Tag Archives: spiritual blessing

Worship: Positions From the Heart – Throughout our day

“You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7).

Part of worshiping God is telling others, especially our children, of His precepts and of our experiences with Him. God is alive, but people who do not know Him are too often blinded to His existence. It is important that we remember to praise Him and tell of Him throughout our day to day lives. This passage in chapter 6 of Deuteronomy speaks of four strategic worship stances: sitting, walking, laying down, and rising up.

Sitting to me pictures relationship. We often sit when we visit with someone. Giving them our focus and taking every opportunity to speak trust in God into their situations is a vitally needed form of praise and worship.

Walking depicts comradery, walking together through life. We all know in this life we do not always see eye to eye. But we can learn to walk together even in our differences and to share God’s presence and how He reveals Himself to us as we walk together for His glory and to His purpose.

Laying down: I see rest. We best worship and honor God when we enter His rest. Too often, in our moments of rest, this life, its struggles, things of the past and worries of the future hinder our laying down times. Such hinders our testimony of God, keeping others blinded to His reality, when they see us as stressed and uptight as they are. It is the greatest form of worship when we can go through this life that can often be difficult, facing those challenges from a stance that is rested in Him.

Rising up: when life does knock us down, what greater worship can there be than to get back up again and carry on with faith in God.

Worship is not a here a little, there a little, word of mouth and sing along action. It is the day in and day out living with earnest expectation and hope that is rested on the reality of our loving, life-giving God.

Here With Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74CNUExD4I8&list=PLFF54F40EEBC31260&index=1&feature=plpp_video

Worship: Positions From the Heart – Bow the Knee

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care” (Psalm 95:6-7).

It is interesting to watch military personal when in the presence of the commander and chief. You can tell by the way they salute where their heart lies toward the man in the office. Some are very respectful and sincere in their salute. Others salute the office position because it is expected, but there is no real respect for the man in it. And then there are times when the man in the office is such a disappointment that the soldier at arms will refuse to salute.

Like with these soldiers, it is the same with those who profess to worship God. Yesterday we discussed the heart of worship. God looks to the heart and it is the sincere of heart toward Him that He best responds to. Today we look at the first of several positions of worship that scripture speaks of and the heart behind each, beginning with the bow.

Bowing before a sovereign is a show of respect to that position of authority. It is like the salute, honoring the office of one in authority, and the heart behind it makes all the difference. As I consider the positions of worship, I see in each a heart issue that must be in play for God to recognize it as sincere worship in spirit and in truth.

Taking first the bow, we bow to the authority of God over us. It is a position of surrender. And that position must begin in the heart of the man. To bow without consciousness of the surrender to God’s authority is position without true thought and intent.

Today, in the wake of the storms of life that come at us, in the challenges we face through the day, our call is to bow the knee by first bowing the heart in surrender to God. In closing, let us realize anew what the “heart” is. Heart in scripture speaks of the core of ones being. It is body, soul, and spirit. To bow physically to God in our body is easy in itself, but what of the rest of our core being?

Bowing the spirit, the eternal part of us that lives on into eternity, requires unity with the Spirit of God that quickens us—breathing new life into our being that will remain with God forever. Our spirit man bows to the work of His Spirit in us.

Bowing the soul: the mind or thoughts, the will and the emotions, this is the biggie to our surrendered posture. As the thought of a man goes, so goes his body or his being. We bow to the sovereignty of God in our minds when we take every thought captive to obey Him in Christ. When we bring our thoughts in line with His, our wills will quickly fall in line with His, and our emotions will follow our will.

Bowing before Sovereign God is a heart issue that must be whole and complete to be real and true of spirit.

We Bow Down

Worship: From Hearts After His Own Heart

“… The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart …” (1 Samuel 13:14).

In these days, as we watch the destruction that is coming out of the storm to the northwest of where I now sit, my heart is filled with the understanding that we need to be aware of the greatness of God who can and will see us through. My heart has been troubled for some time, called by God to pray for some “devastating storm” that will hit our land. Even as I watch the destruction that seems to be what God has my heart crying out to Him for His grace to protect, I sense, “this is not yet it.” I can’t even fathom what God is warning of in this season of prayer, but one thing I know:

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. For now I have chosen and consecrated this house that My name may be there forever, and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually” (2 Chronicles 7:12-16).

God is with and for His people, and, in Christ, we are His chosen and beloved temple, chosen as His house of sacrifice as we follow the example of Christ. He heeds and responds affirmatively to the heart that is sincere before Him, the heart of the people of His temple. And one assurance we have that continually comes to my heart in these days is that “Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.”

When God’s people put their hearts to praise the Lord, wholeheartedly trusting in His sovereignty, there is no evil that can prevail against His will. He is God above all, and a heart after His own heart, that trusts in, relies on, has faith in and is confident in Him will see His sovereignty in their life storms.

Therefore “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1).

For a season we begin a look at the heart of true, Spirit-filled and Spirit-led worship. As we worship God with a heart that truly believes in His Worth-ship, we will see Him high and lifted up and working in whatever storm may come our way.

“An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24). Worship in Spirit and truth comes to those who are wholehearted toward God, sold out to trust in Him, no matter the difficulties life in a fallen world brings. The sacrifice of praise is the call of God in this hour of storms.

~*~

“We are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).

 Join us as we pray, praise and worship together on Living Worshipers’ Page: http://www.facebook.com/LivingWorshipersPage#!/LivingWorshipersPage

In the Flow of “Now” Living

“…Behold, I will make you to be a new, sharp, threshing instrument which has teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and beat them small, and shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest or whirlwind shall scatter them. And you shall rejoice in the Lord, you shall glory in the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 41:8-16, AMP).

I have feasted on this promise for a very long time now, God highlighting it as true for me, something I can count as a done deal by His grace. As yet I do not fully comprehend all this means, but I am beginning to get glimpses.

The other day I received the following Spirit of Prophesy Bulletin from Faith Tabernacle: a devotional thought written to the body of Christ as from the Lord. It often speaks to me on a personal level, and this day struck me as something worth heeding. Quoting “The Trumpet” devotion by Bill Burns for 10/15/12:

“‘I have set those in this earth, those who are My psalmists, and they shall establish a flow, a flow of My river among My people, a flow that will help My people come higher, a flow of My presence. Because their songs come from heaven and their songs are anointed, they shall indeed impact you and bring you into what I am doing. So when you hear the sound of heaven impacting your heart and when you hear the sound of heaven coming upon you embrace it and let it do its work. Let it bring peace to your soul, let it bring joy to your heart and let it bring healing to your body. Let the Spirit of the Lord flow in the sound that I am bringing forth as promised. For such a time as this embrace My sound,’ says the Lord Most Holy.”

This is my heart’s desire, to be one who sets the flow that encourages and helps others come up higher. Perhaps today can be a beginning.

This morning, before ever cracking open God’s book, He spoke peace to my heart as I began typing thoughts into my journal. I suddenly knew that fretting over things in life not being as I would like or ever dreamed it would be is wasted energy and trashed time.

There is a poem God gave my heart a long time ago and I quote it often.

†   Yesterday is gone

†   Tomorrow may never be

†   Now is all the time

†   God has gifted me

†   Will I use it well

†   Or waste it in the way

†   Time will surely tell

†   The choice I make today

 Life is too short to waste one moment of it on yesterday’s whoa. What might have been is not what is. Fretting over what others did to us and the place their hurt now has us only empowers their hurt to continue ruling our lives. We throw away what we have, giving precious time to nothingness by worrying about the “might have been.”

I am not alone in this struggle. I have family members I love dearly and friends too, who are snared by the “what might have been”. No more, I say! No more. Life is too precious to waste. I decided today to give all I have to my now, living to the full and doing the best I can in it, and let God take care of yesterday and tomorrow.

One of my daughters said something that struck me and may be the source of this decision. Quoting as best I can recall, “I made the best decision I could back then with the information available to me at the time. I am not going to waste time now second guessing that. What we have now is what is. We have to carry on from here to do the best we can in it.”

Fretting over yesterday is like a CSI climbing in the trash bin of life to pull out dead bodies. Now is what is promised to us. Carry on with me, dear friend, doing your best with the information available to you; “And you shall rejoice in the Lord, you shall glory in the Holy One of Israel.”

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 6

His Robe Fills the Temple

 “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple” (Isaiah 6:1)

My heart soars to the heights as I read this. Why? Because the train of His robe, all His royalty and glorious regale, fill the temple, and that temple is us, God’s people! We who have Christ as Savior, the Lord who not only equips our righteousness, but covers our sin with His righteous robes, we are made by Him to house the essence of God in all His glory. Can you fathom what that means for us? For little O struggling soul called “me”?

All that God is, in all His fullness, is available to fill up all that I am or ever hope to be.

Have you read “The Shack” by William Paul Young? Many are turned off to it because he portrays God’s three personas with the Father depicted in the beginning as a woman—which, by the way, God Himself likens Himself to a mother, caring for her young. He gives good reason for this depiction, but still, many miss a good read for that reason. There was another thing I noted, a comment I believe I understand the gest of but that could easily be blown out of proportion. Still, I digress.

There is one thing that comes across from “The Shack” very clearly that I believe is true of God and worthy of note. Mr. Young does an excellent job of depicting God’s full love that is available for every man, woman and child. God is not like us, trying to divide Himself between us all, giving “quality time” to each, being worn out by the sheer number of us and our endless needs, having less and less to give us because of waning strength. Each of us has His full attention, His total love, and we are each His favorite. The problem is that we don’t all realize, recognize and receive that. The author of The Shack makes that point clear as well. God is for all of us, though not all of us choose Him; and He is fully available to each of us with the whole of His love and care, but He will not force Himself on us. Only those who choose Him as the One true God become the temple in which the train of His robe flows forth.

I believe that when we begin to truly realize and comprehend the incomprehensible love of God for us and how much He longs to be involved in our lives, that is when we will experience the train of His robe filling the temple of our lives, and we will join the heavenly throngs…

“…‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory…’” (vs. 2-3).

I sing “Holy,” O God. “Holy!” I am only just beginning to rest in the joy and realization of Your robes flowing into the rooms and spaces of my life. I thought I knew it before, but I only knew in part, as I still only know so little. But I am realizing You more and more each day as You speak clearly to my heart to reveal the greater depths of Your essence and presence with me. Here am I, O God. Fill me up. Spill me out. In Jesus, amen.

The Dream – Part 1

The Battle Revealed

 

Father, the dream, it is pregnant within me, filled with meaning and power. Here am I, O God. Help me to write it. I can do nothing on my own, but only as You give utterance can I.

~*~

Last night I had a dream that I believe is vital for our day. In my dream there were three main characters: the Groom, the Bride, and the enemy suitor that took many forms and had many faces, all coming at the Bride and Groom at one time.

~*~

Now you have the characters, here is the setting:

The Groom has a Bride that He is absolutely mad about. He loves her more than life itself and she is His by promise and by right. All that He does, He does for her, giving even life and breath to show His love and care for her.

The Bride loves the Groom like no other and desires Him above all. Her heart soars at the site of Him, and her greatest delight is His pleasure.

But there is a rival to the Groom who is constantly trying to separate them from one another and woo the Bride away. This enemy suitor puts on appearances of having love and care for the Bride like that of the Groom’s, but his motives are sinister. Though she is not swayed, this rival suitor is relentless in his pursuit.  

~*~

Now you have the setting, here is the dream.

The suitor is constantly pulling at the Bride. She frantically reaches for the Groom who is chasing hard after her as His rival works to separate Him from her presence, but every time they get near to a firm grip on one another, she is swooshed away by the suitor in some new form or many. The Groom runs hard after her, never doubting her faithfulness to Him as He sees in her eyes her desire, and knows her heart for Him.

As the Groom chases His Bride, the enemy suitor takes His legs from Him. Each time he does, the Groom yells, “I believe!” to His Father, and His legs grow back fully restored. He starts His pursuit of the Bride again with ever increasing fervor. Over and over, the enemy suitor takes the Grooms legs, the Groom cries out His faith to the Father who responds to His faith, restoring His legs with power to perform, and the chase goes on.

Determined to win the battle, the suitor turns and takes the legs up to half of the pelvis of the Bride. The Bride, impregnated begins to show signs of her pregnancy as the fetus grows strong within her. The suitor tells her the child is his, to be raised up for his intent and purpose. Missing half of her body, the Bride puts the whole of her life energy into the focus of growing the child within her to be birthed healthy and strong. She has lost sight of her Groom in her pain and stopped reaching for Him, putting all her energy into growing a healthy child within, trusting that something will happen to free her from the pain as she gives her life for the child.

Meanwhile the Groom is calling to her, reaching and fighting to get to her side only to be hindered and fought at every turn by the enemy suitor’s many forms and faces. Calling out to her, as she focuses to grow the child, she hears with recognition the voice of her Beloved, shouting, “Only believe!” Her focus on delivering a healthy child, filled with hope, increases.

Finally the Groom breaks through to the Bride grabbing hold of her hand and assuring her, “The child is ours! We will raise it to our intent and purpose.” Her legs grow back, full and strong, and the suitor with its many faces and forms steps back for a bit as the child is born. I awake to the scenes of the Bride holding the child close and protected; and the Groom standing guard and fighting off the enemy that is now intent on steeling the child.

As I wake, I come quickly to discern the meaning of the dream. The Groom and the Bride are, of course, Jesus and His Bride, the Church. The enemy suitor is Satan and all he uses to lure the Bride away from the Groom, with all their many forms and faces. They try to stop Jesus from complete, intimate, and faithful union with His Bride, but Jesus looks always to the Father who protects His ability to pursue her and get to her. The Bride is impregnated by the Groom with the seed of Righteousness that will work His intent and purpose in the earth. But we have the enemy suitor that is doing all he can to hinder our union with the Groom and get hold on the fruit of our lives, souring it for his intent and purpose, to hinder the birthing of Righteousness in the earth and the bearing of the good fruits of the Kingdom and Crown.

So what are these hindrances used of Satan to cut the legs to half the pelvis off of the Bride? Next post we will look at some I believe are the biggest influences that make the birthing of Righteousness a challenge to be overcome by faith to “Only Believe.”

Thoughts From Isaiah – Chapter 2

A Work Worthy of Worship

“Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made” (Isaiah 2:8).

Is it wrong to rejoice in the work of our hands? That is the question I find myself pondering as my focus is drawn to Isaiah 2:8 for today’s ponderings.

In today’s reading, the people were literally making images out of wood, stone, and metals that they sat up on mantles and called their god. They bowed down to works of art—the works of their hands, and worshipped them.

As Christians we believe there is only one God and He is One though He is seen in the form of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They are one and the same together, three portrayals of the one God. We worship Him who is One. But what about the idols of life? Do we fall to worshipping the works of our hands?

I stand in awe of the gift God gives me for writing His word. Every time I see the words flow to the pages for posting to encourage His people, my heart soars to the heights with awe of His work through me. I rejoice and find great joy in doing this work He calls me to. That is the way I believe God desires it to be as His people find joy in the works of their hands as gifted and empowered by God. That type of worshiping in the works of our hands honors and glorifies God as we surrender to Him as His instruments in all we do, acknowledging from whence our ability comes and our absolute, destitute need of Him in the doing of it.

At the same time, I have constantly the need to be careful that I do not turn to pride in my own efforts. I constantly have to remind myself that I can do nothing apart from Him, and I continually remind God that He is my first most vital need. I cannot do good work apart from Him, for He alone is good. Without Him my writing is labored and faulty, and I know I must have His power flowing through to do the work He calls me to accomplish.

There is a fine line between rejoicing in the works of our hands through worship of God who equips us, and worshiping the works of our hands as if God has nothing to do with it. No matter what our pursuit in life or the activities we take on, without God, it is nothing.

Father, help us today to honor You in all our ways, doing all things as unto the Lord and in the power You supply, giving You glory due Your name. Thank You that You gift us to do work in life that we can rejoice in, finding life abundant and full at the work of Your hands through us. We are partners with You for life, O God. Be glorified and magnified in all we do. In Jesus, amen.

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 1

Passion Inflaming Gardens

Wow. For the first time in several months I find myself without a clear direction for our time of Pondering together. Seeking the Lord for where He desires to speak to me, I am led to read Isaiah. Until God directs otherwise, we will consider thoughts from Isaiah, most likely looking at one thought for each chapter. Today we consider thoughts from Isaiah 1:27-31:

“Zion shall be redeemed with justice, and her [returned] converts with righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God). But the crushing and destruction of rebels and sinners shall be together, and they who forsake the Lord shall be consumed. For you will be ashamed [of the folly and degradation] of the oak or terebinth trees in which you found [idolatrous] pleasure, and you will blush with shame for the [idolatrous worship which you practice in the passion-inflaming] gardens which you have chosen. For you shall be like an oak or terebinth whose leaf withers, and like a garden that has no water. And the strong shall become like tow and become tinder, and his work like a spark, and they shall both burn together, with none to quench them” (AMP).

Passion: What is the passion of your life and focus right now, in this very instant? If you are like me, your desire is to say that God is; that the things that God is passionate about are the things that impassion you. But I have to ask myself as I read this thought for today if that is truth. Or is my passion an idol to be dealt with?

Today’s world has many pleasures to be had in it. We can become impassioned to those pleasures with ease, but do those pursuits help our witness or hinder it? Do those things we give ourselves and our time to bring increase to the kingdom of God? Or do we watch the clock tick by hours and minutes in uselessness?

There is nothing wrong with me enjoying a good game of Jewels 2 or Majong Titans. But when I watch 10s of minutes fly by, hour after hour in pursuit to the higher score and faster win day after day while hurting friends are ignored and the house needs attention, my passion for the game becomes an idol that robs of the weightier things of life more abundant and full.

Consider your passions today. Are they driven by eternity, or driven by the earthly?

Father, grant us to have Your heart of passion for those around us and for meeting needs. Help us to have right priorities that, yes, allows for rest and fun things, but not at the expense of our being Your hands and feet in the world. In Jesus, show us Your glory and help us to be Your light reflecting in the earth. Amen.

Chasing Rainbows With DADDY – Part 1: Introduction

The Highway

There is one car commercial that thrills my heart every time I see it. I have to back the DVR up as we are flying through the commercials on a recording and watch it over again. In the commercial, a little girl and her daddy are flying down the back-road highway, looking for something.

“Do you see it?” daddy yells.

“There it is!” exclaims daughter.

Later, “Where is it?” asks dad.

“Its gone. We lost it,” the dejected voice of his little girl says.

“We’ll find it,” assures daddy as he turns on a dirt road, splashing through a puddle.

Next you see them running excitedly through an open field, daughter anxiously hurrying daddy, beckoning him to come quickly. Grasping hands, together they enjoy the rainbow across the way.

Watching that commercial fills me with excitement because I know in my heart that Daddy-God is beckoning me—and you—to chase the rainbow with Him.

For many, the rainbow has come to be synonymous with the promise of God, a reminder of His faithfulness. Today we begin a journey that, for me, is a ride in the car with Daddy-God, watching to see where we will wind up. I see vaguely the direction we need to go on this journey, but the specifics of the path to get to the treasure of the rainbow is unclear. Thus we get into the car with Daddy as we begin by looking at the first rainbow, found in Genesis 9:8-17.

In this passage, Noah and his family just disembarked from the ride of a lifetime, one in which they are led to a new beginning like no other before it or since. “Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, ‘Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.’

“God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ And God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.’”

The rainbow: the sign of covenant promise. To remind who? God? Really? Do we really think that Daddy-God forgets anything? I believe that anything He “forgets” is by choice; not because He has a faulty memory.

“But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, And the Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me” (Isaiah 49:14-16).

“Hear this, you who trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over, so that we may sell grain, and the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market, to make the bushel smaller and the shekel bigger, and to cheat with dishonest scales, so as to buy the helpless for money and the needy for a pair of sandals, and that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?’ The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob, ‘Indeed, I will never forget any of their deeds’” (Amos 8:4-7).

“Yet you have not called on Me, O Jacob; but you have become weary of Me, O Israel. You have not brought to Me the sheep of your burnt offerings, nor have you honored Me with your sacrifices. I have not burdened you with offerings, nor wearied you with incense. You have not bought Me sweet cane with money, nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; rather you have burdened Me with your sins, you have wearied Me with your iniquities. I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:22-25).

God is not short of memory. He chooses what He will hold on to and what He will let go. He does not need to tie a string around His proverbial finger as we too often do. The rainbow is placed in the sky as a remembrance, yes, Him saying to us, “I choose to remember my covenant-promise and I remind you of it with this reaffirmation of my commitment to you.” And what have we discovered such signs to be placed for in our study of the stones of testimony? A sign such as this not only acts as a covenant agreement between two parties, but is reminder to pass the testimony on to our children and grandchildren, telling them of the work of God in our midst that led to the sign being put in place.

Science may give us the details behind the making of the rainbow, but it is God who set up the chemistry for its making. We can trust the faithfulness of God, and the rainbow reminds us of this truth.

Thus begins our journey to chase the rainbow with Daddy-God. When I first thought of this series of study, I thought we were to look at some of the specific promises of God to His people, however, though we may do some of that, I have come to believe that we are to discover together what a child of God who is chasing rainbows with Daddy looks like. Again, I am not sure where all this will take us or how long this series will be, but I hope you will get in the car with us as we see where all Daddy-God will take us on this chase.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 8

Joyful Cross Bearing

Jesus, in Luke 9:23, said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (NLT).

The Amplified version clarifies the call to “deny self” as “disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself.” And it says of those who choose to respond to Jesus’ “follow Me” as including “cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also.” To me, our passage for today in First John is the call to complete the sufferings of Christ by choosing to take up our cross daily and follow Him.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever” (1 John 2:15-17, AMP).

Too often I hear people define the cross we bear as things that are beyond our control: sickness in our bodies that we can do nothing about, wayward children, a philandering husband, etc. That is so far from the truth. Jesus did not have to bear the cross. He chose too. He even told His disciples when they started to fight to save Him from arrest, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54)

Just as taking up His cross was His to choose, so is our cross. And it is a daily choice of denying self so as to follow Jesus. This passage speaks of one thing that most often hinders our cross bearing. Let’s break it down to discover what that is.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. …”

Love of the world and the things of the word will definitely stand in the way of self-denial and choosing to follow Jesus through cleaving to Him and His ways. When we choose the world and its pleasures, we deny our love for Jesus and choose to love the world over our love for Him and the Father. We cannot love both. That is what this passage is saying.

The world is polar opposite to God and His ways. To choose the world, we must walk away from God. And what is it that the world appeals to in luring us away from our call to bear the cross with Jesus? Self-interest.

“…For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. …”

The world appeals to our flesh through our craving for sensual gratification. Don’t mix “sensual” up with “sexual”. Sensual gratification has to do with the body’s sensory systems that love to be pleasured. That includes our taste buds, music preferences, desire for freedom from every form of pain that is too often used to lead us into addictions that cover up that pain, etc. These are the things that appeal to our physical appetites, and yes, that can and often does include our sexual appetites. The world loves to draw us away from God by appealing to our sensual appetites.

This passage also warns of the world’s appeal to us through a particular sensory organ, our eyes—further defined here as the “greedy longings of the mind.” Think on a desire too long and we will give into it.

Take, for example, my Spark Journey. Try as I may, I struggle constantly to find victory and freedom over my desire for sweets. Why? I see one I like, and though I may walk away successfully, my mind will start thinking about how good it tastes, how the texture is on my tongue, etc. The next thing I know, though it may take several days of thinking, I will fall away from my commitment to stay away from the sweets. Once I taste that sweet, it re-enlivens the desire for more and off on a binge I go.

The world and the desire it parades before us is not our friend. It is a pawn in the hand of the enemy of God that wants to keep us ensnared to the sins of the flesh, working hindrance to our relationship with God. And what does that enemy often use to defeat us? Our own sense of pride, rightly defined here as assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things.

Continuing our example above, do you know what knocks me down for the count every time I fall to snacking on sweets? Pride spurred by frustration to say, “I should be able to do this. I am stronger than this pull to sweets. I can do this”; All the while forgetting that though I can do this, I can do nothing apart from Christ, who is my strength.

Then there is the pride seen in the pity party: “Oh, I fell again. I am never going to get this. I may as well quit trying.” Yes, this is a strike against one’s sense of pride as it centers on the failure of one to have power, forgetting where one’s power is found; calling God a liar who says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Does God never give us anything out of the world? Yes, He does. But when He gives it, whatever it is, it is always for use toward our good and His glory. He gives me and you food for the building up of the body so we may have strength to live good days on the earth, bringing glory to Him whom we look to for our provision. But when we love the world and the things in the world, we go after those things for the sake of meeting our sensual appetites and we glorify the world for its bounty. When we seek God first and foremost, what does He say?

“…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well…” (Matthew 6:25-34). And what is God’s promise in our passage today, given to us who will take up our cross daily, denying self to follow Jesus.

“…he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.”

Life more abundant and full, with all the provision needed for life, belongs to those who complete the suffering of Christ through denying self, daily, in order to please God alone.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart” (vs. 4, AMP).

Do you realize that delighting in the Lord is a duty for us who seek Him? We cannot have His Light without first having Him. And one who truly has Him, delights in Him.

John Piper has a book out that suggests that delighting in God is a command to His people. Titled, The Dangerous Duty of Delight, the danger comes from the fact that our true, sincere and complete delight in Him will put us in opposition to the world as we walk the paths He lays out for us. I highly recommend this book.

So what is delighting in the Lord?

My first thoughts are from my simplistic mindset. Those I delight to be with bring joy and rejoicing to me, and hopefully, me for them. I long for their companionship and seek them out.

I think of the delight I have when bouncing my smaller grandchildren on my knee and hearing their laugh—finding joy in their joy. Thoughts of times with older grandchildren come to mind, getting to know them as the people they are becoming, sharing with them in their lives, praying with them, loving on them, sharing some of myself with them.

Then there are my children, other relatives, and close friends. What a joy it is to share their lives, see God’s work in growing them, encourage them in the way and be encouraged by them. What a delight these relationships are to my heart.

And lest I forget, what joy and delight I find in relationship with my beloved husband: spending time with him, listening to his heart’s desires, hearing his heartbeat, cuddling up with him and just enjoying being with him. The longing of my heart is for him, to honor him, care for him, fulfill his needs, help him through life; to be the best wife to him that I can be. In likeness to the author of “Lord, Teach me to Pray,” I often pray, “Lord, give my husband a better wife, and let it be me.”

Perhaps the definition of “delight” is “relationship”; and the greatest picture we have of relationship to God is the right and true love relationship found in the marriage bed.  But just for laughs and grins, what does “delight” mean? Yum! I see good food to chew on as I turn to freeonlindictionary.com: Delight defined.

“Great pleasure; joy. Something that gives great pleasure or enjoyment. To take great pleasure or joy: delights in taking long walks (I would add “with the Lord in His garden of delights”). To give great pleasure or joy: an old movie that still delights (never losing our delight in the Lord). To please greatly. …

Extreme pleasure or satisfaction; joy.”

The definition of “delight” led to look at “to please”, and there we find our meat:

“To give enjoyment, pleasure, or satisfaction to; make glad or contented. To give satisfaction or pleasure; be agreeable.”

Yum! Delighting in the Lord means to be a servant that desires His pleasure, satisfaction and contentment, finding one’s own pleasure, satisfaction and contentment in His. This is the roll of one who is not just a slave in Christ, they are a bondservant. What is the difference?

A slave is generally one by force or by the right of legal ownership of his person belonging to another. They are told what to do when and they have no choice but to obey or receive the consequence. These often will seek every opportunity to get out of their bondage.

Whether or not we realize it, “slave” to God is the roll of all who live: Why? God holds legal rights over us.

Adam sold us into slavery to sin and death. God bought right over us back through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, paying the price He required through the flesh of His own Son given willingly and freely.

All belong to God. And those who do not choose before their physical death or the return of Jesus Christ to be His bondslave through the relationship afforded us by the sacrificial gift of Christ’s death in our stead will suffer the consequence of their choice. They will find their escape from God, but they won’t like it. 

God does not force us to be His servant. He has gifted us with choice through Christ. Those who do choose Him are gifted with the seal of His Spirit for all eternity, and though they remain servant by choice, they also move from the roll of slave to that of the adopted child of God: no longer numbered as “Gentile” or “sinner”, we are “Jew” through Christ—the chosen and forgiven, circumcised of heart.

A bondservant is one by choice. They have found that being servant to their Master is the best place they can hold. They serve because they love the Master and they trust His love for them. After all, He gave His all through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son to provide a place for them with Him.

In this love relationship with the Master, these then grow to know their Master’s desire and way to the point that they will know, as if before they are told, what needs to be done. Their hearts are one with the Master, knowing His will and having His desire at heart. Their relationship is one of mutual trust, love, and reliance (yes, God has a form of reliance on the bondslave, though it is Him who supplies our ability to be reliable – Matthew 25:14-30).

Delighting in the Lord is to no longer be slave, but bondservant: “To be the will or desire of. To have the will or desire” of God as one’s own. Delighting in the Lord is becoming one with Him. Obedience is easy because love abounds:

“If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. …I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here” (Jesus, John 14:23-24, 30-31).

So get up, let us go from here as bondslaves through Christ who delight in the Lord. Then He will give us the desires and secret petitions of our heart.

Now let me warn you, this does not mean that He will give us whatever we ask for. Like a good Father, He only gives us the best, and He gives what is best for us. So how can He promise to give us our secret petitions and desires?

Look back over our definition of ‘delight’. He can give us our secret petitions and desires because as bondslaves who delight in the Lord, our first delight is to have His desires at heart. He is able to fulfill this promise as He works in us to align our desires with His own heart. How does this happen?

It begins with the mind of Christ.

Beginning tomorrow we will press ‘pause’ on our study of Psalm 37 to take a look at what I believe reveals one to be dictated by the mind of Christ. Again I ask you to pray with me for God’s heart as I seek Him to lead us through this study. See you tomorrow!

Choice Point

“Because of and through the heart of tender mercy and loving-kindness of our God, a Light from on high will dawn upon us and visit [us]; To shine upon and give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, TO DIRECT AND GUIDE OUR FEET IN A STRAIGHT LINE INTO THE WAY OF PEACE.” (Luke 1:78-79, AMP) 

A friend sent me a devotional thought written by Sarah Young in her book, “Jesus Calling.” In this devotional sent me, written for June 12, Sarah writes, “Stay alert to the many choice points along the way, being continually aware of My Presence.”

“Choice points”: Stirs my heart with excitement as I realize anew that God desires our step by step, breath by breath following after Him. Our God, high and lifted up as He is, desires and provides for us to be His constant companions, walking with Him just as Jesus did: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner” (John 5:19).

 Every step we take in a day, every breath breathed brings with it a choice point. He desires that we recognize His Presence with us in all of our path and in every breath of our life, following Him not only with our every action, but with every motive and heart attitude.

He longs for us to have the heart of Mary and of Sam (the Samaritan woman at the well), seeking Him to find Him, desiring Him above all else, having a heart that sits with Him before moving to any “doing”, bringing our every experience of Him to delight, and making our every encounter with others an opportunity to shine His light. God’s desire is you and me, intimately and personally, in ever deepening love relationship.

Father, it is awesome to me that You delight in the intimate knowledge of Your people, and in our desire for You. Today, Father, as we hear Your voice, let us not harden our hearts toward You, but help us to choose life, following hard after You at every choice point. Grant us faith to believe Your presence and walk in obedience with You so as to enter Your rest and the land of Promise You lead us to: that place of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. In Jesus, I pray You, show us Your glory. Amen.

GREEN HIGHLIGHTS

God led me this morning to copy Psalm 37 in the Amplified version to my journal. He led me to highlight everything that He highlighted for my spirit, using green highlight for the things the Spirit gave as specific to me and my life struggle. Then the Spirit instructed me to pull all the green highlights to see what the Lord has to say to me. This is what I wound up with—inputting a few words to connect the thoughts as the Spirit instructed. Psalm 37:

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing for the uncompromisingly righteous (the upright in right standing with God) as evil seeks to slay those who walk uprightly: blameless in conduct and in conversation.

“But the Lord upholds the consistently righteous. The Lord knows the days of the upright and blameless, and their heritage will abide forever. They shall not be put to shame in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.

“Remember that the uncompromisingly righteous deal kindly and give, for they are able. And you are able for God makes it so as He busies Himself with your every step. Though you fall, you shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps your hand in support and upholds you. Therefore, trusting Truth, depart from evil and do good; and you will dwell forever, securely.

“The mouth of the uncompromisingly righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks with justice. The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. Wait for and expect the Lord and keep and heed His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land. Realize that there is a happy end for the man (or woman) of peace; be a woman of peace.

“The salvation of the consistently righteous is of the Lord; He is their Refuge and secure Stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they trust and take refuge in Him.”

Leaving Our Baals Behind

The following was written to a group of Christian Women seeking to align our lives with the mind of Christ, having His thoughts and motives as we practice Christ-centered mindfulness in our life choices. Sensing I am to copy it to my ponderings blog, I pray God will use it in the lives of all who read…

Leaving Our Baals Behind

Jeremiah 8:22 was a discussion point with a friend not long ago. As I thought about the passage and sought the Lord, He reminded me of what He showed me years ago with regard to health issues. Knowing that we are trying to get our thought life to line up with God’s will and help us change bad habits so we can look and feel better, having greater strength for serving the Lord and ministry to family and friend, I think this thought process found in Jeremiah 8-9 fits here, thus I share with you.

Studying Chapter 8:22 – chapter 9, first I note that the questions of 8:22 are rhetorical. “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Yes there were balms ordained by God for specific ailments. “Is there no physician there?” Yes, there were physicians gifted by God for His use in Gilead. “Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?” Then God answers His own question in chapter 9: the two main passages being 9:13-15 and :25-26:

9:13-15 – The LORD said, “Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice nor walked according to it, but have walked after the stubbornness of their heart and after the Baals, as their fathers taught them, therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “behold, I will feed them, this people, with wormwood and give them poisoned water to drink.”

There are certain, basic laws that protect our bodies and keep it fit: healthy diet, plenty of water, fitness habits, and right thinking, attitudes, motives, and actions / reactions to emotionally charged situations, all of which are vital to the health of our bodies. We have failed to follow these laws, and so, here we are.

Each of us has our personal Baals that rule in areas of our lives; a ruling influence in areas of life that truly belongs to God. For example, when a stressor happens and we run to our favorite comfort food, that food is usurping the place of God as comforter.

Wormwood poisons the water and makes one deathly ill. Wormwood can be equated to the natural consequences of bad decisions we make, such as constantly eating sweets or overly processed foods instead of the foods higher in nutrients and lower in chemicals that are harmful to us. We can also put a sedentary lifestyle here, as never breaking a sweat hinders the body’s natural detox; as does failure to drink enough just plain water, or water with lemon—which aids in detoxing.

9:25-26 – “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the LORD, “that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised…for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.”

Here is what I understand from this passage: Going to a doctor as part of our seeking after God’s healing is not wrong. God uses doctors. The thing that kept the people from being healed is that they would go, receive the doctors instruction, and run back to do all they were doing before, getting sick all over again, or continuing in their sickness. They were looking for quick fixes that required nothing on their part, thus they were uncircumcised of heart, making few if any lifestyle and belief system changes.

God brought to mind the person who is an addict: whether to cigarettes, sweets, or drugs and alcohol. A drug addict is brought into the ER in overdose. We get him past the emergency and get him into a place where he can get help to find God and leave his Baal behind. Once he is strong enough to enter the world again, we tell him, “Now you have to get a new group of friends. If you go back to the old friends and the old hangouts where drugs are in use, you will come into temptation and more often than not, we see people back in here again; or worse, we bury them.” They agree with understanding, only weeks or months later, thinking themselves strong, they go out with an old friend and wind up in worse shape than they were before.

God is really using this right now to speak to me. He is telling me that I must be serious and sincere about this journey I am on, for a lot of my health issues are tied up in my diet. Sugar, more specifically sweets and pastries are among my Baals.

I know that I have refused a lot of the doctor’s advice as far as getting on certain meds, knowing that all the ads say that “with diet and exercise, this med will help.” I refuse the med knowing that to take the med without a commitment to diet and exercise is relying on the med to keep me alive and not being obedient to God in my healing. And I know that if I do the diet and exercise right, chances are I will not need the med. If, after a sufficient time of diet and exercise, I do see a need for that balm, then is when I take that script. But the script will do little good without the commitment to leave my personal Baals behind and walk with circumcised heart. To rely on the med for my life without commitment to change and healing is to refuse the circumcision.

My prayer for each of us, as we make this journey to a Christ-mindful, healthy lifestyle, is that we will recognize our personal Baals: those things we give ourselves to in the place of God, especially where our diet and exercise, mindset and dealing with emotional situations is concerned. I pray that we will allow Him to circumcise our heart through changes in our way of thinking and responding to these things, bringing us surely to His healing in our bodies.

Dear Grandkids, Part 6

Finally, Principle 5, the Y – You are now at the stage of BECOMING an adult—BUT you are not there yet.

Research on the workings of the brain reveal that until somewhere around the age of 25, young people do not have the capacity to fully recognize what their actions right now will bring to their future. They have not developed the “pathways” in the brain’s function to fully connect the actions of today to the unseen consequences of tomorrow’s years. Therefore, it is a wise young adult who has the maturity to seek wise counsel from those who have developed that capacity of brain-function. It is important to develop older, wise counselor-friendships with parents, grandparents, and people who can help you connect action now with potential consequences in the decisions you face. You are not stupid. You are intelligent and are developing wisdom. Be wise enough to seek wise counsel from those who have lived longer than you and who have shown themselves worthy of being followed.

Well, my beloveds, this is a beginning. I hope as God gives me thought to do so that I can write you with instruction to help you choose paths in this life that will leave you with few or no regrets for your tomorrows. That should be the goal of every soul, to live lives without need of regret. We all struggle to gain confidence until we learn who we are in Christ and find our confidence in Him. You will get to where you need to be in life by following Him first and foremost and developing a strong support group of friends who are good company and wise counselors in truth.

I love you, and I want what is best for you. You are constantly in my prayers, that you may know God and His ways, that you may find the path He has for you in fulfilling His purposes in your life, and that you may live a life that honors Him as the One True God of your life, bringing Glory to His name, and helping others to know Him.

I love you!

Meeme / Meems

Jesus Had The Choice

John 10:17-18 “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

This speaks to me today as I consider that Jesus is our example in all things. I note here anew that from the day of His birth till the instant of His death, Jesus had the choice. He chose to lay His life down for you and for me, but He had the right, given Him from the Father, to change His mind at any point along that road.

You and I have been gifted with the authority to choose as well. Just like Jesus, we are called day by day to lay down our life—our own wants and desires—and take up our cross—choosing God’s will and way, His assignment for the sake of others, over our own wants and desire, thus following Jesus. At any point along the way we have the right to change our mind, lay down our cross, and take back up our life.

Aren’t you glad that Jesus stayed the course for our sake? I find myself asking today, “Is there an area in my life where I am failing to stay the course for His sake?”

I also note, as I read this passage, that Jesus knew that laying down His life was only temporary. By laying it down to fulfill the will of God, He would win it back again with greater abundance. Sounds like another example worth following, doesn’t it?

In this Christmas season, let’s give back to Jesus the blessed gift of followship.

Greener Grass?

“You can picture a million lives and never have one of your own” (Character on CSI).

Wow, that line hit my heart whenever I heard it. Not that I don’t have a life, mind you. I have lived dreams. But that line made me think of times when dreaming can take over and lead us to discontent with the now we have to the point that we lose the life set before us.

I wonder, are you — like me — one who needs someone on occasion to give you a good boot and say, “Wake up! Smell the roses where you are”? We have to realize that though the grass may be greener on the other side, it can also be bitter with a hidden poison that will destroy the deceived and weary grazer.

“…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. …” (Philippians 4:11-13, NASB).

The Talents Revisited: Part 1

Read Matthew 25:14-30

“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money” (:14-18).

Who is the master Jesus is alluding to in this passage? I believe that He is talking about Himself. Knowing that He was about to leave us for a time, He is letting us know that He is leaving, but also that He will return one day. While He is away, He is leaving us with something valuable, and we are responsible to increase it so we return greater value to Him when the account is due. The question then becomes, “What is this valuable commodity?”

This passage is often used to speak on our responsibility to be accountable to God for the use of our possessions and finances, and that is a good application. But let’s look at it from a heavenly standpoint? What is the currency of heaven?

It is not gold. God uses gold in the place of asphalt and bricking materials. It is not jewels. They too are imbedded into walls for decoration and possibly even bricking. (Revelation 21)

What is the currency of Heaven? Could it be character?

In passages that give us a glimpse into the heavenly streets we are told that we will not use money to purchase our need. It tells us that what we need to obtain entry to the Kingdom and anything of Heaven’s supply is righteousness. It is the righteous who are allowed to walk the streets, eat of the fruit of the tree of life, and drink the cool water from the spring of Living Waters. Righteousness is the cornerstone of godly character.

With this thought, the question becomes, “How did Jesus leave us with this currency and how do we bring increase to it?” May I suggest the “talent” the Lord left us to increase in our lives and in the earth is the produce of the Spirit of God.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. …If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:1-18) .

Jesus promises to give us His Spirit, and Ephesians 5:18 makes it clear that we are responsible then to be filled with the Spirit. How do we increase the amount of filling we have of this Spirit of God? By the expenditure of the power that Spirit supplies for godly character and righteousness. How do we spend that power? Through allowing the Spirit to do His work and have His will in and through our lives. So what does that look like so we may know we are succeeding in being good stewards of this provision of God? And what does it mean when it says that He gave talents to them “according to their ability”? Hum? See you tomorrow. 🙂

GraceDifined#2: Spiritual Blessing

Returning finally to my focus on grace, in our last session we defined God’s grace that is found in His unmerited favor. That unmerited favor is “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness” expressed toward us because of who He is and because of His purpose toward us. This grace is “unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing.” It is the mercy of God toward His chosen people, chosen for a sincere love relationship with Him and to be useful in the accomplishing of His good will and purpose in this life. It is His provision of spiritual blessing and saving grace through Jesus Christ; and by it He gifts us for service (Romans 3:24, 5:20-21; 1Peter 5:12).

This review of the first blog on grace as unmerited favor reveals one aspect of God’s grace as being spiritual blessing. In the Amplified Bible, several passages use the term spiritual blessing, divine blessing or divine favor as the defining characteristic of God’s grace. That definition qualifies the grace spoken of as originating from God in the power of His Spirit. When we truly walk in the knowledge of that grace, being affected by its work in our life, that grace is coming to us from God. It is only through the flow of grace from God to us in the power of the Spirit that we can give true grace to others.

One thing I note as I look at these passages is the expression of that grace found in the recipient. We often see Paul and others write a greeting that expresses hope for those receiving their word to walk in God’s grace (spiritual blessing) and peace. Peace accompanies this grace in the life of the recipient of God’s spiritual blessing and divine favor. One verse stands out to me in which we find this union of spiritual blessing with peace, as it defines this work of grace in the recipient.

According to 1 Peter 1:2 in the Amplified Bible, those who walk in the spiritual blessing and divine favor of God experience Christ in ways that bring ever increasing measures of His grace with peace. This grace mixture at work in our lives is expressed in us through many degrees of freedom: freedom from fears; freedom from agitating passions; and freedom from moral conflicts being listed in this passage. When we are walking in constant fear, constantly struggling with ungodly passions agitating our souls, wavering on moral issues, most likely it is because we fail to fully receive by faith this grace mix in ways that cause us to walk it out.

What is there about this grace that allows us to walk in peace and freedom? First Peter 1:13, Amplified, says it is hope, but hope in what? “…the grace (divine favor) that is coming to you when Jesus Christ (the Messiah) is revealed.”

It is hope in the Divine favor of God found in the work of Christ’s completed ministry in us, faith in the finished work of His coming again to rule for all eternity, that brings this grace with peace to work freedom in us. It is trusting that whatever is tempting us to leave our freedom is there with a purpose that will make us more Christlike. It is such a faith and hope in our eternity with God through Christ that no threat to our freedom can cause us to waver in fear, ungodly passion or moral conflict. This verse instructs us to brace our minds on this hope, being sober, circumspect, morally alert to the returning Christ and His work in us as we wait. Our hope set wholly and unchangeably on this provision of God’s grace found in Christ is what allows us to receive His grace with peace that sets us free.

The following quote fits here to explain this truth. Speaking of Christians, Rev. Rick Parnell said, “In this life you and I live by promises, not by explanation.” We must trust God’s promises, taking Him at His word if we are to walk in the full freedom of His grace.

Speaking with regard to suffering brought to us by the work of God’s enemy, 1 Peter 5:10 tells us that by this spiritual blessing and Divine favor found in Christ’s work in us, God Himself uses our suffering to complete and make us what we each ought to be, establishing and grounding us securely, strengthening and settling us into this grace more fully and surely.

And in passages like 1 Peter 5:5 we see the coupling of humility with this work of God’s grace. God’s grace comes to the humble. The humility called for is pictured for us in Christ, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Christ chose to be of lower stature than the Father in His triune manifestation, showing us the way of God’s work of grace to the humble.

As I read that description of Christ, realizing that we are to walk in the same spiritual blessing He had—that grace of God that provides peace and freedom from fear, ungodly passion and moral conflict—we too can be loosed into bond-service that can face any insult, even threat of death, with God’s power in play. We can walk in victory, because of the hope of grace sufficient to overcome every difficulty.

Dying to self and living to Him, we find grace, sufficient and working in us to bring us into His glory and peace. May we each find God’s saving grace working freedom in us to the filling of His purpose and plan at work in us (1 Peter 1:10).

GraceDefined #1: Unmerited Favor

Using the Amplified version of scripture in her sermons, a verse used by Joyce Meyer stands out to me one day, as it brought greater refinement to my understanding of what God’s grace is and how it works. Hearing that verse read aloud started me on a personal journey to discover the greater depths of God’s grace toward us. Digging out every scripture I could find using the word “grace” in the Amplified, what better place to start than with what is already known.

The most common definition of grace I know of is “unmerited favor.” It is undeserved favor that God chooses to give, not because of who we are or what we do and don’t do, but because of who He is and because of His own desire toward and for us. God is the giver of grace.

This grace is spoken of in such passages as 1 Peter 3:7, where husbands are called to honor their wives, realizing that though they may be physically weaker, they are joint heirs of equal standing in God’s grace. Paul says in Romans 12:3 that it is because of this grace, this unmerited favor, that he is able to give warning to others against thinking more highly of self than we ought. It sounds to me like this “unmerited favor” is important for us to understand and possess so that we can rightly relate to one another, and so as to think correctly about self and others. But what exactly does “unmerited favor” mean?

According to the angels words to Mary in the Amplified version of Luke 1:30, this unmerited favor means “free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness.” This grace toward Mary is what made her worthy of being God’s chosen mother of the Christ Child. This chapter of scripture states no particularly outstanding attributes that Mary had to make her favorable beyond the fact that she was a pure virgin. It was God’s grace toward her that chose her for the honor of service as the chosen one for birthing the King of kings and Lord of lords into this world.

John 1:17, Amplified, defines this grace as “unearned, undeserved favor and spiritual blessing.” It is the mercy of God toward us that honors us as His chosen people, useful in the accomplishing of His good will and purpose in this life, providing us spiritual blessing and saving grace through Jesus Christ; and by it He gifts us for service (Romans 3:24, 5:20-21; 1 Peter 5:12).

So that means no worries, beloved, if you feel unworthy and inadequate for God’s use. God has you covered by grace—His unmerited favor and lovingkindness that gives to us the spiritual blessing of partnership with Him in His purpose and plan. One thing I noted that accompanies our receipt of this grace of our God is the heart-peace to walk in it (2 Timothy 1:2, 9-10). So go forth in peace and prosper the Kingdom. God’s grace has you covered.

“By Silvanus, a true, loyal, consistent, incorruptible brother, as I consider him, I have written briefly to you, to counsel and urge and stimulate you and to declare to you that this is the true account of the grace (the undeserved favor) of God. Be steadfast and persevere in it” (1Peter5:12).

Join me in my next blog session for more on grace.

(PS: My blogs have a tendency to run words together, when pasted in. Sometimes I forget to proof for that before posting. Please forgive when that happens.)