Tag Archives: Truth

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 1

Introduction

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions” (Colossians 1:24).

“Lacking in Christ’s afflictions”? The day that statement from Paul caught my attention, I began a quest to understand what it means and how it is that we fill up that which remains to be done. I mean, after all, Jesus on the cross shouted, “It is finished!” In His prayer in John 17, He said to the Father, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (vs. 4).  What is there that remains lacking?

There are several passages that speak of the sufferings or afflictions of Christ, such as Paul’s proclamation in Philippians 3:10-11 talking about his ultimate goal in life being: “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

Considering these words from Paul, we can surmise that fellowship with His sufferings is part of the process that makes us one together with Him. It is part of the recipe that resurrects in us the Life of Image Bearers that God intended we have.

In this study, which looks like it will take a couple of weeks to cover unless God has more to say than I do, we will see what we can discover about the afflictions of Christ, what they are, and how we have fellowship with His sufferings as we walk with understanding in this journey to filling up what is lacking.

Our text for this study will be the book of 1 John, in which I see many thoughts that give us a picture of our responsibilities that accomplish this call of Paul given to us through his example. Like with so much of the teachings found in the word of God, this study will be a good start to our journey of discovering God’s will for us as people called to this fellowship.

I hope you will join me these next two weeks as we look at this subject. The words “afflictions” and “sufferings” I know do not make this an appealing subject, but I believe you will be pleasantly surprised at the things God has shown me as we consider this vital aspect of our walk with Him. Looking forward to getting started, I anticipate seeing you back here tomorrow as we begin to look at 1 John and find that this work of suffering with Christ truly is cause for rejoicing as we see the fruit produced in it.

A “Selah” Wow! Moment

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

~*~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Door Jambs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

Love So Pure: But Forbidden Just the Same – Part 1

The Struggle Revealed

 I have experience of numerous deep, abiding, holy, pure loves in my life. They are equal to each other and beautiful to behold, bringing rejoicing to my heart; but distinctions in relationships make equal expressions of love forbidden, hindered by rite of Law. What do I mean?

This will be a two part article, first looking at our love relationship with and in Christ; then looking at God’s love relationship to us through Christ and the effect that has on our eternal destiny.

So what do I mean and how can love equality be? Aren’t we to love God first and foremost and each relationship falls in a line under that? God’s love flow is the answer. In making the point I am to share with you today, I tell you of three of my love relationships; made equal by the degree of God’s love flowing through me, but unequaled by rite of relationship Law.

My first Love, of greatest importance, though equal to the others because of its source, is for my God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I choose to love Him and be in relationship with Him as my God, but the love, which is my own, is limited by the weakness of my flesh. However, as I choose to love God with my all, keeping Him as first in my life, trying as I may to love Him as He deserves despite this limitation of flesh, God moves in with His supply and I am helped by Him Who fills me with love that goes beyond the bounds of my ability. He, who is Love, couples His supply with my own, making my love for Him pure and full blown for His glory. It wells up in me and I soar to the heights of the knowledge of His presence.  In this way I am equipped by Him to love Him in ways that please and honor Him fully.

My second love is my husband. Now, I have always said that my love for my husband is less than that I have for my God, because I BELIEVED that was as it should be. As far as hierarchal Law goes in determining who I will follow first as Lord, that is true. But lately, as God has grown and blossomed my love for my husband, God has shown me that my love for my man should equal my love for Him, for it too is supplied and made whole and full through our union as one with Him in holy matrimony: our love making us one flesh together through Him, His love for my husband swells in me and the experience of it is equal to what I have when love soars to God.

God is not a jealous God when our love for others is based out of our love for Him. The only jealousy He has is when we turn from Him to others as a type of god. I can love my husband fully, as I love my God, because God pours His love through me. In this way I am capable of loving my husband as God desires and designed me to, and through the purity of God’s love flowing through me, I am protected from sinning against my first love, God.

The purity of God’s love desiring the very best for and toward the object of love, whether God or man, protects my relationship with God as God, keeping me from seeing my husband take God’s rightful place in my life. My love for my husband is kept in right priority and rite of relationship by this love of God that flows through me to him. And I am protected by the full and pure love I have for my husband from sinning against my marriage vows, whatever temptation the enemy may send. Now, if that is clear as mud, let’s throw a third party in the mix.

I love my husband as I love my God, with whole heart that is helped and empowered by His love-flow, desiring to please God in my relationships. And like with my love for my God, my love for my husband, empowered and made strong by my God, is pure love, and I cannot fathom ever sinning against that love. Nonetheless, there is a love in me that has been there and grown strong for many years. It, too, is pure and holy and supplied by God, and when it wells up in me fully, it is equal to my love for my God and my husband. It is different in its expression and intent and purpose from that of my love for my God, but part of that love. And it is different in expression from my love for my husband, but a love made great and soaring strong in me in likeness to my love for my God and my husband because of the source of love’s flow.

This love has a forbidden dimension to it because it is love toward another man, not my husband. By rite of marital Law, though I love this other man of God fully and have enjoyed serving God together with him on many projects for many years now, I cannot act on this love in the same way that I do toward my husband.  Still there is the call of God in me to minister alongside this other man as is proper, just as the women who served at the feet of Jesus, and those who were ministers with Paul and Elijah. Our union of heart desire toward God swells in my heart with the love of God toward him, filling me with love that equals my love for my God and my husband, pure and holy in its intent and sourcing.

Then enters Satan: often Satan will try to distort love, for our experience of love is the closest thing to sitting in the lap of God, who IS love. Satan does not want us to truly know that heart of love where we may come to greater understanding of and stronger relationship with God, so he works to make our experience of love into something it is not meant to be.

Satan often moves in when that love for my Christian Brother soars, using my misunderstanding of God’s love-flow, my fleshly wisdom and that of this world to bring thoughts that make this love seem wrong. When love toward my Brother wells up so strong in me, lies of evil regarding it using the way the world thinks about love, twists the love into something different in my mind, causing me to feel guilty though I have done nothing wrong and have no wrong intent or desire toward him, for I can see no other man for me than my husband.

In that moment of struggle, this love that, if acted upon fully in accord with the temptation of the distortion Satan seeks to work, would be sin against my God, my husband, and this man. When it is full blown in me, Satan working to make it appear ugly, I struggle with guilt and anguish over it, and it hinders my ability to work with peace together in our common desire to fulfill the purpose of God. It has been a confusing journey and a long lessen I am grateful to have lived through, for it has shown me great things about my God who knows and understands our struggle in life, and He allows it for our good, not for harm.

I know this love that swells in me for my Brother is of God because I know the love of my God personally and intimately. God, in His grace, has always helped me to deal with this twisting of satanic ploy, putting my thoughts and my relationship back in the position it belongs, thus equipping me to continue serving God in righteousness alongside this other man. But the twisting of distortion has hindered me from fully living in the love-flow of God toward him for fear of the struggle, and I often pull back from things I feel called to alongside him in order to avoid the struggle.

When I shared the turmoil of heart with my husband, he encouraged me with his understanding of how it can be when people of opposite sex work together and have like desires in the work. He prays for me and helps me with his trust and support. And I have grown to trust this love to God for His protection, so that I may serve as He leads without sin, at the time, not understanding its source because of the hindrance within.

God’s love toward my friend wells up in me unexpectedly and often, calling me to prayer for my friend in Christ who is often in harm’s way in his ministry, helping me to reach out to meet the need of my ministry with him with right heart and priority. But false wisdom and understanding hinders the joy of love’s purity.

I have cried out often for deliverance from these wrong emotions that hit me with this love and for understanding of the struggle demonic thoughts throw into the works; but until now there has been no response from God. Today I share this struggle with you so that I may make clear God’s answer that finally came to my understanding.

Now, before you get all judgmental and close off to the moral of the story, hang with me. Like with Hosea who was led to take a bride of harlotry in order to understand the message God had for Israel, there is a lesson here that God taught me and wants you to hear. And believe me, you are not thinking anything about it that I have not thought during my struggle. You may even be able to relate to it from your own experience. If so, I hope you had God’s help to protect you from sin as well. So, setting the judgment aside to God, now that you have the background, let’s continue to the truth God revealed to me through this situation.

Last night I had a dream that this man came for a visit. When he comes, we open our home to him as Lydia and her family did to Paul. My husband and I love him and we minister to him together in the Lord. And he loves us with a pure love. It is a joy when he comes.

During this visit in my dream, he became very ill and I began to minister to him, doing what I could for him in our home, in the hospital, and after his release. As I did so God’s love welled up in me. Again, that temptation of forbidden love came and I began the struggle anew in my dream, feeling guilty over a love so strong toward one who is not my husband. Crying out to God as I ministered to him, drawn of God to care for him, I am as grieved and confused as ever.

Waking from the dream, that love still overwhelming my heart, I cry out to God as never before, seeking understanding of why He would allow such a struggle to exist in me. Seeking discernment as never before, do you know what God said to my heart?

“For God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVES in Him shall not perish but have everlasting (eternal) life” (John 3:16).

In that instant knowledge of why God allowed me to experience this love from Him was clear to me: God is love! He cannot help but love. And He loves all equally and fully: saved and sinner alike, He shows no partiality in His love. But like with my love for this other man who is not my husband, His love is hindered toward some because it is forbidden by rite of the Law He himself set, limiting Himself toward us so that we can have rite of choice to love Him in return.

God loves all who are in the world, giving His Son for all, but He has set up a law, the law of sin and death, where sin was allowed to enter by His design that we should have choice regarding our personal relationship with Him.

Mankind began with full access to God, but sin entered to separate us from full relationship with Him, working a spiritual death that would set the stage for spiritual birth to new life, where those who receive it will never to be separated from Him again.

God had this plan from the beginning. He developed for Himself a people, out of which He sent a Healing Balm to restore life anew to all who choose to receive it, and that is found in the sacrifice of the Son, the Messiah Christ Jesus.

Blood has long been required as sacrifice for sin, and before Christ there were long lines of people bringing their offerings for sacrifice in order to be seen as pure in God’s eyes. But sin and death reigned in the earth, and very few were allowed to know the presence and reality of God as a result.

God loved all His created beings, wanting so much to have a personal and living relationship with each one, so His plan from the beginning included the Gift of a final offering on our behalf. Therefore, sending Jesus, His Son, who willingly gave His life as a sacrificial Lamb, God provided in likeness to His provision for Abraham on the mountain with Isaac, his son. Through the sacrifice of Jesus, God removed the rite of sin and death to hold us captive, returning to us the right to choose life or death, good or evil, blessing with Him, or curse of living without Him, never to know His love flow. He desires to flow His love to all, but He chooses to honor our decision regarding Him and holds back from forcing Himself on us.

Do you see the flip-flop effect here? Where Adam and Eve had God in all His fullness right there with them and their choice was to remain with him or depart to a life of death, separated from Him by sin; we are birthed to a life without right to God and must choose to be born again in our spirit by receipt of the Sacrifice for sin that restores our relationship with God to its full intent. He then, begins the work of restoring our love relationship with Him to its full capacity, giving Himself fully to us, making us whole, and reviving His likeness in us, including our ability to love as one in Him.

This remedy to the law of sin and death says that all who choose God by accepting the sacrifice of the Son as the work of the Spirit accomplished at the hand and bidding of God will be cleansed and set free forever from the consequence of sin and death; and they who choose life in Christ then receive all of God’s love with all the perks of relationship with Him. With Christ as our covering, God then can pour out His full love on us through the vital relationship He desires to have with every person born to the earth.

God ministers to all, sending the blessing of rain on the just through Christ and the unjust alike: He must by right of the pure love within Him, do what He can for those He loves. But, for those who have not chosen to enter into a marriage relationship with Him through Christ, He cannot give Himself fully to them and sin against His law of sin and death, nullifying His marriage vows to the church, the Bride of Christ; His beloved children through Jesus. Those who are born to the earth are separated from God by the death brought to all mankind that separates them from Him because of sin, and our God of Love struggles in His affections toward them, desiring to give Himself fully to them, but hindered by Law.

Just as by rite of relationship laws, I can only show my love for my friend to a small degree of the full relationship of love I have with my husband, so God is limited by the Law regarding rite of relationship with Him, mankind being separated from experiencing all that He is by sin’s right over them. For those who receive by faith the sacrifice for sin in Jesus, the gap between God and that person is closed, and God again has right and delight in giving all He is and all He has to us for our joy and fulfillment. We are made whole together with Him, made one in the Beloved. Thus the flow of equal love to many in my life is made clear, and the struggle that the flesh, the world and the demonic would work to hinder that love flow and the power it brings to work together in unity is squelched. I am free.

God loves all fully, and through relationship with His Son we experience His full love when we choose Him through believing faith. So what does our choice or lack thereof mean for our eternity? See you tomorrow for the conclusion of this thought…

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

Today we go deep as we begin to close out and conclude these truths we must realize if we are to be His lights, dispelling the darkness. I pray, not me Lord, but You. Only as He flows His Words of understanding through me with clarity can I share what I see in my heart.

In closing our study, we turn to 1 Peter 2:4-10; today covering through verse eight. I want to encourage you who walk in this present age with me, surrounded by darkness and often discouraged by it and brought to depression. We must remember who we are in the Lord if we are to overcome and persevere. We must be His body together if we are to see the darkness dispelled in our land and His hand moving to bless us anew.

Breaking our passage down into areas of thought:

“And coming to Him as to a Living Stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ …” (vs. 4-6).

Drawn to this passage, I asked God to instruct me in this thought of us being living stones. The first thought He brought to heart before building on it is:

Living stones of proclamation and announcement

“I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!” (Luke 19:28-44).

We are the living stones of God who cry out, proclaiming and announcing that the Messiah has come. He is King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling the Kingdom of God now in our hearts, soon to return to rule in the earth.

Living stones birthed to Abraham

“Do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham” (Matthew 3:9).

We are living stones, birthed through Christ into the household of Abraham: his children by a birthing through Christ that adopts us to God. No longer gentiles in sin, we are brought into the covenant of Israel, circumcised of heart, consecrated to God.

Living stones holding His commandments

“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “ I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33).

“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Corinthians 3:1-3).

The first tablet of the Law was written on stone. The new tablet of the Law is written in the heart of true believers in Christ who seek His face and receive His word implanted.

Living stones in the Master Carver’s hands

“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).

In the Master Carver’s hands, we are being remade into His image, from one degree of His glory to the next, restored to His intended plan and purpose.

Now, just real quick here, let’s touch on this “predestined” thing. Who did God foreknow? All. God knows all things; He is not bound by time as we are, but sees the beginning from the end; and He foreknew each person who would ever be born. Who did He predestine? All are predestined by His desire and design to be His. And all actually are His if we get right down to it, because each person’s eternal destination is set by His judgment which is already passed through His Word. Those who walk with Him, having received His gift of freedom from the bonds of sin and death have eternity with Him; those who do not…. It is already judged and sentence set. It is our choice which way we go.

Jesus is the way to God, making us priests to God with Him; He is the truth of God, His Word Incarnate, explaining the Father and His ways perfectly and removing all hypocrisy; and He is the LIFE. When death came, separating mankind from God, the breath of Life in God left. Jesus restores that breath as seen in John 20:22.

So whom did He call? He calls to all, for it is His desire that NONE perish, but ALL come to repentance, and Jesus was sacrificed by God so that ALL may be saved. But not all hear so as to accept the call, and not all choose Him, refusing to believe that Jesus is the Christ, come first to pay the price and defeat sin and death before one day returning as King to rule God’s Kingdom. God’s word says we have the choice with good or evil, life or death, blessing or curse at every crossroad, and God cannot lie. To believe in predestination, which removes all choice, is to deem God a liar and the whole of scripture false.

So all are called, but not all respond to the call given through Christ to receive God’s gift of grace in Him. Those who do answer the call are justified through Christ, instantly perfected in the eternal realm, proclaimed set free of sin and death in Christ, and destined for eternity with God, living forever with Him in His Kingdom. These also are continually being perfected from one degree of glory to the next through the finished work of Christ’s redeeming blood as God carves us into His image, purifying us in the flesh and making us whole.

Living stones of memorial and remembrance

“So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe; and Joshua said to them, “Cross again to the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Israel. Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever” (Joshua 4:4-7. See also passages like Genesis 31:43-55 and Joshua 22, esp. vs. 26)

We are being built together by God to be a memorial of His story and to bear witness, bringing all to remembrance of God and His ways. We are to so know Him that though evil enemies burn all our Bibles, the story of God and His will for and ways toward mankind will continue in us.

Living stones for honor, commitment and consecration

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21)

“To love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33).

“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).

Because of Christ being the final and complete sacrificial Lamb of God, paying the full price to purchase back His creation, freeing us from sin and death, there is no longer need of blood sacrifice on an altar of stone. Jesus purchased rights to our lives, thus our lives, our bodies become the altar on and in which all sacrifice is achieved. As priests unto God with Christ, we bring the sacrifice of repentance, praise and adoration. As workers with Him, we give the sacrifice of consecration and sanctification in our bodies, committing our all to Him. Our lives—our bodies are a place of sacrifice to God, as we daily take up our cross of self-denial to follow Jesus.

Finally, for now, continuing todays focal passage:

Living stones of stumbling and offense

“This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,’ and, ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. …” (vs. 7-8).

Peter was “Petrose”: a piece of The Rock. Jesus is “Petra”: THE ROCK. Together, through unity in Christ with Peter, we become a piece of the rock of Christ—a truth we will go deeper into in my next series already in the works.

When people turn against us because of our belief in Christ, they truly turn against Christ, thus stumbling over the Stumbling Stone. When people are offended by our righteous stance in Him, they run into the Stone of Offence in Christ. So rest, precious ones, when people come against you because of your faith and faithfulness to God; it is not you they oppose but all He is and stands for, His living in you that they deny.

We are living stones in Christ, set in places where we are to proclaim and announce Him through our lives. We are living stones, birthed through relationship with Christ as children of Abraham, adopted into the family of God. We are living stones, making His commandments known in the earth. We are living stones in the Master Carver’s hands, being renewed and restored to His image as originally intended. We are living stones of memorial and remembrance, telling His story to all who will hear and bearing testimony of His presence in our lives, calling all to remembrance of His truths and His covenant promise. We are living stones, given to the purpose of committing our lives as sacrifice, consecrated in service to and with Him through Christ. And as we live in agreement with Christ, we are living stones with Him, bringing stumbling and offence to a world that is contrary to God.

Okay, people. God apparently had more to say than I did. My plan to finish up today continues into tomorrow as we run to the finish line.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:7-8).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomorrow our concluding thought.

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

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

Yesterday we covered the first of three truths about the Lord that give example to us and resource that will brighten the light through us to dispel the darkness of evil around us. That truth covered is “The Lord laughs at the wicked, for He sees his day is coming.” We discovered that the wicked one that God laughs at is not the man or woman or child deceived by sin, but the evil spirit behind it. We, too, can find laughter when evil strikes, knowing that their day is coming. Today we cover in this passage the last two truths about God that we need to adopt in brightening our reflections of His light in dark places.

Two – “The Lord sustains the righteous.”

My first thought as I read this focus for today is that the Lord provides sustenance, meeting the need of those who walk in righteousness and right standing with Him. And that is true; the Lord blesses those who seek to please Him through righteous living. It can also be concerning to us when we consider the frequency with which we fall on our faces, hurled headlong by some sin that too easily entangles us. If it is true that God sustains the righteous, knowing that His sustenance continues through grace even when we fall on a daily basis, then there must be some deeper truth to be had here, right?

We are a people called to righteousness, yet still, I know of none who are without sin, even among us called “saints” through Christ. As we said before, our greatest good is as filthy rags before our Holy God, because apart from Him, we are incapable of doing good, thus true righteousness that honors God eludes our grasp as we traverse daily the path to righteousness found in His transforming grace at work in us.

Transformation can take place immediately in our lives, and I know some in whom that has happened, but it more often is a process over a lifetime, and too often we can find ourselves falling back into old ways when we least expect it. Paul, speaking of the people of the true circumcision in Christ, says:

“And why not say (as we are slanderously reported and as some claim that we say), ‘Let us do evil that good may come’? Their condemnation is just. What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one’” (Romans 3:8-12).

We are told in John 15 that we can do NOTHING apart from Christ. That includes the practice of our righteousness. We are completely dependent upon the work of God in us through the sacrificial gift of Christ. Our light shines brightest in the earth when we stand in the light of His righteousness reflecting through our lives.

I love the exclamation of Paul as he debates his own struggle with sin found in Romans 7:14-25. Proclaiming his desire, Paul cries out, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do(in following the Spirit of God), but I am doing the very thing I hate (following the dictates of the flesh)” (thoughts added by author). Desire to do right in God’s eyes is often hindered by fleshly indulgences.

I struggle with this as did Paul, and as I am sure do you in some area of life. Right now I am coming against an addictive level sweet tooth, fighting for my freedom from that bondage. Things go well most days, then, wham! That tooth will flare up and, if I am not mindful to heed the Spirit’s lead in dealing with it, the next thing I know I am hurling headlong into a sweets-frenzy. In those times, like Paul, I cry, “O unhappy and pitiable and wretched (wo)man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? (AMP)” Then God leads me to remember with him, “O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!”

Concluding His discourse, Paul interjects, “So then indeed I, of myself with the mind and heart, serve the Law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” We are free from the eternal grasp of sin’s death through Christ, and as we stand firm with Him in this life we are able to walk away from it. But we must continually be mindful of the flesh and, taking care to lay aside every encumbrance, we must stand firm against the sin which so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1).

What is God’s instruction to us when we are hurled headlong into a stumbling fall to sin? We, who are in Christ, are free from condemnation, knowing that through Christ, “When (we) fall, we will not be hurled headlong, because the LORD is the One who holds (our) hand” (Psalm 37:24). Our God promises that He is able to make His servant stand (Romans 14:4). We are a work in progress, yes; “continually being perfected,” and during this process and all through eternity, the righteousness of Christ is imputed or credited to us, covering us even while He works transformation in us (Philippians 1:6; Romans 3:21-26, 4:5; 1 Corinthians 1:30). When God looks at us, He sees the Righteousness of Christ all over us.

Realizing these truths will keep us from falling away in discouragement when stumbling comes to make us feel unworthy. We are unworthy: apart from Christ. So just get that settled now, and praise God for sustaining our righteousness through the gift of grace He provided through the sacrificial gift of God found the in Lamb who hung on the cross.

Three – The Lord knows the days of the blameless and their inheritance will be forever:

God knows the days of the wicked and laughs with joy that evil will be put away from influencing His creation on that day. And I believe He smiles with satisfaction over all who enter into His rest through their relationship with Him in Christ, God’s provision for our sanctification. Those who are in Christ, saints—yea, though they occasionally fall to sin—are covered with His blood sacrifice for all eternity.

Remember the “O thank God,” of Paul as he considered the struggle in his flesh even as strong as he was in Christ? The next verse in Romans 8:1, Paul resounds, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And for those who remain in Christ, this remains their truth forever, their inheritance with Christ assured.

So does that mean we can profess faith in Christ and carry on our lives as always? Remember what we covered earlier, the truth of our faith will be seen in the transformation of our lives that bears the fruit of the Spirit of God into the earth.

As many have been heard to say, “God loves us where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us there.” If there is no change in our lives, no work of the Spirit through transformation, then there most likely was no sincere commitment to God through Christ. One sign that we are His is the hand of His discipline in our lives, working transformation in our person.

“…It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers to discipline us, and we respected them; shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of spirits, and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. …” (Hebrews 12).

True children of God through Christ are children forever, their eternity and their inheritance secure. There is no one, not even we ourselves, who can take us out of the hand of God and remove His love from us when we are in sincere relationship with Him through Christ. To think that every time we stumble as we struggle with sin, we somehow fall anew into condemnation and must be saved again, is to deny the power of God through the finished work of Christ. It is to think the words of Jesus a lie as He breathed His last and said, “It is finished!” Death and sin were defeated at the cross for all who will believe and enter into this vital, life changing, transforming relationship with Him.

So laugh with God in knowing the day is nearing when wickedness can no longer influence our lives; smile with Him in knowing that He sustains our righteous stance in Christ; and bow to Him as a son, rejoicing that He cares for you to much to leave you in the condition in which He found you. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. any ability or power, whether acquired or inherent

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

3. a conferred power or right

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

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

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

BE PARHELIA

Walk as Children of Light

Parhelia DiamondsLike a sun dog, shining bright to make the sun’s presence known,

so the children of God shine.

 Have you ever seen a sun dog, or a picture of one?  I have seen them but didn’t know what they were called until my husband sent me some excellent pictures of the phenomenon.  Here are two he sent that are just spectacular, each speaking volumes to my heart. 

In the first I see the brilliance of God shining forth in the center of the darkness.  His rays radiate out to us on either side through Jesus Christ and the power of the Spirit of God, and through us to the world that cannot see because of the darkness. 

In the second, the sun cannot be seen well because of the clouds.  The spots radiating out on either side of the sun are what is trulyParhelia - Clouded visible and bright.  In this photo, I see the Son, hidden from the world by clouds of doubt, discouragement, disillusionment, falsehood, and everything else that keeps one from recognizing the truth of God in this life.  The only sense that the unbelieving, wayward and discouraged get of Who God is and how He works is through the spotlights shining bright from the reflection of the Son.  That would be those of us, His children, who know His presence and trust His hand, even in the times of darkness and storm-tossed, clouded days.

The Greek word for Sun Dog is Perihelia. The truly interesting lesson to be learned is found in the science behind the making of Parhelia. We see the Parhelia phenomenon when there are ice crystals in the air. The sunlight hits the ice crystals, reflecting out from them to form the spots. The brighter spots are formed as the light from the sun reflects off a crystal, which then reflects those rays out to reflect off of the crystals around it, which reflect out to others. It is the reflection of the sun bouncing off the crystals to touch one another that makes the brilliance of the spots.

Scripture says of Jesus, “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:4-5).  Jesus says of Himself, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (John8:12).  He says of us, His disciples, “You are the light of the world.  …Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew5:14-16).  In Ephesians 5 we are told that we, the light of God in the world, are not to be partakers in the things of this world, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to God” (verses 7-10).  This is our calling and equipping as lights in the world. We are to be Perhelia, following close to the Son, filled with and shining forth His light, so that all may see Him and glorify God.  

So tell me, how does your lamp light glow?  “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7).  Walk as children of light.

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

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

Continuing as we consider our passage in Colossians 3:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

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

Thus far we have discovered that the mind of Christ in us is revealed through us as we grow in our humble estate before our Holy God, bowing to Him alone as God. We recognize Christ-mindfulness within when we set our minds and keep them set on the Father’s interests, tending to His business. This in place, we are equipped to maintain focus and abide in His Kingdom as good citizens while living in the earth, accomplishing the work and purpose of God for such a time as this. Today we press on to look at Colossians 3:3:

“For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God” (AMP).

The mind of Christ in us constantly reminds us that we are a new creation in Christ as, entering into His death with Him, we are raised with Him to new life, born again into the image of God in Christlikeness.

Our experience in the earth will often lie to us about our reality where our eternal being is concerned, as our old flesh, the world view, and demonic whisperings try to keep us bound in our old ways. But Christ sets us free indeed, free from the sin and death that resides in the old flesh. Our realizing our new estate with ever increasing understanding equips us to walk as new creations of God in Christ Jesus.

The fall of our first ancestors brought us into slavery to sin and death and distorted our originally intended image: the image of God in us. That distortion began with introducing a worldly, self-centered, demon-generated thought process that was passed down from generation to generation.

Two lies Satan loves to tell to keep us in ungodly frame of mind is “I can know what God knows.” Failing to seek God’s input, we make our own decisions without consideration of His ways. And, “I can be God / like God,” as in being ruler of my own world in need of no other. We see all sorts of philosophies in the earth that stem from this lie: everything from “there is no God,” making me ruler of my life and destiny, to thoughts of “I am good enough to be god” denying our need of Him to generate goodness and produce the fruit of His likeness within. They are all out there. But God warns that no other can have His place; no other can steel away His glory. We cannot truly accomplish life and goodness without Him.

Thus we discern the importance of growing our surrender to following the dictates of the mind of Christ in us, having our minds restored to right and true thinking. Relationship with Christ and having His mindset restores us to God’s intended image for us, an image in which we do find His likeness in us and we do have His knowledge available to us, but God is God, and we, His children through Christ, victorious through the eternal ages by the grace He supplies.

With the mind of Christ directing our thoughts, we will follow the instruction of our passage in Colossians 3, verses 5-11, considering “the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”

Note the picture painted for us here: 1) immorality—the distortion of godliness, the destruction of God’s goodness in us, bringing us into slavery to sin; 2) impurity—failure to be sanctified to God as God, we give ourselves over to diverse evil; 3) passion (ungodly passion)—those things that grab our love and desire away from God, robbing Him of His rightful place in our lives and robbing us of knowing Him; 4) evil desire—those things that link us with the heart of the satanic and bring us to continue as if still slave to sin and death; and 5) greed—covetousness and the pursuit of earthly things out of an unhealthy desire for prestige, power, things, money, etc., replacing our desire for God in all His fullness. All these are “idolatry”. They put the things of the world and the flesh in a place in our lives that belong to God alone.

Christ brought these to death in us so that life may come to us. His Spirit works continually, renewing in us 1) morality—the image of God-generated goodness renewed in us through Christlikeness; 2) purity—sanctified living in Christ-led surrender to God as God-alone; 3) God-generated passion—for God and the things that God is passionate about; 4) godliness—being one who has a heart after God’s own heart, filled with His goodness and good desire; and 5) surrendered contentment—knowing that God meets our needs fully and completely, granting sufficient for life and for every good deed and surplus to help others in any need. As we surrender all we have to Him for His use, we find contentment in whatever circumstance we are in, knowing God has a purpose, a plan, and a provision.

“… It is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside….”

Next posting we continue through verses 5-11 to look at the New Creation of God’s likeness in us. Understanding and discerning this new creation that we are in Christ is vital for our victorious life, as scripture teaches that the fruit born out of our lives through His Spirit is the proof of our true and sincere relationship with Him, for His fruit cannot be counterfeited. Though there are look-alikes out there, with close examination, the false will be revealed and the true will stand:

“…So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. …So then, you will know them by their fruits. …depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:15-23).

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

“…For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. …” (2 Peter 1:1-12).

“O unhappy and pitiable and wretched man that I am! Who will release and deliver me from [the shackles of] this body of death? O thank God! [He will!] through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One) our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25, AMP).

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

In our last excerpt of this study we looked at the humility of Christ that comes to us through the mind of Christ. Today we continue looking at this vital aspect of walking in the dictates of His mindset as we consider the first half of our scripture passage.

Philippians 2:1-8

 “Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. …” (vs. 1-4, NASB)

You know, I think the thought of humbling ourselves too often frightens us because we do not truly understand the heart of humility. Humility is linked with meekness and many mistakenly believe that to be humble and meek of spirit is to be a rug under the feet of those who would take advantage of our humble estate. This is so far from the truth of what I perceive it means to be humble and who it is we humble ourselves to.

Jesus never bowed to the wishes and whims of man. He always did as He perceived the Father doing. His obedience was always to God first. He only did what God instructed Him was in God’s will for Him. Therefore, as a mob tried to throw him off a cliff, he walked away because it was not yet His time to die and it was not the way in which death would come to Him. When His brother’s tried to goad Him into going into the city and revealing Himself, He stood in the will and authority of God to refuse their demands. When those came, mistakenly believing that Messiah would come to rule and deliver them physically as king before first delivering them spiritually as the Blessed and Beloved Lamb of God, He did not allow them to crown Him knowing God had a bigger plan in heart.

Also, when He saw men doing evil against God’s will and way, He took a stand against them as God instructed His heart to stand. He stood against the false teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. He did not cower under them or give Himself to their wishes.

And then there is the episode in the Temple. With whip in hand, He overturned the tables of the money changers and ran those selling livestock and other goods for use in sacrifice out of the temple, because they were defiling the purpose of the temple, which was to be a house of prayer.

There is a verse where Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek (Matthew 5:39. See also Isaiah 50:6-7). People too often think that we should back down in a fight. Do you think Jesus backed down in that day when He cast the seller of goods out of the temple court? Do you think that no one of those selling their goods tried to stop Him? Who or what do you think He used that whip on? The cattle alone? Or do you think a few men left the temple with whelps on their person as He stood firm despite their fists flying?

Scripture teaches us to stand firm in the things we know to be God’s will and way; to stand firm in godly righteousness. I have come to understand that turn the other cheek means to stand ones ground in the authority God gives us to stand, even if it means we will be hit again.

The humility and meekness God desires is rug to no man. It is surrender to the authority of God in and over us. That surrender often puts us under the authority of others, but only as far as is God’s will and as is in agreement with God’s way.

Yes, there are some in life who are given authority over us. Giving self to God’s authority in those instances is to bow to the authority of those who are in authority at His ordination for the purpose of harmony and peace—the boss at work, our mates, the governing authorities, etc. But never do we bow to any authority that tries to force us to come out from under the authority of God over us. God and His way is our check and balance. He has first rule and right in our lives, and our surrender is always to Him above all. The mind of Christ humbles itself to God first, and then to others as God leads.

That said, we are to pay our taxes, because God ordains through the example of Christ that we give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is His. We are not to kill abortionists because God tells us “Thou shalt not kill,” and Jesus did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, showing us the way to live and providing a righteous sacrifice for sin. We are not to burn down their clinics, because God tells us to obey the laws of the land which are in place at His ordination in raising up one leader over another and setting the laws by which good is rewarded and evil is condemned.

How do we then, stand against laws that fail to surrender to God’s Law? By our being faithful to vote the heart of God: doing all we can to vote into office godly leaders and laws that agree with His ways; and by teaching and promoting truth in raising up those godly leaders.

God gives to every person of mankind the right of choice. It is the choice of the individual to decide whether they will obey God, or walk in the will of the flesh.

By making sure each person has full understanding of the choices before them and the consequences their decision will bring according to God’s viewpoint, we give them the knowledge needed to make their decision. By praying for their wisdom and ability to bow self to the authority of God and take up His authority in doing His will, we help them make a better choice. Do this sufficiently, and we remove the need of the abortionist and their clinics. By letting the abortionist live, we give him opportunity to see the light and enter into the gates of God’s paths for life, knowing that God desires that none should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Humility bows to God, always. It is through bowing first to Him that we are equipped to meet the needs of those around us, knowing when to put them before our own need and desires. Humility stands on God’s Right, not my perceived rights. Humility has His purpose in heart for every person we deal with and every decision we make. Humility stands firm on His truth and denies the will of any flesh, whether my own or that of others over me.

Thus we begin our journey to discover the mind of Christ in us. Wow. What a beginning this has been for me. I hope it has blessed your heart as well. Our next excerpt will move on to discover other passages that reveal the mind of Christ to us.

(Passages referenced in this excerpt: Luke 4; John 7:1-13; John 6:15; Matthew 23, Mark 12:13; Matthew 21; Matthew 22:15-22; Exodus 20; Matthew 5:17; Romans 13:1-8; Deuteronomy 30:15-20; 2 Peter 3:9.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

~*~

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

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

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

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 3 – Understand with Discernment

Yesterday we looked at the need to know. Yes, we need knowledge of not only what the disease process is doing in us, but how it affects us on a personal level. And we need to recognize the resources available to us in dealing with the issues brought to life by the ailments that attack us. But mere knowledge alone is of little use unless it is coupled with wisdom from God to understand with discernment how to use the knowledge gleaned to our benefit in setting up boundaries that put us in control of the diseases ability to intrude in our lives. As I consider the things I know from my experience, I have come to understand with discernment some key truths that I must put into practice on a daily basis.

~*~

“I am me” sings to my heart. God only made one me. Understanding that “I” am “me” – the only “me” that “I” am, and I am not exactly like anyone else, is vital to my ability to discern my struggle and the resources I have for dealing with it. My disease experience may be common to man, but it is affected and made my own experience by the person I am.

I need to realize that the way fibro works and affects me is individual to me, because I am not like everyone else. My ability to cope with the pain and fatigue is different from others I know. My pain level is not the same as that of others on any given day as the effects of the pain on me are directly linked to my personal ability to cope with the pain. The causes of my symptoms may differ and my ability to deal with the source of my struggle is limited by my resources at hand, my ability to recognize my resources, and my faithfulness to practice the use of the supply available to me. Therefore I must understand myself and discern my own strengths and weaknesses, along with the resources available to me for fighting the good fight against my enemy.

That enemy recognizes these things about me and will attack me, forcing me to surrender my territory. I must know my enemy and myself, and with that understanding, discern my own resources and my best way of fighting my enemy. Though I can learn things from others, encourage and be encouraged by them, I have to know how my enemy works against me personally and realize my actions and reactions that give fibro its place in my life. Then I have to do the things that fit me and my life best, flowing out of my personal strengths and considering my personal weaknesses, in taking back the land the enemy stole. Then…

~*~

Discerning My Limitations I must set the boundaries

There are true limitations that come with living with fibro. I need to consider what those are, how they affect me, and what I need to do to take control of this life God gave me to possess in dealing with and living to the full while being mindful of the limits. Not limits set by the fibro, but those set by me in addressing and overcoming those dictated by fibro out of control.

For example, I know that too much stress will flare me, so where I can control the stress in life, I need to do that. And in areas where I have no control over the stress life brings, I must lean on the supply of my God. God revealed that to me more clearly this weekend as we wound up with three major events planned within a 2.5 day span.

I was in full blown flare because of that medication I told you about, taken for a sinus infection. Since discovering that steroids remove the inflammation in the body for a time, but once the regimen is finished, the inflammation builds back fast and fibro jumps into high gear, I now realize the need to make sure we do not needlessly plan things around the time of their use. I will also share this issue with my doctor and seek to find other means to deal with my sinus issues. But should I have to take a steroid again, this is a fact about my enemy-disease that I must remember and a plan I must put into action.

As the day of cement pouring grew closer with the planned feeding of the friend who helped and his wife, as a thanks for helping that evening, I really started to stress that the house was a mess and I was not able to do anything about it in the two days before the start of those events. That mounting stress over the house was robbing needful rest and making the symptoms worse.

Then, as I shared earlier, God reminded me of Martha, always wanting to do more than was needful, in my case, so as to not be embarrassed when guests come in our mess. He reminded me that she was going all out to impress and honor Jesus, when all He wanted was a simple meal and Martha’s company. With that reminder, cleaning the house took back seat to me feeling good enough to cook the meal for our guests and enjoy their company, and hopefully they, mine.

Now today, as I write this, the cement is pouring and I have the meat in the cooker, I am feeling better. I got several things done for the meal yesterday evening—my only focus for that day of pain, and the rest of the meal will come together with peaceful ease. Meanwhile, feeling better, I will do a few things in the main part of the house, but the rest of it can wait, and I will not worry with the floors at all.

My husband usually pushes the vacuum, which is hard for me to do as it does not “propel” well, so rather than tire out and flare from tired, I will leave the floors as they are. No longer stressing over the house, but resting in the here a little, there a little, trusting that by God’s grace, the house will be pleasant and peaceful, though not perfect in my scale of measure, is a limitation I set for myself to control the fibro. And that is okay.

God’s enemy uses health issues to stop the flow of God to and through us. We can cooperate with God’s enemy by failing to set limits on self that help our health and allowing the diseases that attack our body to dictate and define our lives, or we can learn how to set our own boundaries, getting control over our health issues. It is our choice. I choose limits of God’s design for a life of God’s abundance. And those limits come to us through His wisdom that equips us to discern and understand how to live in the power of His supply.

Defined by My Diagnosis? NOT! – Part 2 – Know…

The first thing I realize as I consider learning how to NOT be defined by my diagnoses is that there is always a need for knowledge. There are things I need to know about my challenge before I can know how to deal with it. But with knowledge there must also be the attaining of wisdom for proper use of the knowing.

Over and over scripture teaches the foolishness of going into a battle without first counting the cost. That means we have to know the enemy: their strengths, weaknesses, resources, tactics, mindset, etc. Then we have to know truth about self: my strengths, weaknesses, resources, abilities, mindset, etc.

What I am seeing in associating with those who struggle with Fibro, Chronic Fatigue, and other such things is those who look too closely at their enemy without also considering their own resources and ability to stand against that enemy are the ones who fall to it.  But we are not without our own resources and abilities. We have it within us to stand and persevere against any assault. And this is especially true for those who face their enemies knowing God as their greatest ally.

So what is it that we need to know in order to prepare for and win the battle over difficulty and disease that seeks to dictate and define us and our lives?

~*~

Know the enemy:

Fibro is not my friend. It hurts my body and hinders my life when it has control. So I need to recognize its presence, what flares it, what holds it back, and learn to control my enemy’s influence in my life. What is this thing that is trying to define my life and my ability to live? – Not so much the science “what” but the personal experiential “what”?

Yes, I do need to know the disease process, learning what it is and how it works to do what it does in me so that I can better understand and recognize its influence and, from that understanding, discern my counter to that way of attack—and more than just to counter it, I want to control it.

For example, pain is a tactic of my enemy, Fibro. What causes me to experience pain that I can control? I know that there are dietary issues that cause inflammation in my body, bringing on the pain. Thus I discern the importance of my setting a boundary in my way of eating that will protect me against that attack.

The same is true with the exhaustion that comes with Fibro. I get extremely tired all over, every pore of my body feeling like limp, wilted lettuce looks. In this year of dealing with this symptom that tries to define me as “I am tired”, I have learned that rest is my resource. I do best when I let myself sleep in the morning until I wake on my own. Trying to set an alarm and make myself get up makes me vulnerable to my enemy. Realizing when I am getting tired, being watchful against my enemy trying to sneak up on me is vital as well, giving myself permission to rest and, yes, even nap.

Then there is mindset and planning: this past week I have learned the importance of these resources in my arsenal of defense. We were preparing for company, so I planned to do little things each day to get the house in good order, getting things ready a little at a time so as to protect from being tired when they came. But the doctor put me on a steroid for a sinus infection, which also helps with body inflammation while on it. When the course of medication was finished, the inflammation returned with a vengeance and I found myself thrown into a full blown Fibro flare. That is when I learned that not only is it important to plan ahead, but sometimes those plans have to be to rest and let my body heal so I will be able to function for the upcoming event. And that necessity led to me realizing the importance of my mindset.

You see stress is a trigger pulled by my enemy to set me into a Fibro flare. Stressing over the fact that I was flared from the medicine leaving my system and that flare was keeping me from being able to get the house in order was only making the flare worse. So I had to rest my mindset and decide the condition of the house was unimportant. The people coming into our home would understand the house being dusty. They would not want me making myself sick by trying to make everything perfect for them.

It is the Martha syndrome that the enemy was throwing at me and my resource for countering was to choose to be a Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, enjoying His presence. Thus God helped me to get the important things done while continuing to rest, the house was in good enough order, the meal was great, our home was peaceful, and we had a marvelous visit with our friends.

Which leads to another thing I have learned about dealing with my enemy: I must…

~*~

Know the truth –

What are lies about the disease that I am catering to? Lies about myself and my ability to cope? What is the truth of the matter? And how do I live in truth?

One lie I fall too often too is that I need to sit a lot so as to not push myself through activity into a fibro flare. That is not true. I need activity to keep the pain under control, but I also need to control the type and amount. When I sit too much, then I do hurt, so when I get up to do something, I don’t feel good. That leads to letting it go until I feel better, which leads to pile up. Then when we do decide to have someone over or do something where I want the house in order, the race is on, perfectionism kicks in, and I over-do it to the point of feeling horrible for the event that led to the clean. Truth is that movement is good for me, I feel better once I am up and moving for awhile, and it is a whole lot easier to keep up here a little, there a little, than to have to catch up all at once.

I keep hearing in my Spirit that “Fibro is a lie!” What God is impressing on me is that fibro is a symptom of an underlying problem, not the problem. The true problem for me is the inflammation and inflammation is made worse by a poor diet and by inactivity, by undue stress and needless fretting. Thus I am learning the necessity of knowing my enemy and knowing the truth of the matter so that I can do the things to put up a guard against attack and that put me in better control of my life experience.

Knowing my subversive enemy, inflammation, and dealing with it gives me victory over the disease of Fibromyalgia so I can live a life defined by the wisdom God gives in the battle, while waiting with hope in Him for healing in my body.

Strength And Beauty Are In His Sanctuary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Call

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

The Call

Written by Brother Steve

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But GOD!

But GOD!!!!!!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YAH bless Y’all!!!!!!!!

Brother Steve

Kora Elohim Israel

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

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

GOD bless you!!!!!!!!

me

You Busy Yourself With My Every Step

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leaving Our Baals Behind

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

Leaving Our Baals Behind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Strength of His Might

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Grandkids, Part 5

Principle 4, the B – “Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).

This scripture does not mean that we are to look at one person as better than another, being judgmental; nor are we to have an attitude of, “I” am better than “them” so “I” won’t run with “them”. Then what does it mean?

It means that those who practice good morals and try to be good people, when in the company of those with a lesser moral code, can easily be corrupted. We all are corruptible. We never get so good on this side of eternity that we are free from the grip of temptation to do wrong. Running with people who do not have the same moral stance that we desire to walk in puts us into a position where we can, and too often will fall from our commitment to a moral purity in line with God’s will and way for us.

On the same line, giving our eyes and ears to things of lower moral excellence than we want to have can and will lead us to corruption. I don’t know a kid who ever said, “I want to be addicted to porn and a pervert when I grow up.” Or “I want to be a drug addict when I grow up.” Etc. But too often we run with people who are in such things and wind up trapped with them.

Even good friends who are normally good people can take us to places and to do things that are bad, making them in that moment to be bad company. Your job then is to set the standard for yourself and be a leader among your peers, helping others to come up higher as human beings of good character. We are to set our own minds and keep them set on the good paths of God, following His will and way (Colossians 3). By setting a good example and encouraging your friend to leave a bad environment, you protect yourself and them from corruption.

When finding yourself in a bad situation, decide now to have the courage and character to leave that place. If a friend is there with you, encourage them to leave too. If they will not leave with you, you leave, and if they are in danger of corruption, love dictates that you have courage enough to call for help in protecting them. If your friend is in a place that will be dangerous for them mentally, physically or morally, you need to be friend enough to tell someone who can help you draw them out of harm’s way.

Always make sure that you have a way to call your parents or another friend or family member who can come to get you.

Such situations as winding up in less than desirable surroundings and having to call parents to rescue you is one of those times when parents, afraid for your life and future, may overreact and punish you for going to such a place. Principle 1, 2 and 3 all come into play here in helping you to accept the consequence of letting yourself be led to a place of potential harm. Remember you are Keeping God First by Loving and Honoring your Parents, who also desire that you Know Who You Are And Who You Want To Be. God and your parents desire you to do those things that will help you reach your highest goals in life. Your parents actions are dictated by that desire. It is better to call your parents to help you out of a bad situation and potentially have to face a just or even unjust punishment than to stay where you are in the midst of bad company, setting a bad example for your friends, and potentially suffering harm for it.

Am I telling you never to have friends who are not Christian? No, not necessarily. What I am saying is that in any friendship, you need to always be the your own leader making choices best for you, and hopefully drawing others to the good things in life. Being the unwitting follower who falls into the pits of life with them is being a person who cannot take credit for their own bad choices, laying blame on others.

If you cannot have courage enough to say, “I will not do that. It puts me in danger of corruption, so how can I do that with you and sin against God” (Genesis 39:9), then you do not need to run with those who follow a wayward path in a life without moral commitment.

For this Reason

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Under Compulsion

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.’” (Exodus 6:1)

I see here the Fatherly example of dealing with the strong willed personality: make life in the things they insist upon so uncomfortable for them that they have a change of heart that changes their path.

The strong-willed child gets stuck on what they want to the point that they cannot see beyond that to care about those around them and the needful things of life. They have to be shown the err of their understanding in ways that tame the child without breaking the spirit. God has a purpose in this life for those strong of will, but they have to be trained to recognize the True God and surrender their will to His. If we as parents fail to train them as a child, God will do it when they grow up. We may think it is difficult to discipline the strong-willed child and give ourselves to the ease of giving in to them, but wait until we have to watch them under the hand of God. That can be even more difficult to watch.

Of course, with Pharaoh God had a purpose here where He egged the ego and will of Pharaoh on. Pharaoh believed himself to be a god. The Egyptians worshipped many gods, including Pharaoh. Each of the 10 things God did in forcing the hand of Pharaoh was to show the people that not only was he not a god, but each plague sent was to show the impotence of a false god served by them, thus revealing the greatness of the One True God of Israel.

From this verse and insights surrounding the story of deliverance I see two potential situations we need to be aware of when dealing with strong-willed people: one is what is God desiring to reveal to me about Himself through the things I see Him doing in His dealings with the hard-hearted. There is something about Him to be known. The other is to realize my need to be very surrendered to God in my own dealings with the person, so I become God’s instrument in helping the stubborn to recognize their need to surrender to Him. It takes a courageous person to care enough about those around them to allow God to use them in helping another get over themselves.

God is still in the business of dealing with false gods and delivering people from their influence. And, like Pharaoh, we and those around us can be enslaved to the most powerful of false gods: our own ego. When finding ourselves being dealt with under compulsion by God, we need to get our heads out of the sands of Egypt and recognize our plight. God loves us where we are, but He loves us too much to leave us here. He deals with us as with sons. When He finds a stubborn issue in our person or life, He is not opposed to turning up the heat in whatever way that is necessary to work the dross of falsehood out of us. The quickest way to relief from the compulsory discipline of God is to realize His hand and cooperate with His purpose. But whoa to the one standing too close to the strong-willed little Pharaohs of life. It can be a fearsome thing to watch when God decides to deliver from false understanding and stubborn strongholds. And whoa to the stubborn of will when God decides to go through them to make a point.

The question we each must ask self today is “Which am I? Am I pliable in the hands of God, surrendered to His Lordship; or am I stubborn of heart? Is there an area of life in which I have not surrendered?” I don’t know about you, but I can immediately see an area I have in my life where I am under compulsion. It is better to choose today to let Him be Lord than to continue in the compulsory discipline of God. He has shown me the way. I must choose to obey. How about you?

(Chart revealing gods attacked: http://www.dabhand.org/Ten%20Plagues.htm ).

Genesis 1: The Creation Story, Part 5

“Sing praises to God, our strength. Sing to the God of Jacob. Sing! Beat the tambourine. Play the sweet lyre and the harp. Blow the ram’s horn at new moon, and again at full moon to call a festival! For this is required by the decrees of Israel; it is a regulation of the God of Jacob. He made it a law for Israel when he attacked Egypt to set us free.” Psalm 81:1-6, NASB

~~*~~

There is one other thing about the sun that we need to know. It is too hot from its core for any living thing to survive in its presence.  

God had Moses build within the tabernacle a place known as the Holy of Holies. Moses entered into the presence of God when beckoned and communed with God, who called him “friend”. After that was ordained the call of the high priest for the year. God had Moses build within the tabernacle, the place where the “High Priests” of Israel entered once a year after a ritualistic cleansing to come before God on behalf of the people. To enter into His presence with any sin uncovered or without that invitation of God that stood yearly before those priests was to fall to one’s death, just as we would die if we drew too close to that sun in the sky.

Sin cannot stand before God. It and anything it is attached to burns up in the purifying heat of His holiness. When that High Priest entered the Holy of Holies, they tied a rope around his ankle so, if any sin was missed in his cleansing and he fell over dead, they could retrieve his body without putting themselves in danger.

There was a curtain between the inner court and the holy of holies, beyond which no person was allowed to go except for this once a year passage of the one called to stand before God on behalf of the people. It stood as reminder of the expanse that separates mankind from their Creator; that is, until entered the One who would bring down the curtain with His performance on our behalf.

~~*~~

The Moon: Some might think this represents Satan in the cosmos of God’s creation, because it says that the moon rules the night and Satan is called the prince of the power of the air, ruler of the world forces of this darkness. But as I look at this passage with understanding that light represents God and His ways and darkness represents Satan and evil, I see that the moon represents the promised, Christ, the Messiah, the one I believe is Jesus, sent to rule as King, showing us the way through the night.

Looking at the portion of Psalm 81 shared above, speaking of the festival of Passover when God passed over the people of Israel as the angel of death took all the first born of the land in God’s battle against Egypt—a picture of the slavery of man to sin, we see reference to the moon. They were called to blow the rams horn at new moon and full moon.

It is awesome as we look at the cycle of the moon to see what that means. WikipediA says of this portion of the moons cycle, called the New Moon:

“In astronomical terminology, the new moon is the lunar phase which happens when the Moon, in its monthly orbital motion around Earth, lies between Earth and the Sun, and is therefore in conjunction with the Sun as seen from Earth. At this time, the dark (unilluminated) portion of the Moon faces almost directly toward Earth, so that the Moon is not visible to the naked eye.”

The new moon as defined here occurs when the moon stands between earth and the sun, as the mediator’s position of High Priest stands between man and God. Another definition for this phase of the moon is as the first sliver of the moon becomes visible in the eastern sky: a picture of the coming Messiah—the one who, in Christendom, is Jesus Christ. And we watch to the east for the coming Messiah, when He will return to set up His reign as King of glory.

I have shared before my belief that Jesus is God incarnate, being that part of God that has, all through scripture, been able to relate with man, bringing His message to those willing to hear. He is God, and yet, in His earthly existence, this part of God called the Messenger of God, the Living Word, the Angel of the Lord, chose to step down from His position with God to be the Living Sacrifice that would give example to man for a righteous life, while becoming the Sacrificial Lamb, slain for the sin of all mankind. Messiah is a lesser Light to God because He chose to step down from His high position to live in the lowly state of humankind as an example to us. God, the Father, is the Head, having greater authority than the God-man, Jesus. Jesus bowed to that authority throughout His earthly life, a life which revolved around the Father and His will, giving us example, and reflecting the light of God to enlighten every man. We see this authority differentiation as the Son bowed to pray, “Yet not My will, but Thy will be done.”

Jesus gained rule over the night because He overcame the world by walking in it as a companion to God, un-darkened by evil. He ruled over sin, becoming the Sacrificial Lamb that took upon His shoulders all sin for all mankind living then to now and beyond until the end of time. He ended the need for the sacrifice of animals by dying as propitiation—the full price owed for all that sin; and He carried that sin to hell where it remains today.

Our sin is already paid for and we are bought with a price, but until we acknowledge Him as the Lamb and receive His gift that covered our sin, we remain chained in slavery to that sin and destined to join it for all eternity. He is the Passover blood. Without His blood over us, we remain in slavery to sin, separated from God. The rams horn is blown at new moon, beckoning the strength of God to send His Savior to deliver us. When we face the Father, we can come into His presence without fear of death because Jesus, the Mediator, blocks the fervent heat of His glorious holiness.

The Moon overcomes the night, reflecting the glory of God by walking in His Light, reflecting it so as to show us the way to do the same, and making for us a doorway, lighting the path to our own relationship with the Father. By receiving His gift, following His example of coming into and walking in the Light, He breaks the chains of our bondage and frees us to live an eternity in that Light.

Now He holds that freedom from sin, paid for by His sacrifice, out to us as a gift to all who will believe; and receiving Him as our Sacrificial Lamb becomes the way by which we reunite with the Father. God has responded to the New Moon call of the ram’s horn. Through His obedience to God the Father, and His sacrifice for sin, He paid the price and became victor over the evil that worked death in us, otherwise known as separation from God the Father, brought about by slavery to sin. Jesus rules the night as victor over death and darkness, deliverance from bondage to slavery.

As we turn from Facing God to go into the world and live, we see the light of the moon, turning with us. The farther the earth turns from the sun, the brighter shines the moon as we see the sun’s glory reflected in the moon. Thus the ram’s horn blown at full moon is the call of the heart for Messiah to lead us, shining the way for us to live in obedience to God. God has given us the example of the Christ-man to follow until He returns to reign, when all who will have responded to His call to “choose today whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:15).

Jesus rules over the dark, standing as the brightest light seen in the night, beckoning all to His brightness and leading all who will come near Him by faith to reunite with the God of Creation for all eternity. Then He stands as Mediator between us and God: High Priest forever, who needs no cleansing before He can enter the Holy Presence of God Most High. Thus the curtain was torn away and we come freely through Christ to the Father.

Even the fact that the moon is a dead rock speaks of Christ, for those who do not believe think that He is dead, for it was “expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish”, said the high priest of the day as empowered by the Spirit of understanding. It only appears that He is dead for a time, His resurrection and asscension standing as a call to believe by faith, giving us a choice for life, for “blessed are those who believe while they do not see” (John 11:50, 20:19-29).

One day He will reveal Himself anew as the returning Christ who will rule as King for a thousand years, and then the eternal Kingdom. In the wait, through Him we are called to make our choice. The choice to believe Him means we choose that our lives revolve around the Sun of our eternal universe, becoming in ourselves a reflection of the Light of the God of creation. Thus we come to the next aspect of God’s creation.

~~*~~

God, the creator of the great expanse of darkness, having a purpose of His own, He scattered star light across that great expanse. Still today, if you get out where the darkness is dark indeed, you will see them, scattered thick across that great expanse, twinkling their light in the night, bringing hope, and even giving clarity of direction to those traveling under those night skies. It is no accident that we are told that wise men followed a star to find that Small Child in Bethlehem. Stars are a vital part of God’s plan in revealing the great glory of the Sun, as we will see tomorrow.

 

Get Up, Let Us Go From Here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus Had The Choice

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I AM”

In one of my groups on SparkPeople community, we are covering the names of God found in scripture. Today, as I posted the next name going in the order in which they are found in scripture, deeper understanding hit my heart. It seemed good to share it here.

When someone introduces themselves to us and they give us their name, it is an honor. Especially when they give us the name they desire us to call them and it is an intimate, lesser known name. That is the honor God gave the people of Israel with the following name:

JEHOVAH (YAHWEH)—The Self-Existent One. I AM WHO I AM (Exodus 3:14).

This common translation being true, when we see Jehovah used as the first part of a name for God, it is as if He is saying to us, “I AM”. “I AM your…”. This is its use when we see names like Jehovah-Jireh: “I AM your provider.”

The deeper?

As I look at this with the knowledge I have under my belt concerning who God is, I realize that Jehovah also could mean “The Self One” or “The Self-Defined One.” God is who He is. He knows who He is and who He wants to be. He is not conflicted like we too often are. He needs no one else to tell Him who or how to BE. He just is. The opinions of others that misunderstand Him do not sway His self-understanding and way of being, as it too often does us.

This is what I believe it means when it says in scripture that we are to be perfect as He is perfect (Matthew 5:48). It has always been such a self-defeating understanding to me that we are to always do things perfectly as He does. I fall too often and that brings me to discouragement where following this edict of the perfect is concerned. But this new realization gives me hope. I can understand myself and be who I am.

We need to know who we are and what we believe to be truth so that we can BE who we are to be. When we know what we believe and how we want to be in any given situation, we are no longer conflicted and we are better able to endure whatever may come our way (James 1:4). Wow! Is that not awesome?

Thus God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is not one way today and another tomorrow. We are to strive to be the same as He is, perfect in our understanding of who we are while we are continually being perfected to be more like Him, restoring the image of Him that He put there before the fall of man distorted it (Philippians 1:6, Genesis 1-3). By His grace, with this as the goal, I can be perfect as God is perfect while continually being perfected. And so can you. Nothing shall be impossible with God!

Greener Grass?

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

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

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

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

Out of The Wilderness

“Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (1 Corinthians10:5-6).

As I read God’s word in my quiet time, God’s highlighting stops me here. I feel like I am laid low in a wilderness. Now, granted, we are dealing with a grievous situation in our family right now, and I am at the end of the tunnel where the light is before me, leading me out of the pit that grief put me in. But still, it seems that I have been in a wilderness place a lot lately. If their wilderness happened as examples for us, so we would not crave evil things as they craved, I have to ask what evil I am craving that is laying me low in this wilderness.

My immediate thought as I think of things I choose to do is that I crave positions of authority—to be in control of things in life, and when I feel out of control, it lays me low. I crave positions of honor, and when I feel that others look down on me in my own life struggle, it lays me low. I long to be recognized as a godly woman of character, and when I feel some accusation, whether true or false, compromises that, it lays me low. Knowing these truths immediately as I read this passage, contemplating my own issues, I know that I must evaluate my heart before God, repent, and make sure I am doing what I do as His servant, called of Him, equipped by Him, and desiring only His glory, honor, authority, and recognition.

Am I the only one who struggles with wilderness issues from time to time? Well, I hope I am not the only reason for Jesus getting on that cross, but only each individual can judge for oneself. Thus, let’s do that. As I evaluate myself using the insights from these following verses, hopefully it will help others to do so as well.

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Verse 7: “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, ‘THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.’”

I noted in the previous passages I read this morning that the idol is only a god of any authority because our minds make it to be such and give it that place in our lives. The idol is anything in life that we give power to in excess of the power God has to dictate us. We surrender to it instead of following the dictates of God’s leading.

I know that there are things that I give myself to in this wilderness I find myself stuck in and that hinder my coming out into the broader places of light and life that God desires for me. I too often bow to fears, frustrations, laziness, even health issues that I surrender to instead of trusting God’s promise:

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

If I truly believe that God’s grace abounds to me so that I always have what is needed to do the good He calls me to, then why bow to these things that rob me? How many times have I marveled at those who struggle in their health, and how faithful they are to do things that go beyond their physical limitations? If they can tap into God’s sufficiency, so can I; by remembering the God I trust.

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Verse 8: “Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.”

When I think of immorality and seek to evaluate if any immoral thing has slipped into my life, I think of the verse that seems to define this sin: “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:18).

What am I doing that stands against my own body? For that matter, what is “my own body”?  Obviously this shell I live in is my body, so anything I do that hurts my physical shell needs to be dealt with if I want freedom from this wilderness. Self-care is an important issue to evaluate, as we are called to love and care for self as God’s creation, God’s temple, and in knowing that we can only love others as well as we love ourselves.

Then comes to mind these words: “the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:31). My husband and I are one in Christ. Is there any immoral thing in that part of my body?

Also comes thought: “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21).

“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27).

We are one body with God in Christ, and we are one body with God’s people. Is there any immorality in me that is sin against any part of my own body?

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Verse 9: “Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.”

Trying the Lord—putting Him to the test: This was a temptation thrown at Jesus during his 40 days in the wilderness. What was His reply? “Jesus said to him, ‘On the other hand, it is written, “YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST”’” (Matthew 4:7).

We are not to use the promise of God toward us as excuse for sin. Yes, God’s grace is sufficient for us, but only when we are walking the path He desires for us in the way He requires of us. We cannot say, “I am going to do this thing over here that looks good to me and is a good work. Though the Spirit in me is saying ‘not this way,’ I trust God to give me sufficient for this good work because that is His promise to me.” Such is a misuse of God’s promise. If we are not following the dictates of the head, which is Christ, we bring dysfunction to our body and cause harm to our flesh, bringing on that wilderness experience.

In the same way, we cannot sit in our wilderness licking our wounds, saying, “God understands that I am but flesh,” refusing to get up out of our place of struggle and walk free by faith in God’s supply. This, too, tries our God, misappropriating His promise for our own desire. Thus I ask myself, am I trying the Lord?

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Verse 10: “Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.”

Paul wrote, “But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:10-13).

Too often we grumble against things in life, being dissatisfied with our lot. When we are grumbling, we are not praising God or being thankful for His good toward us. Job puts it into perspective for us as he speaks to his wife’s grumbling, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” To which God’s word comments, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” (Job 2:10)

What grumbling has me snared?

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Can the sins, failures, and struggles of those around us knock us into the wilderness? Yes. As Paul says, “God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).

My daughter’s suffering at the hand of her husband’s sin can bring suffering to me and to all who love her; as she is flesh of my flesh, and she is one with me in Christ, so I hurt with her. But I do not have to let her suffering keep me in the wilderness, nor should my struggle bring her down. We each must evaluate where we are and why so we can walk out of this desert place and maybe even help the other through on our way. Thus I must ask self, am I using my grief as an excuse to lay down in my wilderness, or am I setting an example that she can follow?

And what about these health issues I struggle with: is it sin for them to keep me down? No. Sickness and poor health happens to the best of us when we least expect it. There are times when health issues are a legitimate hindrance. The trick is to find where that legitimacy starts and our wilderness ends. That is where I have to evaluate whether I am doing all I can to help my health improve. It is where I have to evaluate my faith and God’s call: do I trust God for the strength to meet Him at His call? It is also where I have to evaluate the call and discern God’s voice from the Pharisee in my ear.

A true call to service from God will come with the power to perform. It is vital that I recognize His voice and walk out His will when He leads me. But we also have to have wisdom to discern that there are those who would have us start an epidemic rather than miss church and thus break their idea of what it means to “fall to forsaking the gathering of ourselves together.” And we have to realize that sometimes our sickness and need of others to minister to us is God’s call to those He desires to use in visiting the sick and ministering to them.

God will equip us with strength to do what He calls us to. When we are sincerely ill, doing all we can to recover, and the strength is not there to go and do what we or others think we should, we do harm to our body by pushing ourselves, and risk the destruction of our health. Thus, am I walking in the wisdom God gives, cooperating with Him in my healing; or am I—because of my tendency to want to be in control or to live in ways that others see as godly—pushing myself in ways that are against His will and destructive to my body?

“Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come…” (vs. 11-15).

Thus, as I consider this testimony concerning those who have gone before me, I find the starting place for evaluating my own struggle, and the strength to walk out of it. Are you in a wilderness? Come. Go with me. The promised land lies ahead of us.

Darlene Davis © 7/30/11