Daily Discovering the Blessing

Archive for the ‘In Christ’ Category

Joy Unspeakable and Full of Glory!

There is a wonderful scene in Anne of Green Gables when young Anne quite dramatically cries out in a fit of self-absorption, “Oh, Marilla, don’t you ever despair?”, and Marilla calmly replies, “To despair is to turn your back on God”.

Despair, hopelessness, and fear find their antidote and are rooted out through praise. As born-again children of God, praise is our joyful response to our Father’s love. It is His command to us over and over throughout the Word, and it is His due-deservedly so! To praise Him is to acknowledge His Kingship in our lives; it magnifies the Truth of His Being, His authority and His loving care; it powerfully establishes God and His loving purposes as the center of your life.

Faith-filled praises to God, our amazed and thankful response to His love and goodness, opens up the door of your heart for the entrance of joy. For how can there not be joy?! Released into His care, trusting His Word, experiencing the “Yes” of God regarding His promises (2 Corinthians 1:20), understanding all that Jesus willingly endured on our behalf, we “exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy” (1 Peter 1:8).

A praising and thankful heart relinquishes concern; it affirms God’s ownership of our lives – every detail of our lives -and it expects God’s faithfulness to His Word and His promises (Romans 4:21, Hebrews 10:23). Not only is a joyful heart the direct result of praise, it is, like salvation, a gift of God to us. Heavenly joy is not something we manufacture; it is not just a happy by-product of praise. We are the blessed recipients of His joy. He made us – He knows how our bodies function. He tells us:

A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing. Proverbs 17:22

The joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold. Nehemiah 8:10

In John 15:1-11 Jesus explains to us the importance of Vine life. He is the Vine, we are the branches. Living vitally connected to Him we bear much fruit, and in so doing we honor our Father. He then completes the teaching with:

I have told you these things that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing. (Verse 11)

For years I mistakenly interpreted this verse as saying that if we remained connected to Him, He would have joy and delight in us; that would make Him happy. In fact He is saying that His joy would transfer into us through our connection with Him. The Message Bible offers:

I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that My joy might be your joy and your joy wholly mature.

In Christ, vitally connected to His power we have His joy. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit within us (Galatians 5:22) As with all other aspects of Kingdom life, it is by faith that we operate in such joy. It is by faith that we understand that the joy of the Lord, “joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:3), the joy of Jesus Himself is within us. It is ours. Allow this Truth to inform your days, your outlook, your every response. It will positively and profoundly color your world!

You will show us the path of life; in Your Presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)

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Quiet Knowing

Peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), “inexpressible and glorious (triumphant and heavenly) joy” (1 Peter 1:8), a calm and well-balanced and undisturbed mind (2 Timothy 1:7), “a gentle and peaceful spirit… not anxious or wrought up”(1 Peter 3:4), that quiet knowing in the heart established in faith “in the knowledge and worship of God” (John 17:12) – our Father’s Word tells us that these are to be the defining characteristics of our daily lives.

Compare and contrast! How many do you know, or have you observed, who daily expend negative energies trying to cope with the world they encounter each day? They speak fear. They ponder concerns and potential problems. Confusion and uncertainty are their constant companions. Or they unwittingly assume that their plans, their path, their assumptions about life are correct, when, of course, without God, dismissing God, they are deceived. They are unknowingly in captivity to the one whose sole purpose is to defeat them – to steal, kill, and destroy their peace, joy, and well-being. and their eternal life with God. (John 10:10) He is a hard taskmaster. We are not unaware of his tactics.

Life in the Spirit, life according to God’s Word, life lived fully in His promises is the antidote to that captivity. It is the fixed, continuous, peaceful eye of the storm which swirls and threatens and blusters around us.

Psalm 62:2 – He only is my Rock and my Salvation, my Defense and my Fortress. I shall not be greatly moved.

There is healing and health here. There is “rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls” here (Matthew 11:29). There is a quiet, sustaining, nourishing knowing that we rest in our Father’s care and provision, that He rules and reigns in our lives, and that our going out and our coming back in (Deuteronomy 28:6) are under the direction of the Holy Spirit (our Friend, Guide, Enabler, Helper, Strengthener and Advocate – John14:26). This quiet knowing absolutely nullifies Satan’s attempts to make inroads into our faith walk.

What informs and fully establishes quiet knowing? Daily time in the Word to discover the Person and the provisions and promises of our Abba. Daily time alone with God – developing that relationship with and understanding of His love, expectations and purposes. Quiet knowing truly has everything to do with knowing God. For when you truly know Who our Abba is, and Who He wants to be in your life – peace prevails.

Stretching Towards the Son

It is an easily observable phenomenon to see plants tipping their stems and leaves towards sunlight. Not easily noticed in outdoor gardens where the sun’s “path” allows plants to daily drink in the life-sustaining chlorophyll creator from all directions, but in potted plants situated on windowsills there is a noticeable bending towards, reaching for, sunlight – thus the advisable rotation of windowsill gardens to avoid lopsided configurations! For plants will not foolishly reach towards darkness!

Nature creates powerful, visual lessons that parallel life in the Spirit. The survival of the plant, the well-being, the flourishing, the purposeful life force within reaches in the direction of light – without which it would cease to thrive, and eventually die. In the same way our spirits must stretch out towards God-light, for that is our sustaining foundation. God, our Creator, fills us with purpose, our true identity, joy that invigorates, peace that sustains, confidence that strengthens, and, most wonderfully, His Holy Spirit. Strange and sad, isn’t it that those made in the image of their Creator so often willfully turn their attention away from their life source and choose instead to regard counterfeit claims for happiness, deceiving paths for spiritual growth, and the darkness and futility of a life lived without God.

Innate within the life of any plant in the physical realm is this automatic phenomenon of stretching in the direction of its life source. There is no deliberation here, no rebellious choice to discover other ways of existing! Plants naturally reach toward the sun – for it is the provider of their ongoing health, their very existence. In permitting free choice, free will, Our Abba added a new dimension to the otherwise natural process of a life force reaching out toward its answer, its fulfillment, its very reason for being. (Ephesians 1:5-6, John 1:12) Men can and do seek other avenues to survive and “succeed”. They plot out other paths to understand and attend to spiritual matters, or they completely renounce the realm of the Spirit and claim that the physical ream is their domain – and then death and darkness!

The natural world is a very effective teacher if we will let it be. Calm and quiet reflection and observation teaches instructive and beneficial spiritual lessons that inform our awareness of Truth. Reaching out toward our life source is the guarantor of our thriving. Turning away from God’s light and love ensures a withering and stunted existence; the inevitable vain pursuit and fruitless endeavor that mark a person’s mistaken placement of personal preferences and opinions above his need for salvation and the Lordship of Jesus. For apart from and unaware of His purposes for His creation we truly miss out on what our life was meant to be.

A Continual Feast

Proverbs 15:15 – … he who has a glad heart has a continual feast.

I have, in previous writings, written a description of the offices of the church I attend. As a teacher at the associated school I would have occasion to walk through that area and was inevitably touched by the atmosphere of peace that prevailed there. Praise music was softly playing, ministry and prayers on behalf of those seeking counsel was taking place – the entire purpose of the office area was to honor and reflect God, and the result was extraordinary, tangible peace.

Your home, your days, can give evidence of this same peace. A peace that speaks the Truth that God is here and in full control, that Jesus, Who is our Peace (Ephesians 2:14), is Lord over your life, and that God’s Holy Spirit establishes our moments in this peace “that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7);  peace that reflects the absolute certainty of new creature status:

…the {previously moral and spiritual condition} has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come.(2 Corinthians 5:17)

Unwavering confidence, unshakeable peace, and a completely altered perspective are the intended outcomes of this “new creature” status. For our new life in Christ is established on “precious and exceedingly great promises” (2 Peter 1:4). Numbers 6:26 defines peace as “tranquility of heart and life continually“. According to our Father, according to His Word, that continual tranquility of heart and life is not only possible, it is our inheritance, our expectation, as His children.

We have a role here. That “peace that passes all understanding” is not automatic. We are to search for, seek eagerly and pursue “peace (harmony, undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions and moral conflicts (1 Peter 3:11). We are to assume, faithfully accept, that this peace is ours. We are to reject outright anything that attempts to destroy that peace and diminish the Truth of our Father’s Word. We are to tune into the Holy Spirit Whose ministry on our behalf produces peace. He always points us to Jesus, the Prince of Peace (John 16:13-14), Who tells us:

Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. {Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.} (John 14:27)

When we “do not let…stop allowing…do not permit” we are choosing God’s life, God’s Truth, and God’s promises to “ garrison and mount guard over our hearts and minds” (Philippians 4:7). We are determining, resolving, that the Word of God overcomes anything that the world, the flesh, and the devil throw our way.

We are God’s family as believers in Christ, the Messiah, who are watching for the soon return of our Lord. Let every moment reflect His Person and His peace. Whatever you are facing this day, because you belong to God, and because He wants to bless you and do you only good – let there be peace.

“Since He may come any day, it is well to be ready every day.” A. J. Hudson

But First There is Love

How does one begin to write about the love of the Father? Not in an analyzing or reporting way; not even in descriptive tones that reveal His character, but in a manner that effectively generates awe and wonder, comfort and the further awakening of a spiritual knowing that creates the true, strong, life-giving relationship He desires for us and we desire with Him.

From Genesis to Revelation our Abba’s love for you is on display. See what His letter of love reveals to you about His love for you. Take each one personally and let each message build within your heart and your outlook today a renewed awareness of how precious you are to Him.

…Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with loving-kindness have I drawn you and continued my faithfulness to you. (Jeremiah 31:3)

It is the character of our Father to comfort and ease Himself as He earnestly remembers and fulfills the covenant He has made with us (Psalm 106:45). He tells us that about Himself to comfort and ease us in our daily lives.

Casting the whole of your care {all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all} on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. (I Peter 5:7)

That Scripture alone is cause for joyful praise and a faith confidence that pleases our Father and ignites your spirit! In tune with the Holy Spirit we stand in faith upon the Truths of Scripture that He brings to our remembrance. (Take care here! We have a role to play. God’s Word is absolute Truth and forever settled (Psalm 119:89). The Holy Spirit can remind, but we must believe.)

You are His beloved child. Your Father is the Blesser of His kids! He blesses you with peace (Psalm 29:11), inward and outward tranquility (Proverbs 3:1-2), prosperity and health (Psalm 35:27, 1 Peter 2:24), watchful care (1 Peter 5:7), guidance for your path and your life’s purpose (Isaiah 30:21), forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14), His marvelous indwelling Holy Spirit ( John 16:13), spiritual tools to defeat the enemy (2Corinthians 10:4-5), and His powerful, alive and active Word (Hebrews 4:12). His love for you and me is the defining standard of our relationship. He died so that we might live in His love (Romans 5:8). We, as children of our Abba were:

…bought with a price {purchased with a preciousness and paid for by Christ}. (1 Corinthians 7:23)

Let each of these Scriptures redefine who you are in your own eyes; let them lift and carry you into the fullness of who you are in Christ. We are so very loved!

See what {an incredible} quality of love the Father has given (shown, bestowed on) us, that we should {be permitted to} be named and called and counted the children of God… (1 John 3:1)

Who Keeps You?

There are levels of maturity in the Spirit. When first born again, when first made aware of the reality of the realm of the Spirit and spiritual things, there is truly the attentive, insatiable inquisitiveness of infancy – so much joyful wonder, so much to learn and to experience. Gradually, the need for obedience to what we are learning {taking in Holy Spirit counsel and teaching, and the admonitions from the Word} becomes a plumb line for us. The resolve to “get it right” according to God’s ways of doing and being right transforms our action and thoughts, and purposeful practice in that obedience ushers in the full and complete manifestation of the promises of God. We learn that God means what He says and says only what He means (Psalm 138:2), that His Word is True – alive and active- (Hebrews 4:12), and that all of His promises to us are “YES” in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Full maturity in the Spirit is quite contrary to the world’s concept of maturity. According to the world’s standards, one is considered a fully mature person when standing on our own, taking full responsibility in life, and being in charge of our own choices and destiny. We are in our own keeping. We pursue our own agenda. Success is marked by individual accomplishment, personal achievement, self-reliance.

But spiritual maturity is quite the opposite. It is the recognition of His Lordship, the willing transfer of authority to the rightful Owner, the relinquishing of personal domain into the care of the One Who truly knows and loves you, and Who has a plan for your life so much more enhanced than anything you could imagine.

Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of) the {action of 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, or dreams}….

Spiritual maturity is the determined realization that we are not our own! We have been “bought with a price {purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own}” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

And how freeing that realization is! Placing yourself daily into His care, leaning the entire weight of you – your personality, your future, your purpose – over on to the One Who knows you best, loves you most, and wants only to do you good and to bless you abundantly – what a paradox! Relinquishing control is the full demonstration of spiritual maturity. There is no better choice to make, no better place to be, than in the loving care of your Abba.

Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ {give yourself up to Him; take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping}… (Acts 16:31)

A Calm and Undisturbed Mind and Heart

Speaking peace to storms (Mark 4:39-40) is a stand that God’s kids should be very comfortable with. Our Lord is our example in this. He spoke peace to a storm “of hurricane proportions” (Mark 4:37 – Amplified)

“Hush now! Be still (muzzled)!” And the wind ceased(sank to rest as if exhausted by its beating) and there was {immediately} a great calm (a perfect peacefulness). (Mark 4:39)

Our great lesson from this story are the next words He spoke to His disciples:

Why are you so timid and fearful? How is it that you have no faith (no firmly relying trust)?

Very often the storms in our lives are in our thoughts and imaginings. There may even be a legitimate storm that you are facing, but again I assert that the battle to overcome it is in your thoughts and your words. Financial issues, health issues, interpersonal relationships, concerns for the future – we ponder, we meditate, we give place in our thinking to negative, even frightening possibilities. We look fully upon the storm giving our full attention to all of its implications and potentially devastating outcomes. Like the disciples in the boat during the storm we cry out, “Do you not care that we are perishing? Help God! Don’t you see my dilemma?”

It would be helpful and powerfully effective if, prior to the arrival of any storm, we established some certainties. Storms will come. Jesus told us that we would encounter “tribulation and trials and distress and frustration” (John 6:33). For there is an enemy who seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). However, He assured us that in Him we “may have {perfect} peace and confidence“, for He has overcome the world!

I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you. (John 16:33 – Amplified)

We chose to either look to the storm or look to the Lord. Looking to the storm indicates faith in the enemy’s ability to defeat you (and diminishes the work our Lord accomplished on your behalf). Looking to the Lord indicates “the leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness” (2 Timothy 1:5 – Amplified)

A continuous trusting gaze toward our heavenly Father is a storm killer. Words (our Father’s Word) spoken out in faith, filled with all the authority of Heaven (Luke 22:29) establishes the calm, peaceful daily walk that is meant to be ours.

…in returning {to Me} and resting {in Me} you shall be saved; in quietness and in {trusting} confidence shall be your strength. (Isaiah 30:15)

A calm and undisturbed mind and heart are the life and health of the body… (Proverbs 14:30)

These are not just trivial greeting card banalities. This is God’s Word concerning what your life is meant to look like in His care. This is the observation post we are meant to occupy. Let the life and the Truth of God’s Word define your daily outlook. You are firmly established in peace. When peace eludes quickly recognize that disharmony and speak God’s alive and active Word into the situation (Hebrews 4:12). Look up some of the Scriptures spoken of here today; preach to yourself, and with authority speak to the storm. For what God has done for us, what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf, defeats every storm.

God’s Word on the subject:

John 14:22 Philippians 4:7 Colossians 3:15

Times of Refreshing

Psalm 23:3 – He refreshes and restores my life (myself). He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him – not for my earning it, but] for His Name’s sake.

Our Father so very often in revealing to us the spiritual truths of His kingdom uses nature and our experiences in this physical world as demonstrators. That which we experience in the natural very effectively translates supernatural realities. Jesus calming the storm with a word (Mark 4:39) informs the Truth that God’s Word, spoken out in faith, will calm any storm that tries to rise up and challenge us. For any issue or event that sets itself up against God’s alive and active Word (Hebrews 4:12) we will demolish (2 Corinthians 10:5). The parable of the sower sowing seed (Mark 4:1-20), which Jesus characterizes as a foundational teaching (Mark 4:13), illustrates the conditions of the heart and the soul that either make the Word of God of little or no effect in a life, or that offer the conditions necessary for it to flourish. The withering of the fig tree at His word (Matthew 21:19), to the complete astonishment of His disciples, was the example in the physical realm of the power of faith. That faith in our Father and His Word is truly a mountain moving force.

Matthew 21:22 – And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive.”

We have, just recently, been treated to another such spiritual lesson from the physical realm. And it was a powerful example in contrasts. The recent stretch of enervating heat we experienced has been followed by several days of quite cool weather. In our home we spent days listlessly sitting in front of many fans or sequestering ourselves for hours at a time in air-conditioned bedrooms. No chores were accomplished and no energy expended. Then, quite abruptly, we were refreshed with cool weather, pleasing breezes, and rain – sweater weather! And the thought that bounced joyfully around in my spirit was, “Days of refreshing”! We lived through stark contrasts – days of debilitating heat compared to days of comfort and refreshing.

God promises just such “times of refreshing” as we look to Him and Him alone. In Christ, those times of refreshing can be a constant benefit. When fear and worry are replaced by peace, when confusion and stress give way to days of certainty abnd trust, when anything that Satan and the world try to throw our way is overcome by our

“leaning the entire human personality on Him in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness” (Colosians 2:5)

then we receive the times of refreshing He so longs for His kids to experience. The recent weather extremes so clearly demonstrated what “times of refreshing” offer us – for we have been translated from the uncomfortable effects of sin and rbellion, doubt and fear, stress and turmoil, into faith-filled days of peace in all areas.

Our gracious Abba says:

So repent (change your mind and purpose); turn around and return [to God], that your sins may be erased (blotted out wiped clean) that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air) may come from the Presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

Purposeful, Resolute Joy

Vine life has some amazing repercussions in a life. The stipulation being that we must make ourselves aware – or be made aware- of all that is ours in Christ.

Recently a friend told me of her brother, a believer, facing a very serious, life-threatening diagnosis. I immediately suggested the book Christ the Healer by F.F. Bosworth as an effective tool, a life preserver really. My friend ordered the book that day and sent it to her brother. She later shared with me that upon hearing my suggestion she knew she had to act on this information – in her spirit she recognized this was not to be put off. She reported that he could not put the book down – that he was “flying high” with the wonderful Gospel message of God’s will for our health and healing found in Bosworth’s book. He was, in fact, joy-filled with what he was learning about this aspect of Vine life.

I often reflect on how frustrated our Father must be at half-lived kingdom lives! This man, my friend’s brother, had been a believer, a Christian, a Christ follower for many years, and yet the powerful Gospel message in Christ the Healer was completely new to him. It re-directed his spirit, overcame misconceptions, and led him out into joy; the joy about Jesus and all that He accomplished on our behalf that we are all meant to daily experience.

When we accommodate depression, illness, anger, resentment, poverty, any sort of brokenness, to the extent that we accommodate we compromise God’s Word and our connection to the Vine – our oneness with Jesus.

When she told me of her brother’s joyful reaction to the book I smiled in remembrance of my similar reaction in discovering Bosworth and the glorious message of Christ the Healer. I too had a negative diagnosis spoken over me long ago. I too was once filled with fear until God’s Word miraculously and forever changed my understanding regarding health and healing. I too could not put the book down! It was truly my life line at that point. It spoke truth to me that I had never known. It quenched my thirst and satisfied my hunger in a life-changing way. Darkness and fear is transformed into light and joy upon the entrance of God’s Word, His eternal promises, into any situation that life and the enemy of God can throw our way.

As His children we honor Him, glorify Him, and represent Him well when every day we:

“…exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy” (1 Peter 1:8)

The joy that we have in Christ is the language of praise. Purposefully and resolutely attend to your joy level! It is such a strong reflection of God in a life.

Divine Protection

The God-begotten are also the God protected.  The evil one can’t lay a hand on them.  We know that we are held firm by God; it’s only the people of the world who continue in the grip of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God – what a gift! – and we are living in the truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimile (1 John 5:18-21). [Message Bible] [Emphasis mine]

In her book God’s Will is Prosperity Gloria Copeland writes:

“If you refuse to give place in your mind and in your words to that which is contrary to God’s Word, Satan’s temptations, tests, and trials cannot influence your affairs. Satan cannot work in your life apart from fear any more than God can work without faith. If you refuse to fear that God’s Word will not work, Satan has nothing to work with…The mind that has not been renewed to the Word of God does not know that it has a choice not to receive what Satan is offering it.  The unrenewed mind does not know that there is an alternative.”

We have read of the divine protection promised in Psalm 91 and Isaiah 54:17.  No weapon that the enemy tries to raise against us will prosper. We speak that out in faith and God watches over that Word to see that it comes to pass.  Gloria Copeland’s words admonish us to “refuse to fear”. Divine protection is ours; it is for our children and all who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God will never fail us; His Word is forever established- It carries us through. In Christ, as a daughter of God, you are the God Protected. Your work is to know that and to believe it.  It is a promise that truly thwarts any and every attempt Satan tries to use to diminish your faith walk.

Many will be reading this and reasoning “easier said than done!”  Fear has been a very real issue in the lives of many born again children of God.  Fear is Satan’s number one tactic because if he can swallow you up with fear then he has succeeded in pulling you away from faith.  You look to his lies and believe them rather than believing God’s Truth, firmly and eternally established and activated by faith in Him.  God is love (1 John 4:16) and:

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror… (1 John 4:18)

Trust in God’s proclaimed, watchful, and affectionate care for you.  Practice His Presence!  Praise Him joyfully for Satan cannot abide heartfelt praise to our Abba. Praise Him because you know His Word is absolutely true. Speak forth the promises of God regarding the overcoming of the tactic of fear in the lives of those He loves.  Dwell on His goodness, His promise to be an ever present help in times of trouble (Psalm 9:9), His power and authority, your God-given authority, and the fact that the one hassling you has had all of his powers brought down to zero!  Take your faith stand in absolute reliance on the goodness and the love of God.  You are the God protected!

 

God’s Word on the subject:

James 4:7              1 John 4:7-21              1 John 5:18-20