Tag Archives: Truth

Word of God, Speak

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Call to The Elect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

 

Worship: Positions From the Heart – Bow the Knee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Bow Down

Worship: From Hearts After His Own Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 4

Spirit and Fire 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts from Isaiah – Chapter 3

All for One

“When a man lays hold of his brother in his father’s house, saying, ‘You have a cloak, you shall be our ruler, And these ruins will be under your charge,’ He will protest on that day, saying, ‘I will not be your healer, For in my house there is neither bread nor cloak; You should not appoint me ruler of the people. …’” (Isaiah 3:6-12).

It always amazes me in the season of deciding who will lead our country here in the USA that we look for a man to fix the ills of our land. Here I am reminded that no man has the answers that will heal our land.

I find it interesting that, in the verses above, the people come and ask the one to be their ruler. And he responds, “I will not be your healer.” He has wisdom enough to realize that he is as flawed as the rest, impoverished in his own right. We look in the wrong place when we look for a man who has THE PLAN that will heal our land. There is no such thing.

One ploy of every opponent for an office is to reveal the trash in the household of the other. As I consider this passage, I am reminded that there is no one person who has it all together perfectly. There has not been a flawless man or woman since Jesus, nor any before Him. We can look at the men who are running for office now and be brought quickly to despair. For as the remainder of this passage says, so it can be said of our nation:

“…For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, Because their speech and their actions are against the Lord, To rebel against His glorious presence. The expression of their faces bears witness against them, And they display their sin like Sodom; They do not even conceal it. Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. …” (Isaiah 3:6-12).

We, the people who make up our nation, whichever that nation might be, if we hold our sin out there as if we are proud of it, never turning from wickedness to righteousness, there is no man who can help us. Only as we—each individual of us—turn to and walk with God will we see the Physician turn to heal our land. When we seek Him first, we will find Him and He then will lead us to leaders of nations that are men after His own heart, equipped by Him to lead the way in righteous paths that work God’s healing in our lands.

“Say to the righteous that it will go well with them, For they will eat the fruit of their actions. Woe to the wicked! It will go badly with him, For what he deserves will be done to him. O My people! Their oppressors are children, And women rule over them. O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray And confuse the direction of your paths” (Isaiah 3:6-12).

Who should rule? If God does not rule in each individual of us who are called by His name, then we are a nation most to be pitied. When “We the People” turn wholly to God, that is when we will see the end of our downward spiral.

No man has the answers, not fully. I am watching for those who know the One who does have the answers and will walk with Him to lead the way. It will take all of us to find His healing, all for One, walking in His ways.

Father, lead us in paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake, to Your glory, and the fulfilling of Your good purpose and plan. Help us as a nation of people to choose today whom we will serve, knowing that as the least of us go in following You, so goes the nation. Make us wholly Yours, following You in holiness. In Jesus, grant us to have eyes to see the man who is Your choice for our nation, and grant him Your Spirit and Your equipping that he may lead with strength and bring us forth in power. In the blessed and holy name of the Savior who covers our sin, amen.

The Dream – Part 3

God Intends Good 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

The Dream – Part 1

The Battle Revealed

 

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

~*~

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

~*~

Now you have the characters, here is the setting:

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

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

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

~*~

Now you have the setting, here is the dream.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts From Isaiah – Chapter 2

A Work Worthy of Worship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing Rainbows With DADDY – Part 3: Earnest Expectations

In the Car

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

“Do you see it?” daddy yells.

“There it is!” exclaims daughter.

Later, “Where is it?” asks dad.

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

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

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

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

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

Noah:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moses:

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

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

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

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

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

“Then Moses said to the Lord, ‘See, You say to me, “Bring up this people!” But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me. Moreover, You have said, “I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.” Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then he said to Him, ‘If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will also do this thing of which you have spoken; for you have found favor in My sight and I have known you by name’” (vs. 12-17).

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

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

Abraham:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chasing Rainbows With Daddy – Part 2: Only Believe

Deciding to Go with God

“Darlene!”

“Yes, Daddy.”

“Let’s go chase a rainbow.”

“What’s a rainbow, Daddy?”

“A rainbow is sign of My faithfulness to keep covenant with My children.”

“What’s ‘covenant’, Daddy?”

“It is my Word to you, My promise of things to come.”

“How do we chase Your rainbow, Daddy.”

“We begin when you get in the car with Me. It is a journey of faith where you may not always be able to see the road, and times of doubt that we will find that bow may tempt you. But because you trust Me, you can know for sure that we will find the bow and the treasure it covers.”

“How do I open the car door, Daddy?”

“Only believe, My child. Only believe.”

“Believe how, Daddy?”

We begin our journey at the beginning of most journeys, deciding to get in the car and go with the Driver. Some common questions we often ask before getting into a car include ‘do we trust the driver’ and ‘do we believe he is taking us where he says we are going.’ The closer the relationship we have with the driver, the less time we spend on answering the questions until the questions are no longer significant, for trust in the Driver is complete and we know He will go where He says.

Throughout biblical history we see this scenario played out. In the beginning of his journey with God, Moses had many reasons for not getting in the car, all of which reveal uncertainty not only in his own sense of worth and ability, but in his ability to trust God who called him to join Him on a rainbow chase. As he grew to know God, we see doubt and fear diminish in his character. David, on the other hand, spent so many hours alone with God, seeing God do such great things, that when he comes on the scene of God’s story, he seems to have no doubt or fear. He just moves to do what he knows God would have him do, and a giant is felled.

What of Noah? Let’s take a peek. I love the beginning of Noah’s journey, found in Genesis 6:5-8.

“Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.’ But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.”

Noah stood in stark contrast to those around him. So God saw him as an instrument through which He could provide saving grace to those who would join Noah on the journey God was about to call him to, starting in verse 13.

“Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. Make for yourself an ark of gopher wood; you shall make the ark with rooms, and shall cover it inside and out with pitch. This is how you shall make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its breadth fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. You shall make a window for the ark, and finish it to a cubit from the top; and set the door of the ark in the side of it; you shall make it with lower, second, and third decks. Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.’ Thus Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.”

We see no sign that Noah questioned these strange things God told him to do, nor did he doubt. He simply believed God and through that belief, he obeyed, getting into the car with God to go with Him to rainbows end.

Until this point, Noah nor any others had ever seen rain. They were in the middle of a land without a major body of water to hold such a vessel as he was building. What did it take for Noah to climb aboard with God for this chase?

First he had to know and trust that what he heard was indeed from God. He apparently knew God well, because “Noah did; according to all that God had commanded him, so he did.” This is our first goal if we are to chase rainbows with God. We must know His voice so we recognize when He is speaking to us.

Noah’s story is a picture of the Christ, Jesus being a type of boat for saving those who will enter in with Him. Jesus, in John 10 promises that we can and will know His voice. It is a promise to His children, Him being God incarnate, the Living, Life-giving Word, that we can take to the bank.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers. … I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (vs. 1-5, 14-16).

Getting into the car with God requires us first to know His voice so we recognize that it is indeed Him who is calling us to come. Then we must trust Him to lead the way. And finally we must believe, not only that it is Him who is speaking, but also we must believe what He says is truth; and we must believe that He will and He can do what He says. And what does this belief look like? See you in the next post.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 14

The Joy of One Flesh Living

A review of 1 John 4:12-16 brings us to the final aspect of our ministry to God in Christ as we work to fulfill what is lacking of Christ’s afflictions: given here in the Amplified version, verse 12-13 adjusted for easier reading.

“No man has at any time yet seen God. But if we love one another, God abides, lives and remains in us and His love, that love which is essentially His (and can only come from Him in His power) is brought to completion—to its full maturity, running its full course and is being perfected in us! By this we come to know, perceive, recognize, and understand that we abide so as to live and remain in Him and He in us: because He has given / imparted to us of His Holy Spirit” [vs. 12-13 (love-defining thought added by author)].

In Christ, as we come to know, recognize, believe and rely upon the love God has for us, we enter into a life experience of one flesh living—being fully one with God and He with us. His body, His bride, His child: every way in which the scripture speaks of “this being bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” He uses to describe the life of one who is one with Him in Christ.

This fact is awe inspiring to me. I can see this principle of God in His word more clearly than ever before. There is a part of me that knows I am already there in His power and provision. But I desire more than ever to get to that place in my every day experience in ways I have yet to know.

How do we do that? I do not have it all figured out yet, but here are some clues we can grasp hold of as we look at the remainder of this passage in chapter 4 and on through chapter 5 of this book. Continuing with verses 14-16 of chapter 4, we find our first answers to our “How” question.

“And besides we ourselves have seen and have deliberately and steadfastly contemplated and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son as the Savior of the world. Anyone who confesses (acknowledges, owns) that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides (lives, makes His home) in him and he [abides, lives, makes his home] in God. And we know (understand, recognize, are conscious of, by observation and by experience) and believe (adhere to and put faith in and rely on) the love God cherishes for us. God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him.”

Know Jesus: The first step to one flesh living with God is to know Jesus, His Son, acknowledging with full belief of understanding Who He is in all His fullness. Through faith in Jesus as the Christ, God incarnate, the propitiation for all sin and victor over the death that separates from God, we enter into the body of Christ, which brings us to this one flesh relationship with God.

Know and trust the Love God has for us: We become ingrained perpetually into one flesh with Him as we come to greater realization and more full assurance of knowledge to understand, recognize, being conscious of by observation and experience, and to believe so as to adhere to, put faith in, and rely on the love God cherishes for us.

Realizing that God IS LOVE, in all its fullness, and all He does flows forth from His heart of love to us, equips us to trust His hand in our lives and come more fully into agreement with His will and way. It helps us to have His thoughts and walk in His ways when we trust His love for us.

Trusting His love removes fear of any hardship that may come to us because we live in a fallen world. Believing His love, we are equipped to know that we are part of His flesh, protected and encompassed by Him, only being touched by pain as will make us stronger and provide us opportunity as His witnesses to a lost world still ensnared by death’s grip. We are His hands and feet, reaching out with His love so that others may enter in with us to live and abide with Him.

Pressing on through Chapter 5 we find:

Love as He loves (vs. 1-3): Unity with the Father produces love in us, equipping us to love those in our sphere of influence. The better we become at our roll of being a conduit for His love, the more we will experience this one flesh dimension in our relationship with Him. His love flow includes empowering our sincere love for Him that will produce in us…

Obedience to His commands(vs. 1-3): Whether His commands are from His written and Holy Word, or whether they are the day to day directives He gives us personally in the power of His Spirit, love for God produces a unity that makes His desire our own. And more than that, it makes Him our greatest desire. Thus we willing choose His will even when it is hard, because we desire to walk in one flesh with Him who is our true desire. And that flows not only out of our love for Him, but from…

Faith in Him (vs. 4-6): True belief in God’s testimony to us produces a faith that will follow Him in obedience. We become one with Him in thought, desire, and understanding, and we walk as one with Him. I believe this is the walk that led to Enoch being no more, “for God took Him” (Genesis 5:21-24).

What a testimony to have: that we walked with God as Enoch did, being known as the friend of God like Abraham, thus being a person after His own heart as David was, doing only what we see Him doing, as Jesus did. We have the capability of having this testimony as we grow strong in one flesh living in God through Christ. This is the faith we are called to. And this faith…

Believes the testimony of God in the power of the Spirit (vs. 7-12): It is God who sent the Spirit as His testimony that Jesus is the Christ and that His Kingdom has come to us who will enter into it by faith. It is God who sends the Spirit to reach out to us and woo us to Himself still today. To refuse to believe the testimony of God concerning the Christ and all He is and does in us by God’s provision of grace, a testimony sent to us in the power of His Spirit, is to call God a liar, and that is the unforgivable sin (see vs. 16).

There is an encounter Jesus had with the Pharisees where they accused Him of casting out demons in the power of Satan (Matthew 12:22-31). In so doing, they blasphemed against the work of the Spirit in the earth and through Jesus Christ. So, was the real issue that they did not believe Jesus, though He was casting out demons in the power of God? No, that would be speaking against the Son of Man and was the symptom of the true underlying issue. Jesus says speaking against Him can be forgiven. What was the issue?

The work of God through Jesus in the power of the Spirit was done for the purpose of making the Christ known in the earth, proving His coming, and calling people to enter into the Kingdom of God with Him. The work of the Spirit is the testimony of God regarding Himself and the Christ. The Spirit does the work of God in the earth, proving He is.

I believe the point Jesus is making is that, to refuse this work of the Spirit being the testimony of God, sent to equip us to live this one flesh Kingdom life, that is the unforgivable sin. Refusing the Christ when the Spirit is doing all He can to make Him known to us is the only unredeemable sin—refusing to believe the Spirit’s testimony concerning God and Jesus, proving they are and that Jesus is the way, is the only true suicide. All else is covered by the blood of Jesus and can be forgiven man.

For us who believe the testimony of God and enter into one flesh relationship with Him, never to be killed by sin again, we find…

Our Confidence (vs. 13-21): In the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us, Jesus is our confidence for all eternity. Because of the Spirit in us, we experience God in new and real ways that help us to know that we know that He is and that He is the redeemer of all mankind who will put their faith in Him through Christ.

Because of relationship with God through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Spirit, we have confidence that we have the mind of Christ, and being covered in His blood, we can freely approach the throne of God and make our request of Him. We receive our request from God because we have His heart desires within us when we are actively living in one flesh with Him through the Spirit at work in us.

We have the mind of Christ, being equipped to have the thoughts of God. Being a people birthed through Christ to be people after God’s own heart, God’s heart beats within us, thus equipping us to have His desires. And the Spirit flows through us, the blood of Christ coursing through us in the power of the Spirit in which the true life flows, making us one with Him. Therefore, we have the full resource of God at our disposal as we walk with Him in obedience.

By this power in us we KNOW with confidence that He is, and that we have eternal life. With this confidence we know that we are in Him as He is in us. And our lives can flow with confidence from Him as we grow in one flesh living with Him.

John ends his discourse with this warning, which is worthy of repeat: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

Idols rise up in our lives when we follow the voices of the false prophets. These lead us away from God and when we walk out of the protective cover of God, our one flesh life with Him is hindered and harmed.

The joy of the Lord is our strength because we are in Him and He is in us. By this truth, not only do we have joy in Him, but He rejoices over us, calling us “friend,” and He fully equips us for a life of abundance that honors Him. Our protection, power and provision for a life of victory supplied in Christ is found through one flesh living in God.

“By this we come to know, perceive, recognize, and understand that we abide so as to live and remain in Him and He in us: because He has given / imparted to us of His Holy Spirit. …Little children, guard yourselves from idols.”

Don’t follow the false. Follow the truth as testified to us by God and we will remain in Him.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 13

Rejoicing in Sure Revelation Knowledge of the Truth

“Beloved, do not believe (put faith in) every spirit, but prove (test) the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world…” (1 John 4).

As we begin this focal thought on our work of completing what remains to be done in fulfilling the sufferings of Christ in our age, we must consider revelation knowledge of the truth of God. Here John, in the leading of the Spirit, warns us to beware the false prophets, instructing us to “prove or test the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God.” Why would he instruct us to “test the spirits”?

Think about what a prophet is. A prophet, no matter the religious philosophy they come from, is believed to be one endowed with some special power or insight from some higher power that enables them to have revelation knowledge from that god. The god the person represents, even those of no god at all, receive their knowledge from a spirit, whether God’s Spirit, a demonic spirit, or the spirit of flesh. We must realize whether the prophet we follow is truly and rightly representing our God in the power of His Spirit.

This chapter of scripture gives us clues regarding what to look for that will tell us for sure whether the spirit behind the prophet is our God’s Spirit. Where does his or her revelation knowledge come from and how do we test the spirits to know?

“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world” (vs. 2-3).

One of the best ways to know whether the spirit behind the prophet is from God is to discover what they have to say about the Christ. Now this statement of discovering whether the spirit confesses that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh” is deeper than it sounds. It is not just that the prophet believes Jesus was, but that he truly knows and confesses who He was: the Son of God, Immanuel, somehow very God with us, the promised Christ, the seed of Abraham, the true and rightful King of kings and Lord of lords.

All that scripture says will be in the Christ is found in Jesus. Any prophetic spirit that denies any aspect of Christ’s person is a false spirit of antichrist. What brings me to this conclusion? For one thing, James, based on experiences seen with Jesus as expressed in Matthew 8:28-34, speaking of faith in Christ that is active, said, “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder” (James 2:19).

Another found in Luke 4:41 says, “Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ.” Demons know who Christ is and will say who He is, but they will not confess Him as Lord. They will not bow the knee in surrender to Him.

Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

The Spirit that truly professes who Jesus is will lead us to live a life that reveals Him to be our one and only Lord of lords and King of kings. It will empower us to wholeheartedly bow the knee in habitual and willing practice of obedience. The person following the true Spirit of Christ will not only know the triune God, but will be known by Him because they are in vital relationship in every way. Though they slip and fall, the relationship being of vital importance to them will lead them quickly to repentance.

“They (those under the influence of the false spirits) are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (vs. 5-6).

Another key to testing the spirits is unity of spirit. When I meet a brother or sister in Christ, my Spirit in me jumps for joy in agreement with the Spirit of God in them. When that connection is absent, chances are great that there is a spirit of error or of antichrist in play.

I.e.: many under the influence of a false spirit are grumbling under their breath right now with the very talk of there being spirits at work in the world today. They do not believe in such, though the scriptures clearly reveal their existence and ability to affect our thoughts and our lives. A false spirit can have greatest sway in the life of one who refuses to acknowledge their existence. Beware, beloved. The word of God is either all truth, or it is not true at all. We can’t have it both ways. What kind of god would be worthy of our following if he could not even protect the veracity of His professed word? If God cannot profess truth to us I in all it fullness for us to follow, and protect that word of truth, we cannot trust His word and, therefore, are fools for believing.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (vs. 7-8).

It is impossible for a person to truly love as God loves without the Spirit of God in them. We can tell by the love walk of the man whether the Spirit of God is in them. The absence of this love signals that a spirit of error is in play.

Many false prophets speak words of love while leading the flock astray from righteousness. True love always works to do what is best for those they love. We can know we are following a spirit of error when it leads us to err against God.

“By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (vs. 9-10).

We cannot confess the fullness of the love of God that was expressed through the Christ without the Spirit of God in us. Such love is beyond our ability to fully understand, much less work out of, apart from the work of God’s Spirit bringing revelation knowledge and understanding of that love and its ways to us.

There is a story of a man who, out boating with his family, winds up jumping into the brink to try to save his Christian son and one of his son’s friends who did not know Christ, when they fell overboard. Realizing he could only save one, he swam past his son to reach his friend who would spend eternity separated from God if he died that day. Making such a choice requires revelation knowledge that understands the love for us that it took for God to allow His son to die as propitiation for our sins. Thankfully that young man came to know Christ and is a testimony of love beyond understanding today.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. …We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (vs. 11-14, 19-21).

A person who has a spirit of antichrist in play cannot rightly portray or express the love of God. Those who profess Christianity under the guise of a false spirit can and will lead those around them to false understanding that can cause them to miss the Christ and chance eternity separated from God if they are not reached by the love of God miraculously or through a true believer. Without understanding of God’s love for us and the work of the Spirit to help us love as He loves us, we cannot make His love known in truth. And if we cannot love others on His behalf as He loves them, how can we truly be in love with God? Love cares about the things that are important to the beloved.

“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (vs. 15-18).

Being in sincere relationship with God, having His Spirit to lead and empower us, we are made one with Him, having Spirit lead revelation to understand how great the love of God is toward those who believe and receive His Son with understanding of who He is and what He accomplished on our behalf. Through Christ we are made one with God, never to be separated from that love relationship again. Once we fully understand the depth of God’s love for us, having assurance of His desire and care for us, we enter into understanding of His pure love that protects us from fear tactics.

One major weapon in Satan’s arsenal is fear. If he can cause us fear that doubts God’s care for us, leading us to question the assurance of our eternal relationship with Him, Satan can defeat us and rob our strength. Full understanding of God’s love for us assures our heart of His care and provision for our here and now and for our eternity. Fear no longer can grip so as to defeat the heart of the one who has revelation knowledge of the great love of God. Understanding that love increases faith that God is for us and not against us; that He is in control of all that concerns us, working for our good, to give us a hope and a future. Thus we realize fully…

“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (vs. 4).

Growing in our relationship with God through the power of His Spirit equips us to have revelation knowledge of the truth of who Christ is and His work on our behalf even now. It equips us to know and rightly express the love of God in the earth, having assurance of His faithfulness toward us that protects from fear tactics. And it grants us eyes to see and recognize the spirit of error and the spirit of antichrist in our midst, enabling us to give warning to those who may be fooled by the imitation, including warning the elect—the righteous lot of God who are failing in any given moment to be watchful in the power of the Spirit of God within them.

Brother and Sister in Christ, I warn you, we are heavily into the days of the spirit of antichrist, as many, even big names in the Christian realm, profess as true beliefs that make the work of Christ small and insignificant. Beware the spirit of error in our day.

 ~*~

 My grandson had to have an emergency appendectomy last night. I will be helping with him as needed, but if all goes well, I hope to have the last excerpt of this study posted for you tomorrow. If not, it will be next week. BLESSings, and thanks for reading my blogs. I pray that this study will be used of God to help us grow strong in our work of completing all Jesus left us to do on His behalf.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 12

The Delightful Proof of His Nature Practiced

Read 1 John 3:

“…Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity)…” (1 John 3:4-24, Amplified version quoted herein).

The number one clue of our belonging to the Kingdom of God is seen in our practices stemming from His nature at work within us. It is a practice without hypocrisy. This practice of righteousness does not merely say what we believe then habitually walk off to do the opposite. It proves what we believe in our practices even behind closed doors with no one watching but God alone, because we love Him and what we believe is who we are in Him.

God delights in the righteous acts of His people, in a righteousness that is not just external for show and tell, but that begins in the sincerity of heart that is surrendered to Him for His use. True righteousness stems from the heart of who we are. The remainder of this chapter reveals ways in which we see this action in the lives of the people of God’s pasture. Those who delight in righteousness as God does, bringing delight to His heart in the sincere practice of it from a nature made one with Him will:

Practice the Keeping of His Law / Commands / Will:

“Everyone who commits (practices) sin is guilty of lawlessness; for [that is what] sin is, lawlessness (the breaking, violating of God’s law by transgression or neglect—being unrestrained and unregulated by His commands and His will)…” (vs. 4-10).

I have a wall hanging that quotes G. K. Chesterton as saying, “The only faith that wears well is that which is woven of conviction.” Keeping the laws and commandments of God, practicing them in sincerity and truth from the heart of our being, requires conviction in the veracity, integrity and credibility of God. If we do not trust Him to lead us in righteous paths for our good and His glory, we will say one thing and do another as if to placate Him and look good to others while going our own way. Completing the sufferings of Christ means to continue in His likeness of trusting fully the veracity, integrity and credibility of God, walking with God in His ways, even unto death, with hearts that are pure toward Him.

“…Boys (lads), let no one deceive and lead you astray. He who practices righteousness [who is upright, conforming to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action, living a consistently conscientious life] is righteous, even as He is righteous. [But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated the divine law) from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done]” (vs. 7-8).

The practice of righteousness through the keeping of the laws, commands and will of God comes natural and is of vital importance to the one who truly belongs to Him, having His Spirit residing within by the gift of grace through Christ. If this is absent from our lives, we have need to question whether we truly know Him, for “No one born (begotten) of God [deliberately, knowingly, and habitually] practices sin, for God’s nature abides in him [His principle of life, the divine sperm, remains permanently within him]; and he cannot practice sinning because he is born (begotten) of God” (vs. 9). The same is true when it comes to…

The Practice of Love Toward the Brotherhood / Sisterhood

“By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children and who take their nature from the devil and are his children: no one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action] is of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother (his fellow believer in Christ)” (vs. 10).

God is love. Him truly residing within us in the power of His Spirit will produce love in us as well, not only for those we call “brother and sister in Christ,” but for all mankind. We do not love the ways of the evil one that resides in those who do not know Him, but we do love the person with a holy love from God that desires them to enter into this union we possess. Thus we do good to all, especially to the brotherhood, and we do good to those who do us evil with hope that through acts of lovingkindness we may indeed win some (Romans 12).

“For this is the message (the announcement) which you have heard from the first, that we should love one another, [And] not be like Cain who [took his nature and got his motivation] from the evil one and slew his brother. And why did he slay him? Because his deeds (activities, works) were wicked and malicious and his brother’s were righteous (virtuous)” (vs. 11-12).

The world, on the other hand, will hate us because they do not have within them the love that can come only from God, living and active within.

Now realize that there are several kinds of love in this life: brotherly love, sensual love, self-love—these three being dictated by the object of ones affections and the fickle emotions within us. The love God speaks of in this passage we consider is the unconditional Agapé-love that is not destroyed by sin done against it. This love is not subject to its surrounding or physical emotions, but comes from within, from who we are in Christ by the power God supplies. It presses forward to do that which is best for the one loved even when the one we love sins against us. It is a love that can only be achieved when surrendered to the Father’s love flowing through us to those around us. Though this Agapé-love may be hindered for a time by our flesh warring against the Spirit within us, this love will eventually win out as the nature of God within us takes hold and has control, proving us to be one with God and working in His nature.

“Anyone who hates (abominates, detests) his brother [in Christ] is [at heart] a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding (persevering) within him. By this we come to know (progressively to recognize, to perceive, to understand) the [essential] love: that He laid down His [own] life for us; and we ought to lay [our] lives down for [those who are our] brothers [in Him]. But if anyone has this world’s goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him? Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and in sincerity)” (vs. 15-18).

Thus, as we live the life as He lives, having a nature like His, we…

Practice Confidence Before God

“By this we shall come to know (perceive, recognize, and understand) that we are of the Truth, and can reassure (quiet, conciliate, and pacify) our hearts in His presence, Whenever our hearts in [tormenting] self-accusation make us feel guilty and condemn us. [For we are in God’s hands.] For He is above and greater than our consciences (our hearts), and He knows (perceives and understands) everything [nothing is hidden from Him]” (vs. 19-20).

Even when we are caught in any sin, we stand with confidence before a holy God in the grace gift He supplies through Christ, knowing that nothing can separate us from His love for us. God convicts of sin and brings us to repentance as He disciplines us as sons and daughter through Christ (Hebrews 12). Desiring to remain in His love, we come quickly to repentance and work to cooperate with His Spirit’s work of transformation within us. Equipped by Him to stand in confidence and without condemnation before our holy God as we desire, we work to…

Practice What is Pleasing to Him

“And, beloved, if our consciences (our hearts) do not accuse us [if they do not make us feel guilty and condemn us], we have confidence (complete assurance and boldness) before God, And we receive from Him whatever we ask, because we [watchfully] obey His orders [observe His suggestions and injunctions, follow His plan for us] and [habitually] practice what is pleasing to Him” (vs. 21-22).

Confidence in our eternal destination though Christ is ours to possess. And the possessing of it through the practice of His nature proves our relationship with Him, completing the work of Christ, who made a distinction between the hypocrisy of those snared to evil, refusing the work of God within. And He proved the nature of God within Himself by His habitual practice of righteousness and God-pleasing from a pure heart. We join in fulfilling His sufferings by proving the nature of God that frees from sin and His work in the world of men that is available through the sacrifice of Christ, as we live, breathe and move in the power of His Holy Spirit residing within us, thus destroying the work of the evil one with Him.

“And this is His order (His command, His injunction): that we should believe in (put our faith and trust in and adhere to and rely on) the name of His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah), and that we should love one another, just as He has commanded us. All who keep His commandments [who obey His orders and follow His plan, live and continue to live, to stay and] abide in Him, and He in them. [They let Christ be a home to them and they are the home of Christ.] And by this we know and understand and have the proof that He [really] lives and makes His home in us: by the [Holy] Spirit Whom He has given us” (vs. 23-24). This being true, we…

Practice Walking in the Spirit of God

“…But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh…” (Galatians 5).

Giving the Spirit full sway in our lives, trusting God to make His presence and leading surely known to us, surrendering to His lead so as to not quench the work of the Spirit within, this is the nature of Christ in us. He always lived to please the Father.

We carry on to completion His suffering against the flesh, the world and the demonic as, in the power of the Spirit, we stand against evil by walking “in the Light as He Himself is in the Light.” Thus “we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” and we prove ourselves to be in Him and He in us (1 John 1:7, NASB).

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 9

Dealing with Antichrist, Rejoicing in Relationship with The Father

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour…” (1 John 2:18-23).

The spirit of antichrist: it is very prevalent in our day. Many cannot see that Jesus is the Christ because He did not come and do as they expected in His first appearance as Savior. Though He fulfills every prophesy spoken concerning the Christ’s appearing, they cannot recognize Him. The spirit of antichrist has blinded their spiritual eyes and hinders their perceptions so they cannot understand to see the truth. Others are snared by belief that the Holy Bible is antiquated and Jesus is the parable. Others approach Him with their own expectations, and, finding things with the Christ not as they think it should be, they quickly turn away. Still others walk into the church and profess Him with their words, desiring some miracle or expecting some magical experience of Him, and finding that lacking, they deny His reality and turn aside to other things. And others come into our midst looking for the Christ in the people, where they should be able to see Him, yes, but not understanding that we are continually being perfected, disillusioned by what they see as hypocrisy or having their feelings hurt, they walk away never having truly believed. Then there are some who come in as a thief in the night, pretending to know Him, and with words that sound right, leading even the elect astray, they form the cults of our day.

We see Jesus dealing with the spirit of antichrist often in His ministry. The Pharisees and Sadducees of the day, misunderstanding the way the Christ would first appear and why, jealous of His renown often came against Him, fooled by the spirit of antichrist working through them. Many who followed Jesus were looking for their own desire of what they would find in the Christ. Jesus revealed this truth in John 4:48, “So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe’.” And I see in the parable of the seeds sown on many soils a picture of the various ways in which the spirit of antichrist can pull the heart of man from knowledge of the Christ as disillusionment and discouragement pull us from the truth (Matthew 13:18-23). Then we have the words of John, telling of Jesus dealing with this blindness in those of His day:

“There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:9-13).

Still today people cannot accept that we are born anew through Christ, who covers our sins—past, present and future—as we go through the process of growing up as the children of God, made new day by day through the perfecting work of the Spirit of God within us. They cannot understand that it is a work of God. We cannot be good enough apart from His Spirit at work in us. And we can only have His Spirit as we recognize the Christ for who He truly is and put our faith in Him. The spirit of antichrist hinders this faith.

Part of our role as we complete the sufferings of Christ is to recognize the spirit of antichrist at work in our day and to stand against it; not only living in stark contrast to it, but taking every opportunity to correct the understanding of those deceived by it. Anything that leads a people to look for and follow after the christ of their expectation and miss the true Christ is ensnared by the spirit of antichrist. Many rise up among us, believing they know what Christ should look like and how He should be in our lives, and having just enough truth to be believable, they break off from the true church and true faith to lead many astray to a false-christ.

I see this passage in 1 John as proof text of once saved, always saved. Those who truly believe will remain, that is what it says. Why? Because God, through His Spirit, is able to make them stand.

“…They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us…” (vs. 19).

Those who do not truly believe may walk with us for a time and may even appear to be true believers, but eventually the deceptiveness of their understanding will be revealed as they walk away due to one of the previously stated reasons above or some other not covered here. Many of these become the voice of the spirit of antichrist in our midst as they begin to put down those of true faith and the truth professed. These who fall away as our focal passage implies often become a false teacher that, if we are not alert and watchful, can lead even the mature in Christ away from the paths of truth and righteousness.

Scripture warns that even the elect (Matthew 24:24), those who have sincere faith in Christ and a true, growing and strong relationship with Him, even they may be fooled for a time by the lie that has just enough truth in it to be believable. They are still true believers in Christ, but they get on a wrong path because they are not alert and growing in their own understanding in the area of falsehood they have fallen too.

“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth” (vs. 20-21).

From my own experience, I believe that the elect who are fooled for a time but who are sincerely seeking God in Christ will eventually recognize the truth and turn back to right paths. Verse 20 of our focal passage confirms this as it says that we know all truth because of the anointing that is in us, The Spirit of God within us who teaches us all things. But it can be devastating to the lives of those who see the example of the elect who may fall away from truth for a time, as those who follow us, not truly knowing Christ, become snared by the fake because of following the true believer during their time of false understanding. So we, the elect, must be alert and constantly growing in the truth of Christ.

Verse 21 instructs us in how to recognize the false teaching of antichrist:

First, any little falsehood found in a teaching should give us pause. If we are drawn to a new teaching and there is something in it that we recognize as a lie, that is a clue that we need to dig deeper into the so called “new truth” and make sure it is not an old lie behind a façade-christ.

Then the Amplified version of verse 21 speaks to me of another thing we can realize as warning that we need to look closer at a “new truth” before we go running after it. “I write to you not because you are ignorant and do not perceive and know the Truth, but because you do perceive and know it, and [know positively] that nothing false (no deception, no lie) is of the Truth.” As I read this version of this verse I see not only assurance of truth, but I sense the peace of mind and heart that assurance brings to us. When peace is disturbed by a new teaching, it is a signal to look more closely and discern from whom the teaching comes: The Spirit of Christ or the spirit of antichrist.

Another warning of a need to check our facts is what is being said about Christ and the Father (vs. 22-23): “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.”

I.e.: any teaching that denies Christ being God with us, Immanuel, God incarnate in the body of One call the Son of God, the propitiation or full price for our sin, is antichrist. And this passage warns that we cannot have the Father without first having the Son in truth. They are a package deal.

The spirit of antichrist is not to be trifled with. It is prevalent in our day and it is the major force of our day that blinds the eyes and deceives the hearts of many. We must seek constantly to know the truth for ourselves, so that we can be used of God in our day to dispel the false.

Before I close, I want to stress verse 23, Amplified: “No one who [habitually] denies (disowns) the Son even has the Father. Whoever confesses (acknowledges and has) the Son has the Father also.”

Note the words, “habitually denies and disowns the Son”. I don’t know about you, but I have experienced times when the devil—the author and perfecter of the spirit of antichrist, has raised a doubt in me about the truth of Christ and even made me wonder about the truth of God. It is what he does. But God always leads me back to truth as I know it from His Spirit’s teaching me, not only from reading it in scripture, but from experiencing it in life.

The word “habitually” is vital for the Christian to remember. We will, because of where we are in our flesh and in the world, fall from time to time to sin. But we do not lose our salvation because of a temporary fall that is not based in habit (Romans 2:1; 1 John 3:6, 9, Amp., scroll down). Habitual sin is seen in those who refuse change, refusing to become like Him; it is the sin that, when recognized, sees us shake our fist in the face of God and, denying the right of Christ to rule that area of our lives, we choose to hold to that habit of sin. If we make a habit of denying that Jesus is the Christ, feigning faith through half-hearted or total lack of obedience to turn away from sin, that falls under the category of habitual sin that proves we do not belong to Him.

An occasional struggle in our faith that is defeated by truth is a temptation to sin. Satan may try to convince those who have such struggle with temptation that they are not of true faith, but Romans 8:1 tells us that God does not condemn us in our struggle against the flesh, the world, the devil, and the spirit of antichrist. Tell that demonic accuser to go away and keep standing on the truth. He will eventually give up.

Now we all have habits that seem constantly to pull us back into struggle with our sin nature in this life. This is what Paul was speaking of in Romans 7:14-8:1. These are habits that we may have struggled with all our lives, hate having in our lives, work to overcome, but often get snared by it despite our stance against it. Such lifelong habits are often hard to break and too easily fallen back into. Realize that when we hate a sin that too easily snares us though we actively struggle against it, Jesus has us covered in our struggle. Every repentance of such sin and new attempt to have victory over it is aided by His Spirit until we find victory in His strength. It is the sins that we do habitually, giving ourselves to it in rebellion against God that is antichrist and can be proof of false faith that is no salvation at all.

So we have to not only watch what is going on around us and realize when a spirit of antichrist is pulling us and others away from true faith; but we also have to watch for that spirit at play in our lives, chaining us to habitual sin. The wisdom of the flesh, the wisdom of the world, and the wisdom of demons are all antichrist in nature. This is our battlefield as we seek to walk with Him, and not against Him. As we choose to follow Christ, daily taking up our cross of self-denial: seeking, finding and standing firm on His truth, we complete the suffering-affliction of Christ in standing against the spirit of antichrist wherever it is found. So walk by faith, rejoicing that by having the Christ, you get the Father also, and take every opportunity to give an account of the hope that is in you.

“Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:13-16).

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 8

Joyful Cross Bearing

Jesus, in Luke 9:23, said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (NLT).

The Amplified version clarifies the call to “deny self” as “disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself.” And it says of those who choose to respond to Jesus’ “follow Me” as including “cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying also.” To me, our passage for today in First John is the call to complete the sufferings of Christ by choosing to take up our cross daily and follow Him.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. And the world passes away and disappears, and with it the forbidden cravings (the passionate desires, the lust) of it; but he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever” (1 John 2:15-17, AMP).

Too often I hear people define the cross we bear as things that are beyond our control: sickness in our bodies that we can do nothing about, wayward children, a philandering husband, etc. That is so far from the truth. Jesus did not have to bear the cross. He chose too. He even told His disciples when they started to fight to save Him from arrest, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54)

Just as taking up His cross was His to choose, so is our cross. And it is a daily choice of denying self so as to follow Jesus. This passage speaks of one thing that most often hinders our cross bearing. Let’s break it down to discover what that is.

“Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. …”

Love of the world and the things of the word will definitely stand in the way of self-denial and choosing to follow Jesus through cleaving to Him and His ways. When we choose the world and its pleasures, we deny our love for Jesus and choose to love the world over our love for Him and the Father. We cannot love both. That is what this passage is saying.

The world is polar opposite to God and His ways. To choose the world, we must walk away from God. And what is it that the world appeals to in luring us away from our call to bear the cross with Jesus? Self-interest.

“…For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself]. …”

The world appeals to our flesh through our craving for sensual gratification. Don’t mix “sensual” up with “sexual”. Sensual gratification has to do with the body’s sensory systems that love to be pleasured. That includes our taste buds, music preferences, desire for freedom from every form of pain that is too often used to lead us into addictions that cover up that pain, etc. These are the things that appeal to our physical appetites, and yes, that can and often does include our sexual appetites. The world loves to draw us away from God by appealing to our sensual appetites.

This passage also warns of the world’s appeal to us through a particular sensory organ, our eyes—further defined here as the “greedy longings of the mind.” Think on a desire too long and we will give into it.

Take, for example, my Spark Journey. Try as I may, I struggle constantly to find victory and freedom over my desire for sweets. Why? I see one I like, and though I may walk away successfully, my mind will start thinking about how good it tastes, how the texture is on my tongue, etc. The next thing I know, though it may take several days of thinking, I will fall away from my commitment to stay away from the sweets. Once I taste that sweet, it re-enlivens the desire for more and off on a binge I go.

The world and the desire it parades before us is not our friend. It is a pawn in the hand of the enemy of God that wants to keep us ensnared to the sins of the flesh, working hindrance to our relationship with God. And what does that enemy often use to defeat us? Our own sense of pride, rightly defined here as assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things.

Continuing our example above, do you know what knocks me down for the count every time I fall to snacking on sweets? Pride spurred by frustration to say, “I should be able to do this. I am stronger than this pull to sweets. I can do this”; All the while forgetting that though I can do this, I can do nothing apart from Christ, who is my strength.

Then there is the pride seen in the pity party: “Oh, I fell again. I am never going to get this. I may as well quit trying.” Yes, this is a strike against one’s sense of pride as it centers on the failure of one to have power, forgetting where one’s power is found; calling God a liar who says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Does God never give us anything out of the world? Yes, He does. But when He gives it, whatever it is, it is always for use toward our good and His glory. He gives me and you food for the building up of the body so we may have strength to live good days on the earth, bringing glory to Him whom we look to for our provision. But when we love the world and the things in the world, we go after those things for the sake of meeting our sensual appetites and we glorify the world for its bounty. When we seek God first and foremost, what does He say?

“…But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you as well…” (Matthew 6:25-34). And what is God’s promise in our passage today, given to us who will take up our cross daily, denying self to follow Jesus.

“…he who does the will of God and carries out His purposes in his life abides (remains) forever.”

Life more abundant and full, with all the provision needed for life, belongs to those who complete the suffering of Christ through denying self, daily, in order to please God alone.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 5

Delightful Obedience

“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:3-6).

Jesus came to do the Father’s will. He made it clear in my perception of things that this was His greatest delight and ultimate goal, to please the Father and accomplish His purposes. When we come to this place in our walk with the Christ, we enter into His delight found in accomplishing the Father’s will and fulfilling His purpose.

Obedience is not a choice for the true believer. It is the ultimate sign, the proof of sincere and eternal relationship through Christ. When we receive Christ, He places His Spirit within us. His Spirit, like Father and Son, will not say one thing while doing another. That is the spirit of hypocrisy.

When we are in true relationship with the Father through the Christ, His Spirit comes to make us one with them in thought, intent and action. Though we may fall on occasion, we will quickly rise up as soon as we realize it, dust ourselves off with the brush of repentance and turn to walk in fellowship with Him through obedience again.

The amplified version can be a challenge to read, but remove the brackets and note the beauty of fellowship: “And this is how we may discern daily, by experience, that we are coming to know Him—to perceive, recognize, understand, and become better acquainted with Him: if we keep, bear in mind, observe, practice His teachings, His precepts, and His commandments.”

Can it be any clearer in showing the importance of our coming into agreement with His ways as sign-proof that we walk in relationship with Him? If that is not enough, look again at the next sentence, minus the brackets: “Whoever says, ‘I know Him, I perceive, recognize, understand, and am acquainted with Him,’ but fails to keep and obey His commandments and teachings is a liar, and the Truth of the Gospel is not in him.”

There are whole people groups that believe it does not matter what they do Monday through Saturday as long as they are set apart and sanctified to Him on Sunday. This passage blows that philosophy out of the water, as that old saying goes. It does not float. It does not flow with the stream of God’s righteousness. It sinks to the bottom with the sludge and slime.

“But he who keeps and treasures His Word, who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety, truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected, completed, and reached maturity” (vs. 5, AMP). This verse instructs our obedience. Here we see that true obedience:

† Keeps His word as a treasure: Oh what joy it is to read and study God’s word as a treasure hunt and, finding nuggets of great worth, to hide it in one’s heart as resource for life and living; bounty that dictates and directs one’s path. Those who truly know Him are not afraid of His discipline, realizing that is what proves them to be His chosen child and it is what He does to make us more like Himself, the spitting image of our Father. These rejoice with understanding that His word is used by Him in the power of His Spirit to teach us, for “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). What joy it is to know that God cares how we think and that even the littlest of choices that direct our path with Him is important to Him. Treasure it and let that treasure supply and equip your adequacy as His beloved child. In doing so, we…

† Bear in mind His precepts: Every decision in life is brought under the microscope of His word. It is what we use in choosing life or death, good or evil, blessing or curse. His word is truth and will lead us to the truth of His will for us even in this day and age. It is not obsolete. It is a guiding light, a lamp to the feet of those who know how to treasure it and rightly use it.

† Who observes His message in its entirety: God can and does use a verse to give us direction, especially in situations that are not clearly defined in Holy text; but that one or two verse message from Him will always stand in agreement with the whole of His word. It will never lead us contrary to Him and His ways. This is why it is important that we know the whole.

I.e.: if you want to know what God’s word says about giving, you don’t just look at one verse and say, “That is it!” You look at all places in scripture that speak of giving and, reading it in context, pull it all together to get the full picture. Someone just looking at one verse may believe that they are required of God to give to their own harm and the harm of their family. A little digging and we find that God’s word says to give according to our means and what we are able to do without harming self and those we are tasked to care for.

Does that mean we never have to give sacrificially? No, but it does mean that God does not put us on the street while using our means to put another in a mansion. That is the world’s way, not Gods. God’s way uses the surplus of those who have to help those in any true, proven need and it does it in a way that does not keep the needy dependent on us, but that helps and even requires them to come up higher. God’s way requires all to grow to a place of no longer being needy, but being able to give.

“…truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected, completed, and reached maturity.”

When we get to the point in our walk with God that reading His word is no longer a chore, but a joy; coming to a place where even His words of discipline are a treasure to us that we hide in our hearts for use in directing our path, we come to a place of maturity in Him. Those who are mature in Him hear His voice calling us to dig deep and find the whole of His truth on the subjects of life.

“By this we may perceive, know, recognize, and be sure that we are in Him: Whoever says he abides in Him ought, as a personal debt to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.”

We can have full assurance of our relationship with God and our eternal destination by the growth we have in us in this area of our Christian walk and faith.

Jesus knew the whole of the Word of God and how to use it. And He has given us His Spirit to teach us. What does John say at the God-breathed inspiration of His Spirit: “As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him” (1 John 2:27).

It is good to have teachers. They are tasked with and help our spiritual growth and understanding. But the greatest joy of any teacher is when the student becomes the teacher, surpassing even them in their growth and understanding. That only happens as we realize that Jesus gave us His Spirit to be our teacher in His stead.

We can trust the Spirit to instruct us, and He often will use others to confirm our hearing Him. It is exciting when God teaches me something new to me, and then I hear that same teaching from behind the pulpit or out of the mouth of some teacher of His word that I know to be trustworthy.

Really, unless the Spirit helps us to learn, even understanding what is said to us by others who teach is impossible without Him. We should never go into an instructional setting without seeking the Spirit to teach us and help us discern truth.

Jesus, at the age of 12, sat with the teachers of His day and learned from them. Of course, He astounded them with the level of His understanding, but nonetheless, we know He had to grow His childlike mind in preparation for His glorious ministry as Luke 2:52 says, “And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”

We too are charged with growing and showing ourselves to be of Him through our growing wisdom and understanding and wise use of His precepts and commands. Child of God, if you are not growing in the power of His Spirit, you are not abiding with Him.

(Have a great weekend. See you back here next week.)

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 4

Rejoicing in Freedom

“If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts]. If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. If we say (claim) we have not sinned, we contradict His Word and make Him out to be false and a liar, and His Word is not in us [the divine message of the Gospel is not in our hearts].

“My little children, I write you these things so that you may not violate God’s law and sin. But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father—[it is] Jesus Christ [the all] righteous [upright, just, Who conforms to the Father’s will in every purpose, thought, and action]. And He [that same Jesus Himself] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of] the whole world” (1 John 1:8-2:2, AMP).

~*~

Together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God within us, we make the Father known to the world, continuing that work of Christ in our age. Together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God, we are not only tasked with continuing the work of Christ in building the church, but we are tasked with His work of unifying the body of Christ. Now we add that together, in cooperation with the Spirit of God within us, we spread the gospel message. In this work, I see several things that we are tasked with in our day.

First is cooperating with the Spirit in making distinction between sin and righteousness and the judgment (or consequences) that comes to each.

In our day, truth is too often seen as relative. Each person can decide for themselves what truth is, and therefore what is wrong and what is right as dictated by circumstance, according to their value system. To the world there is no absolute right or wrong and therefore, no absolute truth. But God has a different opinion and we are tasked with finding, portraying, and promoting His truth that makes sin as He sees it clear to the observer.

This responsibility in completing Christ’s afflictions includes being humble enough to admit our own sin nature, and surrendered to Him in not only turning from our own sin, but in allowing Him to use our experience of His grace as witness of His work in our lives to those who struggle as we do.

Our Minister of Evangelism at our church shared a visit they had with a young girl who said she never sins. Everything they suggested as a possibility, she said she never did. Her mother agreed that she was just a good kid. But this passage proves her sin, for those who refuse to recognize they are a sinner in need of a Savior call God a liar.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, we just don’t always recognize our sin for His thoughts are higher than ours and His ways higher than our ways. Our sin may be so subtle that we do not realize it is sin, but it is there.

This is our task, to help others realize that we cannot be all that God desires and designed us to be in the limits of our fleshly nature, no matter how “good” we seem to the world’s ways. Thus we fall short of His glory and prove ourselves to be sinners in need of a Savior.

Second we are tasked with the gospel message: sharing with all who will hear that Christ chose to give His life as atoning sacrifice for all sin. The sin of the entire world is covered by His victory as the Lamb of God, sacrificed for all. That victory belongs to God alone. But it is passed on to all who will receive the work of the Spirit in imparting His freedom from sin and death to us who choose to believe by faith and surrender by grace.

Third, we are tasked with the responsibility to help people grow strong in faith and in the bearing of the fruit of the Spirit. We are called to make disciples, students of Christ and the ways of God, of all who believe. Only as we begin to grow in the knowledge of the intricacies of the nature of God can we recognize deep underlying roots of sin that we would otherwise be unaware of possessing.

Fourth, we are tasked with the privilege of helping all who trust in Him to come into the assurance of His victory, gifted to them.

Though we are saved by grace through faith, made whole eternally in Christ, we are here and now a work in progress. Each of us, too often get caught off guard and stumble into sin’s traps. The enemy can defeat us through a spirit of condemnation if we are not walking in the assurance that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ our Lord, who forever lives to intercede on our behalf. In the power of the Spirit, Father and Son “[continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].” We are tasked with helping the elect come into this assurance of faith in His finished work, and trust His continuous work in us as He leads us from sins grip and increasing degrees of glory as we surrender all to Him.

Working together with God’s Spirit in making sin and righteousness and judgment clear, rejoicing over one another comes to us. We become one another’s testimony of the work of God through us in encouraging and helping one another grow strong in faith and in assurance through Christ that we have died to sin and death and are raised to life in Him. Anyone who has children or other loved ones they have prayed long over and poured themselves out to in hope of seeing them grow in the Lord knows the joy of watching their faith and obedience blossom strong.

As I sought God in where to go with this portion of our study, He led me to Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. The Amplified version of this passage seems a fitting close to this thought as it illustrates these points:

“Grace (favor and spiritual blessing) be to you and [heart] peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, [So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech [to speak of your faith] and complete knowledge and illumination [to give you full insight into its meaning].  In this way [our] witnessing concerning Christ (the Messiah) was so confirmed and established and made sure in you that you are not [consciously] falling behind or lacking in any special spiritual endowment or Christian grace [the reception of which is due to the power of divine grace operating in your souls by the Holy Spirit], while you wait and watch [constantly living in hope] for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and [His] being made visible to all. And He will establish you to the end [keep you steadfast, give you strength, and guarantee your vindication; He will be your warrant against all accusation or indictment so that you will be] guiltless and irreproachable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah). God is faithful (reliable, trustworthy, and therefore ever true to His promise, and He can be depended on); by Him you were called into companionship and participation with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

May we all be busy about the Father’s business, bearing witness of the Gospel message, and know the joy of seeing those we love come into their own strong and growing freedom from sin and assurance in Christ.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 2

Joy-Filled Reporters for Christ

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete” (vs. 1-4).

~*~

Years ago, while on a mission trip to a foreign land, a person looked me deep in the eyes and with perfect English and challenge on their face, ready for a fight, they asked, “How do you KNOW there is a GOD?” (harsh emphasis with all caps). Stunned for only a second, I replied with earnest fervor and a smile that welled up from the Spirit, “Because I have EXPERIENCED HIM!” That person prayed to receive my Lord as their own that day after I bore testimony of His presence in my life and His desire to be in their presence as well.

People do not want to hear of some god we have only read about. They can read His word as well, but for those without the Spirit to aid them, it is dry and outdated; the God they only read of seems only to be wrathful and condemning; or to many He is a dead god or one that never really existed. They want to know with proof that there is a GOD: One who cares; One who lives; One who can reach them where they hurt. That is our call in this life, to finish what Jesus started in making the Father known. How do we do that? This passage tells us. Let us break it down and thrash it out.

“What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life.”

Yes, we need to know and be able to tell others “what was from the beginning.” We need to KNOW His word and understand the truths portrayed there so as to share with others its teachings, but people want and need more than that. They need to know how we have heard Him for ourselves; that we have seen Him with our eyes, though spiritual eyes they may be. They need to know of the vital relationship that can be had by us as if we are looking into His face, able to touch His hands and be touched by Him. If we are not personally growing in this vital relationship with our living God, how can we truly share Him? And why should those we share with follow if we can give no assurance that He is alive?

“…and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. …”

God does not leave us to our own means in accomplishing this task of making Him and our Savior known in the earth. Through the power of His Spirit, present and at work in us, we have it within us to have this vital and real relationship with Him so that we can KNOW that HE IS, that He lives, and that He cares for us. This is what people of our day need to hear; more than just words that seem to them dry and dead, but how God manifests Himself to us today, in our here and now reality. They need to hear how His word has proven active for us today and sharper than a double-edged sword.

Too often when God instructs us through His word, giving us hope in our situations, we share the hope without sharing the word that led us there. When we do that, we fail to allow those who long to see and believe that opportunity to realize how alive His word is in our day and to recognize His hand in His answer that comes to prove the word of hope we have.

Jesus gives us His Spirit, tasked with the call and empowered to manifest the whole of our God to us. In the power of the Spirit, we know our God intimately and personally as we trust Him to make the presence of the God-head with and in us known. There is no room for fear of what man may think of us when we truly desire the make His reality known in the earth.

If we truly have His saving grace in us, we do not have to go far or try hard to find Him. All we have to do is believe. Believe that He speaks to us and causes us to hear His voice and know our God (John 10). Believe that He abides in and is with us (John 14:17). Trust His presence to be manifested to and through us (Acts 2:25-28). Rejoice in His discipline that comes to us as from a perfect Father who loves us and desires our greatest potential and ultimate good (Hebrews 12; 2 Timothy 3:16).

“…These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”

In Colossians 1, reading beyond the verse that called me to study these things out, we learn much of Paul’s joy in being a reporter for Christ, completing what is lacking of His work in our day.

“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. Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Colossians 1:24-29).

Along with reporting His activity to a people who have yet to know Him, we encourage one another as we share His manifest presence in the church.

As I read Paul’s words in Colossians, I realize that it is vital that we know our gifting from God through His Spirit, meant for use in the church so that through that gifting, we may accomplish this work He calls us to. I.e.: A “helper” gift needs to realize that they are a helper and that sharing their testimony does not have to look, or sound, like a teacher or a profit. Out of their helper spirit they speak and portray Him to the church and to the world. Thus they can be themselves, sharing their God-experience out of who they are in the way they best function, rested in Him, trusting God to empower them and accomplish His purpose through them.

Paul, working out of His gifting and call, speaks. That is his motivation and power. For a person gifted with helps, they must realize that it “helps” others to hear their experience and speak out of the Spiritual gifting that is in them, though theirs may come across as a more simplistic, functional testimony. When they do, they too will experience the power of God’s flow. If they try to speak as one gifted with prophesy when they are not a prophet, they will be insecure, coming across as a façade. But if they work out of the power of one gifted with helps, they will be in their element and power will flow for them to speak with ease, just as Paul does in His writings.

What joy it is when we share truth of God’s reality with others out of our giftedness, and they see Him for the first time. My husband is a welding instructor, head of the department in our local college. It was exciting when he hired a new instructor as we watched his excitement over seeing students as the light of understanding came on. This is our task, to make Him known, and the rejoicing of seeing someone get it is like no other.

Jesus prayed, “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:25-26).

Jesus wept over Jerusalem as He looked out over the people who just did not get it. He longed for their comprehension and understanding of the truth of God and His ways. Jesus intended that we grow in knowledge of this God of love we profess. And He also intended that we carry on this work of being His reporters in the earth, telling all who will listen of the God-sightings we experience firsthand as He works in our lives in personal ways that make us able to say, “I know there is a God because I have experienced Him!” And Jesus rejoices with and through us when the light suddenly dawns bright through eyes of comprehension.

~*~

“Father…I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. …But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth…” (John 17).

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.