Tag Archives: unmerrited favor

Awed by God’s Extravagant Abundance to Us

Johnny and I started toying with the possibility of getting a new vehicle a couple or three weeks ago. This past weekend, we did it, and I stand in awe. 
Our Explorer was not old and it has a lot of life left, but the need for a change made itself abundantly clear these past few months. 

Problem 1: We do a lot of traveling with Johnny’s medical treatments. We want to do some traveling to see family and friends, and God’s glorious creation. However, I do 99.9% of the driving these days and the seating in our Explorer got to where it hurts me. I can’t get in a good position and it’s gotten to the point that, by the time we reach Amarillo – an hour away, I’m hurting and squirming. 

Problem 2: The Explorer is reaching a point where it is in need of more maintenance. Johnny’s mechanic ears hears sounds he says are indication of maintenance issues in the works. With his health as it is, he wants me in a good vehicle that has maintenance coverage. Ours is drawing near to its end date. 

That said, we started looking at our options. So, what about it has me in awe?

Last week, while looking at some cars, Johnny pointed to a sports car that would have been his dream choice in his younger years. That started a conversation on high end cars. We talked about the Cadillac lemon his parents had and the Lincolns they had that were so much nicer. I said that I like the Lincoln, “but my all time favorite is the Mercedes Benz.” 

When we got home, Johnny got online looking at various brands and decided to peek in on the Benz. Surprised, he said, “They have models no more expensive than the Explorer. There’s a dealer in Lubbock. We can check them out when we go see mom.” 

So we did and came back home in one of our own: a youthful dream car that amazement to me. 

Our Explorer brought a great trade in deduction from the price of the new vehicle, making for a great deal. In fact, not only was it comparable in price to the Explorer; but we had less out of pocket expense than our little Mustang we bought early in 2000. (Another Awe-of-God moment.)

I am amazed that God made a way for the fulfillment of a youthful desire to come to fruition. And I am amazed at His provision through it. I drove all the way home from Lubbock without an ache one. I’m so praising God for that. It has amenities I never thought we could afford. 

And the stereo system is more than noteworthy. That amazes me because our Christian community has a project going on that has available for use playlists of worship music to aid our efforts. I play them on my cell phone a lot, even while traveling. Not long ago I told the Lord how nice it would be if I could play them over the car’s sound system. Guess what? Yep. You got it. And just in time for the big day when we will go out in mass to pray over our city. 

God has an amazing way of bringing things to pass in ways that are beyond our finite mind. Getting a fancy car is really insignificant in the scheme of the eternal, but I don’t think God gives such BLESSings without a purpose that is eternal. Not only am I brought into awe of Him by His amazing ways, but I am encouraged by His extravagant attention to our needs, and His obvious provision for it. 

Truly God does abundantly beyond all we ask or think when we earnestly seek Him and trust Him for our needs. And He does so for the purpose of glorifying His name. For the purpose of His glory, I share my awe with you. 

Hopefully we can do some of that traveling now. To God be the glory, great things He has done. 

And lest some think, “Well, your husband worked for that. That’s just y’all’s use of his funds.” Consider this:

“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 

And…

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” ~ James 1:16-17 

Enjoy the Blessings of life, beloved, and, giving God the glory, put it to use for good, doing so in ways that honor Him as God. 

Called to Possess: God’s Favor and Grace

“Blessed (happy, enviably fortunate, and spiritually prosperous—POSSESSING the happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His grace, regardless of their outward conditions) are the pure in heart, for they shall see God!” ~ Matthew 5:8, AMPC.

“Grace. Grace. God’s grace.” Oh how happy we are when we possess full understanding of the blessing and work of God’s grace in us.

This Amplified Classic version of Matthew 5:8 speaks of possessing the happiness of Spirit that comes from personal realization and experience of God’s favor and grace, producing purity of life. That speaks to the importance of each individual of us personally possessing true understanding of God’s grace. We possess assurance of God’s grace through understanding our life of purity in Him by the power of work of Christ Jesus, our Savior.

As people made fully pure when we receive Jesus as Savior, our lives covered by the grace of that supply, Jesus instantly makes us eternally right with God in Christ through the power of His Spirit. The death that separates us from God is destroyed and we are made alive forever in Christ. However, God also calls and equips us in this life to grow in purity as we grow our ability to follow the dictates of the Spirit, thus producing the fruit born out of a life, saved and made whole by grace. Being pure of heart leads us to produce words and deeds that are pure, revealing us as the children of God in Christ. When we fail to produce the fruit of a pure life, the gift of Christ’s purity covers our failure through grace, holding us eternally secure, while working through repentance to lead us back to a life that bears the fruit of purity.

Grace is not a license to continue as we are, living as people dictated by fleshly desires. Instead, God, through grace supplied in Christ, gives us His Holy Spirit to direct our lives as we grow in righteousness: the product of purity. A person who truly possesses grace follows the dictates of the Spirit to live righteously for conscience sake. These produce fruit in keeping with a repentance that reveals the purity of heart graciously gifted to us in Christ (Matthew 3:8; Romans 14:13-23).

Possess God’s grace, beloved, for His grace brings us to true purity of heart, mind, soul, and strength that produces God’s blessing in and through us.

“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. …And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach…” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:18; Colossians 1:21-23.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 10

God desires unity for His people, that we may be one as He is One. Our flesh, the ways of this world and demonic influences constantly work against that unity, seeking to destroy the work of God in and through us. The Apostle Paul calls the solution to our relationship issues, the “still more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31-13:11), the way that fulfills the law of God (Romans 13:8). Last post, we left our series with the following thought:

“But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ” ~ Ephesians 4:15.

Realizing and walking in the truth brings healing to one’s own life and makes us more like Christ. Walking in truth accomplishes His work in our situations.

Series on topics like this are difficult to address as we don’t always like seeing the truth about ourselves. We live in a day when many focus on God’s love and grace to the point that we tend to shun any words used of the Spirit to point to sin issues in need of change. This series is disciplining me on my own issues seen in the course of the study, but the blessing of coming into agreement with God in a way that helps me adjust to Him far outweighs the struggle.  When my struggle helps others in the process, that fruit born in others is glorious!

Controversy between people is like the old quarters with the gold colored strip in the center. There are two sides to every situation between two people. The truth is in the gold strip between them, found only in seeking God, who knows the heart of each involved. He faithfully leads us to know our habitual responses that promote separation. He helps us to work our way to the gold strip where unity and peace reside. I am thankful for the truth God is teaching me about myself in this series; and I am watching for His word to come to pass that He highlighted for me in promise for the produce of this series:

“This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord” ~ Psalm 102:18.

I read this promise and I see families, friendships, and churches working their way to healing that will have an effect on future generations, leading to their worship of God. Thus, we continue today to our conclusion.

Have you read the scripture that talks of iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17)? When we have a habitual sin that causes trouble and separates us from God, as well as from others, God often puts people in our lives that rub that area raw. His purpose is to help us let go of old ways of the flesh and walk in the new, testing / proving our obedience. The question is, will we realize God’s purpose and cooperate with His Spirit in taking off the old to dawn the new?

“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” ~ 1 Peter 1:22.

Truth purifies the soul, making us fertile soil for God’s love to produce a crop through us. There are two things I find God constantly working on me to accomplish: one is my ability to forgive as He forgives. The other is my ability to love as He loves.

The ability to forgive is vital to a love relationship that lasts. Forgiveness must be from the heart as God forgives. God, our example, taught me long ago to forgive “for my own sake” as He does (Isaiah 43:25 Note that Israel was unrepentant when God professed His grace toward them).

The purpose of choosing forgiveness “for my own sake” is so we can move on in life, be all God desires, accomplishing His work as one who is truly able to love even those who hurt us. Our choosing to forgive protects from bitterness, anger, and other emotional snares that hinder love, destroy relationship with God and people, and rob of effectiveness in ministry.

God is our hope and help in every relationship issue. He desires our unity, especially with those who are brothers and sisters with us in Christ. Our true enemy is our own sin nature that opens us to the influence of demons and principalities that work against God, separating brothers, and destroying our witness as God’s people.

In any discord between people of God, we see that battle continue when we fail to realize the true enemy and wind up fighting against each other. The enemy of our soul realizes our fleshly impulses that lead to discord and makes sure, when relationship issues come, our minds keep returning to “what they did to me.” Therefore, when we have a habit that makes us vulnerable to God’s enemy, God puts iron in life to sharpen and hone our character.

The love God calls each to possess as His child is a type we can freely give even to those we struggle to get along with. That love desires what is best for those we love, seeking to help them achieve all the great potential God places within them, leading them to God, and encouraging them to come up higher in Christlikeness. That love is unconditional: not hindered or harmed by insult. It is also incorruptible: it does not act unbecomingly toward the object of love, nor lead the one loved into sin. The very heart of a factious nature seeks to lead others to disunity for ungodly reasons that oppose love.

The love God calls us to possess in likeness to Him does not keep a count of all we believe a person has done to hurt us, bringing that back into play every time a new situation arises. Love, coupled with forgiveness given for one’s own sake, deals with the situation at hand, puts it to rest (RIP), and wipes the slate clean. This is healing, and this series pictures a love-walk God can use for His glory.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” ~ Jude 1:24-25.

Recognizing and Defeating a Factious Spirit ~ Part 6

Wow. I thought I finished this series, and then God spoke again through another passage and added to my understanding of the factious, divisive spirit that grabs hold on us and leads us away from God’s Light and the peaceful unity found there. Beloved, in any divisive situation, it is never one-sided. There are always two sides, pulling away from each other, trying to win a battle.

In the previous 5 devotional thoughts we covered the following thought patterns that are found in the mindset of one ensnared by a factious spirit: 1) the desire for those they tell to agree with their position in their situation with another, thus causing the hearer to feel they must pick a side; 2) holding to a truth that is closed off to hearing the other side of the issue; 3) refusing to seek the whole truth as God sees it, missing out on the Light of God that leads to the peace of unity; thus 4) a factious mindset is snared by the old flesh, the old nature’s way of thinking and being.

There are factious people we are to stay away from completely. We are to avoid and stay away from people who continually lead us away from God and His ways, as in the false teachers spoken of in the Titus 3 passage and in the one we will begin looking at today. God condemns those who would deliberately lead us away from Him. However, if the enemy of God cannot lead us away from believing in and following after God, he will stir up strife between God’s followers in order to divide God’s people. In this way, that enemy of God weakens our effective service to God, separating us from Him in less obvious ways. This divisive spirit is the one I am addressing in these blogs. He tears apart the fellowship of family, friends, and fellow believers. Such division stems from failure to come under God’s light where we find full truth and unity, and it fails to love with God’s unconditional, incorruptible love, thus falling away from God as His image-bearers.

Why write on these things? God never leads me to write things without leading me to evaluate my own life and ways in the area He reveals to me. The things that speak to and help me personally are the things I write about. God desires us to evaluate ourselves truthfully now, so we may come into His likeness and avoid the judgment to come (1 Corinthians 11:31-32; Romans 12:1-3; Hebrews 4:12). Throughout the writing of this series, I have had to look at myself in each area, and repent for my own failures.

The passage we start devouring today speaks clearly to me of my own habits I tend to fall to, causing and adding to division; and it warns me of others I must be alert to. AttitudeWe cannot change to be more like Him if we are unwilling to evaluate ourselves and come to stand in agreement with Him in the light of His word. When we refuse to see as He sees, acknowledge our own sin within, thus, continuing to walk in divisive ways, God says:

“These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit” ~ Jude 1:19.

Worldly-minded actions dictated by fleshly lusts flow from the life that, at least in that moment of divisiveness is devoid of Spirit. God showed me how, recently, I sought Him for direction in a situation, but when it came to implementation of the wisdom given, my flesh got in the way. In that instant, despite the Spirit’s warning, I went my own way, made a situation worse instead of better, becoming devoid of Spirit in that moment of surrender to the desires of my flesh-man. Shifting away from the Spirit to follow my flesh, I perverted the way of God before me, fell to my own sin nature, and stand self-condemned. Praise be to God, who disciplines me, bringing me back to Himself through His Word, by the Spirit and blood of Christ.

Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines His children, and that discipline proves our position with Him as His Kingdom People. God proves we are His when He does not allow us to get away with our fleshly, old-nature behavior. God’s discipline comes through His word that instructs us in righteousness.

As we continue this series on overcoming a factious spirit, we will look closely at this Jude passage touched on above. There we find an outline of potential characteristics found in a person given to being divisive; to which I cry:

“Ouch, Lord! Father, forgive me, a sinner apart from Your grace found in Christ. Set me free in Christ to be in His likeness so I do not give myself so readily to the lust of my flesh. In Jesus, amen.”

Difficult Things 2-C ~ A Faith That Moves Mountains: Personal Testimony (Long)

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I have hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord” ~ Lamentations 3:21-26.

My journey of learning to walk by faith, knowing I can trust God for every need, began with a very small issue that was mountainous to me. A wart on my hand refused to heal, despite every effort.

On the day I was considering the need to go to our medical doctor and let him take care of it, I walked into our living room where a TV program was talking about a little booklet, just out at that time, titled, “My Heart, Christ’s Home.” They were talking about the “room” of our heart where faith resides. Struck by the discourse, I went back to the kitchen I was in the process of cleaning, praying along the way for God to grow my faith. The person sharing the booklet suggested asking God to point to a particular need that He would use to enliven our journey to increased faith that fully trusts in Him. Doing so, as I reached into the sink for the next dish, I bumped the wart.

Memory of my mother telling me of a time when I had several warts on my hand came instantly to mind. She said they could not afford to do anything medically for it at that time, so she prayed for God’s healing, and He took care of it: within a week, they were gone. There it was! Revelation of the conduit for my beginning on the journey to grow in faith that fully trusts and looks to God. Praying for God’s healing to increase my faith to trust Him more, I went on with life. Not many days later, again doing dishes, I saw it, my perfectly healed hand. I forgot about the wart after giving it to the Lord and paid no attention until reaching into the water again reminded me. Ever since then, just the inkling of a wart meets with prayers of faith that trusts God. I have not had one wart since. In fact, one threatened to rise up just last week, and it is gone because God is faithful.

My journey of growth to greater levels of faith continues today. Our God is so very great; He is beyond any ability we have to fully comprehend His glory and power this side of eternity. I am convinced that, no matter how strong we grow in our knowledge of and understanding of Him, when we meet Him in eternity, amazement will be ours as we meet a Father much greater than we can ever comprehended in this life. Every situation we face presents us with opportunity to grow in faith as we come to better understand our God. Acts 17 tells us:

“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist…” ~ vs. 24-28.

God’s desire is that we grow in our knowledge of Him, and the purpose of every experience under the sun is that we reach for His hand expecting to find it. This is the journey of ever-growing faith.

My husband and I are in new territory for us even now that is giving ample opportunity to seek and find the hand of God in ways never before experienced by us. My beloved husband of over 40 years received a diagnosis of stage 4 prostate cancer just a few weeks ago. He had no common symptoms of prostate issues, thus the advanced state (Men, it is vital you have a physical every year that includes a prostate exam and PSA lab work). The symptoms he does have pointed to a myriad of possibilities. Addressing the most likely cause first, his presenting symptom went on for 10 months before another symptom finally led to looking more closely at what was going on. So here we are, on a journey that, short of God’s work in my husband’s body, has us facing the reality that his life may end sooner than desired by us.

Seeking God as the shock of the diagnoses of earthly medicine hit, Father made it clear that He is in control. This thing is not outside the scope of His plan nor beyond the reach of His hand. He has purpose in this season and will accomplish it. This is a journey set by God to increase faith in us as we seek the Lord’s direction for each and every step. God’s purpose in this health issues is to give us opportunity to seek Him so we may grow in our knowledge of Him. As we do, we take every opportunity to share the journey in ways that help the faith and growth of those walking with us. You are now part of that group.

In our journey, we are discovering as never before the greatest of faith that cries out as Jesus did, “Yet not my will, but Your will be done.” We seek God, having our desire in the outcome, but we know God’s will is of greatest importance and must prevail, for His purpose will see its fulfillment. The soil for the seed of faith is always and only in the calling and equipping of God available to us in the things that challenge our faith. If we are not in the center of God’s will, reaching for His Hand in any given situation, His power and supply for our ability will not be there to help us. Faith either fails to sprout forth to accomplish any good thing because of immaturity, or because of lack of obedience that fails to receive the nutrients available to us in the soil of life-challenges. Growing and productive seeds for abundant life root out by faith in God, revealed as such through trusting obedience to Him, bearing the fruit of righteousness.

Faith seeks God first, finds His will and way for the path ahead, and walks that path with assurance that He is in control, leading to the outcome of His choosing. Faith trusts that the One who sees and knows all things, from beginning of time to end of days, is working a plan that establishes and accomplishes our divinely appointed role in this life.

All the good we seek to do can only come to fulfill His will and purpose as we grope for Him, finding His hand to lead us to it. Fighting death as if it is the mountain is a waste of energy apart from God’s leading in the fight. Short of the Rapture coming to take us, death is a promise to all human flesh. Death is the natural course of life in this shell we call “body”, and God is the one who sets in place the time and method of our death. Unless raptured, we will all one-day die.

God’s word tells us that He plans the number of our days while there is yet one of them. Before we are born, He knows our hour of death, because He set the course of our life and planned how each breath fits His eternal purpose. Our walk of faith is to grasp for His hand with every step, trusting Him to direct our paths to fulfill the purpose He planned before we were born. Continue in attempts to do what we see as good without waiting on God to direct, equip, and establish our path, and we deplete the soil of the heart, using up resources meant for other things, and missing the mark of fulfilling His purpose.

Depleted soil cannot bear good fruit. That is when our everyday ministry begins to falter as we deplete resources given for it while trying to do more than God calls us to do. Johnny has strength to keep working because God set His feet on the path and Johnny trusts God for each step. He is not fretting over things He cannot control. Though he is putting up the fight against cancer as God leads us to, He knows God is the only one who can bring the victory. God’s will for Johnny’s life will be done.

My husband’s health issue is a huge mountainous challenge in our lives, but it is not the only mountain, nor even the main one. Death being part of life, the mountain to cast away is anything in us that hinders our facing it with faith, hope, and trust in God, knowing He will not allow our death one instant before He fulfills His plan in us. The mountain God reveals to me is most important to Him is the things in us that hinder our faith and rob of strength needed for us to walk this journey well, in ways that glorify Him. Oh how sad it would be to come to the end of our days and fail to finish strong in faith filled obedience to God, being too busy fighting death to live the life He gives us!

One of the biggest challenges revealed so far on our journey is the mountain of my need to control things. My routines are messed up, and my calendar is no longer my own. I know. It never truly was, not if I truly follow God; but all sense of time ever belonging to me to control is falling to the wayside, as we must do what is necessary to travel the path God has us walking. We often get calls to remind of appointments one of his doctors set up without consulting us. The reminder for the appointment becomes the first we knew of it, reminding us that our calendar is not our own: it must rest in God’s capable hands (Psalm 37:23; 40:2; Proverbs 16:9). Household duties and my husband’s work duties pile up as we spend time normally put to those things, running to appointments and tending to health needs.

As we seek God in every challenge Johnny’s health journey brings, God directs us step by step. He is pouring strength to my husband, thus far protecting him from the side effects of chemo and symptoms common to his illness, empowering him to keep working and to get the work done as he gets to it. Hubby’s patience has always amazed me, and his ability to let God be God in this hour is strengthening my own.

As for me, God told me shortly after this journey began to fret not over things that can wait, but pick my battles with His priorities at heart, reserving the energy I need to be the wife Johnny needs in this season. That wisdom and the faith to let God have control, knowing God will provide the energy and ability for each thing in its time, brought down a huge mountain in me as I surrendered my times to God’s care, trusting my days to Him.

“But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in Your hand. Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; save me in Your lovingkindness. Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon You…” ~ Psalm 31:14-17a.

When faced with an issue that looks like a mountain to overcome, the first step is to go to the Father and ask if we are the one to tackle it. The voice of persecution from God’s enemy often comes as a sense of urgency to jump on tasks that are truly unimportant in that moment, only serving to rob of needed strength for things we do need to take care of. We must seek His revelation to know if that thing in front of our eyes is a mountain He wants us to face, and whether it is one to cast aside or whether it is His provision of a place of fertile soil for our spiritual growth and service. His answer fertilizes our faith, making it ready for germination. Planting that seed by trusting Him for each step, following in obedient faith, grows in us the fruit bearing trees that glorify Him.

Knowing our calling and equipping, and having God’s focus, requires a vital and growing relationship with the Father. That begins and ends in prayer: communication with God that earnestly seeks Him with seeds of faith ready for His provision for growth. Seeking Him must be in faith that trusts Him to give the right answer, with commitment to follow the wisdom He supplies without wavering (James 1:1-8).

The question that comes to my attention next is, how do we know that our faith is planted in the fertile soil of God’s making so that mountains fall and good springs forth? Next post we address another difficult thing about God’s word and way that is necessary to understand if we are to see His good worked out into our circumstances. Hoping to see you back here next week as our life circumstances allow me time to write subsequent posts.

Difficult Things 1 ~ To Truly Trust: Side 2

Last post we began looking at the difficulty of truly trusting in God. We saw the seed of faith that leads us to seek the Father with trust that He who can, if willing, sees no impossible task and is able to respond to our need.

The problem is that we too often put God in a box of our making. We see a need, and, from our limited understanding, we see a potential solution. Working out of our finite mind, we too readily demand that God work in the way we perceive is best. We often fail to understand that God has the greater plan in heart, the eternal good of all concerned.

God always responds with the purpose of fulfilling the ultimate good. That understanding leads us to the flip side of our trust coin, and our greatest picture of this trust is found in Christ as He poured out His heart to God that last night in the garden He loved.

“And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, saying, ‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done’” ~ Luke 22:41-42.

“Yet not my will, but Yours be done” is the flip side of the trust coin that we too easily miss out on. Jesus, in this day of His life, sought the Father knowing that if willingness to do so was there, the Father had power to remove the cup He was about to drink.

God’s ability was not in question. Truly, even His willingness was not the issue, for Jesus later tells Peter, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? HOW THEN WILL THE SCRIPTURES BE FULFILLED, WHICH SAY THAT IT MUST HAPPEN THIS WAY?” (see Matthew 26, especially verses 46-54).

Jesus knew that God had a greater purpose in the cup sitting before Him and this was the plan from the beginning. Yes, in the stress of facing the pain and suffering that cup meant for Him, He asked for the cup to be removed, and He asked in faith, knowing God could do what He asked if willing. However, in that faith and belief, He asked with a willingness to drink the cup for the sake of fulfilling the eternal purpose of God. True trust in God overcomes the stress hormones of our flesh and the desire of our limited understanding to desire God’s will above our own.

Jesus knew that Father God is the perfect Father, having the perfect plan for the perfecting work of humankind and the completion of His eternal Kingdom. He knew this God is all-powerful and can do anything He has a mind to do. That included the power to equip this Son of His to face the pain of 40 lashes and the nail scarred hands and feet of one placed on a cross. He knew the suffering He walked toward included the moment in time when the whole of the sin of humankind would go on His crucified shoulders and the Father He loved would turn His back on the Lamb bearing the sin. He knew, as hard as it was to face that pain and the separation it would bring for that brief moment of His life, the Father is trustworthy. He trusted God to do all He promised by the best means, working the greatest glory, and He trusted Him even in death.

This trust in God on the flip side is the meaning of the second, seemingly repeated trust found in our Jeremiah passage:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord” ~ Jeremiah 17:7.

What if Jesus failed to trust God to be God? What if He let fear and dread of the pain cause Him to be unwilling for God’s will? What if He ran from that cross, refusing to bear it; where would we be? This passage, more than any other, helps me to understand that the body’s natural response to such, with hormones surging and leading us to question the sanity of such a time as this, is not sin. The sin is in giving ourselves to it and letting it destroy our willingness for God’s will.

When we only want what God can do without trusting that He knows and does what is best for the situation so that it works His purpose, we place ourselves in a position to fall away from true faith if His greater purpose refuses us our desire. Trust in what God can do must ultimately flow from trust in who God is and the understanding that He who sees all will most assuredly see more than we can fathom. He, knowing more than we do about any given situation, always does what is best for our here and now, for that of those we entrust to Him, and for the eternal destiny before us.

Back to my husband’s situation. Do I believe my God can heal Him? You better believe I do, and I am praying with faith for that outcome. Not only do I believe God can heal him, I believe He is willing. The question is, what does God’s idea of healing look like for my husband? Do I trust God enough to surrender my husband to God, trusting His best for all concerned, even if that means his healing is for God to take this mate I love to his eternity? Yes, I do. Do I know that God will be my help to face the days without this man I have spent over 2/3s of my life with, when I cannot fathom life apart from him? I know I can trust my God.

Beloved, we put those we love and all we want in danger if we cannot truly and earnestly say, “Yet not my will, but Thy will be done.” To fail full trust in God, surrendering this one to Him, is to hold my husband as an idol, desiring him above my God. I will not put my husband in that dangerous place, for God says, “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another” ~ Isaiah 48:11.

That said, my prayer becomes, Father, I know You can heal my husband. I know You can help us through these days we face. I long to face these days with Your strength that brings You glory. I believe You are willing to heal my husband and my hope is for more time together here, this is my prayer and desire. But I also know that You know what is best for all concerned. So let Your will be done, on earth and in us, as it is in heaven. I receive every word of hope You highlight for me in this hour, and I stand on You who speak Your will into existence according to Your way and for Your glory. In Jesus, amen.

Oh! Yeah. What about the disciples in the healing they could not perform? I believe there were two problems that hindered their ability: 1) the desire of their affection; and 2) the authority in their desire. See you next post for Difficult Things 2, when I will endeavor to explain.

Listening Prayer (Part 5) ~ The Purpose

Listening prayer is a lifestyle of ceaseless communication with God; making every step and every breath an act of obedience flowing from a living and active relationship with Him as our Lord, our very breath of life. This lifestyle is vital to our function in this age in which we live and to our ability to overcome the challenges of a world that is daily moving farther from Him. In closing out this focus today, I am reminded of the purpose and goal of such a vital, God-breathed lifestyle of prayer.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6.

The goal and purpose of listening prayer is to make all our being and all we do and think acknowledge God as Lord, knowing that He is our first and most vital need. He is our Treasure: our eternal Inheritance. To be still within, lifting every breath to Him, the One in whom we place our trust, acknowledges His right as God over us, and our need of Him in all our ways. Here in Proverbs, God promises that, as we acknowledge Him in all our ways, He will make our paths straight.

As I read this proverbs passage today, I found myself praying for God to reveal anything at the heart of my life that fails to acknowledge Him as Lord; anything hindering my seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Shortly after that prayer, a book I am reading led me to Deuteronomy:

“The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” ~ Deuteronomy 30:6.

Circumcising the heart is the removal of all that separates us from complete allegiance to and relationship with God. God reveals the things we lean on or want more than we do Him, and He begins the work of removing from our lives all that hinders our relationship with Him. Some things God graciously removes with hardly any notice of it or work on our part. We just suddenly lose all desire for that thing that interfered with our communion with our Beloved. However, there are some things where God will reveal the interfering offender and then tell us, “Circumcise your heart” (Deuteronomy 10:12-21 *vs. 16). Some things God requires us to do the work; He wants us to choose Him as much as He chooses us.

God holds us as the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8). He loves us so much that He made a way for us to have relationship with Him by sacrificing His Son on our behalf (John 3:16). God’s desire is for us, not wanting ANY to perish, but ALL to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Repentance means to let go of one’s own way, aligning self with God and His ways, so that we walk beside Him in unity of mind and heart, fulfilling His purpose and plan. That requires us to love and desire Him as He does us.

The question is, do we hold Him as the apple of our eye – the center, most prominent treasure we seek to obtain and hold dearest to our heart when possessed? Do we desire relationship with Him so much that we willingly deny ourselves, and, taking up our cross of self-sacrifice daily, determine to follow Him at all cost (Luke 9:23, see AMPC)? Do we truly see God in all His triune essence as our first, most vital need and necessity, so that we choose Him above all else?

The goal and purpose of this call of God for us is that we may grow to love Him and desire Him above all else, fully possessing the eternal relationship He purchased for us. The love He calls us to grow in our possession of as we practice a living, life-giving, listening-prayer life that fully relates with and works alongside Him is best expressed in these words of Paul:

“Grace (God’s undeserved favor) be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying and INCORRUPTIBLE LOVE” ~ Ephesians 6:24, AMPC.

Loving God with a love so strong and sure, eternally binds us to Him. Nothing can draw us away from relationship with Him, corrupting our walk, when we come fully into this living, breathing walk of love with Him.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

Listening Prayer (Part 4-A) ~ The Way of It

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Recall from previous posts in this series that listening prayer is two-way communication.

We speak: God hears and responds. When He responds with words in the Spirit, whether through scripture, the encouragement of other believers, or that gentle inner voice, the work of the Spirit is to grant us understanding of the voice of the Lord. Our work is to hear with the listening ears of a disciple possessing a heart to obey. When God speaks to us in the work of His Spirit in us to encourage our wait for His action, we know the word is from the Lord as it happens in the earth.

He speaks: by faith, we listen and hear with understanding ears open to the Spirit of God who brings knowledge and remembrance of things we need to know so that we can follow through to accomplish the will of God in every situation. The Spirit gives wisdom with understanding comprehension. Listen! And give Him glory.

In today’s focal passage, we see that the will of God for us is that, in every situation of life, we rejoice in Him, praying without ceasing, possessing a grateful heart that expresses itself in us.

Note the “pray without ceasing”: How do we possess a ceaseless prayer life? We accomplish this as we realize that listening prayer begins with communion – friends, walking together in the partnership of life, and it culminates in action. We seek the Lord. He instructs us. We follow His instruction, doing what He equips us to accomplish. Meanwhile, we watch to see Him do what only He can do through our situations and in response to our obedience. We praise the Lord for His work in and through us all along the way. The topper? He rejoices over us who walk so closely with Him.

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” ~ Zephaniah 3:17.

Now, what of the “Rejoice ALWAYS…in EVERYTHING give thanks”? That appears easiest to do when things are good—or is it? However, things are not always good. When things are bad, it is definitely difficult to always rejoice and give thanks in everything—isn’t it? Difficulty being part of our always and everything, how do we continue to rejoice and be thankful?

It should be easiest to rejoice in the Lord with grateful heart when things are good; however, that is too often not the case. When God brings us out of a season of difficult and delivers us into the good land, we rejoice in recognizing His work on our behalf. However, when we neglect to realize God moved on our behalf, or when we are long in the good land, we too easily take for granted that goodness and neglect to rejoice and give Him thanks as we should.

Listening prayer maintains constant communion with God, being always aware of the good He does for us, and being faithful to this call in our rejoicing over Him with thankfulness. The stronger we grow in this practice of prayer, the more ceaseless our walk in this will of God for us. Be alert in the good days that you fulfill the will of God in listening communion with Him, laying claim to no good thing as if of your own making, taking nothing for granted.

What about the difficult days, how do we rejoice and give thanks when we see nothing to rejoice over and definitely are not thankful for what is going on? The answer is in our focus during such times, and in our understanding of what this passage teaches us.

Rejoice always: in what? Certainly not in our situations: good or bad. Rejoicing in our situations or in the provision God makes for our life circumstances and possessions He provides for us makes these an idol in our eyes. Rejoicing is always to be in our God – who He is in all seasons, His faithfulness, His help toward us, His presence, etc.

Scripture tells us, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of Your heart.” When our greatest desire is God, we will find Him in every situation, good or bad, and we will be satiated, strengthened, and helped. The scripture says, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. Growing strong in our ability to find joy in the Presence of our Lord, whatever is going on in life, is what brings us strength to be able to face all that comes to our day. (Psalm 37:3-6; Nehemiah 8:10)

Focus in rejoicing is always in the Lord. When our lives focus on delighting in Him, thankfulness comes easy as we note His work and provision more readily, seeing Him move in to help us, in good days, and in difficult ones.

~*~

“Rejoice in the Lord always – delight, gladden yourselves in Him; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know, perceive and recognize your unselfishness, your considerateness, your forbearing spirit. The Lord is near…” ~ Philippians 4:4-5, AMPC.

Convinced of This: God is With Me

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand” ~ Isaiah 41:10.

As I have my time with the Lord each day, it is amazing how much of His Word is set in place for our benefit, to lead us surly to Holy Habitation with God. None more vital than this promise expressed in Isaiah 41:10. For personal and full assurance that no matter what comes into our lives in this earth, whether through persecution or penance, we must fully believe that God is with “ME”! He is with ME to help ME.

None of the other promises I can think of, that assure our hearts, can stand-alone. They are dependent on this one fact, sealed and secure in our hearts. We cannot believe that God will truly help us if we fail to know that He is with us. We cannot hope for His deliverance or protection if our hearts tell us He is nowhere around.

Say it aloud, beloved, “God is with ‘ME’, working ALL THINGS for my good and His eternal glory!” Say it over-and-over, throughout your days, until it is settled and unstoppable in your spirit. Only with this sure knowledge are our fears, qualms, and uncertainty assuaged. Only with this sure understanding can we face even the best of days with the victory God desires and designs for us as His Holy Children.

Realize that God is our single greatest possession: no one or thing can snatch us from His hand. Only if we let this truth go without care can we fall away from Him. He is our inheritance: our exceeding, great reward. Only as we possess fully the relationship that knows God’s presence is with us can we overcome the flesh, stand in the midst of trouble, or live free in the challenges of this fallen world.

Put God’s word in your heart, beloved, where no thief can steel and no rust rot it away. Remind yourself continually of this vital truth, “No matter where I am, God is with me, and His heart desire and design is for my good.”

~*~

“Let your character or moral disposition be free from love of money, including greed, avarice, lust, and craving for earthly possessions, and be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have; for God Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. I will not, I will not, I will not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake you, nor let you down or relax My hold on you! Assuredly not!” ~ Hebrews 13:5, AMP.

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you” ~ John 14:16. 

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ My Stronghold

“Because of his strength I will watch for You, for God is my stronghold. My God in His lovingkindness will meet me; God will let me look triumphantly upon my foes. …They wander about for food and growl if they are not satisfied. But as for me, I shall sing of Your strength; yes, I shall joyfully sing of Your lovingkindness in the morning, for You have been my stronghold and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to You; for God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.” ~ Psalm 59:9-10, 15-17, NASB.

I love when my heart discerns a name of God in His word that I have not realized before. Any place that tells us “the Lord / God IS” generally translates from Jehovah (I AM). The word following “is” describes a character trait found in our faithful Creator-God that we can bank on. Here, “God is my stronghold (defense in KJV)” translates “stronghold / defense” from the Hebrew word Misgâb (mis-gawb), giving me a new-to-me name for God: Jehovah- Misgâb.

Misgâb means cliff or other lofty or inaccessible place. Translated to refuge, defense, high / strong fort / tower, or stronghold, Misgâb is the place of safety upon which a soldier is safe from enemy fire.

David faced many enemies in his life and he always ran to his Jehovah- Misgâb, the place where he found strength and wisdom for the battle, comfort in time of trouble, and rest for his war-wearied soul. In Psalm 59, David faces an enemy force that is coming against him for no cause; he had done nothing to them that should bring such an assault. The NASB describes his assailant as dogs, searching for food, dissatisfied with any they find. David finds his High Tower by determining within himself “But as for me”, despite the trouble, “I will….”

Stronghold-3The only doorway into the tower of God’s protection that is a stronghold of refuge and rest for a war-wearied soul is through faith that trusts God despite what the war looks like to our finite vision. The key to that door is a heart that praises God even when the war gets long and looks to be lost. That heart of praise and worship that fully trusts God realizes that He alone can give strength needed to continue fighting the good fight of faith while waiting for the Defender of our lives to deliver from the evil coming at us. Despite the exhaustion our tired souls feel, the heart that runs hard after Jehovah- Misgâb sings this song of faith and hope with David:

“But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress” ~ Psalm 59:16, NLT.

Sometimes, beloved, the trouble God allows to chaise us down has but one purpose ~ to drive us to trust more fully in God’s faithfulness, relying only on Him, finding our Resting Place there.

042

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ The Stone of Help; Our Stay

Two names of God stand out to me today, as I seek Him for His Holy Habitation in our days:

EBENEZER – The Lord has Helped us. Literally “Stone of Help”.

JEHOVAH-MISHAN – The Lord your stay.  Literally “I AM your Stay”.

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us’” ~ 1 Samuel 7:12

“They confronted and came upon me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my stay and support” ~ Psalm 18:18, AMP.

I don’t know about you, but trouble seems to come at us every day. If it is not one thing, it is another. Too often, the thing we thought was behind us yesterday is suddenly in our faces again today. If it were not for our Ebenezer, The Rock upon which we can stand, and our 042Mishan, Jehovah-Our Stay, life’s issues would have destroyed us by now. But God…

God is our ever-present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). He is for us and not against us (Romans 8:31). When we stand with faith in Him to be and do all He says He is, will be, and can do, we find the broad place beneath us, stabilizing us in the fiercest storm this life can bring to us (Psalm 18:19, 31:8, 66:12). As you seek to bring your weary soul into holy habitation with God today, realize what this word means:

Stay –

†   To endure or persist (Romans 5; 2 Peter 1:1-12; Mark 5:36; John 12:35, 15:14).

†   To stand one’s ground; remain firm (Romans 14:4; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:21, 2:9; Ephesians 6:10-18; 2 Timothy 1:12, 2:19).

†   To remain in a fixed or established position. To brace, support, or prop up. To strengthen or sustain mentally or spiritually. To rest or fix on for support. (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:6; 4:13; 2 Corinthians 9:8, 12:9)

†   A strip of bone, plastic, or metal, used to stiffen a garment or part, such as a corset or shirt collar (John 15:5; Ephesians 6:10-11; Colossians 3:1-17).

“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for He will never fail you” ~ 1 Peter 4:19, NLT.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 12

“Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.’ …’”  ~ Exodus 33:18-20, NASB.

God’s goodness toward us, His giving to us a personal and intimate knowledge of Him, and His grace that meets our need: all are aspects of God’s glory-revelation. Last on this list of visual representations of God’s glory is His compassion toward us.

“…and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion. …”

Compassion ~ Deep awareness of the suffering of another accompanied by the wish to relieve it. God does not like to see our suffering, and so, He is compassionate toward us.

Trouble is part of living in this world that is most often in stark contrast to God and His ways. As long as we live this earthly existence, trouble will touch our lives; and more so as the day of Christ draws near.

Evil increasing and people’s hearts growing cold toward any aspect of God’s reality is what ushers in the coming Christ. As people wax cold toward God, closing their hearts to Him, Christ will come to remove those who are His from this mess, and apocalypse will have its way. Until then, trouble will increase, touching us more frequently and with greater devastation as this world decays and the day of Christ’s return for us draws near. That said, how is God’s compassion revealed?

“It is of the Lord’s mercies (lovingkindnesses) that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” ~ Lamentations 3:22-23, KJV (NASB).

The Lord’s compassions toward us keep us from being consumed by the trouble found in this world. Instead, He uses such to strengthen our faith to trust Him more; leading us to greater depths of repentance and surrender to more of Him, strengthening our resolve as He grows our likeness to Him. God’s compassion produces heart-peace in us when life’s storms hit, that peace that passes understanding, amazing the heart of the recipient. Father’s compassions equip us with wisdom to weather every wave and stand firm in the harshest winds.

We are in this life with a purpose set by God: to partner with Him in making His glory known. Therefore, God does not always remove trouble from us, but His compassion helps us to stand so that we fulfill His purpose in allowing the trouble to touch us. Light shines brightest when contrasting the dark.

No matter how bad the waves of trouble may rise above us, we can trust God’s faithful compassions to protect us from the destruction difficulties seek to bring to us. This world of trouble will not consume us as long as we rest securely in His grace that works His good for us out of every wave on the tossing sea of this life.

Whatever storm you are in, beloved, watch for God’s provision: not 089putting Him in a box of what you think He is doing and should do, but trusting His will, His way. His lovingkindness is with you to provide for your every need out of His compassionate mercies that fail not. He amazes the heart and mind of those who sincerely wait upon and watch for Him in earnest expectation and hope of the glory He will reveal.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 11

“Then Moses said, ‘I pray You, show me Your glory!’ And He said, ‘I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious…’”  ~ Exodus 33:18-20, NASB.

God’s glory is revealed first through every goodness He gives. Next, He says we can know His glory as God personally proclaims the name of the Lord before us. We touched on the friendship with God that increases as intimacy grows through learning His names, which express His character. Later in this series we will cover this aspect of God’s glory in greater detail, revealing the appreciation and the power such intimacy brings to our relationship with Him, as well as the faith, strength, hope, supply, and partnership produced. Today we look at God’s next instruction to Moses, revealing the glory of God we see in life.

“… I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious…”

Grace is often defined as God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace couples with God’s mercy to supply all our need as His chosen people, even, and especially, when we don’t deserve it. Any supply we have for any need met is God revealing Himself to us. Even the smallest incidental that makes us smile or wipes a tear of fret and fear away is God reaching out to touch our lives with His presence. The trick is to realize God’s grace at work in our midst.

Too often credit for God’s supply in life goes to that which seems more obvious, that which touches our physical senses. We credit our jobs or our own perceived strength, failing to remember that God’s grace gives both. The laughter of a small child brightens our heart without our realizing God’s hand of grace in bringing that joy. On we could go, listing ways God blesses by grace and we fail to realize Blessing’s source.

Every good comes from God because of His grace toward us. His loving hand reaching to our current deprivation ministers every essential. What joy there is in recognizing God’s grace at work in our lives, not only meeting our every true need, but also equipping us as ministers in partnership with Him in the grace He gives.

“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; as it is written, ‘He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever.’ Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:8-11.

God graciously meets our need, equipping us for the good He desires we accomplish. God gives to us so that we have supply for giving. We cannot out give God. Every good use we make of His supply is seed sown that will produce a harvest to His glory. As wise stewards of the manifold gifts of God’s grace to us, we partner with God in making His glory known, producing thanksgiving to God. The better we get at realizing God’s grace-supply and using it as seed, the more we find His storehouses open to our need.

Through God’s grace, we are made to be His ministers according to His gift of grace working through us in the power of His supply, thus participating with Him, becoming one as His light in the revelation of Glory (Ephesians 3:1-7; 3:20-21).

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 9

“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’” ~ Exodus 33:17, NASB.

Walking in God’s favor empowers our lives and makes us fruitful as His people. It is a sign of intimacy with God, being a people after God’s own heart. Along with that is the increased intimacy of friendship with God as ones knowing each other well, privileged to call each other by name.

Known by name:

I know many people when I see them, but those I know best, I know by name; and those I am most intimate with, I know by their chosen or preferred name. This passage leads me to the understanding that it is the same with God.

Some have a shallow acquaintance with Him, while others draw near on a first name basis. People who possess a depth of knowledge as His chosen people that goes beyond mere acquaintance come into a friendship with God that is real and alive.

When God speaks to my heart, 99 times out of a hundred He begins by getting my attention as He calls out, “Darlene”. That sign of intimacy goes the other direction as the child of God learns the names of God, calling on Him with intimate knowledge of who He is (something we will look at closely in days to come).

Deeper intimacy still is found in a relationship that has God naming us according to His desire for us (Revelation 2:17). We see this in instances of people’s relationship with God in Scripture:

Abram (exalted father ~ Genesis 11:27, NASB footnote) becomes Abraham (father of many ~ Genesis 17:5, NASB footnote). Abram’s name change takes him from being the start of a nation to the promise of being the father of more than can be numbered.

Jacob (heel catcher, trickster, supplanter) becomes Israel (he fights or persists with God in prevailing prayer). Jacob no longer relied on himself and trickery to get what was his. He learned to rely on God and receive from His hand.

Simon (he has heard) becomes Peter (rock – one who stands on what he knows and speaks what he believes).

And in my time, Darlene (Beloved) becomes Abigail (Rejoicing – One whose heart rejoices in God. One in whom the heart of God rejoices.) God gave me this name long ago during a time of drawing near to Him and it became my mantra, my life goal, to live so-as-to bring Him rejoicing as I rejoice in Him. For someone who has suffered much rejection and the fear of rejection, this name inspires hope and helps me to know that God does not reject me, but has chosen me, and He finds joy in my presence with Him.

Knowing God inspires faithfulness that wins favor. Him knowing us produces an intimacy that is deep and abiding, as face to face as we can possess in this life, based on a love that never fails.

Holy Habitation: Living Continually Seated at God’s Feet ~ Day 7

“… 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” ~ Exodus 33:12-14, AMP.

Looking at the passage covered in yesterday’s devotional thought, I notice that those who abide in God, remaining with Him in Holy Habitation, can still have their lives touched by the consequences of the sins of others.

God told Moses that He knows him by name and that He finds favor in him, yet still, Moses, along with Joshua and others who did not follow the sin of the people, were to go into Canaan without God’s presence with them, just as those who sinned.

I know you have seen this truth for yourself, as I have. We can suffer hardship because of the sins of those near us. This fact is part of our participation in the suffering of Christ that God’s word warns us we will bear in this life (Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Philippians 1:29-30; Colossians 1:24; see also 2 Peter 2:4-10). Jesus’ entire journey to the cross was because of sin not His own.

As people in Holy Habitation with God, it is vital when hardship comes that we get God’s perspective regarding its source and cause. If we find conviction of sin from Him, repent so-as-to remain with Him in righteousness. If it is not our sin revealed as the cause, hunker under His wings for His protective cover in that area of life. Also, realize that there is another truth seen in this discourse between God and Moses that we are to practice when a storm is not of our own making:

Those in Holy Habitation with God receive the consequences of a righteous life that is blessed by God, and that blessing can reach beyond us as grace toward those struggling in sin.

When God threatened to destroy the nation of Israel for their sin and begin anew with Moses, Moses jumped into the breech, begging for God’s mercy to save the people (Exodus 32:7-14). Now, as God threatens to remove His presence from their journey, Moses again steps into the breech to pray for mercy. God’s response to Moses translated into His doing good toward those who fell in sin, though they deserved the consequences of His holy discipline.

Holy habitation with God owns one’s own sin and seeks quickly the restoration of relationship with God. Holy habitation with God also realizes the effect our ability to commune with Him can have for the benefit of those we love. Realize, beloved, the heart of God toward you that longs to meet your every need, for yourself and for those you love and desire to see in Holy Habitation with Him.

“And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’” ~ vs. 14.

The Priestly Order: Part 2

“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek” ~ Hebrews 5:7-10.

As I consider our next portion of this subject, verses 7-10 above seem to proof-text Christ’s priesthood. In order to discern what I mean and get a picture of His High Priestly role, we need to compare it with verses 1-4, which outline the qualifications for those called to the role of high priest.

“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins; he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was” ~ Hebrews 5:1-4.

Comparing these things with our first verses, here is what I find”

“For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God, in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins…” (vs. 1-4): compares with “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety. …” (vs. 7-10).

Jesus came in flesh to fulfill the priestly role of being “taken from among men” as one “appointed on behalf of men” to intercede in “things pertaining to God.” He fulfilled this role in many ways, beginning with prayers and supplications, not only for the people God sent Him to minister to on His behalf, but for Himself.

We are told in Holy Writ that He often went away by Himself for time with the Father, preparing Himself for the days and challenges ahead. And as He went to the cross, He wept before the Father with such anxiety of heart that He sweat blood with thought of the cross in His path, crying out, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” He sets the example for us when we face a CROSS-road. Jesus went through life as example to us, and He went to the cross on our behalf, fulfilling His High Priestly role. (See Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46)

Next, in verse 1-4, we read that the high priest taken from among men is so appointed because “…he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness….”  Of Jesus in verse 7-10 we are told, “…Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. …”

The High Priest must be able to relate with the struggle that is common to every person. They need to be able to deal with people with the degree of grace and understanding that comes from personal experience of the struggle our flesh brings to the equation. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people say, “You can’t understand unless you have lived it.” Experience allows us right of passage to minister to the need of others. Therefore The Christ having experience of life as a person of flesh is a vital part of the requirement for His Priesthood.

I am struck by this statement concerning Christ, “…Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. …” Although He was God incarnate by the Father – Son relationship He had that is difficult for us to fully fathom, He “learned obedience” through suffering. That tells me He knew suffering. His deity as God did not protect him from hurting when He stubbed His toe, getting angry when He saw injustice, or sweating blood at the thought of His cross. His flesh was fully flesh, and He felt it. He learned through experience what it was like to be in these flesh-shells. To meet the requirement He had to learn by experience what it was like to deal with the flesh and remain true to the God-Head. Because of that experience, He has the ability to give compassion with understanding of our struggle.

Our role is somewhat reversed from His. He came as God and learned of the flesh and how to deal with the flesh while remaining in God despite the flesh. We come as fleshly beings and, once we receive the Christ and His Spirit that unites us with the Father, we learn how to know and understand this Immortal and remain in Him despite our flesh. Because Jesus chose to come and live in a flesh body, He understands our “despite the flesh” struggle, thus His Priestly role continues as He ever lives to intercede, standing in the gap before the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:33-34).

“…and because of it (his understanding of our struggle and his call to stand on our behalf) he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself. …” (vs. 1-4 – parenthesis added by author, reminder of previous thoughts added). “…And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation…” (vs. 7-10).

Jesus filled this role like no other in that He not only offered up a sacrifice, but He became the sacrifice, paying the price required for life with God on behalf of all flesh.

I never thought of it before now, but that would include covering the weakness He experienced in His own flesh. Though He lived in victory over His fleshly struggle, being perfect in all His ways, He still lived fully in human flesh. He kept the Levitical Law perfectly: That would include going with His sacrifice in hand on holy days throughout His life among us, thus He offered up sacrifice for Himself in keeping with the Law. Despite His deity, when called “good,” He replied, “No one is good but God alone” (Mark 10:18), so He apparently considered His own fleshly existence to be as frail and faulty as anyone else’s because of the weakness and struggle that flesh presents to living. So His sacrifice of His own flesh at Calvary could well fulfill the call of the high priest to offer up sacrifice “as for the people, so also for himself”.

“…And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was” ~ Hebrews 5:1-4.

It just dawned on me, as I read here that Jesus was called to His priesthood just as Aaron was that God sent Aaron across the wilderness to meet up with Moses before he was placed as a priest over Israel (Exodus 4). Jesus, too, started His earthly ministry after 40 days of prayer and fasting in the wilderness. Just an interesting thought.

Our pastor instructed recently that the purpose of the 40 day fast is for one to come fully into the authority they have from God. Jesus had great power because He trusted Himself to God and trusted God to give full authority to His fleshly existence so that He could fulfill His call as Christ.

The High Priest must live in purity and work out of His full authority in God. In the second order of priesthood started by Aaron, a high priest entering the Holy of Holies, having any impurity in his life, fell dead instantly. But if he fulfilled the call of purification, he went in with full authority to do so in safety, fully empowered to fulfill his priestly role. Jesus fulfilled His High Priestly role by entering fully into His purification and authority in God, just as Aaron did.

All these things in play, God says of Jesus, “… ‘YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU’; just as He says also in another passage, ‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK’” ~ Hebrews 5:5-6.

Jesus is our High Priest. We need no other. He ever lives to intercede on our behalf, calling and empowering us to live fully for God with whole heart, and through Him we receive our purification from sin, being set free from its death and set free from constantly having to make blood sacrifice for sin.

Wow. There it is! I kept feeling that there was something more to this “order of Melchizedek” than I was seeing or being helped to see by commentaries read. Here it is!

Melchizedek was of the first order of priests. In that role we are not told of any sacrifice for sin being made or required. Then enters Aaron at the call of God: Through Aaron and the Levitical priesthood God sets up the second order of priests, in which blood sacrifice was required for the covering of sin and other issues given the people through Levitical Law. This order of the priesthood was set up by God for the purpose of providing a holy people out of which the Christ would come, the Holy Seed of God.

It was also set up for the people to have an intermediary between themselves and God. If you recall in the account of Israel’s experience in Exodus, the people feared God in an unholy way, being afraid of His presence and power, so much so that they feared relationship with Him. So they told Moses to talk to God on their behalf, refusing the personal intimacy God had for them to possess. I believe this is why God made arrangements for a priesthood to stand in the gap and intercede for the people: the second order being intermediary. (See Exodus 20:18-21; 34:29-35; 2 Corinthians 3)

In comes Christ, who fulfilled the role of High Priest perfectly, setting the example of godliness and calling all around Him to wholehearted, personal intimacy in their relationship with God as Father. Through His holy life and sacrifice, the full payment for sin is made, and we are back to the order of priesthood that no longer has need of the ritualistic cleansing of the second order. Jesus keeps us safe and covers us by His own blood sacrifice so we can enter into the very presence of God without fear: back to the first order of personal intimacy with God.

Beloved, through Christ we are of the first order of priests, the order of Melchizedek – set free to have personal relationship with Father-God! That is our topic of discussion for Part 3 of our focus on The Priestly Order.

Pondering Restful Pastures: 2

Read Hebrews 4

“To whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” ~ Hebrews 3:18-4:2.

Yesterday we looked at the keys found in Jesus’ example to us for living a life of obedience that leads to our entering into and remaining in the restful pastures of God’s provision. Today as I read Chapter 4, which continues the teaching on living in God’s rest, I am impressed with the connection obedience to God has with faith in Him.

Our level of obedience is directly related to the degree of faith we have to trust Him and take God fully at His Word. So when restful pastures elude us, the first place to look is to our faith: Are we fully believing God, taking His word to us to heart, and walking it out to completion with complete understanding of the intent of His Word?

I think to fully grasp this in a fallen world where trouble is promised to us and seems to rob of rest we need to discern this rest that God speaks of: what is God’s rest?

“For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest,’ although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; and again in this passage, ‘They shall not enter My rest’” ~ verses 3-5.

Here is what I discern as God’s rest, beloved. God spoke and it was done, fully and completely, nothing of His intent lacking. So on the seventh day, He looked over all His works with the satisfaction of knowing it was complete. There was nothing more to be said, nothing more to accomplish but to enjoy the view and watch for the fruit to bear out of the finished product.

There are things He has spoken that we are waiting to see fulfilled in the earth through the bearing of the fruit of His Word, but when God speaks it, it’s intent is finished. We can take His Word to the bank knowing it is sufficient for every need and will bear fruit into our lives as we walk in faiths obedience.

When we have faith to believe God, even while waiting to see the fruit of His instruction and promise to us, obedience flows freely to complete the task with assurance of faith for the fulfillment of all things in Him. His Word is finished in us when our faith is complete, even while awaiting the fruit of it. So while waiting to see all He says come to pass, when we fulfill all obedience with faith, we can look over all that is before us and smile even in the midst of a storm tossed sea, knowing the produce of God’s word will be seen in due season.

“Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, ‘Today,’ saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, ‘Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.’ For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His” ~ verses 6-10.

Joshua did well in leading the people into the Promised Land, becoming one of our patriarchs of faith, but he fell short of full obedience in several areas and, therefore, did not succeed at leading the people to the promised rest. I.e.: they too frequently fell short of their call to destroy all God told them to, so their enemies remained in their midst to cause hardship for them, tempt them away from God, and hinder the rest God desired for them. The people of Israel suffer the consequences for this shortfall still today, as does the whole world set in chaos by terrorism.

We too often forget God’s instruction to us or fall short of understanding its intent: thus we fail to fully believe and take His word seriously, and fall short of full obedience with faith. Such half-hearted obedience is what keeps us from the rest God desires for us.

The other day I found my rest and peace greatly disturbed in the area of my struggle with feelings of rejection. I wrote several weeks ago about that struggle and shared all God instructed me with regard to that issue, and I have walked in great freedom and peace since then. But approaching a friend after church to share something with her, I was left feeling she was uninterested and like I was bothering her.

Now I realized she was tired and that I stopped her as she was heading someplace to do something. I too have trouble relating with others when my mind is set on a course. I realized this quickly and set it aside as a non-issue, but peace and rest remained disturbed within me.

As I asked the Lord why I was feeling such unrest, with that spirit of rejection rearing up anew, He instructed me again that He is the one who gives me favor with man. When He told my heart that, I discerned two things: I was failing to fully trust God’s promise to me in that moment and peace was hindered by lack of faith; and desire for favor with man can become a God to me if I am not careful to realize God’s instruction that I am to seek His favor, not mans.

WALK-WITH-GOD“For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ” ~ Galatians 1:10.

The intent of God for me / us is to seek after His favor, not concerning self with pleasing mankind. Full obedience for me in this area is to keep focus on the favor of God, walking in it, and not concerning myself with favor from man. When I fail to fulfill the intent of God’s word through obedience to seek the favor of God alone, I leave the restful pastures and am disturbed and hindered by every appearance of the lack of favor.

“Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” ~ verse 11-13.

God sees our hearts. He knows when we are truly and fully following Him in obedience of faith. And He is ready with His Word to help us discern what is hindering our remaining in the restful pastures of His presence and peace. Not only that, but He assures our hearts through Christ for those times when we falter and fall:

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” ~ verse 14-16.

Jesus is the fulfillment of all things through God, beloved. He understands the fleshly, worldly, and demonic battle we are in and the weakness of our flesh, how easily distracted and forgetful we can be. He knows we are a work in progress this side of heaven’s glory.

Beloved, in Christ, God’s word concerning the work of Christ and Him crucified has completed His work in us already as far as eternity is concerned. But in our earthly reality where war with God’s enemy is in play, we are a work in progress. The blood of Christ has completed the work of our eternal cleansing. The Spirit of God is doing the work day by day of purging the sin from our earthly existence. Thus it is vital in cooperating with the purging work of the Spirit that we heed His promptings and follow quickly in obedient faith so as to experience today the restful pastures of God.

Jesus is fully aware of the reality of our weakness. Thus, because of the Word of promise fulfilled in Him, we always find grace when we, being reminded of His word to us, bow at the foot of His throne in order to rise and walk in full obedience of faith anew.

Unhappy in your marriage, beloved? Bow down and seek Him for His word for your relationship. Unhappy in your job, beloved? Bow down and discover what is lacking of faith filled obedience to God.

God’s word has fulfilled all its good will and purpose, and it bears fruit in the earth to become our reality as we walk in faith-filled obedience to the intent of God. Such living allows us to kick back with God at the end of each day and rejoice in the work well-done even while watching for the fruit of it.

God is Building His Temple

The following article appears to confirm what we were told in church last night concerning the probability of a very soon Israeli Temple Mount build and the reestablishment of Levitical worship laws is rumored to be in the works.

http://www.breakingisraelnews.com/13091/build-young-israel-temple-mount/#2ff6igTrQezg2TRp.97

The stated projection for the build given us last night was 18 months, but according to the speaker, the rumor mill has it that they already have everything prefabbed and the build could be within a month of the start of the project.

Could this possibly be the sign of the times I am waiting to see come into view? I am not sure that a “synagogue for prayer” is the same as that of the Temple of God prophesied, but I am no expert in these things. The potential is certainly there and the other signs given by Christ are certainly being seen in the earth today, including such things as:

1 Revealing of antichrist: The spirit of antichrist is already active as more and more people turn from the teachings of scripture to go their own way, making the breeding ground for takeover by the one to come who will soon be revealed as the antichrist—the one who will lead the world to fight against and destroy all things Christian. Already many of those who have turned to their own way not only shun those who believe in Christ, but actively come against all things Christian. This too is the spirit of antichrist revealing the birthing pangs of the man to be revealed.

2. The world of science has the means in place to set up “the mark”: a mark or chip of some sort used to mark those who give allegiance to antichrist. That mark will be required for all who want the right to buy, sell, and trade. Those who take that mark will be forever doomed to separation from God and His kingdom as they make their choice to serve another god, which is what antichrist is out to be.

3. Jerusalem surrounded in war: I am watching the war with ISIL very closely because I see them as having the force and potential to unite Islam against God’s chosen people. My understanding of scripture is that the church will be raptured out before that war. And Jesus warns those still around to see it that when they see antichrist standing in the temple and war surrounding Israel / Jerusalem, that is when those seeing it better run to the hills, because things really get bad then.

4. Other signs currently happening include:

* Plagues in the earth. My youngest daughter researched EBOLA recently and learned it is only one of several plagues currently active in the earth. So far the USA has been spared, but as more and more of the people of this great nation turn to antichrist that can quickly change.

* Natural disasters. These have increased drastically in the past several years. And more and more asteroid “near misses” point to the arrival of the one called “Wormwood” in scripture that WILL NOT MISS.

* Lawlessness! Watch the news. You can’t miss it. But this does not only mean those breaking the laws of man. It is the breaking of the laws of GOD. Look around you. Even those who profess to be people of God are snared by pornography, sexual sin of every kind, lack of integrity, and so on. I could write a book just listing the laws of God that are broken by those professing to be His every day. All struggle with fleshly impulses, but those who are actively pursuing God will deal with those faults and failures quickly. It is the habitual sin that we must realize: those lawless deeds that we fail to address with God and actively stand against must be dealt with. And those who refuse to deal with habits of sin need to look at #1 in the list below.

* Love grows cold. As lawlessness increases, our ability to give and receive love is hindered. We become weary of reaching out to those in need as we feel taken advantage of more often than not. Fear of strangers and their intentions keep us from opening our doors or our hearts to those in need. Whole families are destroyed because increasing sin destroys trust and our ability and desire to express love.

All of these things are warning for us who know Christ to be ready for His SOON return. Jesus teaches that we are not to fear these things, but we are to recognize their significance and be ready for Him. Our speaker last evening pointed out that we who belong to Christ are the Temple of God that He is building. It is vital that we possess for ourselves all that God desires of us as His temple, for that is what we are as the houses in which He makes His Spirit to dwell. Following are the things God is instructing me are necessary for readiness:

WALK-WITH-GOD1. Our relationship with God through Jesus Christ and our commitment to Him MUST be in good order. Do you know that you know that you know that you WILL be with Him in Glory. Scripture says that we can KNOW what our eternal destination is. That ability to know for sure requires that we get ourselves in tune with and surrendered to God the Father and His work in us through His Spirit’s indwelling that makes us into the image of God.

The way we can truly say that we KNOW we will be with Him in the Eternal Heavenly Kingdom of God is by the bearing of the fruit of His Spirit in our lives. If you do not KNOW what that means, get with someone who does before it is too late. This fruit bearing is the proof Jesus says reveals those who truly know Him and have His Spirit within. The Spirit of God is His mark on His people and that mark is made known through fruit bearing.

Beloved one, whether days, weeks, months or years, Jesus is coming! The signs that are revealing themselves today speak sooner rather than later to us who are alert. No one knows the day or hour of His return, so every day must be seen as potential to His arrival, and we must be found in readiness, being busy about the Father’s business at His coming.

2. Fear not, but live out His Love, Light, and Peace. Don’t go out and sell all you have and check out on life. Jesus is not here yet and there are still many who do not know Him. We are to continue to live with faith in God, setting a good example with our lives, having right priorities so that we are being His Light to the world and His love to those around us. It is our example that they will see, and that requires that we live with faith and hope every day, continuing on our course until Jesus takes us away.

3. Be good stewards of all that you have. God is the one who provides us the means to earn a living, and we are to use all He supplies us with wisdom, giving first to our local church the full tithe for use in meeting the needs of the house of God in carrying out the work of God where we are. God tells us in Malachi that in keeping the tithe we have His promise that He will destroy the devourer. All that drains our funds and robs us of the ability to meet basic needs will be removed by Him as we are faithful to supply His houses of worship and His work from our FIRST fruits. My understanding of the tithe is that it is the first 10% of gross income, and Malachi tells us that the devourer comes because we rob God of His full requirement. Be sure you are giving the full tithe and God says to test Him in this and we will see Him pour out His supply for our need.

Jesus warns us to not throw away His supply on useless pursuits that will be good for nothing, but instead to lay up our treasure in Heaven by being good stewards of His supply. Paul tells us in His letters to the Corinthians that God gives supply to meet our NEEDS. He gives supply for every good deed. And He sends surplus for use in meeting the needs around us. It is okay to have fun, but make sure you do not do so as a waste while a need or good deed goes unmet. That means we must be Spirit led in the use of God’s supply. Grabbing funds to blow on wants without His release to do so may find us facing a need with no supply because we spent it frivolously. When you fail to seek wisdom from God and find yourself facing a need with no supply, be quick to repent and learn to do better with your next opportunity to seek His will for your spending.

Use of God’s supply also includes the use of our time, energy, and priorities. Are we wasting our days, or are we being there for our family, for the work of the Lord, for time with Him personally and corporately, for time with others who need us to be an example of Light and Love, etc. All we are and all we have is His. Seek Him for every use of funds, time, energies, supplies, resources, gifts, talents, abilities, etc. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all else will be added to you. Realize that the greatest fun and fulfillment is found in Kingdom living as the joy of the Lord becomes our hope, help and strong tower.

Bible0014. WORD: do not neglect God’s word. The reading and meditation upon His word is Bread of Life and Living Water for us. In it we learn of God. Through it we find direction for our paths. In keeping it we become His image bearers. These days are hard, and they will get harder between now and the time Jesus comes. It is through God’s word working in us in the power of His Spirit that He reveals Himself as the lifter of our heads, the confidence of our hearts, and the assurance of our feet and hands.

5. Do not neglect the reading of the Word and the assembling together with other believers. It is gathering with other believers that give us opportunity to help and strengthen one another through corporate Bible study, prayer, and encouragement. We need each other in this season. A house divided will soon fall. Find a place and people of like faith that you can unite with for mutual support: and the FIRST place that should be, husbands, wives, and parents of children, is in the home. Do not neglect to teach God’s word to and encourage your family. The use of our spiritual gifts should begin there as well.

Realize that it is the lone sheep that fall prey to the wolf and the lion. The enemy of God works hard to separate us out from those of like faith, knowing that if he can get us away from our strong support system of family and church, he can destroy us and keep us from a vitally growing relationship with God, the fulfillment of His purpose in us, and the glory He desires to shine to and through us. Thus it is important that we not only find those strong, Christian support systems, but also that we watch out for those who are wandering off. When we see a family member or friend leaving the safety of the fold to delve into the ways of the world, we must move in to surround and help them find their way back.

Beloved, my heart is full for you today. If you are reading this, I am praying for your assurance of faith and the fulfillment of God’s purpose in you. The hour is short. The Day of Christ is near at hand. Like Jesus, we must be busy about the Father’s business, realizing that the day is coming when no man may work for antichrist is active in the earth to bring righteousness and goodness and godliness to an end. Today is the day of salvation. The Father wishes none to perish, but all to come to repentance. Now is the acceptable time for all mankind to know and serve the Living God of truth and righteousness who sends grace to us through Jesus the Christ. But it is only ours when we reach out in faith, believing all that is written of Jesus the Messiah, and receive it as our own possession.

Thus I continually pray “to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation [of insight into mysteries and secrets] in the [deep and intimate] knowledge of Him, By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones), And [so that you can know and understand] what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe, as demonstrated in the working of His mighty strength, Which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His [own] right hand in the heavenly [places], {in the place of authority} far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named [above every title that can be conferred], not only in this age and in this world, but also in the age and the world which are to come” ~ Ephesians 1:17-21, AMP.

 

BLESSings, Beloved One!

Darlene

King’s Daughter

 

Listen, O daughter, give attention and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house; then the King will desire your beauty; IF HE IS YOUR LORD, BOW DOWN TO HIM ~ Psalm 45:10-11.

Word of Life: Kingdom Reality

“…Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” ~ 1 John 2:12-17.

“Do not love the world, nor the things in the world.” The longer I live, the more I understand how important it is to have His Kingdom as our daily reality. The only way we can overcome the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life that leads to loving this world and its ways is to come more and more fully into Kingdom Reality.

This passage states that the love of this world—being in love with it so as to be led away by lust of the flesh and the eyes, and the boastful pride of life—reveals that we do not have the Love of the Father ABIDING in us. Abide means to live in so as to remain in. God desires to live and make His home within us, abiding there. Why?

In my more recent experience I am finding that to be true, not just so He can control me, because He does not force His control on me; but so that I have an Anchor that stabilizes me in the waters of His Kingdom.

His presence with me reminds me constantly of the oneness He desires with me. I am in Him; He is in me; we are one together and my true residence is with Him where He is even now and always. My eternity started the day I said “I do” to Jesus, becoming part of the Bride of Christ and made one with the Father as a Child of God. I am a member of God’s Kingdom.

Realization of that unity and position with Him anchors my soul, protecting me from letting the desire for the things of this life pull me away from Him. The stronger that reality is in me, the less I feel of the pull of this world.

l109149486I was watching Deadliest Catch this past week. One of the boats was docked when a major storm rolled in. As the captain in charge at that moment felt the waves tugging and pushing, he realized that if he did not reposition the boat, they would be pulled away and made a wreck by the waves. That is the way it is with us. As we come more and more into the reality of His Kingdom that is in us and with us, we can more readily recognize when there is a threat to our position so we can make needed adjustments and reestablish the lines that hold us in security.

There is another thought we can take from that Deadliest Catch episode. The captain of the boat wanted to get hold of the owner of the boat to get clearance before doing what he knew needed done, because if one person involved failed to do their part, the move needed could be sabotaged and lead to the wreck they were trying to avoid. Because of the storm he was unable to reach the owner. So he had to make a decision based on what he knew from past experience and what he knew of the owner.

Sometimes, when we are in a storm, we feel like we can’t reach God. Now that thought is another that can lead to a whole other study, but John helps me to stay on track with this thought as we return to pick up the first of our text:

“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 2:12-17.

In times when a decision must be made but we struggle to feel like we can hear from God, this is what I see in this passage that gives us instruction. The children of God living His Kingdom reality:

Have experienced forgiveness – they know what repentance is and have understanding of God’s grace sufficient. These know because they know Him that His grace will always be sufficient.

These know God – having been and still being in intimate relationship with Him. Though they may feel that they can’t hear Him at this moment, they know Him: how He thinks, what His will and purpose is, and the actions He takes.

These are overcomers – that have been in bad situations before and have won victories. They have experience in dealing with the challenges the enemy of God sends, and they know God always leaves them with help they can rely upon. Thus…

These have strength – this strength is God-powered, because their faith and hope are in Him. They trust His presence with them even when they may not “feel” it or know it experientially in that moment.

These have the Word of God abiding within – though they may not feel they are hearing His voice right now, they have His Word to direct them and give them a future and a hope in their final outcome.

Beloved, when storms hit, it can be difficult to hear God’s voice speaking. We must have experiential knowledge of Him and that comes as we live with Him as His Kingdom dwellers. I believe that God always hears us (Isaiah 59:1). But sometimes God is silent, testing to see if we have faith to trust Him enough to do what we know needs done.

God brought this passage to mind for us today ~ Matthew 25:14-30 ~ The parable of the talents. You remember the story. The master goes on a journey and leaves his possessions with his servants, expecting them to be good stewards. He did not tell them what to do with the wealth entrusted to them. All indications are that he expected these to bring increase to him out of their knowledge of him and his ways and priorities. Apparently he trusted these servants, which tells me he had reason to believe that they had enough experience with him to be able to make wise and discerning decisions on his behalf.

You know the story. Two of these acted out of faith and did what they felt the master would want done based on what they knew of him. The third Jesus-Bride006held back in fear. What did he say?

“Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.”

Now obviously the master knew this one was often driven by fear, so he did not give him much to squander. And what was his response? “You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.”

God brings increase to us as we prove to be faithful stewards, leaving us with greater resource to use on His behalf. That fact tells me there will be times when God will entrust us with His wealth. His wealth is not just the “talents”, Beloved. His wealth is the knowledge of Him – knowing His ways, His purposes, His thoughts, His words.

It is vital that we know our God experientially so we may have the faith needed to take action in due season when His voice is not evident. We must know Him, know His word, and have experience of Him that can direct our path. That experiential knowledge of God comes most to those who realize His Kingdom is in us and we are in it even now. We abide in Him and He in us. Beloved, read Revelation 21 and note the following:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them’ … I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. …”

Note beloved…WOW!!!!!!! Note the oneness found here. Just in the few words of this chapter shared above we see “the new” come down for the old has passed away. Note the new Jerusalem, beloved. It comes down into the new heaven and the new earth, and what is its appearance? It is “made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” We are it, beloved and it is us.

Jesus-Bride001Then note the temple. It is not there as a separate structure because God in all His fullness and the Lamb, who is the veil, are the temple. The whole city is in the temple. And the Temple is in the whole city, becoming for it the Light that replaces the sun.

And the Light enlightens every man (John 1:9). The Kingdom is in us, and we are the Kingdom, Beloved of God. We can know Him now experientially, having the Light of His glory within us; and what is the light?  The light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:9).

So as these storms come upon us in these days, Beloved, draw ever nearer to God, submit to God, resist the devil who will use the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the boastful pride of life against us IF WE LET HIM, just as he always has done. But he must flee as we draw near to God through submission to Him, which puts us instantly into resistance against Satan and his minions. Choose God and live for and with and in Him day by day, breath by breath. When hearing Him is difficult, follow what you know of Him in faith, trusting Him, and do the good you know to do as a good steward of His Light.

He never leaves nor forsakes us. He is with us and for us. By faith, believing, go forth and prosper, for you who are in Him and He in you are The Kingdom of God.

Be Strong and COURAGEOUS! ~ Part 2

“Then He (the Lord) commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you’” ~ Deuteronomy 31:23, (authors note).

We are called and equipped, Beloved, to be strong and courageous in life, being as God is, living as Jesus lived – in the world but not of it, so others may come to know Him for themselves and find His promises for life. Jesus said…

“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself (his fleshly lusts, worldly desires, and ungodly demands), and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life (by denying self and the desire to be in control above even God) for My sake, he is the one who will save it” ~ Luke 9:23-24 (Authors note).

When we choose to live as God desires, walk in obedience to Father as Jesus did, and live as His Eternal Kingdom CrossDaily05People in the midst of a world that denies Him, it will be difficult for us to do. Just as Jesus sweat blood before taking up His cross, there are times when we will feel we are doing the same (Hebrews 12:4). Here is the upside, Beloved one. Following the will of God even when we have to bear the cross of going against cultural norms and beliefs, sometimes even standing as if alone in order to obey Father and do His bidding, that cross bearing produces eternal fruit with great reward.

Every time we do right before God, though it puts us in difficult situations where we are, we add gold, silver and precious stones to our immortal structure that will not burn away as we enter His presence on the day of Bema seat (the judgment of the works of those who are God’s through Christ) (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). Accomplishing this in a society that promotes self (self-centeredness, self-reliance, self-fulfillment) will require faith in God, hope for eternity, and love, “and the greatest of these is love” ~ 1 Corinthians 13.

We are called as God’s people to love: loving Him first and foremost, above all else and with all that we are. We are called to love Him and others as He loves us, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. The question is, “How does He love us?” I believe the answer to that is best revealed through 1 John 3-4, especially chapter 4, verses 7-8:

sm34“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.”

God is love, and that is the goal for our love-walk, to learn of Him so that we may be love as He is love. Everything God does is dictated by love – EVERYTHING – even what is known as His wrath. His wrath is not self-centered, it is us centered. When He came against the evil a person did in scripture, it was because He, knowing the heart and outcome of man’s choices, the path they would choose, protected those who had a heart to follow Him by removing from their midst the tempter – those dead-set against God’s will and way. God is love and everything He does and allows stems out of that sincere care for us, His created beings, as He works with us to build a Kingdom of people who have a heart for Him as He does for us.

Beloved, just as there is a Bema Seat to judge the works of our lives here on earth, how we loved and lived in His name, there is also a White Throne judgment. Those who refuse His gift in Christ will stand before that White throne and be cast out of His presence with no hope remaining for their eternal, immortal being. Love will compel us to live in a way that shows that we care about that fact.

Hear me, Beloved of God. Put your eternal-minded ears on. God will one day remove all evil from its ability to influence and lead His creation away from His purity—His essence. But here is the thing: as we stand before whichever judgment seat we are headed for, not only will there be full revelation of who we are within our being and what we have done in this life, but in that instant each will fully see and know Him as He is. All His glory, all His purity, ALL HIS LOVE will be evident to us all. Those who stand before Bema will enter in to enjoy His essence for all eternity. Those who refused His gift of grace through Jesus and stand before the White throne will be cast into outer darkness to never experience the light of His essence or touch the hem of the knowledge of His love for them again.

The burning of hell is not just flames and heat for all eternity. I believe with all my heart that the greater burning will be desire to stand before Him and to simply be able to touch the hem of His essence one more time.

FEEL THAT, BELOVED BROTHER AND SISTER! With every fiber of compassion you have in you, let that soak in to motivate your life. It is vital for us to understand that those who fail to choose to follow Him now will enter into eternal separation from Him knowing full well all they are missing out on. Loving compassion should move us to be as He is for the sake of bearing a testimony of love to a lost and dying world in need of the knowledge of their Savior, God and King.

It is vital that we overcome our fear in this life: fear of persecution, fear of standing out, fear of rejection, fear of being different. If we, out of love, do not overcome our “self” so as to take up our cross of self-denial in order to love others at any cost, we put those given to our charge, as being in our sphere of influence; we put them into jeopardy of eternal longing for God, all for lack of a witness to draw them into His eternal arms.

Our love-walk, not as the world loves, but to learn to be love as He is love and allow those around us to experience Him through us, is vital! “The greatest of these is LOVE” will impact those around us, bringing them to knowledge of Him and to a relationship with Him that will protect them from missing His presence with a longing that burns unfulfilled forevermore.

~*~

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. LOVE NEVER FAILS….” ~ 1 Corinthians 13.

Is There Anyone God Cannot Save? NO!

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” ~ Romans 2:1.

The practice of homosexuality is a big controversy in our day as those who live that lifestyle make themselves known and push for their rights, and as people of “the church” speak out in opposition. Homosexuality is only one of many sins, grouped together as seen in those who refuse the will and way of God. It is named with adultery, fornication, gluttony, gossip, slander, and many others; and in more than one passage of scripture.

A Spark acquaintance put a goodie note on my SparkPeople.com page that truly disturbed me, because they said that God cannot save this particular people group because of their practice of the homosexual lifestyle, which is against God and His way. Do we have scriptural proof text that God stands against homosexuality? Yes. But He also stands against all sin that works as leaven to spread throughout society and lead many astray from the will of God. That does not mean that He cannot and will not save those snared by that sin.

All sin is that of refusing God as God in that area in which we struggle against Him in our life, failing to surrender to Him as our greatest treasure and desire. Can God save sinners such as us? To such a query, Jesus said, “With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26).

There is only one sin that the Father will not forgive, and that is the sin of refusing the gift of His Son’s sacrifice at Calvary. Jesus paid the price of sin, all sin in all its flavors. The only sin that will win hell for us is the sin of refusing the Savior. But there is proof of the sincerity of our acceptance of His Salvation that is found in our ability to realize and turn from sin. Repentance is required, though we may struggle to surrender all our days. Paul struggled against the desires of his flesh, but his hope was in God for victory in Christ (Romans 7:1 – 8:1). He did not doubt his salvation because of the struggle, but he had hope because he trusted God.

Once God’s gift of grace is received, the Spirit comes to the life of the sinner and begins the work of transformation.Lean on02 That work progresses within the sincere believer, “continually perfecting them until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6), when all who believe will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for their deeds. God will be working with us on our transformation until Jesus comes for us, when all will be brought to completion in the twinkle of an eye.

Before entering the eternal kingdom, our works will be tested as by fire. That which is as wood, hay and stubble will burn away. Only that which is as gold, silver and precious stones will pass through the gate. Some of us will get there with little to show for His glory, but we will get there, though smelling like smoke, not because of our works, but because of Christ’s work at Calvary (Ephesians 2:1-10).

All sin is sinful in God’s eyes, because sin, though it comes in many flavors, is sin because it goes against the grain of God’s will and way. Are there varying degrees of sin? Some say no, but Jesus told Pilot that the sin of those who turned Him over to Pilot was greater than the sin of Pilot’s participation as the judge, whose judgment was locked in by law. The defining character of sin is all that goes against or is contrary to God’s will and way, refusing to bow to Him as Lord and Master. It places us in a position of standing in opposition to Him. The homosexual is not seen as any worse than the adulterer. Both are against God’s way in the area of sexual sin. They each, who are so snared, likewise can be forgiven and brought to right standing in Christ.

Should the homosexual person, saved by grace, turn from their homosexuality? The Spirit-Teacher will bid them to turn from all that is contrary to God’s will and way, just as He bids me, convicting me of sin, righteousness and judgment. Some will break free. Others may have to take up the cross over and over again as they struggle against the will of the flesh, the world, and demons.

I have seen those snared by sin who, though sincerely saved by grace, struggle with that sin all their days. I am one who daily has to fight my fleshly desire to eat in ways that are harmful to the temple of God, my body; that is just one of the many things I have to watch against. That sounds simplistic compared to the headlines the homosexual lifestyle is getting, but my bad habits in my diet still stand against the will of God every time I deny Him as God in order to partake in my fleshly desire. Am I lost and going to hell because I struggle to surrender all to God? No, because I do struggle just as Paul did, trusting God to win the battle. Those whose faith in God through Christ is real and sincere and the fruit of the Spirit is real and growing even as they struggle are still saved by grace through faith even as they fight the good fight of faith (Hebrews 12:1-12).

CrossDaily05Throughout scripture we see the apostles pleading with those who are sincerely secure in Christ, yet continue to struggle with the nature of sin in the earth. We are called over and over in scripture, in various ways, to take up our cross daily by dying to fleshly desires in order to follow Christ’s example (Luke 9:23). It is something we have to strive toward every day. Some days we fly and others we falter, but we keep pressing forward to grasp the ring at the finish line (Philippians 3:7-16). And when we stand before that throne for the judging of the righteous in Christ, we are assured in scripture that Jesus will be by our side as Advocate. Our sin is not what He will point God to as He stands as Advocate, but our clothing of righteousness in Christ is what God’s eyes will rest upon.

Yes, there will be no homosexuals, or adulterers, or gossips, or slanders or gluttonous-sweet-aholics or…in heaven, for that will all be burned away as wood, hay and stubble, and all that will remain is Christ in us, our hope of glory and our Eternal Righteousness.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’” ~ John 14:6.

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” ~ John 11:25-26.

Hands Not Limp are Hands Raised in Prayer

“Moses said to him, ‘As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.’” ~ Exodus 9:29.

Echad~ Hands not limp rise up to God, seeking for His hands to move in our lives and the lives of others to perform the work that only He can do.

Here we see that the Father works through our prayers to reveal Himself to those for whom we intercede. God’s answer comes so that we may know Him for Who He is. Moses lifted his hands to the Lord with full faith that the request made would receive a sure response.

Faith in prayer is vital. Though I have seen God respond to the prayer of the unbelieving: I believe God hears prayer, even when lacking faith, for He desires to reveal himself to us that we may believe and in His mercy, He responds to build our faith. However, hands lifted up without true and sincere belief that God is God, that He hears our prayers, and that He will surely respond, comes from weak hands and dulled hearts.

I have learned that I may look at a situation and know that, apart from God, it is an impossible thing. But I cannot look at God, with knowledge of Him, and fail to realize that “nothing shall impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Lifting hands up with all I am focused on all God is increases faith to me that makes me to know the impossible is truly Himpossible.

Another reason for lifting hands in prayer is revealed through Ezra:

“But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the Lord my God” Ezra 9:5.

mary-mother_of_jesus_21~ Hands not limp reach to God in repentance with a cry for mercy and grace to send help in our day of trouble.

We are weakened and laid low when sin has full reign in our lives, so times of repentance are vital to our hands being strengthened and made effective for God’s use. Sin not only weakens us as individuals, but it also weakens nations. Here in this passage, Ezra is grieving the sin of the nation when he gets up from his humiliation and stretches his hands out on their behalf. When true repentance has hands lifted to Him, God is faithful to grant mercy and restore strength. Thus we cry with David:

“Hear the voice of my supplications when I cry to You for help, When I lift up my hands toward Your holy sanctuary” ~ Psalm 28:2.

Hands Not Limp are Hands in Worship

“You shall slaughter the ram, and take some of its blood and put it on the lobe of Aaron’s right ear and on the lobes of his sons’ right ears and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the big toes of their right feet, and sprinkle the rest of the blood around on the altar” ~ Exodus 29:20.

You knew we would get to this first, right? This verse along with many others in Exodus reveal to us that the hands that are not limp are consecrated for the worship of God and in the restoration of God’s people. Here we see that the ears, hands, and feet of the priests are anointed and consecrated to God for His use in leading the people in worship and restoration. Beloved, we too are priests unto God with a holy priesthood through Christ (1 Peter 2:9).

I have found more times than not that when I am ministering to a fellow believer who is struggling and down trodden, they are best lifted up when I express the glory of God over their situation, helping them refocus to see more clearly the One who can walk them out of their situations. When we focus on our struggles in life, we too often find our hearts in defeat and we fail to worship God with gratitude for Him. But when we refocus to see the one who is bigger than our life circumstances, worshiping Him for Who He is, hope abounds and help reaches us to empower us to press forward while waiting for the moving of His hand in our need.

As I read this passage, I note that not only are the hands anointed for the ministry of worship, but so are the ears and the feet and the altar. Our ears are anointed to listen for the wee small voice of God and His Spirit who empowers our worship and feeds us the words those we minister to need to hear. He instructs our hearts in the way we should go and in the changes we need to make in life as we listen for Him. Our feet are anointed, not only to go out in His Name to minister to others, but they are anointed to live life to the full and to press forward in life to His glory, even as happenstance leaves us wanting to lie down in our misery and hide from life.

The true worshiper that worships in Spirit and in truth not only speaks His glory, but is attentive to His voice and ready to press forward as His representative in life, putting feet and hands to work in the ministry of reconciliation. As I see the consecration of the altar in this passage, I see our lives, our very existence consecrated for sacrifice to God’s use as we take up our cross daily to follow Him.

Another picture in scripture of worshiping hands that are not limp is found in Nehemiah.

anointing5“Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground” ~ Nehemiah 8:6.

When situations in life are difficult, reaching to God in worship that is mindful of His glory, His presence, and His power, care, provision, protection, etc., empowers our hands with strength to persevere instead of letting our hands fall limp in despair. Hands not limp are filled with and used in the worship of God, knowing that the joy of the Lord is strength (vs. 10).

Psalm 26 instructs us concerning hands lifted and made strong in worship:

“I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Your altar, O LORD, that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders ~ Psalm 26:6-7.

We are called by God to lift up holy hands in worship (1 Timothy 2:8). That means that in situations where we are tempted to be defeated and let our hands fall limp, evaluating our part in the situation and repenting any sin that put us there is vital. So also is the spirit of thanksgiving in the midst of our difficulties. Repentance and thankfulness are two vital aspects in worship

Thus, beloved, when difficulty comes, “Lift up your hands to the sanctuary (which is God) and bless the Lord” ~ Psalm 134:2 (author’s note). There you will find your help and strengthen your hands for the plow, being equipped to press forward to the glory of God and the fulfillment of His kingdom purpose (Luke 9:62).

A Trust that Breeds Gratitude

“Trust {lean on, rely on, and be confident} in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, trust also in Him and {He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass} ~ Psalm 37, NASB {AMP}.

God began instructing my heart yesterday that fretting over the past is robbing me of now strength, joy, peace, gratitude to Him, assurance, and comfort.

I seek daily to follow God’s instruction to me for each days tasks and activities, and when I fret over things I did not do or things that did not go the way I thought they should, I deny the work of God in and through me in those things and I deny Him gratitude for the things that were accomplished. I forget that God is in control and can be trusted with my every step in life.

Do I fail to hear and obey at times? Yes. And the instant I realize it, I repent and change course. To repent means to lay the failure on the shoulders of Christ and leave it there with the One who sacrificed Himself for this purpose, that I may have true life and have it in abundance; then to press forward from there with the freedom of Christ to live a better life to His glory and crown. Fretting over failures repented is to pick that heavy load back up and be crushed by the weight of it.

The thing God is instructing my heart to realize is that when I focus on my failures, I fail to see the progress made in God’s work of reestablishing in me the image of God that Christ died to provide for me. Marsha Burns writes in this devotional written in the voice of God speaking to the reader:

“Look how far you have come! The difficulties that you have endured and overcome have instructed you and driven you to find Me in a more meaningful and concrete way.  Your days of trouble are not to be disdained; they are to be recognized as a necessary part of your growth process.  Don’t lament, says the Lord.  Rejoice for where you are now and where I will take you from here.”

With the passing of my Daddy and the struggle he was in with paranoia in his last years, it would be easy for me to focus on things I did not have strength to accomplish in my relationship with him. The sense of loss would be intensified and the weight of the sense of failure would throw me into depression and defeat. But God keeps reminding me how He has grown my trust and reliance on Him as Abba, Father. He reminds me of the freedom from a root of rejection that He has accomplished in me during the days of Daddy’s struggle. So instead of hurt and heartache over unfulfilled desires in my relationship with Daddy, I am filled with gratitude and awe toward my Abba who has helped me and done a work of grace in me, freeing me from the growth of a spirit of rejection to finding my acceptance in Him.

Jesus08We are continually being perfected. Looking back on days gone by is natural to us, but as a people for God’s own possession, when we look back our hearts need to settle with gratitude on the goodness of God that worked a plan through the time of struggle that has worked change in me, making me look and act more like the Father and less like the flesh of this world. When looking back, the question to ask is “what did I learn and how has it changed me?” We press forward from the pits in life with greater strength to persevere when our hearts are filled with gratitude for the work of God in our lives. And we find success in the journey when we remember the promise of God:

“I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you” ~ Psalms 32:8.

And “your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it,’ when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left” ~ Isaiah 30:21.

Therefore, beloved of God, “Trust [lean on, rely on, and be confident] in the Lord and do good, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, trust also in Him and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. [Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass] ~ Psalm 37, NASB [AMP].

A Time to Trust

“I am able to do nothing from Myself [independently, of My own accord—but only as I am taught by God and as I get His orders]. Even as I hear, I judge [I decide as I am bidden to decide. As the voice comes to Me, so I give a decision], and My judgment is right (just, righteous), because I do not seek or consult My own will [I have no desire to do what is pleasing to Myself, My own aim, My own purpose] but only the will and pleasure of the Father Who sent Me” ~ John 5:30, AMP.

Trusting God for every step, every desire, every word of life is what Jesus portrayed; relying fully on God who directs our path and is fully in control of our destiny. That is what God is teaching me these days.

We just went through a very trying time as my Dad’s poor health issues were revealed. He went into the hospital on a Monday, went home with Hospice on Friday, and died on Tuesday. Just that fast and he was gone.

I always felt that I would be a main caregiver for him when his time came, but when it came, I was sick as a dog: flu, followed by Laryngitis – Bronchitis and the worst cough I have ever had in my life. I would put a mask on and visit daddy for short periods of time. Though I hoped to get over it good enough to help with his care, it never happened.

The last night of his life, I knew his time was close and I should stay, but my health issue flared with fever and feeling so bad I could hardly stand myself. I knew his current state could end quickly or go on for another day or two, so the decision I came to was to go home and wait. Just minutes before my sis called to tell me he was gone and ask me to come, I had such a hard coughing spell that it tore the muscle in the 7th intercostal space (says my doctor). It hurt so bad I could barely breathe, much less move, so again I had to tell her I could not come. It was the hardest thing I have ever done.

Through the entire two week ordeal of trying to get daddy to the doctor and on through the last week of his life, I was hindered from being the help I wanted to be and always thought I would be. Throughout it all God constantly called me to rest in, rely on, be confident in and trust in Him with assurance that He was up to something. I don’t know what He was working in my sister during it all, but in me, He was helping me to grow stronger in surrendering what I think I should be doing to Him who is the Lord of my path in life.

Only time will tell what He accomplished through the experience, for me and my family. But one thing I know more than ever before, God is faithful and I can rest in Him with full surrender to His working His will out in me in His way that shines some light of glory to all who see.

~*~

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths” ~ Proverbs 3:5-6, AMP.

“…Roll your works upon the Lord, commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and so shall your plans be established and succeed.  …A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure” ~ Proverbs 16:1-9, AMP.

Fear Not!

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” ~ Deuteronomy 31:8.

A quote by Will Smith’s Character, Cypher, in “After Earth” caught my attention. I found it to be one of the most insightful and well-spoken viewpoints I have heard regarding the subject of fear. Thus I quote:

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may never exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real, but fear is a choice.”

Wow. That is such a true and thought provoking statement, worthy of meditation. Think about it. Even in an instance of imminent danger, fear comes to the fraction of time in which we allow ourselves to imagine the potential of the next moment that is not yet present reality, and may never be. When we give ourselves to that fear, it brings the mind and emotions to “near insanity,” hindering our ability to think and respond clearly to the danger. Fear, when given a place in our choices, can well lead to destruction. When fear catches our attention, instead of evaluating the danger and how best to address it, we bow to the fear, giving self to its power over us, which leads to running from rather than toward the danger that needs to be dealt with. At the end of the movie, when Kitai was at the point of do or die, he was able to refuse to choose fear any longer. In that instance of calm, he was equipped to face the danger with right priority and discernment of resource to deal with the danger and come out victorious.

It is no wonder that our God tells us over and over to “fear not.” We cannot see the potential for a good outcome and head toward that when fear gets hold of us. And we cannot see clearly the presence and power of our God and His ability to lead us to a right and victorious response when faith to trust Him is hindered by fear.

“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” ~ 1 John 4:15-18, (see also in AMP. Other “do not fear” passages).

Knowing the love of God for us, being assured of His presence and care, empowers us to face danger with good judgment that empowers us to overcome.

In Christ, Empowered to Be Real

I have struggled to press forward in this teaching, at first struggling with desire to take a particular path with it and being held captive by God to wait until He could make me aware of the first step we must take to come into the reality of who we are because of Christ. Today, as I long to write what is in my heart, I seek the Lord for a jumping point from scripture. That search leads me to Paul’s letter to Timothy.

“I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith (the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness)…” ~ 2 Timothy 1:5, AMP. (Other verses in scripture use the words “leaning of the entire human personality…” Read them here.)

God has truly been revealing to me lately that before we can come into all that we are in Christ, we must first realize that we are safe to be real in God’s presence. We can fully trust Him: PERIOD, THE END.

Lean on02We have talked about this before, but God has truly been drumming it into me of late. Adam and Eve, when they fell from obedience to God, sought to cover not just the nakedness of their physical body, but the nakedness of their entire human personality: they were afraid to let God see what they had become as people, so they tried to hide and cover up. And we are still trying to hide from God even today, afraid to be real with Him.

I look at the patriarchs of old and one thing that stands out to me is those who are most well know are the most real with God: Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul. These stood before God, flaws and all, and the scriptures listed / linked above in our text tell us how they were able to do that. They leaned their entire human personality on Him in ABSOLUTE trust and confidence in HIS POWER, WISDOM, AND GOODNESS.

Jesus tells us that without Him we are weak and ill equipped to do anything (John 15). Paul tells us that it is through our weakness that God’s power can show off, making itself known to and through us (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). But if we cannot be real with God, having full faith in Him to use His power on our behalf, granting us wisdom, and doing good toward us, how can we experience the fullness of who we are in Christ?

I sit before you today in a very hard place in life. My precious daddy, whom I have always loved, trusted, and looked to as a strong tower in life, has lost his ability to see things as they truly are. He believes things of his family members that are false and that greatly hinder our ability to minister to him because his beliefs hinder his ability to trust us to do good to him. I love my daddy and I want him to be proud of who I am, but right now he cannot see the truth of who I am in Christ, and his accusations deal a crushing blow to my aching heart. Though I am real with my daddy, trying to do good to him and for him, it is not received because he has no power to receive it, no wisdom to discern the truth of it, and he believes I have no goodness to give him or toward him.

As a result of his inability to trust me, I find myself cowering, unable to trust him. It is a frustrating, vicious cycle that highlights the weakness in me. God has shown me that my struggle when it comes to dealing with daddy in his current state of mind is because I am failing to fully trust
my God. And now that I am working to trust Him more, He is helping me to see that the reason daddy’s beliefs and accusations and actions hurt so bad is because of pride in me. I can’t believe that anyone can see me the way he does, especially not my daddy, and though I know his beliefs are not the true me, pride that wants him to see the truth leads to hurt that hinders relationship. Thus God is using the situation to teach me about the real me and help me to trust Him more so I can be and do better as I again let go of my pride and surrender my reputation to Him who gives me favor with man.

Today, as I find myself again grieving over my dad who is very ill and needs our help but won’t allow us to help him, God is reminding me that He is faithful and trustworthy. He sees me as I am and He still loves me. I can be real with my Father-God, my Eternal-Daddy, and He will be faithful to comfort me, empower me, granting me wisdom in this hour, and He will do good to and for me and my daddy.

Because of God’s love and faithfulness, I awoke this morning with the Spirit singing to me. “Your Love Never Fails” running through my mind, He speaks to my heart, encouraging me that I can lean my entire human personality, all that I am—good, bad, or indifferent—on Him in Whom I can trust, for He is the same through the ages—disease of the mind does not change Him. He loves me as I am, though He loves me enough to help me be better, training me as a child to bear His image. But even when I fall and fail, His love never changes.

~*~

Listen to these words of comfort and assurance and be encouraged with me, beloved. We can be real with our trustworthy, loving Daddy-YAH:

Your Love Never Fails by Chris Quilala and Jesus Culture

Nothing can separate / Even if I ran away / Your love never fails

I know I still make mistakes / But You have new mercies for me everyday / Your love never fails

You stay the same through the ages / Your love never changes / There may be pain in the night / But joy comes in the morning / And when the oceans rage / I don’t have to be afraid / Because I know that You love me / Your love never fails

The wind is strong and the water’s deep / But I’m not alone here in these open seas / Your love never fails / The chasm is far too wide / I never thought I’d reach the other side / Your love never fails

You stay the same through the ages / Your love never changes / There may be pain in the night / But joy comes in the morning / And when the oceans rage / I don’t have to be afraid / Because I know that You love me / Your love never fails

You make all things work together for my good / You make all things work together for my good / You make all things work together for my good / You make all things work together for my good / You make all things work together for my good / You make all things work together for my good

You stay the same through the ages / Your love never changes / There may be pain in the night / But joy comes in the morning / And when the oceans rage / I don’t have to be afraid / Because I know that You love me / Your love never fails / Because I know that You love me / Your love never fails

In Christ I am NOT…

There we have it, an awesome, though incomplete list of who we are in Christ: each being a sheep in His pasture, lifted to positions of the children of God, royalty in the Kingdom of God, ambassadors for Christ and priests unto God who are in the world for a time on assignment while being of the Kingdom of God. There is much more to discover about who we are, but this is a good beginning. I hope you will be alert and grow strong in all that God has caused us to be through Christ.

Beloved, as we close our study this week, fast and furious as it is, I sense strongly that we must not close out this thought process without covering what Christ has delivered us from being. There is nothing the enemy of God loves more, once he has lost the battle for our eternal being, than to keep us thinking we are still the same person we were before Christ set us free indeed. So let us take that ammunition out of his hand by beginning to discover what God delivered us from being.

First we have already established that, in Christ, you are NOT DUST. You are of His SEED: Holy SEED.

Satan loves to point out all our struggles and flaws and make us feel like dirt that is unworthy of God’s Kingdom. Before Christ, that was true. After Christ we became His plantings, the seed of righteousness is in us and is growing stronger day by day as we learn Whose we are, and who He makes us to be, that we may withstand the schemes of the enemy while Father is maturing us as His righteous shoots.

Second, we are NOT THE OLD MAN.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17.

“…But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” ~ Colossians 3:1-10.

We are no longer the old. The evil heart is removed from us in Christ and we are made a new creation with a new, clean, circumcised heart. We have a new mind, the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). Therefore our challenge now is to learn to think, act and function out of that new creation.

Part of that is realizing that we can take every thought captive and make it obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:1-6). Another part is not letting the world, our flesh, and the devil tell us that our heart is evil. We must believe that our heart is made new in Christ, that it is circumcised and set free from the flesh and its ways, and, committing ourselves wholly to God, being quick to wait upon Him, we let Him lead us to unity as people after His Own Heart.

Third, we are not unqualified and insufficient.

“Not that we are fit (qualified and sufficient in ability) of ourselves to form personal judgments or to claim or count anything as coming from us, but our power and ability and sufficiency are from God. [It is He] Who has qualified us [making us to be fit and worthy and sufficient] as ministers and dispensers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ], not [ministers] of the letter (of legally written code) but of the Spirit; for the code [of the Law] kills, but the [Holy] Spirit makes alive” ~ 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, AMP (see also 1 Corinthians 1:4-8).

When we feel insignificant, inadequate, incapable, ill-equipped, powerless, we are looking at our old self instead of seeking after and trusting in the promised supply from Father in the power and equipping of the Holy Spirit that makes us new. Satan loves to keep us functioning in the flesh instead of in our Spirit-filled supply. When he can do that, he can make us impotent as Kingdom people.

Fourth we are NOT whores, harlots, and dogs.

We no longer chase after other gods, or make ourselves into one. We have one God, that is Jehovah. We have one Father, that is Abba-Jehovah. We have one King and Lord, that is Jesus. And we do so in the power of the one true Spirit of God. As sheep who are the children of God, bride to the King, we give ourselves wholly to our One God and King. As the son and daughter bow down as slaves set free from sin, we freely, out of love, give ourselves to Him as Bond-slaves, wholly committed through love and choice to these: the Three in One – Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

We are not lost, but have been found (Matthew 18:11-14; Luke 19:9-10).

We are not rejected, but chosen and approved (1 Peter 2:9; John 15:16; 1 Corinthians 11:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21, 10:18).

We are not left behind, for no one and no-thing can take us out of the Father’s hands or separate us from His love (John 10:18, 29; Romans 8:31-38).

Rejoice beloved, for you are NOT, but YOU ARE!

Now may the God of peace [Who is the Author and the Giver of peace], Who brought again from among the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood [that sealed, ratified] the everlasting agreement (covenant, testament), strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will; [while He Himself] works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ (the Messiah); to Whom be the glory forever and ever (to the ages of the ages). Amen (so be it) ~ Hebrews 13:20-21, AMP.

In Christ I am a Sheep of His Fold

Seeking the Lord for direction, He instructed my heart that His people need to know and realize not only Whose they are, but who they are because of the work of Christ in us. So beginning today, we start a journey of discovery in this area in which God has been so greatly deepening my understanding of these things. Today we begin with our most humble position, which we must realize and submit to in order to fully grasp and press forward to the exalted positions found in Christ.

Read John 10

good_shepherd1“…27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one. …”

Being sheep in the pasture of God does not sound very appealing, but it is a most blessed position in the Kingdom of God. Being followers who humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God to follow the Good Shepherd (Jesus Christ) in learning humility before God and complete reliance upon Him is the beginning position that prepares us for positions we would deem of greater worth. To skip learning first and foremost to be sheep who willing follow and trust the Shepherd is to invite opportunity for the wolf of the demonic to tempt us away through haughtiness that thinks more highly of self than we ought. So the first position we must learn to possess with glory in God who cares for our every need and positions us to be protected from falsehood and temptation is vital to our pressing forward to possess the higher ground He has for those who fully trust Him.

Through following the good shepherd we learn that He uses His staff to guide us and His rod to protect us because He loves us and desires the best for us. We learn to trust Him in these things, and the closer we follow to Him and the more attuned we get to Him, the more readily we recognize and surrender to His most gentle call.

For times when we become rebellious, putting ourselves, and even others in danger, the crook of His staff becomes an implement of rescue, to pull us back on track or lift us up out of pits we fall into. And His rod becomes an implement of discipline, used not to our harm, to destroy us, though it may feel that way, but putting us where we have opportunity to bond with Him and trust Him more.

He always leads us into good pastures where all our needs are met in Him, and where we may drink from the waters of His river in safety. As Psalm 23 tells us, even in the presence of our enemy, He feeds us from His table and empowers us for victory in the valley of the shadow of death, making us to pass through enemy territory with confident peace that the Good Shepherd is caring for us fully.

The good shepherd of a heard of sheep knows that a stubborn sheep that will not stay close to his shepherd puts himself and those who follow in danger of being snared by the wolves and other predators. To train that sheep to stay close and become one that leads others to do so as well, he will go so far as to use the rod to break the leg of the sheep. He then carries that sheep everywhere they go, keeping it close, loving on it as if a pet, tending its wound. By the time the sheep heals, it has bonded with the shepherd, trusting the shepherd fully, becoming teachable and easily led so as to keep it and those that would follow it safe.

Beloved, has God got you in a broken-leg place in life. He is not trying to be cruel. He cares for you and wants to keep you in safety. He is here to tend to your need and wants you to trust Him and rely on Him, being confident in Him that He will not fail you.good_shepherd2

Being a sheep in the flock of God is not a shameful position for us. It is a picture of His great care for us who are followers of Christ. Learn to follow closely to the Good Shepherd and Watcher of your soul so that you may be led by Him to realize and possess all that you are in Christ through faith that fully believes and trusts His leading. (See John 3:18; Romans 10:9; 1 Timothy 4:10; Hebrews 3:12-19; 10:39-11:1, 6, AMP.)

Pray today for your faith in the Good Shepherd to grow strong, so that you fully trust His lead in your life and in the lives of those you love. Pray to remain close to Him. And pray for those you see with “broken legs” spiritually, that their faith in the Good Shepherd grow strong and that they will develop a teachable spirit, becoming pliable to all the good He has for them.

Psalm 23 ~ The Good Shepherd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLI8Sv8_HlA

The Call to Holiness

1 Peter 1:16 ~ “Be holy for I AM Holy.”

God is holy. He expects us to be holy as well, living as His representatives, revealing His holiness through our holy lives.

It is all good and fine to note the call, but simply agreeing with God that we are to be holy is not enough. We need to understand what that means, and I will tell you, looking at the defining characteristics of the holy gives insight that breaks chains away.

I’ve shared before about a time when in nursing school, I was visiting with two other women during a break. One of them used some impolite expletives, then, looking at me with a look of great respect, she apologized to me for her language. My other friend, obviously incensed, blurted, “Excuse HER. What about me!” “Yeah, but she’s different,” responded the first. Immediately the thought that flowed to my heart was, “O God! I don’t want to be so different that others are uncomfortable around me.” With that thought / prayer, I turned a spiritual corner and hurt my testimony for the rest of our time in school. If I had known then what I am seeing here now, it would have helped me receive the compliment with rejoicing and hope that God could use me to help others desire to be better. God exalted me in the eyes of this one who was watching and was under conviction in her own life, then I blew it because I did not know how to accept the exaltation and realize it as a God-thing.

That intro done, to make sure we understand what this call to holiness means so we can fulfill the call, let us define it:

Holy:

  1. Belonging to, derived from, or associated with a divine power; sacred.
  2. Regarded with or worthy of worship or veneration; revered: a holy book.
  3. Living according to a strict or highly moral religious or spiritual system; saintly: a holy person.
  4. Specified or set apart for a religious purpose: a holy place.
  5. Solemnly undertaken; sacrosanct: a holy pledge.
  6. Regarded as deserving special respect or reverence.

In all of this definition we find what we are to be portrayed to the world as the holy people of God. God is holy. He expects us to be holy as well, living as His representatives, revealing His holiness through our holy lives. We do that by

†   remembering who we belong to as His own possession (1 Peter 2:9)

†   living according to His will and way revealed in Scripture and in the power of His Spirit

†   realizing we are set apart for a purpose, finding what that is, and doing that

†   walking as people who know their time and work here is for His glory and is a solemn undertaking, sacrosanct, a holy pledge

Yes, I skipped #2 and #6 on purpose. It is the focus I want to major on. A phrase in definition #2 catches my attention: “worthy of worship and veneration.” Now if you are like me on that fateful day in nursing school, I thought only God is worthy of worship and veneration and my receiving such veneration as a daughter of God revealed was to sin against God and rob His glory, so I fell. As I look at this today, I get some new found perspective that would have made a world of difference had I known this back then. So let us look more closely at this worship and veneration we are to live so as to receive.

First the word “worship” is better stated as “worthship”. In worship we see the worth of the one worshiped and laud the glory of that which is worthy. Then we come to…

Veneration: To venerate – To regard with respect, reverence, or heartfelt deference.

Deference: 1. Submission or courteous yielding to the opinion, wishes, or judgment of another. 2. Courteous respect.

God definitely has worthship. His worth is far above that of any other beings. No one can live up to His worthiness. So to worship God for His worth, giving Him His due adoration and respect for His worthiness, is much greater than any note of worthiness made for any human being. If we have right perspective to know the worth of God and keep His worthiness at the top of our favorite heros list, we will have and keep Him in the right place in our lives: most holy and most worthy. Worship of God for His worthiness will far exceed any other as we keep Him first in all things.

Now realize that we are called to be holy as He is holy. Taking that into consideration in light of the defining characteristics that make one holy, we see that we must live lives that are seen as worthy of veneration as good examples, representative of God and His character and power at work in our midst. People have a worthiness that can be recognized and lauded as worthy of appreciation and respect. That is especially true of those who know with practical realization that they are the chosen possession of God, and that God is faithful to supply our every need so that we may live holy lives that honor Him as Lord.

Of course, the flesh beings that we are, our worthiness of such attention falls far short of God’s worth. The thing is, as people of God who are to be holy, when people applaud our worth, we need to learn how to receive that with realization that God is the One who is truly worthy as He empowers and equips us. With that realization in our hearts, knowing that God calls us to be holy and that holiness involves being worthy of veneration, when venerated we can take the compliment with rejoicing, because if we are lauded as the people of God, He is glorified in that.

We cannot and must not be put on a pedestal that is as high as or higher than God’s. He is the only one with worthiness to sit on a pedestal of that height. But scripture teaches that He “exalts” the humble, (Luke 14:11, 18:14; James 4:10). He brings them to a position of worth, worthy of veneration. It is humility that keeps the applause coming to us from going to our heads and making our pedestal unstable or even to topple. Humility before God receives graciously the compliments of others while giving glory to God.

Father, may we be found living a holy life that sets a good example, worthy of respect, veneration, note, to the glory of Your name. In Jesus, amen.

You may stop here, or if you want a little more, read on as we note some significant passages in Scripture that give insight regarding the exaltation we may find ourselves in:

“God is the Judge; He puts down one and exalts another” ~ Psalm 75:7.

In Joshua 3:7 we see Joshua about to step up to the plate following heavy hitter, Moses. God assures Joshua that He will exalt him before the people so that they will know that as God was with Moses, so He would be with Joshua. That is the purpose of our exaltation today as well, beloved. We are to live exemplary, notable lives so that others may know that God is with us.

In 1 Chronicles 14:2 we see that God exalted the kingdom under David for the sake of His people.

In 1 Chronicles 29:25 we see God exalt Solomon to become one of the most well-known and beloved kings in scripture. We also know that Solomon had his sin issues, yet God’s mercy and compassion toward him chose to exalt him anyway. You are not beyond God’s work of exaltation if you are seeking His face and trusting Him. His love and grace is sufficient to cover your unseemly places while He continues to lift you up and increase your beauty as His possessed representative. Like Dundee said of his land in Crocodile Dundee 1, God claims His right over you, calling you “BelongaGod”. If you belong to Him, He will work exaltation in you.

In Psalm 37:34 we see that those who wait for and keep the way of the Lord are exalted.

In Psalm 89:16 we see the righteousness of God gifted to us is what makes us worthy of exaltation. That’s the gift of God’s grace through Jesus, people.

In Psalm 89:24 we see that those who trust in the faithfulness and loving-kindness of God have their “horn” exalted: in other words they are given great strength and prosperity.

In Proverbs 14:34 we see that uprightness and right standing with God (moral and spiritual rectitude in every area and relation) elevate a nation.

In Proverbs 24:7 we see that “wisdom is too exalted for a fool”. Thus we know that turning from foolish ways exalts us to receive true wisdom.

In Proverbs 29:25 trusting in the Lord so as to not give self to fear brings God’s exaltation.

Then we have warning:

In Isaiah 24:4 we see that exaltation can and does fade away. If we live godly lives in our youth soHaughty as to be deemed worthy of veneration, we must continue to practice those things that make us worthy. Relying on yesterday’s pedestal moment to the neglect of the next will see this glorious position God placed us in fade over time. Remember, the reason we are exalted is so others know Jehovah is our God. We cannot serve Him today and forget Him tomorrow and stay in our high positions of honor with God who exalts us.

In Jeremiah 48:29 we are reminded that “pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, KJV) It is God who points us out to others and exalts us before them. It is Him who places us in positions of honor, and He can and will remove our lampstand if we become haughty and try to rob His glory for ourselves, or if we turn away and run after the things of this world.

So, live life to the full as honors God and represents Him well, beloved. When exaltation comes, receive it with grateful heart that sees God’s pleasure in the exaltation of His people. Give Him glory and praise Him with thanksgiving.