Daily Discovering the Blessing

Archive for October, 2012

Rock or Sand?

(Note:  God’s Beloved Daughter, devotional and monthly Bible study, is being published!  It should be available for purchase through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com at the beginning of the New Year.  Today’s entry will be my final blog.   Please pray along with me that its publication will touch many lives for the Kingdom.)

As the heart of your home, you are the determiner of its foundation.  Jesus tells us the result of purposefully putting the Word into practice.  A home founded upon the rock of God’s established principles and expectations will not fall when storms come.  But “great and complete” will be the fall of the home of those who choose not to honor the Word.  This is not simply metaphorical warning.  See how the Message Bible relates the message:

These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living.  They are foundational words, words to build a life on.  If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his home on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit – but nothing moved that house.  It was fixed to the rock.  But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach.  When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards.  (Matthew 7:24-27)

Jesus is “upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty Word of power” (Hebrews 1:3).

John 1:3 – All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being.”

Ephesians 1:9 –Making known to us the mystery (secret) of His will (of His plan, of His purpose). [And it is this:] In accordance with His good pleasure (His merciful intention} which He had previously purposed and set forth in Him, [He planned] for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages to unify all things and head them up and consummate them in Christ, [both] things in Heaven and things on  the earth.

The world we live in was made through Jesus, through the Living Word of God (past). And through that Word He continues to uphold, guide, maintain and propel the universe (present).    Further, everything will ultimately come together (be consummated) in Him (future).  Everything in this world came through, is through, and will be through Jesus.

So when our Lord tells us of the importance of building our lives, our homes, our families on the rock of that Truth, on the rock of faith in that reality, we can readily see not only the value of that admonition, but its paramount importance in the face of creation reality. To build on any other foundation, on the shifting sand of any other set of values, is the preamble to collapse and to a “great and complete” fall.

“The wise woman builds her home” (Proverbs 14:1) on the rock. She raises her family upon the rock, settles their future upon the rock.  Allow the Truth of the Word in its entirety to inform your choices and your words today.

 

God’s Word on the subject

Matthew 7:24-27                     Ephesians 1:9

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A Gentle, Peaceful Spirit – Part Two

This certainly deserves a second look.  It is so very important, given our Father’s directives, that we carefully monitor and maintain our daily environment in peace.  The establishment of a home whose characteristics emulate and therefore honor God is our responsibility.  Training up our children in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6)  [ I met a woman whose standard in her home was to say to her children, “Yes, you may watch television, but first you must read the Bible for the same period of time you want to watch TV today!] , “honoring and esteeming” our husbands (“loving and admiring them exceedingly”!) [Ephesians 5:33], guarding and watching carefully in the Spirit for any issue or person attempting to disrupt (or any approaching problem which the Holy Spirit advises about requiring prayer – John 16:13) – all of these call for a vigilance in both prayer and the established standards of Heaven.

All of this is done most effectively, most powerfully, through our gentle, courteous, and peaceful spirits.  It seems counter-intuitive to some that we overcome and disarm obstinate selfishness in others through gentle humility in ourselves, hateful and detestable behavior with a calm and peaceful demeanor, and malice, jealousy, and selfish disdain for the rights of others with love and prayer. But that is how our Father expects us to walk before Him. It matters not what others do, what they say, or how they act.  Our relationship with our Heavenly Father requires our obedience to His methods and expectations   The Word tells us that “a gentle tongue [with its healing power] is a tree of life (Proverbs 15:4).   In the face of opposition we are to “…be forebearing (yielding, gentle and conciliatory) and …show unqualified courtesy toward everyone” (Titus 3:2). [See End Note]

The wisdom that we receive from God is:

…pure (undefiled)…peace-loving, courteous (considerate, gentle)…full of compassion and good fruits… free from doubts, wavering and insincerity (James 3:17).

There is strength in the godly standard.  In the realm of the Spirit there is no strength at all in negative, evil, and selfish behavior.  It may be loud, but it is only fleshly excess and the language of a defeated foe.

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against…spiritual forces of wickedness… (Ephesians 6:12)

The Word is telling us here that inappropriate, ungodly behavior of people in our lives is a direct result of their spirits being alive to Satan and not to God.  They have not yet been transformed by righteousness and informed by God’s Word and Holy Spirit.  They deserve our prayer and our consistent example of godliness.  It is the purposeful stand of a gentle and peaceful spirit that confidently “warns away fear, doubt, and distrust”(Proverbs 31:18), opposition, bullying and agitation.  Take your stand in peace and let your gentle words bring healing.

End Note:  I feel led by the Holy Spirit to add this.  Faith in God’s Word and a growing awareness of the Truth, power, and living quality of Its effectiveness in the life of a believer is the result of time spent with Him, time hearing and hearing and hearing strong Gospel teaching, time getting to recognize His voice and leading, and seeing (experiencing) the results of standing in faith.  If you find yourself dealing with very negative situations from people in your life and are a new believer, reach out for godly counsel, for a strong church, and ask the Lord to reveal to your heart strategy to deal with your current issues.  Do not remain in an abusive situation.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Proverbs 15:4               Titus 3:2-4  

A Gentle, Peaceful Spirit – Part One

Gentle – Having qualities considered appropriate to those of good birth; refined, polite, generous, kind

We have all encountered people in our lives whose response to a variety of life events is unpredictably erratic.  Never sure of their emotional temperature on any given day, we tread cautiously in their presence – watching our words, avoiding troubling topics, and carefully censoring our interactions.  How sad that honest conversation addressing important life issues often takes second place to maintaining an uneasy peace; how inappropriate and absolutely evil that godly standards are lowered to accommodate sin.  That’s too much power for one person to hold over another!  (I am not speaking here of choosing the appropriate time to hold important conversations.  I often recognize when someone is not ready to receive counsel or address a concern. There is wisdom in recognizing the auspicious moment!  No, I am speaking here of emotional bullying or selfish insistence on getting their own way.)

In our home environment such a situation creates ongoing turmoil and uneasy spirits.  Left unaddressed, the nurturing environment that home is supposed to provide is overshadowed and ultimately transformed into uneasiness and chaos – an effective breeding ground for the enemy’s purposes. Home, then, is no longer a peaceful haven to enable positive growth; it is no longer a trustworthy place.  Whether it is a parent or a child creating such discord within the family (or a friend or colleague creating such discord within a relationship or within the workplace), the cause is the enemy’s, the remedy is the Lord’s.  (Never doubt that the joint condition of absence of peace and the presence of discord has its root in the actions of the enemy.  Flesh might pick it up and run with it, but the first cause is Satan and the sinful nature – Ephesians 6:12).

No matter what the enemy tries to throw at you, your way must be the way of peace, gentleness and love for therein lies the faith response.  These are Heaven’s remedies and “tactics” against which he may not prevail.

1 Peter 3:11 …search for peace (harmony, undisturedness from fears, agitating passions and moral conflicts) and seek it eagerly. [Do not merely desire peaceful relations with God, with your fellow men and with yourself, but pursue, go after them!]

Obedience to the Lord on this matter is key.  Prayer, both in the Spirit and with your understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15), will give you the answer.  You are to have dominion in the area assigned to you.  You are to recognize the tactics and devices of the enemy (2 Corinthians 2:11), and through the guidance of the Holy Spirit overcome them. You are to stand on His Word and, with a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), allow God to heal and restore.  You are to speak forth God’s powerful Word in unqualified expectation that what the enemy meant for harm God will reverse and turn around for His glory and your blessing.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Ephesians 4:2              2 Timothy 2:25                1 Peter 3:4, 11-13

Feeling, Reason, and Faith

Success in the area of healing ultimately has nothing to do with your feelings or your reasoning.  Faith looks beyond both to receive what is promised.  In fact, both feeling and reasoning are often inhibitors of the blessing.  When we permit our flesh to be the spokesman for our day-to-day lives we are undermining our walk in the Spirit.  When we focus on our reasoning ability, attending to our lives through our rational thought process, we overlook the Truth that God’s thoughts and ways are not ours (Isaiah 55:8).  Why elevate our own human reasoning to a position of prominence when we can walk in God’s ways and with God’s thoughts?  Training our flesh and our reasoning to submit to Scripture realities is a continuous work.  However, as in so many human endeavors, success begets success!

Do we always feel the Presence of the Holy Spirit within us?  As we travel through our life, occupied with whatever the day throws at us, it is not a feeling of the Holy Spirit’s Presence that encourages and comforts us, it is knowledge of what the Word tells us about His Presence within.   Do we always automatically wake with joy and expectations of a blessed day ahead of us?  Most of us just need faith to believe we’re awake in the first few moments of wakefulness! It is not necessarily our feeling of being blessed, it’s our knowledge of what the Word says about our blessed status. And eventually our knowledge of that Truth is a more frequently recurring thought than our attention to trouble, concern, worry, or fear. Reason might try to attend to concerns to ponder and strategize about, or fears and worries that we should attend to, but our assumption of the blessings filters through and colors our day and effectively erases negative influences.

And so it is with our healing and health.  Despite evidence to the contrary, we are healed!  Because that healing was already accomplished, we walk in the full revelation of its past tense promise.  It is already done!  (1 Peter 2:24)  Faith embraces that Truth and teaches flesh and reason to submit.  Speak out healing Scriptures to your complaining flesh and in faith expect God’s Truth to prevail.  Let your mouth proclaim God’s Word to your mind and thoughts and teach them to line up with God’s thoughts toward you.  Our God, His Word, and His Spirit reign!

 For we walk by faith [we regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Isaiah 55:8            2 Corinthians 5:7                1Peter 2:24

Correctly Introduce Him to the World – Part Three

2 Timothy 2:24-26 – And the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome (fighting and contending).  Instead, he must be kindly to everyone and mild-tempered [preserving the bond of peace]; he must be a skilled and suitable teacher, patient and forbearing and willing to suffer wrong.  He must correct his opponents with courtesy and gentleness in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth [that they will perceive and recognize and become accurately acquainted with and acknowledge it], and that they may come to their senses [and] escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him [henceforth to do His [God’s] will.   [Emphasis mine]

There is no wiggle room here.  Either you accept the Truth of God’s Word and the Lordship of Jesus or you are snared and held in captivity by the devil.  That absolutism must inform our witness for Heaven.  It is not optional, a personal preference, or a chosen value package.  This is how God has established this world; benefits and blessings when you choose life in Him, curses and failure when you don’t (Deuteronomy 28).

But here in 2 Timothy there is a fine-tuning of the manner in which we present this Truth to the world.  Because God’s Truth is absolute, because His Word is the only standard for all life, because there is no “Plan B”, our presentation of the Gospel, the manner in which we introduce Him to the world, could be perceived and received as overbearing or contentious.  Yet God’s instructions concerning the manner in which He wants to be represented are clearly outlined.  He expects kindness, a mild-tempered, peaceful approach to conversation, and courtesy and gentleness in our interactions with those still lost in the muddle of unbelief.  All of these attributes are under girded by absolute confidence in God, reliance on Holy Spirit guidance, and God’s love extended through us to our listener.  For it truly is by our love, not by exacting certitude or righteous proclamations, that they will be persuaded.

Introduce Him daily to the world correctly – according to His instructions.  Let your skilled and suitable teaching (inspired by God’s Spirit and informed by your study of the Word) demolish strongholds, correctly dismantle relativism, and confidently establish the Truth that there is only one Way to life in God – through His Son.

Correctly Introduce Him to the World – Part Two

Have you ever heard of relativistic Christianity?  It is an extraordinary misconception concerning faith in the One True God.  It is that safe straddling of the fence that says, “Well, it is truth for me.  It works for me, but I would never step on your toes by saying that it is universally true.”  It is the antithesis of effective evangelism and a renouncing of Jesus’ statement:

I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.  (John 14:6)

In her book Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey speaks of observing this disconnect in an understanding of the total Truth of the Gospel message among a group of young people.

“We tell the people ‘Jesus works for me.  Why don’t you give Him a try?’  Isn’t that good enough?

It’s not good enough, of course, and the weakness of reducing Christianity to ‘what works’ came home to me when I joined my friends in their witnessing expeditions.  One evening I had a long, engaging discussion with a young teen-ager who expressed interest in converting.  When asked if he was convinced that Christianity was true, however, he frowned and burst out, ‘Well, of course it’s true.  If you believe it, it’s true for you!’”

In the same way that people down through the ages have created false gods and then worshipped them, modern day relativism (a philosophy which proposes that all truth is relative – what is my truth may not be your truth) is a false god.  God calls it wickedness when men “repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative” (Romans 1:18).

What a messy and inappropriate view of the concept of Truth.  Truth is not provisional.  Truth is not a choice we make or a personal preference. The Truth concerning God, the saving work of His Son Jesus on the cross, and the entire Gospel message is not something offered up on a menu along with other viable possibilities of belief or value systems!

If a Christian shares her faith tentatively and provisionally, not wishing to offend another’s differing faith structure, wanting more to honor their “right” to believe what they want than to introduce them, without apology, to the One True God, then He is not being represented correctly.

  Ephesians 4:21– …all Truth is in Jesus [embodied and personified in Him]

2 Thessalonians 2:10,12 – They did not welcome the Truth, but refused to love it that they might be saved…who did not believe in [who refused to adhere to, trust in, and rely on]  the Truth, but [instead] took pleasure in unrighteousness.

Introduce God to the world correctly.  In love and gentleness, walk confidently in your understanding that:

[There is] one body and one Spirit – just as there is also one hope [that belongs] to the calling your received. [There is] one Lord, one faith, one baptism.  One God and Father of us all, Who is above all…(Ephesians 4:4-6).

To compromise that Truth is to bow to a worldly mentality and, even worse, allows others to remain in their unrighteousness and in their lost state.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Romans 1:18                 1 John 5:20-21

Correctly Introduce Him to the World – Part One

When a dear one in my life, a close relative, was very concerned about a possible medical problem, I initially struggled with how to approach her.  I wondered what words I could gently apply, like a soothing balm, to steer her in the direction of God’s answers, God’s provision. Fear loomed large as the potential diagnosis screamed for her attention.  As the size of the dilemma outweighed the size of her established faith, how could I help redirect her focus?

I knew, of course, that the Holy Spirit was well able to help me in this.  He would bring to my remembrance Scripture to share, words of faith to offer, and the encouragement necessary to bring the peace of God to the situation.   But I was, at that moment, reminded again of my responsibility as God’s daughter to daily introduce our Father, and the saving work of Jesus, to the world.

1 Timothy 4:16 Look well to yourself [to your own personality] and to [your] teaching; persevere in these things [hold to them,] for by so doing you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

Know the Word so that you:

…may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it [showing the wayward their error] (Titus 1:9).

Growing in grace, growing in our knowledge of the Word, and building ourselves up in our most holy faith is not simply storing up ammunition for our lives concerning the days to come, it is edifying others about the life-changing decision to walk in faith concerning the Truth, reliability, and refuge of God’s Word.

But we must speak it out.  We must demonstrate it.  The truth of this must inform and shape our conversation.  Jesus is our example in this.  All of His interactions with others directed their thoughts towards faith in God.  The life and truth-sapping enigma of “political correctness”, so prevalent in today’s world, sets up barriers which keep people from walking in the freedom and the blessings of the children of God.  By insisting that God be relegated to the private sphere of personal values and that He not be a directing force, a foundational reality, in every aspect of our lives is a human choice to mistakenly, and irreverently, deign to inform God where He may and may not influence our lives.

Playing catch-up, which is where I felt I was with the loved one I spoke of earlier, is far more challenging and far less effective than daily encouraging others to attend to their faith.  Being a spokeswoman for Heaven truly means applying the grace of God into all areas of life – all human interaction; that grace of God which is the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in the life.  He should be our first cause, our first response, our first authority in everything we encounter.

Let your faith in God (that “leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness” – Amplified Bible) saturate your day.  Allow it to be your response every moment so that you will effectively introduce Him to the world.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Luke 21:14-15              John 13:34-35               John 14:27

Look to the Unseen Things

In his book, You’ve Already Got It, So Quit Trying to Get It, Andrew Wommack writes, “Any plan or dream that God has can only be manifested through our words… The words we speak can make or move a mountain.” [Emphasis mine]

Every time you speak you usher in either life or death; you begin the construction of a mountain that will eventually thwart you, or you purposefully and powerfully begin the removal of mountains that have presumed to stand in the way of your great accomplishments for God’s kingdom.  How do we help ourselves become proficient in our word choices, in our conversations?  How do we get to the point where we speak only God’s reality rather than what we observe in the world?   It is so easy to simply report on what we are seeing or feeling:

“I’m never going to be able to pay all of these bills this month.”

“I hate this job, but I might as well resign myself to it.”

“I’ve only ever been a “C” student, that’s just who I am.”

“My kids are getting into trouble but that’s just what teens do.”

“I’ll never be able to….”  (Fill in the blank!)

When we speak like this we are, according to God’s Word, slowly building a mountain which represents the death of dreams, accomplishments, and godly goals.  We are misrepresenting our God of abundance and provision and reporting only on what the enemy has accomplished in our lives.

It ultimately depends on where we are looking.  In Romans 4:18  we are taught one of the prerequisites to faith-filled words:

Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen, for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting) but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting.

Look always to the unseen things – God’s kingdom and the life-giving reality of God’s Word.  Train yourself to live in the answer of God’s eternal Truth – all else, that which you see and are experiencing today, is subject to change.  Observe illness and speak God’s Word; look at less than and speak God’s abundance; Give notice to the mountain that it will not remain.  As a daughter of God your reality rests in the unseen realm.  When you determine to honor that Truth, your words will fall into line with your faith.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Proverbs 18:21         Isaiah 46:10-11              Romans 4:17

2 Corinthians 4:18

Being Teachable – Part Three

“Faith is not a feeling: it is a choice against our feelings, sometimes against every feeling in our being, to believe the revelation of God in Jesus Christ.” [Emphasis mine]

From Genesis to Revelation we are reminded over and over again of the love of God; His everlasting, unconditional, sacrificial love.  The above quote of Malcolm Smith from his book The Power of the Blood Covenant pinpoints quite concisely the dividing line between a teachable and unteachable spirit.  The message of the Gospel confounds all previous experience and our firmly established sense of “right and wrong” and justice.  We judge people and situations according to a well-defined set of rules; He forgave men all of their sins by placing Himself on the cross in their behalf.  With great pride we conduct our lives out of a firmly established sense of the behavioral expectations of ourselves and others; He, Who placed Himself within His own justice system, became human, sinned not, and willingly died an excruciating death, shedding His blood to establish a never-ending love covenant with errant man.  We “feel” that others must demonstrate that they deserve our love and respect; He “knew” that we never could, but that did not stop Him from accomplishing our redemption and extending freedom to us because of the mighty way in which He loves.

Thanks to the indwelling Holy Spirit and His ministry on our behalf we, being open to His instruction, being teachable,  come to understand and rely on this amazing love – it comforts us, re-directs us, re-creates us and enables us to love others in a similar manner as well-beloved children imitating their Father (Ephesians 5:1).  And that love we live in and walk in compels us to want to please Him, honor Him, obey Him, and reach out to others with the extraordinary Truth that the God of all creation, the King of kings and Lord of Lords, loves them regardless of who they have been up to the meeting point, the moment of introduction – Father to child.  Malcolm Smith again:

“We were created to delight in being the object of God’s love and to fill the creation with the music of His love by our lives lived in union with Him.  The great disobedience is trashing the purpose of our creation and seeking, on an endless, futile quest, another meaning to life.  In so doing, we insult our Maker and shame our very existence.”

The successful ambassador is one who clearly and effectively represents those who sent her.  She makes herself intricately aware and intimately acquainted with the characteristics, standards, and beliefs of her homeland.  Her teachable and honoring spirit places the purposes and needs of those she represents above her own.  The One we represent, Who  purposes for all to turn and be saved, needs our allegiance and obedience, and our determination to extend to all His language is love.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Isaiah 54:10             Lamentations 3:22-25             Hebrews 13:5

Being Teachable – Part Two

I remember hearing the argument presented by a person who had rejected the Gospel message.  He reasoned that, “If this is really true, your complete message, then its advocates would crawl on their hands and knees over miles of broken glass just to get this amazing news to everyone.  I don’t see that kind of devotion, that kind of excitement, that kind of evangelical zeal on the part of Christians. They are amazingly placid about sharing this with the world.”

Why are so many of us reticent about sharing the Gospel message?  For the gentleman quoted above is absolutely right. If everything that the Gospel presents is true, we should be shouting it from the housetops! Is it because for some of us, for many of us, the reality of the Gospel message has been mistakenly mixed with misinformation and misconceptions about our relationship with God?  I remember hearing a young, middle school student who rejected the call to go forward and give her heart to the Lord, putting off the decision to receive Christ by saying, “I’m not ready yet; I need to fix some things in my life before being deserving of this.”

Often having a teachable spirit toward the things of God is compromised by simply not understanding the love of God.  He loves us before we are ready to love Him.  He loves you with an eternal, everlasting love, and He draws you to Himself through His loving kindness (Jeremiah 31:3) which has nothing to do with your worthiness!  Love is of God (1 John 4:7).  He is where love comes from.  That love, God’s love, teaches us to trust His Word; His covenant proclamations.  In his book The Power of the Blood Covenant Malcolm Smith speaks so eloquently, correctly, and reassuringly about the manner in which our Abba loves His creation:

“As you read this, know that you are loved because you are alive and breathing.  Stop reading and let this sink in.  Now, in this moment, you are the focus of the passionate and unconditional love of God. He loves you with His entire being.  You have all of His love as if you were the only human in existence. And He loves you because you exist without reference to your behavior.  Understand and live in that reality.”

Having a teachable spirit concerning these things is directly related to the effectiveness of your ambassadorship.  Because every reference point you ever knew before your life in the Spirit had to do with being worthy, being lovable, or being performance-rated, there is a deficit when it comes to fully grasping the love of God for you which has nothing to do with those things. You represent your Father powerfully and effectively on behalf of others when you accept without reservation the truth that you do not earn this love, for it is God being God – lavishing upon His children infinite, unconditional love.  Allow this revelation of the character of your Father to inform your spirit, your day, and your witness to others.  Malcolm Smith again:

“His love for us originates in Who He is, not in our being lovable.  He is the source of His love, its reason and energy.  He loves us because it is His nature to love.”

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Jeremiah 31:3             Galatians 2:20             1 John 4