Tag Archives: unmerrited favor

Choose Now

Choose Now

Morning Prayer: 8/10/22

Oh, Father. I know the pain of the work of evil in family, and I know several families who are suffering the destructive force of the hand of evil. I pray You fill them with Your love, and deliver them from the self destructive power of hate, bitterness, unforgiveness, even blame toward self and feelings of guilt gets an ugly grip where it is not truth. Evil destroys lives and families if not dealt with properly. Please grant wise counsel to the hearts and minds of each family member. May they seek Your face as never before and help each other recover.

A thought came out of my mouth the other day when talking about the need to forgive. “I can’t afford to not forgive.” When I heard myself say that, Father, I knew deeper than ever the truth of that fact. Forgiveness is for my own sake, putting no obstacle between me and You who are my first, most vital need and necessity if I am to be of any use to others struck by the evil we face. In Jesus, empower these to love the unlovable for Your names sake and bring to these full healing and restoration in the process, enabling them to forgive those snared and used to work the evil done. Amen.

Morning Prayer: 8/8/22

‭Genesis‬ ‭17:1-11‬ ‭‬‬ (read chapters 16-17)

“… You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him and cling to Him, and you shall swear by His name. He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10:12-21‬ ‭‬‬

Thank You, Father, that You desire our heart – for us to be wholehearted toward You, practicing our faith through surrendered trust in Your faithfulness.

You have taught me that my faith can only stand firm on You when my focus is Your faithfulness. We too easily make our faith the god that determines our outcome. Faith to believe and trust You is important, for without faith, it is impossible to please You; but, as Your faithfulness did not stop because of Abram and Sarah’s faith that took a wrong turn, in their attempt to make their own way to the promise by using Hagar, so Your faithfulness will prove itself in us and our situations as we put the focus of our trust in You. You still kept Your word to Abraham. You – who know our hearts – will be found faithful by us.

It is Your faithfulness that must be our focus for our faith to stand in agreement and cooperate with You. I pray for discernment of Your promises, trust to take You at Your Word, and clear vision to follow Your lead as we keep our focus on Your faithfulness with earnest expectation and hope in You who will do it. You will accomplish Your Word. Not one tittle of Your word will fall or fail, for, however long the wait, You are faithful and will show Yourself strong. This I’ve seen. This I know of You. In You I trust. In Jesus, amen.

The Fear of The Lord

“The Lord favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭147:11‬ ‭‬‬

I read this and ask God, “Do I fear You as I should? What does fearing You mean?”

How would you define “fear of the Lord”? I don’t quake before Him. Hebrews says I can come boldly before the throne of grace. He is my Father. I enjoy His presence. There is not a quaking fear there.

I look around at things going on in the world and quake at the fate of all involved in it when God moves against it. Do I quake enough to reach out a warning hand ready to pull them out of their pit of destruction? Is my fear of the Lord the righteous fear He calls for, expects, and is worthy of receiving? A fear that acknowledges His worthiness, respects His authority, and recognizes His justice and His right as the true Supreme Justice?

Holy Spirit, You come teaching me of sin, righteousness, and judgement. Is the understanding of these truths and humility it brings that causes my heart to crumble before Him “the fear of the Lord”? If this is it, I am there.

Father, I acknowledge Your worthiness, respect Your authority, and recognize Your right and responsibility to delve out justice. I quake at the thought of an eternity without You, Your love, Your mercy, Your grace, Your presence. Father, I need You and I cry out for those wallowing in the pit of a world set against You.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner in need of Your merciful grace. Let this “fear of the Lord” cause me to recognize the difference between the path of sin, the path of righteousness, and the consequences that come with Your judgment. I bow to You, my Daddy-King Jehovah in the name of my Beloved Savior, Jesus Christ, our Jehovah-Tsidkenu. Amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/12/22

Thank You that Your compassions fail not, and You, Abba-Father, lovingly discipline those You claim as a son or daughter. Your discipline proves our relationship with You as Father. I am grateful that You faithfully discipline me and I watch for Your loving hand that guides me on paths of righteousness for Your Name’s sake.

Father, it is true. You already know everything about us, so we can come to You humbly with each sin in our lives without fear of shocking You who already know, and we can earnestly seek Your forgiveness and grace knowing it is already there for us through Jesus Christ our Lord. He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life made for us by You who make a way where there is no way. You are faithful, so we need not fear.

However, I want more of You, so I ask for courage to truly humble myself and let You search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any evil, hurtful way in me and lead me in Your still more excellent ways. I know when I sincerely seek You to create in me a clean heart, You will shock me with the findings and amaze me with Your mercies made new every morning. In Jesus, make it so in me, I pray. Amen.

Morning Prayer: 7/5/22

Father, thank You for instructing me in how to honor a parent who did not behave honorably in her parenting. Thank you for empowering forgiveness, granting love for her in Your name, and instructing me to live in such a way as honors You, making her look good as a parent. And thank You for helping me smile and not correct those who brag on how great she must have been. I thank You for helping me understand her own childhood pain and the struggle it caused her, snd her mental issues from that. And thank You for healing me daily. Forgive me my own failures as my childhood effected my way of parenting. Bless my children to be free and not carry familial issues to the next generations. May each generation experience greater deliverance and freedom from these generational issues. In Jesus, amen.

He Makes Me

From the 23rd Psalm, AMPC

I have had Psalm 23 in the classic Amplified version of scripture as my focus for meditation since the 1st of this year. A friend asked me the other day to share any insights I have in it. Awakened by a noise this morning at about 3:30 AM, I started reciting the chapter in my attempt to get back to sleep. Suddenly, as I quoted one line, new understanding grabbed me, opening up this beautiful passage as never before.

“The Lord is my Shepherd to feed, guide, and shield me: I shall not lack.”

This is God’s “who”. He is the Good Shepherd, not because it’s what He does, but because it’s who He is. It is His nature to feed, guide and shield.

The shield is everything from the Warriors shield, including the armor of God, with its helmet of salvation; to the anointing oil with its protective cover and healing balm; to the shield of shelter that hides us under His wing from enemy attach and the worldly elements of heat, cold, rain, sleet, and snow; hate, menace, and torment.

This is His “Who”. From provision of every need, to guidance – wisdom, discernment, to shielding, whether shelter or protective cover: we have no lack of Him – The Shepherd of our soul.

“He makes me…” “He makes me to…”. This is not force over me. It is action and purpose in me.

“He makes me to lie down in fresh, tender, green pastures.” He made us as receptacles. We are created for Him to pour Himself into us. He gives His first and best to us, satisfying and satiating us so that we lie down full and ready to enter His rest, sensing that we are safe and secure in Him. I am awestruck by the assurance He gives that causes my entire being to rest itself in Him.

“He leads me beside the still and restful waters.” This is not rapidly moving waters that can sound wonderful and make you want to kick back and mellow in the peace of it. It’s another place of provision and protection.

Sheep’s wool gets heavy and is very absorbent. When they get wet in deeper water, the weight becomes too great for their legs. Falling over, unable to get up, they drown. The Good Shepherd finds shallow, still or gently flowing watering spots where sheep can drink without drowning.

He does not “leave” them beside still waters. He “leads” them, remaining nearby and watchful, ready to help them up should they fall. Whether we bear the weight of this world, the weight of our responsibilities, or whatever weight is weighing us down and drowning us, the Good Shepherd is our Lifeguard, standing at the ready to respond to our need.

In these places of provision, guidance, and protection, “He refreshes and restores my life: my self.” “My soul (NASB).” The essence of who I am. We learn who we are – who He created us to be, as we walk with Him, knowing His Who at work in us. Then, as we get good at that…

“He leads me in paths of righteousness, uprightness, and right standing with Him, NOT for my earning it, BUT for His name’s sake.”

He directs us into righteousness for His reputation. As we follow Him, we don’t have to fret our ups and downs; only trust that He will get us where we need to be for the glory of His name. Our reputation should express His effective work in our lives.

I think of Moses prayer in Exodus 33. “And Moses said to the Lord, ‘If Your Presence does not go with me, do not carry us up from here! For by what shall it be known that I and Your people have found favor in Your sight? Is it not in Your going with us so that we are distinguished, I and Your people, from all the other people upon the face of the earth?’” (Exodus 33:15-16)

“Yes! Though I walk through the deep, sunless {or Son-less} valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me! Your rod to protect and Your staff to guide, they comfort me.”

No matter how bad things are in the world around us, God is and ALWAYS will be God – The Good Shepherd who feeds, guides, and shields us. I shall not lack! So there is no need for me to fear any evil or dread anything I might possibly find or have to face in the valley. In that valley…

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

He still Shepherds us in desolate, wilderness places of dark shadows. When the enemy is raising a raucous all around us, we can lie down, satisfied, satiated, safe, secure, and rested in Him. Though we may be unable to clearly perceive Him in dark, sunless places, we can trust He is there, working on our behalf. That is His Who and He is always doing Himself. Trusting that will strengthen our stance in dark places, for as He is, so also are we. Keep doing yourself in Christ.

“You anoint my head with oil!” This is a mighty shield of protection, I would liken to the helmet of salvation.

Flies, gnats, and other pests swarm the head of sheep. They lay their eggs in the skin, eyes, and ears. These form itchy sores as the larva eat the flesh and begin to burst forth. It causes the sheep to go nuts. They will thrash around, hitting their heads on rocks, trying to get relief and kill the infestation, even killing themselves in the process. Oil protects from the insects being successful at laying their eggs, kills and heals infested, infected areas, and protects the head from injury in head butts – whether in the battle, in discord, or at play with other sheep.

As we experience God feeding us and protecting us even in the midst of a swarming enemy, “My brimming cup runs over.”

We are the cup. The living water of God gushes from us to role downhill to other sheep, some not of His fold, drawing them in, refreshing them, helping them know, “He makes me to lie down….”

“Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!”

The original language’s first word, given here as “surely or only” can be translated to either surely or only: so take the “or” out.

“Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!”

Back in Exodus 33, in verse 18 Moses requests God to show him His glory. God replies, “I will make all My GOODNESS pass before you, and I will proclaim My name, THE Lord, before you; for I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show MERCY and LOVING-kindness on whom I will show MERCY and LOVING-kindness.” (Exodus 33:19 AMPC)

“Surely only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life!” We are meant to know, recognize, and express the glory of God. He who feeds, guides, and shields us does so in ways that expresses His glory and makes His name known…for His name’s sake.

“And through the length of my days, the house of the Lord and His presence shall be my dwelling place.” The house of the Lord…the Temple of God: that is what you and I are, corporately and individually.

His presence is in the house, Beloved. My brimming cup runs over. This is what He makes the “me” I am. He makes me.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In difficult times, when it’s hard to see our blessings through the smokescreen of trouble, we must remember that “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.”

By His grace we have jobs and strength to work it. By His grace, He blesses our hands to put food on the table. For His glory we have family and friends to lift us up and bring joy to our days. Whatever little bit of good you see, thank God for it, knowing that God blesses us as we acknowledge our need of Him and recognize every good He gives, with gratefulness to Him for it.

God desires our good “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Our calling is to grow strong in our ability to recognize and trust the good that comes from Him, and to trust Him in the wait as He works good in the midst of trouble. So find every good today and give thanks to The Giver of Light to see by. 💗🤗🙏🏼

‭‭James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NASB; Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭NASB

Without Regret

“Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Jesus, Matthew‬ ‭18:15‬ ‭NASB

It appears to me in these days, that it is not considered kosher to speak of things God considers to be sin. It’s considered negative and unpopular to speak of sin or the sin nature. It makes people feel bad about themselves, which is unacceptable in a feel-good society. It’s not easy to address sin issues with people today, just as it was difficult for Paul, who shares this fact with the Corinthians; but his experience shows that it is profitable when received properly, as God desires.

“For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while—I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭7:8-10‬ ‭NASB

Addressing sin issues in this world is seen as insulting, it makes people uncomfortable – as it should, and instead of recognizing the person pointing out the issue as speaking God’s judgment in agreement with His Word, the insulted one sees the speaker as being judgmental. We allow feelings of insult to keep us from asking God if what the speaker is talking about is true of us. We fail to recognize our sin nature, and seek God to lead us to repentance that turns from sin to align with Him and become as He is, bearing His image into this world. But to God, sin is a dead serious issue, and we are called to help one another recognize the pit we are in and, if possible, give a hand up from that pit.

The preacher, standing in for our pastor today, spoke of his memory of preaching to his stuffed animals as a young child. The desire and call to preach has always been in him. I have a similar memories. The first thing I remember after accepting Jesus as Savior, at about 10 years of age, is sharing Jesus and the need of repentance with a friend on the next day. Another vivid memory is of being the Bible teacher for our kid’s club, sharing scripture and teaching on things God calls “sin” or “righteousness”. It is in me, and I must faithfully speak warning to the heart that walks contrary to God.

Scripture does not focus on just righteousness, it contrasts righteousness with sin. Contrast produces understanding. I.e., we can’t fully know love without a comprehension of hate.

I know how hard it is to hear and receive such warnings. Sin is in all of us, and I’ve had to ask God if a sin warned against was truly in me. He has used faithful friends to pull me out of pits. Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter what I think of you or you, me. We can believe we see an issue with sin as defined and judged by God, in self or another, and be wrong. We can think the person seeing the issue in us is wrong when they are truly seeing clearly. We don’t know the heart like God does. We don’t even truly know our own hearts, either beating ourselves up with harsh self-evaluation or by refusing to receive truth. Thus it is vital that, when a preacher seems to be talking straight to us or a friend takes time to warn us, that we ask God’s opinion and seek His truth with a heart that is ready to hear, receive, and repent.

Don’t fear or ignore the voice God uses to call you out on a sin habit in this life, Beloved. Let it lead you to needed repentance. Fear, instead, being called out for sin when the end of days stands us before the judgment seat of God, where we will find it too late for repentance. Thank those who love you enough to reach a helping hand out with hope of keeping you from that fiery pit. And give God glory for His saving grace reaching out to us through Jesus, even while we are still sinners at heart.

“My brothers and sisters, if anyone among you strays from the truth and someone turns him back, let him know that the one who has turned a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” James‬ ‭5:19-20‬ ‭NASB

Note to the Church

“Hear, O peoples, all of you; Listen, O earth and all it contains, And let the Lord God be a witness against you, The Lord from His holy temple. For behold, the Lord is coming forth from His place. He will come down and tread on the high places of the earth. The mountains will melt under Him And the valleys will be split, Like wax before the fire, Like water poured down a steep place. All this is for the rebellion of Jacob And for the sins of the house of Israel. …” – ‭‭Micah‬ ‭1:2-5‬ ‭NASB

Church, we are saved by grace through faith in Christ and spared the eternal death of separation from God, saved from being cast into eternal hell. Proof of this grace in us is seen as we turn from sin by the power of His Spirit, to bear the fruit of righteousness in likeness to Christ. And we are continually being perfected, as we, day by day, walk free of our sin nature and become more Christlike, choosing Him more and more. But we, as His people, are not spared from the consequences of sin in this life now.

The world – people who have not received Christ and who are the true “walking dead”, cannot be expected to recognize and walk free of sin, being separated from Him and without His Spirit to teach them what sin is. It is because of us, who know what sin is, but give ourselves to it anyway, or give harty approval of it by condoning sin as ok, that discipline of a nation comes.

By the power of God’s Spirit today, look at self first: where is God calling you personally to repentance? Once you have taken care of personal business with God, then look at the Church as a whole: where are we giving approval to sin? If you share the Name of God in Christ, repent. Perhaps God will have mercy on US again.

Love Bears All Things

Love does not keep an account of wrongs suffered, adding them all together and holding them against a person. That’s an easy one to see. But do we realize this?

Counting up the good I do to someone I love, with thought that they aren’t loving me in the same way, adding my good against them, is the same thing.

It is counting up wrongs suffered by lifting my good as opposed to their lack of it as I see it, and that is in opposition to true love as God defines it.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

Love trusts God to reward “my good”.

Love loves because it is who I am in Christ, and it is what I do to please my God, who is love.

That counts.

Unmerited Favor: All Powerful Supply

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭2:8-10‬ ‭

Many people see grace and mercy as being the same things, but they aren’t. Scripturally, grace and mercy are two sides of the same coin, distinctly different, and both necessary for redemption, sanctification, and the work of completion.

Mercy is what most use to define both. Mercy is unmerited favor. It is God’s work to protect, provide, and direct to good that we do not deserve – at all, nor can we. Mercy has nothing to do with our ‘do’ and everything to do with God’s ‘Who’. He loves us, therefore He gives us His mercy. He loves us, thus we experience Him deliver us from consequences our actions and choices deserve. When we are spared a just outcome to unrighteous choices and actions, that is mercy. Woo! The stories of mercy I could tell.

Grace is God’s power made perfect in our weakness, giving us strength and ability (2 Cor. 12:9). We cannot produce the fruit of God in our lives apart from His grace at work in and through us. We cannot serve God or know and do His will, His way without His grace powering it. We cannot even possess and work out of faith in God apart from His grace to power our faith. Mercy gifts us a measure of faith; grace empowers us to use that faith.

We cannot be saved apart from Mercy. And we cannot live Christ apart from grace. We cannot be right within ourselves without mercy; we cannot live outwardly the right mercy produces in us apart from grace pouring through us. Mercy saves. Grace sanctifies.

Perfect Love

“… We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world. Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. …” (‭‭1 John‬ ‭4:14-21‬ ‭NLT‬‬)

Perfect love casts out fear. My God loves me so much, He made The Way for me to come to Him boldly, as a child bursts through to reach her daddy. Through Christ, this sinner made clean can approach His throne and touch the Holy of Holies. I am safe in God’s love.

In like fashion, my husband has loved me so much that he has put me at ease with him. I don’t fear coming to him with anything, because his love for me has proven me safe with him over and over again. I never had to hide clothing purchases, fear telling him of things going on in my life, or feel he would stay mad at me forever, because he made his love safe for me. And I believe he feels the same safety net in my love for him.

Love. God is love; and marriage is the first place where that image of God should be visible in life.

The Gift, Received

“My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” – 1 John 2:1-2 NLT

How sad, to have someone standing before us, beckoning us to take the gift He so graciously purchased for us, not realizing it is all we ever truly needed and has the perks of fulfilling our deepest longings. Yet to never reach out to possess it, or to only lightly grasp it, never fully opening it to discover the joys within. This is the world: blind to the truth of Jesus.

Jesus paid the price for ALL THE WORLD. Eternal security is there as a gift for the taking. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, expanding the horizons, yet the world snubs it or halfheartedly takes it in hand without fully unwrapping it, all because it can’t get past doubt to find ever growing belief, which is part of the gift.

This is “the world”, fully covered by Jesus, but blinded by worldly pursuits hidden in dark places; failing to recognize that the greatest treasures are found in the Light of His glory and grace, freely gifted to all who will receive it by faith’s belief. Have you grasped hold of the Gift and started unwrapping it’s treasures?

We leave the ranks of this world to become a citizen of God’s eternal Kingdom by choosing to believe with the faith God sparks to life within us, taking the gift in hand. As we begin to open it and receive all His Spirit reveals therein, faith grows an ever stronger grasp on truth we can fully believe. We unwrap The Gift to discover its treasures through the study of God’s Word found in the Holy Bible, and through growing association with God’s people; through faith filled prayer that earnestly seeks God in all His fullness, trusting His word of promise that those who seek Him this way will find Him. He becomes our greatest, most prized treasure, and life, the greatest treasure hunt, a gift we gladly share. It’s a journey beyond imagination: a journey worth living. Come! Join us, the Kingdom of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Father, I believe. Help my unbelief. Grant me this ever growing faith to trust Your Gift, purchased for me by Jesus, Your Holy Son. Grant me to be filled to the full with Your Holy Spirit, sent to me by the Father, to empower me to fully possess The Gift and the Giver. Let Your Holy Spirit, who is The Helper, Teacher, Comforter, Companion, and Unifying Power, Your Guiding-Light Presence – Let Him have full sway in me, to fill me up, empower my full possession of The Gift, and spill me out to be Your light to others, helping others receive, believe, and possess You. Thank You, Lord, for being my One true and only God and King. Thank You for saving me, not because I somehow earned and deserve it, but simply because You love me and want to spend eternity with me in Your Kingdom, prepared for me. I gratefully receive Your gift, Lord. Help me fully possess it. In Jesus, make it so. Amen.

Forgiveness or Consequence

I heard it said recently that God does not forgive the unrepentant. There are two reasons that come quickly to mind that tells my heart that such a statement is a false understanding. One is found in Jesus. The second is found in God’s relationship with Israel as expressed in Isaiah 43.

First, Jesus. Scripture tells us, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us ALL TO FALL ON HIM.” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB)

Jesus paid the price for our forgiveness before we could repent, and He paid it for ALL. I don’t know about you, but in my understanding, all means ALL. All mankind goes astray from God and His way. Jesus took ALL of our sin to the cross and paid the price of sin for ALL, purchasing God’s forgiveness from sin.

God’s forgiveness stands ready to receive by each of us because of Jesus. God’s forgiveness has nothing to do with us. We cannot earn it or buy it. Though repentance is required, our repentance does not buy God’s forgiveness. Our repentance simply reaches out like a hand ready to receive that which is already ours in Christ. It is ready and available for us before we seek it when we bow to the Lordship of Christ, admit we are sinners, and commit ourselves to following God in Christ’s likeness. Failure to seek it through repentance is failure to possess that which is ready and waiting for us.

Point 1: God has already forgiven ALL HUMANKIND because of Jesus.

My second reason for belief in God’s forgiveness even toward the unrepentant is found in Isaiah 43 as recorded in the NASB. Here we find Israel in the throws of rebellious sin. As God calls their sin against them, he proclaims His heart over them, forgiveness issued despite unrepentant sin.

“You have bought Me not sweet cane with money, Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; Rather you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities. I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I WILL not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:24-25)

This is the very definition of forgiveness. “I wipe out your transgressions (erasing the record of them) and I will not remember your sins (holding them in account against you)” was a present tense promise to Israel. Forgiveness was already there for them, in the midst of sin. God is proclaiming here, “Though I am wearied by your constant sin, I forgive you for My own sake.”

When God pointed this out to me, I asked Him why He chose to forgive for His own sake. Clearly to my heart came this understanding, “Darlene, if I had not chosen to forgive in the midst of sin, I never would have put My Son on a cruel cross for such a wretch as you.” I’m so grateful God forgave all, and held it out for me to receive.

Point 2: God’s forgiveness is for His own sake, that love may reach out to the unlovable.

God’s forgiveness is already there for hands of repentance to receive. Repentance is the hand that possesses God’s merciful forgiveness. But consequences can still come even though we are forgiven. We must not confuse consequences in this life as unforgiveness.

In our Isaiah passage, God proclaims, “… I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I WILL not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance, let us argue our case together; State your cause, that you may be proved right. Your first forefather sinned, And your spokesmen have transgressed against Me. So I will pollute the princes of the sanctuary, And I will consign Jacob to the ban and Israel to revilement.” (Isaiah 43:24-28 NASB)

God forgave Israel’s sin for His own sake, but the consequences of sin were not stopped.

God has warned us from heaven’s throne, giving us the laws that teach us how to keep His way. With those laws God set the consequences that come to sin, not the least of which is the consequence of failure to acknowledge Christ and receive Mercy’s forgiveness. That consequence is eternal separation from God. Though God has already forgiven, failure to receive it requires the consequence for that sin.

Despite God’s forgiveness that is ready for receipt, we can refuse the gift and suffer the consequence. But God’s forgiveness remains intact. It honors the price Jesus paid. And we, who have received God’s gift of eternal mercy through Christ, may still have to deal with consequences for choices in this life. Sex out of marriage, though repented of, can still lead to pregnancy. Your consequence does not mean God has failed to forgive. Consequence is the law of life in a fallen world. But God, out of love and grace, will walk with us as we deal with the results of wrong choices.

Now here is the thing, Love. We are instructed in Ephesians 4:32, that we ought to “forgive others, just as God in Christ also has forgiven us.” God’s forgiveness in Christ was before creation and continues to us post Christ’s fulfillment. It stands at the ready for our reception. Our forgiveness must do the same. We forgive in Christ for our own sake, making forgiveness a gift made ready in likeness to our God.

Who are you holding unforgiveness toward? Jesus paid the price so you, who are forgiven, can escape the shackles of unforgiveness and walk free from sin. Get a box and wrapping paper and make your forgiveness ready for that one to receive when the hand of repentance reaches out to you.

Short of Glory, But Covered by Grace

Do you believe that God’s grace is sufficient? I do. Do you truly believe, deep within all that you are, that Jesus is propitiation – fulfilling the full requirement, as pleased God, in full and complete payment for ALL sin?

Whether you believe or not, it is true. Jesus paid the full price to cover all sin for all of human kind. He took your place. He took my place on that cross. He took the place of those who refuse to receive that gift. The sentence for sin is death, and Jesus paid it – all for all. This gift from God, The Father, sits like boxes on shelves, waiting to be GIFTED to all who will, by faith, reach out and take it.

That truth in itself is beyond our full comprehension. We hear and receive it, but because of our finite understanding of sin, we too easily miss the “WOW” factor that is God’s full grace to us. I don’t believe we can fully comprehend it this side of Glory. When we get Home, full comprehension of God’s gift will amaze us! But that’s not the end of the gift. There is more! There is another, awesome item in our boxes.

This great gift, that the God of all the Universe loved us so much, He sent His only begotten Son to be propitiation for us, is only half the story. Along with paying the penalty of sin on our behalf, Jesus did something more. He gave us HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NASB)

Thus…

WE, who have accepted His Gift, ARE, now and forevermore, The Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus! That is who we are – period! The end!

Though we struggle in this flesh to fulfill our finite understanding of living as the righteous people of God, because of Christ, God sees us as righteous. Even in Christ, our greatest good in this fleshy struggle is still as filthy rags before a holy God. We fall to sin and are deceived of heart as to our “good” every day, failing to remember that God, alone, is good. Our flesh hinders our being the kind of “righteous” God requires. Only by the Spirit can we even come close and grow stronger.

So should we quit working to live righteous lives? No! Keep striving forward to be an example of the glorious image of God, for though we can never be good enough in our own right to enter the Kingdom gate, we can get better, draw closer, glorify God in the earth, and win crowns as our highest goal becomes that of pleasing Him.

That dreaded list is true, when it says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” That word also says, “Such were some of you; but you were WASHED, but you were SANCTIFIED, but you were JUSTIFIED in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the SPIRIT of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

He, who knew no sin, sanctified us, imparting to us the righteousness of God by the power of God’s grace. On the day God calls us home, His fires will burn away all remaining wood, hay, and stubble, to reveal the glorious image of His righteousness in us: the gold, silver, and precious stones of His glory in us. Our old sin nature burned away, only His righteousness, gifted for us to possess, will remain.

As we choose to live the life of Christ today, shucking off our old nature, bit by bit, as God’s Spirit works in us, we grasp hold and live the righteousness of God in the earth. That is the journey of this life: more of Him and less of me.

When He calls us home, all that is not like Him falls away, and it is in His righteousness that we enter the Kingdom of God. None of the evil we failed to walk free of will enter the Kingdom. Only His righteousness in us will survive. And rewards for areas of righteousness we succeeded in grasping hold of will be waiting.

So keep pressing forward to the goal, reaching for the prize, striving with Him to be the best you of His heart’s desire and design, trusting in faith that Jesus has you covered in the areas of greatest battle. We are saved by grace through faith. Faith looks to things we don’t yet see, but know to be true anyway. It reaches forward to grasp Kingdom reality and make it our now life. Faith recognizes that we are a work in progress, eternally perfect in Christ, and continually being perfected in this life, all the way up to the Day of Christ, when He comes for us.

See also: Mark 10:18; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10; 1 John 1:5-2:2; Philippians 2:12-14, 3:7-16; Romans 7:14-8:25 Philippians 1:6

Empowered for Radiance

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and He sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. When He had cleansed us from our sins, He sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:3 NLT – https://www.bible.com/116/heb.1.3.nlt)

Jesus, still today, from His throne in Glory and His seat in the soul of every Christ follower, lives and breathes to radiate God’s own glory and express the very character / nature of God Almighty, the Father and creator of all. Jesus sets the example for all the children of God to follow. We too are the image of God’s glory on earth, tasked to live and breathe His character for all to see and know Him.

Now, after providing for our cleansing for all eternity, Jesus is seated in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. The right hand of God is the position of imparted power and authority. Jesus has full right as King of glory to rule on God’s behalf and see to the completion of all things as God wills. Part of that includes enduing the children of God to take up the work of Christ on earth. We now bear the responsibility to radiate God’s own glory and express the very character of God, in the name and authority of Christ.

Scripture even tells us that, in Christ, we are seated with Him in the heavenlies. As the body of Christ, we are at the right hand of the Father with Him (Ephesians 2:6). Therefore, we are given authority in Christ, and that authority empowers us in likeness to Him so we may radiate God’s own glory and express the very character of God, in the name and authority of Christ. By His Power from the Father, Jesus sustains everything by the mighty power of His command. In Christ, we go forth to complete what is lacking. As His lights, drawing many to Him, we prosper His Kingdom in His authority.

“Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing….” (2 Corinthians 2:14-17 NASB)

Ephesians 2:4-10 NASB

1 Corinthians 1:30-31 NASB

Galatians 3:26-27 NASB

Colossians 2:9-23 AMPC

Finding Who We Are: Part 10-C

Into the Holy of Holies

Read: Hebrews 9:1-28 NASB

“…Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies, having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant;” (Hebrews 9:2-4 NASB)

Lifting up the incense censor of personal relationship with Jesus, who has gone before us as a cloud to fill the mercy seat, we do something no ordinary, secondary priest has been allowed before. The old curtain torn away, we enter, having access through Christ to the Holy Presence of the Father, entering safely into the Holy of Holies, our sin covered: set free indeed.

I can sense the awe, the wonder, the reverential, holy fear and abandon that causes me to fall on my face in worship and surrender, acknowledging of His worthiness and sovereignty. Daring to lift eyes to look around, I see the Ark of covenant laid open before us, for our consideration. We are in the Presence of the Holy One. In this instant, nothing else matters as the glory of His Glory rises in us.

As I am there, I realize a familiar place I have been to and been touched by many times in my LifeWalk in Christ: an absolute, undeniable unity with this Holy.

Even now, Beloved, prostrate together with you, I realize that God has already answered the prayer of Jesus for us to be one with them as He and the Father are one. We just have to recognize, trust, and walk out this union. In these days of my life experience, I grow stronger daily in this realization. The rested assurance of being one in Christ: of being part of His very body. His very thought flowing to and through me as every neuron in me connects in surrender to my place in Christ.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not perfect at it yet, and I, too, frequently fight on the battlefield of the mind with the weapons of war that God provides. Taking every thought captive in likeness to the obedience of Christ, daily I grow stronger roots into my eternal reality. And I believe that every breath of this reality that I realize, makes up an undeniable experience of this Holy that will, on the day I fully stand before Him, make this familiar a true homecoming.

As I look at the Ark, open to view, I see the things of God that make this Holy our living reality today: the Ark of the covenant with its mercy seat and covering angels; the golden jar of manna; the budding rod; and the tables of the covenant.

The Ark of the covenant with its mercy seat and covering angels is full of symbolism, a reminder of truths we can still cling to, today. Because of Jesus, us being His body, and Him our covering, we see the faithfulness of God in the Ark before us. We know we can trust His mercy toward us because of Christ in us, the place where Jesus stands between our sin nature and God’s wrath, freeing us from the bonds of death.

The Ark is a visual for the faithful Presence of God, Who is with us and for us so that none can be successfully against us. As He went before the people of Israel, making a way for them, so He does for us who believe and trust His direction and protection.

The Golden jar of manna is assurance of God’s faithful provision. Reminder that we can trust Him with our physical need. No need we face in life is beyond God to meet according to His riches in glory.

The budding rod was proof and reminder to Aaron and God’s people that Aaron was the chosen high priest of there day. It ended all dispute for the people, and it squelched any insecurity in Aaron. He WAS chosen.

For us, Jesus is The Chosen and Eternal High Priest. We, too, are the chosen tribe of Jesus, representing His Priesthood before The Father and in the world. We are set apart in Christ, by God, as His Temple on Earth and in service to it for His glory.

We never have to question God’s calling and choosing us. As people of God in Christ, we simply must possess our position as Priest unto God, trust the sign of the budding rod before us, know our role in His Temple, and do our role. Because of Christ, our time with the Father in the secret place of His holiness provides that budding rod of assurance for us.

As for Israel, the tables of the covenant bear constant reminder to the people that God alone is God. There is no other. His ways are simple and straightforward, and we are to follow in His ways. The laws given provide the measuring rod that leads to repentance. Jesus is the embodiment of God’s Holy Word, making Him the measuring rod by which we are to live, breathe, and find our being, all of which we accomplish by the strength producing grace of God through Christ.

Beloved, as I think on these things, rejoicing in Christ, bowed here before my God and King, I realize that, in the new covenant of Christ, our procession through the temple worship starts and ends here. While Israel started at the door to the outer court and the sanctifying sacrifice at the Altar of Sacrifice, making atonement for themselves before continuing on through the temple service, being stopped at the door of the Holy of Holies, we begin and end our day in the Holy of Holies: in the very Presence of God in all His glory. Only as we start our day here can we press forward in full provision for service.

We start by remembering God’s law and the sacrifice of Jesus that sanctifies and sets us free. We praise God for His calling and choosing us in Christ, possessing and committing ourselves to that service. We entrust all our need to His provision and rest ourselves in His constant and sure Presence with us: in His faithfulness to lead us.

Stepping out in and through Christ, into the Holy Place, we light the incense altar from the fires of our Christ, filling the Holy of Holies with praise and gratitude for God’s loving care, lifting the known needs of others to Him. We stop at His Lampstand, check our Oil, and make sure we bear His Light. We feast ourselves at His table, filling ourselves with the milk, honey, bread, and meat of His Word.

Departing with Christ all over and in us, we enter outer court service. Stopping to check our face in the Laver of cleansing, we wash our feet and the feet of those with us. Prepared for service, we stand at the altar to await our first arrival. Busying ourselves with the good work and daily cares that God entrusts to us. We move freely throughout the rooms of the Temple as need and as opportunity presents itself to us, going in and out of the Holy of Holies as needed to replenish ourselves throughout the day.

At end of day, we reverse course, stopping at the cross to thank God for His sacrificial gift to us. Checking our face in the mirrors of God’s image, we take time needed to wash feet. Entering through the veil of the Holy Place, we feast from God’s table, trim the lamps and check our oil. We light the incense with gratitude for God’s work in our day, offering prayers for the needs before us. Then crossing that blessed threshold into the awe inspiring Presence of our God, King, and Father, we find our place of rest in Him and settle in where personal replenishing takes place, making us ready for the morrow.

Beloved, we are the Temple of our God, and we recognize that the new and vital Holy of Holies is our personal place of meeting with God: the secret place of communion where we fill up with Him. Enter into His service and glory in our God.

“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father.” (John 16:26-27 NASB)

LIVE!

“… “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. IN THAT DAY YOU WILL KNOW that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. ….” (John 14:16-31 NASB)

One reason for the resurrection of Jesus and His 40 days of visitations was to assure the disciples that He was still with them and in them through the power and provision of His Spirit. Still today, we are each, individually one with Father and Son by the power of the indwelling Spirit of Triune God. And in our fully living that out, we are one with each other, the prayer of the Christ fulfilled (John 17). We have the mind of Christ and the heart of the Father within us because of this miraculous union.

I have long believed this truth, yet never as I do now. Father has spent the last few years calling me to deeper, more intimate understanding of this reality: that “I”, ““I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer “I”, I who live, but Christ lives in me (also); and the life which “I”, I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved “ME” and gave Himself up for “ME”.” (Galatians 2:20 NASB)

The hour Jesus cried out for the cup of His suffering to be removed, I believe one thing heaviest on His heart was the understanding that, in the instant all our sin was piled on His Shoulders, He would, for the first time ever, know life without the Father’s Presence. He took all our sin with the destitute abandonment of a God who cannot abide evil, so we, NOW, can enter into our eternal unity in the Spirit.

No temptation can overtake the one who abides in The Triune, Who abides in us. Holding our Abode as of most vital importance and greatest treasure is our way of escape from sins grip. Though we may slip or stumble and need our feet washed, we will not go down for the count and fall away from victory in Christ.

So enter into the Beloved, sweet friend, then go forth and conquer with every breath of your days in Christ. Nothing can steal that joy from us, the joy of unity with the Eternal, when we live and breathe it in our now-day.

ABIDE!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Old Church Choir

Zach Williams

http://youtu.be/-cRh8NqmXoE

What I Do Now

“… So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” …” (John 13:1-11 NASB)

There is a lot going on here as we watch God incarnate gird loins with towel and go to work doing the job normally given the least of slaves. He removed clothing because it is a dirty job, washing mud and more off the feet of those He served out of love.

The main point we tend to focus on here is the fact that we too easily soil ourselves while walking through life in a lost and dying world. Jesus graciously and lovingly keeps our feet clean. That is a glorious truth for which we must be grateful. But I want to look at something else I see that is going on here.

Do you think Peter was the only one Jesus talked with as He washed the feet of His disciples? I don’t. What I see here is our Lord, taking time to spend with each one as Jesus washed their feet.

He knew each of them: the way they think and react to stress; the fears and insecurities they each struggle with; their beliefs, hopes, and dreams; and He knew the obstacles ahead for them. Jesus chose this time of personal, willing, and loving service for one on one time of ministry to the deep needs of these loved ones, getting them ready for things to come.

Our church does this from time to time. Participants are given time, both in the chair and in the towel. It is a glorious opportunity to encourage and be encouraged by our church family.

Whether we dawn a towel of service, or share a tea time, Beloved, we are to wash proverbial feet as we go through our days, pointing out truth that encourages and lifts to higher ground.

Fit – IN Christ

“And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”” (Mark 1:7-8 NASB – http://bible.com/100/mrk.1.7-8.nasb)

Boy! What a statement, Beloved. John, the baptist, understanding the person and purpose of the coming Christ, overwhelmed by his own flesh nature before Him, pronounces himself unfit to even minister to Jesus’s feet.

The lowest of servants were given the nasty task of cleaning feet at the end of the day. The feet were covered by whatever muck and mire walked through that day. It was a dirty job, cleaning people’s stinky feet. So when John says he is unfit to even unlace the shoes of the Christ, he is referring to himself as being lower in worth than the slave charged with feet cleaning.

Then Jesus came: The Propitiation for our sin, and by that gracious love, He pronounces the true believer, “Fit!”

After reading this passage the morning I wrote this blog, I was still thinking about it when I sat on my stool before my husband to put his socks and shoes on for him. Since his hip replacement surgery, years ago, it has been my joyful task to help him dress his feet. As I bent over to kiss the tops of his beautiful, hard working feet, BLESSing them for this day, thought hit me, “What we do to the least of these, we do to Christ.”

Since Johnny’s cancer entered our journey in life, the weight gain from the treatments makes it hard for him to clip his nails. To me, clipping another’s toenails is the worst of jobs. I hate doing it, but willingly do the best I can out of love for him. With this revelation of Johnny’s feet being the feet of Christ to me, the task is much more palatable to my soul.

Thank you, Father, for opportunity to bless Jesus and serve You through our care for one another. In Christ, Amen!

Clothed and Ready: Part 1

“Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, WHO KEEP THEIR CLOTHING READY so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.” (Revelation 16:15 NLT – http://bible.com/116/rev.16.15.nlt)

Never to feel exposed and ashamed. How glorious it is to have confidence in Christ and live equipped to hold heads high, with no need of shame. This scroll of Revelation caught my attention and called me to check my manner of spiritual dress. It promises that by keeping our clothing ready, we will not be caught in shame at Christ’s return. Sounds like a great time to take a look in the proverbial mirror of our lives and be sure we are fully clothed.

The first garment we need to make sure we dawn and check for any repair needs is the cloak of Christ. The most clear picture of what that cloak looks like when properly worn is found in Colossians 3, starting with verse 9.

“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 – a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:9-17 NASB)

These garments reveal Christ in us as we represent Him in life today. Look at all the colors that should be visible in the cloak of Christ on us: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience – bearing with one another, forgiving each other. Beyond all these, love – God’s kind of pure, unmerited love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And peace from Christ that rules the heart, coupled with thankfulness to Him Who clothes us by grace through faith.

This first part of our garment makes evident to all that we are made one with God in our following hard after Christ, empowered by gratitude for His grace to live free of shame. Tomorrow, part two.

Heart Check: Hope Rightly Focused

“But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.” (Psalms 146:5 NLT)

Take a minute for a heart check, Beloved. Where is your Hope? If we are not careful, our hope can slip away from God and onto our own ability to have faith. People unrighteously accuse, “Well, it hasn’t happened because your faith is not strong enough.” Jesus said, “with a mustard seed of faith, you can move a mountain.” The smallest seed of a faith planted in the right soil where it is capable of growth is all it takes. That soil is totally rested on God trusting Him.

Hope can slip to land on our idea of what the best outcome should look like. More still is that hope can truly be settled on our own strengths and abilities; or on that of someone or something else we see as hope’s solution.

True hope in God rests on Him with understanding of His care. It trusts His sovereignty. Trust’s hope does not put God in a box made up of our expectations and ability to dream.

God’s Word says that He, by His power that is at work within us, “is able to carry out His purpose and do SUPERABUNDANTLY, FAR OVER and ABOVE ALL that we dare ask or think, INFINITELY BEYOND our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams” (Ephesians 3:20 AMPC).

We cannot even begin to think of the great things of God. When we limit our hope to our expectations, we can miss what God is doing. Because our eyes are set to see what we think will be, we can fail to follow God to the abundance He truly has for us. We essentially box Him into our finite thought, and when we refuse the path of His leading as a result, we put a lid on the glory to be seen.

So, where is your hope, Beloved. Because of God’s grace, “Rethink Possible” (ATnT commercial).

God’s “Good” vs. Humankind’s

“A ruler questioned Him, saying, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments, ‘ DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.'” And he said, “All these things I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when he had heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. And Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” They who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”” Luke 18:18-27 NASB

This passage has long captivated my attention. That Jesus, the very Sod of God, The God in flesh, does not number himself with God as a good person, is intriguing.

I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people that, to me, are a defining parameter for the place of a “good person.” That opinion is gauged by human standards. Jesus corrects that understanding with His pronouncement that “only God is good.”

Have you ever had The Spirit pop a question into your head, immediately followed by an answer? That’s exactly what happened as I read this familiar passage today.

The question: “What makes the difference between God’s‘good’ and our ‘good’?”

The answer: “Motive and source.”

God IS good. He doesn’t need a reason to be or do good. Good is what He is, and thus, what He must do. He doesn’t need an incentive to do good. He doesn’t have to receive some return before He will continue to be good.

There is no external source for His good. He is good. Goodness resides in and flows from Him. Good is what He does. That’s why Scripture says that every good and perfect gift comes from Him. He is good and the source or resource for every good.

We are not as He is. We have incentives to be good, most often out of necessity. We too often fall away from goodness when our good never meets a return. And, according to Scripture, without God, who is the source – resource for all good, we cannot be or produce good.

Another difference between us and God, is that we too easily grumble about doing good. God does not. He may get upset with our ungrateful response to His good, our never being satisfied with what we get and always wanting more, better, greater, but he never grumbles about an opportunity to do good or the inconvenience of the needs timing.

Even Jesus, being in the flesh, took no credit for being good. He, too, as example to us, relied on the Father for any good expressed through Him.

For me, this understanding makes the discourse that followed make better sense. The ruler wanted eternity, and, as implied in the passage, he did all the good he new to do, hoping for the reward of the eternal. Yet he lacked one thing, to die to self, having no other desire or motive than to follow and please God alone.

Some long ago commentary says that Genesis 15:1 is more accurately translated, “Fear not, Abram, I AM your Shield, your abundant compensation, and YOUR EXCEEDINGLY GREAT REWARD.” This is the only, truly-needful motivation for Christlike goodness and it’s resource is God alone.

Finding Our Independence Day

“For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15 NASB

Forgiveness is very important to me. Since the day God showed me that my choosing to forgive another is for my own sake, just as we see Him choose to forgive Israel in Isaiah 43:25, He has called me to be a voice, encouraging true forgiveness. Choosing to forgive protects who we are, preventing our becoming something we don’t want to be, and it secures the course of our life for the good we are set to achieve.

Today, as I read this passage, Father brings to mind the movie, Independence Day. In it, we find a character portraying a military veteran who is believed crazy because of his story about once being kidnapped by aliens.

In the movie, our veteran is the hero who gives up his life to bring down the alien enemy. Before that, what we see is a man who is eat up by his experience. Drunken most of the time, he loses work, becomes the laughing stock of the town, and is near to losing his eldest son who is embarrassed and fed up with his dad’s drunken inadequacies.

When it comes time and opportunity for our hero to prepare to be part of the fighting force against the alien attack, we discover the true reason for the man’s drunken failure, as he announces that, since his kidnapping, he’s been looking for opportunity to delve out some payback. This fictitious character is a perfect example of why it is important to forgive “for my own sake,” which truly works for the sake of everyone around us.

Unforgiveness does great harm to our ability to have good relationships. It can hinder our ability to be the people of worth God desires for us. It can and will destroy our effectiveness in life, making us of little use to a God of Love. Unforgiveness can cut our life short in our pursuit of some sense of retribution. And, the thing I learned from God is that choosing to forgive protects us from falling short of loving others in sacrificial ways.

In our story found in the Independence Day movie, the thing that led our hero to sacrifice His life was less the want of payback he professed desire for and spent many drunken days looking for. Sobering up so he could do the job required of him, in those final moments, it is not desire for payback that leads to his decisive sacrifice. Instead he found the desire to protect the lives of those he loved.

That is what I discern in the proclamation of God found in Isaiah 43:25. He forgave for His own sake so that He would stay the course of protecting the people out of which His Christ would come. For the sake of fulfilling His purpose in providing saving grace for the world, He chose, for His own sake, to forgive Israel, even though their sin against Him begged for payback.

God may get us to the right motive for our last breath effort to love others, but what a waste that comes from the moment we choose unforgiveness to the detriment of our character, hindering our path to the fulfillment of the purpose of our life. Don’t let unforgiveness steel your in-between opportunity for a life worth living. Choose the love that forgives for one’s own sake, and find in that your Independence Day victory over bitterness, anger, drunkenness, etc.

Build the Walls

“…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. By Your favor do good to Zion; Build the walls of Jerusalem. Then You will delight in righteous sacrifices, In burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then young bulls will be offered on Your altar.” Psalms 51:17-19 NASB

As I read this passage, I am captivated by a seeming switch in thought as David prays for cleansing and freedom from sin, and for the sin offering to be acceptable. Meditating on it, I realize it is not a change in focus to pray for God’s goodness to Zion and the building of the walls for Jerusalem. What I believe He is saying is for God to protect and establish their resistance to sin so that the offering comes from hearts that are right with God, thus making the sacrifice a delight to Him, worthy of His grace.

Father, though Jesus made the perfect sacrifice, fully delivering us from the eternal penalty due our sinfulness, we still need You, by Your favor, to do good to us and build up our walls of resistance to sin, that we may please You in all our ways. This I pray for myself, my family, and for all reading this post in agreement now. In Jesus and for His glory, make it so.

Read Psalms 51:1-19 NASB

Perseverance for the Long Night Seasons

As I seek the Father in continuing a daily thought for praying over those long night situations, He leads my heart to Paul’s letters to Timothy. Paul’s greeting in 1 Timothy begins our daily focus.

Beloved, our greatest need in long night issues is perseverance. To persevere in faith; in assurance of God’s love, care, and presence at work there; in determined purpose to remain faithful in focus, in living, in the practice of godliness, etc. These three works of God found in Paul’s greeting equip our success in perseverance.

– Grace – provides strength beyond our own in the wait, equipping and enabling our faithful perseverance .

– Mercy – covers us when we fail so that…

– Peace – that passages understanding prevails, protecting us from worry, fretting, anxiety, and the bad and desperate decisions such turmoil brings, leading us to unrest as we kick against goads and try to fix what God alone can fix.

Pray today for perseverance and for this resource of God that empowers our successful waiting-on-the-Lord.

Maintaining my Streak with God’s Strength

: Bragging on Father Today

Please bare with me while I do a little bragging on our God.

I have struggled with sweets addiction off and on since childhood. All the common triggers can knock me off my resolve, stress and tiredness topping that list.

The past three years have put me in the worst struggle ever as I care for my husband of 42 years and counting. He is in a fight against prostate cancer: stage 5. His goal is to work and live Life until he just can’t keep going. Our journey began with him at stage 4 because he had NONE of the typical symptoms, so it slipped up on us and last year it went to the bones. (Men, don’t neglect your health. Get your physicals.)

God faithfully strengthens him so he is still working and living, and my #1 ministry right now is to help him press on to live Life. For the most part, I do well, but when life gets hard for him – can anyone say “stressed and tired”.

When our journey began, Johnny begged me to promise I would take care of me and not let this journey destroy my health and strength. I have tried to do that, but throughout the stress and exhaustion that comes following hard days when I must pour into helping him, sweets overwhelmed my resolve and set up a stronghold.

Recently, as I cried out to God over my inability to stand against that addictive habit, He spoke clear instruction to me through Paul’s experience of Him in 2 Corinthians 12. Father assured me that the same grace made available to Paul is there for me as well. Thus began my journey of thanking God for His faithful provision to meet each temptation with the strength of His resolve. I tell you, I have never knowingly experienced such pure freedom as I am walking in because of belief in the truth that God’s grace is sufficient for me, too.

Today is Day 13: no sweets or bread. God’s strength prevails! And he has shown me another area in need of faith in Him for His gracious strength to flow through. My Strength is there for me and most days are good. For the days when I am exhausted from little sleep and too much activity, He is my rest. I am so grateful that He loves us and provides Himself for our overwhelming weakness.

What would you brag on God for today? Share it here or with someone today.

Our Portion

I am starting my year following the daily scripture focus for January, put out by BibleStudyTools.com. Today’s Scripture focus is that well known Lamentations passage in 3:22-23 pictured above. But my focus falls to what comes after.

I know so well those two beloved, frequently quoted verses, I shamefully forget what follows.

“”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.” ‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:24-25‬ ‭NASB‬‬

God is our portion, our great reward and most precious treasure. Our greatest calling is to seek Him for those reasons alone. Knowing and striving toward that, our waiting for Him is made easier, for we can know His goodness will come forth to meet our need.

And the next verse says, “It is good that he waits silently For the salvation of the LORD.” Lamentations‬ ‭3:26‬ ‭NASB‬

We don’t have to have words for Him who is our portion, reward, treasure. As we draw near to Him, He draws near to us, and His faithfulness is sure to meet our every need.

Sometimes the great needs we face are to help us realize that our only true need is the Treasure of Heaven. When we possess that, our waiting is eased as we know the wealth of His supply will come out of His faithful love for those who treasure Him above all else.

BibleStudyTool.com January Scripture Focus Challenge

Free Indeed

For some reason, Lord, as I read this verse in Psalm 147, I think of repentance. How greatly we need You if we are truly to repent.

You, Father, see and know the heart to greater depths of understanding than we can even begin to fully fathom. Only You can help us know the true issue of heart that keeps us snared in habits of sin.

I keep thinking of how weak willed I am, frustrated in areas of struggle I feel powerless to change. The thing I discern right now is my need to stop striving against what I see in my struggle and begin sincerely seeking Your revelation of the heart of my struggle. I need You, Lord.

So search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any hurtful or grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)

What freedom we possess when we trust in You, Lord. Oh, my soul, take a breath and rest in God.

In Jesus and for Your glory I pray, amen.

“Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” 1 Corinthians 4:1-5 NASB