Tag Archives: Teacher

The Gift, Received

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” – 1 John 2:1-2 NLT

How sad, to have someone standing before us, beckoning us to take the gift He so graciously purchased for us, not realizing it is all we ever truly needed and has the perks of fulfilling our deepest longings. Yet to never reach out to possess it, or to only lightly grasp it, never fully opening it to discover the joys within. This is the world: blind to the truth of Jesus.

Jesus paid the price for ALL THE WORLD. Eternal security is there as a gift for the taking. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, expanding the horizons, yet the world snubs it or halfheartedly takes it in hand without fully unwrapping it, all because it can’t get past doubt to find ever growing belief, which is part of the gift.

This is “the world”, fully covered by Jesus, but blinded by worldly pursuits hidden in dark places; failing to recognize that the greatest treasures are found in the Light of His glory and grace, freely gifted to all who will receive it by faith’s belief. Have you grasped hold of the Gift and started unwrapping it’s treasures?

We leave the ranks of this world to become a citizen of God’s eternal Kingdom by choosing to believe with the faith God sparks to life within us, taking the gift in hand. As we begin to open it and receive all His Spirit reveals therein, faith grows an ever stronger grasp on truth we can fully believe. We unwrap The Gift to discover its treasures through the study of God’s Word found in the Holy Bible, and through growing association with God’s people; through faith filled prayer that earnestly seeks God in all His fullness, trusting His word of promise that those who seek Him this way will find Him. He becomes our greatest, most prized treasure, and life, the greatest treasure hunt, a gift we gladly share. It’s a journey beyond imagination: a journey worth living. Come! Join us, the Kingdom of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Father, I believe. Help my unbelief. Grant me this ever growing faith to trust Your Gift, purchased for me by Jesus, Your Holy Son. Grant me to be filled to the full with Your Holy Spirit, sent to me by the Father, to empower me to fully possess The Gift and the Giver. Let Your Holy Spirit, who is The Helper, Teacher, Comforter, Companion, and Unifying Power, Your Guiding-Light Presence – Let Him have full sway in me, to fill me up, empower my full possession of The Gift, and spill me out to be Your light to others, helping others receive, believe, and possess You. Thank You, Lord, for being my One true and only God and King. Thank You for saving me, not because I somehow earned and deserve it, but simply because You love me and want to spend eternity with me in Your Kingdom, prepared for me. I gratefully receive Your gift, Lord. Help me fully possess it. In Jesus, make it so. Amen.

Born to Parents

I believe God created children with ready-made, able to grow, called and equipped PARENTS instead of friends, because parenting is what a child needs.

A committed and caring parent loves the child enough to set an example that shows the child how to be. A child wants instant gratification, because they do not understand time or limits: they only know what they want. For those same reasons, they need instant consequences so they can grow to understand what they just did is unacceptable behavior, and what they do has an effect, good or bad, according to their behavior.

Discipline takes many forms, including training that helps them learn a better way of dealing with wants, desires, and emotions, but always gets to the root of the problem. It separates good from evil, right from wrong. It is not harsh, hard, and pressing; but works out of love and for the good of the child; not breaking the spirit, but lifting the soul to reach greater heights in becoming their best self.

A Christian parent, in the power and equipping of God’s Holy Spirit, is called and equipped to teach godly righteousness, respect for elders, the law and those who make and enforce it. Without raising children to first know and respect us as parents, following our godly teachings, and practicing obedience, they will have no understanding of authority or respect for government or government leaders and the laws made and enforced.

When we have no respect for parents, bosses, the leaders and law enforcement we see and live among, it is practically impossible to comprehend Him, the unseen One who is God, Father, Master, Lord, King, Judge, and Advocate. He may seem like a distant, uncaring, entity, that causes them to doubt He even exists.

Time comes for a healthy friendship with our grown children, but never at the expense of their need for a parent. To me, the greatest form of child abuse is to grow up never knowing the loving care and discipline of a committed mother and father, unafraid to parent their child. And the greatest travesty is to see a parent, overwhelmed by demanding, untrained, undisciplined, spoiled children, unable to tolerate being around them, and unashamed to unleash them on the world at large.

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 AMPC)

“But as for you, continue to hold to the things that you have learned and of which you are convinced, knowing from whom you learned [them], And how from your childhood you have had a knowledge of and been acquainted with the sacred Writings, which are able to instruct you and give you the understanding for salvation which comes through faith in Christ Jesus [through the leaning of the entire human personality on God in Christ Jesus in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness]. Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17 AMPC)

“Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 AMPC)

Transformed Ideals

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dangerous Assumptions

Read Genesis 3

Reading the account of the fall of mankind, my attention settles on the wording used in the discourse between Eve and the serpent-possessed. The serpent TRULY informs Eve that eating the fruit of the tree banned by God would give her “knowledge of good and evil.” To that, we are told that Eve sees “that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the WISDOM it would give her. …” (Genesis 3:6 NLT)

Note the false assumption. Satan knows how to use truth to lead us to false assumptions.

Knowledge is facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and GOOD JUDGMENT; the quality of being wise; THE SOUNDNESS OF AN ACTION OR DECISION WITH REGARD TO THE APPLICATION of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

We can have knowledge, but have no clue where sound judgement in its application is concerned. That comes with growth and maturity in the practice of righteousness, which is truly found in God.

Little did Eve know that, with time, those daily walks with God in the garden, would have produced in her great knowledge WITH wisdom that flowed from continuous and growing relationship with the Father of all creation, who is righteousness, truth, and wisdom.

Beware of making assumptions, Beloved. Be sure in this New Year to spend time in God’s garden, getting His opinion on the things we think we know.

Finding Who We Are: Part 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-2

We are The Temple: Outer Court Part 2 – The Laver 1

“For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14 NASB)

Looking at ourselves as the Temple of our living God, thus far we walked through the one doorway from which we enter the outer court to find the altar of sacrifice, which for us is the cross of Calvary and Jesus, the Christ. It is our privilege as priests unto God to recognize opportunities to lead people to the altar and point them to the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Anyone who crosses the veil into our lives must be viewed as an opportunity for altar ministry. However, that is just the beginning of our role, as Jesus did not call us to make converts, but to make disciples. An altar opportunity may be to help people to the Savior; or it may be to help a fellow believer grow in surrender to His Lordship.

After the altar, we find the Laver.

“You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base of bronze, for washing; and you shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it.” (Exodus 30:18 NASB)

Positioned between the altar of sacrifice and the Holy Place of meeting with God, we find a wash basin called the Laver. Every morning, when the priests entered the outer court, they first sacrificed for their own sins. Before they could serve God and minister to His people, they had to repent for themselves through the blood of sacrifice. Then they were required to wash their hands and feet at the Laver.

The Laver was a basin and stand made of pure bronze. The priest not only washed after his morning sacrifice, but before every entry into the Holy Place, and after every exiting from the Holy Place.

Remember, the priests were dealing with the sins and fleshly needs of the people all day, which continually exposed them to the world’s soiling. Thus, frequent cleansing was required. That leads my thoughts to the last supper and Jesus, dawning a towel to wash the feet of the disciples.

Recall here, Peter, being Peter, baulked at his Lord doing something for him that is normally the job of the lowliest of slaves. Jesus warned him that if he would not allow Him to do this cleansing for him, that Peter had no part with Him. So Peter, being Peter, tells Jesus to not just do his feet, but his hands and head too. What was it that Jesus said?

“…He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is COMPLETELY CLEAN…” (Vs. 10 of John 13:1-17 NASB)

The sacrifice of Jesus completely cleanses us from all sin. We don’t have to make a new sacrifice every day; we just have to realize, gratefully trust, and walk in The One. But we, too, deal daily and all day with a sinful world that makes our feet dirty. So Jesus enacted the Laver washing for us, telling us as disciples to wash each other’s feet.

Now, for one, this speaks to our need to forgive each other so we can walk together in peace and unity as the body, bride, and church. But it also has another very important responsibility. For the disciples, this was preparatory for those who would step into their priestly roles after His departure. But what of today? Is it still needful today? Does the following command from Christ extend to us? I believe it does, and that it is a vital ministry opportunity we too readily fail to practice.

“…Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. ….” (Vs. 12-15 of John 13)

Have you ever experienced a foot washing session? It is beautiful to experience. My first experience was at a ladies retreat. Each person had a turn at having feet washed, and then at washing another’s feet. The last one whose feet were washed then washed the feet of the first, so it went full circle.

Note in Jesus’s command to wash each other’s feet, He called Himself the Lord and Teacher. To me that gives instruction for two main purposes in feet washing: we are to lead people to His Lordship in their daily walk; and we are to take the opportunity to teach His truth over our daily struggles.

This is pictured perfectly in the foot washing sessions I have experienced, as while washing the feet, the servant and the served visited together. It is a very intimate time of addressing common struggles and encouraging their righteous stance, especially for those who know each other, as they can be specific with their encouragement in addressing issues.

Note here that, in truth, Jesus is the Laver of Living Water. We don’t necessarily have to wash physical feet to perform this ritual, but oh how beautiful and intimate it is when we do. The action of physically washing feet transports us to this moment with Jesus. The more Christlike we are with each other, the more we realize His Presence in it.

This is a good pause point in this lengthy discourse, so hold these thoughts to be continued tomorrow.

Finding Who We Are: Part 6c

“Concerning Him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:1-14 NASB)

As Priests unto God in Christ, heirs with Him as the children of God, we are to grow to full maturity. This passage says two things about the maturity we are to attain.

First we should grow in knowledge and understanding of the oracles or Word of God. This doesn’t only mean the written word, the general knowledge of what it says. It means growth in ability to apply God’s truths to life in our age. It also means ability to seek God and discern His true response.

The author of this passage points out that he is not seeing the growth there should be in the specific people he addresses with this letter, because they have become dull of hearing. We have the same problem today. People deem the word as archaic and refuse to hear. Others claim it’s words were for that people group addressed and can’t apply to us today. And, as has been the norm with mankind from the beginning, we fail to hear because we want what we want, and listening with receptive ears might rob us of having our desire.

Secondly, as priests unto God, part of our responsibility is to speak, teach, share, and live the truth of scripture. The author, whom I believe was Paul, points out that, because of our failure to hear the oracles of God, we fail to grow in our role as teachers. As mature Christians, we should be able to help the learning and growth of others.

Maturing in our ability to know the truth as God defined it, we should have senses trained to discern good and evil. When we know not only the oracles, but God who ordained the Word, drawing ever nearer to Him who is good, righteous, and true, we more readily recognize things in opposition to Him.

As priests unto God, it is vital that we be people of The Word, not only knowing the Words themselves, but having personal knowledge of the Eternal Orator who spoke His good Word into and through the hearts of men like Paul. We are people called and equipped to know God intimately, drawing ever closer to Him. And we are charged to be people He can use to encourage, instruct, and mature others.

God’s WORD: Empowered to Save Souls

“So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the power to save your souls.” James‬ ‭1:21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Jesus came to give us Life: Life, more abundant and full. He gave His life to deliver us from sin’s death.

Jesus also came as the Living Word, sent by God to correct the false understanding plaguing His people. Father and Son left for us the living, life giving Word, compiled and presented to us in the form of our Holy Bible, as written and inspired by God in the power of the Spirit.

As I read this scripture in James today, I realize anew that, when we surrender to Jesus as Lord, Jesus saves us from eternal death – separation from God – and gives us eternal Life, granting us the Spirit of God as our Teacher and as a seal of our union with God. All that God IS, is with us, from that instant to forevermore, never to be separated again from Him who promises to never leave us.

Jesus saves fully and completely. Yet this Word we consider today tells us that God’s Word, left for us, prepared to assist us in our search of the greater depths of God, is EMPOWERED to SAVE our SOULS.

Paul tells us that our fleshly, little-s spirit wars against the Spirit of God, bringing a struggle in our flesh, the purpose of which is to hinder our progress in maturing as a Christ follower and image bearer of God (I.e., Romans 6-8). Our flesh still wants to rule us and fights to control us, making us a slave to our flesh. The spirit of man does not want to give up the false freedom it believes real and true.

When we seek the Teacher to grant us understanding and ability to receive the Truth found in God’s Word, the Spirit empowers that Word to heal our soul. The soul of man (as in humankind) is his fleshly mind, will, and emotions. The fleshly soul is seen in us as the mind of man with it’s earthbound thoughts; the will of man with it’s self-focused desires; and the emotional state of man, unchecked and unleashed to possess the man and rule the day.

When the Spirit increases our understanding of the Word and Truth of God, empowering that Word to save our soul, we find our mind renewed, as God brings to life in us the mind of Christ, dictated by the Truth of God, healing us through His right thoughts within us. His Word reveals the deception of our hearts that dictate our will, our desires in life, and brings healing through aligning our desires and motives with the Fathers. The healing of our mind and will empowers us to possess His Healing Word in us to such a degree that we can now rule and control our emotions. God’s Word often empowers our mind and will to discern the emotional state we are in and align it with the Father’s emotional stability.

Jesus possessed and controlled His body and soul because He IS the Living Word of God. That power for healing the soul of man that the Word of God possesses was in Jesus to the point that The Word IS His WHO. He possessed the Word, lived the Word, and portrayed the very Word of God.

Beloved, we are to do the same. We are to seek the healing power of God’s Word so that it INDWELLS us and makes us the very image of The Father in Christlikeness. Without The Word of God, Living actively and effectively in us, we will continue to struggle as our fleshly spirit fights against the Holy.

Thus we see the reason it is vital for us to feast ourselves on His Word every day, even throughout the day, meditating on its application to our daily living. We must seek to devour it and pick every kernel of truth from it. Beloved, The Word is like the Manna of God, renewed every morning. Only God can give it, and we will never deplete the nourishment found there on this side of Glory. There is always a new, deeper kernel of Truth there for us who truly seek Him with all we are.

May you be healed today, Beloved, and find The Word fully alive and well in your very soul.

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 8

“…All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:12-17

The Truth of God’s Word, rightly known and understood, makes us adequate and equips us for good works. Since even our greatest good is as filthy rags apart from the work of God in us, the work of the Spirit in bringing truth of the Word to life in us, transforms our filthy rags to good works that honor God as Lord, fulfilling His purpose in and through us.

Dig in Beloved and feast yourself on The Word of God, seeking the Teacher for understanding. Be made new through the inspired Word of God that is profitable for training in righteousness.

“Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them….” 2 Timothy 3:12-17 NASB

A Transforming Trip Through 2 Timothy – Part 5

As we seek the transforming power our Father desires for us, we began where all healing begins, by seeking a right relationship with God, making sure we walk, live, and breathe with a clear conscience. While doing that, we must do a faith check, making certain we are walking in Christ with sincere faith. Third is our need to realize our part in kindling afresh the gift God placed in us for His purpose and glory. With that, we must realize, receive, possess, and fully live out the grace of God in us. Next we must understand the Word of God and know how to apply it’s truths to our daily life.

“Consider what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” 2 Timothy 2:7 NASB

When we first begin to grow, we learn a lot through the teaching of others. But for every child of God, there comes a time when He expects us to grow in our ability to learn from and through the Spirit of God in us.

The Spirit, in all His fullness, is given to each individual in Christ. The full work of the Spirit lives and breathes in us: from convincing us of right vs. wrong, to comforting, teaching, and empowering us, the Spirit does His work. And this work of the Spirit thrives in the soil of a surrendered heart that seeks God, with a whole heart that is pliable, and ready to grow in Christ.

This truth is vital in a world where false teachers and false teaching is its destiny. We must be like the men of Berea, who did not just receive the word spoken to them, but they searched out the scripture for themselves, confirming the message before receiving it as truth (Acts 17:10-12).

If we truly desire the transforming power of God in our lives, we must be people of the Word of God, able to receive the teaching of the Spirit and discern truth for ourselves. And we must pray the word for those we desire to see transformed.

Mark of Discipleship: Word Symbiosis

The original language word, translated continue, remain, abide, is a symbiotic word meaning to live in/with it while it lives in/with you.

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”” John‬ ‭8:31-32‬ ‭NASB‬‬

The Word is living and active because of God’s Spirit in us that enlivens our desire for God and empowers our comprehension of His ways. The Word given is our path to communication with God, and it’s His way of instructing us in the way we should go in serving His purpose for our days.

The Spirit draws the true disciple to desire God’s Word and seek out communion with Him. The more His Word is in us, the more prepared we are with wisdom to direct our steps through life as honors and glorifies God. Desire in us to honor and glorify God makes time in His Word a joy we run to every day – and often throughout the day.

If there is no desire for God’s Word, then truly we need to question our claim to discipleship.

The Lie Of A Misrepresented Truth

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NASB

Man, I have heard a smidgeon of this verse pulled out and manipulated into a demonic lie so many times, it is heart breaking. In fact, it was used on a TV program I watched last night. “What smidgeon?” you ask.

“…beyond what you can bear…”

The exact misrepresentation goes like this, “God will not give me more than I can bear.” Then I often hear it followed by the frustrated proclamation, “God must think I’m really strong.”

Beloved, this misrepresentation is a lie straight from the devil, intended to do two things:

⁃ it keeps us from relying on God as He desires us to do.

⁃ It makes us rely on self as we should rely on God, thus making oneself our own false god, in likeness to the sin of Lucifer that led God to cast him out of His Kingdom.

Three truths found in defining the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13:

1. God is addressing temptation to sin against Him.

2. God promises His faithfulness to not allow the temptation to be more than we can handle. And why is that? Because…

3. GOD provides for us a way of escape.

I have learned, and am learning in greater depths of understanding that the way He provides always focuses us on surrender to His Lordship and reliance on His provision for our success.

When Satan tries to lead us to rely on self, that is a temptation we must address quickly. Jesus used scripture as a sword to push demonic influence away. Truths I think of to counter a temptation to go this life on our own include:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 and…

“…Apart from Me, you can do NOTHING.” John 15:5

Beloved, repent self reliance and yoke yourself with Jesus today. He promises, “”Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”” Matthew 11:28-30 NASB

His is a training yoke, where He is the major load bearer. His yoke allows you rest while you learn how to bear your part of the load in reliance upon His partnership with you. And God promises that as we rely on Him instead of the riches found in this life, which includes our own strength, He will never leave us to bear the challenges of this life alone.

“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money [including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions] and be satisfied with your present [circumstances and with what you have]; for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]” Hebrews 13:5 AMPC

“I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” Philippians 4:13 AMPC

“Trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) in the Lord and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.” Psalm 37:3 AMPC

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 6

Wow. I thought I finished this series, and then God spoke again through another passage and added to my understanding of the factious, divisive spirit that grabs hold on us and leads us away from God’s Light and the peaceful unity found there. Beloved, in any divisive situation, it is never one-sided. There are always two sides, pulling away from each other, trying to win a battle.

In the previous 5 devotional thoughts we covered the following thought patterns that are found in the mindset of one ensnared by a factious spirit: 1) the desire for those they tell to agree with their position in their situation with another, thus causing the hearer to feel they must pick a side; 2) holding to a truth that is closed off to hearing the other side of the issue; 3) refusing to seek the whole truth as God sees it, missing out on the Light of God that leads to the peace of unity; thus 4) a factious mindset is snared by the old flesh, the old nature’s way of thinking and being.

There are factious people we are to stay away from completely. We are to avoid and stay away from people who continually lead us away from God and His ways, as in the false teachers spoken of in the Titus 3 passage and in the one we will begin looking at today. God condemns those who would deliberately lead us away from Him. However, if the enemy of God cannot lead us away from believing in and following after God, he will stir up strife between God’s followers in order to divide God’s people. In this way, that enemy of God weakens our effective service to God, separating us from Him in less obvious ways. This divisive spirit is the one I am addressing in these blogs. He tears apart the fellowship of family, friends, and fellow believers. Such division stems from failure to come under God’s light where we find full truth and unity, and it fails to love with God’s unconditional, incorruptible love, thus falling away from God as His image-bearers.

Why write on these things? God never leads me to write things without leading me to evaluate my own life and ways in the area He reveals to me. The things that speak to and help me personally are the things I write about. God desires us to evaluate ourselves truthfully now, so we may come into His likeness and avoid the judgment to come (1 Corinthians 11:31-32; Romans 12:1-3; Hebrews 4:12). Throughout the writing of this series, I have had to look at myself in each area, and repent for my own failures.

The passage we start devouring today speaks clearly to me of my own habits I tend to fall to, causing and adding to division; and it warns me of others I must be alert to. AttitudeWe cannot change to be more like Him if we are unwilling to evaluate ourselves and come to stand in agreement with Him in the light of His word. When we refuse to see as He sees, acknowledge our own sin within, thus, continuing to walk in divisive ways, God says:

“These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit” ~ Jude 1:19.

Worldly-minded actions dictated by fleshly lusts flow from the life that, at least in that moment of divisiveness is devoid of Spirit. God showed me how, recently, I sought Him for direction in a situation, but when it came to implementation of the wisdom given, my flesh got in the way. In that instant, despite the Spirit’s warning, I went my own way, made a situation worse instead of better, becoming devoid of Spirit in that moment of surrender to the desires of my flesh-man. Shifting away from the Spirit to follow my flesh, I perverted the way of God before me, fell to my own sin nature, and stand self-condemned. Praise be to God, who disciplines me, bringing me back to Himself through His Word, by the Spirit and blood of Christ.

Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines His children, and that discipline proves our position with Him as His Kingdom People. God proves we are His when He does not allow us to get away with our fleshly, old-nature behavior. God’s discipline comes through His word that instructs us in righteousness.

As we continue this series on overcoming a factious spirit, we will look closely at this Jude passage touched on above. There we find an outline of potential characteristics found in a person given to being divisive; to which I cry:

“Ouch, Lord! Father, forgive me, a sinner apart from Your grace found in Christ. Set me free in Christ to be in His likeness so I do not give myself so readily to the lust of my flesh. In Jesus, amen.”

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 1

“Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned” ~ Titus 3:10-11 (read verses 1-11).

Factions form around controversy. It is human nature to pick a side and stand on it.

There are situations in which God calls His people to separate themselves from others. Jesus said in His prayer in John 17 that we are to be a people who, though we live in the world, we are not of its mindset and ways. There is to be a difference seen in us from that of the world around us. As Christians, God calls us to represent His interests, standing on His side of every issue. So, factions form because of sin that stands in opposition to God, but we are not to be a factious people. What is the difference? I believe it is a heart issue.

We have all had times when misunderstanding, hurt feelings, disagreement, etc., causes a problem between one and another. What, in such times, reveals a “factious man”? God is showing me a vital, defining characteristic of someone who is taking actions in a factious spirit or mindset. The realization God is leading me to causes me to evaluate my own reasons for mentioning a controversy to parties who are not part of the situation. We do it for affirmation, wanting others to approve us and disapprove the opposing side.

As people, we often need affirmation. Seeking affirmation from any but God, however innocently, can often lead to fractured relationships. The factious spirit begins by leading a person’s heart and mind to want others to tell them that they are right, and the other side is wrong. The problem is that, when we do that, we put the people we call on for affirmation in the position of feeling they have to pick a side. Only God truly knows all sides and only He can reveal the righteous stance.

When lack of peaceful relations and discord come, seldom are any fully standing with God in the controversy. Asking other people to tell us what only God can know places them in a position of possibly lying to us about what they truly think as they try to placate and pacify our need for affirmation. When they do take our side, we cause a breach in their relationship with the other party. Even if they don’t pick a side, it can still fracture their relationships with the parties involved as they try to avoid them so they are not dragged into the war.

God’s Word encourages us to seek sound counsel and to comfort one another. Sharing controversy with those goals as the heart of our desire is good. However, a teachable spirit must accompany our seeking of counsel and comfort: we must possess a heart to receive instruction, and walk in the sound counsel and comfort given. Also, we must take care that the person we share with is able to give the comfort and counsel without feeling they must choose a side in the controversy.

Today I present the subject matter, the factious spirit that seeks to separates friends and family, causing a breach that puts all in danger of a fall.  Over the next several posts, we will cover things God is revealing we must do to counter and protect against a factious stronghold coming between us in an ungodly way.

“But He knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls’” ~ Luke 11:17.

Difficult Things 2-A ~ Faith That Moves Mountains

In the first “Difficult Things” post, speaking of truly trusting God, we mentioned that the disciples were unable to heal the demon-possessed boy brought to them by the man who came with a small seed of hope that Jesus “can” heal. We talked about what Jesus said to the man, “‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.”

Jesus spoke straight to the point, both to the man seeking healing, and to the disciples, standing by, wondering why they could not perform the healing. The man’s “if” revealed how small his faith, but the man was not the only one struggling with faith…

…and “small faith” was not the true problem. …

We see this fact in the response Jesus gives the disciples when they seek answers.

In Matthew 17:14-21, we see the same story told by Mark in the Mark 9 passage covered two posts back. Here Matthew tells us that the disciples come to Jesus afterward and ask, “Why could we not drive it out?” Jesus replied, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.’ …And He said to them, ‘This kind cannot come out by anything but prayer (Mark 9:29).’”

Difficult thing 2: How much faith does it take before we see a mountainous issue thrown aside?

Jesus said the disciples problem of faith was in its “littleness”.  Was He talking amount or size of faith? I don’t believe so, because Jesus then says it only takes a mustard seed sized faith to move mountains. The mustard tree seed is one of the smallest seeds there is: reportedly, the smallest of seeds known by man at the time Jesus spoke this analogy. Use of the word “littleness” was not talking about size.

I believe the “littleness” Jesus speaks of implies the seeds maturity. There is a point in the life of a seed when it is not of sufficient maturity to germinate, therefore it is incapable of producing fruit. Jesus is not talking about having great faith, but a faith that is capable of growth: a faith that makes us fruit bearing trees in God’s eternal purpose.

In the analogy used by Jesus, we see that faith does not have to be big to grow, but it does have to be capable of resting in God and receiving the nutrients He gives that springs forth life in Christlikeness, producing the fruit of that Good Tree. Where do I get the need to rest the seed in God from Jesus’ analogy? From His remark that told them they were not prayed up enough.

What is it that resources our spiritual growth of faith? Where does that seed have to be in order to grow? That seed must fully and completely rest in hearts that fully and completely rely on God: trusting His resources as we cooperate in His work, seeking His instruction, and watching for the great things He can do in response to our faith. The disciples had faith, but the One they looked to for instruction and equipping was not with them when the man came with his “if you can” hope. Jesus, out doing a work of God’s choosing, unavailable to help them, they apparently did not think to go to the Father for themselves and plant the seed in the soil of hearts relying on Him. All it takes is a mustard seed of faith, the smallest inkling of trust to believe God, seeking Him to meet our need, but in order to get that, we have to seek Him.

There lies the key: He meets our need, whatever it is, however great or small, once we seek Him with a faith ready for growth. He grows our faith from glory to glory, here a little, and there a little more. The “can you?” of a hope filled seeker, and “I know You can, if You are willing,” sprout from the smallest of seed, mature enough to search for Him and find Him.

No matter how small our faith, if it has maturity for growth, it will find God ready to nourish it, growing our faith with ever-deeper roots into the One who moves mountains. But realize too that our eyes may be sighted on the wrong mountain. What do I mean? See you in our next posting for the answer.

 

Listening Prayer (Part 4-C) ~ The Way of It

“Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.

As we covered yesterday, we quench the Spirit in many ways: fear, doubt, disobedience, and more. Along with God’s instruction to not quench the work of the Spirit in us, here Paul gives a specific way we tend to quench the Spirit of God: through despising prophetic utterances.

What is prophetic utterance?

One work of the prophet is to make God’s word clear and evident as a source of truth and wisdom that applies to our lives today. As the pastor, a teacher, or a friend seeks to encourage us in the truth of God and its application to current life situations: that is prophetic utterance. To ignore that instruction and fail to apply it to some situation the Spirit points our hearts to as we learn of His truth is to despise prophetic utterance. To tell ourselves, as our fleshly soul is prone to do, “Oh, it won’t hurt just this once,” going against the nudge of the Spirit who reminds us of the truths of God and its application to some course we are considering is to despise prophetic utterance.

However, prophetic utterance takes another form in the power of God’s Presence that too many fear acknowledging as true and right in our day. Many in our day do not believe that the Spirit of the prophet works any more as it did in the days of the Old Testament. Though prophesy is a gift listed in the New Testament teachings we live by today, people deny this work of the Spirit. Though Jesus and His apostles taught that God will increase the number of His people who dream dreams and see visions as the day of Christ draws near – methods used by God in making prophesy known, many refuse to believe this gifting still works in our day. They deny themselves the benefit of this communication method sent by God to help us in these days.

I am talking here about those sent by God to warn us of things coming in our day so we can prepare ourselves to face those things, yes; but often times the Spirit of prophesy is a work that is much more personal and close to home than that. Let us look at two examples of such occurrences:

When one of my daughters was a teenager, she was obviously struggling with something, growing more withdrawn and depressed with each passing day, but was not opening up to me about it. Seeking God for Him to reveal and heal the problem, I heard in the “voice” I have long experienced as God communicating with my heart, “There is a demon in your house and he is raping your daughter.” Wow! Too weird for words, I shook my head as if to shake off the ridiculous, but I know that voice, so I did not ignore it. Instead, I prayed, “Lord, that thought is too strange to me, but that is the voice I know as You, so I do not want to just ignore it if that is You. What I am going to do is lay that at Your feet, rest it with You, and ask that, if it is truth from You, You reveal the truth of it and prepare us to deal rightly with it.”

A few days later, my daughter finally came to me, “Mom, I have to talk to you.” She shared with me about horrible, too real to fathom, nightmares she kept having of ghostly, demonic beings raping her in the night.” Now if God had not warned me, I might have shook it off as something other than a battle to be fought on the eternal frontlines.

We covered together all the possibilities: a real life rape forgotten or denied; someone bothering her and causing a fear of potential harm, etc. Anything thought of as a possibility, we discussed and dealt with, but nothing was clear to us at that time. We began fighting on the spiritual frontlines and called on believing friends to help us, praying protection over her and seeking the revelation of any contributing factors. Eventually God did reveal that our daughter saw something as a child that was perfectly innocent, but that was beyond her understanding. It caused a fear in her that revealed itself through this demonic attack against her, along with other troubling dreams. The battle was long and we saw God move in ways that are awesome to my understanding, all of which we would have missed experiencing if I failed to trust that God speaks to us today in such ways.

Then there is the more recent experience of a person in my life who awoke one morning to God telling her, “You need to check your husband’s computer. He has thousands of pornographic pictures.” Again, the message came to her in the “voice” of God, as she knows it.

Her husband struggled for many years with pornography when he was young. When they married, he assured her that God delivered him from that issue. Later she discovered he was again delving into that evil. It led them to separate, but they were trying to work through it and get their marriage back on solid ground. She asked him frequently how he was doing in that area, holding him accountable, and, every time, he told her that it was not a problem. Then there came this word of God’s warning to her.

When opportunity presented itself, knowing the prophetic proves to be from God with revelation of the truth of it, she got on his computer to check things out. Sure enough, there were thousands of images on his computer just as the Spirit said, along with numerous thumb drives full of the stuff. The truly disturbing thing she found is that he had one folder full of pictures of her teenage daughter that he saved from the daughter’s Instagram account. She could find no other family pictures anywhere, not of herself, or of his blood-born son from his previous marriage, only that one folder of her teenage daughter’s pictures, innocent headshots of her, saved among all that porn.

This was not the first time her family’s life was touched by perversion. There were things going on that had many praying for the revealing of truth concerning her current husband, as warning signs kept rising up to cause us to question what was going on with him. The prophetic warning from God received in answer to many prayers for the truth of his heart intentions, a marriage is in shambles, but a child is safe from harm’s way. I shudder to think what might happen if this woman of God despised the prophetic voice of God within, thus, failing to check it out for herself and find the truth.

God gave prophets to the people of Israel because the people were afraid to hear from God for themselves (Deuteronomy 18:15-22). God sent Jesus to restore us to full relationship with Him, bringing this work of the Spirit as a resource to help us. Do not let fear and doubt keep you from trusting God’s voice in you and having the full experience of Him that He desires for you. Trust the Lord who promises to make His word to us known as from Him through His faithfulness that brings all to pass just as He says it will.

Know the voice of God. Cooperate with the work of the Spirit within you. Do not despise and deny the prophetic word sent by God for your good. Instead, examine everything carefully, looking for the truth revealed. Hold fast to that which is good, following the lead of God into righteousness. Abstain from every form of evil, being quick to flee harm’s way when God lovingly reveals an area of danger. God promises that if He is the author of the word sent, we will see the truth of it. Trust Him, and only believe.

Listening Prayer (Part 3) ~ The Trustworthy Mind of Christ

“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” ~ 1 Corinthians 2:14-16.

Here, Paul tells the reader that we have the very mind of Christ within us, available as a resource, to instruct us and help us have right thoughts and understanding within us. The Holy Spirit is God, living and active within the believer.

Have you ever had sudden comprehension of how to pray for a situation or how to respond with the wisdom or instruction needed by a friend. This is the thought of God coming to us through the Mind of Christ in the power and leading of the Spirit. It is not our own, but His.

“…when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak…” ~ John 16:13.

The Spirit speaks to us and instructs our hearts with the very will and thought of God. The Spirit hears the thoughts of God from the mind of God and brings those thoughts to us. This power and work of the Spirit was in Jesus while He walked the earth in flesh form. He was not double-minded, but He always worked out of the Mind of the Lord, in the leading of the Spirit who gives discernment for a single-minded life. This same resource from God living in us is why Paul says that we have the very mind of Christ in us.

This mind of Christ within us equips us to know the voice of God when He speaks. It helps us to remember the instruction hidden in our hearts by the work of His Spirit. This mind is the provision of God that helps us to discern when thoughts are foreign to His will, way, plan, and purpose, so we have adequate supply to take every thought captive. We see this mindset in several testimonials from Christ, revealing His own obedience in following the will of God out of the mind of God.

“…‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ …‘My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work’” ~ John 4:32-34.

“My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working. …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. … I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. … But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me” ~ John 5:17, 19, 30, 36.

Oh, to do the works of God with such confidence; oh, Mind_Christ03to come to the Father in prayer knowing we are on the same page with His heart. It is possible for us, because we have the mind of Christ in the work of the Spirit.

Then there are Jesus’ words to Peter when He said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matthew 16:23). The mind of Christ helps us to live, walk, speak, and pray the very interests of God. We must learn from Peter’s experience to follow the teaching of Paul in 2 Corinthians:

“We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Some translations of scripture word the above passage to read that we take our thoughts captive to obey Christ. That is true, but I find greater depth of understanding in those that tell us to take our thoughts “captive to the OBEDIENCE OF CHRIST.”

The wording “obedience of Christ” says to me that we take thoughts captive, surrendering to the mind of Christ so that we may obey God as Jesus obeyed God. Christ, our example, gives us the Spirit of God so we can have the thoughts of God from the mind of God, in order that we may obey as Jesus obeyed.

I am sure you have read before the teaching of James on seeking God’s wisdom. Note here the instruction given in that oft quoted and preached passage:

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” ~ James 1:5-8.

As I sought God on, getting His heart for writing this piece, my desire was and is to take us to the place of realizing, believing, trusting, and functioning by faith in the fact that we have the very mind of Christ. Once we have and function out of this faith, we can live, breath and pray, trusting that we have His thoughts available to us. As I prayed and pondered these things, God led me to this James passage. Looking at in light of our focus, these words took on deeper meaning, “For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, BEING A DOUBLE-MINDED MAN, unstable in all his ways.”

Double-minded: we are double-minded when we fail to believe, trust, live, walk, obey, and pray as one directed and dictated by the mind of Christ. Our own thoughts getting in the way, bringing doubt that destroys faith to believe and trust the understanding the Spirit gives us as He hears the Father and Son on our behalf, and speaks that to us, makes us double-minded. We must grow into the single-mindedness exemplified by Jesus.

It is vital that we learn to discern the mind of Christ working within us: our every thought, our every action, our every decision, our every prayer dictated by that one mind. It is vital that we trust Him at all cost, refusing to be swayed by competing opinions brought to us by the flesh, this world, and the demonic.

Listening Prayer (Part 2-C) ~ The Work of The Helper

Reviewing the work of the Spirit covered in our previous post, we saw that once we receive the Spirit of God through believing faith and repentant heart willing for change, the Spirit moves in, transforming us immediately in our eternal being, covering us with Christ so that God can relate with us. Holy Spirit then begins a work of transformation in our physical being, bearing forth from our lives the fruit of the Spirit, which is the nature of God flowing through us as His image bearers (Galatians 5:22-23). This work of the Spirit in us proves our relationship with God through His saving, grace. We cannot possess godly goodness on our own. That is why works are not part of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10). Only as the Spirit enables true goodness in us can we truly obey God’s ways. Thus, works are a proof of salvation, proof of true and eternal relationship with God, not the way to it (James 2:18).

God’s Spirit resides in us as teacher, comforter, advocate, and much more, granting us the ability to discern truth about God, His word, His will, His ways, and His reality. Holy Presence grants us the ability to discern sin, righteousness, and judgment, not only in our way of living that requires His transforming work in us, but also equipping us to make choices that are good, prosperous, and blessed. Today we continue with a look at the rest of John 16:7-15.

“…I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

Jesus told the disciples that He would disclose Himself to those who love and obey Him – God (John 14:21). That means He will make Himself better known to those who meet the criteria of loves obedience: obedience that flows out of relationship.

This walk with Jesus in the Spirit is like walking with a friend. The longer we walk together, the better acquainted we become. As we walk closely with friends, they influence our way of living and being; and we, theirs. This is the reason that scripture warns the believer seeking to grow in relationship with God to watch who they associate with, for bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33).

Through the power of the Spirit, we still have available to us this relationship with Jesus, who discloses Himself to those who love and obey God. Jesus the Son and Father God reside within us in the person of the Spirit, Who discloses them to us as we walk more closely with Him.

I know that God never changes, for He is perfect in all His ways having no need of change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Believing the truth of this fact, two Old Testament passages come to heart to help us understand this work of disclosure accomplished by the Spirit – this communion that is vital to effective prayer.

“Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know” ~ Jeremiah 33:3.

The Spirit of God as teacher answers our questions and responds to our seeking Him and His ways, in personal and clear ways of communication with us. This includes His vital work of equipping us to understand the Word of God found in Holy Writ, yes. However, there is more: Much more. For example, the Spirit helps us to understand things like why we are the way we are.

I shared many times here my struggle with a root of rejection. A book I was reading, encouraging steps toward healing such things in life, advised to pray for God’s Spirit to remind us of our earliest memory of an unsettled hurt and to help us settle it once and for all. The Spirit immediately brought my thoughts to recall a memory of something I thought was a dream. I said, “Lord, You know I’ve struggled to know if that is a memory or a dream. If it is memory, I need You to lead me to discern the truth of it.”

In this thing that I thought was a dream, I see my daddy and me setting on a couch beside which my mother was packing a big box of my clothes. She said, “You take Darlene and I will take Debbie.” My sis is over four years younger than me. The girl I believed was me in my “dream” was only about three, so that dream like remembrance never made sense that it could be real. Plus, the house setup and furniture was all wrong for where we were when I was three.

A day or two after praying for discernment, going about my day’s home care duties, humming some worship song, my mind was nowhere near thinking about that memory. Suddenly, the Spirit spoke very clearly to my understanding, “Darlene, what if that little girl is not you?” Immediately I realized the little girl was Debbie. My “dream” suddenly flashed with truth of remembrance. I was sitting across from them, that is why in my thought of that occurrence I always saw the little girl I thought was me clearly, setting beside daddy.

Once I realized the truth of my memory and what I saw, I knew that I was about seven or eight years old at the time. The scene then flashed with familiarity and everything fit the period for that setting. My mom and dad were fighting, and mom was packing me up to leave. Debbie sat beside daddy and I watched from across the room as momma prepared to send me away with daddy while she wanted Debbie. Root uncovered! Understanding the root, that my spirit of rejection came from that experience, true healing blossomed forth from there. The Spirit answers us, telling us things we do not know. I shudder to think of the struggle that would still have hold on me had I failed to trust and believe the Spirit speaking to me.

The second passage that comes to heart promises:

“Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ whenever you turn to the right or to the left” ~ Isaiah 30:21.

The Spirit of God helps us to understand the will and way of God, granting us wisdom for those crossroad decisions. He helps us to have the thoughts of God to counter our negative or false understanding. He helps us to have God’s answer for those who approach us for instruction, encouragement, or understanding of truth. He does all of this as He imparts to us another vital resource we possess for true understanding through listening prayer: we have the mind of Christ. See you here on our next post.

Listening Prayer (Part 2-B) ~ The Work of The Helper

“But when the Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Intercessor, Strengthener, Standby comes, Whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth Who comes from the Father, He, Himself will testify regarding Me” ~ John 15:26, AB Classic.

Yesterday we covered the provision of God found in His Spirit, that His Spirit is the teacher, equipping us to know and understand the truth of God and His word. He empowers us to discern God’s will and way so we can pray in agreement with God’s opinion. Now, John 15:26 in the classic Amplified Version of scripture adds to our understanding of the work of the Spirt.

God’s Spirit is in us, living in us on behalf of Father and Son, being for us the Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Advocate, Strengthener, and the Stand-by-you Presence of God Himself with us. God, in His Spirit, comforts us in our sorrows and counsels us on our path, which implies a form of clear communication. He helps us through equipping, strengthening, and providing our every true need; and walks with us, always near at hand as we travel through this life, which implies some ability to realize His reality. I have experienced all of these works of God’s Spirit in life, but most recently, the work of God’s Presence as Advocate. It was amazing as I prayed what to do about the situation, the Spirit advised, “Be still. I’ve got this.” Very quickly I heard back from the person expressing their realization of truth. Problem solved, and I did not have to say a word.

There are two ways the Advocate helps us in this life. One: when our flesh, this world, and the demonic seek to knock us down, destroy our sense of worth, or knock us off path, it is the Spirit who helps us recognize ungodly thoughts, desires, and ideas. He corrects us with the truth stored in us through His Presence and gets us back up and going in the right direction again.

When I was an immature Christian, I got involved with a religious group that I since then learned is a cult. Now I was not raised in Church, but an aunt took me when she could, and I read scripture off and on from the day I prayed to receive Christ. I did not know much, but when a friend headed back further into the church building after service, and I asked where she was going, the Spirit used what little I knew to get me out of that group. My friend, responding to my query, said she was going to a bible study. I said, “Oh, really! I love bible study. What are you studying?” Her reply surprised me, “I am studying to take the test so that I may be saved.”

I did not know much, but I knew that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life required for coming to God; the only door to salvation (John 14:6; John 10:9). I knew that belief in who Jesus is and what He did for us coupled with a repentant heart that recognizes our need of His work on our behalf, and a willingness to be transformed by Him through the baptism – indwelling of His Holy Spirit is the path of salvation. It is between the individual and God, not to be determined by some test given by mankind. The Spirit bringing what I knew to contrast what I was hearing led me to leave that place and not return. The Advocate protected me from a path leading to destruction by His work as the revealer of truth. This communication as we seek God and He responds through the work of the Spirit in us is prayer in all its glory.

Two: when a person falsely accuses us because of misunderstanding our words or intent, it is the Spirit of God who moves on our behalf to lead them to a true understanding. Sometimes He speaks through us and gives them ears to hear. Sometimes, when they won’t hear us, He simply leads them to discern truth by some other means.

The main work of the Spirit is to testify to our hearts the truth regarding the Christ. When God draws us to know Him and have ever-deepening relationship with Him, it is the Spirit of God who equips us to hear, see, know, and understand the call of God to relationship. He unites with us, enabling us through a Spirit of willing obedience to respond to Jesus calling, “Come, follow me.”

John 16:7-15, in the breakdown of scripture below, further instructs in the work of the Spirit to help us to an ever-deepening relationship with Father and Son.

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. …”

The Spirit of God is necessary for us to understand conviction concerning sin. Convict means to make aware of one’s sinfulness or guilt. Sin separates from God. Sin reveals that we disbelieve that God is all that He says He is and that He does all He says He will do. We cannot experience the fullness of unity with God when walking in habitual, rebellious sin.

God’s Spirit reveals to us the sin in our life, not all at once, but little by little. As we possess greater righteousness, He takes us deeper in our discernment of our sin issues. He teaches us the righteous ways of God, how we are to be and look like Him, and He empowers us to walk free of our sin. Holy Spirit makes us to understand the judgment already set for those who refuse to unite with Him and walk the path He walks, so we can avoid that outcome and learn gratitude for His deliverance.

Besides showing where we are living in sin and delivering us from it, this same work of conviction helps us to evaluate the crossroads of life. He inspires us to recognize a path leading away from God, walking in separation from Him (sin) and the one that keeps us side by side with Him, accomplishing His purpose (righteousness). The Spirit inspires understanding of the consequences of the choices set before us (the judgment of good or evil, prosperity or adversity, blessing or curse). Holy Spirit empowers us once we have this information to make the choice that is God’s will for us.

Beloved, the Spirit of God unites us with the Father and our Savior, empowering us to walk closely with Him so that our lives transform, influenced in positive ways by this relationship, making us as He is in image and practice. The communion we have through this work of the Spirit is the greatest form of prayer available to us.

We will pause here to keep this from getting way longer, and finish up on the work of God’s Spirit tomorrow. BLESSings, Beloved!

Listening Prayer (Part 2-A) ~ The Work of The Helper

“For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:4-5, NLT.

God calls and equips us to listen as His disciples, having His provision for our ears to hear and our mind to understand and our heart to stand in agreement so-as-to fulfill His plan and purpose for our being in this time in history. There are two main things God supplies us to equip us for success in our journey as His disciples: The Spirit of God and the mind of Christ. For these two resources to have full sway in accomplishing God’s will in us, we must understand their work in us, and BELIEVE! Today we look at the work of The Spirit of God in the lives of His children.

“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. …These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” ~ John 14:16-17, 25-26.

Jesus tells us a lot about the work of the Spirit in Scripture. Here we see the PROMISE from Jesus that He sends His Spirit to help us. The promise is that we will receive the Spirit and KNOW Him. We can and must as God’s children discern when the Spirit is speaking to us, doing His work as Helper. What is that work?

The Helper empowers us to understand the truth of God and His word.

We cannot fully comprehend the truth of God and His word to us without this work of the Spirit, so when understanding comes, that is not ours to brag about. All credit for our ability to understand the Holy Writ belongs to Spirit-God.

By the same right, when we set under the teaching of our church leadership, they must share with us what the Spirit taught them. The Spirit uses their teaching to take us into deeper understanding, and it is the Spirit of God that raises an “amen” in our Spirit when we hear His truth.

The Spirit is our Teacher and our Brain of Remembrance.

Think about what it takes to teach. There must be clear communication between teacher and student / disciple. The Spirit of God instructs our hearts and enables us to understand the teaching so-as-to apply it to our daily lives. When we forget some instruction, the Spirit is the one who brings it to our remembrance.

Though it may seem to us that our thoughts are our own, that is not always true. The Spirit is God’s response to the prayer of Jesus that we be one with them as they are with each other. Every good and true thought that leads us to the good God desires is from Him in the power of His Spirit that unites us as one with the Father. We cannot take credit for any good that comes to our understanding and actions.

The scriptures tell us two things about God that lead me to this assertion. One, God alone is good, and every good and perfect gift comes from Him (Mark 10:18; James 1:17). Two, when we ask for wisdom, believing and trusting Him to give it, He answers (James 1:5-8).

There is a true and good wisdom available for our possession in the power and equipping of Spirit-God. That wisdom is a gift from God in the power of His Spirit. It is not our own. We can take no credit for it. (James 3:13-18)

I believe this truth is why Proverbs describes Wisdom as if speaking of a person (i.e.: Proverbs 1:20-33). The Spirit of God is true and good Wisdom.

Often people will hear me proclaim, “God said to me” or “God told me”. These truths that I believe are why I do that. Every true and good understanding of truth that comes to me from Him is His speaking to me the instruction needed for life more abundant and full. Giving Him credit for it keeps me mindful that such good is not my own, but His.

I believe He speaks clearly to my heart because I have heard Him. He, many times has told me what is about to come; He gives understanding of what is going on, and truth I need to remember. It comes as a clear thought rising up as my own, but clearly not from my physical mind. Such thoughts always prove to be truly from Him and they lead my feet surly to the path of His choosing (Jeremiah 28:9; Ezekiel 33:33; Isaiah 30:21). I dare not take credit for it.

There is much taught concerning the work of the Spirit in scripture. We continue our journey tomorrow.

Listening Prayer (Part 1) ~ Requires Circumcised Ears

“The Lord God has given Me the tongue of a disciple and of one who is taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He wakens Me morning by morning, He wakens My ear to hear as a disciple [as one who is taught]” (Isaiah 50:4, AMP).

Dialogue - one person is speaking and one listening
Dialogue – one person is speaking and one listening

I love this verse in the Amplified Bible version. God often highlights it as a truth for my life, a life-goal to walk out into my reality.

As the saying goes, “God gives us two ears and only one mouth for a purpose; so that we will listen twice as much as we talk.” Listening is a skill God calls and equips us to develop. As Isaiah says, the tongue of a disciple speaks a word in season to those in need of it because that child of God first listens to hear the words of God as His disciple.

God not only gives us physical ears, but He wakens our spiritual ears, circumcising our ears and our hearts so that we hear Him in the power of His Spirit and understand what He is telling us.

“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit…” ~ Acts 7:51 (See also Revelation 2:7; Luke 8:8; Deuteronomy 29:4; Isaiah 6:10; John 8:43; Romans 11:8).

Have you dealt with instructing children any? How do we know a child fully understood and received an instruction we gave them? We know when they do what we told them.

The title, Listening Prayer, comes from a book on prayer I read many years ago, bearing that title. In all my years of studying prayer, that book included, my understanding and practice is this: Prayer begins with seeking God on any subject or need; it progresses through hearing and receiving His opinion and instruction; and it ends in our obedience to do as He instructs. Prayer goes from faith filled seeking after God, to belief-fed obedience in action.

Listening prayer flows from a heart that is completely dependent upon God. We humans have a tendency to see our need and pray as if we know what the solution is, failing to realize that, without the Spirit of God’s help, we see dimly, as through a glass.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12, KJV.

See self through God's eyes.

 

Have you ever looked at things through a glass? Glass greatly distorts an image. Some versions translate the word “glass” used here to “mirror.” Even our modern mirrors can greatly distort our understanding of reality. Plus, when we look in a mirror, the focus is on what we see of self and our surroundings. It is not on God and His purposes.

Only God sees all things clearly. He knows our hearts better than we know our own. He knows the hearts of those for whom we pray. He knows how our little thread in the tapestry of eternity fits best into His great plan. Understanding these truths makes it vital that we learn to first seek the Spirit’s instruction even in how we should pray. Once we have his heart on how to pray, it is finished. Once God says, “Here is my opinion,” ‘nough said! Standing in agreement with God says all that needs saying. This is one reason I believe we are to listen more than we speak.

Thus, we begin our journey to understand and practice listening prayer with understanding of our need to seek the Father first in every situation: seeking Him for His circumcision. We need Him to remove our fleshly focus and give us spiritually astute eyes that see as He sees, spiritually astute ears that hear His thoughts on the matter, and a spiritually astute heart that understands fully as He gives discernment in the leading power of His Spirit.

~*~

NOTE: My plan is to do this series of blogs quickly, getting them out each day to its conclusion. However, we have a family health situation that may take precedence over my time for writing. I will do my best to maintain the flow by getting the next posts out quickly. See you next post for part two.

It Is Time To Grow Up

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:1-3.

The theme of the thoughts God is giving of late to encourage those who read these blogs is focusing us on what we need to realize and walk out in these days we are living. More and more, people are watching the sky to the East, expecting Jesus’ soon return, wondering how bad things will get and how much tribulation will touch our lives before He arrives.

In our wait, life in this world grows ever more difficult for the child of God. Like Job, whose righteous heart-felt tormented by the evil of his day, it is difficult to see the ungodliness rising up all around us. The struggle we have in our own lives and the struggle we see in the lives of loved ones tempts our hearts to worry and fretting, robbing of faith to believe and trust God in all things. In our passage today, God reminds me that it is vitally important for us to seek the Lord for spiritual growth and maturity, so we have the wisdom needed to weather the storms that are coming our way.

HUG (2)Beloved, how often are you in the word of God, seeking Him for understanding, allowing Him to transform you by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-3)? The symptoms Paul saw in the church in Corinth reveals their immaturity through the “jealousy and strife” they were walking out into life. When we seek the Lord for understanding of Him and His ways, He changes our way of thinking, drawing us to understand His purpose and plan, granting us realization of our unity with Him and our part in His work. When we focus on God, His will, way, purpose and priorities, we understand that we are one in Christ, each having our part, all of which works together to fulfill God’s plan. There is no need of jealousy and strife when we are one in Christ, with mind set on the things above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of the Father (Colossians 3:1-17, AMP).

It is vital in this day, Beloved, that we grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:9-16). Galatians 4:1 tells us that, as children, we are not much better off than slaves until we grow up to full maturity. We are owners with Christ of everything, our inheritance as the children of God, but we cannot possess all we have available to us or use it wisely and rightly until we grow up into Him who is the head.

Beloved, if you are still a child in your understanding of the things of God because of lack of time in His word, seek Him for Jesus-Bride009understanding so that He may transform you into His image, granting you understanding through your possession of the mind of Christ in your way of thinking and being. It is time to grow up! The days ahead are troubled-waters. Our only hope to weather these storms is through understanding of God, His ways, His purposes, His plans and priorities.

~*~

“Sound the alarm! The enemy descends like an eagle on the people of the Lord, for they have broken my covenant and revolted against my law” ~ Hosea 8:1, NLT.

“But if the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity. They will die in their sins, but I will hold the watchman responsible for their deaths” ~ Ezekiel 33:6, NLT.

We Thrive at God’s Side ~ Part 3b: Apprenticeship

“Now what I mean is that as long as the inheritor (heir) is a child and under age, he does not differ from a slave, although he is the master of all the estate; but he is under guardians and administrators or trustees until the date fixed by his father. …But we, brethren, are children [not by physical descent, as was Ishmael, but] like Isaac, born in virtue of promise” ~ Galatians 4:1-2, 28, AMP.

Reading Galatians 4 this morning spurs further thought regarding our apprenticeship as people positioned as children of God, Heirs of Promise.

In my journey to understand this position in Christ, I began with the understanding that I am no longer slave to sin, but slave to Christ. Under the guardianship of God’s Spirit, having teachers entrusted as trustees of my growth, I learned to no longer allow myself to be slave to lusts of the flesh or to demands of others, but to do all as slave of Christ and slave to righteousness (1 Corinthians 7:22; Ephesians 6:5-6; Romans 6:16-19).

Once I understood my need to surrender myself to God in all things as a slave to a Master, God began teaching me the difference between a slave and a bondslave (Exodus 21:1-6; Luke 1:38; 1 Peter 2:16). The difference between the two is subtle. A slave is a slave that wins the heart of the Master, receiving His favor by choosing obedience out of realization of one’s need to please the Master so as to receive the benefits gifted for a service well done. A bondslave is one who falls madly in love with the Master. Trusting that he is better off as a slave of God than without Him, and having as one’s greatest desire that of pleasing and tending well to the business of the Master despite any difficulty that may mean for the bondslave of Christ, they surrender themselves to His ownership for life. Love and trust trumps trouble, and surrenders to the Master for all eternity.

Once I understood slavery to Christ for life because of loving trust, God led me to understand that I am a child by His choice, child of promise through Christ.

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” ~ Romans 8:16-17.

Jesus01“We, brethren, are children [not by physical descent, as was Ishmael, but] like Isaac, born in virtue of promise” (Galatians 4:28). We are children of God and heirs with Christ forever. Learning that, now, finally, from age 58-60, God is bringing fuller comprehension of the responsibility and authority I have as child of God and heir with Christ. We are children in the Royal Court of God and His Kingdom, having full authority in Christ and responsibility under God to represent the interests of His Kingdom in our here and now life and throughout eternity. As we discover our heritage as children, we understand that we are no longer slaves, but owners of the Kingdom with Christ. Our responsibility moves from that of ones commanded, to ones who possess and protect the Kingdom of our heart. We are in the world, not of it, for we are child-heirs, part of the Royal Court of God’s Kingdom, fulfilling Kingdom purpose for Kingdom prosperity to the glory of Father God and King-Ishi. Thus, we are…

Positioned as Children

In this Galatians 4 passage, we learn that our training in Christ leads us to understanding of God as Father and our ability to draw near to Him as a beloved child climbs into the lap of her daddy.

“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God” (vs. 6-7).

The goal of God in our apprenticeship under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit is to equip us to make this transition from “slave of God in Christ” to “Heir apparent”. Having full assurance of our security in Christ, we realize our position in the Royal Court, fully possessing our authority to carry out our responsibilities as His representatives where He has us stationed in the world.

“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” ~ vs. 9.

God is God, all knowing and all-powerful. He knows who we are, but this scripture instructs that as we serve Him well, Jesus05that service catches God’s attention, growing the closeness of our relationship with Him as we draw nearer still to Him, and making us one He knows with a favor that makes us stand out as His representatives in life. I am sure you know a Christian whose relationship with God inspires you to know Him better. Those who know God well, trusting Him fully, not being easily swayed by false doctrine or the desire to please others, and that He draws near to because of that close, personal relationship stand out as His children of Light (Ephesians 5:7-10).

“…you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself” ~ vs. 14b.

The one who is heir with Christ realizes that many will only come to know Him for themselves as they see Him in us and experience His presence through us. We are conduits of all that represents God, His will, way, purpose, and Kingdom. When we come into this position of letting Christ live through us, we are near to the heart of God, well known by Him and recognized by others as “having been with Jesus” (Galatians 2:20; Acts 4:13).

“So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth? They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them. But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you—but I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I am perplexed about you” ~ vs 16-20.

Children of Light, Heirs of God in Christ, grow in stability, following God’s truth, having full faith in Him. Here we see that those who were speaking religious legalism to the children were luring them away from the truth of God. Paul reminds them that it is good, being sought after commendably. To me that means we are to be that example of Christlikeness that draws others to seek us as teachers, examples worth following, as they seek Christ for themselves.

SeniorPartnerHowever, these followers of Christ found themselves sought out by those wishing to draw them into religious legalism that denies faith’s assurance in Christ. Instead of trusting Christ fully for saving-grace and the path to son-ship, growing strong in their relationship with God, pleasing Him, they fell back into the old covenant of law, trying to add Jesus plus works of the flesh as necessary for true salvation, seeking to please those religious leaders. That leads to constant struggle as we try to balance the pleasure of other people with pleasing God. Assurance of our position in Christ is difficult to realize when wavering between relational-faith that produces the fruit of the Spirit and good works that make one a pleasure to man’s ideology.

Paul reminds them that those true children, filled with the Spirit and following the dictates of God in the Spirit’s power do not need legalistic ritual added to their salvation. We are free in Christ to be God’s children, but if we choose to believe salvation through law, we must keep all the law without fail (Galatians 3:1-14). We cannot claim trust in Christ and the earning of our way into God’s kingdom. Instead, our trust in God through Christ, as empowered by the Spirit, produces in us the good works of God’s desire for us. Works of a righteousness of our own making do not save us. Our salvation is in Christ who is our righteousness, and through that, we are empowered to live righteous lives for the glory of God as pleasing Him. This is the heart of the one who understands their position as a Child of God and Heirs with Christ.

“Tell me, you who want to be under law, do you not listen to the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. … you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise” ~ vs. 21-31.

“As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” ~ Ephesians 4:14-16.

The hour is near for Christ’s return. Time grows short for us to shine the Light of God so all who will enter into this Kingdom life with us may come. It is time for us to grow up in full understanding of who we are in Christ, heirs with Him, given charge to represent Kingdom interests wherever God stations us in life. God positions us as children with Kingdom purpose where He places us. Some of those places are hardened soil, challenging to our holy feet, but we must grow strong in knowledge of Him so we may live in ways that make us known as His lights, children of God’s favor.

We Thrive at God’s Side ~ Part 3: Apprenticeship

“And as her soul was departing, for she died, she called his name Ben-oni [son of my sorrow]; but his father called him Benjamin [son of the right hand]” ~ Genesis 35:18, AMP.

I believe that God calls those who truly desire to surrender to Him as child and partner in Christ “The son / daughter of My right hand.” There is great significance to our placement at the right hand of God. We are heirs of God, fellow heirs with Christ, called and equipped to serve along His side in fulfilling Kingdom purpose. Our position as heirs, people of the Royal Court of God, begins with that left sided surrender, receiving from His hand of supply, trusting His care, protection and provision. In that place of trust in God, we find Him preparing us and moving us to the position of apprenticeship at His right side. Once we truly understand His trustworthiness, He places us at His right as His instrument for use in our days. We are each in training for our role in His Kingdom …

Positioned for Instruction / Understanding / Discernment

“Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me” ~ Psalm 139:10.

When God’s right hand lays hold on us, His hand places us to His right. The right hand, as we will see throughout the remainder of this series, is the place of action. While placement at His left side is the position of dependence, protection, and personal supply – the relational position of His ministry to each individual of us, the right hand of God places us in positions of usefulness and authority – the place where His supply pours out through us to affect those around us. There we are in training for the purpose of ministry and the fulfillment of His plans for us in our lifetime. His right hand flows all that we need to accomplish His will in His way with power and authority to be His instrument in our day.

“As is Your name, O God, So is Your praise to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is full of righteousness” ~ Psalm 48:10.

It is at the right hand of God that we learn righteousness. In this position, God begins the process of transformation, Jesus07changing us from the inside out, beginning with our way of thinking. Scripture instructs us to understand that transformation begins in our minds, equipping us to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 10:1-6). Our thoughts effect our heart attitudes and desires, and from the heart flows the produce of our lives (Proverbs 4:23). At the right side of God we learn to recognize the difference between the wisdom that is false, coming from the flesh, the world, and demons, and that that is from God. Learning the true, right, godly, pure, excellent, worthy of praise thoughts that lead to good, righteous, and peaceful outcomes, changing the fruit of our lives, is the goal of our right hand position with God (Philippians 4:6-9; James 3:13-18).

“And in Your majesty ride on victoriously, For the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness; Let Your right hand teach You awesome things” ~ Psalm 45:4.

The right side of God is the fruit bearing side that effects life where we are living as in the world, but not of it. Experience is the greatest instrument in the hand of God for our training. As we experience Him at work in and through us, we grow strong of faith. As we learn to receive the instruction that comes to us at the right hand of God, we learn His ways that equip us to accomplish His eternal purposes where we are in life. As we live in agreement with His way of thinking and being, we see victory, truth, meekness, and righteousness in our day. The “awesome things” of God become our joy and song of praise to Him and that that brings His favor to us. Through that experience, His right hand flowing to us to affect the work of our right hand, we grow strong in Christ.

Apprenticeship through Christ makes us partners with God, set to learn His ways so we produce the good works He planned for us from the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10). This surrender of “Yet not my will but Thy will” is the beginning of our journey to walk in the authority of Christ for His Kingdom purpose in us.

In Jesus Name: a Look at John 17 ~ Part 4c

Read John 17

“I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled. But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves” ~ vs. 11-13.

Hedged by His Name ~ Part 3

As we live within the hedge as people of God’s name, we possess a mind set on and driven by eternal purpose; and we bear His image, having His nature in heart and flowing out as adornment. Last in my thought for the hedge we have when we are In Jesus’ Name is found in John 15:

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” ~ vs. 8.

When we name our Children, we give them personal names that distinguish them as individual, but they are born automatically possessing our family name. It tells the world that this is Joseph of the family of Smith. Discipleship is the same. This is Peter, disciple of Jesus. Andrew was disciple of John until he united with Jesus, changing his alliance: he married into the family of Christ.

A family’s character is judged by the reputation of its family members, each making an impact on the reputation of the whole. Likewise, the teacher grew in reputation partly by the actions and behaviors of those aligned under his discipleship. That is what happens with us as we become disciples of Christ, we come under the name “Christian”, representative of that family name. People know of Christians what they see and experience of our actions and behaviors. Thus, they believe they know who Jesus is through that experience. Do we represent Him well? Our lifestyle is the answer that reveals the sincerity of connection with the Christ. It is not just words, but it is our actions and ways of living that reveal the truth.

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” ~ vs. 1-8.

God has long had a people in the world, tasked with representing Him and His interests. They are called “the Children of God” and are of the lineage of that Name, disciples fed by His heart desires, through which the fruit of His Spirit at work in and through them makes Him known. That name comes with great responsibility and with the full resources of God for the fulfillment of our responsibilities as His representatives in the world. As we abide in the vine of Christ, possessing the family name He passes to us, we are His disciples, tasked with discipling others.

Like with the nation of Israel, others may see what God is doing for and through us, His great blessings toward us, and desire to take part in that. Their desire may draw them in with claims of possessing the family name, but they are weeds beside us, never fully grafting to feast on the vine in true commitment and surrender to Him. Such people are unproductive branches that sap the provision of God meant for feeding the vine.

Simply saying, “I belong to Jesus,” is nothing without fruit that proves adherence of the graft. The things we do and the words we speak have power that will reveal the vine upon which we feast. Beloved, if we call ourselves Christian, but live as one fed by this world’s philosophy, we blaspheme the name.

“The person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the Lord; and that person shall be cut off from among his people” ~ Numbers 15:30.

We can walk along side and claim the people of God as our own, but we cannot claim God without vitally uniting with Him. The truth of our unity with God will reveal itself by a life changed to agree with Him and His nature. The Amplified version of this verse in Numbers is scary to me:

“The person who does anything willfully and openly, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one reproaches, reviles, and blasphemes the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people [THAT THE ATONEMENT MADE FOR THEM MAY NOT INCLUDE HIM].”

“Whether native born or a stranger.” Strangers hear and see the blessed of God and enter the fold to claim the blessing without wholeheartedly taking the marriage vows that make for vital union and right of name bearing. Likewise, we can be born and raised among God’s people, but without personally choosing relationship found in vital union with God through Christ, we cannot possess the family name in righteousness and truth.

If we truly belong to God in Christ Jesus, taking that family name through belief in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf, giving us life and a new name, it will show in our lifestyle, choices, words, thoughts and desires. We will faithfully feast on the vine of Jesus, bearing fruit that represents our God, Lord, Father, and King. If we fail to bear the fruit of abiding, we are impostors and not true Children, and we are in danger of eternal damnation, separated from God and His family forever.

“…To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature…. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you” ~ 2 Peter 1:1-11.

“Make certain of His calling and choosing you.” That suggests we can have a false encounter with God that tricks us into believing that we are safe and secure in that relationship. We cannot bear true fruit without real relationship. TheInGodsHandssme proof of relationship is in the fruit of our lives.

These things, Lord, You speak in the world so that we may have Your joy made full in us. We can face this life as we unite more and more with You, being one together with You in the power of Your Spirit, bearing Your name, flowing out of and adorned by Your nature, as righteous representatives of the family of God. As You have spoken over us, O God, so let it be done. In Jesus, amen.

Parent with Discipline and Instruction

Today’s Bible Gateway scripture grabbed me with a different-than-usual understanding.

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” Ephesians 6:4, NLT.

Reading that well-known verse, just as I started to delete it, a different instruction from it grabbed my heart and stopped my hand as pondering began.

Usually this verse says to me the truths commonly taught by others: that the father, or parent, is to train the child in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord; to teach them the word and ways of God. This is true, but today it grabs me with understanding that Paul is teaching the way of disciplining the child so-as-to not provoke anger. He is telling the parent to develop within themselves the disciplines of God, receiving His instruction on how to be a parent to their particular child, so that child can grow strong in a teachable spirit.

This scripture specifically singles out Fathers, but we should receive it as good instruction for both parents. Usually in a family, there is a main caregiver and disciplinarian; and that is not always the dad. It is often the mom. Moreover, in today’s society, single parenting is too common. Therefore, I write this with parents in mind, not just the dad.

The first instruction given a parent in this passage is to train up the child in ways that do not breed anger in them. Anger produces bitterness and resentment that makes a child grow into a hard-hearted, unteachable adult. Such a heart attitude makes it difficult for a person to be open to God’s instruction and training in life. They often develop the traits found in their parent that produce the anger, and thus become a parent like their own, producing anger in the next generation. Resist the urge to be a hot-tempered parent.

“Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself” ~ Proverbs 22:24-25

A child cannot easily leave the company of a hot-tempered parent. They quickly learn to give themselves over to angry outbursts of their own, carrying on the tradition when they become parents who are harsh, hard, sharp and pressing. We can learn a lot as parents, following the example of Christ in Matthew 11:25-30:

“Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne” ~ AMP.

As parents following the example of God in discipline and instruction, we yoke with our children, being an example to them, training them up in godliness to be the people God created them to be. We set an example that trains them to realize they have purpose and skill as people of His Kingdom, able to make this world community a better place for those around them.

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” ~ Proverbs 15:18.

Controlling one’s temper as a parent instructing the child is a vital discipline to develop, benefitting both the relationship of parent to child and setting an example that trains the children in the way and importance of controlling their own emotions. It is vital that a parent learn to take a time out when angered, giving themselves time to get their temper in check and decide on a godly course of action in training the child out of a place of wisdom, love and spiritual discernment.

Parent, it is never too late to apologize for being hot-tempered and to make the adjustments that calm the heart of dispute and set a better example, bearing the fruit of the Spirit into that relationship (Galatians 5:22-23). Though it may take time for the adult-child to believe, receive the apology as sincere, and realize the change in example, it will take hold and bring healing as you persevere in walking out your change of temperament.

A second parenting instruction comes to mind, found in the Amplified version of Proverbs 22:6:

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

This instructs in several important parenting skills to develop. One is to realize how each child best receives instruction. Some children are rigid and require a more firm hand; while others are easily bruised and require a gentler tactic. It is vital to learn the type of discipline the individual child responds to best. Whatever works best, all need discipline that is free of anger. Never discipline when angry. Send the child to the bed until a clear and cool head prevails in the discipline given.

Another instruction found in this wording of Proverbs 22:6, training according to the child’s “bent”, is to realize the gifts, talents, skills and abilities of each child and train them up in a way that helps them develop, becoming strong in the good things that make up who they are as people created by God for a purpose. It also means to recognize their individual temperament and help them know how to use the good qualities they have for benefit. They also need training in how to cope rightly with the more negative aspects of their personalities.

For some of us, our parents did not train us with our gifts and bent in mind, so we may have to seek God’s instruction for how to train ourselves up in these areas so we can better help our children develop their gift and personalities. God is the ultimate Father and He is always ready to help us grow strong as the people He planned us to be. His word teaches that His work of developing and perfecting and bringing us to full completion is a continual work that only ends when Jesus takes us home (Philippians 1:6). Realizing this for ourselves as we grow to be the parents God desires of us will help our patience with self in the process. It is also a vital truth to teach the child, helping them to cooperate with God and know how to work with Him in developing stronger skill and character throughout life.

A third instruction I think of concerning discipline and instruction to us as parents comes from the description of the Proverbs 31 wife:

“She rises while it is yet night and gets [spiritual] food for her household and assigns her maids their tasks. …She opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness [giving counsel and instruction]. She looks well to how things go in her household, and the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity) she will not eat. Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied); and her husband boasts of and praises her, [saying], ‘Many daughters have done virtuously, nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], but you excel them all’” ~ vs. 15, 26-29.

Training our children in the word of God is not the responsibility of the Sunday School teacher alone. They should be additive to the teaching the child receives at home. Realize that children learn more from actions than words, so make sure you practice the things taught them from God’s word, training by example as well as word.

This entire discourse in Proverbs 31:10-31 is that of a Mother setting a good example of how to be a godly wife – woman. The same is true for the husband, setting the example of a godly man. Our exemplary life is vital training for the child. Thus, we must know how to be godly people ourselves if we are to pass that quality on to our children.

Here the mother “assigns her maids their tasks.” Children need to learn how to function as vital participants in community life. They need to know how to keep their area of responsibility in good order. They need financial and economic training. Children learn how to be good citizens of the Kingdom – nation – community – by first learning how to be good family members as stewards of all the good gifts of God. We must not neglect to give our children a sense of responsibility as citizens in life.

Note also that this mother, in her parenting example to us, “opens her mouth in skillful and godly Wisdom, and on her tongue is the law (teaching) of kindness [giving counsel and instruction].” Not only is the parent to give the child wise counsel and training in kindness, but she is to do so by practicing wisdom with kindness. A godly parent sets the good example, looking well to the ways of the home and family, not feasting through thought and actions on “the bread of idleness (gossip, discontent, and self-pity)”. Such a parent earns the reward of children who bear the testimony of having praiseworthy parents.

Parents, “do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord.” Grow strong parenting skills, learning the discipline of character God instructs us to possess.

This article barely touches on the things we can learn from God’s instruction to us that will make us noteworthy parents that produce godly children who will make the world a better place as they grow to be good citizens, skilled as good stewards in community life. Insights of this article are good starting points for growth as parents to children, but God waits at the ready to help each of us in our areas of specific growth needs. He promises, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart’” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

No matter how old our kids grow to be, as long as we live there will be opportunity to yoke with them in their journey to becoming all God planned. Once we are one, though the nature of our role may change, we never stop being parents. Choose today to be a parent of noteworthy character, an example worth following, yoking with God in readiness to learn good parenting skills that allows you to yoke as partner-teacher on your child’s journey through life.

Things Leading to Perfect Peace and More!

Other produce of the “These things” spoken by Christ:

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence. …” ~ John 16:33, AMP.

In this series, we looked at the “these things” referenced by Christ, teachings given to us so that we may have perfect peace and confidence. In looking at the teachings of Christ in this message found in John 14-16, we found these ingredients to a life of perfect peace and confidence:

  1. True and abiding belief in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit: knowing who this Triune God is and the truth of His existence and work brings assurance that this world’s challenges to Life in Christ cannot destroy.
  2. Kingdom reality: knowing that we are here with a purpose as God’s representatives in the earth, being in the world but not of it, working to be His light that draws many to His Kingdom, fills us with purpose that is undaunted by life’s struggle.
  3. Fruitful living: As Kingdom representatives, we are to produce fruit in keeping with a true and abiding relationship with God and His Kingdom purpose that bears the image and glory of God in the earth, thus fulfilling our purpose and strengthening our resolve.
  4. Love: as Kingdom people of God, we are image bearers, His producing within us the character and nature that shows us to be His children. As such we are not only to know His love for us, but knowing that He loves because He is love and He cannot deny Himself, we are to love in kind, having love as an attribute from the core of our existence. Love is who we are. Therefore, love done well to His glory produces fruit that strengthens peace and confidence.
  5. Called Friend: As people of Kingdom purpose who bear the image of God, our relationship with Him grows ever stronger as we become more than slaves forced to obey. As friends of God in Christ, we choose relationship with Him, obeying out of faith in Him despite the challenges living in the world brings our way. That abiding relationship with God brings us from slave status, to Friend of God in Christ, a bondslave by choice of love’s friendship and desire to be in His service and under His protective care by choice.

All these things, alive and growing in us, bring us to hearts of perfect peace and confidence in God through Christ, empowered by the Spirit-bond we possess and live out into the world. In studying this out, I found other things that “these things” taught by God-Christ produce. Before we close out this series, let us look at the produce found in “these things”.

Bible001“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me” ~ John 16:1-3.

Jesus knows what it is to be outcast because of faith, belief, and its practice. Living in the world brings challenge that can lead to conflict. Being Kingdom people in a world of opposition against God and godly principles is difficult. Jesus instructs us that true understanding of the things spoken by God and becoming as He is so we are at our best as His representatives protects us from stumbling in a world of obstacles.

“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. …It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” ~ John 15:3; John 6:63.

Remembering these things spoken by Christ helps us to trust His cleansing power and to live the life He gives us in the power of the Spirit. When caught off guard in the world and found stumbling over some obstacle, our peace and confidence remains strong as we remember the things we know of God, the things that make us who we are as His Kingdom people. We are already clean because we trust Him and all He says of Himself and of us. All we need when stumbling comes is to let Him wash our injured and muddied feet by trusting His word to us.

“But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. …These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father” ~ John 16:4, 25.

Jesus purposed two things in all the things He taught us: to warn us of the things of this world and the flesh that lead to eventual destruction; and to tell us plainly of the Father so we have what we need to overcome evil and be His image bearers.

“These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” ~ John 14:25-26.

I lean heavily on this one in these days of my life, when memory of things spoken to me through God’s word is challenged by my weak ability to recall. Jesus speaks wisdom and instruction in abiding moments with Him and the Holy Spirit brings all to my remembrance when life’s stressors and health issues challenge my mind’s ability to retain His instruction. I trust God to help me recall His instruction, and He faithfully does so through this work of His Spirit in me. We will cover this one in greater detail in our last post for this series. For now, I want to end this post with the following final, awesome promise produced in us through “these things” taught by Christ.

“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. …Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full” ~ John 15:11; 16:24.

Following “these things” taught us by Christ produces true and abiding joy in us. We too easily fall to looking for joy in our situations and circumstances, only to find disappointment. We expect joy to come through those we love, too often being let down in our expectations, thus being robbed of a false joy that is fleeting. However, when we get our joy from faithfulness to trust, believe in, rely on with confidence and practice “these things” taught by Christ, our joy remains with us because of Him fulfilling the promise found in “these things” that produce joy, peace and confidence.

Life circumstances and flawed people cannot rob of joy that abides in us through our thriving relationship with God as Kingdom people who are set to represent Him to those we love and accomplish His purpose in our circumstances. When our joy comes from our relationship with Him and our understanding of and commitment to Him as His ambassadors in this life, we will ask according to His heart desire and He will faithfully meet our desires with “Yes” and “Amen”, thus bringing us to fullness of joy found in unity with Him.

God speaks with purpose in mind, and that purpose produces good things in and through us as we remember His teachings and become as He is, representative of Him and His Kingdom in our here and now lives. Remember these things of God, beloved, and go forth to prosper as Royal Ambassadors of His Kingdom purpose.

Things Leading to Perfect Peace ~ Part 3

Fruitful Abiding

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer ~ yes, take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted! For I have overcome the world: depriving it of power to harm you, having conquered it for you.” ~ John 16:33, AMP.

In our busy couple of weeks, we saw friends come in for a visit, followed by traveling on a rush weekend trip to see family. Busy lives: all revealing issues difficult to deal with, threatening to rob of peace. Even preparing for company and to travel became a threat against peace. BUT GOD! He used the situations faced to reveal Himself as He responded faithfully to each need, accomplishing great things in and through us and on our behalf.

In our time with friends and family, the opportunity revealed the hand of God at work: bringing healing to some past issues; providing opportunity to bear fruit into the lives of those we love and care for as we ministered His comfort into current situations. We overcame all the threat against our ability to live in that place of perfect peace provided by God by believing in Him and walking with Kingdom perspective. Through that we were able to bear fruit in keeping with righteousness into each situation.

That is the next thing taught by Jesus that helps us abide in the place of His peace:

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” ~ John 15:1-8.

Spirit-fruit-bOur abiding in Him is the ingredient necessary for our bearing fruit for His Kingdom. Here I just noticed that Jesus referred the disciples back to their feet washing session. It is constantly letting the Lord our Savior wash our feet that secures us as a fruitful branch on His vine. When we spend time with the Lord, allowing Him to speak into our lives and train us up in righteousness, rebirthing in us the image of God He intended we possess, we live in vital connection with God. That connection feeds us and grows us to be strong fruit-bearing branches.

In Matthew 12, Jesus makes an important point that tells us why fruit bearing is important:

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit” ~ verse 33.

The fruit we bear into life, whether good or bad, godly or worldly, reveals the tree from which we receive our nourishment. James speaks of this as he talks about our wisdom for life. Our wisdom for decision-making and action-taking either comes from our fleshly nature, worldly philosophy, demonic influences, or God and His truth. Wisdom from the first three sources mentioned produce bitterness, jealousy, selfish ambition, arrogance, falsehood, disorder, etc.: producing every kind of evil. Wisdom that is from God produces purity, peacefulness, gentleness, ability to yield that makes one reasonable, being merciful and able to bear good fruits which are unwavering and without hypocrisy. Then James adds:

“And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” ~ James 3:13-18.

When we see our ability to bear fruit in keeping with righteousness, thus producing godliness into our daily lives, we have peace of knowing that we abide in the true vine of God’s supply.

Happy Anniversary!

I have had little time for writing of late, and I am pushing it being on the computer this much today, but I do not want to miss this day of anniversary.

It is four years ago today that I posted the first Pondering to this site. Darlene’s Ponderings is much older than that, having used several web servers through the years, and I am BLESSed by God to have input into so many lives through these posts. I am grateful for the things God teaches me, the comforts He gives me, and the gift of ability to put thought to words posted for viewing by those who read them. My continued prayer is to be of some help to you as you grow in your knowledge of God. And I so appreciated your posts and comments that help my growth and maturity.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord.” ~ Jeremiah 9:23-24.

This is my cry for you: that your boast is that you KNOW the Lord. It is the greatest pursuit we can possess in life. Everything our God allows us to experience has this as its ultimate purpose, that of teaching us more that we need to know with understanding about our God.

Desire for ever increasing knowledge of God is the heart of Moses who, known as the friend of God, sought to see God’s glory so he could have experiential knowledge of Him. God faithfully responded, telling him how to recognize it when he saw it, and giving him a glimpse of His reality with him. (Exodus 33 *vs 18-23)

Knowing God intimately as Father and expressing Him in His life was the experience of Jesus who lived to serve God and to make Him known. All He did was done only as He saw the Father doing it, and He counted the doing of God’s will as His most vital sustenance (John 4:31-34; 5:19).

This knowledge was also Paul’s boast as He “penned” Philippians 3:8-11 ~ my life verse, given in the Amplified as follows:

“Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. …[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him….”

It is our greatest pursuit and absolute most vital need: to know God in all His glory. He calls us to be His image bearers to the world. How can we hope to fulfill that call if we fail this one vital need: to feast ourselves in Him that we may know Him so that we may be like Him, bearing the image of His essence into our daily lives meant for His glory in making Him know to a world in need of their one true God.

That knowledge begins as we recognize the Christ who came to show us the Father and to make a way for us to know Him personally for ourselves. He is the way, the truth, and the life through Whom we come into the presence of the Father. God gives us His Word to guide us to His Light where we can discover His frame and grow in our knowledge of Him. And relationship with God through Jesus provides us His Spirit: the Teacher sent that we may know these things.

Jeremiah 15:16, NLT, says, “When I discovered Your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your Name, O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies.”

Please pray for me as I pray for You that we will devour His words so we may have His heart and grow in our knowledge of Him. Only as He transforms our minds to take every thought captive to the sure knowledge and understanding of His ways and thoughts that are higher than ours can we be His lights: revelators of His essence as His image bearers to the world around us.

Happy anniversary and thank you to you here with me, some of whom have followed my writings longer than the four years of Ponderings home here on WordPress. Poor dears! You have struggled through my growth spurts with me, seen me flounder in my pursuit of Him, and stood with me through it all, rejoicing as He brought me to Victory. Thank you for your support.

And thank You, Lord. I am forever grateful for Your growing my understanding and walking around mountains with me, sometimes too many times to count, but always proving faithful to never leave nor forsake me as I seek to follow and serve and KNOW You as Lord, Master, Father, King, Beloved, God of all, and forever faithful Friend and Champion. You are Lord!

 

Marked for Life

Listening to Ezekiel 9 the other day, verse 4 catches my attention. In it, God sends His angel out to “mark” the foreheads of those whose hearts are grieved over sin. Asking the Lord, “Why the forehead?” the question came to mind, “What is behind the forehead?” With thought of the frontal lobe of the brain, I look online at the anatomy of the brain:

The frontal lobe of the brain occupies almost half the space taken by the brain. It is associated with reasoning, motor skills, higher level cognition, and expressive language. At the back of the frontal lobe lies the motor cortex. This area of the brain receives information from various lobes of the brain and uses this information to carry out body movements. This is the area where we process knowledge and understanding for use in reasoning, decision making, expression and movement.

Years ago, God helped me to understand with greater clarity the work of the Spirit of God that helps us to discern “sin, righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8). He inspired me to understand that this work of the Spirit is not just empowering our understanding of the gospel message and our need of a Savior. It is empowering our ability to recognize right from wrong and discern consequences for choices. The Spirit works with the frontal lobe to help us choose between life or death, good or evil, the blessing or the curse.

Behind our forehead is where that takes place. This gives new importance to our cooperation with God who says through Paul, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect”  (Romans 12:1-2).

Beloved, as we cooperate with God in the renewing of our minds, it marks us as His and equips us to bear fruit in keeping with righteousness. This is the reason it is vital that we not only write His words on our hearts, but on our “foreheads” allowing Him to change our minds. The greater our understanding of God and His ways, the more we think like Him, live like Him, and produce good works in keeping with righteousness and sound judgment.

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

The Spirit working in us, training our minds with God’s thoughts and ways that are higher than our own convinces us and equips us to walk in unity with Him. It gives us confidence in the hope we possess because He marks our foreheads with sound reasoning and cognition. It empowers us to stand firm of faith, not easily swayed by every wind of doctrine. It is why we believe so firmly and stand so confidently in the things we believe.

Thus, by the power of the Spirit of God that marks us, “…We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” ~ 2 Corinthians 10:1-7.