Follow Me!

“Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”” (John 21:22 NASB)

Following the Lord as He dictates through the work of His Spirit within: that is a goal long practiced, and I am so grateful when the Lord graciously confirms the work of my hands. Especially so when I wonder if I’m doing things correctly or efficiently. Efficiency was my concern on this day.

Feeling so led, I Jerichoed around my town after dropping hubby off to work, one of my frequent ministries in the Lord, but on this morning I couldn’t keep my focus in prayer. Frustrated at one point, telling the Lord my focus issue – like He couldn’t tell 😂 – I prayed, “Lord, I don’t even know why I’m doing this!” Very clearly to my heart came “Obedience.”

That’s all I needed, to know that I was following the dictates of the Spirit to accomplish God’s will. I realized in that instant that, though my focus might be off, the work of God’s Spirit was spot on. Thus assured that He was doing something mighty even in the midst of my struggle, I continued on, knowing that whatever He was doing, HE was doing it.

What freedom of Spirit! To trust the Lord and simply obey. I believe that was one point Jesus was making with Peter. We may not fully comprehend or understand what God is doing in His calling and equipping us, but He is never confused or unfocused. He always knows what He is doing. All He needs from us is willing obedience and faith that trusts Him to be bigger than life in and through us.

Trust in the Lord, Beloved, and have a Glory day.

The Reignited Gift

“For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:6-7 NASB)

I’ve been in God’s Word to some degree for over 50 years, since childhood; studying and teaching it with intimate fervor for at least 40 of those years, and it never ceases to amaze me how the Spirit can bring a “Well, dah!” out of me. This passage did it for me this morning.

I’ve always read this with thought of “gift” being that of teaching, or evangelism, or leadership, or whatever Timothy’s undergirding service-gift might be. Today I read it with that start of realization, recognizing that Paul is talking about the gift of the Spirit, Himself. He is saying, “Kindle afresh The Spirit of God within you.”

You see, something was raising up great fear in Timothy, such as to quench the Spirit’s freedom to work in His life. That fear was most likely his youth and the challenge of teaching with authority those he saw as older and wiser, leaders in the community. Paul reminds him that the Spirit in Him bridges that gap, equipping him to boldly and confidently speak and teach the truths of God with power.

Beloved, what quenches God’s Spirit in you? Kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you. How? Through trust that believes God; faith that realizes unseen truth; and surrender that submits to Him, even when it doesn’t make sense to our finite thinking.

Trust in the Lord today, Beloved, and do the good He sets before you, working out of the power of His sure Presence within you. Go forth in Him and prosper the day.

Recognizing a False Circumcision

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”” (John 8:12 NASB)

Look at this beautiful promise of God, Beloved. Do you believe with trusting faith in this truth? Do you seek faithfully to walk it out in life by the power of God’s Spirit? The promises of God are glorious to us who believe. And to us for whom they are sent and received by faith, believing, they are irrevocable. God’s eternal promises are vital to our living a life of abundance.

What about promises like that found in the best known scripture there is? “”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHALL NOT PERISH, BUT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE” (John 3:16 NASB). Do you believe this promise with saving faith? So do I. Does that make us brothers and sisters in Christ? Some would say, “Not that alone.”

Recently, someone I love and respect deeply, and have learned much from through the years, deemed me lost and apparently decided I’m a false teacher because we do not have the same defining parameters for THE CHURCH. Now that has really bothered me. As I said, I love and respect this person, so like the men of Berea, I’ve been seeking the Lord to confirm truth for me.

Lately, every time I read a promise like these stated, the Spirit of God catches my attention to focus me on the fact that those who have a false definition of The Church nullify the promises of God. Example:

⁃ “So, you believe the Word about Jesus? But you’re not in my fellowship of believers, so your faith is useless.”

⁃ “I see the work of God’s Spirit in and through you, the bearing of The Fruit that is found in every true believer, but you’re not of our association, so your work is pointless.”

Sad, isn’t it, that we deny many of the brotherhood (sisterhood) because of what I would call a false circumcision.

Here’s what I’m understanding. A belief like, “my fellowship is right and yours isn’t, so you are lost” denies every promise of God, making God’s promises secondary to our understanding of The Church/circumcision we profess. False circumcisions we deem necessary for eternal grace nullify all other promises of God found in Christ.

Here’s another problem I see with a false circumcision added to the promises of God. That false understanding becomes a trap, a snare, a stronghold against true faith, true worship, and true fellowship. Continuing the “my church or yours” theme, here’s an example.

I know a woman from a church fellowship with the belief described above. She fell in love with and married a man of another church background. He, as spiritual leader, insisted they attend his church. She dutifully did so. Problem? Every time she came, she felt condemned to hell. She was grieved and unhappy the entire time. And though she agreed with every teaching she heard, she could not get past her definition of The Church.

Now, I believe this type of situation falls in under the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 10. Because of my belief of the parameters of The Church, which is true according to my understanding about scripture, I can enter into any fellowship despite our denominational differences, and I can worship freely, even giving my “Amen” to truths taught there. I can do so, recognizing, loving, and enjoying the fellow believers there with a clear conscience and sure faith.

If this woman’s husband has the same faith as I, in my opinion based on my understanding of the teaching of God through Paul, then for the sake of the wife’s conscience, he should have joined her in her church. But here’s the flip side of the problem. What if that husband has the same belief system concerning his church fellowship? Then he cannot join her church with good conscience. These then take the place of the unequally yoked, which is misery for a marriage.

Conclusion: a false belief system that creates a false circumcision, adds the necessity of a work’s action to the salvation equation. That false circumcision then makes the promises of God concerning salvation in Christ alone invalid in ones struggle to keep that circumcision, thus we have a boatload of people believing they are saved while they are leaning on the wrong side of their equation. The person snared by a false circumcision then finds it to be a stronghold that brings separation from much of what Jesus sees as The Church, and even separating them from true faith in Christ. Our false circumcision hinders worship outside of the fellowship that bears that circumcision. Those who demand the bearing of a circumcision take the place of the Pharisee, tying heavy loads on their fellow believer; loads God never intended them to carry. And it brings a false, self-condemnation to the heart of one who finds themselves on the wrong side of that legalism.

Beloved, know this. It is Jesus who knows those who are His, and by His Spirit, He seals and marks them so they have the assurance of their salvation through faith in Him, and so they are recognizable to His true followers. Let’s stop raising up stumbling blocks and walls of divisiveness between us, and let’s walk together in the truth of saving grace through Jesus Christ.

LOVE or Love

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15-17 NASB)

We don’t see it with our all encompassing word, love, but in the Greek, 2 different words are used in this passage: agapao and phileo.

Most know this, but for those who don’t, agapao is God’s kind of deep, abiding love. Like the Father’s, it flows from who we are as empowered by Him and lands on all, whether love for God or man. It is not gifted by merit of the recipient, but flows freely because of who we are in Christ, thus it loves enemy as well as friend.

Jesus, in verse 15 and 16 uses agapao. The amplified version defines this love as being “with reasoning, INTENTIONAL, spiritual devotion, as one loves the Father.” Thus, this love functions solely out of devotion to God who imparts His nature to us, then serving Him out of love as a bondservant, we love others in like fashion.

Throughout this passage, Peter uses “phileo”, which is the affectionate care one has for a good friend. Problem is that this love is too readily subject to the merit system, and does not extend to anyone that is not considered a friend. This love is too easily flesh led and dictated.

Again, the AMPC version defines phileo as “deep, INSTINCTIVE, personal affection, as for a close friend.” Jesus is telling Peter, “ If you agapao me, feed my sheep (“out of that love,” I believe is implied).” But Peter can’t comprehend an Agape’ type love: not yet, anyway. So Jesus, in verse 17, brings it down to Peter’s level, asking, “Do you phileo Me?”

This tells me that Jesus, who agapaos us, loves us enough to accept the love we give. But what joy it is to Him and what benefit to us and others, when, in the power and provision of the Spirit, we possess agapao. How much easier it is to serve God and man when this God-love flows to and through us like a river of life.

Father, empower our love today, making us to be love just as You are love. In Jesus’ mighty name and authority we pray, amen.

John 21:15-17 AMPC

A Time to Disarm

“So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”” (John 18:11 NASB)

A man, born blind, suffered that stigma for many years before meeting Jesus. Upon seeing the man, the disciples asked, “Was it the sin of this man or his parents that he was born blind?” Jesus corrected a false understanding that all who are sick are there because of some sin committed, saying, “It was neither.” Then He stated the true purpose, “It is so that God May be glorified in the Son.” (John 9:1-12)

Lazarus was allowed to die that he might be resurrected to the glory of God (John 11). Jesus warned the disciples that they would be dragged into court on account of Him, but not to worry, for it was opportunity for their testimony to the glory of God. (Luke 21:12-19; Acts 5:33-42)

Jesus walked through life with clear understanding of His purpose in life. He knew when He could fearlessly walk out of a bad situation because it was not yet His time, and He knew when to willingly walk into it, knowing the suffering would work the glory and fulfill the purpose of the Father.

Even today, for us, there are times and situations we are not to fight against. Times come when God’s Spirit inspires us to know this hardship is for God’s glory and purpose. Nothing we can do will get us out of it, because God is planning to take us through it.

Not only might Father take us through a thing rather than deliver us from it, but He may not reveal where we are going beyond the next step. Even if God reveals the end product to us, we must take care to not pick up the gauntlet and run our own path, trying to get there. We will waste precious time and energy, and may well rob the Father of His full glory.

We must note something here. Before Jesus told Peter to stop fighting, that He must drink the cup God has for Him to drink, Jesus spent at least an hour crying out for the Father to remove it, if possible. Then, assured He must drink, God strengthened Him to walk through all He faced. It is not sin to seek deliverance, but it is vital that we willingly receive His strengthening to walk through and drink our God given cup.

Take a new look at your situation, Beloved, and ask the Father if you need to put down your proverbial sword and walk bravely into this opportunity to see His glory. Watch the steps He leads you to, and get ready for a harvest.

Link to all Scriptures referenced

What I Do Now

“… So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” …” (John 13:1-11 NASB)

There is a lot going on here as we watch God incarnate gird loins with towel and go to work doing the job normally given the least of slaves. He removed clothing because it is a dirty job, washing mud and more off the feet of those He served out of love.

The main point we tend to focus on here is the fact that we too easily soil ourselves while walking through life in a lost and dying world. Jesus graciously and lovingly keeps our feet clean. That is a glorious truth for which we must be grateful. But I want to look at something else I see that is going on here.

Do you think Peter was the only one Jesus talked with as He washed the feet of His disciples? I don’t. What I see here is our Lord, taking time to spend with each one as Jesus washed their feet.

He knew each of them: the way they think and react to stress; the fears and insecurities they each struggle with; their beliefs, hopes, and dreams; and He knew the obstacles ahead for them. Jesus chose this time of personal, willing, and loving service for one on one time of ministry to the deep needs of these loved ones, getting them ready for things to come.

Our church does this from time to time. Participants are given time, both in the chair and in the towel. It is a glorious opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by our church family.

Whether we dawn a towel of service, or share a tea time, Beloved, we are to wash proverbial feet as we go through our days, pointing out truth that encourages and lifts to higher ground.

The Unforgivable

“Truly and solemnly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever abusive and blasphemous things they utter; But whoever speaks abusively against or maliciously misrepresents the Holy Spirit can never get forgiveness, but is guilty of and is in the grasp of an everlasting trespass. For they persisted in saying, He has an unclean spirit.” (Mark 3:28-30 AMPC)

This command / judgment through Christ tells us that those who sneer at and dismiss as hogwash the work of God’s Spirit through Jesus are eternally guilty and beyond saving grace. Denying that Jesus is who He says He is and did all reported of Him by the power of God is the unforgivable sin, blaspheming the work of God in the power and authority of His Holy Presence.

This passage also condemns the misrepresentation of God’s Spirit. Misrepresentation: the action or offense of giving a false or misleading account of the nature of something. So for one to claim a work of the Spirit erroneously or to fail to give credit to the Spirit righteously, is dangerous. The question we must ask is whether the death and resurrection of Christ ended this Law, or does it stand today?

Of course, the requirement to recognize the work of God in Christ that provides saving grace as pictured in the scriptures stands. We must believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”; that “He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). But what of the work of the Spirit in our day? Can we walk into dangerous territory through denial of the Spirit working in God’s people today? I believe we can.

Scripture teaches that when we come into Christ through salvation, we receive His Spirit as teacher, guide, and power for service. It is Him working in and through us that gives us any ability to accomplish the work and way of God.

Scripture teaches that those who follow Christ in the power and equipping of the Spirit of God are His representatives, having authority and power as ambassadors of Christ and priests unto God to carry on the work of Jesus through the ages.

When someone refuses our authenticity in Christ, Jesus takes it personally. When Jesus directs our lives, instructing our hearts to know His will in a situation, and someone accuses us of hearing and acting out the demonic, the insult is counted as against Christ and His work through the Spirit.

We must be careful in our judgment concerning the way of God seen in our day. Scripture teaches to judge the fruit produced. God’s Word teaches that a word of instruction from Him is known true when it comes to pass, accomplishing His desire and purpose.

Take care against condemning the work and way of God in others. Though our unbelief may not be so severe as to lose The Eternal, it will hurt our witness and it can work division in the Body.

Matthew 7:15-20 NASB

See also Matthew 10:14; John 13:20; Luke 10:16

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.

Clothed and Ready: Part 1

“Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, WHO KEEP THEIR CLOTHING READY so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” (Revelation 16:15 NLT – http://bible.com/116/rev.16.15.nlt)

Never to feel exposed and ashamed. How glorious it is to have confidence in Christ and live equipped to hold heads high, with no need of shame. This scroll of Revelation caught my attention and called me to check my manner of spiritual dress. It promises that by keeping our clothing ready, we will not be caught in shame at Christ’s return. Sounds like a great time to take a look in the proverbial mirror of our lives and be sure we are fully clothed.

The first garment we need to make sure we dawn and check for any repair needs is the cloak of Christ. The most clear picture of what that cloak looks like when properly worn is found in Colossians 3, starting with verse 9.

“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him – a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:9-17 NASB)

These garments reveal Christ in us as we represent Him in life today. Look at all the colors that should be visible in the cloak of Christ on us: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience – bearing with one another, forgiving each other. Beyond all these, love – God’s kind of pure, unmerited love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And peace from Christ that rules the heart, coupled with thankfulness to Him Who clothes us by grace through faith.

This first part of our garment makes evident to all that we are made one with God in our following hard after Christ, empowered by gratitude for His grace to live free of shame. Tomorrow, part two.