Tag Archives: Unity

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.

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 11

The Delight of His Kingdom

“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:1-3).

Children of God: Princes and Princesses of the Kingdom. We are part of the royal court. God rejoices over each one of us, and the more we come to look like His Firstborn Son, the more joy we bring to Him.

The only real goal we need to have for life more abundant and full is to grow strong in our likeness to Christ, purifying ourselves as God is pure; wholly belonging to the Father, being passionate about Him and all He that is passionate over. If we do this one thing, our weight will line out as we surrender our health practices to Him. We will overcome health issues, if not finding our healing this side of glory, then finding our strength in the wait for the healing. As we learn to deal with the situations and circumstances of life as He would, we will have peace in knowing that we followed Him and we can trust Him to deal with the situation in due season.

Like Jesus, we are to strive to live lives as children of His kingdom in our here and now experience. Jesus spent a lot of time teaching about the Kingdom and what it looks like. That is a clue to us that we should know how the Kingdom of God functions and looks so we can be an expression of His Kingdom as His ambassadors to the world, completing His work of making the Kingdom of God known in the earth.

In doing so, we also must realize that though we are of His Kingdom already, secure in our citizenship, we are not in the Kingdom yet. Thus the reason Jesus prayed that though we are in the world, we would not be of the world (John 17:13-19). Our lives are to continue His work of expressing the Kingdom lifestyle into our surroundings.

We have covered the Kingdom life before in other studies, and I don’t want to belay our time here spending too much time on that again, but just by way of review for those who have read my materials for long and intro to the new reader, let’s touch on a few of the aspects of the Kingdom life that should be in us. The Kingdom is:

†   Love – God is love and those who are truly His will love as He loves for His love abides in them and will flow through them, even to the unlovable (1 John 2-5; Matthew 5:43-48).

†   One – Those who truly belong to God are one with the Son, who makes us one with the Father and with one another. There is unity in the Kingdom and we are to work together toward unity in the earth (John 17; Matthew 12:25-28).

†   Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost – By the power of the Spirit at work in us, we strive to be righteous as He is righteous; we enter into His peace provided for us even in the difficult seasons of life in a fallen world; and we have joy in Him because He empowers us to know our God and trust His hand (John 12-16; Romans 14:17).

†   Kingdom Revelation – The Kingdom is no longer mysterious to the true believer, for it is given for us to know, understand and proclaim His Kingdom on earth; it is ever growing within us; it is a treasure worth discovering and possessing for oneself; it is a resource to us, equipping us to separate the good worth keeping from that which is to be cast away (Matthew 13).

We could go on, but suffice to say that ours is to possess and release the Kingdom of God on the earth in ways that encourage all who will to enter in with us. We are in the world, though not of the world: we are of the Kingdom while yet we await our entrance for all eternity.

While in the world, we are warned, “For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1). We are in the world, but because we do not behave as those of the world, they often find us strange and disagreeable to their way. They cannot know, recognize or understand us because they do now know, recognize or understand Him (Amplified). John 15:18-21 warns:

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.”

It is not us they truly persecute; but it is our ways that are not their own. And when they come against us because our ways are not like theirs, it is not truly us they come against, but Christ in us. They do not know, recognize as legitimate or acknowledge the righteousness of our ways because they do not know, recognize or acknowledge Him. Those who stand in opposition to God and His ways, naturally find themselves standing in opposition to all who represent Him and His ways.

Kingdom life is upside down to that of the ways of the world. We love those who hate us, choosing to do good toward them where we can. We find peace in the midst of turmoil; joy in the Lord within the pages of life’s sorrows; and when we are weak, that is when we are truly strong. We do not walk the paths of life as the world does, but while on paths with them we walk the straight and narrow way of the Father. And we seldom fret as the world does, coming quickly to remember and realize our limitless supply is made sure through His grace toward us who believe. This is our call, to finish the work of Christ in our day, making His Kingdom known to all who will hear.

“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people” (Matthew 4:23).

“And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing” (Luke 9:2).

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 7

Delighting in Victory Over Evil

Thus far in our study to cover our role in completing what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings and find the joy of victory in those afflictions, have you noticed as I have that we are finding in that work our calling, equipping and purpose in the earth?

We are called and equipped to be His witnesses, not only repeating what we read in Scripture, but knowing its truth and knowing Him by experience of Him through our faith in Him. We are called and equipped to build up the body of Christ, helping others find their way into the fold, all the while promoting unity in the body. We are blessed to know with assurance of faith our freedom in Christ, freeing us from sin and death. We complete His sufferings through our own walk of obedience, no matter the cost that comes to us as we obey God’s will and accomplish His purpose. And finally we are called to complete His suffering-affliction in our love walk, even and especially when hurting people hurt people in the body of Christ.

As we grow in our ability to successfully do all these things in completing His afflictions, we have a good start in completing the next of His afflictions:

“I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” (1 John 2:12-14).

“…you have overcome the evil one (the devil).”

Throughout His life, from the womb to His ascension, Jesus was in the business of overcoming evil. The devil was after Him while in the womb, but God led Him to victory through directing the path of His earthly parents. He overcame with every temptation, and believe me, there was more temptation than seen in His wilderness experience. He overcame in His love walk, the speaking of truth, the revealing of the Father, and lest we forget, He defeated sin and death authored by the evil one when He went to the cross and walked out of the tomb to rise again as King of kings over the Kingdom of God.

We complete this aspect of His sufferings in every way when we face evil in life as He did. How? I see numerous avenues by which we walk in this victory with Him in this passage. Looking at the Amplified version, let’s see what is there:

“I am writing to you, little children, because for His name’s sake your sins are forgiven [pardoned through His name and on account of confessing His name]” (vs. 12).

We defeat evil when we confess His name through repentance from sin and walk in assurance of faith. But look at our assurance. Our assurance has not so much to do with our repentance as it has to do with the “for His name’s sake.”

God forgives first and foremost “for His name’s sake.” As we realize that He forgives us fully for the name of Jesus, Immanuel (God with us) who paid the full price for sin, we increase in our assurance that He forgives our sin, great and small. But take it a step further to Isaiah 43:25.

“I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.”

God desires relationship with His people. Just as He chose for His own sake to forgive Israel even while they were still in sin, doing so for His own sake so that He could fulfill His purposes in building the lineage of the Christ; in like fashion He forgives us for His own sake in completing the work of Christ, leading us to assurance and trust in our relationship with Him while He builds for Himself a people for God’s own possession.

And note the exciting thing about Him choosing to forgive for His sake instead of for ours alone. He promises that He will remember our sin no more.

Now God is not forgetful, is He? I don’t think so. He leads His prophets to recite the sin of Israel before them as reminder several times in scripture. What this means to me is even though it may cross His mind as we keep doing like or same things over and over in our journey to freedom, He does not remember it in ways that bring it up in condemnation.

Condemnation is not from God. For His own sake more than ours, He chooses to forgive so He can continue to strive toward a Kingdom of strong relationships with a people of His possession. When we walk in assurance of such a grace as this, we are encouraged to walk in victory as He is victorious over evil. Our walk with Him is strengthened through this trust and we are equipped by it to walk free of sin and stand firm as His servant. And when we do sin, our relationship is protected by the assurance we have in His forgiveness and commitment to help us walk free in victory.

“…I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know (recognize, be aware of, and understand) Him Who [has existed] from the beginning…I write to you, fathers, because you have come to know (recognize, be conscious of, and understand) Him Who [has existed] from the beginning…” (vs. 13a, 14a).

Here we see a growing relationship with God that is not only aware of Him, but grows strong in its ability to be conscious of His presence in our here and now lives. We not only recognize that He is, but we realize He is with us. We are aware, alert and conscious of Him. And we grow in this knowledge of Him to understand Him and His ways. When we come into this knowledge we are equipped to walk in victory against the schemes of the evil one. For what does it say of those who hear Him in John 10, being alerted to His presence and led forward to follow only Him?

“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” (vs. 4-5).

The better we know Him, the more easily we recognize His voice—the way He talks to and leads us. And the better we know His voice, the easier it will be for us to recognize that of the stranger who would lead us astray. We know victory over the evil one as we grow to know Him, becoming fathers of the faith in our maturity.

“…I am writing to you, young men, because you have been victorious over the wicked [one]…I write to you, boys (lads), because you have come to know (recognize and be aware) of the Father…” (vs. 13b).

In growing in our ability to know and recognize and trust Him, we come to know Him as “Father.” Walking close to our Father, learning to emulate Him, we find victory over evil.

“…I write to you, young men, because you are strong and vigorous, and the Word of God is [always] abiding in you (in your hearts), and you have been victorious over the wicked one” (v. 14b).

Learning to listen to God as Father and follow hard at His heals as a child that wants to be just like Daddy not only pleases the heart of God, but it wins the victory over evil. As we listen to and learn from God, treasuring His word, we have our weapons and armor in place and at the ready for any battle that may ensue. Each victory won strengthens us to win the next with greater ease.

Like Jesus, our growing faith in and reliance upon God grows us strong in the ways of God so that we can then “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). There is a lot to learn from Romans 12 on overcoming evil. We won’t go into great detail—I will leave it to you to read the passage, but just to do a quick run by these truths, we overcome evil:

  1. As we present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice to God (vs. 1).
  2. By refusing conformity to the world and choosing instead transformation of mind to God and His ways (vs. 2).
  3. By not thinking more highly of self than we ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, according to our measure of faith (vs. 3).
  4. Through unity as His body, learning to serve one another through our giftedness (vs. 4-8).
  5. Loving without hypocrisy (hypocrisy says one thing while doing another). Vs. 9-11 give us a picture of a proper love-walk.
  6. Abhorring evil, but clinging to good (vs. 9).
  7. Bless those who persecute and curse you (vs. 14).
  8. Being there for one another in times of joy or grief (vs. 15).
  9. Not being haughty or arrogant, but being likeminded toward each other, treating one another with respect (vs. 16).
  10. Not paying back evil for evil, leaving judgment and revenge to God, we do good even to those seen as “enemy” (vs. 17-21).

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).

We overcome evil through good, and the greatest good is love, God’s kind of love that is not based on emotion, but on choice and desire for the greater good for all. In these ways we fulfill what is lacking of Christ’s affliction in bringing victory over the evil one.

Rejoicing Comes in the Fellowship of His Sufferings: Part 3

Rejoicing in Unity of Fellowship

“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).

I love the Amplified version of verse 5: “And this is the message [the message of promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [no, not in any way].”

Yesterday we looked at the fact that the first thing we are called to do in completing what is lacking in the affliction of Christ is continuing His work of bearing witness concerning the truth of God, who He is and the way He is that is recognizable in and through us. He is Light, righteousness, goodness, truth, love, etc. There is no falsehood or darkness in Him. And as we grow in understanding of who He is and in our work of image bearing for His name’s sake, bearing witness of His Presence and work in our here and now lives, we enter into the second of our roll in filling up what is lacking of Christ’s afflictions: unity of fellowship.

There are two things about fellowship that I see to discuss today. For the first, let’s back up just a bit to verse 3: “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.”

The first insight I glean here is that our roll in completing what is lacking continues Christ’s work of building the church, the body of Christ. As we share how we experience God in our daily lives with those who do not believe, they have opportunity to join in fellowship with us by receiving our testimony and choosing the grace we walk in for themselves. That one is simple and clear. But there is a second aspect to this thought that I want to focus on. I will try to stay off my soapbox with this one.

The Amplified version of verse three adds to our discussion: “What we have seen and [ourselves] heard, we are also telling you, so that you too may realize and enjoy fellowship as partners and partakers with us. And [this] fellowship that we have [which is a distinguishing mark of Christians] is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah).”

Our greatest call in adding to the fellowship of Christ’s afflictions is in the area of building unity within the body of Christ that gives proof of the distinguishing mark of our kinship. I’ll tell you, people, we are not there yet. We are divided, not by religious differences, but by pride and arrogance stemming from those differences. I hate when I hear someone standing behind the pulpit speaking divisive words against another denomination. Next to that, I hate when I hear God’s people setting around in public places, putting down other Christians. And most of all, I hate when I hear such slipping out of my own mouth. That is not fulfilling this call of Christ in completing this work of unity. So what does scripture teach us with regard to faith issues that we too often state in divisive arrogance?

“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:1-4).

We grow strong of faith at differing paces. Some have faith as Paul did to shake off snakes and eat without fear. Others are not at that place in their walk. Some practice their freedom within the confines of their religious practices. Others seek the freedom of following the Spirit’s lead in ways that seem to have no bounds of religious tradition. But what I have observed in both is deep faith in those who remain bound by religion, and traditions of a different kind forming boundaries in the practices of those who appear bolder in their faith.

Those who are not as bold are not to judge the heart of those who are. And those who are bold are not to condemn those who appear of weaker faith. To do so in any setting is to aid the enemy of God in dividing the house of God. Instead we are to accept one another and love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. And as we do, we will be able to share with one another out of love, bearing testimony of our individual experience of our living God in ways that help each to grow stronger and bring the body of Christ to the unity He desires. This is our calling and equipping in filling up the lack.

And, just FYI here, for those who may be arrogant against Israel, including those who do not recognize the Christ in Jesus the Messiah, remember this:

“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.’ Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.  (Romans 11:17-22).

And the second point in fulfilling this call to fellowship is “[So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents]” (vs. 6, AMP).

Sin destroys our unity with God, bringing separation from fellowship with Him and destroying our ability to find unity with the brotherhood of Christ. We cannot walk in darkness and have fellowship in His Light.

“But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations]” (vs. 7, AMP).

When we walk in disunity, dividing ourselves up because of faith differences, which is clear sign that we walk in sin against God and one another, in our sin we do harm to the kingdom of God and our witness in the earth. Freedom in Christ requires us to trust in God who is able to make each of us stand firm as His beloved servant and fellow believer. And trusting that fact for each other, we walk in unity of our faith in Christ, trusting His work in growing all to the glory of His name.

Instead of judging one another and condemning each other, which is sin that destroys fellowship with God and each other, we must love one another, accepting each other in the degree of faith that we have. We cannot encourage one another and help each other in spiritual growth and maturity while condemning each other.

Unity of fellowship requires that instead of looking at one another and judging our differences in belief systems that stem from our faith in Him, that we look to see the image of Christ that is present. If we see Christ, the image of God born forth in the life of others, bearing fruit of His character and likeness, we are brothers and sisters in Christ and are called by Him to unity not hindered by differences in faith practices. In this way we complete the work began by Christ in bridging the gap between us and God, and between one to another.

Great rejoicing comes to those who can stand as one in Christ, despite differing beliefs. That rejoicing is increased as we learn not only to accept one another where we are in our faith walk, but as we work to encourage one another and grow stronger together in Him.

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.

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 10b

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

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

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

As living stones with Christ, we are:

A Chosen Race

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

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

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

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

A Royal Priesthood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Holy Nation

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

A People for God’s Own Possession

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

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

Proclaimers of His Excellence

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

Light

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

One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vessels of Mercy

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

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

~*~

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

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

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

And all the Children of God said…AMEN!

~*~

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

Soon to Come

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

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

By way of review we will finish our study of Psalm 37 today and tomorrow in Part 9a and 9b as we cover attributes seen in the righteous lot; then we will have Part 10 in another passage to conclude our study of Dispelling the Darkness. This excerpt of our study is long as I seek to finish this series this week. Hang in there with me. We are almost at the conclusion.

“The wicked borrows and does not pay back, but the righteous is gracious and gives. For those blessed by Him will inherit the land, but those cursed by Him will be cut off. The steps of a (righteous) man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand. I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, and his descendants are a blessing. Depart from evil and do good, so you will abide forever. For the Lord loves justice and does not forsake His godly ones; they are preserved forever, but the descendants of the wicked will be cut off. The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.” (vs. 21-29).

The remainder of Psalm 37 reveals attributes seen in those who practice His righteousness in likeness to Christ. Our righteousness is the product of a life surrendered to God for His use in the earth. God’s light shines bright through those who willingly surrender in obedience to His ways, portraying Christlikeness in all they do. Here in the remainder of this passage of Scripture today and tomorrow we learn 10 attributes that will bear out of the life of the righteous as fruit from the Spirit of God at work in them.

1) The righteous are gracious:

One fruit of a righteous life is the ability to be gracious. As I think on what graciousness looks like, I see that it requires the practice of Agape (Godly love), for the act of the gracious is to give grace. Grace requires forgiveness of wrongs done against us and it requires us to be able to relate with those forgiven with a spirit of graciousness.

This fruit of graciousness practices patience toward others. It portrays kindheartedness even toward those who hurt us, not being arrogant or vainglorious, and it does not act unbecomingly through rudeness and unmannerly ways. Graciousness is not self-seeking or self-centered; it does not merely looking out for one’s own personal interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). All that is found in 1 Corinthians 13 is part of a gracious heart.

I am not going to go back over forgiveness again (see my blogs on that subject). I am going to say this. God hates broken relationships, because it is contrary to His desire for His creation and it misrepresents Him and His harmonious nature of unity. He desires our unity with Himself and with one another. But He understands that sin exists in the earth, and though we may forgive someone for a harm they do to us or another we love, that does not mean we will have a heart to go back to the same old relationship. That is why Jesus said that God allows divorce, because of the hardness of our heart.

Our ability to relate is adversely affected when trust is broken. Even God has shown this to be true of relationship with Him. When we break trust through sin against God, it brings a separation in our ability to have relationship with Him. But even in relationships that are broken by sin done toward one another that destroys trust, the practice of graciousness can and should be the trait of the righteous in Christ. There is still a relationship potential with those we forgive. It just may be hindered and changed by a wall of mistrust. If that is the case, the only thing short of a miracle from God that will heal the breech if for trust to be restored, and that takes time that often changes the dynamics of the relationship.

2) The Righteous are Giving:

As we said before, the righteous in relationship with Christ through saving faith have already inherited the land: we are part of His eternal kingdom and one way we experience His kingdom on earth is through our righteous practices. As the children of God, we are promised that we will receive of His supply: sufficient for every need, sufficient for every good deed, and surplus to help those who are in any need.

God graces us with His supply, giving us the ability to work and make a living. He supplies for us through the inheritance of wise parents who saved so as to take care of themselves in their old age and to have some to pass on as inheritance to their children and grandchildren. And He supplies for us in miraculous ways. All of His supply to us belongs to Him and is given to us for our wise stewardship. The principles of God are as stated above, and if we practice them well, we will find His provision in abundance. Read the following passages of scripture, and then I will give my opinion in the matter of our finances and wealth:

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

“I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it (collect an offering). But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality—your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality” (2 Corinthians 8:10-14).

God supplies us sufficient for our need. He calls us to give to others “according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” He does not expect us to go hungry or let our children be without necessities while we give it all away to others. God expects us to meet the need of our families and to pay our bills—beginning with the Tithe to God through our home churches. It is obedience here in the use of our finances for our daily needs that shows God we can be trusted with more. As we show Him we will not fritter away our supply on our lusts, but will respect and follow His principles for their use, He trusts us with surplus.

Once we prove faithful with the little, He begins to call us to do good deeds, and He supplies extra, sufficient to cover the good deeds He leads us to. His heart desire and goal is that we grow strong in our stewardship in these areas so that He can then pour out abundance to us above and beyond the need and the good deed. Out of that abundance we are called to help in meeting the need of others “so that there may be equality.”

But it is our choice whether we prove faithful in the use of His supply or not: that should not fall to government. Governments take these passages out of context, thinking that no one is to be wealthy in this world’s riches while others are poor. Jesus said, “The poor will ALWAYS be with you” (Matthew 26:11). So what is it that we are to work at bringing to equality?

I believe it is that needs be met: that none be in desperate need while growing in their walk as stewards of His supply. If a man loses his job, we are to help him feed his family while he seeks another. If a woman’s husband leaves her and the kids, we are to help her get on her feet. Are we to give to all who have need? NO!

“For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).

God desires those who are His to grow to be good stewards of His supply, and He supplies through our ability to work. “But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day” (Deuteronomy 8:18).

Ephesians 4:28 says, “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” This tells me that God desires us to grow through these stages of stewardship in our wealth, working up to a level of faithfulness that brings His abundance, so He can pour out His blessing through us to meet the need of others from the abundance He gives us. That is the call of every believer, and this giving heart will be seen in us as the fruit of righteousness springs forth.

Now there is a problem in our day, not only of people who take advantage of the welfare system and the benevolent organizations, stealing what could help another when they are either unwilling to work or are unwise in the use of their finances. There are also those who steal from the funds that should be used to pay their bills, “sowing” into God’s work as if to bribe Him for more so that they can spend it on their lusts and make more bills. This is backwards from what I see in scripture. God expects us to pay our bills, to owe nothing to anyone but love, and to be wise in what we deem to be a need.

Does that mean we should never get any of the niceties or things that bring us pleasure? No, but it does mean that we must seek the Lord’s opinion and bring our desires in line with His first, making sure He is wanting to bless us in that way and that we are not spending funds intended for meeting a need on our greed. If His peace is not umpiring the transaction, best to step back and wait awhile.

“For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God” (2 Corinthians 9:12). All have a responsibility to learn how to live in sufficiency, recognizing and meeting their need, being content with what they have and not robbing the surplus that could be used to meet another’s need. The wealth God gives is His, trusted to us as stewards of His kingdom for our use in ministry to our own needs and the needs of our family, and to His church through the first fruits of the tithe, then to meet the need of others around us. And when we do help another, we should help them to realize their role as steward of the gracious gift of God, helping them on their journey to abundance.

Do you think this principle explains why scripture says more than once that the children of the righteous will not be seen begging bread? I do. If we are setting the good example of stewardship and righteousness, we will raise up a righteous lot of good stewards. But if they do come into any need, they will find the family, godly friends and their church standing at the ready to help them get back on their feet, and they will seek after and find the faithfulness of God to supply them with ability to again make wealth.

3) The steps of a (righteous) man are established by the Lord

The righteous seek the Lord for their step by step instruction for living. They trust the Lord to direct their path and establish their course. They also know and trust that when the path takes an unexpected turn, it is at the Lord’s bidding for a purpose of His own: whether as consequence for some sin, as pruning and refining our lives, or as a door of opportunity with some eternal purpose.

The righteous realize that they are secure in Christ with an eternity made sure. Any difficulty along the way to the eternal has Kingdom purpose, either to work something wonderful in their lives, or to help them on their path to transformation to Christlikeness. When the path takes an odd turn, ours is to seek the Lord for the next step and to discern the purpose, knowing that we are in the place we find ourselves for a reason.

Knowing that we are established for all eternity through Christ, “WHEN we fall, we are not hurled headlong, for God holds our hand” to keep us from undue harm. We are eternally perfected in Christ; but we are continually being perfected in our earthly existence. There are times in all our lives when we stumble over some root sin, or stone of temptation. God will allow it only as far as is necessary to get our attention and lead us in dealing with the root issue that makes us vulnerable to stumbling. But He never lets us go so as to lose us from eternity with Him.

Even if we die as the consequence of a momentary sin, being unable to repent for that particular sin, if our faith and belief in Christ is active and working in us, we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, secure with Him in the eternal realm.

Realizing that God only allows me to stumble in order to promote my growth in righteousness helps me to get back up, dust off, and be transformed to His likeness. And you know what causes that goal to be important to me?

4) The Righteous Delight the Heart of God

The righteous man seeks to know the ways of the Lord so that they may know HIM, and so they may walk in the way of the Lord, growing stronger in relationship to Him. This process of growth in the knowledge of God is important and vital in the life of the righteous who desire to be known by God, called by name as a friend of God.

5) The righteous, when he discovers sin within, departs from evil to do good in order to show His delight in the Lord and to bring delight to God. I have shared the following in my writings many times, but it bears repeating here:

Years ago, I was reading God’s word and, coming upon one of the passages that speak of us getting a new name from God in eternity, I sensed a familiar prayer to know mine well up in me from the depths of the Spirit of God as never before. And just as I thought I would burst with desire for the answer, I heard clearly in my spirit, “Abigail.”

Knowing God had something awesome for me to discover through that name, I pulled out my concordances and other books I have that show the meaning of words and names. In my study I discovered that Abigail has a twofold meaning, like the flipside of a coin. On one side it means “One whose heart rejoices in God.” On the other it means “One in whom the heart of God rejoices.”

This is the call of all who would be the Righteousness of God. We are to so greatly rejoice over the Lord and our relationship with Him that we will do anything to protect the relationship. And as we do that, He finds rejoicing of His heart in us.

Thus is the call of this study, be sanctified, set apart to God as never before. Be Abigails in the Kingdom of God on earth.

Scripture teaches that the sins of the parents are visited on the children and the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations. I believe that not only means that they will suffer from the consequences of our actions, but it provides a loophole in the law that gives Satan permission to set up stumbling stones before them, tempting them in the same area of sins we have fallen too. But the descendants of the righteous shall see the lovingkindness of God to a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 20:4-6)! And we are told in our passage today that the descendants of the truly righteous – the children of us who delight the heart of God, will be a blessing.

We want our nation to rise up from the ashes? We want the prosperity of our children protected? “If 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 7:14).

Beloved child of God, seek righteousness, it is the only cure for our land and the best hope for our children. Sanctification begins in Christ, covering you with the blood of the Lamb of God, and making you His delight. And your righteous sanctification is perfected as you seek God wholeheartedly, desiring Him first and foremost, having no other gods before Him. As we in this way become the delight of God, the apple of His eye, He will heal our land.

Tomorrow, more on righteousness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dispelling the Darkness—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.