Tag Archives: Trust

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 6

Delighting in the Light of Love

“…Whoever says he is in the Light and [yet] hates his brother [Christian, born-again child of God his Father] is in darkness even until now. Whoever loves his brother [believer] abides (lives) in the Light, and in It (the Light) or in him (the person in the Light) there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin. But he who hates (detests, despises) his brother [in Christ] is in darkness and walking (living) in the dark; he is straying and does not perceive or know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:7-11).

This one is difficult for me to write as it brings thought of our beloved ex-son-in-law, one we loved and trusted for over 9 years, but who did sin against our grandbabies, breaking our hearts and the trust given. So, I decided just to share with you the struggle and see where it leads us in understanding this part of our suffering with Christ.

How do I express to you the love we are to have for one another when a deep wounded-ness exists in my own family due to the unbelievably evil hurt done us by one we loved so much and called not only “brother” in Christ, but “son” / “husband” / “daddy”? How do I tell you to love one another when such things work hindrance in our love walk together, knowing most all of us have such hurts in this life?

Is it love that was shown us by the one who did the evil? Is it love for us that would expect us to continue on as if nothing evil happened; as if no deep wound exists? Is it unforgiveness when hurt and inability to fully trust exists to hinder love’s expression despite there being forgiveness? Maybe, in discovering love in difficult situations, we should begin by looking at what hate looks like. Do I hate this one I love?

According to our passage for today in the Amplified version of scripture, hate is to detest or despise another.

Do I detest this one I love? Detest: to dislike. No. He is one of the most likable people I know even now. As I told my husband, it hurts more that he is still just who he is, the one we like and enjoy being with; he is very likable and I still like him. But I hate the evil done and the things that sound like excuses because of some hurt of his own that he says led him back to the lifestyle that led to the sin against God and us. I hate the evil, not the man. And I hate the excuses that still seem to remain in his apologies. I know he knows there is no excuse. But I still hear the excuse come out of him as if the harm done him gives right to him for his sin. I do not detest him. I ache over him with a hurt that is deep and can only be healed by the God I love.

Do I despise Him? Despise: To regard with contempt or scorn; To dislike intensely; loathe; To regard as unworthy of one’s interest or concern. No, none of this is true about my thoughts and feelings toward him. Again, I find the evil done contemptible. But I do not scorn him over it, though I do not desire him to have access to those he did harm toward; and though I do not see our relationship ever being what it once was; though I must qualify that with understanding that nothing shall be impossible with God.

For God’s sake, my own sake, and for the sake of my grandkids, there is still potential for a relationship of love and even respect, but I do not see that relationship ever being what it once was, though it can in many ways be better as he turns from his sin and allows God to use him in helping others who struggle as he does / did; and as we get past the hurt to leave pain behind and walk in love restored by God’s love through us.

Is there contempt there toward him? Contempt: The feeling or attitude of regarding someone or something as inferior, base, or worthless; scorn; The state of being despised or dishonored; disgrace. Inferior—all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That includes me. No, I am not better than he is. Base—the lowest of the low he is not; the sin was low as it did harm to children, but he is not debased to me. He is a sinner set free as he stands sincerely repentant before his Holy God, just as I am. Is he worthless? “For God so loved…that He gave His only begotten Son….” No. Despite his fall to sin, I believe that he is repentant before our holy God who died for us all.

Do I want harm toward him? Am I pleased that he might wind up in prison? No. I hate that for him. But he is faced with the potential charges that can be brought up on him because of his sin and the consequences that come to such. His future is in the hands of God and of the governing officials set over us by God. So I wait to see what God will do, and I pray that God, who knows the truth of the heart of this son, will have mercy according to the truth He finds there.

So in this day and age, when hurting people hurt people, how do we love one another despite hurt toward each other? How is God leading me to continue to love this one despite the hate of the sin done toward our family by him and the lack of trust that exists, and despite the brokenness it brought to us as a family?

For one, I choose to leave his consequences in the hands of God. We have severed relationship as it was because of the divorce that came. Now we can debate the “sin” of that, but for the kids’ sake, that is the path that was decided on, and I have no regrets there, though I hate all the sin that led to that decision.

Despite the change in the relationship, I still work to maintain what relationship we can have, again for God’s sake as a Christian called to continue in love, for my own sake so no hindrance come to my relationship with God and others involved, and for the kids’ sakes as they need the example of forgiveness and those who are his blood need to know their daddy is still loved. But also for his sake, so discouragement over the situation does not do more harm than good. I want to build him up and help him find a renewed relationship with God through repentance and restoration. So relationship, though different, remains important and something to work toward making it the best it can be under the circumstances; and hopefully, in the long run, a better, stronger love that will do no harm to the one loved.

Out of love for him that flows from love for God and desire to please Him, I choose to treat this son right, not acting unbecomingly toward him. Now hurt over the situation still rises up in me to show on my face, but he is coming to understand that is what it is; and this too shall pass. So I seek to act becomingly in my love toward him.

To treat one in ways that are not unbecoming means to behave toward him “in accord with the standards implied by one’s character or position.” I will behave toward him in Christlikeness, forgiving him, not throwing the insult in his face as keeping it in an account for constant use against him. As difficult as it can be because of the hurt that things are not as they once appeared to be, there is a caring, respect, and love-walk to have in a relationship as Christian Brother and Sister. We just have to find that place where hurt over the harm does not rule, and we need to live there together in unity of purpose.

To continue in love, each of us has to learn how to recognize and show care about the need of the other. Love does not stop over a wrong suffered. As much as it hurts, love is still there. Loves focus in such situations makes an adjustment that may well look way different from what it once was, and may even be better than it once was, because it is totally dependent on God. “Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:5, AMP). So was the divorce done out of hate or resentment? No. Divorce was the choice because of love for the little ones who needed to feel safe and not to have to face this man every day of their life.

Hate is easy for us because the flesh runs swiftly to that which feels like it hurts less. It would be so easy to quit trying to find the way of love in our new family dynamic. It would prevent the pain of having to face the hurt and deal with it if we could just ignore each other and go on as if the other did not exist. But that is total, polar opposite to God and His way. He is a God of relationship, going out of His way to make a way for love to exist and continue, even giving His life for the sake of those loved. Love, each truly loving the other in all the ways of God, is the only true healing. It may seem easier and less painful to hate, but that is a lie. Hate destroys from the inside out, like gangrene. So hate is not an option for the Spirit filled Christian who desires right relationship with God.

God is love. If He is truly in us, we too must be love. Love overcomes hate, heals hurts, and restores lives. Like with furniture, the restored piece may look different, but it will still be what it is meant to be with usefulness as such; in this case, the relationship of brothers and sisters in Christ, loving with His love, His way, even to our own hurt.

In this day and age, when there is so much hurt and difficulty in life, we need one another. We need to love each other the best way possible for the sake of relationship with God, healing for self, and our ability to help one another. Relationship takes work and is not always easy. But through God and in His way we can truly and fully love one another, despite hurt and heartache. It is worth the trouble to love, even loving when those we love are made to appear unlovable.

Thank God who set the example, choosing rather than to give up on relationship, to love the unlovable in me through the gift of His Son on my behalf and yours. If He can do that for me, who am I to quit trying to love for His sake, my sake, and yours?

When we learn to love one another even when hurt by each other, we enter the delight of His love, becoming love as He is love; and that love is incorruptible, able to keep the Law toward each other.

~*~

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).

“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love” (Ephesians 6:24).

A “Selah” Wow! Moment

“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me, my glory, and the lifter of my head” (Psalm 3:3).

~*~

This morning, as my computer started up in preparation for my quiet time, I was greeted by this picture on my “prayer wall”. Immediately to my heart came prayer for my God to be the lifter of my head, which led me to look up the verse containing the phrase as quoted above. Led to read the eight verse chapter, what a “wow!” of a “Selah” moment greeted me when verse two caught my attention as if truly seeing it for the first time.

“Many are saying of my soul, ‘There is no deliverance for him in God.’ Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” (Amplified Bible)

“No deliverance for him IN GOD!” Really. Excuse me. Is anything too difficult for GOD?

In that instant my head lifted up to look at my God as He began the process of bringing to the light situations and circumstances that have me feeling “there is no help.” God’s enemy—Satan—and ours—fleshly, worldly and demonic wisdom—loves to whisper in our vulnerable ears, “There is no help for you” with the “in God” implied. These enemies love to convince us that our God is impotent and we have no real hope in the earth. But is that truth?

In my “Selah wow!” moment, I realized that I have fallen to discouragement, helplessness and hopelessness in several situations. In that instant, many questions come to mind that I must ask myself as I consider this state of mind:

Am I truly trusting God to be God in my situations; trusting Him to work through them for my good and the good of others involved and for His glory?

Am I in sin that is hindering His hand? Or is there sin in the life of others involved that is the obstacle?

Is there a life lesson that God is trying to teach me as His child that I am not getting and giving myself to receive?

As the answer to these questions comes, how can I better pray over each difficulty?

Am I praying and standing firm of faith with earnest expectation and hope?

What promises has God given me specific to the situation that I can stand on as a broad place of security in my waiting time?

My head is lifted up today as I remember that nothing is impossible with God. I just need to make sure I am standing with Him and not against Him, and that I am trusting His hand to do a work that is beyond belief.

Father, “Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” In Jesus, show us Your glory. AMEN! (vs. 8)

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 4

Door Jambs

I thought I was finished with this when I put the last post up; then the refrigerator door jammed open.

Prayerfully considering my options for lunch, I settle on a Spinach Scramble. The Spinach prepped and the skillet heating, I reach into the fridge for the remaining ingredients needed: eggs, cheese, and butter. Setting all down on the cabinet, turning to plop a little butter in the skillet to melt in readiness for the Spinach to go in next, I realize the fridge door is still wide open. It hung on the drawer the cheese was in; left open wide, it jammed the fridge.

Laughing at myself as I shut it, I thought, “Well, there ought to be a devotional thought in that.” Little did I know that God was adding a continuation to this thought on Love So Pure, but as I consider the thoughts that door jamb brought to me, here I am again with part 4.

Thinking on the open fridge, I realized that our lives are food storage pantries and refrigerators to our God. He feeds us through His Word the good things needed to sustain us personally, providing fuel for a life of abundance. But He also supplies for us to be used of Him to feed others out of the storehouses He entrusts to our care as testimony of His work in our lives and our day.

One day along our journey we see God fling open a door of opportunity for us to share sustenance, breaking the Bread of Life with someone in need. As we consider the door before us, held open by the very Spirit of God, suddenly we realize our refrigerator door is ajar, jammed open by some hidden drawer of our life in which we hold to food that hinders and hurts us: we’ll call these the junk-food drawers.

This is when we find ourselves to be a whole lot like Moses, in whose life God worked mightily to provide for him and show His love for him. God had a plan for his life that would make him a conduit through which God could make His love and provision clear to Israel, freeing them from every form of bondage. But Moses fridge was ajar, held open by drawers well stocked with the junk food this world and our flesh feeds us:

Fear: “Oh no, Lord. If I go there, Pharaoh will kill me.” Or ours may sound more like, “Oh, God, I couldn’t possibly do that! I am too shy,” just another way of saying, “I am slave to internal fear of what others may think of me or the unexpected thing that might happen to harm me.” In other words, we do not trust God in affective ways that make us one with Him and His supply.

Inadequacy: “Not me, Lord, for I am slow of speech.” “Lord, I am not talented enough to do that.” “Lord, I am too immature. Sally knows more than I do. Send her,” not realizing that Sally grew to where she is by jumping in feet first to see what the Lord would do, jumping in faith from the exact same spot we find ourselves in now.

Insecurity: “I am not good enough, O God. How can I do something like that?” We fail to realize that God can scarcely use those who feel good enough in themselves. He is looking for willing vessels that will let Him use them beyond their personal ability. Those who think they have it all together usually want to do it themselves, having a junk food drawer full of self: self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, self-reliance, self-preoccupation in abundance. When we know we can’t do “it” without God, we are the perfect one for the job.

Self-Condemnation: “Lord, they know me. Who am I to instruct them? And why would they listen to such a sinner as I.” Who better to instruct others from your position of understanding where they are? It helps me to understand that a “testimony” is “evidence in support of a fact or assertion; proof.” What better proof than that of a life changed forever by His supply? And what better one to tell of it than one who knows and is grateful for the work of God in delivering them from sin’s grip.

On we could go with drawer after drawer placed in our lives by fleshly, worldly, and demonic wisdom that keeps us from sharing all God is doing for us with those who need to see and know His love and supply that is available to “whosoever will believe.”

God fully supplies us out of His love for our good and His glory, giving us a testimony to have ready to share in due season: we are His living proof, living stones of testimonial about His current work in our age. He gifts us to have a comfort to give in comforting others. In this way, we share His love and help others to freedom from captivity.

Beloved, this I give to you from my pantry of supply and my fridge where the clean foods reside. I have to feast on this morsel of Grace sufficient often: “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

Be filled up with Him, beloved, and trust His supply for you. There are lost people, dead in their sins, all around us. Our junk-food drawers work hindrance to His ability to pour His love fully to and through us. We must be willing vessels, cleansed, filled to over flowing and rested in His hands for His use in pouring out His glorious presence, power and love through us to those we love, like or run across for a moment in time.

When a drawer hangs open to provide opportunity for the enemy to discourage or dissuade you, yes, look to see what is in there, but also look to see what God has placed in storage within you for use in overcoming the temptation to the junk food being offered. Then seek the Lord to help you clear out that drawer and remove that foothold of satanic forces from your life, making the space available for His supply.

~*~

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

“…Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass…” (Recommended reading: 1 Thessalonians 1-5).

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 2

The Ache in God’s Heart

 In the last post, I shared the love that God pours through me toward others, citing for our discussion three examples of those times and how Satan uses fleshly and worldly limitations in understanding God’s love for us as he works to distort our experience of it and ability to rightly express it to others. Today let’s look at God’s love for us and what that means with regard to our right of choice and our eternity.

Revelation 3:5 says, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I (Jesus) WILL NOT erase his name from the book of life, and I WILL confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

Talking to the church of Sardis, Jesus warns that there are people of the church (the gathering of those who profess Christianity) who are alive in this life, but they are dead. These have never made a true decision to follow Christ and receive the gift of true and eternal life, but they play the part as if they have. There are a few in the Sardis church who have done so, and for these who overcome in this way, they receive these promises stated in verse 5 of Revelation 3. This scenario is still true in life today. There are some who truly know and walk in the promise of God. But there are many, even among the church goers of our day, who have a false faith, being no faith at all.

Note: the book of life. My understanding as I study the “book of life” is that every name of every person ever born into the earth has their name in this book. Some who were of the pre-Christ, faith in our God continue to have their name remaining in the book because they walked in vital relationship with the Father, and they trusted in the coming of the promised Christ. They chose to believe and receive their righteousness through believing faith in God and His promises before Christ arrived.

Then Jesus the Christ came as the Lamb of God, and He paid the price required to defeat sin and the death sin brings us, revealing Himself to be the only doorway to the Father and the King who will come to fulfill God’s promise to Israel as rightful Ruler, having defeated the enemy of God (John 10). There is now a new covenant with God and that covenant requires relationship with God through Christ for entry into His Kingdom family. This covenant promise reaches the hand of God out to all, Jew and Gentile alike. Only those who truly and fully choose to wed themselves to God through Christ’s sacrifice that redeemed right over us from the hand of the enemy that enslaves us will find their name still remaining in the book when Jesus confesses as our advocate before the Father those belonging to God’s family.

In Colossians 3 we are told that those who enter into relationship with God through Christ are made one together, removing all separation of circumcision. In the old covenant, circumcision was a sign of consecration of a people; revealing to all their commitment to God and His right of Lordship over them. It was meant to be an outward expression of an inward work. True commitment to Christ works that intended purpose in us through the power of His Spirit within us, proving circumcision of heart through the fruit of lives consecrated to God.  

Through Christ we all enter into relationship with God, being made one with Him in Holy Matrimony for all eternity. Without Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, there is no circumcision that is sufficient. Apart from Christ, we cannot be set free or made right with God, and are the poorest of the poor no matter our wealth in this life. And even our greatest good, if not coupled with Christ and the work of His Spirit in us, is as filthy rags before a Holy God; for our heart motives, intentions and purposes are too often distorted from His, destroying our ability to be in relationship with a God who cannot even look on sin.

Still, God, Who is love, loves fully, completely and purely: the Barbarian (those who refuse to conform to God and His ways) and Scythian (considered to be the worst of the worst of mal-conformists); the Jew (the people of God’s possession), the Gentile (those not part of God’s possessed people); the slave and the freeman (rich or poor matters not, His love just a great toward both alike). All who have yet to enter into relationship with Him through Christ, who is our freedom from sin and death, God loves as fully as He does those who are His.

But He is hindered in giving that love fully to you who refuse His saving grace, because you have not chosen to separate yourself from your sin by receiving in your body the Sacrifice for sin found in Christ that vitally unites us to God, the Father. Until you do, you are in danger of having your name removed from the book of life, being eternally separated from God because of sin that is only cleansed and covered by the Lamb of God, Christ Jesus; the Messiah. And for some, booing my words right now, know that hearts can harden to the point of passing over the threshold of no return, passing up your opportunity while yet you live.

God grieves over you with love unfulfilled. This is the reason God revealed to me for the pain and the struggle I have experienced, so I may understand the heart of God toward those lost to sin, making me able to somewhat express to you the depth of God’s love for you.

One day all will stand before the judgment seat of God. Oh, hear me people. There we each, the Bride, and those scratched out of the book, all will stand before this God who is pure love, the love we all look to find; love that we need in order to be whole and complete. This love exudes from His every pore, for it is who He is, and all will know it. We each will fully know His love for us as individuals of His creation. Then the roll will be called and Jesus will separate out the sheep, those birthed to God through the Lamb. As He leads us sheep into the eternal Kingdom to live forever with our God of love, He will confess us as His own beloved Bride (1 John 5:13).

Then, with the ache in His heart akin to what I have experienced for years now as shared in part 1 of this article; an ache multiplied to His heart exponentially by each person who is no longer on the rolls of God’s book of life, He will shout, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:31-46). His love has flowed to me over one I felt hindered to express it to fully, and I thought I would be crushed by the ache within me. I cannot even fathom the weight of the pain He feels over the masses who refuse to believe and receive His love.

In Matthew 8, Jesus speaking to a Jewish crowd, says that those who were sons of the kingdom but failed to choose relationship with God through Him will be “cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs. 12). This proclamation of warning from Christ to the people of God He reached out to is true for all mankind. To understand this agony that will bring the castaway to a fire burning constantly and bringing them to weeping and gnashing of teeth, we need to recognize two things:

First is this love of God that is equal for all, the sheep (children of God) and the goat (castaways—lost for eternity). He loves us, yes; and His love desires that we willingly choose to love Him back, living for Him in line with all He holds dear and true, which requires an obedience of us to be and do as He is.

But man is unable to do that on His own. If we learn nothing else in the Old Testament, it is that mankind is incapable of the righteousness of God’s desire. So God ordained that there be sacrifice for sin and, through the lineage of Israel, because of His love for us and His desire for a relationship with us, He raised up a Holy Seed to be the Lamb of God: the Seed of Adam that would stomp the head of the serpent; the Seed of Abraham that would bless the nations.

God’s love is pure and complete, loving us as we are, but, desiring the best for us, loving us too much to leave us in our current spiritual condition. So He sent His son to pay the price of blood required, and He sends His Spirit that we may know His ways so we may know Him, receiving and becoming a conduit of His love and His righteousness, empowered by His Spirit. In the Day of Judgment, all will fully know this truth, but for those who refused to believe, it will be too little, too late.

The second understanding we must have is that, in the Kingdom of God, there will no longer be need of a sun because God will be the light of that place (Revelation 21:23).

Standing before God, two things are revealed to those scratched out of the book: revelation of the full and complete awe of God, who is love; the truth that He is and knowledge of all that He is. They will see Him as He is and experience for a brief moment His pure love for them and the completeness He brings to those who see Him in His glory. And two: They will see Him in all His goodness through His Light that brings full revelation of all that is good. They will know in an instant their sin, contrasted with His purity; sin that can no longer be forgiven, for they will again realize that it is too late.

As quickly as they come into contact with God, in all His fullness so as to discover His pure love and glorious light of truth and righteousness, they will be cast away from Him forevermore. As they are sent away, they will go knowing that without God, true love cannot exist, for God is love. Without God there is utter darkness. Those who fail to choose Him through Christ will be sent away to an eternity without any Light to a place where no love resides.

If you have ever experienced utter darkness, where you cannot see your hand in front your face, you know how unnerving that can be. Imagine that for all eternity. Imagine being in that place of darkness with no one you love or who loves you; for love cannot exist separated from its Source.

Jesus speaks of the eternal fire that these will experience. Could it be that the fire that will burn forever, torturing those cursed for an eternity without God, is the fire of desire to experience for a second that purity, that love, just once more.

People say that the fire is flames of heat because of the parable of the rich man who asked for a drop of water to quench the heat of his tongue. But could the water he requested be the Living Water that quenches thirst forever? Could it be the desire to experience His glory and worship at His feet one more time? For I believe they will fall on their knees in worship before Him on that day of judgment, and they will profess Jesus as the Christ, the King and Lord of lords, but theirs will be as the confession of the demon who knows it is too late for them to enter into His rest and find life made full and complete (Philippians 2:1-11).

And what was Abraham’s response to the man? “Between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us” (Luke 16:19-31). The cursed are not within reach of the Water they long for, and none who might have compassion to share with them can do so. It is too late.

In the parable, this tortured man requested that Lazarus be sent back to life to bear witness to his brothers so that they might repent and be saved his agony. But Abraham essentially said that those who will not listen to the testimony of their own patriarchs who bore witness of the Christ, why would they heed the testimony of another, though resurrected from the dead. Thus many refuse to hear the witness of those who are reborn in Christ and bear the testimony of His presence and work in our lives. Many are enslaved by refusal to realize there is a God. Many are snared by pride that believes we must somehow be good enough for God, not realizing that we are incapable of goodness without God.

The sacrifices of Israel, short lived as it was while yet ordained by God, required it to be done over and over again to keep their sin covered because they were incapable of maintaining purity then, just as we are incapable today. Even the exercise of sacrifice for sin became sin, as many did so as a habit that had no true effect on their lives. They refused change, continuing in their sin, and the act of sacrifice given in outward observance of the Law was nullified by lack of the circumcision of heart that separates from sin.

Then enters Jesus: His sacrifice was once for all. All the sin of all mankind that would ever exist was placed on His shoulders. God, paying the full price required in blood, sent His only begotten Son as a Lamb to the slaughter, First Born among many brethren who would be birthed through Him. The sacrifice of Christ Jesus covered the sin of those who trusted in His coming before He came, and the sin of all who would believe in His ministry of love and sacrifice after those days.

Why did God plan for and provide this sacrifice. Because He loves us all and desires that we have a vital, effective and growing relationship of love with Him, and that requires us to realize that we cannot achieve that relationship without His work in us. Thus, He provided the way by which we may know Him as God.

This is the love of God for us that put Jesus on that cross. And all – ALL – saved and lost alike, who stand before God on that Day of Judgment will fully know that love poured out on their behalf. The sheep of God will enter into His Kingdom to eternal joy and rejoicing; and those who refused to believe will fully experience His pure love that makes one whole, only to be cast away from it for all eternity. Their weeping and gnashing of teeth will be the constant ache of knowing that pure Love and revealing Light for an instant in eternity, knowing only never to experience it again. They will be fully alive in their understanding of what they could have had, while fully dead in the outer darkness, experiencing the pain of utter death found in separation from God for eternity. They will know the ache of God’s heart over love lost.

As I said before, God has allowed me this forbidden love experience, with the ache of longing that was grievous and sorrowful to me, so I can understand how He feels toward those who have yet to choose Him through Christ. My heart now relaxes and releases its struggle with a sigh of relief in understanding that purpose. And I thank my God who has allowed me this experience so that I can share it with you and so that I can have His heart to grieve over those who refuse to believe as I love the lost masses with Him. I have prayed many times to understand God’s heart toward the lost. Little did I know that my struggle was His answer to my prayer; discerning the longing for those loved and the ache of sin’s separation.

The time is growing short, and the Day of Judgment draws near when no man may choose. Beloved of God, do not let that hour come on you as if unexpected. To say to self and God, “I will sow my wild oats, and then I will come to salvation” is foolish. Today is the day of salvation, for you have no promise of a tomorrow. Choose now, while you are able, surrendering fully to the transforming grace of God’s pure and holy love that will make you whole as never before. I urge you to call upon someone you know to be true of faith as a Christian so they can help you take the first steps in your journey of faith through Christ.

~*~

The next post I thought was separate from this, but God has revealed that it is part of this series, making it three posts instead of two. It is for those who know Christ, or think they do. See you soon with the rest of the story.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 10b

This has been an awesome journey for me. I cannot tell you what God has taught me and done in my life as we have walked with one another through this time. Seeing all these truths flow together has been like putting the puzzle pieces in order and finally seeing the full picture of what God is showing me personally: a portrait worth affixing to the backing I call “my life”, hanging it up for all to see. My hope is in God that the communication of the things in my heart flowed to the pages of this text well enough to help your journey as it has mine.

Today we conclude our study of “Dispelling the Darkness” as we continue our look at 1 Peter 2:4-10: having covered 4-8 yesterday, we continue through verses 9 and 10 adding to our understanding of who we are in Christ.

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (vs. 9-10).

As living stones with Christ, we are:

A Chosen Race

We become part of the household of the chosen people of God when we enter the gate that is Christ:

“‘Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.’ …So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Matthew 7:13-14; John 10:7-10).

Those He calls He also chooses, and as we choose Him, we enter through the gate to walk the narrow way found in life through Christ. God turns none away who come with repentant heart, sincerely desiring the new life provide through His Son.

Do you struggle with a spirit of rejection, beloved? To us in Christ, God says, “You are My servant, I have chosen you and not rejected you” (Isaiah 41:9). So smile and take heart. You are not alone and you are not cast away. We are chosen to be…

A Royal Priesthood

We are back at 1 Peter 2:4-5, “And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a HOLY PRIESTHOOD, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

In Christ we are birthed into the lineage of Levi, made one with Christ in a holy priesthood. He is now High Priest forever, interceding on our behalf before the Father. The curtain is torn and cast away because He stands perpetually in the Holy of Holies as Advocate on our behalf; thus slinging wide the doors so we may enter in through Him, the Narrow Way, to address the Father in the name of Jesus: we are Christ’s own beloved representatives. We are enabled through Christ to be the beloved children God desired we be from the start, having communion and walking with Him in the garden of our lives. Thus we are Royal Priests with all the responsibility that blessed position holds.

I believe we pretty well covered that role yesterday as we went through the traits of living stones, but let us apply that now here as a beginning toward understanding the role of our priestly estate. As priests unto God:

† We call all to the time of response to the Holy Sacrifice for sin, announcing Messiah as the Holy Lamb provided by God, calling all to repentance and to restoration with God through Jesus.

† We encourage others to turn from sin to God, bringing to the altar in their body the sacrifice of denying self to follow Christ, so He may reign in all who respond through Life, making us holy, consecrated to the Father.

† We grow strong in God’s truths, His law and His ways, proclaiming them to all in need of greater understanding of their application in our day. We not only proclaim these truths, but we walk them out in our daily lives, not living as hypocrites that say one thing while doing another, but realizing that we represent Him and His interests in the world as ambassadors of Christ. Thus we walk as He walked, honoring God as Lord, following Him as Master; and we live as He lived, denying self to meet others at their point of need, with hope that they might enter into this blessed union with us.

† We rejoice over God in all His fullness, leading others to join us in celebration as we share His presence in our lives. Encouraging one another in the Beloved, we share God’s comfort as He has comforted us.

Thus we have a beginning of understanding our role as a Royal Priesthood. As each of us rest in the truth that we are a chosen race, seriously taking on our priestly role, He works in and through us to make for Himself…

A Holy Nation

Becoming Holy together: willingly consecrating all that we have and all that we are or ever hope to be to God for His use. To surrender ourselves: taking up our cross daily, denying self-will and our sinful ways so as to follow Christ as God does His work of sanctification in our lives. As we surrender every area of our sinful, fleshly nature to Him, He corrects His distorted image in us day by day, setting us apart to Himself for holy purposes. As this is accomplished in each individual of us, we become…

A People for God’s Own Possession

God takes as His own beloved possession those who willingly give themselves to Him, bit by bit possessing our lives and bodies as His land, making us one with Him. And as we willingly surrender to His Lordship in each area of life, we unite with Him in fulfilling His purposes. In so doing, we become His willing bondservant’s with Christ, AND HE BECOMES OUR PASSION. His desires and purposes become our own and all that we do in life is focused on eternity, serving Him and being His light where we are with hope of many joining us in Him.

As we find for ourselves and make as our own this blessed relationship in Christ, surrendering to it, we do not lose ourselves. Instead we find ourselves as He fine tunes us to make us all He desired we be: all the good and quality that He desired for us springs forth to Light. Bringing us to our full potential as individuals at one with Him, we become…

Proclaimers of His Excellence

What joy it is to express God’s presence and work in our lives. But how much greater still it is when we can rejoice with knowledge of His excellence even when our circumstances are difficult and the hand of God seems stilled. This is the place where we go deeper: from knowing His ways and desiring His hand, to knowing Him and desiring His presence. Being satisfied and content even when we feel He is all we have left to us; we are satiated together with Him. Here we walk with Him as a friend, rested in His care, trusting whatever He is doing or allowing, assured of His love, content and at peace in whatever circumstance we find ourselves. Here we become His…

Light

The light of His glory not only shines to reflect off of us, but it shines in us and through us in this place in our relationship with Him. In this position with Him we become a light so bright, others who see may not understand; they may even resent us because of it. But we and those with us know and understand for we are…

One

United with Him and one another, we become the fulfillment of the answer to the Lord Jesus’ prayer that we may be one with Him, just as He and the Father are one. Here we realize that we are the Bride of Christ. And we become wed to Him who is one with the Father, making us to be united with them in the Spirit.

There are two pictures in scripture that explain this place to us, the first being this relationship of being Bride of Christ. Wed together, us the Holy Bride, Him the Holy Groom, what do we see?

† TOGETHER AS ONE: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2:23a).

† HUSBAND (CHRIST): “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church. …You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (Ephesians 5:28-29; 1 Peter 3:7. “In the same way”: see 1 Peter 3:1-6).

† HOLY BRIDE, CHRIST’S CHURCH: “In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [SUBORDINATE yourselves as being secondary to and DEPENDENT on them, and ADAPT yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives” of the Bride of Christ (1 Peter 3:1, AMP. “In like manner”: see 1 Peter 2:13-25).

One with God in all His fullness, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, we are made complete as one flesh through Christ, and we become our second picture of oneness with Him: the Body of Christ in the earth. As such we are destined to function in unison with His every move, totally dependent on Him.

Christ is the mind, the head: dictating function as the Father instructs, equipping us to do as He did in only doing what we see the Father do; serving His interests. Thus we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

God is the heart: first supplying the blood, in which is the life, through the movement of His Spirit that feeds and empowers us to live in Him; granting us life more abundant and full. Next He unites our spirit with His to dictate our thoughts, will, and emotions, leading us to one desire with Him.

Thus we are His body, His hands, His feet, His mouth, doing the work of service, being His representatives in the earth. Rested in the unifying force of His love, we become strong and useful…

Vessels of Mercy

All the cracks filled in with the mortar of grace, we begin to hold secure the Living Water of Jesus as He fills us up to spill us out into the earth, thus to effect the heart of mankind bringing them closer to the kingdom of God. Being vessels in the weakness of flesh, we may still spring a leak on occasion, but grace continually brings us back to restoration, and God’s understanding sustains us as He patiently works to bring us to completion.

This is us: the beloved of God in the Beloved of God. One together in Him, made whole and made holy: sanctified and set apart for His glory, shining His Light that dispels the darkness in the heart of mankind. Selah (pause and calmly think of that, letting it soak in to take hold and find its place within you).

~*~

“Now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.

“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me” (John 17:13-23).

And all the Children of God said…AMEN!

~*~

If you have never taken the first steps of faith through Christ, I point you to the Good News: Click on -> Here’s Hope, for that is where this journey begins.

Soon to Come

If you are in Christ with me and want more, I will be back next week after the Grand Kids leave to begin a series titled “Completing the Suffering of Christ” (Colossians 1:24). We will be looking at 1 John to discover more about our walk with Him.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 9b

Yesterday we began looking at attributes of the righteous lot found in the remainder of Psalm 37 and forming for us a good review of the majority of the study, adding some to our thought process as we go. In it we covered the attributes of 1) graciousness; went in depth on 2) the giving heart that wisely uses the provision of God; touched on 3) the assurance of heart that comes to those established by God through Christ; finding that the righteous 4) delight the heart of God by delighting in His ways, thus; 5) departing from evil in order to do good. Today we finish up the review as we cover these last verses:

“The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.The wicked spies upon the righteous and seeks to kill him. The Lord will not leave him in his hand or let him be condemned when he is judged. Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found.  Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him” (vs. 30-40).

6) The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice:

The righteous who continually seek the Lord and grow in Him are often called by Him to speak or write His word in ways that add understanding to the heart of the reader. Those righteous speak a wisdom that points to justice, instructing us in the way we should go.

All of the righteous lot are called of God to “go to a friend” and talk with them about the path they are on. We are all to bear witness of our faith and the work of God in our lives whenever opportunity presents itself. These will couple their words of truth, justice, and wisdom with love, knowing that without a heart of love, the words come across as a clanging cymbal to the ears of the listener. Whichever way we are called of God to use our wisdom, whether friend to friend or publically, we must remember to couple our witness with love.

Let’s take a look at what the word of wisdom and justice looks like by turning to two key passages that give us a clue:

“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” (John 16:7-8).

Jesus promised that when He went away to be with the Father, He would not leave us alone, but would send the Helper, the Spirit of God charged with teaching us wisdom and righteousness and empowering us to walk it. This passage tells us that part of His role as Helper-Teacher, is to convict or convince us of sin, righteousness and judgment. He does this in two ways:

1) He reveals the sin we are practicing, He instructs us in the righteous path needed to correct our lives, and He warns us of the judgment of God against such sin should we choose to continue in our own ways, refusing the work of our transformation in the power of His Spirit. This is the work of discipline accomplished by the Spirit in the life of a wayward child of God.

2) He grants us wisdom to discern right from wrong and understand the potential consequences for our choices so we can make right decisions that keep us on the righteous path. In other words, He helps us to weigh the pros and cons of a crossroad point of choice, equips us to discern the potential outcome, and gives us wisdom to make the right decision.

When people keep coming into our lives, telling us the same thing about what we should be doing and why; we would be wise to realize that the Spirit of God may be using those who love us to convict of sin, instruct in righteousness, and warn of consequences. Remember, the Father disciplines those who are sons and daughters through Christ. It is not a disgrace to enter in to a season of discipline that removes sin from us. It is an honor that proves we are His child.

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).

Here James contrasts for us the false wisdom that comes from the fleshly, the worldly, and the demonic; putting it up against the backdrop of true wisdom that comes from God’s Spirit at work in us.

False wisdom produces bitter jealousy, selfish ambition of heart, arrogance, falsehood, disorder and every evil thing. Sounds messed up, doesn’t it? God is orderly and full of peace and love. Evil dwells and rules where there is discord, disorder, and chaos. So let’s contrast the false wisdom with true wisdom, breaking it down some to explore each characteristic found there. True wisdom that is from God is:

First pure – true wisdom will be based in good, godly motives and desires that protect and produce purity.

Peaceable – true wisdom handles things in peaceful ways that most often bring peaceable results not lending to an atmosphere of chaos.

Gentle – true wisdom has strength of resolve that comes across with gentleness.

Reasonable – true wisdom knows how to reason things out so as to lead to truth and unity.

Full of mercy – true wisdom recognizes the limitations of the immature and of those without the Helper, so as to grant mercy and deal properly with those of opposition to sound judgment.

Good fruits – most of what we have covered as traits proving wisdom are on the list of the Fruit of the Spirit, thus we conclude that true wisdom produces the Fruit of the Spirit in us. But we also see that following true wisdom brings about good results.

True wisdom is also unwavering: one who has true wisdom receives with it a heart of assurance and conviction that helps them stand, firm and resolute in the course laid out.

It is without hypocrisy: because true wisdom produces the fruit of God’s character in us and leads to the paths of His choosing and the heart of His purposes, it will always line up with a flow that comes from who we are in Him, and it will stand in agreement with what we profess to believe. We will not say one thing while doing another when dictated by wisdom.

“And the SEED whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

I think “seed” should be in caps here, as scripture teaches that the “seed whose fruit is righteousness” is Jesus, the Messiah King, Lord of lords, and Saving Grace. This Seed of righteousness in us is sown in peace and produces peace, the first in the list of flavors found in the Fruit of the Spirit. One Fruit—many flavors, all restoring the image of God in us.

Thus wisdom flows from the peace of God to bring peace to us that allows us to walk in wisdom with purity, being peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. We cannot have true wisdom without first surrendering to receive the Seed of Righteousness, Jesus Christ the Savior. Why?

Because His ways are higher that our ways; His thoughts are higher that our thoughts. We can reason in the flesh and come up with wisdom that sounds good to us and is agreeable with the wisdom of others, but we cannot discern right and true motives, or discover the higher road of His purposes without His righteous wisdom.

7) The Righteous Holds God’s Law in his heart to direct the sure step.

Oh, my. Don’t ‘cha know that to those of us who possess the Seed of Righteousness—being filled with His Spirit, seeking His wisdom—His Word is precious to our hearts? We long for the Word as our bread of life and living water. We don’t just grab it, finding what looks good to us and making it our own, for use often to promote and give excuse for ungodly ways. It grabs us. And by the power of the Spirit of God at work in us, His Word is used of Him to make us His very own possession.

The passages that affect me most and have done the most to change my life forever reached up off that page and grabbed my heart of flesh, circumcising it and kneading it into His own heart, filling me with desire for their proof to be in me, and making me one with Him in belief, desire, and purpose of action. Many of them continue to grab me and revitalize my commitment.

When I read “For my DETERMINED purpose is that I may KNOW HIM…”, my heart soars anew with increased resolve to grow ever stronger in this relationship (Philippians 3:10-11, AMP).

When I recall “Set your mind and keep it set! …” I get excited and check my course to be sure my focus lines up with His (Colossians 3:1-2).

My heart often cries out with Moses, “Show me Your glory” (Exodus 33). My life has changed forever, watching for Him with “earnest expectation and hope” (Philippians 1:19-20).

My boast is forever in Him, looking to Him for my approval as I remember that “Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life”, for I realize that I “can do nothing apart from Christ,” but “I can do all things through Christ who is my strength” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, John 15:4-5; Philippians 4:10-13).

“Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 3:11-16).

Through Jesus, we enter the presence of God through the Grace He supplies, and hiding His word in our hearts, we find our protection from sin, being transformed into His image anew.

8) The righteous rests in the shelter of God’s protection, trusting His judgment and advocacy when assaulted by accusation.

There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. When we hide His word in our hearts, letting Him tell us who we are, heeding His instruction for life choices, receiving the assurance of His promises by faith, we are protected from the false prophet and from the lies of the enemy who would beat us down and hinder our progress of faith.

By hiding His WORD in our heart, we know that through Christ we are saved by grace through faith, being adopted into the household of God, having right of inheritance with The Son as the adopted through Christ: and knowing this we know that when we commit sin, the Father of lights then disciplines us as children (Ephesians 1-2; Hebrews 12).

As children of God who seek the Father’s pleasure, we come in under His protection where no evil can eternally harm us. And when accused, He who does not condemn us helps us to know truthfully whether we are guilty of sin—equipping us to correct that area of life; and if we are not guilty, He assures our heart and has given us an advocate in Christ who “ever lives to intercede on our behalf” (Romans 8:31-34; Hebrews 7:25).

9) The righteous waits for the Lord while keeping His way.

While waiting for God to move in our lives, defending us from assault, changing us from one degree of His glory to the next, delivering us from trouble and sorrow, we do not wait as those without hope, but we keep doing what we know to do until He changes our course. No matter the difficulty, by faith in God, forgetting what lies behind, we keep pressing forward to the goal through righteousness in Christ. Not taking our own revenge, we leave that to God and choose rather to “…overcome evil with good” (Romans 12), knowing:

10) The righteous is a person of peace because they take refuge in God:

God, through grace found in Christ, is our hiding place and our secure tower. Through Him we can have peace and walk in peace knowing that no matter what goes on in the earth, we, His children, have a posterity protected by God, an inheritance held secure in the heavens with Him.

Through His provision we have strength to face each day. Because He loves us, we do not fear facing any struggle or challenge, trusting that by the power of His Spirit, we are helped by God to face each day with His comfort in us. And because of the Christ who paid the price as propitiation (full and complete payment) for sin, bringing those who truly believe from their heart into the kingdom of God, we know we have deliverance from death through God.

There is no sin that can keep us, no trouble that can stop God’s will for us, no sword that can come against us to keep us from our appointed course, when we live the righteous life of faith in God: rested in Him, trusting Him, serving Him with a willing spirit of obedience and coming quickly to repentance when we fall.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no [filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming;] but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.’

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:1-17).

Tomorrow our concluding thought.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 8a

“The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes at him with his teeth. The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming. The wicked have drawn the sword and bent their bow to cast down the afflicted and the needy, to slay those who are upright in conduct. Their sword will enter their own heart, and their bows will be broken. Better is the little of the righteous than the abundance of many wicked. For the arms of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord sustains the righteous. The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance. But the wicked will perish; and the enemies of the Lord will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish—like smoke they vanish away” (vs. 12-20).

From our passage today, I see three truths about the Lord that give example to us and resource that will brighten the light through us to dispel the darkness of evil around us. Today we begin to add thought of these to our arsenal and use them to shine through the reflective mirror of our lives: 1) The Lord laughs at (the wicked), for He sees his day is coming. 2) the Lord sustains the righteous. And 3) The Lord knows the days of the blameless, and their inheritance will be forever.

One – “The Lord laughs at the wicked, for He sees his day is coming.”

This can be difficult to comprehend, to laugh at the wicked; so let us see if I can direct us to some truth to help understanding.

First, though we look at mankind, what they do and say, calling them evil; God looks at the heart and the source of the evil. I believe the “wicked” God laughs at is Satan and his demonic forces. Evil is birthed through the satanic and influenced in the ungodly heart that is separated from Him who sustains righteousness. God laughs at the ungodly source of wickedness.

I believe He weeps over those who fall to its grasp, as seen in the weeping of Christ over the deceived people of Israel. When God laughs, He is laughing in the realm of the spiritual battle, and in likeness to Him, we can as well. Some current examples:

A missionary-friend in a land hostile to Christians walks up an alley toward home, coming from the market. As he does, he hears what is becoming the familiar sound of insults and cursing assaulting his ears. Some teens have parked for weeks now on the corner, assaulting him and others living in the area. This time as he presses toward home, he feels the first sting of a barrage of stones. He turns to face them, anger and fear rising. Just as he is about to defend himself, he hears the familiar, gentle voice of God say, “Laugh.”

At first he questions such a tactic, but God repeats the instruction more insistently. My friend begins to laugh, and God takes over, bringing up the biggest belly-laugh he has ever experienced. Slowly the stoning ceases and he turns to continue the trek home, leaving the teens standing with stunned faces. To my knowledge, they have not been seen in the neighborhood again.

Another friend tells me of their friend who was diagnosed with an incurable cancer. Instructed of God, he gets the funniest movies and shows he can find. Locking himself away with God day after day, he laughs his way to God’s healing.

Laughter, pouring froth from a joyful heart is good like a medicine, healing the soul (Proverbs 17:22). And apparently it is an excellent sword in the hand of our Holy God. He does not fear the wicked, for He knows their days are numbered.

Ours is to reach the deceived with His light, drawing them into the fold where we can, and to laugh with God when assaulted by evil, knowing the demise of all wickedness is coming. We do not have to doubt ourselves or give way to a life of fear when assaulted when we remember the true source of evil, and that God has won the war, so the day of evil’s end draws near. Because of Christ, we can laugh with God and carry on with our life of faith in Him.

Those given over to evil in our midst will either turn to God with us, or they will face the consequence with the father of evil. I do not believe God ever laughs at the deceived heart of mankind. His desire is that none should perish, but all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). While the wicked of heart choose to remain in their wickedness, when their darkness hits our lives to bring fear and hardship, laugh with God, not at them, but in knowing the day of the demise of wickedness is coming, and indeed has already come. Though wickedness may rob our life, cutting it short, it cannot destroy our eternity in Christ who has won the war. So laugh and be filled with His rejoicing in victory over evil.

In Luke 21, Jesus warns of the signs revealing that the end of ages is near. He tells us that evil will increase in the earth, and He instructs us, “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (vs. 28).

In Christ, when evil assaults us, we are to straighten up our life and walk with Him. God only allows evil to touch us for two reasons: to work transformation into His likeness within our deceived heart, or to work His glory through our response to the wicked schemes of evil. We are not to turn to evil ways in dealing with wickedness, nor are we to walk in the wisdom of the flesh, the world, and the demonic. Such will only lead to furthering evil. Instead we must realize that evil is overcome by good, and allow God to respond through us as works His purpose in overcoming the evil (Romans 12).

Also we must straighten up our backs that are bowed low under the load of discouragement and fear’s frustration. With hope in Him, we are equipped to stand tall with faith and hope in Him and His victory. We are called to be His light, letting His river of life flow through us to produce good and work His will in drawing in as many as will see and turn from their wicked ways to follow Him with us. Satan will seek to slow our service of faith in God by sending evil against us. We cannot draw others to the hope that we have if we let evil bow our backs through vengeful acts, fear, trembling, and the weighed down spirit within us.

Thus we are to lift up our heads when evil comes, walking with head held high, our confidence in God, knowing that nothing can truly harm us if we prove zealous for what is good. God alone is good, and He will lead us. So the godly choose life, believing with hope in God, and press forward to the goal of fulfilling His purpose and plan despite the wicked schemes that assault us (1 Peter 3:13; Mark 10:18)

Does that mean we will never defend ourselves and stand up to fight against evil? No. Jesus grabbed a whip and fought to free the temple from evil misuse. Through Christ we are now the Temple of God. There are times in life when freedom from the evil forces can only come through war. God often calls His people to fight for possession of the land.

Though the war for eternity is won, we are in the midst of a guerrilla war, people. Every day the battle going on between the forces of good with God and those of evil makes itself known to us through the actions of wickedness in the earth. The overall victory is won in Christ, but guerrilla warfare continues as the satanic influences in the earth seek to destroy the progress of God in building His kingdom. And we, His people, are called and equipped to possess the land by fighting the good fight of faith.

If Jesus won the big war, why does God allow evil to continue? I believe the answer is twofold:

1) Because choice still exists in the earth – He wants people to want Him and the only way for that to happen is if they have freewill choice between good (Him) and evil (Satan). Thus God continues to allow evil to give us choice. And part of that choice as the people of God is to answer; will we quake in fear of evil He allows, or laugh with Him in faith that the days of evil are numbered?

2) Because the days of wickedness are not complete – In scripture we see where God did not allow Abraham to enter in immediately to take the Promised Land because the days of its wickedness were incomplete (Genesis 15:12-15). Until no more could be reached by His goodness, He continued to allow the evil so those who would choose it could turn to the good. As long as there is hope for one to turn to the Good, evil will continue to be allowed to give the choice. The stronger evil gets in the earth, revealing fewer turning to choose good, the closer the day of the demise of the wicked. The closer we get to the day of Christ’s return, the closer the completion of their days draws near.

I have shed many a tear over wickedness, as have you. Crying with the Spirit for two weeks prior, not know why, I sat glued to the news for days following the Oklahoma City bombing. Praying with God for two years over what He told my heart would be destruction striking from New York City to Washington DC, likened to the destruction of an earthquake, I cried with the nation and, indeed, the world, as those towers fell and the pentagon was in flames. I cry with Israel and other nations when struck by terrorist bombs. I have cried with children and grandchildren struck by the sexual sin of perverted men. I cry as I write this with the people of Aurora, CO, in the aftermath of a deranged man’s murderous rampage in a packed theater.

In our day, when we see so much evil going on around us, though it breaks our heart, yet with thought on the eternal victory of God, we can rejoice and be glad, walking forward in confidence that He is God, and the day is coming when evil will resound no more. There is no greater victory than to refuse to allow evil to rob us of joy and rejoicing in Christ, refusing to let go of faith to believe, even when experience seems to say ‘All is lost.’ We laugh in the face of evil, believing that the Lord sustains the righteous. See you tomorrow.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 7b

“For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (vs. 9-11).

“…But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.”

Yesterday we discussed the need to grow in patience to wait upon the Lord. Taking another look at our passage, we see that waiting is an act of humility.

It takes humility to sit and wait on the timing of another, especially when it is God and we can’t fully discern what He is doing. To know His call in our lives and trust His timing on things, when we think we are ready to go, challenges our humility, forcing us to the choice of falling away to our own path, or growing strong in the bearing of the fruit of humble patience in our lives. Choosing humble-patience in God produces assurance of our “inheriting the land”—accomplishing the goals and plans of God for us, and leading to our abundant prosperity.

God’s word has a lot to say about the humble, and Jesus, again, provides the example of true humility for us.

Jesus waited 30 years before coming into God’s timing for His ministry and the building up of disciples to carry on the work. We know He was anxious to get going because, when He was but 12 years old, His parents ran back to Jerusalem in a panic, finding Him busy about His Father’s business in the temple. And He was believed to be 33 years old before He saw the plan and purpose of God brought to completion through His willing sacrifice and resurrection power. For He who is the King of kings to wait so long, humbling Himself before His earthly-parents and others of authority in His world, very-God in the body of a child being taught of man; His wait required humility, the cornerstone of patience.

I also have the privilege of having my husband as a visible example of humility at work. For several years I watched my Choleric, organized, perfectionistic husband work under the authority of a Phlegmatic, laid back, disorganized, Sanguine. But my sweet, patient, humble man would fold his arms, taking a relaxed, hands-off stance, and sitting back, he would wait until the boss was ready to go, having just enough Phlegmatic personality to calm his get it done temperament.

Through these examples, I see that humility is an important trait to develop if we are to wait well.

We have talked some about humility in Parts 4 and 4Aa of this study when we covered the roll of the Bondservant, who humbles himself through surrender to his Master, going from temporary and unwilling slave, to eternal and willing bond-service, having the humble mind of Christ. Seeing that humility is vital to our ability to wait upon the Lord, let’s see what more we can learn from scripture about those of humble heart.

†   “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way” (Psalm 25:9),

Humility is vital to our ability to learn, grow strong in, and know God’s ways. And remember, it is through knowing His ways that we truly come to know Him. Therefore it is the humble in heart that will truly grow to know God intimately and personally.

†   “The humble have seen it (the salvation of the Lord) and are glad; you who seek God, let your heart revive” (Psalm 69:32 – vs. 29).

The humble who seek the Lord will see His salvation and find their heart revived. It takes humility to seek the Lord first in all things, with wholehearted faith in Him. But as we do so, we will find the reward of His presence and work in our lives. Is your heart weary, your light dull? Revival comes to the humble who seek the Lord in earnest, and finding Him faithful, see the darkness dispelled by His light revived and made new within.

†   “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).

It takes wisdom to live a good life, knowing when and how and to whom to humble oneself. Being humble before God requires us to know when to bow to His authority in any given situation or to His authority found in the high position of other beings. Wisdom also knows when to bow to His authority by standing firm with His authority in us against another. Wisdom is promised to the humble of heart.

The meekness of humility is not wimpy. It is surrender to authority: surrendering first to God’s authority as God, then recognizing the authority of others ordained by God; and, being surrendered to God, taking up His authority when He calls us to stand against that which is not of His choosing. Humility requires much strength of character. Humility is always that of bowing first to God; then knowing when to bow to the authority of others, we choose when to surrender and when to stand firm; both requiring strength of character in trusting God.

†   “But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (Isaiah 66:2).

Do we really honor God as God in our lives, or do we take for granted His lovingkindness and grace? When His word convicts us of sin, do we humble ourselves through contrition of spirit, trembling at His word, or give half-hearted thought to it and go on our way unscathed: without true and sincere repentance? This, by the way, is the heart of hypocrisy: saying we walk with God while failing to receive His word implanted by surrendering to His will with our all. Lack of humility treats God and His word as commonplace.

Look at the Amplified version of Isaiah 66:1-4:

“THUS SAYS the Lord: Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house would you build for Me? And what kind can be My resting-place? For all these things My hand has made, and so all these things have come into being by and for Me, says the Lord. But this is the man to whom I will look and have regard: he who is humble and of a broken or wounded spirit, and who trembles at My word and reveres My commands. The acts of the hypocrite’s worship are as abominable to God as if they were offered to idols. He who kills an ox then will be as guilty as if he slew and sacrificed a man; he who sacrifices a lamb or a kid, as if he broke a dog’s neck and sacrificed him; he who offers a cereal offering, as if he offered swine’s blood; he who burns incense to God, as if he blessed an idol. Such people have chosen their own ways, and they delight in their abominations; so I also will choose their delusions and mockings, their calamities and afflictions, and I will bring their fears upon them—because when I called, no one answered; when I spoke, they did not listen or obey. But they did what was evil in My sight and chose that in which I did not delight.”

Lack of sincere obedience, true humility, honest contrition, and wholehearted earnestness toward God as God fails to delight the heart of God because it is hypocrisy. He will not listen to nor heed the plea of those of us who fall short in this practice of humility through our practice of hypocritical, feigned obedience. We want our nation to revive and be healed? It begins with “me”, knowing, “…to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

†   Seek the LORD, All you humble of the earth Who have carried out His ordinances; Seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger. …I will leave among you a humble and lowly people, and they will take refuge in the name of the LORD” (Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12).

The humble of heart know God as their refuge in time of trouble. They are not overcome by fear, nor do they fall in the way of the “terrible” and imagined, because they have found The Secret Place of God as Shelter, Shield, and Buckler (Psalm 91).

As I think on this with my recent struggle in Complicated Grief Disorder and Social Anxiety nearing agoraphobia, I realize that fear is sourced in pride. We fear that which we feel we cannot stand against or control. Fear says, “If I cannot stand against it to protect myself, how can God protect me?” Fear refuses to surrender in faith to God and His will and way for us, whatever that may be.

Fear is self-centered. Faith is God-centered, trusting God’s love to be for us and not against us. His perfect love, trusted by faith and flowing to and through us, casts out fear. Humility bows when “I cannot” turns to acknowledge “but God…”: realizing that “Nothing shall be impossible with God, Who can.” Through trusting Him even when fearsome things happen or may happen, with humility we deny fear’s grip on our lives and trust God’s love which is always for our good and not harm, to give us a hope and a future that honors Him. Through faith in Him, we accomplish His purpose in the earth, living with Him in the eternal.

†   “…who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:21).

Humility is required for transformation to take place. Wondering why your life is not being transformed according to God’s promise? Look to see where pride, arrogance, and stubborn obstinance still holds its grip.

†   “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.’ …Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:6, 10).

True greatness comes most to those who are truly humble-putty in the hand of their God. Humility trusts God to make us sufficient for His use. Humility believes God. Humility knows that the place in which God’s will takes us is the best and safest place we can possibly enter into.

True humility waits for the Lord with patience for the path ahead, while keeping His way where we are.

The humble walk with God as Enoch did, and he was not, for God took Him to be with Him desiring his presence with Him. The humble believe God as Abraham did, and it was counted to him as righteousness. The humble are people after God’s own heart as David was, and God called him “the friend of God” with Moses. Humility exalts us to enter into the presence of God, putting us in direct contact with His light, equipping us to be His reflection in the earth, dispelling darkness on our way with unity in Him. Thus, the humble, who wait patiently upon the Lord, will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity, being exalted to know God and His ways for all eternity.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 6

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing” (vs. 7-8).

Did you know that we cannot enter into true, restorative rest and fret at the same time? It is impossible. To understand this fact, we must understand what God considers as true rest, which is the call of this passage. Any command we are given must be viewed from His understanding and meaning or we will fall short. So let us begin our journey to find the “rest” God speaks of here. Again, I am sure this will just scratch the surface, but it will be a good beginning point for our growth in true rest:

~*~ Rest Truth 1 ~*~

“Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said,

‘Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.’

“For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12-19).

When we fret, we are not living by faith. Lack of faith, if there are degrees of sin, is probably the most intolerable sin God sees in our lives every day. Without faith it is impossible ~ IMPOSSIBLE! ~ to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Fretting destroys faith, hinders obedience, even leading us to deliberate sin pouring out of our anxious lives, and thereby keeps us from rest. Rest: trusting, believing rest that is godly, flows out of a life of faith that trusts Him fully despite the situations of life, denies fretting, and, trusting His hand in our lives, it removes anxiety from us.

~*~*~ Rest Truth 2 ~*~*~

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made” (Genesis 2:1-3).

This one seems easy to understand, doesn’t it? We all need time to rest from our work and the labors of life, and God not only provides for our every need, but He always sets the example for us, for He never demands of us that which is not His own practice.

Rest is vital to us, and God, knowing this, commanded for us a day of Sabbath rest. That day has traditionally been on the day that we come together to worship God as a body, whether our religious organization chooses that to be Saturday, the last day of the week; or Sunday, the day believed to be the one in which Jesus arose and walked out of the tomb, destroying death’s hold on those who are His.

I don’t know if you have noticed it, but I have long noticed that in the churches I attend, the day of worship is anything but restful. Church life is often too busy to rest, as all are called to work in church related responsibilities. Couple that with family demands, it being the only day the housework can be done in our workaholic society, etc., and rest is far from us. So I have long had Monday as my Sabbath, a day when I draw apart from the hustle and bustle of normal life to seek the Father and rest myself in Him. God’s design is an entire day of Sabbatical. Whatever time it is for us, whether an entire day, or smidgeons of time throughout the week, we are called to enter in to the Sabbath with Him.

Now according to our understanding, God is not one who gets tired, so I asked Him once why He rested and what He did that brought rest to Him. Can you see God, sitting under a tree, chewing on a blade of grass, smiling? Can you envision that with me? What was He doing that applies to us for the Sabbath rest we are called to?

Here is what He revealed to my heart as I saw Him sitting under that tree. He looked back over all the previous week and rejoiced in all that was accomplished, enjoying the product of His hands.

How much time do we give on the Sabbath to looking back over all the good accomplished over the previous week, months, years, and rejoice in the Lord for His bounty? There is rest in the glory of God acknowledged. Too often, however, as we look back, our mind settles on the negatives and we turn to fretting. So what are we to do when we find ourselves in those instances?

Surrender it. Turn it all over to Him.

Did You realize that in creation, there was a negative that God put in place that could have brought Him to fretting? But I do not see God fretting, do you? He had a purpose in the negative, and it would bring glory. He knew this, so He rested without fretting. What was that negative?

“Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day” (Genesis 1:6-8).

Note that this is the only day in all of creation that the passage does not include, “and God saw that it was good.” Why? I believe it is because the expanse reminded Him that there would come a time when separation would come between Him and us, created in His image, and for whose pleasure He created all this glory. So we see that even God most likely looked back and saw that there was a negative there to mar the glory, but His focus was on all that was good, and in the end He looked at the full tapestry of His created work and of it all, including the expanse, we are told, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). God does not fret over the flaws found in the product of His hands, knowing that every flaw He allows in His creation has a purpose and it all will work together to fulfill the purpose. Instead He focuses on the good and the flow that will lead to the end product and His ultimate glory.

When we look back and see negatives, it brings with it all too often, a look toward the week, months, years ahead, and the negative we must deal with. I am sure that as God looked over all His creation, He was reminded again of what was coming to His creation. But He knew that Jesus was not Plan B. He was always Plan A. God had a plan and was doing a good work.

We enter His rest with Him when fretting threatens to enter to destroy, and we meet it with faith that God has a plan and He is doing a good work. We will see it if we faint not in the way, but instead keep waiting for the Lord with earnest expectation and hope of glory.

Get excited when difficulty comes! It brings with it the assurance of opportunity to see what the Lord will do. This is where fretting turns into a grateful heart toward our Loving Lord, Who is forever for us and not against us.

~*~*~*~ Rest Truth 3 ~*~*~*~

For this final insight on trusting, believing rest that is godly, we return to yesterday’s passage:

“‘See, You say to me, “Bring up this people!” But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, “I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ …” (Exodus 33:12-17).

Our greatest rest comes as we know and discern and walk in the presence of the Lord our God, knowing Him and trusting His work in our midst.

Can you hear the sigh of Moses after being told that God was not going into the Promised Land with this obstinate people, when God proclaimed, “Okay, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Whew.

Do you think God knew that as weary as He was with the people, it was unbearable to Moses for sure, and he was exhausted? Moses learned total reliance upon God for the power and ability to do all he was called to. The thought of being without Him had to be unbearable. Like with Moses, just to know with belief that God is with us and in us brings us to rest. Thus, if we have any hope of entering into His rest, we must learn to say with David:

“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay.  You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence” (Acts 2:25-28).

We can face any “Goliath” in life when we trust the Presence of Holy God with us.

Rest in the Lord, beloved, and wait patiently for Him. In so doing, know also that you are the apple of His eye; He is always looking after you for your good, and not for harm, to give you a hope and a future. He will never, no never, leave nor forsake you. So take your rest, beloved, and be at peace.

(See John 6:37 and Hebrews 13:5, especially in the Amplified version of scripture.)

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 5b

Yesterday we looked at the fact that to “commit our way to the Lord,” we best accomplish this when we fallow the instruction of Romans 12 in surrendering all the we are, body, soul, and spirit; life, limb, and faculties, to God for His use. In so doing, we come into unity with God, who then is able to direct our paths and use our every gift, talent, ability, strength, weakness, power and authority, putting all that He is and His power into the mix to accomplish His purposes. Today we look again at the same passage in Psalm 37:

“Commit your WAY to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” (vs. 5-6).

Commit your way. God keeps bringing a thought to mind with this word, “way”, from another passage in which He showed me something long ago that I find interesting, and that fits our focus here. Turn with me to Exodus 33:

In Exodus 33, God is dealing with His wayward people: people He not only delivered from the hands of Egypt, but He brought them out with the bounty of Egypt’s wealth: gold jewelry, gold décor and utensils, jewels galore of every kind. Even still, when Moses was long on the mountain of God, the people decided he must be dead or never planning to return, so they chose to make a new god out of the golden bounty God caused their enemy to hand over to their possession, so they worshipped before a golden calf and did unspeakable things in honoring it over the One True God who loved and saved them, sinning against their God.

Now we need to realize something here: it did not take the forty days that Moses was on the mountain with God for them to become convinced he was never returning. It took time to prepare for melting the gold down; time to make the mold; and time for that graven image to cool so they could bow before it. We too easily give up on God when He is about to bless us beyond measure.

At the beginning of chapter 33, as part of their punishment, God told them to take the jewels from their ears as reminder of their sin. Then He told Moses the unthinkable: that Moses was to lead the people in to possess the land of Promise, but He would not accompany such an obstinate people. He would send an angel in with them, but He, Himself, would not be going with them.

This put Moses on His knees before the Lord, and Joshua with him. After leaving the tent of meeting, Joshua still on his knees before God, Moses told the Lord:

“‘See, You say to me, “Bring up this people!” But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, “I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me KNOW YOUR WAYS THAT I MAY KNOW YOU, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’

“Then he said to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name.’”

How did Moses say that he could come to know God? By knowing His ways. And what did He say would distinguish them from other people? The presence of God with them.

My husband knows me so well, it amazes me. He is seldom surprised by how my day has gone, because he knows me, how I function, how I think, the things that wear me down, and how to build me up. He knows my ways, therefore he knows and understands me better than any other human on earth.

My closest friends that stand by me through thick and thin are those who know my ways. And we know God best when we learn His ways. Why is that? Because God is as He does as He is. There is no hypocrisy in God. Who He is dictates His thoughts, His actions and His person.

I believe that when God says for us to commit our way to Him, He is saying for us to trust Him enough to be real with Him. And not only trust Him enough to be real with Him, but also to trust Him enough to commit our ways of being and doing to Him for His transforming power.

He wants more than just a Master to slave relationship. He wants the love relationship of Beloved Master to bondslave. He wants more than just the Beloved Master to bondslave relationship. He wants a Father to child relationship. He wants more than a Father to child relationship. He wants the intimacy of Ishi (My Husband) to wife relationship (Hosea 2:16). He wants more than the Husband and wife relationship we picture from our limited experience of it with our mates or our parents’ marriage. He wants the Two to become One Flesh with Him in Christ.

God wants to transform us to the design intended from the beginning. We were intended to walk in His image, having a relationship of unity with Him. Committing our way to Him means trusting Him as we are, while also knowing that He will lovingly transform us to better than we could ever dream, and in that transformation process, He wants to bring us to greater intimacy with Him than we ever deemed possible.

What a beautiful picture, to so know God’s ways, all that He is, that we call Him by name with intimacy. And to be so known by God that He calls us by name in an intimate love relationship that makes us one with Him.

“Commit your WAY to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” (vs. 5-6).

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 5a

As God’s people in the earth, we dispel the dark of evil by being His lights. This is accomplished in us as we “trust in the Lord and do good,” knowing that He alone is good, and only with His goodness at work in us can we do good that He can count as such. Also we are light as we “delight ourselves in the Lord,” knowing that our delight in Him is best accomplished as we seek Him through the Mind of Christ that instructs us, granting us the heart of God, the character of God, and His desires of heart that He can give to us. Pressing forward in our study of Psalm 37 we find:

“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday” (vs. 5-6).

“Commit your way to the Lord.” Too often what we tend to do is make a plan and ask God to bless it. Is that what this call means? Can we choose the paths we want to walk and expect God to make us successful in it? Then there is the understanding I have long had since learning the planning, then committing is not the way to go. That is that we seek the Lord for the plans we are to make, only following His lead, seeking His blessing from the beginning of our planning session to its fulfillment. But God took me to something even more than that.

As I sought the Lords counsel in where to go with this portion of our study, He called me to Romans 12:

“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).

Could that be it? Commit your way to the Lord by presenting your body as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, thus worshiping Him with our lives. Commit your body to the Lord by refusing to be conformed to this world order; instead letting Him transform us through the renewing of our mind so that we may know and approve His will, proving it to be good and acceptable and perfect as we walk it out with right mindset, motives and attitudes. Kind of removes the need of concern about whether the plan or the commitment of the plan comes first if we are committing all that we are to Him to start with, doesn’t it?

Verse 1 in the Amplified version adds the following to our understanding: “I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of all the mercies of God, to make a DECISIVE DEDICATION OF YOUR BODIES, presenting all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted, consecrated, and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable, rational, and intelligent service and spiritual worship.”

We are to set our minds and keep them set, making a once and for all decisive dedication of our bodies to Him. Here the Amplified adds that we are to “present all your members and faculties as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted, and consecrated to God,” for this is well pleasing to Him.

Let’s break that down a bit: this is speaking to each individual in the body of Christ, each called to present the individual “members” of their personal body to God. I believe this is saying that all the parts and pieces that make up the physical housing called “my body” are to be committed to God. My heart, my lungs; my mind, my thoughts; my hands, my feet; my arms, my legs; my mouth, my ears, my eyes; all are His for His use. And if I am committing my members to Him day by day, He will direct my path for how they are to function for His use.

As we surrender our bodily members to God for His use, so we surrender our faculties. To discover the full meaning here, let’s look at part of the definition of faculty:

1. one of the inherent powers of the mind or body, such as reason, memory, sight, or hearing

Our thoughts, our emotions, our senses, all are to be surrendered to God for His use.

2. any ability or power, whether acquired or inherent

No matter how strong a person we may be in the physical, it is nothing compared to what it can be when surrendered to God. Any natural gifting is only made stronger when committed to Him for His use.

3. a conferred power or right

Any power, authority, or perceived right we think we have in this life is only partial and impotent until it is sanctified to Him for His use.

So we see that all that we are, mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually must belong to Him for His use. Everything we do, every talent, gift or ability; all power or authority we are entrusted with in the earth, we are to give over to Him for His use. And the “rights” that we think we have truly belong to Him alone. When we commit our way to Him, He will accomplish in and through us all that concerns us. And in so doing, “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday.”

But that is not all! See you tomorrow for more on this passage.

Dispelling the Darkness—Begins with the Mind of Christ: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 4D

This is the final excerpt of our study of the mind of Christ and its dictates that bring us to the heart of God and right desires that He can respond to affirmatively. If these things live in us and are growing, we can know that we are in Him and He is in us. But this is only the beginning of the journey as we continue to grow in understanding the mind of Christ in us. Following this excerpt, God will continue to reveal to you what the mind of Christ looks like in the life of God’s children.

Continuing as we consider our passage in Colossians 3:

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a HEART of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:12-17, NASB).

Remember in the beginning of our discussion in considering the mind of Christ within us, we found that, like in our own body, the mind of Christ in us sends signals to the heart telling it how to function, and the heart pumps that food to the our mind, giving it needed nourishment for proper function as it dictates and directs all bodily functions. The heart nourishes the body as a whole and the mind dictates function. So it is with the mind of Christ in us. God’s heart feeds Christ the good He wants us to possess and walk out. The mind of Christ teaches our hearts, giving to us the very heart of God with the ability to be as He is. The heart of God then nourishes every part of our being, bringing us into the new life He has for us. And the mind of Christ dictates, instructing us in how to live that life. This passage tells us some of the attributes of the heart of God that the mind of Christ imparts to us. Breaking it down, we discover:

“So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a HEART of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience….” These are aspects of the fruit of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5. The mind of Christ, producing the heart of God in us, grows from us the fruit of Life in God; the godly characteristics that prove us to be in Him, sealed by the Spirit in relationship to Him. We are called of Him to put these on and wear them as our outer garment, revealing our inner beauty. We still have “choice” in Christ: will we follow the dictates of His heart desire or our fleshly wants? The proof of relationship is found in our choice. Choosing His ways, we put on His character.

“… bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. …” Unforgiveness separates. Forgiveness is an act of Agape-love that protects unity (1 Corinthians 13).

The mind of Christ at work in us equips us to live together with grace and unity, forgiving insult as God has forgiven us, and granting us wisdom in relationship. It equips us to love with God’s love, which goes beyond how a person acts to see and desire for them their potential in Christ. It helps us to truly discern that we are to owe nothing to anyone, but love, for love done God’s way fulfills the law. In owing nothing but love, we leave vengeance to God (Romans 13:8. See also Romans 12).

“… Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body …” Have you looked at the peace of Christ? The peace of Christ was able to sleep rested in the arms of God through the worst of storms. The peace of Christ walked on water without weariness over the crashing waves. The peace of Christ faced His accusers, sometimes debating with them, even taking time to stoop down and doodle in the dirt while awaiting God’s response, often leaving them with truths to ponder. And sometimes, as at His final persecution, He stood silent knowing that no amount of talk would change their mindset or alter the path before Him. He trusted God, and it translated to peace that passed understanding, and that umpired His life. This is the mind He brings to us.

“… and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. …” Christ brings to us right thoughts and perceptions; truths and a hope that develops within us a heart of gratitude to God that can encourage the brethren in every circumstance of life. It brings to us a heart of gratitude that equips us to withstand the hardest difficulties with good temper (vs. 12, AMP), so that we can live life to the full in one accord with His purposes.

“… Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” As we grow in our ability to understand, comprehend and work out of the mind of Christ, we become His representatives in the earth, His ambassadors, able to fulfill His purpose. In this way, we share His sufferings and complete what is lacking in His afflictions by representing Him and His interests in the world (Colossians 1:24).

I hope this short beginning on discerning the mind of Christ in us will be the first steps to your discovering the greater depths of His mindset made available to us. It is awesome that God not only promises to give us the desires and secret petitions of our heart, but He makes provision for us so that we can have desires and deep seeded longings that He can respond to.

Delight yourself in Him, beloveds, drawing near to Him, listening to His heartbeat. Let His thoughts become your own, filling you with desire that brings His “yes” in Christ Jesus.

“But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (Christ) they are yes; therefore also through Him (Christ) is our Amen to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” (2 Corinthians 1:18-22, NASB).

All that we are is wrapped up in understanding all that He is and in receiving unto us the mind of Christ and heart of God that tells us all that we are and are able to be in representing Christ in truth:

“…But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (see 1Peter 4:1-10).

~*~

NOTE: A good place to go in continuing to grow in understanding the mind of Christ in you is Philippians 3:7-16, Amplified version. I pray the mind of Christ for you, my friend. May you grow to know God (Father, Son, and Spirit) as never before.

As a family gathering this weekend draws my attention, our study of Psalm 37 will pick back up on Monday. Tomorrow I will repost an old devotional I wrote numerous years ago that fits our theme of the study of our being light that dispels the darkness. Everyone have a great weekend break, filled with His glory.

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

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

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

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

So what is delighting in the Lord?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extreme pleasure or satisfaction; joy.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It begins with the mind of Christ.

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

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 3

Thus far in our journey to discover how God intends us to be light that dispels the darkness, we have learned through verse 1-2 that light does not fret over the dark. Light just is what it is, a direct opposite of darkness. By just being light, light penetrates the night to overcome and dispel the dark.

In verse 3a we discovered that good is in God alone and only with full trust in Him to flow through us with His goodness do we have any hope of accomplishing true good in the earth.

Returning to verse three, as we continue our trek to learn how we become His Light in the earth to dispel the darkness, we break down the second half of that beloved verse as stated in the New American Standard version of scripture: “…Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness” (vs. 3b).

Yesterday as we touched on part b in the Amplified version of scripture, we discovered that as we trust in the Lord, we have the promise of His faithfulness toward us. Today as we look at this passage, we see our roll in our need to dwell and be faithful. Thus we begin with: “Dwell in the land.”

The first question that comes to my mind is what is the “land” in which we are to dwell? Are we to dwell in the lands of the earth where we reside? Well, yes, but as I look at this, I believe there is a deeper understanding to be had here.

The land spoken of in this passage was the Promised Land from God to Israel. They were to dwell in the land of promise as God instructed. So, as believers in Christ, what is our Promised Land in which we are to dwell? May I suggest that it is the Kingdom of God?

How do we live in the Kingdom of God while still in the world of mankind? Scripture tells us what that looks like and how we are to dwell there. Let us look at a few passages to see what Scripture teaches about the Dwelling place of God’s Kingdom on earth—living in the Kingdom of God while in this life:

†   When we seek after and run hard to do the will of God, we dwell in His kingdom: “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father Who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). Note that Jesus always makes a clear distinction between Himself and the Father. Yes, He is somehow Very God in ways beyond our complete understanding. But He is the Son of God and He obeyed the Father as an example to us, and He calls us to do the same. We are never told by Jesus to pray to Him. We are called to pray as representing Jesus—being in His name, but we are to pray to the Father. We are also instructed that it is the Father we are to seek to obey. It is Father’s will we are after. (Hang in there with me. We are going someplace awesome in the days to come.)

†   When we walk in unity with the brethren in Christ, we dwell in the Kingdom of God: “And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, ‘Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand’” (Matthew 12:25).

†   When we experience the power of God at work in our deliverance and our ministry on His behalf, we dwell with Him: “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28).

†   When deeper truth and understanding opens up to us on personal levels, we dwell in the Land of Promise, feasting on the food of God’s provision: “Jesus answered them, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted’” (Matthew 13:11).

†   When we hunger and thirst for Him, searching for God as for hidden treasure, seeking for Him with all that we are as our first and most vital need and necessity, running after Him as our deepest desire, we dwell in the Secret Place of His habitation: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again the kingdom of heaven is like a man who is a dealer in search of fine and precious pearls, who, on finding a single pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it. …”

†   We dwell in His Kingdom when we discern the bad from the good; the good from the better; and the better from the best. Choosing the best is living life more abundant and full in Him: “…Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away” (Matthew 13:44-48).

†   When we can grow strong and be encouraged by reminder of truths long known and observed, and add to it deeper truths in newness of understanding, we experience the greater knowledge of the Kingdom of God: “Jesus said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old’” (Matthew 13:51-52).

†   When we find the pathway of righteousness in Christ, are umpired by peace that is beyond full understanding, and have joy within that is not dictated nor disturbed by circumstance, we know the Kingdom life: “Therefore do not let what is for you a good thing be spoken of as evil; for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men” (Romans 14:16-18).

†   And the greatest of these is love. When we know how to love with God’s love, even knowing how to love our enemies, we walk with God day by day and know well the streets of gold in Kingdom paths: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:13-24)

When these truths become our life experience, we dwell in the land of our God’s promise and provision for us, and we do so by walking out the second half of today’s verse: “Dwell in the Land, and Cultivate Faithfulness”.

In understanding how to cultivate faithfulness, I was drawn of Spirit to look up the definition of the word “cultivate”. Following is what I found to be required of us who would cultivate faithfulness in Kingdom living:

†   “To improve and prepare (land), as by plowing or fertilizing, for raising crops”: Kingdom Living cultivated through faithfulness will bear a crop to the glory of God.

†   “To loosen or dig soil around (growing plants). To grow or tend (a plant or crop)”: Kingdom Living that cultivates faithfulness knows when to give focus to needed growth in a particular area where fruitfulness needs to increase.

†   “To promote the growth of. To nurture; foster”: Kingdom living seeks out opportunity for growth. Also Kingdom Living that cultivates faithfulness is not self-centered to the exclusion of others. It will promote growth in the lives of those in ones sphere of influence.

†   “To form and refine, as by education”: Kingdom Living, cultivated by faithfulness, is always growing and maturing. So long as we are in this earth, “we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away”. By this we know that there will always be room in our lives for more spiritual growth and maturity. We will not arrive on this side of eternity (2 Corinthians 13:9-10).

†   “To seek the acquaintance or goodwill of; make friends with”: We know we have attained to a level of maturity in Kingdom Living when we become friends with the lifestyle practice of faithfulness. Faithfulness is not always easy, but it is always worthwhile, as faithfulness, properly cultivated, will not fail to bear much fruit to the glory of God.

“Dwell in the Land and cultivate faithfulness.” It is an awesome and abundant life indeed. And in the pursuit of this ideal Jeremiah 17:9-10 gives us a warning worth heeding and takes us back to remembrance of yesterday’s blog excerpt on part 2 of this series. The Lord warns through Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things and BEYOND CURE. Who can understand it?  I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve” Jeremiah 17:9-10.

We can only know how to live and grow and bear fruit as we trust and follow the one who knows our hearts better than we do our own selves. So trust in the Lord and do good by dwelling in the land and cultivating faithfulness through leaning on, relying on, and being confident in Him. He is the source of our light that will dispel the darkness not only in our part of the earth, but within our own hearts.

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 2

“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.” (vs. 3, AMP)

One day, when questioning Jesus, the seeker called Him “Good Teacher.” Jesus stopped right there, correcting with His own question. “Why do you call Me good?” He asks. Then He responds with His own answer, “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

Scripture teaches me that my greatest good is as filthy rags before our Holy God (Isaiah 64:6). Why? Because my motives and desires fall far short of those found in our Holy God.

And Jesus taught that no one is good but God alone. He emphasized for us that one cannot get good from the bad. “You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles? Even so, every healthy, sound tree bears good fruit worthy of admiration, but the sickly, decaying, worthless tree bears bad worthless fruit. A good, healthy tree cannot bear bad worthless fruit, nor can a bad, diseased tree bear excellent fruit worthy of admiration” (Matthew 7:16-18, AMP). Good fruit has a flavor that is out of this world! It draws others to seek after it for themselves. And it lasts into eternity.

So how is it, me being one who certainly cannot be called good when my Lord refused the title, how then is it that I can do good in God’s eyes? David tells us right here in his Psalm: by trusting in, leaning on, relying on, and being confident in the Lord, I am then equipped to do good. With His goodness flowing through me, my evil nature is transformed and I am empowered to produce good fruit.

Jesus showed us the way as He spoke often of His own reliance on God and His seeking after Him:

“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “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” (John 5:19, 30)

“So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.’ … Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.’” (John 8:28, 42)

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10)

God desires our good, but our good begins and ends with Him. Only as we follow Him with faith in Him as our confidence in likeness to Christ do we have any hope of doing a good He can approve. And we have the promise from God that as we trust in, lean on, rely on, and find our confidence in Him alone, we will “… dwell in the land and feed surely on His faithfulness, and truly you shall be fed.”

How is your faith, Brothers and Sisters? Are you trying in your own strength and way to do good? Without first aligning with God in full assurance of faith that believes and trusts in Him, obeying Him out of that faith, our greatest good is only filthy rags. And if we are doing good as in His name while failing to believe Him and follow His will for us in the good we do, our good is in our eyes alone, falling short of His glory. There is a difference between what we call good things and our doing the God-things that are truly good.

A friend of mine prayed the following the other day: “I don’t want You to go with me, Lord. I want to go with You! No more of Your permissive will for me. I want to walk in Your perfect will” (Brother Steve, PRAYHOUSE). That prayer so echoes my own heart desire as I realize daily with greater depth of understanding that God is my only true need and vital necessity for life.

God has spent the past year and a half calling me to greater faith and reliance on Him. He has brought me to a point where I know that I know that He is my only true need. Without Him, I am nothing and can do nothing. With Him I know that I can do all He leads me to, because He will make sure I have sufficient for every good deed.

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” What great faith! “ Trust in the Lord, my friend, and do good.

“…The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity…” (John 17).

Dispelling the Darkness: A Look at Psalm 37 – Part 1

“FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness (that which is not upright or in right standing with God). For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.” (vs. 1-2, AMP).

For over a week now, God has spoken to me, focusing my heart on the deeper truths of Psalm 37. I am excited to get into this passage with you as we begin this awesome study together in a day when understanding and living this passage out into our lives is vital to the Kingdom in our nations.

Last weekend I attended the baptism of a granddaughter. Staying for the service that followed, they showed an interview of Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn who wrote the book, The Harbingers. Here is a link to his message for us regarding the spiritual state of America and the signs of God’s discipline over our land: The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment, Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqWyIL_4kZY.

This morning, as I bowed in prayerful response to God over another passage of scripture, here is what He instructed my heart with regard to evil in our land and how we are to face these days. “FRET NOT yourself because of evildoers, neither be envious against those who work unrighteousness….”

As I begin this series of looking at Psalm 37, I recall that evil is depicted as darkness throughout scripture and righteousness is revealed to be as light in the earth. We are called to be light. So what does light do?

Light does not fret over the darkness in the earth. It penetrates and disperses it. Light is total opposite to dark, and it accomplishes its purpose by simply being light. That is what we are called to. We do not have to fret over and fight darkness / evil. We simply have to be light where God has placed us, being a people who live uprightly and in right standing with God: a people of integrity who seek the good for all concerned; a people after God’s own heart.

“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth. For yet a little while, and the evildoers will be no more; though you look with care where they used to be, they will not be found. But the meek [in the end] shall inherit the earth and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” (vs. 8-11, AMP).

The question is, do we believe God? Then we must realize that fretting over darkness in the land tends only to evildoing. Fretting leads us to either lay down in depression, dulling our light, or it leads us to become like those who do evil, fighting them too often in ways that dishonor God. It leads us to address the darkness out of the dark thoughts of the natural instead of simply being what God calls us to be, trusting that the light He sends through us will dispel the darkness.  

Focus on God, realizing that He fights for us, and simply being all He desires us to be, looking to Him is the path He uses to make us bright with His Light. Contrasted against the night skies of our environs, we are equipped of Him to penetrate the dark places where we are and melt away the night sky in our midst.

Instead of fretting over evil in our midst, we must focus on our own practice of godliness, living life like a sunrise (or a Sonrise) where we are. Be bright to the glory of God. And pray with me over these next numerous days as we delve into this blessed passage that outlines for us the attributes and resources available to us who desire to be as He is, one who chooses good over evil and wins the day by simply BEing the person He created us to be.

Hum…I wonder if that is why He told Moses to tell the people that the God who sends him is simply “I AM”. May we daily live the image of “I AM” and see the night turned to light.

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 4 – Live Defined by Love

“Live life to the full”: that is the goal, despite difficulty that comes to hinder.

In nursing, when dealing with people who enter into a season of learning to deal with a chronic illness, the goal is to help them find a new norm that allows them to live life to the highest degree possible. That is what we have been talking about this week. Disease is part of life in a fallen world. Sometimes God chooses to heal, miraculously or over time; but always He chooses to use the struggle to grow our faith in Him and bring us to greater reliance on Him as our first, most vital Need and Necessity. He is our Resource and Supply, our Great Ally.

Because of love of God and love for those around me, I refuse to waste good days protecting myself for fear I might overdo and flare, never getting anything of importance done, failing to enjoy not only this life God has given me but the people in it. I know better than to constantly push myself, yes; but there are just some days that are worth the push.

When I do push to live life and enjoy it, if a flare follows, I refuse to give my enemy the glory by bemoaning the push of life and the energy of God’s supply for it, even regretting that I possessed a day to live it to the full. I will, instead, choose to rejoice in the good days and rest in God in the bad days until healing comes and the enemy is back in its place.

Finally, with these truths under my belt, I can live life to the full knowing that truth sets free indeed, wisdom directs the path, and faith, hope and love abide: and the greatest of these is love. So love to the full keeping God first, for we can do nothing apart from Him, but with Him all things are possible, for nothing shall be impossible with God. He is for us and not against us. And even when He allows evil to touch our lives, it has eternal purpose for good and not harm. Have faith in Him and follow His directives to the healing of His desire and the glory of His name. Live with hope in God who supplies strength to live life to the full.

In this way we can live to His glory, realizing our resource is in Him. With those resources in mind, having His priorities of faith, hope and love actions, determine your boundaries, and fight the good fight of faith that is defined by who you are in God’s estimation. Remember that He is more interested in how we love Him, self, and others, than He is in a clean house and a meal that takes hours of preparation. Save energy for those you love. The house will fall apart and return to dust for eternity. The people are all we can take with us. Love those kids. Play with them. Enjoy your mate. And give to those in your sphere of influence without fretting over the house being less than you desire.

~*~

 “See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

~*~

Thank You, Father, that You instruct my life and grant me Your wisdom and discernment. I look to You as I seek to understand how to live with my limits, know my enemies, discover the truth, and live this life in the abundance of Your supply. No longer being dictated by my diagnosis, but empowered by Your gracious love and provision in it, I pray I will live this life of abundance to the glory of Your name.

“For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:9-12).

 In Jesus I pray You, show me Your glory. Amen

Choice Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

Strength And Beauty Are In His Sanctuary

“…show forth His salvation from day to day. …For great is the Lord and greatly to be praised; He is to be reverently feared and worshiped above all [so-called] gods. …strength and beauty are in His sanctuary” (Psalm 96, AMP).

God has graciously been ministering to me concerning the paranoia my daddy is dictated by and the struggle that brings this tired daughter’s heart. I am grateful that God loves me and that He instructs my heart as a Faithful Father to this, His child. So what causes my struggle?

One thing, of course, is daddy’s paranoia that has him thinking we who love him most and desire to do the best for him are doing things to bring him harm. God reminds me in this passage that not only is this fear that wells up in me to hinder my effective relationship with daddy not of Him, but He is the only one worthy of fear and worship. When I bow to fear, I bow to a false god.

Another thing that hinders is fear of what others think of my struggle where daddy is concerned. Again He points out to me the fear being used to hinder and the reminder from God that He is my God.

Not only is He my God, but He alone is my judge and King and I can trust Him. I can trust Him to lead me day by day. I do not have to fret about what is needed in my tomorrow, or what others think I should be able to do for daddy today. God knows my heart and He knows my struggle and the reasons behind it, which He is helping and healing. I do not have to fret over the expectations of others or even of my own heart. All my tomorrows belong to Him, as does my here and now. Only in my now is it my choice. Will I follow Him with faith, rejoicing? Or will I leave Him in the way? He is the path before me. All I need is clarity for the next step He has for me to take and faith to step it. It is my step by step that He requires and He will always supply the need of the moment with strength sufficient for the call, great or small, for …

“Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.” That means two things to me.

One: I can rest in the sanctuary of my God knowing that He protects me and fights for me. I do not have to give myself to fretting, fearing, cringing, or doubting, which lead only to inability to worship and trust in Him. I cannot follow His call in the day to day ways of ministry to my aging daddy, or anyone else, when I am blinded by fear and anxiety over the struggle. I cannot hear Him whom I desire to honor when I am not seeking to follow close at His heels in obedient faith.

Following Him requires faith, and faith in action requires hope-filled belief; trusting that He is who He says He is and He will do what He says, for He is able. And because He who equips me is able, I can do what He says I can for I am who He says I am: His beloved possession, child of the King, a princess warrior in Christ, a part of the Holy Nation, the Royal Priesthood, called and equipped to live a life that declares His glory and His Lordship.

Two: When Jesus breathed His last earthly breath, the Father tore the dividing wall asunder, removing the separation. That act not only made the way for me to come to His throne of grace personally as a minister in Jesus’ name, entering His sanctuary as a priest unto God, but it also opened the way for His Spirit to reside within His people—which includes me. I, along with you, are the very Temple of the Very God, and His strength is in His sanctuary.

God spoke these things to me on Saturday. Sunday, as Pastor Tim began his message on love in action, he gave one simple instruction as he began to define love, and God used it to remind me of my need to focus on loving daddy in His name. Pastor told us to not focus on taking note of his definition of each aspect of love found in 1 Corinthians 13, but to write down what the Spirit instructs us regarding our love walk. God spoke clearly to me regarding love-actions toward daddy, giving me 10 simple ways I can love daddy while overcoming fear and anxiety:

  1. Practice long-suffering (patience) toward Daddy.
  2. Do good to daddy, searching for opportunity to do so.
  3. Honor daddy from my character, not from my position in his eyes – non-envious love is not position oriented, but character birthed.
  4. In honor, prefer daddy, giving preference to him. Love calms the angry passion. Do not be cross or contradictory.
  5. Act becomingly toward daddy with courtesy. Do not despise his conduct! – Then I noted; Life is opportunity; so is love.
  6. Do not seek my own to the neglect of daddy. Do not love self to the cost and damage of daddy or those who watch and go through this with me. I have long believed that the difficulties God has me walk through are not only for my benefit in purifying me, but so that I have a comfort with which to comfort others. How can I give true comfort that does good to others if I do not first learn to do this relationship struggle the right way, through love that gives at all cost?
  7. Love will temper anger toward daddy. Love will reconcile with him, 70 times 7, for my own sake as well as his (Matthew 18:22; Isaiah 43:25 – Forgiving God’s Way – Part 1 ; Forgiving God’s Way – Part 2).
  8. Love will give daddy the benefit of a doubt, not pre-judging his heart toward me, thus letting fear hinder relationship. It will not add my suspicions to his. As it rejoices in truth, love will speak the truth in love.
  9. See daddy through Love’s eyes. Do not expose daddy’s sin to others, unnecessarily causing him to look bad in the eyes of others.
  10. Love does not give up on the one loved (Memorize verse 8: “Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]”, AMP). Fortification and firmness of foundation is the gift of Love—that stick to-it-tiveness found in standing on the Solid Rock and walking in His ways is what I need to persevere despite the difficulty.

 My prayer as the message began was, “Father, remove from me the love of self and the misconceptions of love that stops up the love of You meant to flow to the lives of others. In Jesus, I continue to pray this, amen.”

Father, fear and debilitating anxiety, tiredness and frustration, bitterness and anger, all of these clog up the pores of Love’s flow. Perfect Love casts out fear. You and You alone are perfect love, for You ARE love. Here am I, O God. Strength is in the Santuary of God; you being my hiding place and defense / defender when fear strikes its cord; my body being a temple of Your habitation, where Strength resides. Strengthen me, O God, to persevere in faith and practice Your love that fails not. In Jesus, show me Your glory. Amen.

The Call

The following is long, but well worth the read. It is written by a minister of God in the land of His calling; a dear friend and fellow servant to Yah / God. He is the Under-Shepherd of a House of Prayer called PRAYHOUSE. And he is a witness likened to a modern Paul. As is his habit, the following is chalked full of insight through his testimony and encouragement to be a people of godly character, totally sold out and surrendered to the God we serve. With his permission to do so, I share the following in its entirety; nothing held back. Some of his longer paragraphs I seperated into smaller ones that, for me, end with a “Selah” moment: “Pause and calmly think about that. I pray that you too will see what I see in his word and be encouraged. Blessings, Darlene. (FYI: “Our” / “we” / “us” spoken of himself is Steve and the Triune-Godhead.)

The Call

Written by Brother Steve

A pastor recently told me that when I reach Heaven I will be judged on how many souls I bring with me. I replied, “I will be judged according to my obedience or disobedience.”

A lady having a very strong calling to evangelize the Jews stated I am in error if I am not evangelizing the Jews. Another lady who’s personal call was recently refined to seeking “the one” rather than the multitudes claimed I must be doing the same.

While we are all called to be involved in making disciples, we are not all called to do the same job in the making of disciples.

The reason I bring this up is because it is something we are seeing more and more: brothers and sisters defining and judging others and their ministries according to the specifics of calls that are not their specific and individual callings. Be careful beloveds! Do not be caught up in this!

As a new believer and follower of our LORD Jesus, GOD began using me very powerfully in evangelizing, teaching and discipling, so powerfully that even now it amazes me. Did you know that I have been blessed to personally pray with over 2000 individuals for salvation, been personally involved in healings and diverse miracles? Most of us do know this. All of us involved together in this ministry became accustomed to seeing testimonies of these things and we all more or less fell into the habit of using them as the factors determining whether this is a successful ministry.

Then the LORD did something different. He called me to our 1st long term mission, in Israel no less, something I had never sought. When people used to ask me whether I wanted to go to Israel and walk where Jesus once walked, my very truthful answer was that I was walking with Him now and had no need or desire to go to Israel.

GOD called me to come to Jericho, using a NGO/ministry that was then operating here to bring me and establish me here. He shifted me physically and also began shifting the specifics of His personal call on me and my life. He gave revelation that the 1st manifestation of PRAYHOUSE is a House Of Prayer (HOP) birthed in Jericho. This did not surprise me as much as some would think. From the very beginning of our walk together GOD anointed me as a man of prayer, one who delights in praying.

When GOD shifted me to Jericho and then to birth a HOP, His imperative / directives were/are so clear that there are only 2 options for me: either deliberately obey, or deliberately disobey.

His call is so clear that obedience, in the beginning, was an easy joy. GOD had seen to it that I was properly trained and accustomed to working in foreign cultures. I love praying to Him, hearing from Him and adore seeking His face. I had not been exposed to HOPs prior to being called here but GOD is a patient teacher, One who knows exactly what He wants.

GOD took a sinner, one who’d been addicted to alcohol, nicotine and things of the flesh for decades….. and called this man to become a saint, a sinner who had been saved by grace. In the process He transformed me into one who loves Him much. He gave me a heart to reach the lost, teach, disciple, to set captives free, and once His heart was firmly established He brought me here, to Jericho, a city in the desert, a dry place. He brought me here to be His tool, His vessel, to open springs of living waters in the desert. He brought me here to have my heart broken in compassion by the condition of the peoples. He brought me here to pray from the depths of my being with the heart He gave me. He tells me He trusts me to obey and love Him.

It is still a joy being obedient to GOD. There is a difference though. Now I have to fight and fight hard for my joy. That probably sounds odd but I rejoice in the battle. I am a priest/warrior. Even so, there are times I lose my joy. There are times I allow myself to think of things that undermine my effectiveness.

Sometimes I allow myself to dwell on the loneliness of this calling even though I am seldom alone. Sometimes I get caught up in murmuring that the fruit we are accustomed to seeing in/through this ministry are not visible at this time. There are times I allow myself to miss my family and friends to such a degree I wind up crawling into a spiritual cave for long or short term pity parties.

But GOD!

But GOD!!!!!!!!

But GOD drags me back out into the open, into the battle, into His arms.

YAH, GOD, reminds me of our victories, the ones we see and the ones we don’t see. Often we don’t see that victory and overcoming come with a price. Often we focus so strongly on the price that we miss seeing the win.

GOD often sends to PRAYHOUSE as many as four groups per week. All these get to hear some of the teachings GOD is giving stemming from Jericho. Many of those who come are in Israel with 3 month tourist visas and we are involved in diverse ways in their discipling. I get to watch as GOD touches many visitors through us. Just last Thursday, in Jerusalem, I watched a man weep as GOD used me to assist him in learning how to find a site that was on his heart for years, a small thing perhaps to us, yet something immense for this fine gentleman. Shortly after that experience the LORD had me pray over a young lady, speaking as He gave utterance. The tears of joy she wept were so huge that it appeared as if each one came from the entire eye rather than her tear ducts. In an instant her entire cheeks were awash and overflowing.

We have several Arabs that privately ask me to pray for them and a couple that will ask no matter who is around. We often have awesome conversations with IDF personnel and others. We are in a unique position in that both governments, Jericho and Israel, know we have a HOP in Jericho and that I live there and they both welcome us. The PA knows what we pray for the local people, community and region. Israel knows all this and even more… what we pray for Israel, the Land and the People. The favor GOD bestows on us grants us an annual visa, something most people will tell you is impossible for someone living in Jericho. But GOD!

Never forget! But GOD, the Holy One of Israel, is strongly showing His hand upon us. The Israel MOI (Ministry Of Interior) even told the PA MOI to relate to me what they, the Israel MOI, want me to do in order to be guaranteed another year next January. Only GOD could accomplish this!

My mom recently turned 75. I was in Jericho while she is in the States. I could have been blue but GOD shows me I love and honor my mom best when I love and honor GOD most. This is also true for each of you. I love and honor y’all best when I love and honor GOD most.

Some of you wonder when I am coming ‘home’. GOD told me before He moved me here that this is my home. How He plans this I do not know. I just keep believing His revelations. When will I visit y’all? I thought perhaps in August yet no confirmation has been received yet.

GOD has been teaching me more about seeking to live in His perfect will rather than His permissive will.

Our current laptop began showing a box last Dec stating the hard drive was in danger of imminent failure. I was foolish and spent too much trying to save it rather than ordering another hard drive from the States. So much has disappeared and been lost. The cursor jumps and types all over the page and sometimes not even on the page, a mystery. A beloved partner loaned us this one for a short time and another older one will be delivered this Friday. We won’t have wireless capabilities but this will carry us ’til the LORD opts for something else and it should be dependable.

I pray this answers any questions you might have. Thank you for your faithful prayer and financial support.

YAH bless Y’all!!!!!!!!

Brother Steve

Kora Elohim Israel

P.S. I’ll be in trouble if I don’t share my health news. The improvements in my health astound and amaze me. There is still a lot of room for improvement but I am able to do more than I’ve been capable in a long time. It is not uncommon for the LORD to keep me on the go for 24 or more hours straight once or twice a week. And this is while He is teaching me to say “no” prayerfully and “yes” prayerfully. Too many groups and individuals want to come than we can handle at this time. There are also those that want to come with their own agenda, doing things and going places that is not where the LORD has us at this time; so knowing how and when the LORD says “no” is imperative.

PRAYHOUSE needs more cleaning than I am capable of maintaining right now so I try to focus on the main worship area, the toilet, the kitchen plus whatever number of bedrooms are needed for the group. I have to have two ready by Friday so I will start cleaning little by little today as I am physically able.

GOD bless you!!!!!!!!

me

You Busy Yourself With My Every Step

God is working hard these days to assure my heart of His care, and instruct me in The Way. The title for this pondering comes from the Amplified version of Psalm 37:23, and the thought of its truth thrills my heart.

“The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].”

When God delights in our way, He busies Himself with our every step. God is a personal God, big enough to give full attention to each one who truly seeks Him with the whole heart.

Something else God impressed upon me this week tells me how to walk in a way where our steps are a delight to the Lord. A friend sent me a word of encouragement, written to the body of Christ, authored by Marsha Burns, wife of Bill Burns, Pastor of Faith Tabernacle in Kremmling, CO, sent out in his Spirit of Prophesy Newsletter. In it, she writes as God gave it to her, and I quote:

“Beloved, I am calling you to a higher and more concrete level of faith that will become the basis for activity and endurance.  Much of your spiritual function has been fueled by hope rather than faith and trust in Me, says the Lord.  I would have you come to a level of true belief according to My will and purposes.”

I need a light bulb coming on right here to picture God’s nudge in my Spirit as I read, “Much of your spiritual function has been fueled by hope rather than faith and trust in Me.”

You see, hope is the product of a type of faith. Hope is something for which we look to happen with faith that God will do it.  I believe God’s word that says Jesus is coming again, and therefore I have hope. Functioning out of hope is trying to live in the product of faith without putting forth the effort of faith.

In Hebrews 3-4, God makes it clear that the faith He delights to see in us leads to belief that produces obedience. Delight-producing faith is active, not passive.

You see, we don’t sit all day watching the east for Jesus to come, doing nothing with our time. If we do, something is wrong with our faith. God has a purpose for our being here. Like with Esther, God implores us, “How do you know that you are not here in this place where you are at God’s ordination for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b, paraphrased)

It is not an accident that we live in our here and now. God has a purpose for our being here. The question is, will we believe God with faith to obey His instruction? Will we trust by faith that He has our days numbered for His purposes and not one will be robbed from Him as long as we trust Him with obedient hearts that deny self in order to fulfill His purpose?

“And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

Hope alone waits to see what the Lord will do. Faith trusts the Lord to be Master and obeys through action in the wait.

Thinking on that good word of encouragement, I had to ask myself: Am I living by faith that believes God through obedience, doing things He calls me to though they may be difficult for me, showing myself of sincere belief that He is Who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do in and through me and my circumstances? Am I actively waiting with hope for Him to work in my circumstances while using me in the midst of difficulty? Am I living as He instructs me, out of belief that He is not only God in my circumstances, but Lord in my life?

Or am I living by a hope that sits on the sidelines waiting for Him to do the miraculous in my situations, as though I have no part or responsibility to Him in this life He gives me?

I have to admit, with many emotionally wrought excuses, I have been sitting on the sidelines of hope a lot lately, waiting for a miracle from God to end the challenge, remove the difficulty, and give reprieve. My excuses are all wrapped up in my fears and insecurities, my weakness and desire to run from the situations filling my mind’s eye; all of which blind me to the truth that God is bigger than my circumstances and situations. I fail to see the truth that His strength is only made stronger by my weakness being entrusted to Him who is able to make me stand.

No more of that. By faith, believing for His grace and provision, I say, “No more!”

Yesterday God gave me marching orders and geared my day to fulfilling that instruction. The doing of it was a blessing to me; not just in doing it, but in experiencing the provision of His strength for it. I don’t understand why He sent me where He did, other than it being an exercise of faith, but I trust that His purpose was fulfilled as He busied Himself with my every step of obedience, and hope in Him fills me with assurance while proof is yet to be seen.

This morning, as I write, I am up early because He called and I followed. And the minute I sat down to be with Him, His Spirit drew me to write this word. By His grace, faith to believe is renewed, and obedience is achieved, the product of it being hope that His purpose is fulfilled in the doing and His glory revealed.

Father, thank You for caring for my every step and for instructing my heart to walk in the care You have for me. By grace, I will live by faith, this day and each to follow, realizing it to be the basis for activity and endurance, trusting that You delight in obedience, and watching as You busy Yourself with my every step. As I press forward with faith to live as one in whom You delight, it is by Your grace that I pray with hope in Jesus name, amen.

In the Strength of His Might

I often feel in my Spirit that verses 10 and 11 in Eph. 6 should be one sentence, like so:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord; and in the strength of His might put on the full armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

I sense that to be true because “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” and God’s armor placed on us without His strength doing it would be like David when he put Saul’s on. It would be too big and foreign to our experience. Only by His strength can we even begin to take it up.

Isn’t it interesting that there are 5 items we put on in some way, like the 5 stones David took up with hope in God: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel of peace, the helmet of salvation, and the shields of faith, small ones on the shoulder and one worn on the hand and forearm to reflect blows. The last item, like David’s slingshot, is to be carried with us: the sword of The Spirit, which is the Word of God, against which no enemy can stand.

“Therefore,” Paul advises, “take up the full armor of God,” in the strength He supplies, “so that,” unlike David in Saul’s get-up, “you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” And stand we will, for God is able to make us stand.

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

Dear Grandkids, Part 3

Principle2, the L: Love and honor your parents.

Loving God and loving your parents will help you to give them the honor God dictates we have for our parents, and that will greatly help your obedience to the things they teach you about what is right and what is wrong, coupled, of course, with what God teaches us. Love, dearest, comes from the depths of our being, stemming from who we are in Christ. Love hopes the best for the one loved and strives to help them attain to it. Honoring parents begins with honoring God through the way we treat our parents and ends with living a life that makes them look good as parents, causing them to have a good reputation as parents who have succeeded in their parenting great kids. Even if your parents are unworthy of honor or respect, you can obey God’s call to honor them by being the great kids He desires you to be, expressive of His image, making your parents look better than their parenting skills prove them to be.

The world says that right and wrong are personal choices and, therefore, they are grey-matter with no clear definition; but Scripture teaches that right and wrong have clear divisions that help us to discern which is which with the help of God’s Spirit and umpire Peace. Your parents try to give you the guiding principles that will help you to discern right and wrong, but there is a false wisdom in the world that will cause you to question those guidelines. When that happens, there will be differences of opinion between you and them.

Remember this principle when you are angry with parents for standing in the way of what you want to do. When they put up roadblocks before you because they see something you desire as being something that will lead you astray, principle 2 coupled with principle 1 will help you to honor your parents as God desires you do. When struggling with your parents’ rights over you, no matter what may have led to them taking their stance on the matter at hand—differences in opinion will occur, but love does not stop. God is love. Love always moves to respond as Jesus would, in ways that honor God first and that seek the best for those we love.

When Mary asked Jesus to turn the water into wine, wanting to show off her Son, Jesus said, “You know, mom, it is not My time for being revealed to the world yet” (John 2:4 paraphrased). Then He lovingly honored His mom through obedience. As long as you practice walking in God’s ways, keeping Him first, with love and honor for your parents, you will bring joy to your parents and weather the storms of disagreement.

Dear Grandkids, Part 2

Principle1, the first K- Keep God First:

Remember that God is the one who can direct your path to His ideal plan for you. Pausing to give His Spirit a minute to instruct your heart before making a rash move that may do harm to you or someone else will protect you and keep you on a good path.

Of course keeping God first means that you must know His ways so you may know Him that you may walk in His ways (Ex. 33). It means that you must come into personal understanding of Who God is and surrender yourself to Him, not only recognizing that He is God, but that He is Lord and Master, having paid the price for you through Jesus the Savior. If you have not surrendered to His Lordship, you will find it difficult to Keep God First.

If there is any question about the sincerity of your relationship with Him, you need to talk to one of your parents, me, or someone of true faith who can help you come into the assurance of this vital Relationship.

Building this relationship with Him as Lord means you will need to commit to daily reading of the Scriptures found in the Holy Bible. There are teachings there that, with the help of the Spirit to teach you, will give you wisdom for making the best decisions. One recommendation I really like where the reading of scripture is concerned is that you read scripture using the following reading plan – 5 times through the New Testament, 1 time cover to cover; repeat as follows:

First Reading – John through Revelation

Second Reading – Matthew, skip to Acts through Revelation

Third Reading – Mark, skip to Acts through Revelation

Fourth Reading – Luke, skip to Acts through Revelation

Fifth Reading – John through Revelation

Sixth Reading – Genesis through Revelation

Repeat cycle.

This cycle allows you to get a firm understanding of the New Testament that will aid in better understanding the Old Testament.

If you will study God’s word, seeking to truly KNOW HIM, He will send His Spirit to instruct you and make Himself known. My life-verse, the one I am most inspired by and strive to attain to is Philippians 3:10-11, Amplified version. I hope that you will make this your goal for life as well:

“For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection, which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness, even to His death, in the hope that, if possible I may attain to the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts me out from among the dead, even while in the body.”

For this Reason

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For this time I will send all My plagues on you and your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth. For if by now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go’”’” (Exodus 9:13-17).

As I read this passage, I see two reasons that respond to questions I have often heard God’s people ask in time of trouble, “Why does He leave us here? Why not just kill us now?”

God allows things to happen in our lives that cause us—and especially those who refuse to believe—to know that there is no one like our God in all the earth. He keeps us alive when we think “we should surely be dead by now”, in order to show forth His power and in order to proclaim His name throughout the earth.

Now what is God’s glory? Exodus 33:18-19 tells us in God’s own words: “Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’”

Even when hard times come to us, God’s purpose is to reveal Himself as Lord of all and to make His glory evident in the earth. Why? So those, whose hearts are pliable and open, can see His glory, believe His Lordship, and turn to follow Him.

If you are still alive, He has power to reveal to and through you. If God could not still reveal Himself to and through you, you would lay down and die under your load.

Then we see that the best way to weather the turmoil that can rise up when God is making a point in the earth is to die to self-will and self-exaltation. I put a word up yesterday that hit my heart in the thoughts of the day: “Rest all worries and woes at God’s precious feet. They are thorns to us. But they are crowns to Him.”

Worries either weigh us down, often making us dysfunctional, or when faced without first laying them at His feet, they lead us to self-will as we try to deal with them and self-exaltation, making us our own god. Laying them at His feet removes them from our head, and places them under His Lordship. Laying our worries at His feet crowns Him as Lord over them and over self. Truly laying them down at His feet bows us to His authority, giving Him opportunity to direct our path and to empower us to deal properly with any situation. And often time, when we lay them down, refusing to give rule to worry, He just nails that thing to the footstool being made for Jesus’ feet, and writes, “It is finished!” across that plank (Hebrews 10:13).

“I will send all My plagues…so that you may know that there is no one like Me in all the earth.”

At just such a time, when God was threatening to destroy obstinate Israel and begin a new people for His possession through Moses, Moses requested of God, “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people,” laying the problem at God’s feet. And God said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33). Lordship accepted.

God’s glory is revealed in our day to day lives when we surrender all to Him, trust Him with the details, and see Him move to reveal Himself as Lord in our situations. So bow down with that load, lay it at His feet, and “Only believe” that you will see the power, provision and presence of God (Luke 8:40-56).

The “As God” Principle

Scripture Reading: Exodus 6-7

“Now it came about on the day when the LORD spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, that the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘I am the LORD; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you.’ But Moses said before the LORD, ‘Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?’

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.’” (Exodus 6:28-7:1, NASB)

As I have probably shared before some time ago, I was getting ready to go to lunch with a friend one day. Just before heading out the door, I took that one last glance in the mirror and was shocked to see coke-bottle eyes behind my glasses. “What’s up with my glasses today?” I thought to God’s ear. He instructed my heart to go in peace and not worry about it.

Sitting during lunch, my friend was having a very difficult time with past issues of life and current situations. I felt the strong Spirit of the Lord pouring forth encouragement through me to her, and she was intently listening. Suddenly I realized she was staring at my eyes, following them everywhere they went. Thinking surely their hugeness must be distracting her, I ducked my head. Immediately I heard in my spirit, “You get that head back up and look her in the eye.” Which I of course did, jerking back as a soldier comes to attention with such a stern order from their commander and chief. Lunch went well and as I climbed into my car thinking of what a strange experience that was, I glanced in the mirror to see that my eyes looked normal behind my glasses again. “Hum. Wonder what that was all about,” I querried.

The following Sunday I sat next to my friend in Sunday school. As the teacher was closing up the session, my friend said, “I just have to share something. Darlene and I had lunch this week and God mightily used her to encourage me so greatly. But the awesome thing was that I saw God in her eyes!”

Sometimes God wants to use us to reveal Himself in physical, visible ways to those around us. He makes us “as God” to them for His purposes. It can be an awesome experience and will often challenge our own sense of insecurity and inadequacy. That is what Moses was coming into in this passage; his sense of insufficiency was being challenged. Often times, as God tried to do with me as I glanced in the mirror that morning to see my Little Rascals coke-bottle eyes staring back at me, God will warn us that He is about to use us to reveal Himself. But God did not stop there with Moses as He continued his heads up message:

“You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.” (7:2-3)

Have you ever had a time when one person in your concentric circles was constantly challenging your stance as a believer or coming against you to get their way? It can be difficult to stand our ground and keep believing God when facing the hard heart of man. Sometimes their hard heart is a result of their hard life. But as we see here, sometimes it is the work of God, desiring to reveal Himself through the challenge. As said in the previous Blog, God used the stubbornness of Pharaoh to show His own might, and in doing so, to show the people who worshipped many gods the impotence of their gods.

What challenge are you facing right now? Does it come against your sense of ability, giving God opportunity to reveal His ability to and through you? Are you facing a stubborn wall, whether through the hardened ways of another, or through a stronghold set up in your own life? Such challenges are not a time to become discouraged and fall away or cow back. They are a time to press forward in the power God supplies and discover the thing(s) He wants to reveal of Himself.

“When Pharaoh does not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on…” (vs 4).

Every challenge we face is opportunity to go it alone, or to trust in the Lord and see His hand move. And every challenge to our sense of adequacy gives opportunity for God to reveal Himself through us, that others may see His eyes in us. Surrendering self to Him equips us to be “As Gods” being God’s eyes, representing Him in the earth.

Father, You are with us and for us, just as You were with Moses and Aaron long ago. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Your desire is for us, and You move in our lives to reveal Yourself in ways that free people from their personal Egypt. Help us to have courage to be Your eyes, Your body, Your mouthpiece, used of You to “be as God” to those who need to see You in the earth. In Jesus I pray, amen.

“Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6, NASB)

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 2

Yesterday we saw in the first day of the creation story the correlation between the distinction of light and dark, day and night, good and evil. Following, on the second day of creation, God created an expanse: a separation between the waters. I have shared my viewpoint on this portion in previous writings, but for the purpose of continuity in this story, let’s review.

Next in this story of God’s creative fervor, all the water was united and of the same likeness. But God needed space for His creation, so He made a separation between the waters, splitting that which was above from that which was below, bringing disunity to the waters. This is the day when God did not say that it was good.

Years ago, when I noticed that fact and asked Him why that was, He inspired me to realize that His perfect plan for mankind was in play from the beginning: Jesus was never “Plan B” folks. God knew before beginning that He was doing all of this to create for Himself a company of companions known as humans, created in His own image and made for the purpose of unity with Himself. But He also knew that for the fullness of His plan to come about in providing companions, He had to give those created beings opportunity to choose and desire Him as much as He did them. And He knew that it was also expedient for unity’s sake that they be given opportunity to choose His ways as their own.

For that plan to come about, it would require that a true choice be provided those created in His image, His likeness. They must have opportunity to separate themselves from their Creator in order to have true choice in whether to be His friend and companion.

I can see the scene in my mind’s eye: when God made the separation between the waters, there was a moment of silence in the heavens, sadness over a time of disunity that would come to man and God. So how did God “create” that disunity that would provide all mankind the opportunity to choose?

For true choice to come to mankind, there had to be another viable option. Thus enters Lucifer.

Lucifer wanted to be God. Lucifer had a lust and greed for that highest position, the only position higher in authority than that authority he currently held, according to scripture, and he thought that he could obtain that coveted position by force. Thus he incited war in the kingdom and led 1/3 of the angelic forces to rebellion. He thought he could defeat God and win the rule, but what it led to was the loss of the position that he had.

Because of the evil, conceited, self-glorifying and self-edifying stirrings in the heart of the one who would become the father of lies, father of this evil age, the prince of the power of the air, short term ruler of the world and source of its philosophy; the dark one known as Satan, there was a battle in the heavenly kingdom, and Satan was cast out, along with his followers. Evil was birthed in the heart of Satan’s lust. He then became the instigator of the separation we now experience from the God who would love and spend eternity with us if we will choose it.

Satan thought that he would create for himself a following, and he did to some degree. But what he intended for evil, to harm God’s design and destroy His plan, God used for good, using Satan’s ploy to make him to be God’s big bang force that created the separation between God and man, thus giving to man a choice.

Further along in the scriptures, after God creates man, He sets him in a garden and creates for him a companion called “woman” and named Eve. God tells them they can eat anything in the garden except for the produce of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He warned that on the day they ate of it, “death” would come. Choice one: believe God, trust and follow Him, agreeing with His ways and maintaining unity.

Slithering around in the shadows, watching for opportunity, Satan, in the body of a serpent, notices something familiar. He sees his old friend, lust, beginning to stir in the heart of God’s creation as they look at the appealing tree filled with fruit that looked so good to eat. Is that not the allure of any sin? It looks really good and right, until the consequence of biting down on it hits. And you know what happened next. Choice two: doubt God, think there is something better out there, and grab for the false. Satan egged her desire on, caused her to doubt God’s word, and she bit. Then Adam bit after her.

Now before you men get to haughty and go blaming that woman, let’s ask a simple question. Adam was given authority over God’s creation, to care for it, as was Eve as his companion. What might have happened if, when Eve offered the fruit, he had knocked it out of her hand and, grabbing her by that hand, said, “We must go to the Father. Perhaps He will help us.” Adam had his choice too. They each chose wrong and BANG! Death enters the scene.

I am sure you noticed, as I did, that they did not fall over and instantly breathe their last because of their sin. That is not the death that came. The death that came was the expansive separation between God and man. Then God, in His grace, enacted another part of His plan to save man from an eternity of evil: He denied them access to the tree of life so they wound not live forever in their fleshly state; and He numbered their days and instigated a law of physical birth to physical death. Through all this, God allowed choice to enter for mankind. All who are born have opportunity all the days of their lives to choose the God they will serve.

“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him…” (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).

We will companion with a god of our choice. Whether we choose to align with the God of all creation or with the one who would be god is our decision to make, and we do make our choice, whether by proactive or by inactive decision. Do not be deceived. There are many gods in this life, but not all are the true God. Many are set up by the ruler of this world to deceive the unbelieving and lead them away from the God of creation. Choosing any other god or choosing to believe there is no God at all, is to choose the expanse of separation from Him who created us to be His companion.

After creating the expanse, God’s next steps reveal wonders to me concerning His plan and I notice something that thrills my soul: the rest of the story that is illustrated in the creation. Let’s return to discuss the remainder of the story tomorrow, shall we?

Get Up, Let Us Go From Here

“So that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here” (John 14:31).

Through this Christmas and New Year’s season, I am putting up portions of scripture from John on my Spark and FaceBook status in celebration of the Christ for which I observe the season. There is so much meat in John 14, I want to put the entire chapter up on my status bar this morning. But with the New Year coming, this small portion seemed best of all to share.

Look at these words. Don’t they seem a good place to begin in preparing for a New Year? Jesus is our example for life, and what better place to end one year and prepare for another than to check our relationship with the Father.

Through John 14, Jesus tells of His leaving to prepare a place for us. He instructs that He and the Father are one, and we can see the Father by looking at Him – not His physical appearance, which is not truly known, but His character and actions, the things He gives focus to and the preoccupations He sets His mind on. Then He tells that we, too, can be one with Them, Father and Son. How is that accomplished? By following His example, developing like character, and doing as the Father commands us, setting our focus and preoccupations on the things that are important to the Father—on truth as He sees it.

As we draw a close to the year 2011, I must ask God how I have done at developing godly character and in following in Christlike obedience. In this evaluation, it doesn’t matter what I perceive that others have done to me. God is dealing with MY own character and actions right now. He judges me on the merit of my own choices, not what others did that may have led to it. Our relationship with the Father, the building of His character in us and our obedience in following the example of Christ is the true gauge of success or failure.

I first typed, “ask myself”, but our hearts are deceptive. We can fool ourselves into thinking we are better than we truly are. And we can also beat ourselves up pretty bad, beating ourselves down to a point of being useless to God, ourselves and others in the days to come. So let’s ask God for His opinion. God looks at the heart and He is not deceived. He will lead us to truth and work with us to increase righteousness and make us like Jesus, who is like the Father.

As we draw near to 2012, I must ask God what areas of life I need to give focus to in developing godly character; and I must recognize if there are specific instructions God is giving me for following Jesus.

I have a long road to go this coming year as I deal with Fibromyalgia and work to change habits of a lifetime that affect that health issue. It will not happen overnight. I did not develop the habits overnight, and unless God works a miracle, which is not happening yet, it will take time and work to change the habits. But nothing shall be impossible with God. As long as my heart is set on that as fact, there is hope. He will help me, and His patience toward me is unfathomable.

How about you? What challenge do you face this year? God has given me the following passage to encourage my journey. Perhaps it will encourage you as well.

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

Father, as I consider this passage, I realize change will not happen overnight. I see this fact clearly as I consider this passage. A sharp threshing instrument which has teeth has to chew the mountain down one bite at a time. It will take work on my part, hard work, and deliberate effort. I pray for each of us as we face our mountains that we will have Your patience and endurance, Father. May we see our progress through Your eyes, and rejoice in Your work in our lives, giving You the glory due Your name. In Jesus, amen.

Proven Faith

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:7-8).

My study Bible’s footnote points out that Jesus, the Son of God and very God incarnate, “learned obedience through maturing and proving.”

The word “proving” reminded me of some things that God has been rolling around in my head with regard to Job and his suffering that has helped me to understand why suffering comes though there is no sin-cause. Do you realize that Job is reported to have been righteous in God’s opinion, and that it is God who pointed him out to Satan as an example of faith in the earth?

God allowed Job to be tested, not so Job could prove his faith: God already knew his faith; but so that God could prove his faith. When Job began to struggle under the load, that is when God stepped in, stopping the test, and giving instruction to Job for his maturity in righteousness. The hedge went back up as soon as God had proven to Satan the resolve of Job’s faith.

What load are you bearing that tests your faith? Realize that God knows your heart just as He did Job’s. Press forward with faith that proves what God sees in you, trusting with heart-knowledge that He will step in when the load becomes a burden, for “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).

AN Abundance

“…And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed….” 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

“Do you believe this, Darlene? Then rest!” is the question and instruction that came to my heart this morning as I reread this scripture. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”

I am called upon again today to do something I feel very inadequate to do. As I seek the Lord to prepare to minister counsel to a friend who called me in distress last night, my own limits and weaknesses hit me in the heart this morning, and I cry out anew, “Father, I look to You …. I pray You, show me Your glory!”

Thus God faithfully responds as I read my focal passage this morning and am acutely aware anew that His grace and provision, sufficient for everything, is abundant for every good deed. All I need to is believe and receive.

Then my attention is drawn to where my spell checker underlines something it says may need correction. It is telling me to change “an abundance” to “abundance.” As far as sentence structure goes, they may be correct; but as I consider how God led the interpreters to write it, I realize the abundance He sends is very specific to our need. He does not necessarily send all abundance into our lives for all things. In fact, the promise here is “all SUFFICIENCY in everything” with “AN ABUNDANCE for every good deed.”

God sends all sufficiency in everything. He sends specific abundance in our time of need for every good deed. Thus I rest, trusting that God has very specific and timely supply for me as I seek to glorify Him in the life of this beloved one. You know, as I think on this truth, I can see how understanding and believing these things will keep me in contentment in whatever circumstance I find myself (Philippians 4:10-13).

“Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:26-27