Tag Archives: Unity

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

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

Continuing as we consider our passage in Colossians 3:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~*~

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

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

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

As I seek the Lord concerning where to go next in our journey to understand the Mind of Christ and its proper function within us, I am led to Colossians 3:1-17. I love the Amplified version of this passage. Let us begin with verses 1-2:

“IF THEN you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.”

Set your minds and keep them set on the things above where Christ is. Jesus being our example, let’s look at a few passages that reveal to us His mindset and how it was on the things above, where God is.

First reported indication – age 12, Luke 2:41-51: “…And He said to them (His parents), How is it that you had to look for Me? Did you not see and know that it is necessary [as a duty] for Me to be in My Father’s house and [occupied] about My Father’s business? …” (AMP).

The mind of Christ focuses us on the Father’s business. Do you know what your assignment in God’s Kingdom is, and how faithful He is to gift you in fulfilling His call? When you are in the work-place, do you fret over the ungodly environment, or watch for the opportunity to do kingdom business and shine the light that dispels the darkness? Do you stand on righteousness, or obey your boss in things that bring you to disobey your God? Where is your focus during the daily grind of life? Having the mind of Christ that is kept on the things above always remembers that we are His light in this life and behaves as light:

“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” (Ephesians 5:7-10, NASB).

In temptation – Matthew 4:1-11: “…It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God….”

The mind of Christ does not just read the word and go through life without further thought of it. As one dictated by the mind of Christ, we will know God’s word well enough for God to use it in our stand against fleshly, worldly, and Satanic lie and temptation. The mind of Christ always turns to God’s wisdom for direction and says to those who would tempt us, “My Daddy says, ‘…’.’”

I love the response of Joseph to the hour of his temptation. Oh…if we can only get this mind in us to cry out, “How can I do that and sin against my GOD!” Knowing truth protects us from following falsehood.

As a young Christian woman who was not raised in church, I knew one truth for sure. Jesus is the way the truth and the life, and He receives as His own those who seek His saving grace with true and sincere belief. Thinking that all “churches” are Christian, following my first husband’s demands that I be in his faith, I found myself serving in a church I soon found was far from true. He didn’t go, but he insisted I go, and I did, whole heartedly.

One evening my then sister-in-law headed after service further into the building. Asking where she was going, she said she was going to Bible study. Always interested in Bible study, I asked what they were studying. She said, “Oh! We are studying to take the test so that we may receive salvation.”

Using the little bit of knowledge I had, God turned a light on in my heart, and I knew I was in a place that teaches falsehood. That was my last day in that fellowship and I have since come to know that they are a “cult” according to true believing churches.

In even well-meaning opposition – Matthew 16:21-26: “…But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s….’”

The mind of Christ always has its sights on God’s interests rather than man’s. When our assignment from God is clear, it does not allow distraction from completing the course laid out. This requires us to know when to say “no”.

As we talked about before, not every good thing is the God-thing we are called to. Often “good things” will be offered to draw us away from the “God-thing”. The mind of Christ has sights set and keeps them set, discerning good, better, and best and choosing the best that keeps us on target with Kingdom purpose in fulfilling the call of God in us.

When we find ourselves stressing over all we are doing, struggling to keep up, and seeing the thing we are called to slipping into neglect and half-hearted fulfillment, it is time to reevaluate our priorities and back off of the good to walk with God.

I could go on, but this gives us a good start on discerning the mind of Christ that dictates us to have God’s heart. I pray God will add to your understanding in this area. For now let us move on to the next portion of our passage. See you at the next posting!

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

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

Philippians 2:1-8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what is delighting in the Lord?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extreme pleasure or satisfaction; joy.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It begins with the mind of Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. …I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:19, 30)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choice Point

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

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

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

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

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

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

A CHURCH IN HARMONY

(God spoke to me in this, but I will share it with you. Enjoy)

“I entreat and advise Euodia and I entreat and advise Syntyche to agree and to work in harmony in the Lord. And I exhort you too, [my] genuine yokefellow, help these [two women to keep on cooperating], for they have toiled along with me in [the spreading of] the good news (the Gospel), as have Clement and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life” (Philippians 4:2-3, AMP).

I am eternally grateful for the leadership God has raised up for His Church, and for the harmonious ministry of love each of those leaders give so faithfully. I hope that you continually pray for those who lead among you, for their task is too often daunting. But most importantly I hope that you realize, as I too am reminded this day, that without our loving, faithful, and harmonious participation, the Church cannot be that of God’s desire and design.

As in any group setting, each individual of us is vital to the success of the group as a whole. Together we seek to help and encourage one another in our journey that too often includes emotional upsets in our bodies and minds; often with that upset hindering our ability to live in harmony and peace with those we love most. Peaceful coexistence requires a heart that can come into agreement with those we live alongside and work alongside. It requires us to be able to harmonize.

Harmony is more than just being of one accord with agreement in feeling or opinion. It is a pleasing combination of elements in the whole: each part knowing and doing its part in unison with the whole, giving all that is available to and within the individual to the betterment of the whole. Agreement often requires knowing when and how to compromise while at the same time recognizing individuality, thus allowing each member to be themselves: freeing each to use their special gifts, talents and abilities to make all flow in ways that make a pleasing melody of the whole of us.

If God has you to a body of believers, then you have a God-given role and responsibility to harmonize with that body, whether that role is great or small. If you are finding no place in which your God-given tune fits, perhaps you are not in the place He has hand carved for you. Or perhaps your place is still in the making and it is a time to wait upon the refining work of the Lord for that fit.

Are you doing your part? If so, praise the Lord! If not, it is time to seek the Lord for your role and find where you fit so that you can begin to add your voice to the harmony that will work to help the healing and product of the whole.

In a joint effort to harmonize, not all do the same thing. Each has their role to play and each fits together with the whole so that all flow into one beautiful melody that rejoices the heart of God. God has perfectly designed the melody we are to play in our lives together. A base trying to sing the part of the soprano, seeking to mimic their pitch, destroys the work of the whole, souring the notes.

Remember, God carved a spot for you. Just as there is a place within each of us that only God can fill, the spot God carves for us will not fit well on another. Only you will be comfortable in that spot, having all that is needful to perfectly fill it. And though you may be the only one where you are in the roll you fill making the joyful noise you are called to, that role will fit with the whole. You may walk on stones along the path that are different from those upon which His people around you walk, but your roll will bring harmony to the whole as you do your all in the strength of God’s supply.

I do not normally call the Church a “team”, but team is what we are. We are a team of people with common struggles, like goals and desires, working together to help one another to realize our greatest potential in Christ as we fulfill His good purpose. The word “Team” does not contain an “I” or a “me” within it. We cannot remain alone and truly partake of the harmony of a team. There is a place for each of us in the harmonious relationship of the body of Christ, the Church.

As I pray for God’s leaders to work together in harmony to provide the best experience of a healing environment for each member of God’s body of people, I also pray that you and I will join our hearts with those who lead as we work together to create a healing harmony. Only as we work together to know one another better and give support where needed can we truly be called His Body, The Church. And only as we become HIS Church will we truly experience His joyous healing in our harmonious song of Salvation’s Glory.