Since yesterday’s blog post, where I shared a peak into my youth and exposed a little of myself to you, I have been thinking about graphics.
I am sure you realize, Christian brothers and sisters, that we live in a terribly graphic society. Movies and even games get increasingly realistic. The more real the graphics appear, the better these do at the box office. The news shows us real life action of the storylines of our day. And our graphic society is made most evident in the live-action footage shared on U-Tube type sites where the day’s good and evil acts are posted for all to see: from beheadings, to our grandbaby’s birthday celebrations and their cute antics, all shone in brilliant, lively color.
We are a very graphic society, except where we most need to be.
As I have considered this topic, I realize that we, the church, are too often muted. I am not just talking about being too quiet. Some of us shout well enough, but we fail to speak the language of the day. I am talking about failing to be clear and real enough to be noticed. We fail to tell people the details of our lives and how God has moved to deliver us, often out of shame, and sometimes because we believe people see enough evil in the world without seeing “mine”. I’m not talking about play by play, gory detail, but enough detail so they understand and see our experiential understanding of the world they live in and the difficulty they face. Beloved, if we cannot match the graphics of the day, not as hanging our dirty laundry out there, but showing the detail of the dirt and contrasting the work of God in delivering us from it, how will we catch the attention of those who are captivated by a very graphic world.
I have often wondered how much stuff my children might have been spared experiencing if I had been more graphic in my instructing and teaching them. It is one thing to tell them, “Save yourself for the marriage bed.” It is another still to say, “1 Here is the mistake I made. 2 Here is how it affected me. 3 This is God’s way that I learned too late. 4 You learn it now so you are spared the mistake. 5 God is faithful and gracious, and here is how He has restored me. 6 But I wish I would have had someone to tell me what I am telling you today so I could be spared the shame and regret and the struggle. 7 I am thankful that God used the struggle to reveal Himself to me in this way. He is gracious, and I am set free. Live the freedom I am teaching you today and spare yourself the need of the grace to heal the wounds of the sin and shame.”
By the way, that I just stated as example is the outline for a graphic testimony. Hang the dirty laundry with the cleaned up version right beside it. Let the contrast be used of God to catch the attention of those looking for help in a world that seems hopeless. People are asking us, “How do you know there is a God.” In a world of graphic evil, destruction, heartache, sorrow, and many whoas, they need to see very graphic proof of God’s work in us.
First Corinthians 14:6-9 fits here, brethren: “Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you SPEAKING IN AN UNKNOWN LANGUAGE, How Would That Help You? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, That Will Be Helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle? It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.”
Paul is talking about speaking in tongues, but the same can be applied to our too often religious speeches. We must learn to speak the language of the people so they can understand. In a graphic society, graphic truth is needed, spoken loud and clear above the roar of the world. People need to hear how we know there is a God. Shout it out above the roar, beloved, by speaking clearly and distinctly so as to be heard and understood, and be not ashamed to show graphic proof of how God has made a difference in you.
“Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you” ~ 1 Peter 3:15.
Seeking to please man instead of God, our fear of being found out may well be the weapon used against us that is hindering our providing another with the graphic proof of God that will save them the trouble of sin.
This series started as God spoke to my heart things I need to remember and put into practice as I see things in our day that disturb the heart and have me watching more steadily to the East for the Rising Son. Then, as I shared in our intro, the Spirit led to realization that something coming upon the earth will happen soon, causing the hearts of even the elect to quake. In preparation for knowing how we are to face such days, this study began.
By way of review, our study began in the intro with a call to remember that God is God and we are not, therefore we must trust in, lean on, rely on and be confident in Him. As the Architect and Builder, He holds the plans for all eternity in His Holy hands. He alone has the full blueprint. We see in part and know in part, but He sees fully with full knowledge. We must trust Him in these days that even the chaos and the quaking yet to be revealed are birthing pangs leading to the great things of God. (See the intro)
In our days together, we have covered many Words for Life that will see us safely through the birthing process. To come through this time of new birth, we must to ACTIVELY ABIDE in all that God’s word instructs us to abide in, especially in His Light. As things around us grow steadily dark, signaling the passing of the old and the birthing of all God’s design and desire, it is vital that we remain in His Light and be His Light to dispel the dark and draw those in who are open to the truth. (See blog post 2 of this series)
One reason we must be faithful to abide in His light is because darkness can cause even the elect to question whether He even exists and if His saving grace is real. God is weeding and pruning in these days, revealing those who say they have faith, but, having a head knowledge of God, do not truly believe from the heart (see 1 John 2:18-19; John 15:6); and pruning off branches from those who do truly believe, but still hold to the old that hinders fruit bearing (John 15:1-8).
In the Light of God we are able to know that He is faithful and His Saving Grace through Jesus is true; the full payment – propitiation for sin. To weather the coming storms, we must TRUST THE FAITHFULNESS OF GOD AND HIS PROVISION for our eternal destiny. And we must trust with believing hearts that JESUS IS OUR ADVOCATE, forever and always interceding before the throne of God on our behalf, day and night. (See blog post 3 of this series)
Blog 4, “Sanctified – Set Apart”, reminds us that, like Esther, we are here for such a time as this. God has a purpose for us to fulfill in working with Him as builders on His eternal project. To fulfill our purpose we must have our minds and hearts set on the things above, the higher things of God’s eternal purpose and plan.
A major aspect that is needful for our living Sanctified – Set Apart lives is learning that we are called and EQUIPPED to BE as He is (blog 5). We are given His Spirit whose number one work in us is to restore the IMAGE we were meant to have: that of being like God in all aspects of our character and nature, will and purpose, thought and emotion / desire, deed and action. Scripture calls us the Body of Christ. We are to be an extension of all that He is, able to complete the work of Christ in the earth as His hands, feet, heart, mouth, etc. It is vital in these days that we find our place in His body and become all He desires us to be for His use in these days.
Then the blog posted yesterday on “Kingdom Reality” (blog 6) calls us to realize if we haven’t already, that our eternity began the day we said “I do” to Jesus, becoming part of His bride that is being made ready for Him. In that instant, we became citizens of the Kingdom of God, having authority and responsibility as part of the Royal Court to fulfill Kingdom purpose in this world. Like Queen Esther, we are here for a purpose. If we truly know Jesus as Savior and the triune Godhead as Lord, we are now and always will be of God’s Kingdom, and not only of God’s Kingdom, but of the Royal Court of Christ, working out of His authority. So act like it. Remember it. Let that reality direct our decisions and actions, our thoughts and desires, and our way of treating others.
In this final blog, I must remind us, as John did, “Children, it is the last hour,” and antichrist is alive and well in our day (1 John 2:18-23).
The war of terror brought by “radical Islamists” is the spirit of antichrist. People like one of my nieces, who say, “no god is my judge”, is ensnared by the spirit of antichrist. All who come against Christendom and the Jewish population out of which the Christ was birthed, whether a people group or a philosophy, that true enemy force is antichrist. All that seeks to lead God’s people from their faith and the truth we are to live is antichrist. Thus it is vital in our day that we:
Test our faith (2 Corinthians 13:5): *1 John*; Romans; *Galatians* – Colossians; these are excellent texts to read, praying for the Spirit to bring us to true and right evaluation of ourselves as to our hope in Christ and whether we are of true faith (Romans 12:3).
Just believing that Jesus is, is not enough beloved. Even the demons believe and they shudder (James 2:19), but their faith is not that of one who is saved for all eternity, one with Christ in His Body and part of the Bride – citizen of His Kingdom. There is more to it than just believing Jesus is / was. If our faith in Him does not bring His Spirit to possess us (1 Peter 2:9; John 16) and change us from the inside out to be as He is, producing the fruit of God in us (Matthew 7:15-23), we need to make sure of our position in Him. Today is the day of salvation, beloved, for JESUS IS returning at an hour we do not know, and on that day it will be too late to make that decision. Be sure of His calling and equipping you for all eternity.
Test the spirits (1 John 4:1): “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” ~ 1 John 4:1-6.
Beloved, I can’t say it better than that. If the Spirit of God resides in us, He testifies with the truth. If what I have shared is truth, the Spirit of God in you has done summersaults within you, confirming for you that these things are of God and convicting our hearts that these truths are to be heeded with understanding and with determination to do them. Even testing to see if we have the Spirit of God can be done by simply asking, do I truly believe all that Jesus says about Himself and all that others of scripture profess as truth concerning Him and is that understanding effecting the way I live, think, and prioritize life?
When we do doubt, and even the strongest can have moments of weakened faith, the Spirit quickly rises to assure the heart of the one who is truly His through Christ. If the Spirit within confirms our faith, we have hope of eternity and are called and equipped to become as He is, the very image of God, bearing the fruit of it. If we have doubt that remains, today is the day of salvation!
“As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning (the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth). IF WHAT YOU HEARD FROM THE BEGINNING ABIDES IN YOU, YOU ALSO WILL ABIDE IN THE SON AND IN THE FATHER. This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.
“These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing (Spirit) which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing (Spirit) teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him (in God by the Spirit of God)” ~ 1 John 2:24-27 (Authors notes of understanding).
BE Strong and Courageous:
“Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him. See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, THAT WE WOULD BE CALLED CHILDREN OF GOD; and such we are.
“For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. …”
Antichrist is all that does not know or acknowledge God in all His fullness, especially the Christ who is our propitiation. The “world” is all that is dictated by the wisdom of the spirit of antichrist. That world sees that we are the Children of God because of our faith in Christ that brings to us the hope of eternity with Him, making us to be as He is; and being convicted, they hate us because they hate Christ because of the spirit of antichrist within them. That world spirt will come against us more and more as the day of Christ’s return draw near. Therefore we must be strong and courageous, drawing ever nearer to God, assured of the Spirit and the faith that is in us, filled with His Spirit, and ready to give an account for the hope that is in us, in season—when it is popular, and out of season—when it is not popular.
The birthing pangs we are experiencing are those of the coming tribulation that will usher in the 1000 year reign of Christ and the final and forever defeat of Satan and his evil. And, unfortunately, it will bring the destruction of all who are enslaved by the spirit of antichrist and fail to turn to receive the Spirit of Christ. But 7 years of tribulation will lead into that final hour of judgment and condemnation of antichrist in all its forms.
I am of the belief system that we who are now in Christ will be raptured out at the beginning of the tribulation period. Scripture seems most to teach that philosophy. But there is precedence for a later rapture time, and we must be ready for either scenario. We must test our faith and the Spirit in us to be sure that we are ready when He comes to go with Him, ready to stand before His throne with confidence in Him and His advocacy for us. And we must be strong and courageous, so if we are part of the tribulation saints who will suffer those days, we will have the ability to stand firm in our faith even when antichrist comes to kill us. That spirit of evil is doing and will do all he can to destroy those who truly and sincerely believe with whole heart.
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” ~ 1 John 2:28-3:3.
Cling to the Hope that is within you, and let no one and no thing steal IT from you or you from IT! Realize these are the last days, and many are perishing because of the spirit of antichrist that rules the world and it philosophy / wisdom. Be bold and courageous to share your faith wherever you are able, with hope that the Spirit of God will use it to deliver yet another ensnared by sin before it is too late.
I read a devotional thought by Joyce Meyer yesterday that spurred concern for the people of God who might read it without understanding. Now I have sat under Joyce’s teaching for many years and I know her heart was on target, but for someone who may not know the Lord well or be one who will look at the scripture for themselves, this particular devotional fell short of where it needed to be, as I see it.
In this particular devotion from her “Power Thoughts” devotional book on February 10, Joyce is covering a thought from Proverbs 17:22, “A Happy Heart is Good Medicine.” In her thoughts on the subject, she says, “Joy is vital! Nehemiah 8:10 tells us joy is our strength.”
I agree 100% that joy is vital to us, as vital as unconditional love and peace that passes understanding, both of which come from God alone. We will struggle to make it in this life without these: peace, love and joy. But it is not joy that is our strength, it is the joy of the Lord that is our strength.
“Then he said to them, ‘Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength’” ~ Nehemiah 8:10.
There are many things that can bring us joy: people, relationships, sporting events, hobbies, books, movies, etc. But each of these can also let us down and bring us to much grief. We can feel stronger at the time we are enjoying these, but when some grief comes along, the joy is robbed and strength is gone.
The joy of the Lord transcends all other joy we may have. There are two things I know about the joy of the Lord that makes this a joy beyond understanding and comprehension, just like the peace Jesus leaves us and the love that God is. This joy finds its supply in the very storehouse of God. It is not dependent on anyone or anything but God who freely gives it; therefore no heartache on earth can rob us of it. This joy is not even dependent on my emotional state or my ability to possess it. It is found and received when God is our delight, bringing us to seek after and trust Him first and foremost.
Rejoicing in the Lord comes from knowledge of Him that brings us to trust Him despite the trouble that comes our way in this life. Rejoicing in the Lord comes from the knowledge of His presence that is always with us and for us, and will never leave us or be taken away from us. Rejoicing in the Lord comes when we trust His hand knowing that despite the fires of testing that often come, He has a good plan for us and He is working all things for the good of those who truly love Him and are called by His name, as a bride takes the name of the Bridegroom.
There is a teaching in the religious right today that does promote joy in itself as strength. It has people feigning rejoicing in hope of gaining a little strength, then feeling let down by God when the strength they find is fleeting. The only true joy that will be with us despite any grief and will strengthen us is the joy of the Lord, fully focused on and supplied by a close, trusting, loving relationship with Him that transcends to overcome the world.
“…show forth His salvation from day to day. …For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be reverently feared and worshiped above all [so-called] gods. …strength and beauty are in His sanctuary” (Psalm 96, AMP).
God has graciously been ministering to me concerning the paranoia my daddy is dictated by and the struggle that brings this tired daughter’s heart. I am grateful that God loves me and that He instructs my heart as a Faithful Father to this, His child. So what causes my struggle?
One thing, of course, is daddy’s paranoia that has him thinking we who love him most and desire to do the best for him are doing things to bring him harm. God reminds me in this passage that not only is this fear that wells up in me to hinder my effective relationship with daddy not of Him, but He is the only one worthy of fear and worship. When I bow to fear, I bow to a false god.
Another thing that hinders is fear of what others think of my struggle where daddy is concerned. Again He points out to me the fear being used to hinder and the reminder from God that He is my God.
Not only is He my God, but He alone is my judge and King and I can trust Him. I can trust Him to lead me day by day. I do not have to fret about what is needed in my tomorrow, or what others think I should be able to do for daddy today. God knows my heart and He knows my struggle and the reasons behind it, which He is helping and healing. I do not have to fret over the expectations of others or even of my own heart. All my tomorrows belong to Him, as does my here and now. Only in my now is it my choice. Will I follow Him with faith, rejoicing? Or will I leave Him in the way? He is the path before me. All I need is clarity for the next step He has for me to take and faith to step it. It is my step by step that He requires and He will always supply the need of the moment with strength sufficient for the call, great or small, for …
“Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.” That means two things to me.
One: I can rest in the sanctuary of my God knowing that He protects me and fights for me. I do not have to give myself to fretting, fearing, cringing, or doubting, which lead only to inability to worship and trust in Him. I cannot follow His call in the day to day ways of ministry to my aging daddy, or anyone else, when I am blinded by fear and anxiety over the struggle. I cannot hear Him whom I desire to honor when I am not seeking to follow close at His heels in obedient faith.
Following Him requires faith, and faith in action requires hope-filled belief; trusting that He is who He says He is and He will do what He says, for He is able. And because He who equips me is able, I can do what He says I can for I am who He says I am: His beloved possession, child of the King, a princess warrior in Christ, a part of the Holy Nation, the Royal Priesthood, called and equipped to live a life that declares His glory and His Lordship.
Two: When Jesus breathed His last earthly breath, the Father tore the dividing wall asunder, removing the separation. That act not only made the way for me to come to His throne of grace personally as a minister in Jesus’ name, entering His sanctuary as a priest unto God, but it also opened the way for His Spirit to reside within His people—which includes me. I, along with you, are the very Temple of the Very God, and His strength is in His sanctuary.
God spoke these things to me on Saturday. Sunday, as Pastor Tim began his message on love in action, he gave one simple instruction as he began to define love, and God used it to remind me of my need to focus on loving daddy in His name. Pastor told us to not focus on taking note of his definition of each aspect of love found in 1 Corinthians 13, but to write down what the Spirit instructs us regarding our love walk. God spoke clearly to me regarding love-actions toward daddy, giving me 10 simple ways I can love daddy while overcoming fear and anxiety:
- Practice long-suffering (patience) toward Daddy.
- Do good to daddy, searching for opportunity to do so.
- Honor daddy from my character, not from my position in his eyes – non-envious love is not position oriented, but character birthed.
- In honor, prefer daddy, giving preference to him. Love calms the angry passion. Do not be cross or contradictory.
- Act becomingly toward daddy with courtesy. Do not despise his conduct! – Then I noted; Life is opportunity; so is love.
- Do not seek my own to the neglect of daddy. Do not love self to the cost and damage of daddy or those who watch and go through this with me. I have long believed that the difficulties God has me walk through are not only for my benefit in purifying me, but so that I have a comfort with which to comfort others. How can I give true comfort that does good to others if I do not first learn to do this relationship struggle the right way, through love that gives at all cost?
- Love will temper anger toward daddy. Love will reconcile with him, 70 times 7, for my own sake as well as his (Matthew 18:22; Isaiah 43:25 – Forgiving God’s Way – Part 1 ; Forgiving God’s Way – Part 2).
- Love will give daddy the benefit of a doubt, not pre-judging his heart toward me, thus letting fear hinder relationship. It will not add my suspicions to his. As it rejoices in truth, love will speak the truth in love.
- See daddy through Love’s eyes. Do not expose daddy’s sin to others, unnecessarily causing him to look bad in the eyes of others.
- Love does not give up on the one loved (Memorize verse 8: “Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]”, AMP). Fortification and firmness of foundation is the gift of Love—that stick to-it-tiveness found in standing on the Solid Rock and walking in His ways is what I need to persevere despite the difficulty.
My prayer as the message began was, “Father, remove from me the love of self and the misconceptions of love that stops up the love of You meant to flow to the lives of others. In Jesus, I continue to pray this, amen.”
Father, fear and debilitating anxiety, tiredness and frustration, bitterness and anger, all of these clog up the pores of Love’s flow. Perfect Love casts out fear. You and You alone are perfect love, for You ARE love. Here am I, O God. Strength is in the Santuary of God; you being my hiding place and defense / defender when fear strikes its cord; my body being a temple of Your habitation, where Strength resides. Strengthen me, O God, to persevere in faith and practice Your love that fails not. In Jesus, show me Your glory. Amen.