Tag Archives: Trust

Love vs. Trust

arms - hurting

Can love reside where trust is held in check? Some say, “No. If we love, there must be trust.” But what, then, when someone we love lets us down? Does love stop because trust is broken? I don’t believe it should. Love has blinders on, so as to overlook things that would sidetrack it, but love is not blind. I believe we see in Jesus a love that was boundless coupled with a trust that was guarded. Read John 2:23-25: ~ NASB.

“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man”

And ~ AMP ~ “…But Jesus [for His part] did not trust Himself to them, because He knew all [men]; …He Himself knew what was in human nature. [He could read men’s hearts.]”

As I read the example of Christ, how He knew men’s hearts and the core of their nature (1), I have to ask myself, did Jesus Christ not love them, being cautious in His trust toward others?

I know that is not true, for Jesus was here to represent God’s interests and “God so loved the world that He gave” His Son on our behalf. Jesus had a choice as to whether to come: that is made clear in scripture. Up to the end, He could have called out for God to deliver Him, and He said there were Legions standing ready to do that if He chose it (Matthew 26:51-54; Philippians 2:1-11). But He loved the Father and He loved us, so He went to the cross on our behalf. Denying Himself, He took up His CROSS DAILY, to fulfill the will of the Father. He had blinders on for our sake, so that He would not be sidetracked from His purpose, but He was not blind. He was ever watchful against overly trusting the untrustworthy, and being thrown off course completely.

What was His daily cross? It was dealing with people He loved so and desired a relationship with, but He could not entrust Himself to them because He knew they were fickle of heart and given to sin, and the pain they caused Him if He trusted too much might make Him turn from His task. In order to take that final cross on that final day, He had to hold Himself back from the relationship He wanted so as175 to not be disappointed and, through that, led to choose to lay His cross down and leave us without a way to truth and life.

People hurt people. It is a fact of life. We may give ourselves fully to a relationship, but once hurt. and trust broken, it is hard to get that back. Love is usually still there, but trust is held in check, knowing from experience what is in the heart of the one who hurt us. This, too, is a fact of life in a fallen world of self-centered people who do not understand the love of God.

I think what I am learning as I consider this testimony concerning Christ is this: we are wise to not entrust ourselves to others in ways that chance the destruction of love. If we, like Jesus, realize the nature of mankind and that no one is perfect, we can then separate love from trust enough to continue to love and care for those who hurt us. Realizing no one is perfect, we are not crushed when someone we love fails us. Though the closeness of the relationship may be hindered or even destroyed because of lack of trustworthiness, it is possible to maintain a degree of relationship because of love that remains though trust is lost. Trust can be regained when love maintains relationship, but without love to stay the course, hurt remains, and trust is destroyed.

So focus must be on 1) love that does not throw the sins of those who hurt us in their faces at every turn, especially when they show themselves to be truly repentant—repentance involving proof over time that one can be trusted anew, thus bringing strength back to relationship; 2) love that gives grace to cover when fleshly insult comes by not being too easily offended; and 3) a love that realizes the weakness of flesh that can disappoint and chooses to have what relationship is available in the confines of trust.

There are people in my life who are difficult to deal with because they act and react out of some deep woundedness within their flesh that is not yet healed by God or some self-centered way that does not consider the interests of others as more important than their own. But I can’t fathom life without them because I love them. So I choose the relationship I can have with them, however guarded against insult I may have to be. There are others who have so deeply hurt me over and over again, and proven themselves untrustworthy to the point that, though I love them and want relationship with them, for my own sake and the sake of others I love, I have to step back from the destructive relationship so as to have strength for the relationships with those I can maintain.

Jesus knew better than to entrust Himself fully to man if He was to fulfill His purpose, because He knew the nature of man. We have the 425109_135478716573009_812090474_nmind of Christ in the indwelling Spirit of God. He warns us when we need to let love cover a multitude of sin for the sake of relationship, and when we need to step back and give our energy to those we can love wholeheartedly. But love, true love that is from the Father, never fails. We can love and accept love from others within the confines of their ability to love and be trustworthy, while awaiting the work of God to grow both of us in greater degrees of love and trustworthiness. Sounds like a plan to me.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality” ~ Romans 12:9-13.

Scriptures of Jesus’ knowledge of the nature of mankind: (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%201:24;%2015:8;Matthew%209:4;John%201:42-47;John%206:61-64;John%2013:11&version=NASB;AMP).

Caught in the Wake: Part 3

Clean Hands, Pure Hearts

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

Walking on water04How do we recoup when the storm of the sea of life around us is not made by us alone, and despite our cooperation in walking with Jesus, the storm still rages? How do we press forward to calm waters anew when we cannot control the stones tumbling in from the unclean hands of others around us to cause the wake that threatens us with every growing wave? Here in our passage we have two vital ingredients to calm the raging seas: James 4:8b-12.

“Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” ~ Vs. 8b-10.

As said in the previous post, part 2 of this series, we can only control ourselves and the stones we are adding to cause the wake. So peaceful waters begin as we watch ourselves, remembering that we are not infallible; for apart from cooperation with the work of Christ in us, we too are sinners. We must set our minds to clean hands, which require us to seek pure hearts in agreement with the holiness of God. We accomplish this by being “miserable and mourn and weep” over our own sin, letting “your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom” by way of repentance that is truly saddened by sin, however pleasurable it may seem. Thus we “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord” trusting that by His grace, “He will exalt you.”

You and I, who know God through Jesus Christ, are to be holy as He is holy despite sin’s surge all around us.

“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” ~ 1 Peter 1:14-16.

“If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:17.

“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” ~ Romans 12:1.

Remembering that we are made to be and live holy lives as the living temple of God, housing His Spirit as seal of our unity with Him; the practice of holiness is vital to our ability to walk the stormy seas and experience the calm that is found when we walk hand in hand with Jesus. Actively being alert to every opportunity to present ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, is the step by step path to crossing storm tossed seas that are out of our control.

Note, in our James 4 passage, vs. 8b-10 above the call to “purify your hearts, you double-minded.” I believe that wording is vital to our understanding as we seek to walk with clean hands that cast no stone of sin into the water. Our thinking can cause all sorts of trouble for our hearts. Romans 12:2 says, “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.”

The will of God for whom? For each individual of us. You and I can only choose for self to align our wills with God’s will. So we must seek the thoughts and will of God as we relate with others who stir the waters, responding to each challenge as pleases Him so we do not add our stones of sin to the wake of the stormy seas.

The way we allow ourselves to think and feel toward others who are troubling our waters will drop stones that soil our hands. We must remember, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” ~ Romans 12:3. Our minds are transformed from the blame game the world plays as we remember from whence our grace comes, and choose to have sound judgment that does not think more highly of self than we ought, but that has God’s grace toward those still struggling with sin.

“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” ~ Colossians 3:12-13.

And “Do not speak against one another, brethren. He who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks against the law and judges the law; but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge of it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the One who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you who judge your neighbor?”

It is vital, especially when we are coming out of hurt that has caused us to stumble, that we leave the judgment / condemnation of those whose sin sends trouble to stir the seas of life around us to God. If we fail to practice grace and leave vengeance to God in dealing with those who hurt us and make trouble for us in this life, we enter into bitterness, and anger, and all sorts of depression and oppression that will bring destruction to our bodies and add to the wake of sin we are in.

“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coalsl109149486 on his head.’ DO NOT BE OVERCOME BY EVIL, BUT OVERCOME EVIL WITH GOOD” ~ Romans 12:9-21.

This is the prescription for persevering and walking free of the storm tossed seas around us: Forgive self and walk in the righteous path of God that is set before you; forgive those around us and deal with them righteously, trusting God to pass judgment and send the consequences for sin righteously. This prescription taken daily as we deal with those who trouble the waters, we can not only see our own hands cleansed and our heart purified as our minds are transformed to love with God’s love, but we can help those with us on the seas to grab the hand of Him who can cause us to walk upon the waters. And the next thing we know, the waters around us are calmed, though the outskirts of the sea still be tossed and turned.

(Recommended reading: Good read when caught in the wake of sin and working your way out is The Practice of Holiness by Jerry Bridges.)

Caught in the Wake: Part 2b

Humble Enough to Draw Near

Walking on Water06“Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” ~ James 4:5-8a.

Here, in the last portion of our focal passage for part 2 of “Caught in the Wake”, we have a step by step blueprint to walking on water in the midst of stormy seas.

Submit to God:

Sin is failure to walk in unity with God, and walking with God requires us to follow His will, doing so in His way. When we realize our part in causing a surge of sin around us, we must reach up our hand to God by admitting where we got off track in following Him and coming into agreement with Him that our fall was sin and we need His grace again.

Two things I want to look at here is the “Note” from yesterday promising to cover the “personal sin” issue; and we need to look at the work of the Holy Spirit who “convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment.” Without understanding in these two areas, a storm tossed sea that continues even though we submit will confuse us and can be used of Satan to discourage us. So let’s begin with the first, the fact that it is personal sin we have to deal with.

As was hopefully made clear in the introduction to this series, a wake of sin of this proportion is not generally caused by one person,

Returning to walking with Jesus
Returning to walking with Jesus

but by many whose waves of consequences combine to cause surging seas that appear insurmountable. Now, as is the way of God, I can do nothing by way of repentance on behalf of another. Each person is responsible before God to repent for their own sin issues. I can confess in agreement with God that what they did is sin, and I can pray for the Spirit to do His work in drawing them to God, but I can only repent for my own sins and make myself right with Him anew. Why? Because repentance requires one to turn from walking their own way, to walking in God’s ways. That requires a choice of heart, for from the heart flows the issues of life. My feet will follow my heart, so if my heart is not following God in His desires, my feet will continue to struble over the stones of sin coming from my hardened heart. Only I can choose for myself whether I will follow God and obey Him, doing things His way. My relationship with God is my own and yours is yours.

When we get our eyes focused on the surge of waves brought up by the sins of others, we put ourselves in danger of sinking under the emotional assault and fault finding that comes to us with such a focus. When caught on stormy seas, our focus must be to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and our attention on making sure we are hand in hand with Him who equips us to walk on top of the water. This is where the Teacher and understanding His role come into play. The Spirit is responsible to instruct our hearts, and His instruction is clearly stated as being that of bringing understanding to us regarding sin, righteousness and judgment.

The work of the Spirit in the life of one not yet united with Christ is to draw him to realize sins grip that has him enslaved in an eternity without God. He causes that lost soul to realize that God is righteous and holy and can have no part with sin. And He makes that person aware of the judgment already passed against sin, which is separation from God for all eternity. Then the Spirit causes the person’s eyes to open to the saving grace of God that is found only in the Lamb provided by God, Jesus Christ, the Savior. That person then has the choice of remaining under sin and slave to it, or having the chains torn asunder by their choosing to enter into the sacrifice of Christ that frees from sin. Once they choose saving grace, the Holy Spirit of God enters into their lives, becoming one with their spirit, granting them access to the Father through their new birth in relationship with Christ.

Now this new Christian has the Spirit forever within, and the role of the Spirit takes on a deeper dimension of grace that starts this new creature in Christ on a road of transformation and the Spirit works to restore the image of God that was created in mankind from the beginning, but was distorted by sin. With every choice that comes before the Christian, the Spirit works to make them aware of sin, righteousness, and judgment. He instructs their heart, if they are listening: “This way leads to sin, the judgment and consequences of which is against God and contrary to Him. That direction leads to righteousness, the effect of which will maintain relationship with God and accomplish His purpose.”

Submission to God heeds the teaching of the Spirit, reaches out from the heart to grab the hand of Jesus, who empowers us through the Spirit to walk on top of the waters of life and complete His sufferings of accomplishing the work of God in the earth. The blood of Jesus keeps us covered while the Spirit of God is doing the work of transformation in us, bringing us to completion until the day of Christ’s return, when eternity in God’s new Kingdom begins. Thus is the path of submitting to God, which automatically produces our next point in overcoming the storm tossed seas.

Resist the devil:

Note that submission to God is automatic resistance to the devil, who is always in opposition to God. We cannot walk with God and with the devil at the same time. When we are in submission to God’s will and way in life, we stand hand in hand with God through Christ, and the devil turns with cringing fear to get away from us.

The devil is total opposite to God. God is truth. The devil is the lie and the father of lies / liars. God is good and loves goodness. The devil is evil and loves evil. God is love – love always does what is best for the one loved, which is to protect unity with the Father-God and our ability to walk with Him. The devil is hate, desiring to be god himself, he does all he can to destroy our relationship to God and cause us to fall away to following after sin.

When we give ourselves to sin, we walk away from God to walk with the devil, making him god of our lives. When we become a stumbling block in the lives of others, leading to their falling into sin, we cooperate with Satan’s desire and work in the earth. So we must resist the devil by submitting to God, which causes us to…

Draw near to God:

Walking on water04When we choose to walk with God, His glory surrounds us as He draws near to us in renewed relationship. The devil will cringe at the presence of God with us and run away from us. This is the cycle that comes from drawing near to God through submission to Him that resists the devil and causes God to draw near to us.

And how much greater still it is when we live a life that not only holds to the hand of Jesus who enables us to walk on the waters beneath us, but we reach our hand out to help another grab His and walk with us to victory.

When we love God and begin to take on His likeness anew, we search for truth and walk in it, making it known to those around us. God’s goodness begins to flow through us like a river to refresh and help those around us. And His love fills us and spills out to the lives of others.

The Spirit grows strong within us, quickening us – making life found in relationship with God come to our eternal spirit. And we exhibit the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, humility, compassion, and other qualities of God flourish within us, making us holy as He is holy.

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

Even as we practice these spiritual disciplines on a personal level and get on top of the water in the midst of stormy seas, the surge can continue because we are not the sole source of the surge. Remember in our example, one sinned, hurting another in a way that made them an open target as the hurt cracked their armor, allowing the tempter to draw them out from their relationship with God. Sin has a domino effect that brings an avalanche crashing into the calm waters below, and the ripple of sins hitting the peaceful places surges the stormy winds of sin’s consequences. Each person involved plays a role in the cause of the storm that is sending waves of harm to the lives of all around them. And each must do their part to get back on top of the water with Jesus. Until each one is in right relationship with God anew, the storm will continue to beat down on all in its path.

This being true, how do we recoup and press forward while waiting for others involved to do their part in calming the storm around us? What can we do to quiet the winds and bring calm to the waters of life again? See you next post.

Caught in the Wake: Part 2a

Humble Enough to Draw Near

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

Now that we have looked at how the of wake sin forms around us and why a holy God would allow it, providing us choice as to whether we want to be with Him in relationship or against Him and separated from Him, what is one to do who finds themselves caught in such a wake?

Jesus 01 - water walkIt can be so difficult to walk out of a current of sin that is dragging us under with every attempt, but, dear one, “NOTHING shall be impossible with God”. He has provided the way for us to step out on stormy seas and walk on water (Luke 1:37; Matthew 14:22-33).

“Do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’? But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’…” ~ James 4:5-8a.

First off, take hope if you, a committed Christian, have discovered that you are trapped in such a place as I describe, hit by waves of consequences for your own sins and that of others around you, wondering where God is and if, in your own sense of His absence, you have lost the saving grace you once possessed. Note that this scripture that is written to people in such a position as you, is written to those who HAVE as a possession the Spirit of God dwelling in them.

Christians still face choices every day that determine how close they follow to God, but they do not lose their eternal position when they deny God’s will and follow the dictates of the flesh; not if they truly believe in, trust in, rely on, and are confident in the saving grace of God received by belief in Jesus as the Christ come first to save. What they lose is that privilege of walking with the Father in the cool of the day. Just as Adam and Eve lost the privilege they had in the Garden of God’s presence, so do we when separated from God by currents of personal sin. (Note here the wording, “currents of PERSONAL sin” as we will look close at this important aspect of the wake of sin later).

Then, you may be asking, what’s the difference between the Christian and the eternally lost? If we can still fall to sin and experience loss of intimacy with God, what differentiates the Christian who sins from the sinner who is lost for eternity?

The Christian will, by the leading of the Spirit of God, recognize and turn from revealed sin. The Christian will grow stronger in the ways of God. The Christian will bear the fruit of the Spirit. Though the Christian falls from following God in some moment of weakness of flesh, the Spirit of God remains with us, a seal of our position in His eternal kingdom, and He does so as the teacher who convicts of sin, charged with instructing us with regard to sin, righteousness, and judgment (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13, 4:30).

I love the Amplified version of this verse in James, which says, “But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it).”

Just as Jesus is God in some way we do not fully understand, The Word and Message of God become flesh as the Angel of the Lord of old was sent, being empowered to relate with fleshly mankind in order to deliver the message sent by Holy Father; so the Spirit of God, though holy as God the Father is holy, has the ability to dwell among sinful flesh. The separation we Christians sense when sin hinders relationship with God is that holy essence of His fullness that cannot dwell with sin. Though we may still know He is with us in the midst of our sin by the grace that provides the indwelling Spirit, we also realize that there is an absence of intimacy with His essence, the fullness of His person. But the Spirit of God remains, and His work of grace upon grace brings us to conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment, leading us back to God’s will and way so as to reestablish our intimacy with God (John 14-16, esp. 16:5-11).

And God, according to this passage in James, is made jealous for the connection with us that Spirit provides here in the earth. Our intimacy with God is taken from us by sin, not our salvation, and Abba-God longs to reunite with us through the connection provided by His Holy Spirit within us.

So how do we regain that intimacy and come out of the surge of sin that is pulling us under? Just as Peter reached for the hand of the Master for help to walk on the storm tossed sea (Matthew 14:22-33), so must we who find the waves of sin’s sea thrashing around us. It takes humility to reach out to God and His saving grace found in Christ Jesus. It takes humility to admit one’s own part in the forming of a surge of sin. It takes humility to admit one’s need of the hand of God in the form of the Savior He provided. And humility comes as the Spirit of God does its work of instruction leading us to humbled stance in realizing our need of Him anew.

And how do we reach up to grasp the Master’s hand? See you here for the answer to this question on our next post.

Caught in the Wake: Allowed by God?

Part 1

“Extol the Lord our God and worship at His holy hill,

for the Lord our God is holy!”

Psalm 99:9.

 

Did God, who is Holy, allow the sin, which is not? Is He the author of it? Why or why not? These are the questions we seek to address today.

My answer would be “yes and no”. How can that be?

Throughout scripture, here is the picture I see. God has chosen to have a vital and growing relationship with mankind. He has chosen me, and, whether or not you choose Him, He chooses you. He gives His all to the growth and development of this relationship He desires and designed to be. But “relationship” is two-sided. There is no relationship without both parties giving themselves to it. Therefore, in order to have the relationship of His heart’s desire, God had to make a way for man to choose Him as He chooses us. For choice to be true, there must be something else from which to choose. Thus God planted two trees in the earth.

The first tree, known as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, supplied us with choice. The second tree, that upon which the Savior hung as the sacred Lamp of God, provides us assurance in our choice. The choice of those who had it in the beginning was to choose the tempting fruit of the lie over the truth of God and unhindered relationship with Him. Before going to our focal passage in James, let’s take a quick look at Adam and Eve.

EveAndTheSerpent_lIn the story of Adam and Eve’s fall found in Genesis 3, first enters the serpent. The serpent back then could speak, and it says that he “was more crafty than any beast of the field.” He came to the woman, asking, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman replies, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

Now my question, before we go further, is why did the serpent approach Eve rather than Adam? I believe we get a clue in the response given by Eve. Her response is that of second hand knowledge. God told Adam, “Don’t eat that or you will die.” He never said, “Don’t touch it.”

How often do we see someone who has been warned of danger carry the warning of “do not taste” to a level of “don’t even touch it.” Eve was not even around when God gave warning to Adam. To our knowledge at this point in the story of God, she did not have this one on one instruction of the Lord in her experience, from what we are told in scripture.

I don’t know about you, but for me it is much easier to believe a truth from God when we are instructed on it personally by Him. So the serpent came to Eve, who most likely, as many of us would do, was wondering about the truth of the warning because the fruit of that tree just looked too good to be harmful. And what did he do next?

“You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (vs. 4-5).

Now we know that this serpent is being instructed in what to say by Satan, most likely possessed by him, because we are told of Lucifer’s desire to be God in Ezekiel 28 and other passages. He often works to lead others to desire to be their own god, and he does so by causing us to question the truthfulness and integrity of God. Satan, through the mouth of the serpent, caused Eve to doubt further the truth about God she was taught by Adam, and caused her to question the veracity of her God. The fruit of that tree being appealing to the eye, and the words of the deceiver sounding good to the ear, she was tempted and did eat. The serpent, being the pawn of evil, lied to Eve, who believed the lie and she made her choice regarding relationship with God.

She, then, carried the lie further as she offered the fruit to Adam. We are not told what occurred between Adam and Eve in that Eve2moment, but I can just hear it now, can’t you? “Look, Adam! It is luscious. I did eat, and I did not die! God lied.” So Adam, enamored with Eve and always desiring to please her, as is often the case in male-female relations as we seek to please one another: Adam forgot his God, and seeing Eve still breathing, doubted God’s veracity and he ate.

Note something important here, the eyes of their heart did not open to the knowledge of good and evil until Adam bit the proverbial bullet and it exploded. It was Adam that God gave charge to in the Garden to tend it and care for all living creatures in it. He had not only the authority to rebuke the serpent, but I believe that if he had grabbed the hand of his wife and dragged her running to the Father, things would have been different. Instead he too, fell, and their eyes opened to see evil.

Death was not the expected instantaneous death from life, though their bodies began the process of decay in that instant—aging little by little, leading to that final breath in this life to enter eternity with, or without, God. The death experienced in Eden was worse than instant cessation of the life of their body. Instead the death that came was instantaneous separation from intimacy with God. As the voice of God came to them, Him searching the Garden for their presence, I believe because He sensed the disturbance of their intimate connection that occurred, hearing Him calling, Adam and Eve knew they sinned against God and were afraid, so they hid themselves. In an instant, their relationship with Him was never the same.

Thus we find ourselves in the wake of sin still today. Sin is deceptive, leading to belief of lies that destroy relationships. Unlike Adam and Eve, we come into this world in a flesh of sin with the seed of sin ruling, causing us to doubt the truth and trustworthiness of God. From the day we are born, unless our parents or someone else tells us of Him, we do not know there is a God to acknowledge. We are separated from Him, knowing only our own fleshly desires as ruler and master. And sensing the emptiness left by His absence, though not knowing what is missing, we run to our lusts for fulfillment.

James 4:1-5 ~ “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. You adulteresses, do you not know that FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD IS HOSTILITY TOWARD GOD? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: ‘He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us’?”

Our intimacy with God is our spirit united with His Spirit. Yet even today our lusts and desire for the pleasures of this world wage war within us, drawing us by the lie away from the Truth. That pleasure we seek says to us, “Take me and you will be satisfied and made complete. If you can just have me, you will have all you need for life more abundant and full.” But only One can fill that place in us.

Note the Capital S in this verse, “He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us.” James here is speaking to Christians who have chosen God through the second tree. This second tree, the tree of Calvary, where the Savior gave His life to purchase all who will believe, gives us assurance of eternity with God, as we take the fruit of that tree with faith to believe Him who provided it. Even Christians, who have trusted and believed Him, receiving His Spirit that quickens our own to bring Life to us again through eternal relationship with Him, even we can be drawn away by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the boastful pride of life. Look at verse 5 in the Amplified version of scripture:

“Or do you suppose that the Scripture is speaking to no purpose that says, The Spirit Whom He has caused to dwell in us yearns over us and He yearns for the Spirit [to be welcome] with a jealous love?”

As long as we are in weak flesh that is perishing, living in a weak and alluring world of deceptive desire, we can be tempted away from the sincerity of our relationship with God. Though we do not lose our relationship with Him as before, the intimacy can still be hindered, weakening us as His witnesses, His ambassadors, His holy priesthood in this life. We must grow day by day and opportunity by opportunity to continue to choose relationship with Him over the ways of this life.

Our spirit is made to unite with His. It is our choice whether we will believe God and choose Him over the fleeting pleasures of sin’s lie. Anything that brings separation from intimacy with Him destroys all we can be and have in this life. Still today the serpent of old robs us of our abundance by way of his lies that lure us to choose other things over the goodness and glory of our God.

So yes, God allows the opportunity for us to choose to sin against Him, because every opportunity to choose sin comes with opportunity to believe in and choose God. However, no, evil is not set before us by God, nor is it created by Him. God is truth and always deals with us out of His integrity. But there is loosed upon the earth His arch enemy whose desire is to destroy all God cares for. God cast him out of His kingdom and he allows him to tempt us so that we have choice, the lie, or The Truth. Sin, first in the fall of Lucifer, and then in the fall of man, unleashed evil in the world and in the flesh of every person, making it slave to its lusts. God is not evil and no evil comes from His hand, but He allows evil to reach out to us so that we have choice in our relationship with Him.

Choose truth, Beloved, and walk with God in unity of faith to believe Him over the lie before our eyes. God gives us the plumb-line of His word. If the desire of our heart does not stand up to the truth of God’s word, it is sin, and sin separates, hindering a right and true relationship with a holy God.

“Choose life, that you may live, you and your children with you” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19.

Look the Right Way!

MM900395755[1]“Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, and as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He has mercy and loving-kindness for us” ~ Psalm 123:2, AMP.

Several months ago God instructed my heart that “A Storm” is coming to our land and He began using me to call many to prayer.

When Sandy hit, I said, “Lord, is this it?”

“No,” He replied, “This is only a part of the greater.”

Then He impressed on my heart that our nation will see its economy crumble and immorality increase like a storm never seen before in our land. So we watch and we pray.

MP900443311[1]Over the past numerous days God has been instructing my heart, and these words penned in a devotional by Sarah Young in her book “Jesus Today” sum it all up: Look the Right Way!

As I have pondered all that God is speaking to me through His word and the words of His People, I realized that I have gained 10 pounds since God’s warning me of The Storm to come. Though I thought I was keeping eyes on Him, I would say that I am stress eating, which signals me that my eyes are looking in the wrong direction.

What if things fall apart? Is that not what we anticipate as a sign that Christ’s return draws near? Does the chaos in the earth make God any less capable of tending to His Own? Have not many generations seen similar storms blow through and lived to tell of the Wonderworks of God in seeing them safely to the other side? “Look the Right Way, Darlene, and press forward with hope.”

I know not what “tomorrow” holds, but I know Who holds “tomorrow”.  He has a purpose in all things, and it is for eternal good and glory. I can rest in Him Who is my Rest, Strong Tower, Secret Hiding Place, Firm Foundation, and Possessor of my soul. He is my Rock out of which the Stream of refreshing and provision come. He is Hope and Song. He sees! Nothing escapes His notice and He cares for all that concerns me and those with me who seek to Look the Right Way. When I look at Him and keep my eyes on Him and His purpose, I find peace that passes understanding and hope beyond measure.

As I have looked at Him, He instructed me on some important things I am to give myself to: loving Him first and foremost, and others as I should be loving myself. My eating is not a loving act toward me, nor Him whose temple I am, so that has got to change. Relationships are vital in this hour, and the busyness of life threatens that, so I must be deliberate in taking time for others.

I must keep up my ponderings, reflecting on the things God shows me and sharing them with you in the hope of being a help to lift youdreaming and happy up in these difficult days ahead. Too often we read His word, hear Him speak, and go off never giving Him time to fully instruct and transform us by His Word. Taking time for reflection, “Pondering these things” as Mary did, is vital to our weathering the storm ahead.

And rest is vital in these days; not only the rest of leisure time that physically rests our weary bodies, but entering into His rest despite the approaching storm. We learn in Hebrews that entering His rest comes through faith that believes God and takes action through obedience. We are not without Hope. He is our Hope. But Hope is most often missed because of unbelief that leads to actions of sin—going against God’s expressed instruction.

Join me, and Look the Right Way, my friend, as the days unfold before us, and smile as the rays of Hope lead you surely through the storms of life.

~*~

Bigger God“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle (forbearing) spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, DWELL on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” ~ Philippians 4:4-9, NASB.

In the Spirit and Power of Elijah, Go Forth!

Read Luke 1:1-20

1 Kings 18
1 Kings 18

“…For he will be great and distinguished in the sight of the Lord. And he must drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with and controlled by the Holy Spirit even in and from his mother’s womb. And he will turn back and cause to return many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will [himself] go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn back the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient and incredulous and unpersuadable to the wisdom of the upright [which is the knowledge and holy love of the will of God]—in order to make ready for the Lord a people [perfectly] prepared [in spirit, adjusted and disposed and placed in the right moral state] …” ~ Luke 1:15-17, AMP.

Look closely at this good word. This is us in our day, beloved. This passage gives us a picture of our calling and equipping as the people of God in our day, again awaiting the Messiah. We are the “great and distinguished of God”, having His favor upon us for a purpose, however great or lowly our position in this life.

From the time of our new-birth in Christ, we are given His Spirit and called to be filled and controlled by Him. We are instructed in Ephesians 5:18 to not be drunk with wine, but be filled with His Spirit. The instant of our spiritual birthing, the words concerning Christ became true for us as He breathed on us and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). Our calling and equipping, Beloved, is that of John the Baptist, making ready the way of the Lord. In this passage, we get a glimpse of what that call on our lives entails. Simply put, our calling and equipping includes:

  1. Turn the hearts of the people Jesus died for to turn to the Lord their God. Helping people realize that God is, and that He is God of all; their choice being eternity with Him, or without Him: this is our call and the power supplied for our equipping.
  2. We go before Him in the Spirit and Power of Elijah to accomplish His will and announce His way in the earth.
  3. We are equipped to “turn back the hearts of the fathers to the children.”
  4. We are empowered to reach “the disobedient, incredulous, and UNPERSUADABLE to the wisdom of the upright, which is the knowledge and holy love of the will of God.”

God empowers us to reach even the unreachable! Is that not awesome? And all of this is so we can fulfill our ultimate goal, “to make ready for the Lord a people, perfectly prepared in spirit, adjusted and disposed and placed in the right moral state”: ready for His coming; ready to meet Him.

It is so totally awesome to me to realize this anew. Is it to you? But take warning from what came next.

Zachariah doubted the word of the messenger and did what Jesus—and God the Father, hate. He asked for a sign, essentially saying, “Prove to me that your words are truth.” And what did the angel say to him?

“I AM GABRIEL. I STAND IN THE [VERY] PRESENCE OF GOD, and I have been sent to talk to you and to bring you this good news. Now behold, you will be and will continue to be silent and not able to speak till the day when these things take place, BECAUSE YOU HAVE NOT BELIEVED WHAT I TOLD YOU; BUT MY WORDS ARE OF A KIND WHICH WILL BE FULFILLED IN THE APPOINTED AND PROPER TIME” (vs. 19-20).

It was good news Gabriel brought to Zachariah, but did he receive it that way? No. He let doubt hinder faith. He chose disbelief over trust in God.

Friend, I bring you good news today. There is no one that God instructs you to share with that is beyond your ability to persuade. Not one. The question is, do you trust God enough to choose to believe His word by faith, or are you stunned to silence through disbelief and failure to trust God. Friend, my words are of a kind which will be fulfilled in the appointed and proper time; and His word does not go out without accomplishing that for which it is sent. You do not need fancy words or desperate pleas to reach the unreachable. All you need is words of love backed up with a life of faith and God will do the rest.

And what does the Scripture say?

“Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it?” (Lamentations 3:37)

And again:

“You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).

The proof comes as we obey God in faith and see His word fulfilled. So go forth, distinguished of the Lord, and see the glory of God in the land of the living as you fulfill your purpose where you are in the sphere of influence given you (Exodus 33:12-17).

Darlene Davis © 12/22/12

The Conversation

The Conversation, recorded below, was given to me, a humbled follower of Christ. I am Darlene, and I currently suffer with Complicated Grief Disorder (CGD), an emotional disorder kin to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, that presents with the same symptomology and is given the same treatment regimen. It is the result of the breakdown of normally good coping mechanisms, brought about by some stressor in life that snaps that system. As a result, I struggle often with almost agoraphobic social anxiety. It is most difficult during the holidays when my stressor has to be faced as family gatherings begin. While looking for some other recorded document, I ran across this and am encouraged again. Here is the story of how the conversation recorded below came to be.

As part of God’s treatment regimen in helping me to deal with my CGD, God led me to the study of Christian Counseling with Light University. Preparing for a trip to Nashville for graduation from that first stage of study and for an American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference, my social anxiety flaring severely, I recall a scripture I received via email from Bible Gateway that kept coming to mind. Going through my deleted files, I discover many others and begin printing them and taping them to index cards that I can carry with me for meditation while on the trip. Reading through the compilation of scriptures God highlighted to my heart, I am amazed to find the conversation I now share with you.

Father, I pray for all into whose hands you put this conversation. May their hearts be helped as they truly comprehend this being from You for them, as much as it was for me. I pray that all the days of their lives will be filled with the sure knowledge of Your presence and Your rich rewards promised to those who choose to believe.

~*~

The Conversation

~*~

Living Water
Living Water

 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. …You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.”

“Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. …I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. …You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word.”

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. …The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. …The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. …So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

~*~

(Psalm 121:1-2; Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 46:4; Isaiah 48:17; Psalm 16:8; 119:114; Isaiah 41:10; 40:31; Psalm 121:7-8; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:35-36)

The Bronze Serpent

John 3:

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life” (vs. 14-15).

~*~

“And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived” ~ Numbers 21:9.

Jesus replaces the bronze serpent on Moses staff, the healing balm that takes away the sting of consequences for standing against God and His way. And He brings healing to our sin stained lives from now into out eternity, delivering us safely to our eternal destination with Him. That is what Jesus is saying. Is that not exciting!

There are always consequences for our actions. When we do good, standing in alignment with God’s will and way, we reap a good reward—the blessed consequence. When we do evil, standing in disagreement with God’s will and way, we reap the cursed consequence. As long as we are in this flesh body that brings its fleshly wisdom leading to lust of the flesh, we can and too often do stumble up in our walk with God. But when we look to Jesus as the snake bit sinners of old looked on the bronze serpent head with faith in God to heal them, realizing the promise of healing represented in Christ, He restores life to us. Though there may be residual effects of the consequences to deal with as a scar from a snake bite, God reveals the way to live to the full where we are. And the scars only act as a reminder to keep us from walking that path to sin again.

Thank You, Father, that You do not leave us without hope. You are there for us and have provided the way of healing, not only for our personal lives when we make bad decisions and suffer the consequences, but for our nation. For as we, Your people called by Your name, humble ourselves individually and corporately, praying in earnest and seeking Your face with whole heart, turning from our evil ways to look to the Christ with faith for healing and strength to follow You fully, then You will hear our prayer, forgive our sin, and heal our land. O how greatly we need You, O God, in Jesus, amen.

Take It To Your Heart

MC900434748[1]…take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other ~ Deuteronomy 4:39.

I, along with many others I know, too often struggle with depression. I wrote an email today to just such a one encouraging them in things they can do to help themselves. As I read this simple statement of truth about God this morning, I am mindful of how the things we take to heart affect our thoughts, mental attitudes, emotional stability, and even the very delicate chemical balance of our bodies, all of which affect our mental health and sense of well-being, and our physical health. The things we take to heart will either make us better in every way, even improving our physical health; or they will make us bitter and sickly in every way: mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, relationally, and behaviorally; and yes, even economically.

I am really taking this insight to heart right now, as I know my beloved friend who is struggling with depression is not alone. I am right there with her as the winter season couples with the holiday events that so often lead to depression. Relationship struggles and fear of the “what ifs” have taken my heart captive again. So as I read this with God’s highlight on the “take it to your heart,” I realize that I have to fill my heart with good thoughts of truth worth holding. Thoughts and truths that will help my heart, mind, soul and strength to be in good health and able to withstand whatever might be.

The truth is that the things I let grab my heart and roll around in my thoughts to be taken to heart usually do not happen. When they do, God is always faithful to equip me to deal with whatever that might be. Truth is that the things I often think about what other people think of me is usually not true, and I judge their hearts unrighteously when I take those thoughts to heart as if true.

When it gets right down to it, the thoughts I think of others color their reputation for me. I will give bad repute toward those I think are thinking bad of me, thinking them harsh, unloving and uncaring, often without cause. But I will give good repute to those I choose to take good thoughts to heart toward, giving them grace when they fall because I choose to give focus to the good in them over the bad.

Truth is that it does not truly matter what others think of me, or even what I think of myself. It only matters what God thinks and knows to be true of me. When I focus on what He thinks, it leads to me being and doing things righteously, in ways and with right attitudes and motives that not only please Him, but make me feel better about me, thus causing my actions and responses to be such as gives me favor with mankind.

Things we take to heart, my friend, will make us, or break us. So weigh every thought and intent of the heart on God’s scales, and think good thoughts: thoughts that are right, true, pure, lovely, excellent, of good repute, and worthy of praise, and peace will come to dwell in the heart in which such thoughts prevail.

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” ~ Philippians 4:8-9.

Celebrating Jesus – The Advent 3

El Shaddai“Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1).

At the ripe age of 100, Abram is about to receive again the promise of God that he will have a son by his barren wife Sarai (90 years old). God knew that at this point in life when they were not only barren, but beyond the age of child-bearing, that Abram would do what he did later, he would laugh in disbelief; just as Sarai would in the next chapter. So He started the conversation with the proclamation of His might as God Almighty: El Shadai.

In our day and age, with the challenges facing us as a people and a nation, we desperately need to remember our God is God Almighty. The problem in our day is people read scripture without the aid of God’s Spirit to teach them and think the truths shared there about God are impossible. They fail to have faith to believe because they see the wrath of God and decide God must be cruel and unworthy of following. They see the miracles reported in its pages and think such to be impossible. Therefore they choose to not believe. They do not understand that God was creating a holy people through which to birth Messiah, the greatest miracle of all that would bring down the curtain of division and make the Holy of holies available to all.

In the Amplified version of Genesis 17:1, we read “…walk and live habitually before Me and be perfect (blameless, wholehearted, complete).” This is the requirement for the people who would be the lineage of Christ, and it is the requirement of those who today profess Christ as Savior and returning Messiah. God needs a people wholly set apart to Him, and then, as today they had to sometimes be dealt with harshly to get their attention and draw them away from false deities of the day that tempted them away from the purity of a relationship with Holy God. Those who struggle to understand, lacking the help of the Spirit to discern the truth, fail to discern that any God worth following must be almighty in power, able to hold His position as God. Not only is El Shadai a God who is able to hold His rightful place as God, but He is able to meet those who follow Him at their most desperate of needs. Without the ability to believe that God is able, why is He worth following?

God is still working a purpose for eternity out in our day, and it requires that people have the choice to believe or not believe, for in that choice we choose “God” or “not God”. Through allowing evil in the earth for a short time—short in comparison to eternity—He has allowed a line to be drawn that gives us choice in whether to believe in, love and honor God as God or not. True love must make room for love to be returned willingly. True love would never force the one loved to love in return. Thus God’s love made a way for us to have a choice in this life. God, or not God, but some other god. Even those who believe there is no god have set themselves up as god to rule their own way. And though there is no other god except the One True God, Jehovah, other false gods exist with a power that Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22, says has the power of demons behind it.

God called Abraham to believe the impossible to be possible because the God he chose to serve is ALMIGHTY GOD. Out of Abraham’s faith in choosing to believe God for the HIMpossible, God birthed through Him the lineage of the Christ, who was to come out of a people wholly set apart to God as His beloved people. And out of that Seed of Righteousness, Jesus the Christ, He provided the way for His people, Israel, and indeed the entire world, to come into eternal relationship with Himself.

By faith to believe the HIMpossible of Almighty God found in Jesus Christ, the Messiah, we enter into the family of God, being made through Christ into “…a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that we may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). The season of Advent is a time to remember and proclaim this gift from El Shadai through the lineage set up in Abraham.

Nothing is beyond the ability of God Almighty to take care of, and He will do so in due season. Just as Abraham’s Isaac was born in God’s timing, so that all would know it was God who did it because of the advanced age of Sarah and Abraham that made conception impossible without God doing it, so Jesus coming as Messiah in ways that are beyond our ability to comprehend reveals the work of the Almighty for a purpose that is His own: the salvation of a world of people in need of One True God.

Our situations today are the same, opportunity to watch the perfect timing of God Almighty at work in ways that show Himself strong on our behalf. God is able. As He said to Abraham at the time of conception, so He says to us who will hear today, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). All we need is to have a mustard seed of faith in God, relying on Him, trusting in Him, being confident that He will do the HIMpossible at just the right time to accomplish the greatest good for all concerned. That is His way revealed throughout the ages, working not only on our behalf for our good, but on behalf of all around us who will see and come to believe El Shaddai.

Celebrating Jesus: The Advent – 2

Jesus_103The great King, anticipated by Israel for millennia, came first in an unexpected way: in the flesh of a human, to die as a sacrificial Lamb for the sin of all mankind. Jew and Gentile alike are called to come in under the blood of the Lamb of God, the covering for sin that brings all who will believe into the Kingdom of God. For He is returning one day as that long awaited King to set up His rule in the earth, and all who do not have this covering of blood will be denied access to His kingdom, just as the first born were lost to all not under the blood at the time of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt.

Before the Christ was born into the earth, God brought forth John, who would be called the Baptist, called and equipped with the filling of the Spirit to be the forerunner to the Christ. Of himself He said, “I am A VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE STRAIGHT THE WAY OF THE Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said” (John 1:22).

So what does this, “make straight the way of the Lord” mean? The angel who appeared to John’s father, Zacharias, explains it:

“It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

It is our faith as Christians that Jesus is the Christ, first come to purchase back the people of God through blood sacrifice of His own flesh, purchasing Jew and Gentile alike, making us one people for God’s own possession in Christ as we receive the gift of this grace by faith. Jesus is the Kinsman Redeemer, paying the full price as propitiation for sin, so we can walk free in Him. Through the power of the Spirit He gives to all who will believe that He is the Christ come first as sacrifice for sin, we are empowered to turn our hearts back to our children and turn from disobedience to righteousness in Christ. Thus we are prepared for the Lord who will return as the long awaited King of kings, ready to set up His kingdom on earth.

So what are we, His people by the new birth of spirit through faith, to do in our wait for His return? I believe we are to “go as a forerunner before Him (who is returning) in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Advent is a time of remembrance the full and completed work of Jesus, past, present and future. We begin by calling to mind the first coming of the King as the Christ Child, the Bright Morning Star who showed the way of righteousness, then gave Himself as Sacrificial Lamb, becoming the blood covered door by which all who believe and receive His gift may enter into His righteousness and find saving grace that grants us relationship with God the Father in our here and now existence while making us ready for the Kings return. Are you ready, my friend? For He is coming back, and when He returns it will be too late for Jew or Gentile to make that choice.

Make ready, Beloved. Your sin is already covered by grace and is setting before you as a gift of His love and desire for full restoration of relationship with you. For that gift to belong to you, you must now reach out to receive it. That gift is received by simply believing that He first came as sacrifice for all sin, including your sin, then, with repentance for your personal sin and willingness of heart to surrender to His work of grace within, reach out to receive the gift of grace He has for you, surrendering all to Him as Lord who purchased the right over you. By His grace sufficient, He will then fill you with His Spirit to empower the journey of a lifetime as He works to restore the image of God in you, step by step, day by day, working to perfect you as His image bearer until the day of Christ’s return (Philippians 1:6).

Celebrating Jesus: The Advent – 1

mary-mother_of_jesus_21Behold, the bondslave of the Lord

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. FOR NOTHING WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:26-38, NASB)

Advent—the time of remembering what God did through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; what He is doing in your life today; and the earnest expectation and hope of His promised return. One way we can celebrate Advent is to have this attitude expressed by Mary in each day of life and every situation: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; me it be done to me according to your word.”

A bondslave is slave by choice out of trust in and love for the Master. The saying goes, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will for me.” Total surrender to the will and purpose of God, trusting His fulfillment of all the good He desires even when it puts us in precarious positions, is the most glorious place on earth; safe in His perfect will. Celebrate today the relationship with God that is available to us as Bondslaves set free in Christ to choose this love walk with the Father in likeness to the Son.

Word of God, Speak

 

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

Do you read the word of God, realizing and believing that it is breathed by Him through the men used to author it? Do you enjoy the privilege of allowing God to highlight passages for you that just fit your need in your day? This is one such verse for me.

It has been difficult in this season of dealing with my parent’s paranoia. It has caused me to be clinically depressed, which increases one’s sense if inadequacy in negative ways that hinder one’s ability to feel they can be of use to a Holy God. About two years ago, God highlighted this passage to assure me that I can trust Him still to speak to and through me to the need of others, despite this current pain in life. And today, as it comes up in my journal for review, He gives highlight within the highlight.

Another problem that comes with depression and health issues like fibromyalgia, and with having a lifestyle right now with hubbies work that is in opposition to my internal clock, is sleep issues. I am a morning person that loves rising early to spend time with my God, but all these issues work to hinder my ability to wake and have brain cells to function. It has been a source of struggle and subject for prayer since this new cycle of life began. This morning, as I read and thank God for its truth once again, He highlights promise for my need: HE wakens me. He wakens me morning by morning. He wakens my ear to hear.

I don’t have to fret over when I rise. I don’t have to struggle to hear. All I have to do is rise when I awake and be faithful to listen with earnest expectation and hope in God who promises it is He who wakens me, and He gives me an ear to hear.

Trust God today, beloved. Be faithful to be in His word at every opportunity. Know that He will highlight His word for you, just as he does for me and others.

“Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell]. For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:11-12, AMP).

Word of God, Speak – Mercy Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8cJQMU9Q-U

The Miracle

Three Rejoicing
Uncle JD and Aunt Shirlen
Uncle JD and Aunt Maxine

These are my favorite pictures of Aunt Maxine, Uncle JD, and Aunt Shirley because of the miracle.

Planning a trip to the Dallas area to see family, hoping to take Aunt Maxine to see her brother while there, I call to set the plans with Uncle JD and Aunt Shirley. They are excited about the possibility, but at the same time, a little leery.

You see, Aunt Maxine was Schizophrenic and, more often than not in those days, she was in her own world, which was very difficult to see. So Aunt Shirley asked me to please not bring her if she was in bad shape. Assuring them I would comply with their wishes, the conversation ends, and the prayers begin.

Finally, the anticipated day arrives and I go to get Aunt Maxine. Though she is responsive to me, I can tell she is not in good shape mentally, but she is good enough to remember that we are supposed to go visiting and she wants to go. Looking to God, I say, “O Lord! What do I do? I promised to not bring her if she was bad like this.” Clearly to my mind, the Spirit of God says, “It will be okay. Go.” So we got in the car and headed to Tyler.

All the way there was silence. I tried to engage Aunt Maxine in conversation several times to no avail. So all the way there, I would cry out again, “O Lord, I promised not to bring her if she was bad, but I am trusting You.”

“It will be okay. Go.”

Arriving at Uncle JD’s, they head up the drive to meet us. As they do, the Light dawns. Aunt Maxine’s face lights up and, practically jumping out of the car, she greets Aunt Shirley, then Uncle JD with open arms and bright smiles. Thanking God and continuing in hope, we head into the house. The three of us watch Aunt Maxine in total amazement throughout the entire visit. She laughed and cut up like the Aunt Maxine I remember as a child. She kept up with the conversation and took part in it. She smiled with that old twinkle in her eyes. And we three stood watching in awe and amazement.

At the end of the visit, hating to leave the moment, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Grapevine. The minute we were out of their drive and on the road, my beloved Aunt disappeared back into her world, and we rode silently home. But my heart was not silent. It was filled with the glory of God.

I will miss you, Aunt Maxine, but I look forward to laughing with you, Uncle JD and Aunt Shirley again when we all meet together with other loved ones in the sweet by and by.

Shhhh….do you hear it? There is the sound of laughter and joy round the throne as these three beloveds and many others enjoy company in the worship of Glory. I am rejoicing with you, Aunt Maxine. No more silence, only joy, everlasting. Thank You, Father.

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 8

A Believing Remnant

“The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor His holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety], and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread [lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him]. And He shall be a sanctuary [a sacred and indestructible asylum to those who reverently fear and trust in Him]…” (Isaiah 8:13-14a, AMP).

In the New American Standard version of Isaiah 8:9-22, this passage is subtitled “A Believing Remnant.”  That phrase is vital in the days we see unfolding before us, for “the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Romans 8:18-25, *22).

God is up to something in the earth. I see His Spirit moving, sweeping out to fight a battle for those who will believe; a battle that is already going in the heavenly realms as the forces of God fight the evil hosts for dominance. I see that things are going to get difficult in the days to come as we see in the earth what is already going on in the heavenly realm; and God is calling the remnant to stand. Are you numbered in His remnant?

“The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor His holy name [by regarding Him as your only hope of safety]….” The Remnant rise as they call God alone Holy and honor His holy name, regarding Him as our only hope of safety in these precarious days unfolding. Is that you? Is it me?

“…let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread [lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him]. …” What makes you quake as you watch and see what is going on in the earth? The thing we fear reveals where our faith and trust and reliance on God lies. If we quake at the news of wars, more wars, and the rumors of war, we will meltdown. Our eyes on the Lord with fear only in Him bring us His strength to stand and stand firm when the earth quakes before us. The remnant of God stand firm, by faith, believing.

And He shall be a sanctuary [a sacred and indestructible asylum to those who reverently fear and trust in Him]….” The remnant has reverential fear and trust in the Lord, believing Him, that He is working a good plan. We see it unfolding before us. And though we do not fully understand where we are going yet or what the outcome of this season will look like, we know that God, the Father, is in complete control, however out of control things look to the naked eye.

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

By the Spirit of God we see Him at work especially when things seem at their worst. We look to the Lord, take our stance on faith in Him, stand at the ready to move as He dictates, allowing Him to fulfill His purpose through us, and watch to see what He will do. Beloved, are you in His remnant today?

Read Psalm 91 today and take heart, beloved.

A Call to The Elect

“For the Lord spoke thus to me with His strong hand upon me, and warned and instructed me not to walk in the way of this people, saying, ‘Do not call conspiracy [or hard, or holy] all that this people will call conspiracy [or hard, or holy]; neither be in fear of what they fear, nor make others afraid and in dread. The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor His holy name by regarding Him as your only hope of safety, and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him. And He shall be a sanctuary, a sacred and indestructible asylum to those who reverently fear and trust in Him; but He shall be a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Isaiah 8:11-14, AMP; brackets removed for easier reading).

We are in precarious days as a nation and indeed, the whole world, facing many and diverse challenges. As I watched things unfold over these weeks of the election season, the Sandy storm thundering its bolt upon our land, God has spoken many things to my heart.

He often speaks warning to me of things to come, and through these weeks of waiting and watching for Him, He again warns of difficult days ahead. The true election of our day was and is “God” or “not God.” Not only was that our true choice where our vote for a President was concerned, but it is our true choice with every decision and every potential path throughout every day of our lives. As for the Presidential election, the days ahead will reveal our vote.

One thing God is making clear to me as I consider all He is revealing is that I am not here to cause further dread, calling things a conspiracy, giving way to paranoia. I am not to give focus to the hard things ahead, or call things ‘holy’ that this world calls ‘holy.’ Instead my cry is to the possessed of God, those truly belonging to and surrendered to Him. My cry is a call to look up; look up to the Lord, your shelter and strong stay; and look down, look down to your feet and check your stance. Where are you standing on this issue of God and His ways. “…Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you…” (2 Peter 1:1-10).

Our stance on the issue of God and His way is vital to our nation and to each individual professing faith or no faith in Jehovah—Yeshua. “The Lord of hosts—regard Him as holy and honor His holy name by regarding Him as your only hope of safety, and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread lest you offend Him by your fear of man and distrust of Him.” I believe we are a nation heading into the winds of adversity right now, but God is our help and hope. “…And He shall be a sanctuary, a sacred and indestructible asylum to those who reverently fear and trust in Him….”

“…but He shall be a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” At the time of the writing of Isaiah 8, Israel and Judah were failing to honor and follow God. They were coming under the disciplining hand of God and Assyria was raining down on them. God allows such adversity in the lives of those who are His chosen, who refuse to heed His instruction that is given for our good, His glory, and the fulfilling of His purposes.

The days ahead will call each individual to make our choice. Will we look to and stand in the shade of the Mountain of God? Or will we look to and follow the dictates of the winds of adversity coming down off the hills of false hope?

“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust! For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. [Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler” (Psalm 91:1-4, AMP).

~*~

If you would like to join a prayer force as we watch to see the Lord’s opinion of the recent election, join us on Facebook at Living Worshipers (http://www.facebook.com/LivingWorshipersPage?ref=hl).

 

Rejoice!

I love this picture depicting the character of Christ. He was a man of many sorrows, yes. He had a lot of heartache come to His life. But I do not believe He was a sorrowful man. I believe He laughed often, for He lived the Word of God and God’s word says that a joyful heart (laughter) is good like a medicine (Proverbs 17:22).

 Our nation is going through hard days right now. We have a lot of heartache come into our lives. But we, too, as God’s people, need to take care that the sorrows coming at us do not make us sorrowful people.

God’s word in Philippians encourages us to live lives of rejoicing in the Lord. When we look at our problems in life, when we focus on the struggle, the hardship, or evil’s progress, we are crushed and destroyed. It is vital in these days that our focus be on God, and our hope be strengthened by His every word that tells us who He is at all times, even when life seems hard.

Paul says it. For our encouragement, I repeat it; “Rejoice! And again I say, ‘Rejoice’.”

~*~

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle, forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9, NASB; See also the AMP version).

Worship: Positions From the Heart – Throughout our day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worship: Positions From the Heart – Bow the Knee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Bow Down

Worship: From Hearts After His Own Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 7

Smoldering Firebrands

“Then the Lord said to Isaiah, ‘Go out now to meet Ahaz…and say to him, “Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands, on account of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah. Because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned evil against you, saying, ‘Let us go up against Judah and terrorize it, and make for ourselves a breach in its walls …’”’ thus says the Lord God: ‘It shall not stand nor shall it come to pass. …If you will not believe, you surely shall not last’” (Isaiah 7:3-8, NASB).

~*~

Smolder: To burn with little smoke and no flame. To exist in a suppressed state.To show signs of repressed anger or hatred.

Firebrand: A piece of burning wood or other material. A person who causes unrest, stirs up trouble or kindles a revolt.

~*~

Who or what is disturbing your peace today or causing fear to rise up in you? Take heart, for God sees those people and things that come against us as a smoldering firebrand; all smoke and very little of that; having no fire, no real power compared to the power we have available to us in Him.

Here, in God’s story seen in Isaiah 7, Pekah, the king who rose up over Israel against God’s will and His anointed king, Ahaz, was coming against Ahaz, the God-ordained king of Israel in the land of Judah. But God sends Isaiah to strengthen the heart of Ahaz with His promise that this “smoldering firebrand” will not thwart the will of God. Their plot will not stand so as to come to pass.

Do you realize that the things God wills for your life in fulfilling His purpose are just as sure? No enemy attack meant to rob you of your rightful position in God’s story will stand or come to pass, so long as you, like Ahaz, heed and follow the instruction of the Lord in facing those things that come against His will for you. What can we take from God’s instruction to Ahaz as to what he was to do in facing his enemy?

“…Take care and be calm, have no fear and do not be fainthearted because of these two stubs of smoldering firebrands. …”

Take care and be calm; take heed and be quiet (AMP). Psalm 46:10 puts it this way, “Be still, cease striving, let be and know (recognize and understand) that I AM GOD. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!” (See KJV, NASB, and AMP versions of scripture)

Be still—don’t move until your instruction from the Lord in His will for your actions is clear. Be still until quivering stops and you are moving, not in fear of the perceived enemy, but in faith in the One True God.

Cease striving—against God and His will for you. Sometimes it can look like the enemy is winning. That usually is true only when we are trying to handle things in our own way, fighting God’s will for us. Make sure you are not striving against God in your situation.

Let be—LET GOD BE GOD!

And know that He alone is God. There is no other God.

I like the story that Mark Harris tells at one of his concerts about the woman grabbing a little blue glass figurine and saying, “This is my god, and when I hold it, I find peace.” The man she said this too wisely said, “You know what? That’s not a big enough god for me; because the God that I serve was not made by human hands, but He made my human hands.”

To be still, cease striving, let be and know God, is to heed the truth that no one thing coming against us is more powerful than He. They are all but smoldering firebrands, p’ants in His presence. There is nothing big enough to overcome Him, and He stands for us. We are to stand and roar with confidence, like the kid-lion in Lion King, knowing that our Daddy-Lion stands behind us, adding His roar to ours. He can and will stand for us when we stand in His will. Only as we truly grasp this reality over us can we follow the next part of His instruction to Ahaz, to fear not nor be fainthearted.

So stand firm today, my friend, no matter the enemy coming against you, knowing that God is for you, He is not against you. His will for you will stand and the evil coming to stop you will not come to pass.

“Take heed and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted because of these two stumps of smoking firebrands … If you will not believe and trust and rely [on God and on the words of God’s prophet instead of Assyria], surely you will not be established nor will you remain” (AMP).

~*~

“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our Refuge (our High Tower and Stronghold). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!” (Psalm 46:11)

 

In the Flow of “Now” Living

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

†   Yesterday is gone

†   Tomorrow may never be

†   Now is all the time

†   God has gifted me

†   Will I use it well

†   Or waste it in the way

†   Time will surely tell

†   The choice I make today

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

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

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

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

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 6

His Robe Fills the Temple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 4

Spirit and Fire 

Isaiah 4:4-6 “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain.”

It was interesting to me to find this passage after a recent conversation with a friend about another passage that I would say goes hand in hand with this. In it, John the Baptist says of Jesus, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matthew 3:11). From these two passages we can glean a little discernment of these baptisms from the Father through the Christ.

First of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of judgment, Jesus says that the Spirit He will send us will “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Here we see that the baptism of the Spirit comes to those of the world who receive within themselves this conviction that brings understanding of their sin, God’s righteousness and that sent through Christ on our behalf, and the judgment to come that will be determined by whether or not we believe and receive. This baptism is the baptism of rebirth that brings our spirits fully to life with His, making us one with Jesus and part of the Kingdom of God. After this baptism of rebirth, the work of the Spirit of judgment continues as He teaches us to recognize the source of the choices we have in life, whether they will produce sin or righteousness and wisdom to discern the consequences of our choices. Without this work of the Spirit in us, we cannot walk with God in truth.

Second, this first baptism of the spirit of judgment leads to the baptism of fire or burning. As we grow in our maturity as people of God, His Spirits begins to burn within us to reveal sin habits and patterns that must be surrendered to God and transformed to His likeness. This can be an arduous process to go through, much like burning away our flesh with fire would be difficult to live through. The more we fight the change God calls us to make the more fierce the fire burns through consequences meant to move us toward Him and away from the evil we run after to easily. This fire is not only burning away the rule of flesh in our lives, it is removing the desires and pursuits that make up the dross that hinders His image from reflecting in our lives.

God will do what it takes to make us into His image because He loves us and no unrighteousness can enter the gates of the eternal. The more we work in cooperation with the Spirit of God, the less of the burn we will experience. So be quick to hear and believe; and receive and press forward in faith. Then the fire of God can impassion us for the things of God, empowering us for good and glory as never before.

Father, we cry out for the baptism of Christ to do its work in us, making us a reflection of Your glory, grace, and love. Holy Spirit, have full sway to the glory of God’s name. In Jesus, amen.

The Dream – Part 3

God Intends Good 

Though this dream I shared with you is obviously meant for the body of Christ, as God instructs my heart for the writing of this short series, I can see clearly my own life in its meaning. During the time of many things coming at me and my family in the past few years, I have walked the premise of this dream out with realization that God is doing a work in me and in mine. What the enemy intends for harm, God uses for good (Genesis 50:15-21; Romans 8:28). In my many and growing number of years in this life, one thing I have learned is that any evil allowed to reach me is intended by God to do a work in me that purifies and helps me to grow in Him, so I face such struggles with earnest expectation and hope of seeing God do just that. And I know that He is after a root of rejection that has been with me from my earliest days. A root that has grown so deep for so long sometimes has to be burned and blasted out: thus the fires of testing and trial.

Besides doing a work in me, it also gives me opportunity to bear testimony of His work in my life as doors open for me to share the comfort He gives me with others who struggle. So as I relayed to you these things I perceived from God as the many faces and forms of the enemy, I was made acutely aware that though this dream is for the Body – the Bride of Christ, it is also very much for me as an individual part of that Body, thus, the testimonial of my struggle flowed to the pages. Just as this message is for me, so it is for you in your struggle.

I know that I am not alone in this struggle with the enemy suitor who seeks to destroy our ability to bear righteousness into the earth. Everywhere I turn I meet people of God who have their own story of heartache and challenge to tell: devastating, stagnating, unbelievable things coming at the body of Christ. Beloved, if that is you, please know, what the enemy means for harm, God uses for good.

I also want you to realize something I am increasingly aware of in my own struggle. Our flesh is one of the faces and forms of the enemy. Our own bodies, when under great stress, give way to the stress. Though we fight to do right in our situations, the effects of extreme stressors mess up our hormones and body chemistry in ways that turn our own bodies, minds, and emotions against us, making the body we live in an enemy to overcome. This is the battle I am in, and it is the battle I believe is portrayed by Paul in Romans 7.

It is important for us to realize this truth about the physical body and its limitations for several reasons: one being to protect us from falling to guilt and shame in our struggle. Like Paul, we need to realize the righteousness of Christ that covers us and makes us whole even when our own flesh betrays us.

Try as I may to carry on as the daughter of my daddy, doing right by him, many days my flesh gives way to the stress and breaks down in the effort. I’ll tell you, there are days when I need someone to come alongside me and be the hand of God, grabbing mine and helping me do the good I desire when my own flesh is shut down, destroying my ability. This is especially true when my grief over daddy gives way to social anxiety. We need to not only be alert to our own struggle, but as people of God watching others who are in such a battle, we need to be there for those we can help. This is the time when those of the Body who are weak need the strong to cover them like a hand going to stop the bleeding wound: not just with prayer, but with encouragement, and even walking alongside them in their struggle.

One thing I have learned in my Christian lay counseling studies is that those who are ensnared by paranoia and anxiety issues that are empowered by out of control body chemistry need people who will walk with them faithfully, not turning from them in their time of need. It is difficult to deal with the negativity of those who struggle. It is frustrating to see them begin to make progress, only to fall back again and again in their battle. But let me tell you something, we are the hands and the feet, the arms and the legs, the mouth and the ears, the heart and the mind representing God in the earth. We are the Bride, yes; but we also are the body of the Groom and we need one another.

How are the legs of Christ lopped off? Through the frustration of us, His body, working with individual members of His body who are in the fight of their lives. Through our indifference to those who are in difficulties we want to run from. Through our own protectiveness that pulls away from them instead of sticking it out with them. I’m not just speaking to you, the reader, here; this is truth I need to realize as well. There are times in our lives when we need the physical hand of the Groom, the Body of Christ in the earth, to reach our own and help us heal so we as the body of Christ can move unhindered by disabling forces of life in the world.

Today’s blog is my hand reaching out to those who struggle as I am struggling, sharing some of the things God is teaching me through my experience, hoping that it will be the bandage and balm you need as well. Because of His grace toward me and His work in helping me through this season of life, I have learned many things that are vital to our ability to be the Bride and the Body, bearing righteous fruit in a difficult day and age. Following are some of those things. I have learned…

†   The greater depths of God’s love for me personally and how understanding and trusting that love frees from fear: He loves me with a love that will not be moved.

God, for years, has used my husband’s love for me to teach me of His love. I have heard my husband profess his love for me verbally and seen him show it in ways that amaze me, over and over again, expressing his love in ways that have me convinced of its veracity. When we first married, I feared the loss of his love, wondering of its trustworthiness because of childhood experiences and that of a previous marriage in which “love” proved unfaithful and fleeting. But he has so poured his love into me that I no longer doubt it or fear the loss of it.

Like most children, I learned of love through childhood experiences, and though I have always believed that God loves me, fear of somehow losing that love has been there to hinder. During this season of struggle, God has done the same thing for me that my husband did. He has assured me over and over of His love for me being faithful and trustworthy. I no longer fear that God will turn from me in my struggle. I know He will stick with me until I come out strong, shining like gold, having legs to birth righteousness in the earth as He intends.

†   I can trust God when I can trust no other: That is ingrained into me as never before. He loves me, knows my heart, and will never leave or forsake me. I am His servant. He has chosen and not rejected me (Isaiah 41:8-16). Though my daddy may reject me, disbelieve me, turn with anger and suspicion from me, God knows my heart and He chooses me. He has repeated that Isaiah 41 phrase to me so many times since my struggle with Complicated Grief Disorder began that I believe it with all my being and trust Him in it. My trust in God’s presence, understanding, faithfulness, love and care in choosing me and not rejecting me is beyond measure. I stand in awe of God.

†   God understands better than I where I am right now, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He is the one who led me to the study of counseling that revealed the Complicated Grief Disorder that I am in, which is akin to and treated the same as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He diagnosed it, and He will lead me to healing when He is finished using the grief to work change and maturity in me. In the meantime, His grace covers my “I can’t” with His righteousness while I seek to grasp the Groom’s hand and walk in His “I can.”

†   God’s opinion is true and righteous judgment: As long as I know God’s opinion of me and my situations, the opinion of man has no bearing on me. I do not have to worry about what man thinks of me as long as I walk forward in the Lord’s pleasure. He sings over me when no other will. I was amazed a few weeks back when the pastor called for the weary to come to the altar. As I knelt there alone at the altar, I feel the hand of a woman I do not know on my shoulder. She did not know my pain, but as she prayed, her prayer turned to singing over me, and I knew though she did not know what to pray, God was responding to the need. He is Lord of my life and my relationships, and He alone gives favor with man. Please God and He will take care of the rest.

Though I struggle to minister to daddy right now, I am not without a ministry to my Lord. He keeps me active in His work in other areas while He is building me up to be what He needs me to be as my daddy’s daughter. I know He will be victorious in the situation and I rest with hope in Him to see my legs restored in this struggle.

†   Footstool praying: there is value of what I call “footstool prayers.” Though, in my pain, I may not have words to express the need for which I pray, God does. In the power of His Spirit I have learned that God loves to respond affirmatively to the prayer that is lifted to His throne without words, but with sincere desire for Him to have His will and way in the need. My concern being laid at His feet, beside the footstool of Christ, I can then turn my attention to go on my way without that burden weighing me down. I am freed by faith to know that I can leave that need, whatever it is, with Him and He will deal with it. I may not think of it again until I realize His answer. Some days thought of the need may come with many words of prayer pouring forth in the power of His Spirit. But when it overwhelms me, I know He hears my heart’s groaning, though my mind can form no thought for words, as I lay it beside His footstool for His disposal.

†   I can! When God wants me to, I can press forward to minister to daddy and deal with him, because God through His Spirit supplies power to perform. When that power moves, I go in obedience with it. If that power from Him is not there, I wait for it, trusting Him to meet the need where I can’t. I have grown to trust His covering and His faithfulness to Himself (2 Timothy 2:1-13). Though I may not always be able, He always can, and He will accomplish the purpose of His will.

†   Jesus is our example: The ways He revealed through example are mine to portray as need arises. In the dream, the example of Christ was to have faith to believe God and see Him faithfully supply. I am learning to choose to believe even when my body fails me and fights me.

Did you know that sometimes Jesus walked away from a situation knowing it was not yet His time? I am growing in faith to know that sometimes God moves us to step back and let Him deal with a person or situation that is beyond us to cope with. He does not want us beat down by the assault of those given over to their own flesh.

Earlier I said that we, the body, need to be God’s hand to grab hold a struggling body part and help them heal. But God knows when that part is not open to being helped. So there are times in life when God tells us to step back and get out of the way so that He can deal with it.

Did you know that my daddy, who cannot read, quoted scripture to me verbatim the other day? Years ago when my daddy’s struggle began, I got up in the night, grieved over him, and God led me to pray through whole chapters of scripture for him. During that prayer session, God spoke very clearly to my heart that I would see my daddy sitting fully clothed and in His right mind, sharing His word with those who will listen. Also years ago, God led me to give my daddy the entire Bible on tape. He, for many years now, has listened to it faithfully. Thus, I saw that promise fulfilled as we talked together my last visit and I came to discover that my daddy has the gospel figured out and secured in his own heart—he is fully clothed and in his right mind spiritually. And he spouted several verses as he shared his faith. I am praising God for His hand that can, even when I am without legs to press forward.

~*~

Bride of Christ, nothing shall be impossible with God. Keep seeking the hand of the Groom and give your life to the birthing of His seed. Trust in Him no matter the appearance of the circumstances of life; listen for His voice crying “only believe”, knowing that it is unity with Him that grants us strong legs and a birth canal. Then rise up and go forth to prosper His kingdom, even in the midst of enemy incursion. Hold close the child of righteousness birthed through you by His grace, and trust His protection over you and it. He alone can produce the seed within you, and He alone can protect and empower its growth and maturity to His intent and purpose. Let no enemy-suitor draw you away from holding tight to His hand. Only BELIEVE!

The Dream – Part 1

The Battle Revealed

 

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

~*~

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

~*~

Now you have the characters, here is the setting:

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

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

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

~*~

Now you have the setting, here is the dream.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts From Isaiah – Chapter 2

A Work Worthy of Worship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing Rainbows With DADDY – Part 4: The True Treasure Found

At Rainbow’s End

“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).

Coming to the end of our walk together in considering chasing rainbows with Daddy-God, we come to the conclusion of the car commercial:

“Finally we see daddy and daughter running excitedly through an open field, daughter anxiously hurrying daddy, beckoning him to come quickly. Grasping hands, together they enjoy the rainbow across the way.”

Our look at Noah, Moses and Abraham has revealed to us that God communicates what is to come to His children, assuring our hearts of His presence in our lives. Not all God spoke to these was promise of good things to come. Sometimes God speaks warning to our hearts and instruction to see us through. You may be saying, “God doesn’t work this way anymore.” Not true. All who believe will and do have many opportunities to stand and see the rainbow hand in hand with God.

I have many rainbows I have stood across from and watched with God through the years, and others I am chasing with Him, watching as they come into view only to disappear from view again, just enough of a glimpse to keep anticipation alive. I wait and watch with earnest expectation of running with God to find the treasure that His promises point me toward. So today we look at past and present rainbow chases in the life of this child of God who feels unworthy to stand in company with such men as these afore mentioned. But for a current view of God’s work today, my own experience is what I have to share. Some of these testimonials you have read of before, but hopefully you will bear with me through the reminder.

Rainbow one: My husband.

Married before, having one daughter and expecting the second when we separated, knowing I did not need to go back into that bad situation again, I cried out to God in despair and fear of being a single parent, possibly being alone for the rest of my life. Falling to sleep, I have a marvelous dream of sitting before a beautiful fire in a fireplace in a house I knew was mine, sipping my coffee, looking up at a painting depicting Christ hanging above the fireplace. At that moment I hear behind me the sound of one I knew was my husband, coming my way as he says goodnight to our kids. Heading into the kitchen for something before joining me, he asks if I need anything. As I say, “I’m fine, thank you,” I awaken, knowing with clarity that the dream was God’s response to my cry. My heart rested in Him, I waited and watched as the days, weeks and months unfolded.

A little over a year later, divorce finalized and now married to a wonderful man who, at that time, was in process of adopting my daughters, making them ours, I sit in front of a fireplace, sipping coffee, and look up to see the very picture that I saw in my dream. Hearing my husband come up the hall saying good night to our daughters, he enters the kitchen. “Hun, you need anything?”

Standing before that rainbow, knowing the presence of my God there with me in that moment, we rejoice together over His faithfulness to bring His promise to pass.

Rainbow two: Disaster warning.

Sitting in my quiet time one morning before my husband got up to prepare for work, God warns my heart that something horrendous is going to happen at Johnny’s workplace that day. As I help him get ready for work, the sense of dread just continues to grow. So I warn him of the issue and ask him to stay home and have our friend he carpooled with to do the same. He assured me he would be watchful, but he had to go to work.

A couple of hours later he calls. A heavy section being lifted into position for attachment to the unit they were building was secured to the boom with what we later learned was a faulty piece of equipment that gave way, dropping its load from its height. Hitting our friend on its way by, it breaks him in half, leaving him a paraplegic. I grieved before the rainbow with the Lord during that season, and we watched as He changed the life of a family, for their good and His glory, though through some very difficult circumstances.

Rainbow three: The cry of the Spirit.

I went through two weeks of sensing the Spirit of God grieving something. Again knowing that something was about to happen, I spent those two weeks telling all who would listen of the Spirit’s grief for some soon to come event. When news came of the Oklahoma city bombing, I was glued to the TV, weeping with the Spirit for days.

Rainbow four: God’s provision.

At a time when our second daughter was about to go to college, needing another vehicle for her to take to college, our son, only months into his driving experience, wrecked our van. Now we needed two vehicles. Crying out to God for His provision of our need, I sense Him telling me that all would be well and to call the prayer chain and have them pray specifically for His provision for the need. That day my husband and son drive up with another car: cost, $10.

My mother-in-law passed away several months before the event. During her illness which required frequent trips to the city for treatments, they bought a smaller vehicle for use around town. However mom, a tall woman, was uncomfortable in the car, so they parked it after only a half dozen uses. When we wound up in need, dad “sold” it to us.

Insurance paid $4500 on the wrecked vehicle. One day while on a date in the city we decided to stop at a lot and just see what they had available. Finding a Taurus that was in good shape but had a lot of miles on it, Johnny offered them $4000 for it, end cost. When the salesman came back from talking with the manager, they agreed on the $4000, but then added the tags, titles, etc. to the cost. Johnny told them no, the $4000 was to be end cost or we could not take it. The salesman said they could not do that. Heading out to the truck, I am surrendering the car, which I liked a lot, to God and again expressing trust for “His provision.” Johnny opens the door for me and as I am climbing in, we here the salesman calling behind us, “Wait. Come back. We accept the offer.” Thus, God’s provision cost us a van, but left us with $500 in our pockets and two cars. The prayer chain and I stood in awe before the rainbow of God’s provision in awe of His hand.

That old Taurus with over 100,000 miles on it kept taking me wherever I needed to go throughout my daughter’s college days and son’s high school years. The little Topaz carried my daughter through college and into her married life. God indeed blessed us.

Rainbow five: The “earthquake like” event.

Again in my quiet time God warned me that our nation would suffer an event—the damage of which would be likened to that of an earthquake that would strike from New York City to Washington DC, setting our nation and indeed, the world, to grief. After two years of God leading me to call people to prayer, well, the towers fell. I have to wonder how much worse it might have been had God not called His people to pray, for God promises that when we seek Him, we will find Him. And when we ask with faith, we will receive. He instructed my heart that the event would not be stopped, for it had purpose, but I am convinced that it could have been so much worse.

Rainbow six: “He will be My son”.

After our son graduated from High School, he decided that he would move off with a friend we barely knew to another city in another state. I was very concerned, as he struggle so through his senior year, leaving home for a time and graduating by the skin of his teeth, as they say. I wanted to hang on to him and keep him close where I could protect him somehow, but knew he was of age and there was really nothing I could do beyond encouraging him to stay nearby for a while until he was better situated. And I was going to more strongly encourage him in that than we already had done, until God very clearly highlighted 2 Samuel 7:14 for me, saying, “I will be his Father, and he will be My son, and when he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of man.” In other words, “Hands off, daughter. He is mine to deal with now.” Sharing that with my husband, we let him go his way.

It was a rough few years, watching him make mistakes that nearly landed him in prison for a time. But God. God was faithful to be his Father, disciplining and training him. During the time it looked like he might have to go to prison, God told me to look at the promise again. There, I discovered the rest of the story in verse 15, where God clearly added, “But My lovingkindness will NEVER leave him.” And it hasn’t. He got probation and has grown to be a responsible young man with children of his own, having met his wife in that place. To me, she is perfect for him, able to deal with his hardheaded ways better than most.

She and I have seen many rainbows come and go with my son, stemming off this promise of God. One I continue to wait for is seeing him grow in the signs of son-ship, bearing the fruit of the Spirit more fully. I know that rainbow will come with time, because God is faithful and He continues to assure my heart, “He will be my son, and I will be his Father….”

Rainbow seven: “I will return.”

A promise we all have and watch for is the returning Christ as King for a thousand years. I know this too is coming and watch for it with earnest expectation and hope-filled anticipation. The more evil grows in the earth, the more my heart cries out, “Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.” But even still I have to add, “Yet not one second before the last one who will respond comes to You.” I do not believe Jesus will return until all who will receive Him as Savior and Lord have been brought into the fold. Thus we continue our work of being His witnesses in the earth to raise up disciples to Christ.

In all of this, as I look at this journey of rainbows before me, I stand in awe as I recognize the treasure I have found. It is there for each of us. What is it?

Absolute assurance in the faithfulness of God, who continually says to us, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU.”

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Come. Chase His rainbows with me. By faith grab hold of your share of the treasure, friend, and press onward and upward with confidence in God.

Chasing Rainbows With DADDY – Part 3: Earnest Expectations

In the Car

Thus far on our journey with Daddy to chase the rainbow, we considered the fact that we must first choose to go on this wonderful journey with Daddy-God, and that comes through trusting in the faithfulness of God. Next we have to get in the car with Him. That is accomplished as we “only believe”: believe we can hear Him and know His voice, discerning what He is telling us; believe with trust that He will lead the way on paths of righteousness that will reach the destiny; believe what He says is truth; and most importantly believe that God is who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do. Today we seek to discover what that belief looks like, beginning by going back to that car in the commercial:

“Do you see it?” daddy yells.

“There it is!” exclaims daughter.

Later, “Where is it?” asks dad.

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

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

The roller coaster ride of anticipation; oh my, what a journey that can be. Riding in the car with Daddy-God on numerous journeys of my own has been wrought full of excitement too often tempered by time of wondering if we will ever reach our destination. And when the ride is long, the journey can include times of distraction and impatience that can lead us to become disinterested in the journey, detached, apathetic. So what are we to do while in the car of destiny to protect ourselves from the malady of apathy? What does God expect from us? Let’s take a look at this little girl in the car, Noah, Moses, and Abraham to discover some of our roll in the journey.

From our little girl in the car, I am reminded of one of my favorite Paulian quotes found in Philippians 1:18-20: “…according to my earnest expectation and hope….”

Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. Even in long waits, when we catch a glimpse of the rainbow, we should be filled anew with earnest expectation and hope that has us yelling with excitement, “Daddy, I see it!” And what does that earnest expectation and sincere, faith-based hope produce?

Noah:

“Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22).

We do not see any sign that Noah questioned God as Moses did. He simply began collecting the wood and tools, drawing up the plans just as God gave them to him, and making the pitch ready.

Another act of obedience and hint of what Noah did during the time of awaiting the flood is seen in the account of events as given by Christ in the Gospels:

“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37-39).

Apparent to me in this account of Christ is that Noah warned the people of the wrath to come, imploring them to repent and turn to righteousness. The hint in this passage to this fact is that the people “did not understand” what they were warned of until it was too late. And who do we think warned them but the one that God told to prepare for it? Surely people asked Noah, “What on earth is this thing you build, and why?” God did not tell him to keep it secret. And I know if it were me, I would certainly be trying to warn other family members and friends to prepare for what was to come. And like Jesus in the parable of the bridegroom’s unwilling guests, when family and friends would not listen, I would tell anyone who would lend me an ear (Matthew 22:1-14).

We also find similar hint to Noah’s warnings in the words of Peter who called Noah the preacher of righteousness (2 Peter 2:5). “Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did” (Genesis 6:22). And so must we, in the car with God as off we go, our rainbows to see.

Moses:

Moses is also an example of obedience, as are all who ride in God’s rainbow seeking auto, though, like all of us, he had his moments of slipping to the flesh. So what can we learn through Moses experience about being in the car on a long journey to a rainbow with God? There is probably a lot more than we will cover here, but I see two things about Moses that is important to our ability to make rainbow runs that avoid apathy.

First is his perseverance. As some have been heard to say, it took Moses and Israel 40 years to make what should have only been a 15 day journey. Why?

“For the Lord had said to Moses, ‘Say to the sons of Israel, “You are an obstinate people; should I go up in your midst for one moment, I would destroy you. Now therefore, put off your ornaments from you, that I may know what I shall do with you”’” (Exodus 33:5).

Standing at the foot of the Mountain of God, waiting for Moses to come down, the people of Israel became impatient and questioned the faithfulness and ability of God to protect and keep Moses for so long, and thus, to protect and keep them; so they sinned against God by making a molten image to bow down to as their god. They failed to stay in the car with God, bailing out when doubt came, and wound up wondering the desert wastelands for 40 years. But God remained faithful though they were not, empowering Moses to lead them during that time, helping him to persevere, though their obstinance and rebellion would often test his patience.

Perseverance in life’s journey is a must if we are to stay in the car with God. Life too often challenges our resolve in this journey. But God will help us to persevere if we keep looking to Him as our resource and encouragement. And that brings us to the second thing I see in Moses that we can learn to incorporate into our journey with God. Continuing in Exodus 33:

“Then Moses said to 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’” (vs. 12-17).

Moses had an awesome, personal, real, vibrant and vital relationship with God that was fed and sustained by his sincerity in his communications with God. He not only grew to trust God, but he relied on Him and expected Him to be the faithful God that God made him to understand He was.

God told Moses from the beginning that His name is “I AM”. That name resounds the faithfulness of God by emphasizing that what we can come to know of Him is who He is, thus His story tells us, “I AM Love”, “I AM Real”, “I AM with you”, “I AM Faithful”. To know God intimately in ways that give us confidence to communicate with Him as Moses and other examples of faith have done will keep us in the car with Him even when the journey is long.

Abraham:

“Now it came about after these things, that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ …” (Genesis 22:1).

Abraham had a promise from God that all the land of the Canaan of his sojourning, as far as he could see, would belong to him and his posterity. But all the life of Abraham was spent as a squatter in the land of promise. Any land he gained was given or sold to him by those who possessed the land in his day. He lived his entire life in waiting, for, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).

Abraham did not sit around and twiddle his thumbs, waiting aimlessly on the sofa of faith. He did not try to force his way into possessing the land. He trusted God’s timing, waiting on God’s instruction, and he possessed a “here am I” attitude that was prompt to respond to God’s call. He lived the life he had to the full with God while awaiting the promise to come. Even when God tested him, telling him to sacrifice his one and only heir of promise, the one through whom Abraham expected the promises of God to be fulfilled, he did not hold anything back from God, but he trusted two things: that God would provide for Himself in His faithfulness, and that God was able to raise up people even from the dead if that was His way of fulfilling the promise (Genesis 22:2-14; Hebrews 11:19).

Because Abraham believed and trusted God with a “here am I” attitude, the promise of God proved faithful to do as Abraham had come to trust He would and His promise was affirmed to him.

“Then the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven, and said, ‘By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice’” (Genesis 22:15-18).

A “here am I” attitude does not sit on faith as the means to an end. Faith is the engine. But there must also be a can do attitude that willingly does what is required.

“But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’ You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,’ and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:18-24).

Inside the car with Daddy-God we find earnest expectation and hope coupled with faith that produces unquestioning, immediate obedience pouring forth from a “Here am I” attitude of readiness that holds nothing back from God and that perseveres the challenges, tests, and extended journey of life. And where does our time in the car with Daddy take us? To the concluding post in this series of study.