Daily Discovering the Blessing

Archive for the ‘Heaven’s Ambassadors’ Category

Life Turned Into Art

The world and its confusion and turmoil can be such a disruptive force. It is intended to be. Its “owner” is the “father of lies” (John 8:44), whose main purpose and method of operation is to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

But there is a standard that we are to hold up against him, and safe within that understanding God’s kids – His sons and daughters – are artists! I wonder how many of us recognize that truth or daily apply it and walk in it. Our art is the application of, the demonstration of, life in the Spirit. In partnership with the Holy Spirit we bring Heaven’s standards to earthly issues, the beauty of holiness to everyday life, and our Abba’s purposes, provisions, and peace to each moment.

With broad brush strokes we color our corner of the world – our specific heavenly assignment. The creative impulse is hardwired into our spiritual DNA for we are children of The Creator! Through Holy Spirit fruit (Galatians 5:22) and giftings (1 Corinthians 12) we address the ills and misconceptions and ugliness of a fallen world. In the face of fear we offer love, hope and peace; we demolish lies with God’s Truth; we purposefully forgive, graciously honor, and hospitably welcome those who enter into our sphere of influence.

With intricate detailing we fine tune and carefully apply godly principles to every aspect of our walk in the Spirit. Daily we purpose to grow in grace, and that grace, and the resulting graciousness, colors life with a beauty, a peace, and a heavenly purpose that profoundly affects every life we encounter. It must, for it is God through us “reconciling and restoring the world to favor with Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Growing in grace through our daily study and increasing understanding of who we are in Christ we demonstrate a “power and ability and sufficiency” (2 Corinthians 3:5) that helps make God’s invisible kingdom visible to many.

A life “hidden with Christ in God”, a mind attentive to Heaven (Colossians 3:3), and a spirit submissive to and controlled by the Holy Spirit brings out the artist in you, and creates a beauty, in your home, in your character, in your corner of the world that truly reflects our Abba.

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Kingdom Rhythm – Part One

What does it mean to you to be a steward?  Do you daily have a sense of determination to set your course in life recognizing the life call to be a caretaker in your assigned area?  God gives us a glimpse of the garden he prepared for His creation in Genesis 1 and 2: 

And God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it [using all its vast resources in the service of God and man]; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and over every living creature that moves upon the earth. (Genesis 1:28).  [Emphasis mine]

When I was the headmaster of a Christian school, and prior to that as a teacher in the classroom, quite often I felt the Lord indicate to me that this was my garden to tend.  This was my area of stewardship before Him. The lives of the students and teachers in my charge were truly His garden.  How I attended to this task was daily informed by that sense of responsibility to the Master Gardener.  We all have an area of stewardship, a garden if you will, which we are to till “in the service of God and man”.  The manner in which we approach this Truth, the manner in which we set out about our day, either embracing that God-given task or ignoring its call upon our lives, is directly related to our impact upon eternity for many.

Because the Lord introduced this concept of garden tending as an effective metaphor for what it is we are to set our hearts to daily; because He continues, throughout the Word, to equate work in the Kingdom with gardening principles and activities:

Isaiah 58:10…you shall be like a watered garden…

Matthew 13:38The field is the world, and the good seed means the children of the Kingdom…

Luke 8:11– …the seed is the Word of God

John 15:1, 5I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser…I am the Vine; you are the branches.  Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit…

the parallel between spiritual and physical realities is hard to miss.  As His children, His representatives, His ambassadors, we are laborers together in this “field”.

Matthew 9:37 …The harvest is indeed plentiful, but the laborers are few.  So pray to the Lord of the harvest to force out and thrust laborers into His harvest.

There are so many spiritual lessons to be gleaned through the process of gardening.  Indeed, you may not be a gardener; you may not be at all interested in farming or gardening.  However, in point of fact, you are called to it in spiritual terms.  You are called to be a harvester, you are called to spread the seed of the Word, and it is through and because of that calling, therefore, that our Father’s garden metaphors can be very instructive.

Not only are we to see our ministry before the Lord as a garden to be tended, a harvest to be anticipated, but we are to also tend the gardens of our own lives.  We tend His garden (the world and those in our immediate surroundings) and we are His garden (through obedience to the ministry of the Holy Spirit we tend to our own spiritual maturity and soul well-being).  We are called to stewardship; we are co-workers together in God’s garden.  Most have heard the phrase, “Grow where you are planted”.  God leads us and establishes us in a personal place of ministry according to the giftings that He has placed within each of us and we are to tend carefully the garden we are placed in.

It can be a place of great peace, this garden tending.  For once you settle into your very reason for being, once your heart acknowledges that here is your reality and all other potential paths are simply noisy distractions, you are in Kingdom rhythm.

The Place of Honor

I am in the process of reading a very powerful book written by John Bevere entitled Honor’s Reward.  It is one of those heart-enlightening, life re-directing books, and I highly recommend that you add it to your home library!   Bevere says of honor that it is “the essential key to receiving from God and for this very reason the enemy of our souls has all but eliminated honor”.

When we establish, through our actions and in our hearts, patterns which allow negative feelings and words towards others, including those in authority over us, we are setting up life choices that will eventually be to our detriment.  We are practicing disobedience and that severely curtails the blessings of God in our lives.  In John 8:37, Jesus says of such actions, “My Word has no entrance (makes no progress, does not find any place) in you.”

Over and over in the Word the Lord calls for us to love and honor others, with no exception.  And very specifically, He speaks of honoring those in authority (Romans 13:1-2).   Bevere speaks of ministers of the Gospel who have, through their ministry, seen many miracles happen during gatherings in Africa, and yet they can do no mighty works here (same message, same anointing).  They are treated with high esteem and great respect and honor in Africa, but not here!

Through his writing a light shone for me into my emotional and often negative reaction to the American political process.  How can I, at one and the same time, pray for our civic leaders in obedience to the Word (1 Timothy 2:1-4; 1 Peter 2:11-15) and mock and deride them because their viewpoints differ from mine?  Politics in America has always unleashed negative reactions from those holding opposing views.  This may also be true for much of the rest of the world, but it seems that American individualism has raised it to an “artform”!  We have a right, don’t we, as free people to make determinations and pronouncements against those with whom we disagree?

Yet Heaven’s standards and purposes are so different.  First and foremost, our Father says, honor authority.  Pray for them.  Our heart’s priority should be with their relationship with their Creator – their eternal placement.  Bevere shares so many powerful examples and testimonies, from both life and Scripture, of the rewards of honoring others.  Whether a parent, a boss, a pastor, or Senators and Presidents – our hearts, our words and our actions must be guided by honor towards them.  God will see to the rest – as John Bevere so clearly demonstrates throughout this book.  It’s another paradigm shifter!

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

Being Teachable – Part One

I remember sitting in a seminar one day, hearing the speaker proclaim the idea that being a teacher was the world’s most difficult and challenging job.  Several people in the audience took issue with her contention.  Most especially vocal against her claim was a surgeon and an air traffic controller.  “We have people’s lives in our hands on a daily basis.  Our training and skill make the difference between life and death” those representing both fields asserted. Her response gave a new way to look at what created difficulty and challenge.

“While I recognize that both careers are quite challenging and stress-filled, I want you to imagine the following.  For surgeons, imagine that all of your patients during the course of a week came to you during the same appointment hour.  You had to attend to each of their needs at the same time. These needs are widely varied and the successful outcome for each depends on a wide range of health care plan strategies that need to be put in place with the cooperation of the patient. Many of these patients are there against their will.  They do not want your advice and pay little or no attention to it.  And yet it is your job to give each of them your very best care!  Even though at least half of them will not cooperate with you, you must help them see the worth of what you are offering.  For the air-traffic controllers, every plane you must guide today appears on your screen at the same time.  Many of the pilots choose not to regard your instructions and decide to map out their own route.  The resulting confusion and disarray is still your responsibility as you attempt to guide the listeners and non-listeners alike.”

Her message was, of course, a wonderful affirmation of the incredibly challenging task which good educators face.  But it also seemed to me that there was an underlying message which was overlooked – the responsibility of the learner.

A scoffer seeks Wisdom in vain [for his very attitude blinds and deafens him to it], but knowledge is easy to him who [being teachable] understands. (Proverbs 14:6) [Message Bible] [Emphasis mine]

God has much to say, especially in Proverbs about the success of those who knowingly attend to wisdom and about the folly and danger of being a self-confident fool.  The job of the Holy Spirit as our Teacher and Guide is often seriously hindered by our unwillingness to, not only listen, but be teachable in our listening.  That old saying concerning the cup being so full that it can hold no more certainly applies here.

Being teachable relies upon the recognition that many of our preconceived and poorly thought out notions probably need changing in the light of what the Word says.  Being teachable accepts the Truth that God’s ways and thoughts are not naturally our ways and thoughts (Isaiah 55:8) and that it is through the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit that we learn the wisdom of God.  Being teachable acknowledges that through our life in the flesh, prior to salvation, we developed habits, attitudes, and “stinking thinking” that must change if we are to correctly reflect and represent our Father. Being teachable avoids pitfalls and failures that might otherwise plague our days.  Being teachable is the heart attitude that walks in the success, the overcoming, and the promised realities of life in the Kingdom of God.  Being teachable is your demonstration to your Abba that in all things you declare that He can be trusted; that He is your All in All!

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Proverbs 14:6

Our Heavenly Credentials

2 Corinthians 5:20 – So we are Christ’s ambassadors.  God making His appeal as it were through us.

Every ambassador is given written authorization to act on behalf of their country.  We too have such authorization and it carries a powerful guarantee.  God lives in us – He acts through us.  We are His representatives. We have been given a powerful mandate – far more powerful than mere man can give to other men.

And that ambassadorship has wide ranging authorization.  “Go into all the world”.  Our authorization, and our obedience to it, poses a great threat to darkness.  Our Father’s great desire to find the lost impels us and threatens Satan’s domain. We are now in the retrieval business!   Wife, mother, student, teacher, lawyer, doctor, business woman, pastor – despite all of these titles, there is one role that takes priority over all others – daughter!  Our heavenly identity not only defines and characterizes every other relationship we take part in, it prioritizes our daily motivation.  God’s daughter; His ambassador to the neighborhood, the work place and the world.  Do you see yourself that way?  Do you open your door in the morning to step out into your day with that kind of vision?  Do your heavenly credentials, your kingdom citizenship, define for you your determined purpose?

In her book Lioness Arising, Lisa Bevere very effectively calls God’s daughters to recognize our role in bringing the light, life, and power of Heaven into the world’s darkness:

“I don’t want to run the risk of you not knowing how crucial and integral your contribution is.  Do you understand what this means?  We are individually and cooperatively writing the story of God’s daughters, a related company of sisters who gather to write their lives well and who make each word, action, and choice count.”  [Emphasis mine]

Every day, every encounter, is either filled with Heaven’s purposes or is a missed opportunity.  It truly is that stark a comparison.  The Word tells us that being a friend of the world is being an enemy to God (James 4:4).   Accommodating worldly  standards, avoiding the inner leading because it might make others, or you, uncomfortable , allowing the business of life to crowd out what the Lord is asking of you, silencing your spirit in favor of your flesh or reason –  all of these pull you further and further away from your true identity and (believe this) your life’s fulfillment. Our calling as God’s daughters is   “that by word and deed we might aim to bring others into harmony with Him” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

There was a very effective poster in circulation several years ago.  On it there was a cruise ship filled with people enjoying all of the luxury and extravagant accommodations that the cruise line had to offer.  They were so involved with their own comforts that they did not notice that all around the ship people were drowning, calling out for help, raising their hands toward those on the ship, begging for rescue.  My sisters, we walk among these people; we shop among, work among, observe, and meet with them every day.  Reconfigure your priorities.  Step into your first and highest calling – God making His appeal through us.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Matthew 28:18-20                Mark 16:15                Ephesians 3:16-20

The Power of Persuasion

How does one persuade the people of the world – those who deny His existence completely, those who seek Him incorrectly (2 Peter 2:1),  or those satisfied with a lukewarm approach to Him (Revelation 3:16) – that there is a life in the Spirit which they are not only missing out on , but which ultimately defines their very reason for being?

You come across these lost souls everywhere, everyday: at your workplace, in your classroom, among your friends and acquaintances, even at your church.  What specifically finds one may not affect another.  For me, in my timid and fearful state, it was the extraordinary, clearly visible, peace and confidence of one particular “ambassador” that awakened my spirit to the possibility of another way to live; stepping out of the reality of my lost state into the reality of God’s love.  There was a still quietness about her, a firm knowing that I wondered at and craved (Isaiah 30:15).

It is the Holy Spirit ministering through each of us, giving the words to speak (Matthew 10:20) that powerfully touches the spirits of others.  As God’s daughters our effectiveness in touching lives for the Gospel has everything to do with our daily relationship with the Holy Spirit.  When we easily recognize His voice and leading, and when we practice quick obedience to His instructions, lives will be powerfully changed.  Our power of persuasion, then, in reality, is God’s power of persuasion.  And yet we are blessed through this by the daily discovery and realization of a fulfilled life. There is no greater joy, no greater satisfaction than this.

Philippians 2:13 [Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire] both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Matthew 10:20               2 Corinthians 5:20

Developing Spiritual Eyes

As God’s daughter, His Word entirely informs your daily perspective, your viewing point.  We look out upon the goings-on in the world; we look out upon our day, our interactions with others and our assessment of circumstances based wholly and without reservation on what the Word proclaims.  It is the arbiter of our words, thoughts and actions. It is the mediator through which we make godly judgments; it is our calm and peaceful decision maker.

We are to train up our daughters and sons in this.  Their full understanding of these foundational truths today avoids pitfalls and sidesteps unnecessary inner conflicts tomorrow.  One of these basic truths regards recognition of the two spiritual families – only two – out of which mankind operates.  We are either children of God or children of the devil. God, the Creator, lost his family through Adam’s sin and regained them again through faith in the sacrifice and resurrection of His Son. Everyone makes the choice to believe and belong to the family of faith whose Father is God, or to reject the truth and belong to the family of rebellion whose father is Satan.  Today’s verses in John 8 and 1 John 3 establish this truth.  Re-read them, underline them, and connect them in your margins. But how does this truth inform our daily lives?

We recognize that everything we encounter has a spiritual component.  We view events in our day from this perspective.  And we train our children in this understanding.  We watch events unfold, on the news and in our lives, based on this spiritual reality.  And we ask the Holy Spirit to give us the words and the wisdom to appreciate the eternal aspects of every encounter.

Raising ambassadors for Christ means equipping them to see correctly; to assess people and situations based on the truths taught in today’s Scripture.  Making godly decisions hinges on their ability to correctly assess the spiritual components of any situation.  Seeing through the lens of scriptural Truth firmly fixes their responses, their decisions, and their future days on God’s ways of doing and being right.  Giving our children the gift of spiritual eyes (2 Kings 6:17) establishes their successful walk through life honoring God, our Father.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

John 8:42, 44              1 John 3:9-10

Foreigners Here On Earth

“Throughout the time of your temporary residence on earth” (1 Peter 1:17)

There are so many aspects of life in the Spirit which help us set our priorities, so many Scriptures which encourage us to attend to our heavenly citizenship, submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and set our spiritual eyes on eternal matters.  Today’s Scriptures, when pondered and accepted in faith, are powerful foundational Words for effective ambassadorship.

Clearly every man and woman understands that they have only temporary residence here on earth (Hebrews 9:27).  But that universal reality is further tempered by the realization of God’s children that even during their temporary residency, they are foreigners whose citizenship and loyalties are directed elsewhere, and, fully realized, that Truth helps us on our way to being “overcomers” and “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).   For as we set our hope “wholly and unchangeably” (1 Peter 1:13) on our true homeland and its standards and responsibilities, we discard, reject, and avoid those aspects of life in the world that would compromise our heavenly citizenship being played out for a time on planet earth!

Through time in the Word, time alone with God, and practice in our obedience to Holy Spirit leading and teaching, the reality of our homeland imprints itself on our own spirits.  Eternal realities supersede anything that life here tries to throw our way.  What our senses take in our spirits interpret according to Heaven’s standards.  We speak a language whose etymological foundation is God’s Word and move mountains constructed of mere worldly matter!  We speak of things that “be not as though they were” and experience manifestation! (Mark 11:23-24)  We accommodate in our understanding the realm of the seen and the unseen.  We operate from the vantage point of viewing any inconvenience as “temporal, fleeting, and passing away” (2 Corinthians 4:18) and base our very existence on the eternal Word of God.  We are a “royal race” (Revelation 1:6, 5:10), whose allegiance, full attention, and primary focus is directed to our God and King.

I remember reading the story of a missionary who was traveling back to America after many long years serving God on the missionary field.  On the same ship with him was a famous movie star who attracted much press attention – reporters and photographers surged around him, welcoming him home, throwing out questions and snapping photographs.  “Lord”, the missionary quietly said, “After all of my work for You, it would be nice to come home to such attention.”

“You’re not home yet, son,” the Lord replied.

 

God’s Word on the Subject:

Philippians 3:20              1 Peter 1:13-17