Daily Discovering the Blessing

Posts tagged ‘Guarding Your Heart’

Godly Defenses

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook an apt description of the times we are living through. She described it as similar to the condition of a frog placed in cold water. As the heat is gradually turned up, as the temperature rises incrementally, the frog does not notice the change and eventually dies from the heat of his surroundings.

Everywhere we look today moral standards, godly standards, are not the norm. On the news, in the political arena, in the entertainment world, and in society at large the people do not keep God and His standards as their plumb line. In fact, just the opposite is the case. God’s standards are derided and deemed close-minded, unfair, and unnecessarily judgmental. We have, small step by small step over the last several decades, moved so far away from God’s ways of doing and being right that the slow, moral decline even potentially captures God’s people. Like the frog in the gradually warming water we can become desensitized and influenced by today’s worldview.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, written around AD 66, Paul gives a thorough and troubling description of what these days we are living through now would look like. The long list of godless behavior in this passage is a true depiction of the world we live in. He closes this description by writing, “Avoid {all} such people. {Turn away from them.}”. In our ministry of reconciliation (2Corinthians 5:18) we are called to interact with the world. The care needed here is to not let the world’s attitude and misconceptions and godless views interact with us!

Our antidote for this worldly encroachment is, praise God, the Holy Spirit, Whose faithful ministry on our behalf sets God’s standards over our daily walk. He is ever vigilant if we are willing to listen and obey. The poisonous worldviews, the blind acceptance of worldly attitudes that characterize the society in which we live and the people and institutions we daily encounter can very effectively compromise our faith stand without His guidance. He is constantly pointing us toward the wisdom and will of God. Very often, what everyone around us accepts as enlightened, politically correct thinking, He counsels otherwise. Jesus said:

He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine, and will reveal (declare. disclose, transmit) it to you. (John 16:14)

We are “peculiarly” His people (Titus 2:14), a “chosen race, a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). We are to be a light (Matthew 5:14), salt (Matthew 5:13), and an example to the people of the world – the dead ones (Matthew 8:22) – of what life is really meant to be, what standards honoring God are meant to be upheld, and what current accepted beliefs and philosophies are disrespectful, disobedient, and dishonoring to our Father.

Diluted and compromised standards weaken our witness and our spirit. Listen carefully, daily, to God’s leading through the Holy Spirit. Be quick to obey that check in your spirit. Let your light so shine! (Matthew 5:16) Let calm confidence define your life choices as you allow the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts and decision making through this end days minefield. In the lives of His children, God’s standards always overcome the attitudes of the world and the enemy’s delusionary tactics.

Clearing Away the Muck

The Holy Spirit surprised me this morning. In my daily time with God I was experiencing a heaviness not easy for me to interpret. It had, in fact, been a recurring and building symptom that had plagued me for many weeks. With little exception I had dutifully attended to the giving over of early morning hours to Bible study and conversation with the Holy Spirit, but the joy, the lively interchange, the rewarding sense of well-being were all missing. It had become an exercise in obedience and diligence but there was no fruit – no sense of life-changing, spirit-strengthening, path-defining joy; no apparent receiving of “His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship” which He earnestly desires for me to experience. (Isaiah 30:18)

That is when I heard the Holy Spirit clearly say “Let’s clear up the muck, for where is the joy? Take inventory with me and lighten the load”. So today Bible study and prayer gave way to allowing the Holy Spirit to shine a light on issues that I had been allowing to accumulate; burdens that I had been gathering one by one which weighed down my spirit. Oh, I had been praying about them, of course. That is what we Christians do. And if we are well-taught in spiritual principles, we find God’s promises in Scripture that apply to those issues and we speak them forth in faith. All of this I had done. But when joy is missing, when the conversation with our Abba is not honest and open and true with a resulting sense that all is well and that a day of wonderful promise stretches ahead of us – something is clogging the pipeline.

The Word tells us that we are not ignorant of the enemy’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11)and that while we may experience “tribulation and trials and distress and frustration” as we walk out and about in this world, Jesus says:

Be of good cheer [take courage, be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. {I have deprived it of its power to harm you and have conquered it for you}. (John 16:33)

Negative issues will try to cling to us and weigh us down. We have been given the remedy. God’s Word, His promises, His covenant with us is the overcoming force. But we must truly give Him each of our concerns, prayers, and petitions – Give them away! Do not share them with Him in conversation and then grab them back. Do not bemoan the passage of time without apparent results – trust your Abba. Your job is faith in Him and in His Word; His job is to accomplish on your behalf.

The Holy Spirit and I made quite a long list of the issues in my life that were robbing me of my birthright- the joy, peace, and well-being that are meant to be mine in Christ. And I am so grateful for His ministry and for how deeply and effectively He knows me, loves me, and leads me on in sweet victory.

…let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, looking away from all that will distract to Jesus.

The Salve of Heaven

In Proverbs 22-23 God tells us that His Word is medicine for all of our flesh. He then commands us to:

…keep and guard your heart with all vigilence and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life.

Maintaining and cultivating peace is a healing salve that will profoundly alter your life. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines salve as “a remedial or soothing influence or agency”.

We can sense when disharmony in any form attempts to interrupt our peace. That continuous peace ( “harmony, undisturbedness from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflicts – 1 Peter 3:11) that is meant to be a defining characteristic and a nurturing force as we grow daily in this walk in the Spirit. We are admonished to search for peace, to seek it eagerly – to pursue it.

Peace in our hearts, in our daily lives, in our interactions with others is an informed choice, based on our knowledge and understanding of God’s Word. And that informed choice is undergirded through practice and experience. For once we have tasted the heart benefits of the peaceful response to any and every situation we might encounter, once we choose peace rather than agitating passions, once we step out on the authority and absolute reliability of God’s Word and “surrender” to trusting in Him unconditionally – we have placed ourselves on the path of eagerly pursuing that continuous state of peace that will nurture us, sustain us, define us, and utterly defeat any attempt by “the world, the flesh, and the devil” to shatter that “heart calm”!

If faith is the currency of the kingdom then peace is its “Amen – so be it”. Peace in our hearts is the acknowledgement that in everything we encounter God is totally in charge and He wants to do us only good (Psalm 86:5; Psalm 145:9). We choose to think peaceful thoughts and positive outcomes, we take part in peaceful interactions, we choose to respond with peace to any temporary (brief, fleeting, and passing away) storm for within that unflustered state we are nurtured, and with our eyes gazing intently on our Abba – His love and His promises- we are teachers to all who witness our joy in the midst of the storm.

When any negative, disruptive influence tries to infect your days, apply the healing salve of Heaven. From the vantage point of a peace-filled heart, every moment is not only do-able, it is a stunning success and an opportunity to apply the beauty of Heaven’s standards to worldly affairs.

God’s Word on the subject:

Isaiah 26:3 Matthew 5:9 Romans 14:17 Colossians 3:15 1 Peter 3:11

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!

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

The Character of Faith

“Faith deeply believes God will do what He says and it subsequently produces words of agreement and actions of obedience. The corresponding words and actions are simply evidence that our heart has laid hold of what God has spoken.  That’s it, plain and simple, yet so hard for so many to grasp.” (John Bevere – Extraordinary, the Life You’re Meant to Live) [Emphasis mine]

Corresponding words and actions.  That’s the character of faith.  The definition is simple, but the carrying through is the ongoing challenge.  Released to the indwelling Spirit, The character of faith is more easily seen in a believer’s life.  Having walked up several rungs on your faith ladder (See April 20), having experienced the goodness and reliability of God’s Word, the ability to walk by faith and not by sight increases (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Ultimately, the Word has been extended to all, the wonders of the Gospel message are given to all, and yet so many do not take on the character of faith – there is no benefit to them because their hearing is not mixed with faith (Hebrews 4:2).

Faith produces a character whose first desire is to please God (Hebrews 10:38). Faith looks on storms and tempests and is never shaken (Matthew 8:26 – and Shakespeare!).  Faith knows that God is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) and that without Him we can do no good thing (John 15:5).

John Bevere’s opening quote lines up with Hebrews 4:2.  Why is it so hard for so many to grasp the character of faith that God not only expects from us but also enables us to accomplish through the Gift of the Holy Spirit, and then blesses us by as we step out into its territory?  Poor teaching on the extraordinary and far reaching implications and blessings of the Gospel message; unwillingness to step away from already established comfort zones, habit patterns and apparent worldly delights; and the tactics and devices of an enemy who wants to keep as many as he possibly can in bondage – these are the prevailing causes which diminish the character of faith in a life.  And how is the character of faith firmly established – time in the Word holding it in your heart and mind as your one true authority,  time spent in God’s Presence, learning to recognize His voice, and continuing to hear strong, uncompromising Gospel teaching.

Let the Word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts. (Colossians 3:16).

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Romans 3:28              Colossians 3:16                Hebrews 4:2

Deeply Planted

When my husband and I purchased our home we planted a hydrangea bush (often symbolically Cape Cod) to commemorate the event.  We chose the planting sight, prepared the hole, enriched the soil and placed the celebratory hydrangea where we could enjoy its beauty and meaning for years to come.  Unfortunately we neglected to pry open the ball of roots to free them up enough to dig deeply down into the nurturing soil.  For several years we were perplexed as to its seeming inability to grow larger, to blossom as we expected, and to demonstrate health and wellbeing.  One early spring day, during a particularly windy March, our commemorative hydrangea was pulled out of its setting and blown halfway across our yard.  It was only then that we discovered that its roots, still in a ball, had never extended out beyond the original configuration it had held when we planted it years ago.  We had not loosed them from their original entangling shape enough for them to dig deeply into the soil and send the necessary nutrients up into the plant.  Confined within that “prison” of root structure, they continued to ineffectively grow into a tight mass of unstabilized strands which were unable to perform their God-created purpose.

Our Lord often used examples from nature to demonstrate Kingdom principles.  This experience with our Hydrangea bush was certainly a living lesson for me about the importance of sending our roots deeply into Him. The roots of our lives can be sent out into many different soils – man-made philosophies and human tradition, intellectualism which lifts up man’s reason as the ultimate authority, fleshly pursuits which blindly revel in the satisfaction of our physical senses, or even spiritual pursuits that willfully reject God’s ways for man.

We are instructed in our  Scriptures today (“God’s Word on the subject”) to send our roots deeply into faith in ChristWe do this.  We establish our root structure in Him – time in God’s Word, feeding on it, meditating on it, allowing it to inform our thoughts and actions, time in prayer, praying in the Spirit as well as in our own understanding; determining ourselves where our roots may and may not go!  Your life firmly established on faith in Christ is your stabilizer; your will and your choices either defeat you or bring you God’s kind of success.  As we cause our roots to be firmly and deeply planted in Him, we come to fullness of life, we are “filled with the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- and reach full spiritual maturity” (Verse 10).  We are taught here that our obedience in this avoids the captivity that many experience.  A correctly created root system easily dismisses:

…vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense) following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding (the teachings of) Christ (the Messiah). (Verse 8).

Send your roots deeply into life in Christ.  Continually build yourself up in Him, “becoming increasingly more confirmed and established” (Verse 7).  Make no mistake about how vitally important this is.

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Proverbs 12:3              Colossians 2:6-10

The Sovereignty of God – Part Two

From the Lord one morning (After I encountered a believer whose response to the apparent dilemma of unanswered prayer was, “God is sovereign.”):

Be ever vigilant about what you are reading, what you are watching, what you are hearing.  So many of My children have been lulled to sleep by an insidious form of religion.  Insidious because they truly believe that they are in faith and honoring Me with their words, their life, and the beliefs that define their walk before Me.   Words that are meant to be honoring, such as “God is sovereign”  relinquish authority; authority which has been given to you to reflect Me, accomplish My purposes upon the earth, invade and conquer the darkness and hopelessness of Satan’s domain. ( Luke 22:29, Mark 16: 15-20)

“Well, God is sovereign”, they say, and lay down the very weapons that I have given to them “for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4).  “Well, God is sovereign”, they say, and in so doing accept the sickness, the poverty, the confusion which their prayer, their stand on My Word (My promises) was meant to address.  “Well, God is sovereign”, they say, when the Truth of My Word is not in evidence in their lives; when they are unable to explain why a prayer seems not to be answered; when it feels easier to accept what they see in front of them than to roll up spiritual sleeves, dig into My Word and with divine expectation, in full reliance on My Holy Spirit “receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised.” (Hebrews 10:36).

God is sovereign in a life that receives His Lordship.  When a person refuses to acknowledge His Lordship or to honor and obey His Word, God is not sovereign in that life.  When a child suffers abuse at the hand of a sinner, when a life is filled with greed, malice, and all kinds of evil intent, God is not sovereign there. When a person chooses to follow after a belief system that ignores Jesus, God is not sovereign there.  God’s Word is sovereign, ultimately.  You will reap what you sow; you will fall into the pit you have dug for others, you will experience all the Bible teaches about the results of sin.  But all of those evils being practiced do not fall under the category of the sovereignty of God – they fall under the biblical teaching of original sin, free will and choice.  Ultimately creation will, in obedience to God, its Creator, fulfill all of His directives.  But the sovereignty of God in a life is a choice He extended to all mankind.

 

Note:  According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the word “sovereign” is not in the Word of God!  The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary definition of “sovereign” is “Supreme in power, possessing supreme dominion, as a sovereign ruler of the universe.  Supreme, superior to all others.  God is the sovereign good of all who love and obey Him.”  This is absolutely true, but it is not an answer to, or a reason for, unanswered prayer.  If we pray according to His Word, His promise is “It will be done for us.”

Deuteronomy 29:29 – The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever…

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Mark 11:22-24              2 Corinthians 10:4-5              Hebrews 10:35-36

 

Getting Too Familiar

The title of today’s entry seems paradoxical, doesn’t it?  How can we get too familiar with God?  Isn’t that what we ought to be striving for – to get as familiar with God as we possibly can?  There is a fine line we are to walk here, which, if honored, will result in the extraordinary blessings and the knowledge of God that our Father desires for us.

The saying “Familiarity breeds contempt” comes into play here.  In the Old Testament, when God was building up, training up, and nurturing the fledgling entity that was the nation of Israel, demonstrated familiarity had dire results.  The ground opened up and swallowed those operating in rebellion – rebellion that stood against the expressed expectations of God and His place of dominion and holiness before them. A plague, serpents, stoning and 40 years roaming about in the wilderness, unable to enter the Promised Land were, primarily, the result of disrespectful familiarity.  Our Father was ever attentive to the raising up of a people that understood His dominion and holiness and honored and revered Him, for ultimately they would be blessed through that.  Those who unwisely diminished His Lordship through willful actions, who did not place Him on the throne, who did not fear and stand in awe of Him reaped the unpleasant and often deadly consequences.

In these blessed days, through what Jesus did on our behalf, we are in a different dispensation.  Disobedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit will not result in being swallowed up by a chasm in the ground.  But there is still a familiarity that we need to avoid. We can get so familiar with our knowledge of the Word of God that, when listening to a sermon or reading His Word on our own, we say in our hearts, “I already know this.  I have heard this before.”  And we tune out, in effect turn away from, God’s fresh and alive Word.  The Holy Spirit may be trying to teach us something new, and in our familiarity, we miss the lesson.

When we avoid daily time set apart to spend with God, listening, praying, meditating on His love and goodness and Lordship we are demonstrating harmful familiarity. “I’m too busy.”  For God!?    So taken up with the demands of the world that God is set aside for the moment!  And because we know Him as a loving God, our Abba, filled with compassion and forgiveness, we relay a message to our hearts that setting our Father and His purposes aside for that day will do no harm. That’s costly familiarity.

We walk in a manner pleasing to our Father when day by day we strive to know Him better; to become intimately acquainted with His Word, His love, His ways of doing and being right, to walk in “comprehension of the full and accurate knowledge of the Son of God” (Ephesians 4:13). Those who know their God will do great and mighty things.  Those who know their God and recognize His voice will feed and guide many.  So you will understand the double-sided exhortation to be sure that you become more and more familiar with God while resolving not to get too familiar!

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Numbers 16              Numbers 21:5-9              Joshua 7

Rebellion’s Legacy

In Isaiah and again in Jeremiah the Lord speaks of the blessing missed, the harmful results of foolish, poor choices, and the self-delusionary aspect of rebellion:

Isaiah 30:15 – For thus says the Lord, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength, But you would not. [Emphasis mine]

Jeremiah 6:16 – Thus says the Lord:  Stand by the roads and look; and ask for the eternal paths, where the good, old way is; then walk in it and you will find rest for your souls.  But they said, We will not walk in it.

We are further told that the iniquity of the fathers will be visited upon their children to the third and fourth generations (Deuteronomy 5:9). There is peace, quietness, trusting confidence, and rest for our souls when we choose God’s way. But the rebellious say, “We will not.  We choose our own way.”  It bears repeating that today’s popular cry of “Question authority” inevitably rejects our Ultimate Authority.  And the generations suffer. An abusive father raises future abusers.  An adulterous parent whose life mocks marriage vows potentially produces future adulterers.  Bigotry reproduces itself through the generations.

Spiritual rebellion is Satan’s ultimate goal and so many fall victim to its snare.  But it doesn’t just produce one lost soul; it enslaves entire families, generations, and cultures.  Refusing God’s way, intentionally sidestepping His established purpose and plan, not only adversely affects the life of the one choosing such rebellion; it sets the trap for others as well.

…they always err and are led astray in their hearts, and they have not perceived or recognized My ways and become progressively better and more experimentally and intimately acquainted with them.  (Hebrews 3:10)

Daily decisions to represent our Father well, to seek Him early for our “marching instructions”, to learn to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit, to dare to speak out what we hear into the lives of those He brings across our path, to discern what is going on in the realm of the Spirit, and to step fully and without reservation into our ambassadorial role interrupts this generational rebellion and sets people on the eternal path, where the good, old way is.  What a responsibility!  What a joyous job description in our Father’s kingdom!

 

God’s Word on the subject:

Deuteronomy 5:9             Isaiah 30:15             Jeremiah 6:16

Matthew 11:29