Tag Archives: spiritual blessing

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.

God’s Patient Hand

A repost from May 7, 2015. Be encouraged – anew.

This morning, reading John 11, the following catches my attention:

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was” ~ vs. 5-6.

This passage has caught my eye before, but this morning, it stops me for a pondering moment. Jesus loved them, so He waited, postponing his response to their need. Why?

Two possible reasons come to mind immediately: so their need would reach a point beyond human intervention; and so their experience of God’s hand working to meet their need would be beyond imagination.

074I have long understood that we cannot truly comprehend the good end of a continuum until we understand its opposite. We cannot truly discern what love is without some experience of hate. We cannot know how great our God without experiencing our need for Him. We cannot discern how awesome God’s presence with us without some experience of life apart from Him.

God’s purpose is always to fulfill His good word. He does so in a way that reveals Himself to us, contrasting His personality, presence and power, from that of the natural. Moreover, He does so in a way that not only gives us life more abundant and full, but that births within us a sincere gratitude for all He gives to us. When He does finally take action on our behalf, He does so in ways that touch the lives of those around us, giving hope to them for His help in their life-circumstances.

In my life journey, I have discovered that God often waits while that mustard seed of faith in me sprouts and puts down deeper roots. (Faith requires something hoped for while yet unseen.) As a tree puts down deeper roots and gains a stronger hold into the earth during seasons when drought and high winds causes it to reach deep into the earth, so that which makes us reach deep into God strengthens our foundation of faith, increasing our commitment to believe in, trust in and rely upon Him.

So, Beloved, “let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint” (Galatians 6:9, AMP. See also 2 Corinthians 4:1; Romans 5:1-5).

Be careful not to give yourself to thinking God’s patience is a lack of care. He loves you! Therefore, He waits for the best time to produce the greatest results that reveal His love in unfathomable depths of glory.

Understanding God’s Perspective

Reading the plagues God sent against Egypt, seeing God harden Pharoah’s heart over and over, it would all seem mean spirited and vengeful. When we don’t realize all the issues involved, we miss the point. God always has good reason and purpose for all He does and allows. In Exodus 14:4, God makes that purpose very clear.

“And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display My glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. AFTER THIS THE EGYPTIANS WILL KNOW THAT I AM THE LORD!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told.” (Exodus 14:4 NLT)

You see, Egyptians of the day worshipped many “gods”, including believing the one in the role of Pharoah to be a god. Each plague God sent was not to be mean to the people, but to bring down strongholds of demonic activity behind the false gods.

First Corinthians 10 makes it clear that the power behind false gods, power that makes the false believable, is demonic. Demons give life to the gods. They are bred and fed by demons. The blessings Egypt experienced were credited to one or more of these false gods. Demons don’t mind doing good to the people, giving them what they will, as long as it tricks them into following the false and missing the TRUE, hindering them from wanting The True God and His will.

Our finite minds see the plagues we read of or experience, and deem God to be harsh, hard, and pressing – or absent. We don’t see with understanding eyes the enemy of God and the battle raging between them and the army of God, a battle we are affected by. We don’t realize that God is in the storm and the storm has a purpose of eternal proportions.

Beloved, what is going on in your midst today? Could it be that God is kicking in doors and bringing down strongholds? Is it revealing issues you need to surrender to God’s Lordship? What will be your choice? Will you choose Him, or walk on the side of the hardened heart?

It wasn’t just the Egyptians that needed to recognize their false gods as counterfeits. Israel grew up in that society, and even as God delivered them, many still carried these falsehoods with them.

Like with Moses, God will make His purpose clear. The question is, will we be listening with hearts open and pliable to His will and purpose? Will we honor God as the One True God and Lord of all?

Read: Against the Gods of Egypt – The Invisible War: by Chuck Missler • July 1, 2000

At All Times, Pray

“Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. ….”. (Ephesians 6:18-20 NLT)

Prayer. Communing with God. Seeking Him in relationship. Searching His wisdom and direction. Turning to Him who is ready to give, assist, empower, direct, instruct, comfort, ease, know and be known.

Prayer is a lifestyle of companionship with the one Who gave His Son so we may be sons and daughters. Prayer is with and through Him who died that we may be companion, helpmeet, ambassador, priests unto God. Prayer is a lifestyle of companionship empowered by God’s Spirit, His Presence with us, enabling our hearts to meet God’s, our minds to comprehend His, our souls to mate with Him as fellow member or joint occupant of this body He claims as Temple.

We’re instructed be alert, persistent, and pray without ceasing. Lifestyle companionship is the only way I see of doing that. Through lifestyle prayer, this three in one God of ours unites with us, effecting a four in one unity, the answer to the prayer of Jesus in John 17.

When we walk with a companion, we talk about life situations along the way. We point to things seen and discus it’s beauty, placing, need, reasoning. We share opinions and work to achieve unity and understanding. We “Life” together. And we love and encourage one another.

I believe walking in persistent, constant, companionship with God requires alertness to His Presence, having comprehensive understanding of His watchful care and real interest in us and our lives. It requires a parent-child, teacher-student, Master-servant, companion-helpmeet attitude that humbly surrenders to His greatness and superiority. It receives encouragement from Him that empowers us to live life well, and it encourages Him to have full sway and access to us and our lives.

God knows prayer is vital for true Life to be lived. Walking with Father God, through Christ, in the power and equipping of His Holy Presence with us, we successfully pray at all times, in all occasions, with every petition, and without ceasing.

“Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”” (Matthew 26:40-41 NLT)

God had Abraham’s Heart

“God wanted to know He had Abraham’s heart. That got my attention.“ ~Audra Blake, filmmaker at Life.Church

Isn’t it funny how our thinking brings God down to our level. I know what Audra means and where she’s coming from, having experience of that place and of that same thinking; and I know God used this thought in her life. But as I read her words today, truth hits me and lifts me higher.

God knows that “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick”. It’s the person of that heart who doesn’t understand it. (Jeremiah 17:9 NASB)

God is not man, having to test us to see where our hearts are. He knows our hearts like we never will. God tests us to PROVE our hearts, not for His sake, but for ours! He wants us to realize where our hearts are so we can: one – align our hearts with His, and two – come up higher in our trust of God.

Abraham had grown a lot through his experience of God. We see that in the fact that, as he charged his young men servants to wait for them, he told them, “I and the lad will go over there; and we will worship AND RETURN TO YOU.” (Genesis 22:5 NASB). And again, as he walked with his son to the place of sacrifice, he is credited with the words, “God will provide a sacrifice for Himself” (Genesis 22:8). Testimony in the faith hall of fame says of Abraham that “He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.” (Hebrews 11:17-19 NASB)

Abraham had great faith when he headed up that hill with his son. But how much greater trust do you think he possessed on the way down, still having his son at his side because of faith rewarded and declaration fulfilled?

God didn’t need to know Abraham any better than he already did, but Abraham needed to know God better and increase his heart toward God’s own heart. Like Job, it took trial to help Abraham grow strong of heart in his trust of God.

What trial are you in today? Could it be that God wants you to know the truth of your own heart and to give you opportunity to come up higher with Him?

Audra continues, “As I dealt with this story, it was like God whispered to my heart, “Lay your dreams, your future on the altar. They’re nothing compared to eternity with Me.””

Short of Glory, But Covered by Grace

Do you believe that God’s grace is sufficient? I do. Do you truly believe, deep within all that you are, that Jesus is propitiation – fulfilling the full requirement, as pleased God, in full and complete payment for ALL sin?

Whether you believe or not, it is true. Jesus paid the full price to cover all sin for all of human kind. He took your place. He took my place on that cross. He took the place of those who refuse to receive that gift. The sentence for sin is death, and Jesus paid it – all for all. This gift from God, The Father, sits like boxes on shelves, waiting to be GIFTED to all who will, by faith, reach out and take it.

That truth in itself is beyond our full comprehension. We hear and receive it, but because of our finite understanding of sin, we too easily miss the “WOW” factor that is God’s full grace to us. I don’t believe we can fully comprehend it this side of Glory. When we get Home, full comprehension of God’s gift will amaze us! But that’s not the end of the gift. There is more! There is another, awesome item in our boxes.

This great gift, that the God of all the Universe loved us so much, He sent His only begotten Son to be propitiation for us, is only half the story. Along with paying the penalty of sin on our behalf, Jesus did something more. He gave us HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)

Thus…

WE, who have accepted His Gift, ARE, now and forevermore, The Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! That is who we are – period! The end!

Though we struggle in this flesh to fulfill our finite understanding of living as the righteous people of God, because of Christ, God sees us as righteous. Even in Christ, our greatest good in this fleshy struggle is still as filthy rags before a holy God. We fall to sin and are deceived of heart as to our “good” every day, failing to remember that God, alone, is good. Our flesh hinders our being the kind of “righteous” God requires. Only by the Spirit can we even come close and grow stronger.

So should we quit working to live righteous lives? No! Keep striving forward to be an example of the glorious image of God, for though we can never be good enough in our own right to enter the Kingdom gate, we can get better, draw closer, glorify God in the earth, and win crowns as our highest goal becomes that of pleasing Him.

That dreaded list is true, when it says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” That word also says, “Such were some of you; but you were WASHED, but you were SANCTIFIED, but you were JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the SPIRIT of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

He, who knew no sin, sanctified us, imparting to us the righteousness of God by the power of God’s grace. On the day God calls us home, His fires will burn away all remaining wood, hay, and stubble, to reveal the glorious image of His righteousness in us: the gold, silver, and precious stones of His glory in us. Our old sin nature burned away, only His righteousness, gifted for us to possess, will remain.

As we choose to live the life of Christ today, shucking off our old nature, bit by bit, as God’s Spirit works in us, we grasp hold and live the righteousness of God in the earth. That is the journey of this life: more of Him and less of me.

When He calls us home, all that is not like Him falls away, and it is in His righteousness that we enter the Kingdom of God. None of the evil we failed to walk free of will enter the Kingdom. Only His righteousness in us will survive. And rewards for areas of righteousness we succeeded in grasping hold of will be waiting.

So keep pressing forward to the goal, reaching for the prize, striving with Him to be the best you of His heart’s desire and design, trusting in faith that Jesus has you covered in the areas of greatest battle. We are saved by grace through faith. Faith looks to things we don’t yet see, but know to be true anyway. It reaches forward to grasp Kingdom reality and make it our now life. Faith recognizes that we are a work in progress, eternally perfect in Christ, and continually being perfected in this life, all the way up to the Day of Christ, when He comes for us.

See also: Mark 10:18; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 1 John 1:5-2:2; Philippians 2:12-14, 3:7-16; Romans 7:14-8:25 Philippians 1:6

Receiving God’s Promise

“For I will restore you to health And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘BECAUSE they have called you an outcast, saying: “It is Zion; NO ONE CARES FOR HER.” ’” (Jeremiah 30:17 NASB)

This is a promise from God to Israel at a time when their enemies noticed God’s judgement against them and began to say of them that they were outcasts because “no one cares for them,” which was and still is a lie. God cares for His people, including us. The Amplified classic version says He cares about us watchfully and cares for us affectionately (1 Peter 5:7). God will not let the enemy speak such blasphemy concerning His care for us, so for Israel, even in the midst of their sin state, God assured them of His healing.

I saw this Promise today as a stand alone truth the person was leaning on for their little one. As I read it, “I will restore you to health And I will heal you of your wounds,’ declares the LORD.” It spoke clearly to me for my husband. What tells me I have the right to trust this as truth from God for Johnny. The assurance that our God cares for us and that He is the One who determines our lifespan and the boundaries of our habitation (Acts 17:22-28).

Casting the whole of our care on You Lord, all our anxieties, all our worries, all our concerns, once and for all on You, we trust You to bring Johnny back to health of body, mind, soul, strength, and spirit, and to heal this wound that refuses healing. We trust You to respond all because You care for us affectionately and You care about us watchfully. This is our hope and cry in Jesus Holy Name, who imparts righteousness to us by the power of Your grace sufficient, amen.

1 Peter 5:7 AMPC

ACTS 17:23-28 NASB

Psalm 55:22 AMPC

Commended by God

“When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.” (2 Corinthians 10:18 NLT)

As I read this today, the commendation first in my thoughts is God’s commendation of Job to Satan. I know! That doesn’t sound so good, does it? But listen to how proud God is.

“Then the Lord asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless—a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil.”” (Job 1:8 NLT)

Wow! I can but only live with hope of catching God’s eye in such a way. But that’s not the ultimate proof of God’s pride toward Job. That which followed is the proof text.

“Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!”

“All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.”

“So Satan left the Lord’s presence.” (Job 1:9-12 NLT)

Note that God pointed Job out to Satan. The test coming is God’s idea. God knew the heart of Job toward Him would prevail. He knew that whatever Lucifer threw at him, Job’s heart would reach out in faith to His Father and proclaim truths like, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”” (Job 1:21 NLT)

And then there’s the frustrated discourse with his heart broken wife:

“His wife said to him, “Are you still trying to maintain your integrity? Curse God and die.” But Job replied, “You talk like a foolish woman. Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad?” So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.” (Job 2:9-10 NLT)

I cannot think of one person in scripture, commended by God, who did not walk through trial and testing that proved not only the caliber of their character, but the faithfulness of their God as they continued in faith toward Him. Moses was tried, tested, and grown as he led the people he was charged to guide. Joseph faced trial and testing that grew him to be strong in the skill and character necessary to rule a kingdom. Jesus faced every trial and passed every test on His way to the throne of Glory.

Sweetheart, those God loves, He proves and prunes. Are you going through a hard time, seeing your faith and integrity tested at every turn? It’s not that God has left your side, but more likely that He has recommended you as His righteous child of faith and integrity. He will not leave your side through the journey. And we pass the test by making sure, with every challenge of our faith, that we refuse to walk away from Him.

Look again at the challenge from Satan regarding Job.

“Satan replied to the Lord, “Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right, you may test him,” the Lord said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” SO SATAN LEFT THE LORD’S PRESENCE.” (Job 1:9-12 NLT)

In order to do the evil Satan intended toward Job, Satan had to leave the Lord’s Presence. That is the test we all face, Beloved. Satan temps us to lose faith and leave the Lord’s Presence. Will we remain with Him, or will testing see us walk away.

Let’s turn now to Jesus:

“…As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” …” (John 6:52-71 NASB)

Difficulty coming into one’s life is not proof one is lost and failing to align with God. Difficulty in life is not necessarily an act of punishment from God. Difficulty can well mean we are commended by God for proving. And all through our test, Jesus asks us, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Those who pass the test are those who remain with Him despite the difficulty that comes to test and try our faith and character.

Stand firm, Beloved. God will not leave you alone in the fires or lion’s dens of life. He is forever with and for you. Your privilege is to stand firm with and for Him, so as to come out not only unscathed by the challenge, but stronger in character and skill for service and smelling like Jesus.

What Partnership

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? …” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18 NASB)

When we read in scripture about binding relationships, if you are like me, thought most often goes to marriage. However, this passage is not speaking of marriage, but of any relational allegiance: corruptible friendships, unrighteous business partnerships, etc. Any allegiance with those who deny God have the potential to serve our enemy as a source of temptation, leading us to dishonor God.

Are we to leave lost friends once we commit to Christ? Very possibly: weighing those relationships against the teaching that bad company corrupts good morals, we may have to stop running with friends who run swiftly into evil practices. Should we pass up big money opportunities that require us to partner with untrustworthy people with no moral scruples? “Surely God knows we will use the money wisely.” But at what cost to His Name, for which we are representative?

There is a lot to consider when binding ourselves with others. Will we live lives that lift them higher as we lead the relationship into righteous practices; or will we fall into a pit while trying to lift them up. These are important things to consider in relationships, old and new, as we commit to relationship with God, to honor Him with our all.

1 Corinthians 15:33

Bright Light!

Welcome to my home. Please excuse the mess. I’m behind everywhere with my husband in the hospital, but look at this picture of our pup. It doesn’t show as clearly in this photo as it is to my weary eyes, but as the glare of the sun’s light begins to pierce through the window, the extreme light hits my eyes, distorting clear view of Missy’s face.

Realizing that brought this spiritual truth into clear view:

“…In your light we receive the light of revelation.” (Psalms 36:9 TPT)

Today my mind is bombarded by the accusations flung out to rob my focus and lead my tired brain to major on minors. You ever been there? The accuser of souls often strikes to bring us down in our weakest moments. That’s the way of a lion hunt, isn’t it: separate the weak, isolating them for an easy kill.

Today, as I experience this isolation tactic of God’s enemy attacking me, Father points out this phrase, “In your light we receive the light of revelation.” God highlights the truth for me in the light of the sun behind Missy. When that light hit, Missy’s face hidden by the glare, all my mind perceives is the light.

God wants our focus on Him: His Light that reveals the truth of our hearts and circumstances, thus overcoming the tactics of the enemy’s entrapment. For me today, that light tells me of God’s love and His understanding of my situation. He cares for me and steps in to break the successful attack on His Beloved daughter. That is who I am, a Beloved child of God, just like you.

May the Light step in the way, distorting and blocking view of the lies of accusation toward you, making clear revelation of truth as God sees it, wherever your weakness meets with enemy attack today.

Trusting God’s Faithful Plan

“O Yahweh, you are my Elohim. I will highly honor you; I will praise your name. You have done miraculous things. You have been completely reliable in carrying out your plans from long ago.” ~ Isaiah 25:1 NOG

Has God given you a vision, a heart desire to strive for in service to Him. Trust in the Lord who is proven in power and faithfulness. His word never fails, though His way looks different than our visual acuity can anticipate. He will accomplish His will in His higher ways.

Leave room for God’s glory to be revealed. We can manipulate our way to the vision as we see it, but we do ourselves, our God, and the Kingdom we profess a disservice when we force our way. We must realize the difference between pushing for some idea we hold that falls short of God’s ideal, and faithfully following God’s lead with refusal to be deterred. Growing our ability to recognize and trust God’s lead is a must.

It takes great faith to wait and let God show His might that is beyond our comprehension, as He opens strategic doors that grow us and prepare us for our future. And the practice of waiting-well most greatly prepares us to accomplish God’s will in the work He gives us to possess, as we receive His training as preparatory in the season of waiting.

Now, in this period of waiting on the Lord, we find opportunity for us to show ourselves to be good stewards in our now life of service to Him. Living well as representatives of God, accomplishing His will where we are in this Today, is the key that opens our glorious Tomorrow in serving our God. Go forth, trusting the vision to Him who holds the fullness of it, and be His righteous, loyal bondslave with this day. You will not be sorry for the time of waiting when you walk into the glorious unfolding of God’s will for you.

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.

And Suddenly!

The SUDDENLY movements of God. They can be awesome to watch, though the wait can be hard. Then suddenly the race is on, everyone scurrying to get into position for the work of God’s hands to be evidenced.

My sweet husband was ushered into the hospital by his oncologist for a fluid pocket that developed over his 10+ year old scar from his hip replacement. He’s had several in various places on that same leg this past year+, and the oncologist panics with each one. To a surgeon we go. All three surgeons we have seen said he’s better off having it drained and let it heal.

We tried to get his oncologist to just send us over to our hip surgeon. But he wanted him in the hospital to start IV antibiotics.

Of course it’s high flu and pneumonia season, so, like with sweet mother of Jesus, there were no rooms for us at the hospitals our doctor services. They did get him into our little, small town hospital to start the antibiotics. That was Wednesday.

Long story, short, until last night, there continued to be no rooms. The doctor caring for Johnny, frantic to get him with a surgeon, started pushing us toward Lubbock, Dallas, or Oklahoma City. We did not want that, but he insisted that’s what we needed, so the calls to farther destinations began. Thankfully every attempt found a closed door, and some were slammed shut and locked down. Trusting God holds the keys to our doors, we waited.

Finally, hearing my husband tell him again to try our surgeon, the doctor called him. Our doctor looked at Johnny’s stuff, and SUDDENLY they were transferring Johnny to the hospital that is always our first choice. We have the doctor we first tried to get, and our confidence in him doing what’s best for Johnny is high.

God’s suddenly put me in a rush to get his things from our small town hospital, get dog care finalized, and pack both of us for the new hospital. He got here around 7:30 last night after a comical tussle between the ambulance crew and another hospital in town.

A nurse, also rushed in the SUDDENLY, put the wrong hospital destination. The ambulance crew insisted they had to drop Johnny there and that hospital would have to get another ambulance to take him two blocks to the correct place. The two hospitals are literally back to back. There is even a tunnel from one to the other. Thankfully, the hospital, who wouldn’t let them take him off the ambulance, won the battle and saved us a second, unnecessary ambulance bill.

I got here at 9:30 after my own comedy of hassles. Thankfully there is a bed here for me, so I didn’t have to find a room and I can stay with him.

Right now he is in for his MRI. The hospital here is doing there own cultures and labs. 🤦🏼‍♀️ Our “Hospitalist” was in this morning. Our surgeon is supposed to be here later. Things are progressing, and we are peaceful.

We are very grateful for God’s “SUDDENLY”, even with the testing of character that can come in the hassle of the hussle.

Beware of Waterless Places

“”Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. ….”” (Matthew 12:43-45 NASB)

God showed me long ago that the waterless places demons travel is everyplace The Living Water isn’t. Today, as Pastor taught on this passage, I realized the need to beware of waterless spaces in and around me.

We have a tendency to give God this room, but not that closet. Beware! That closet is a waterless place, giving space for demonic activity in our lives. We give Him this friendship, but not that one. We surrender this hobby, but not that activity.

We leave ourselves open to demonic hindrance, disturbance, and occupation, when we maintain areas where The Living Water is not allowed to flow and flood. The Devil can’t have our eternal soul if we truly belong to Christ. But he can rob of abundant life in our here and now. And he can keep us from intimacy with God, a testimony of hope, eternal rewards, and crowns of glory.

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”” (John 7:38 NASB)

Father, reveal the unoccupied, waterless spaces in my life where enemy occupation has found a home. Deliver me, cleanse me, and flood every nook and cranny. In Jesus, amen.

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)

The Cleansing Coal

One of my favorite songs, recorded by Kutless, is “Take Me In (To The Holy of Holies)”. My enjoyment of it is especially true in these days of God teaching me the greater depths of our role as His Temple. On one particular day, as I sang along with it, revelation dawned on a truth needed.

The lyric is of one seeking Father to, “take the coal, touch my lips, here I am.” Those words usher in thought of two scripture passages, the first being the source of that lyric.

“…Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”” (Isaiah 6:1-7 NASB)

Isaiah has just gazed upon the glory of God, seated on His throne. Instantly, Isaiah not only confesses his sin and the sin of all the nation’s people, but he also expresses deep, abiding surrender to God’s will: “Here I am.” With Isaiah’s recognition of the fire of iniquity fueling that sin, my mind goes to the second passage risen up within me, found in James.

“…if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.” (James 3:2 NLT)

We cannot help, when in the sure and pure Presence of God, but to realize how unworthy we are to be there. When God heard Isaiah’s repentant plea, God sent the angel with the burning coal to touch his lips and cleanse Isaiah’s entire being. In doing so, not only was Isaiah cleansed and purified, but He was set apart and anointed to use that mouth in service to God. He spent the remainder of His day’s doing just that as a prophet of the One True God to the people of Israel.

Looking at both passages, we can recognize that our mouths are a major hot spot in our journey to please God. James states it clearly. Ability to control the tongue equips one to control their entire being.

Reading on, James warns, “…the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6 NASB)

Think about it. We too quickly speak, only to find ourselves on roads of endeavor God never intended. We make a rash commitment that forces us on a path to destruction; or we speak thoughtlessly, only to back out and fail to keep our word. Or we respond too quickly to falsehood, insult, injustice, dispute, only to find doors of opportunity and relationship closed; and further access denied.

Then there are hurting people who constantly hurt people. There’s prideful people who overestimate themselves and bite off more than they can chew. And there are insecure people who fearfully fail to trust God and refuse an opportunity He sends that would not only grow faith and security, but allow them to participate in a work of God beyond their comfort zone, bringing them up higher in their walk with God. And, lest we forget, as stated by James, “With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.” (James 3:9-10 NASB)

But God cleanses and God sanctifies, putting a new fire in our tongues, flaming from a bit of His choosing, controlled by the reins His Hands direct. With surrender to His bit and bridle, He leads us to walk the streets of His desire, design, will, and purpose.

With these insights, I have to ask what we can learn from the analogy of the bit and bridle. We will look at these in the next post.

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)

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.

Faith Made Whole

“… Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. …” (James 2:17-26 NLT)

Faith is made complete when it leads to agreement with the Father, producing actions of obedience that accomplish His works and glorify His Name. We know that “in the mount of the Lord it will be provided” because Abraham’s faith produced obedience out of trust in God’s faithfulness and provision that revealed The Lord our provider (Genesis 22). Faith works with God out of a trust that takes the opportunity to reveal God’s faithful character. Thus faith is made whole through actions that flow from trust that God will take His opportunity through our faith to show off His glory.

Father, increase our understanding that faith is a muscle. Faith not flexed disintegrates. Faith is made strong, mature, complete, whole, as trust moves it into action. Let our faith move us to where it sees You working. May every spark of faith press us forward to join You in making You known as You reveal to all Your faithfulness that will not deny Yourself. Open our eyes to see opportunities You give us to flex our faith muscle. May we be complete in Christ, who saw where You were working and joined You there to produce Your glory in the earth. In Jesus, amen.

Know Your Enemy

“Abram replied to the king of Sodom, “I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’” (Genesis 14:22-23 NLT)

Wow. The commitment Abram had toward God, putting His faith and trust in Him, desiring to protect God’s image at all cost. Is my heart there?

This leads my heart to another scripture I read with note today:

“… where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. …” (Matthew 6:19-24 NASB)

The desire of Abram for God and His glory was strong. Because of that desire for God and His work in his life, Abram’s eyes were set on having that desire met. He did not look away from God and the assurance He gave to him for the good coming from God’s hand. He knew any treasure of man could not compare to what God had in store, so he chose the treasure of heaven over that which his physical experience could grasp.

Abram proved faithful, having spiritual eyes full of the Light of Glory.

“When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.” (Genesis 17:1 NLT)

It was this focus on God that won Abraham the reputation of being a righteous man, a man of faith, one God called “friend”. Note what this verse says, because it contains the way, the truth, and the life: “Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.”

It is in faithfulness that we find the path of the blameless. The faithful keep their eyes on God, the Prize. The faithful have their desire set on God and His ways, being excited to see what the Lord will do. The faithful lay their treasure in Heaven. The faithful have eyes filled with God’s Light. The faithful trust God and follow His directives. The faithful protect God’s image at all cost. The faithful know their true enemy is their own fleshly , darkened eyes, set against God, His will, and His way.

“I solemnly swear to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from what belongs to you. Otherwise you might say, ‘I am the one who made Abram rich.’”

How many of us have our senses so trained on God and godliness, that we can recognize temptations to rob God’s glory? Anything that is set to steal us away from the path of God’s desire for us, is set to rob and pilfer the glory of our God. That flesh eye, filled with darkness, is what opened Eve to temptation, leading to the fall of humankind. We don’t want to be on the wrong side of that line between Light and dark.

Father, this heart of Abram is also the heart of our Christ and King. Grant us eyes full of Light found in hearts set on Your glory, that we may stand with You and for You. In Jesus, amen.

God’s Righteous Right Hand

“’Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” (Isaiah 41:10 NASB)

This excites me! Look at what this says.

  • There is no need for us to fear, for God is with us.
  • We don’t have to be anxious when we know that He is our God.
  • He strengthens us and helps us.

And the really exciting one!

  • He upholds us with His righteous right hand.

The thing that makes this so exciting to me is the clear flash of revelation that attached itself to my mind’s eye of understanding as I read it this go round. You have heard the adage, “right hand man”, right? WHO sits at God’s Right hand?

JESUS!

And what did Jesus do for us in the name and authority of the Father?

PROPITIATE!

He paid the full price owed for us in our sin. He became for us, our…

KINSMAN REDEEMER!

Because of Jesus, NOTHING can take us out of our Father’s Hand. We are safe, secure, rescued and restored. And God has…

“raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

We are the body of Christ, held up, stabilized, and made strong in The Father’s Righteous, Right Hand.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)

“Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4 NASB)

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25 NASB)

God’s Watchful Care

Which is God? Scattered and Divided? Or Together and United? Both or Neither?

“At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.) Then they said, “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.” But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.” In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.” (Genesis 11:1-9 NLT)

It appears in this passage that God is being mean, working against the people to scatter them, bringing division to them. He actually is looking out for their best interests.

First, they express desire to stay in this place, stopping the movement that was scattering them across the earth. This plan was in opposition to God’s command, given both to Adam, and again to Noah.

“…“Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. ….”” (Genesis 1:27-28 NLT)

“Then God blessed Noah and his sons and told them, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1 NLT)

In scattering the people, God was both protecting His plan for populating the earth, and He was protecting the people from sinning against Him. It’s like when we have a small child that keeps reaching for something they don’t need, something we know will hurt them. Giving them a new focus or breaking their focus away from a harmful pursuit so they choose a better and safer way is a wise solution in training them.

Another problem these faced should they have succeeded in their plan is the loss of understanding their need of God. Note The Lord’s assessment, “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!”

Working together, not only were they successfully sinning against God’s will and way, but they were setting themselves up as their own gods, adequately equipped for ever growing sin. The problem being, they could never out grow God as a god. They could, however, push Him to have to delve out a harsher response to their rebellion. And they were succeeding at leading each other astray from Him. So He took action to protect His children from straying further. Note here that this is the sin of Satan, who desired to be God and swept a third of the heavenly hosts away with him in his rebellion.

There’s something else to see in God’s assessment, “”Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!””

God’s enemy, Satan, works hard to stop God from being accepted for Who He is: The Lord, The All Mighty, The All Sufficient and only ONE. Satan knows his end, and he desires to take as many of us with him as he can persuade. This enemy knows that if he can unify a group against God, or against His will, he can get far in leading them away from Him and from their destiny with Him. This work of Satan is what we see on our TVs when a protest march turns into a riot with bodily harm and looting.

Satan also knows something else. He knows that a scattered people is a dysfunctional people. This is what we see in the divisiveness of The Church and in the splitting of individual fellowships. He stops up the effectiveness of The Church by scattering us so we cannot come to one heart and mind for greatness in the work of God.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT)

Following God’s will is our good. Cooperating with His plans is our purpose. The path to the future He has for us is our hope. Together as His people, united as one with Him, nothing shall be impossible for us.

“The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!”

God spoke a truth over the people of Babel that with Him as our desire and guide is a good thing. Only in going in opposition to God and His will is our unity a thing for our God to stand against and protect us from. Anything that is in opposition to God is Antichrist, backed and empowered by Satan, who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy us, robbing us of our eternity and the fulfillment of our God ordained purpose.

God is not opposed to unity when coupled with allegiance to Him and His ways, which are good and accomplish good. God is opposed to Antichrist. He watches carefully over His plans for us and the eternal destiny He has for His creation. By His power, He unites us to His purpose and separates us from Antichrist.

Finding Favor

I love the story of Noah. He was good at everything I aspire to.

When everyone else catered to thoughts snared by mortal flesh, he held to thoughts of God and His ways. While everyone else catered to the ways of the world and fitting in with friends, Noah loved God and ran hard after Him.

Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord, being numbered by Him as “a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time”. And “he walked in close fellowship with God.” (Genesis 6:9 NLT)

Noah was so close to God that God not only let him in on His plans to destroy the evil, but entrusted to him the job of saving the good and preserving life. Noah’s relationship with God pictures everything I want my relationship with Him to portray. The last verse of Genesis, chapter 6, gives the clue needed for achieving this life goal:

“So Noah did everything exactly as God had commanded him.” (Genesis 6:22 NLT)

We’re not told whether Noah questioned God. What we are told is that Noah obeyed. He TRUSTED God and followed His every dictate out of that trust. This fellowship with God is possible for you and me, too. God has provided for us to possess this relationship.

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

God gives us His Spirit so, through Him, we may fellowship with God. This Spirit empowers us to live lives that cooperate with God in accomplishing His will, His way. Our Spirit filled and led love work with God to convict the world of sin that separates from God, righteousness that unites with God, and the coming judgement that is already set against this world of sin. It is this knowledge imparted to us that led us to choose The Christ and receive the seal of His Spirit. And how does He do that?

Through the Spirits work in us, we learn of God, His will and His ways. And by that Spirit power, we choose obedience. We see it in this same work of the Spirit: granting understanding of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

Once we understand our sin nature and God’s provision of righteousness in Christ, receiving that gift to escape the power of the judgment of sins death, the Spirit works in us for change and transformation. As we grow in fellowship with the Father in the power of His Spirit, the Spirit empowers us to look through God’s eyes at every choice that comes. He empowers us to discern the path of sin, evil, death, and the path of righteousness, goodness, Life. He imparts good judgment to us so we may choose the path of obedience to God. Our lives become a testimony to those watching this change in us, making us partners with God in saving some.

Beloved, who is your hero of faith. Like me, you may have many. Look at their lives and realize that God makes a way for us to follow their example. By grace, in the power of God’s Spirit, we, too, find favor with God in following hard after Jesus, empowered by the Helper Spirit of God.

The Right Helpmeet

“Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”” (Genesis 2:18 NLT)

I can’t recall what had me pondering this well known verse several weeks back, but it was probably some little annoyance that had me taking a thought captive: you know those proverbial socks. This is usually the verse I ponder in those moments as I thank Father for my precious man. On this occasion, however, a question arose in my pondering heart.

“What original word is used for ‘man’ here? Is it a word meaning ‘the male of the species,’ or is it like most occurrences where the word used means mankind, human, or humankind?”

Last night, as I again found myself pulling this sword of praise out in that proverbial battle, I remembered the question and looked it up.

The Word for man in this verse is the word “adam” (little a), meaning Man (cap M), mankind, human, humankind. It can also be translated “any, anyone”. God is saying that it is not good for any of us humans to be alone. We need each other. We need not only companionship, but a helpmeet – helper for Life.

For one, it is obvious that the propagation of the species requires a male and a female. God’s design is for each male to find the female that best suits him and him her. They are intended to commit themselves solely to one another in holy matrimony, a picture of God’s unbreakable commitment to us, and together, to make a family.

A woman cannot have a baby without a man. Not even today, with artificial insemination, can it be done without some male, somewhere, donating his part in that process. A man not only needs the eggs of a female, but a womb. A “he” cannot make a baby without a “her”. We need each other.

Then there is the need of each other in living life. In my experience with my man, we so perfectly fit each other. He is good at needful things in life that I either can’t do or have no inclination towards. And he frequently tells people that he does not want my job as homemaker and mom, and how much he appreciates all I do. Now, he is very good to help me with things when I need it, or just to be nice and get me on the sofa with him quicker. But he is very thankful for the many things I do that he has no desire for doing. And I have him as my most frequently lifted source of gratitude in my thankfulness for God’s provision. We need each other.

But there’s more to this story.

“So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:21-25 NASB)

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” This clicks into place better with the understanding that we each, husband and wife, are helpmate to the other.

Children look to their parents through their growing up years to help them with their needs. They are used to running to mommy and daddy when they need something. When we marry, that reliance is meant by God to transfer to our mate. We are no longer to depend on our parents, but on each other.

A wife who runs to daddy instead of her husband for every little thing she needs breeds jealousy in her husband, belittles him as a man, and hinders his growth as a husband. A husband who belittles the wife, berating her for failing to be and do like mommy, breeds jealousy in his wife, belittles her as a woman, and hinders her growth as a wife. Such habits breed discord and hinder the unification this passage reveals as God’s will for us.

When we marry, it is intended that we each bring the best of our family forming resources and experiences to make our own family life. Done well, we make a home for ourselves and our children that is very possibly better and stronger, not necessarily in comparison to our childhood homes, but in recognition of our individual tendencies and preferences. We mold our home life to fit “us”.

As we work together, rely on each other, learn each other’s strengths, and incorporate the best of our childhood family rituals and practices, we build our own family and make a home. It most likely will not look exactly the same as our childhood family because of the differences our individuality brings to the table, but as we seek God and become one together with Him as our glue, it will be a home that is perfect for us.

“… FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22-33 NASB)

Reach for the Prize

We, the people of God in Christ Jesus, are both fully perfected in Christ as the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; and we are simultaneously continually being perfected until the day of Christ, when He is fully revealed in us.

Though we are eternal beings raised to newness of life in Christ, we still live in human flesh that tries to resurrect itself as a dominant force. We have earthbound thinking to overcome, bad habits to change, and a higher calling to walk into.

Long ago, I was impressed by God to stop setting resolutions to try to improve my flesh, and start setting my aim to reach the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. As I turned my attention to reaching for that prize, Father began showing me in scripture a mile marker for that year. My first prize assignment was to grow my knowledge of God in greater, ever increasing intimacy (Philippians 3:10-11, AMPC).

Growing intimacy with God requires time in His Word so He can point our hearts to the prize we are to reach for. My encouragement today is for a commitment to seek God in His Word, asking Him to show us the prize we are to reach for. Get into God’s Word, watching for Him to highlight the prize He has for you to attain in this coming year. Get your spiritual eyes on that prize and watch in awe as He opens His Word and opportunities to help your growth and position you for victory in grabbing that ring in victory.

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. …” (1 Peter 2:1-5 NASB)

Philippians 3:7-16 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 14

Back to the Temple, to the Holy Place, Where We are The Church

When I finished up the section covering who we are as the Temple of God, I felt that I did not adequately emphasize a vital aspect of our being that is found in Holy Place life. In the Holy Place, where only the priests can enter, all who are true followers of Christ being Priests unto God in His Royal Priesthood, life in the Holy Place is Church.

We are The Church. We wash each other’s feet through encouragement and love as we enter together. We fellowship around the Showbread Table, Light each other’s lamps at the lampstand, and worship through prayer and song at the table of incense.

I was kicking myself for missing or failing to emphasize that, praying about doing an addendum, when God advised my heart to not worry about it. Now I know that He knew the last chapter.

So here we are, the final post of our trip through Hebrews, looking at who we are as the people of God in Christ. Until now, we have focused most on each of us individually. We are each tasked as priests, standing ready at the altar of sacrifice, poised to give an account of the hope we have and share with those who want it. We are responsible to watch with care for the image of God in us and encourage it in others as we wash holy feet. We enter the Holy Place on behalf of others, yes, but also in living our lives as honors God, fellowshipping with His people at the showbread table; checking our light and lamp oil at the Lamp Stand; praying and worshiping as incense at the table of incense. There we find our entry into the Holy of Holies for very personal time with the Father.

In the Holy of Holies, we visit with our Father about His Word, growing our personal understanding and surrender to His ways. We know and are reminded of His healing from the bite of sin’s serpent of death. We remember His loving care that meets our need as manna from His storehouses, all while being acutely aware of His mercy seat where Jesus ever lives to intercede on our behalf. Here, in our individual, very personal time with the Father through Christ, we are rested, revived, and replenished to return to The Church in renewed strength for ministry.

Now we see in chapter 13 who we are corporately. We are The Church. As I read Hebrews 13, the words speak to me, giving an excellent picture of what “Church” looks like. As I read these words, here is what stands out to me for us to realize about being part of The Church.

In Verse 1, we find our first, most vital responsibility as members of The Church: unfailing, unconditional love. We are to excel in living out the Agape love that flows from Father, through Son, to and through us individually, to each other. And guess who gets the first dose after love of God in all His forms? “ME!”

As we love God, His love flows to us to empower us to fully and truly love Him more. In this exchange, we come to know His Agape for us individually, as His beloved Child. His love for “me” empowers our love for self to be a love that rightly evaluates self, frees from self hate and self worship, and empowers a humility that equips our ability to truly love others. It is a love that does not fail as God’s righteous thoughts toward “me” and those in “my” sphere of influence equips our right relationships.

This love extends to empower our fulfillment of verse 2, “Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood–being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Thus, we open our homes for fellowship, bible studies, overnight guests, etc., giving hospitality out of Love’s flow.

Love is gracious, merciful, humble, and giving. True Love, as God defines it, motivates and empowers everything we think, feel, say, and do. Thus, Love’s “…hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. ….” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8 AMPC)

Out of love, we recognize our fellow countrymen and women, feeling the plight of those in persecution of every form. As The Church, we pray for and do all we can to help those imprisoned because of their faith (Verse 3)

As The Church, we recognize that our relationships are a picture of God’s Kingdom, beginning with the marriage bed. We hold human marriage in highest honor, knowing that as the Bride of Christ, our marriage in this life is to emulate that BLESSed union.

We know that adultery and any infidelity breaks the heart of God, as it mimics the separation of sinful man from their Holy, Creator God and His loving desire for our best good (Verse 4). Infidelity is the same sin toward our mate as idolatry is toward our God. It robs from our mate that which belongs only to them, and gives it to another. And this infidelity, though usually given to another person, can be given to things, just as an idol can be a thing or a pursuit that robs what belongs first to God or our mate.

As the people of God we hold God and His nearness as greatest value, knowing He who will never leave us, meets our every need. We do not give His glory to the monetary temptations of this world or hold any other treasure above Him, who cares for us affectionately and watchfully (Verse 5-6). This, too, fits the marriage bed, as we are called to cherish and nurture our mates.

As The Church, we work together to grow in our relationship to Triune-God, learning to truly love, honor, cherish, and nurture that Holy Union with God. ”So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently and boldly say, The Lord is my Helper; I will not be seized with alarm [I will not fear or dread or be terrified]. What can man do to me?”

As The Church, we pray for and support the leadership of our assemblies. We call them to accountability for righteousness in their leading, and we follow their holy example, imitating their faith as we grow by their example, a faith that leans the entire personality on God to become the real individual He wants of us (Verse 7-8).

Verse 17 adds instruction to “Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them continually recognizing their authority over you, for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account of their trust.”

Their “trust” is from God, the responsibility given as shepherds of their flock. We are charged to do our part “to let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you either.”

At the same time that we are to follow our leaders, helping them lead victoriously, learning and growing faith because of their example, making sure we do not become a source of hardship and sorrow by bucking their authority, we are to be watchful for false teaching. Verse 9-15 warns that there should not be alien traditions added to God’s Word of instruction. Nor are we to trust any other altar of sacrifice for sin than that of God’s Son. “It is good for the heart to be established and ennobled and strengthened by means of grace (God’s favor and spiritual blessing) and not to be devoted to” unnecessary rituals and sacrifices.

As The Church, we care about others, meeting the needs of others (Verse 16). We pray for the work of The Church, its ministries, evangelists, preachers, teachers, etc., ministering to their needs (Verse 18-19). Following these guidelines, we accomplish the fellowship of Holy Place ministry.

“Now may the God of peace, Who is the Author and the Giver of peace, Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood that sealed and ratified the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), strengthen, complete, perfect and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; while He Himself works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it). …” (Verse 20-25).

(Hebrews 13:1-25 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 13

We Are the Children of God: Recipients of The Father’s Discipline

“… The Lord corrects and disciplines everyone whom He loves, and He punishes, even scourges, every son whom He accepts and welcomes to His heart and cherishes. You must submit to and endure [correction] for discipline; God is dealing with you as with sons. …” (Hebrews 12:5-15 AMPC)

Beloved, as people who are rebirthed into Christ, we are the blood born children of Holy God. He loves us completely and unconditionally. One proof of God being our Father who loves us is His discipline working righteousness in us.

Discipline gets a bad rap in our day. The ways of discipline are toned down, often calling actions common to discipline abusive. Spanking is taboo, yet God’s Word says that if we spare the rod (some define as a small switch for stinging the legs), we HATE our son (child). (Proverbs 13:24 NKJV)

The main reason that I believe “discipline” gets a bad rap is that many define discipline as harsh, linking it only with spankings, grounding, or other punishments given for wrong doings. But God’s discipline, though it does respond to wrong doing and may respond harshly, is always done out of love, and is much more than reactive.

The defining parameters of discipline is training in righteousness, that we may be holy as He is holy. The number one verse I run to when describing discipline, which speaks of the purpose and work of scripture, is 2 Timothy 3:16-17. This oft quoted verse uses words like teaching, reproof, correction, training, instruction, conviction. The goals of such discipline are to increase righteousness, to make adequate and fully equipped for good work; to train in discerning good and evil. So we don’t just get onto a child for doing wrong. We train them to understand why it is wrong and teach better ways and reasoning so they find value in righteousness. That is God’s purpose in all He allows to touch our lives.

God does not tempt us to evil, but as He trains us to know the difference between good and evil, He does grant opportunity to recognize and choose between them. The older I get, the more I realize that any choice between good or evil is actually a choice between God and not-God.

Scripture teaches to avoid bad company because desire to fit in with those we call friend, when they constantly lean toward evil, erodes at and corrupts our good morals. The Father practices what He preaches, another vital aspect of discipline, desiring us to follow suit. Our walking with corruption separates us from the Father. If we truly want a close relationship with our Father, we must run with Him and with those close to Him.

Training involves time. We cannot teach a child how to love on a puppy without hurting it and expect them to fully understand in that instant how to love and treat others. It takes time and practice with ever growing subject matter to bring us up in how to love and treat others. And those that learn fastest and easiest are those who have parents who are good role models. Consistency is a must.

Now, I know parents can be abusive, but instead of training parents how to discipline righteously, we are training them to coddle children, making for kids who are selfish, unable to truly care for others, making them targets for evil.

Beloved, as blood born children of God, because He loves us and desires us to be all He knows we can be, having a right estimation of ourselves, God disciplines us. This discipline aimed at helping us become all He knows we can be is the meaning of training a child according to his (or her) “individual bent” (Proverbs 22:6,AMPC). It means recognizing one, the type of discipline that works best in training the child without breaking their spirit. Secondly, it requires the parent to recognize their child’s strengths, weaknesses, gifts, talents, and abilities, helping them grow and develop in line with who they are and can be.

When training a child to overcome their weaknesses, discipline helps them recognize resources that make them strong in weak areas. A child learns to hold on to things that stabilize them while growing strong walking legs. As we teach a child to walk by giving them our fingers to hold while we stabilize them, so we must help them learn to grab God’s hand and rely on His resources. The thing God wants us to learn and to pass on to our kids is this: where we help a child learn to walk, the goal being to eventually let go of us, God wants us to grow to know to never let go of Him. Our true weakness comes when we run in our own strength, forgetting that we still will do best by holding His hand. We are at our best when willingly surrendered to His care.

Beloved, we are the most BLESSed kids around, because our God loves us enough to care what we do and who we become. Because God loves us, He is always ready to forgive failure and, taking us by the hand, He shows us the still more excellent way of love, righteousness, peace, and joy, breeding heavens glory into all we are, say, feel, believe, and do, so we are the best “me” He created us to possess.

“My son, keep your father’s God-given commandment and forsake not the law of God that your mother taught you. Bind them continually upon your heart and tie them about your neck. When you go, the words of your parents’ God shall lead you; when you sleep, they shall keep you; and when you waken, they shall talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp, and the whole teaching of the law is light, and reproofs of discipline are the way of life.” (Proverbs 6:20-23 AMPC)

(2 Timothy 3:16-17 AMPC; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 5:14, 12:11; 2 Peter 2:14, NASB; Proverbs 22:6 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 12

The Testimony of Kingdom Coming: The Testament of God

“… Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God. … Urged on by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go. [Prompted] by faith he dwelt as a temporary resident in the land which was designated in the promise [of God, though he was like a stranger] in a strange country, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs with him of the same promise. … These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God’s] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth. Now those people who talk as they did show plainly that they are in search of a fatherland (their own country). …” (Hebrews 11:5, 8-9, 13-14 AMPC)

Chapter 11 of Hebrews brings hope to many people of faith as testimony of people of faith through the ages rolls across its verse. Reading through these precious words today, I see mere humans, lauded for a great faith that led to actions bearing testimony of their faithful God. Several things I note as I read:

First these are people of faith who trusted the same perfect God of promise, but these are not perfect people. Abraham fell more than once to fear: faith’s biggest enemy. Moses, a Christlike leader of God’s people, struggled with anger issues that led to doing things his way instead of God’s way. David, the mighty warrior with a heart for God, committed adultery, then tried to cover it up by committing murder. Yet, though they did not behave perfectly and had to repent more than once, these made the faith hall of fame as recipients of God’s faithfulness.

Second, every promise given is fulfilled, but none saw all fulfilled in their lifetime, and some we still wait for we know as finished in the eternal though we still do not see it. This fact is a picture of faith. And this walk of faith we live bears a testimony of God.

Beloved, we who believe God and trust by faith are His living, breathing, testament, adding daily to God’s faith hall of fame.

“And all of these, though they won divine approval by [means of] their faith, did not receive the fulfillment of what was promised, Because God had us in mind and had something better and greater in view for us, so that they [these heroes and heroines of faith] should not come to perfection apart from us [before we could join them].” (Hebrews 11:39-40 AMPC)

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-B3

Holy Place, Part 3 – The Table of Incense

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place. Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:2-4 NASB)

This passage in Hebrews makes it sound like the altar of incense was inside the Holy of Holies, but it wasn’t. However, as we will see, it is so vital to service in the Holy of Holies that it makes sense they would see it as part of that glorious room. According to God’s instruction to Moses in Exodus 30:1-10, the altar of incense was placed in the Holy Place, in front of the entrance to the Holy of Holies. God’s instructions for Arron, the High Priest, are as follows:

“Aaron shall burn fragrant incense on it; he shall burn it every morning when he trims the lamps. When Aaron trims the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense. There shall be perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations” (vs. 7-8).

Perpetual is never ending or changing. It is to occur repeatedly; so frequent as to be endless and uninterrupted.

Two things to note: One, that no one was to enter the Holy of Holies except once a year on the Day of Atonement. That tells us that the altar had to be outside the curtain, because the High Priest tended the incense daily, in order for it to be perpetual before the Lord.

Second: no other sacrifice was made on this altar, with the exception of the ritual of blood on the Day of Atonement. There was prescribed incense that was for use on this altar. Exodus 30:34-38 gives specific instruction for the incense, a special blend that is holy to the Lord only and not to be used in the same proportions for personal pleasure. It is the Lord’s. God also warns in verse 9 of Exodus 30, “You shall not offer any strange incense on this altar, or burnt offering or meal offering; and you shall not pour out a drink offering on it.”

Other facts gleaned about the incense altar include the fact that the fire for the incense is taken from the hot coals of the sacrifice, beginning with the sacrifice for the priests given each morning, and being part of the ritual with many offerings, such as the peace offering.

Commentaries, along with scriptures describing the Day of Atonement rites, tell us that the smoke and scent from the incense altar wafted up and moved through crevices around the heavy curtain covering the Holy of Holies. On the Day of Atonement, after the sacrifice, the priest was to burn the incense before entering the Holy of Holies. The scripture specified that the cloud of smoke from the incense altar would “fill the mercy seat”, making it safe for the priest to enter. (Leviticus 16:13)

Another telling passage to note is the story of Korah’s rebellion. Korah committed the sin of Lucifer (Satan), that of the pride of thinking more highly of himself than he ought. (Numbers 16:1-50 NASB)

Jealous of Aaron’s position, Korah came to Moses claiming to be righteous and worthy to hold the High Priest’s office. He led 249 others to follow with the same claim. God instructed them to come before Him, bringing censors with burning incense before the Lord. You can read the account of God’s choice of Aaron and Moses and the demise of Korah in Numbers 16. But it is the rebellion of God’s people on the following day that gives a vital picture of the purpose and significance of the altar of incense:

“But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD’S people.” It came about, however, when the congregation had assembled against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tent of meeting, and behold, the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” Then they fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!” Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. HE TOOK HIS STAND BETWEEN THE DEAD AND THE LIVING, so that the plague was checked. But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the doorway of the tent of meeting, for the plague had been checked.” (Numbers 16:41-50 NASB)

Note the tendency to blame anyone other than those who did the deed. Sound familiar.

Beloved, the cross of Calvary is our coals of sacrifice. Jesus, the Rose of Sharon, is our incense; and He is the one who floods the mercy seat, ever living to intercede on our behalf. By Him, we enter the Holy of Holies into the very Presence of God. Through Him we intercede for others, as He takes our prayers and praises to the Father, a fragrant aroma, pleasing to God.

One important thing to note from the rebellion of Korah against the chosen: the difference between them was their heart attitude and surrender to God’s will. We, as priests unto God, chosen by Him in Christ, must bear this heart of humble surrender to Him in our service on behalf of mankind. We must take credit due us for our sin, own it, and, with wholehearted fervor, be quick to repent. We can stand, assured of our priestly rights, when we hold the censor and trust our Altar of Incense in our serving.

As Jesus takes His stand between the dead and the living, we serve as His representatives by standing in intercession for those of this world in need of a Savior. We stand for the needs of those in the body of Christ. We stand in service at the pleasure of the Father because Jesus takes His stand for us. Because of Christ, that heavy curtain is torn asunder, and Christ, the Savior, ushers us into the presence of the Lord God, our Father. Trust in the Sacrificial Lamb is the incense we burn before the Lord. He is our Seed of sacrifice. Bow down and worship the Lord for His glorious gift to us!

“For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure; for My name will be great among the nations,” says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 1:11 NASB)

AMEN!