Daily Discovering the Blessing

Posts tagged ‘Life in the Spirit’

Psalm 91, Verse Two – (Part One)

I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely and in Him I {confidently} trust!

   Psalm 91 powerfully demonstrates that our covenant with God, while dependent upon certain faith actions on our part, is only and always for our benefit and our ultimate good. Our Abba (Mark 14:35, Galatians 4:6) is a Blesser! He delights in our prosperity and well-being (Psalm 34:10, Psalm 35:27); “affectionately and watchfully” He sees to our safety, our concerns, our every step. (1 Peter 5:7)

The steps of a {good} man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way {and He busies Himself with his every step}.  (Psalm 37:23) {Emphasis mine}

Verses 1 and 2 in Psalm 91 instruct us in our role; the actions we must take to consistently receive covenant blessings. We are to see to it that we dwell, remaining stable and fixed, in His secret place (verse 1), and from our mouth, with our faith talking, we are to speak forth that truth (verse 2).

I will say of the Lord”! Into every circumstance, at the beginning of every day we are to proclaim and rely on our allegiance to the King. We are to speak forth His Lordship. We are to honor Him with our lips “affectionately and gratefully” (Psalm 135:19-20). Our words acknowledge our location in the Spirit. Our spoken word – coming forth from the overflow of a faith-filled heart (Matthew 12:34) – creates for us the reality of our placement in Christ and all that means. God’s spoken Word created all that we see, and as imitators of our Father (Ephesians 5:1) we understand the importance, the significance, and the power of the words we speak as well.

We are creators together with our Father over our future days when we speak forth His Word into every circumstance we encounter.  “I will say of the Lord.”  I will speak to mountains that attempt to stop me! I will speak to symptoms that do not belong in my body! Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, I will command, decide and decree a thing and it will be established for me, and the light of God’s favor will shine upon my path (Job 22:28).  God expects His children, in faith, to speak forth that which He has promised and ordained.  Like parents who are so pleased when their young children begin to speak their language, our Father delights in His children speaking forth His Word when it is accompanied with the faith that says He is honored and trusted.  As we become proficient in the language of the Spirit He is greatly pleased (Hebrews 10:38).

God has established the power of the spoken word – for good or for evil (Proverbs 18:21).  Kenneth Hagin has taught and written:

“Simply having faith will not get you healed, filled with the Spirit, or any of God’s blessings…the Bible teaches that you believe and say something – not just because you believe.”

{We need to be taught, encouraged and trained up in this truth, because it doesn’t come naturally to us.  We have learned throughout our growing up years to report what our physical senses are telling us.  Until we learn otherwise, through strong Gospel teaching and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we will continue to be held captive through the tyranny of our physical senses and the errant words of our mouths.  We cannot speak life and death at the same time and expect positive results. We say “My God will liberally supply and fill to the full my every need” (Philippians 4:19) and then complain that we will never be able to pay all of our bills, or we can’t afford something, or we’ll never get out of debt. We say “God is my Healer” (Exodus 15:26) and then use our mouths (that creative force the Lord has given us) to list all of our troubling symptoms and complain to those who will listen and commiserate with us about how weak and ill we feel.  We say that we have the mind of Christ and the wisdom of God, and then say “I just don’t understand,” or “I am so confused about what to do.” The transforming influence of the Word, The indwelling Holy Spirit, and strong and correct Gospel teaching will cause us to grow up into mountain moving faith!  God has given us every tool we need to be over-comers.}

He is my Refuge and my Fortress“; my Place of Safety, my Stronghold (Proverbs 18:10)

 You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble. You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah (pause, and calmly think of that)! (Psalm 32:6) {Emphasis mine}

I will say of the Lord that He is my refuge and my fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I {confidently} trust.

I confidently trust in His Word, in His faithfulness to that Word, in what Jesus has accomplished on my behalf.  I confidently trust in His love for me, and I trust and rely on the Truth that as my mouth speaks forth His Word in faith, I will walk in those blessings which I receive as mine. When we say in the face of anything we encounter in our days (any device of the enemy, any worldly or fleshly hurdle) “I have taken refuge in God – I am safe here in God’s fortress” – nothing, nothing can reach you successfully there. Pause, and, in faith, calmly think of that! Faith speaks out those words with “great conviction and absolute certainty” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Let your words today speak of the blessing.  Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in this. Speak out His Word over your day in faith that He sees to the results.

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Psalm 91,Verse 1 – (Part Two)

He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty {Whose power no foe can withstand}.

Now we come upon the promised result.  When we purpose to dwell in His secret place our lives and our future are stable and fixed.  This stability and fixed foundation are ours when our faith is in our God; when we purposefully place ourselves in His care.  He assures us that this is so.  Always be spiritually attuned to the Truth that all Scripture is God speaking to us.

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction… (2 Timothy 3:16)

For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it {to do so – it never came by human impulse} but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:21)

God promises these results as we lean on Him and trust absolutely in His care. Our work is faith in His Word, in the “great and wonderful and intense love” He holds for us (Ephesians 2:4), and in all that Jesus accomplished on our behalf. His work is to see to the fulfillment of His promises. We “shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty”.  In other words, He is your covering, your safe place.

over everything the glory will be a canopy.  It will be a shelter and a shade from the heat of the day and hiding place from the storm and rain.  (Isaiah 4:5-6)

Protected here, no enemy can harm us for there is no foe, no hindering force that can overcome the power of our God.  The Greater One lives in us (1 John 4:4) and sees to our well-being. There will be attempts to unsettle us, but our faith in His covenant promises and His faithfulness to His Word is the overcoming force.

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has delivered from the hand of the adversary.  (Psalm 107:2)

When we dwell in God’s secret place, when our faith holds us there, no enemy can get through His defenses to harm us.  I once heard a preacher speak of this verse in Psalm 107, emphasizing the last word.  “Let the redeemed of the Lord say SO!”  “So, you think you can harm me??”  “So what if disease is going around? It can’t come near me.” So what if a storm is trying to overcome me?  I will not be moved!  I am safe in my Father’s care.” “So what! You can’t intimidate me! You are no match for my Father.  In fact, you have no power here. You have been defeated.”  When you’re saved and you’re secure and you know it, no weapon will prosper against you. (Isaiah 54:17).  That is your heritage, your security, your right as a faith-filled child of God.  And while to many this seems too good to be true, according to the Word of God this place of refuge in His care defines our days.

Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord (and His Presence) shall be my dwelling place. (Psalm 23:6)

Psalm 91 – Introduction (Part Two)

In Gloria Copeland’s book God’s Master Plan for Your Life there is more evidence of God’s watching over His Word to perform it.

“Another amazing example of divine protection came from the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.  Dan and Ann Stratton, pastors of Faith Exchange Fellowship, a church located in an office building across from the World Trade Center, had for 17 years confessed Psalm 91 daily and taught their congregation about the power of confessing this Psalm.  The congregation knew the power of God’s Name and how to believe in and dwell in the secret place of the Most High.

“On the morning of the attack, from the church office, a Faith Exchange Fellowship member could see and hear the second plane hit and feel the concussion of the impact as the tower exploded into flames.  People were falling or jumping from the building.  As he left the church office and went out into the street, the building which housed the church was being hit with debris and large building parts from the Twin Towers.  Its whole front was torn off by the explosion.  The air was so hot, he felt as if he would burn up.  People were screaming.

“When he realized he was walking on body parts in the street, the man was tempted to panic, but the Lord told him not to look to the right or to the left, but straight ahead of him.  When he did what the Lord told him, he said God lifted him up above the street.  He felt like he was in a bubble.  Though debris was flying through the air, and choking clouds of dust, ash, and smoke swirled around him, he was totally protected.  Somehow, the next thing he knew, he was across the river and in New Jersey, unharmed.  When he got home his wife said his shirt was cleaner and whiter than when he had left for work that morning.  Not even the smell of smoke was on him.”

Be bold to stand on God’s Word, and believe that what He promises, He will also fulfill, “for He Who promised is reliable and faithful to His Word” (Hebrews 10:23).  Find out for yourself what God’s promises are to you as a child of His.   You can only appropriate from God’s Word what you know to be in there!  The Lord tells us that His people, not the unbeliever, the mocker or the scorner, but His people, perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). The process of digging into God’s Word for yourself, of holding it as the dearest treasure of your life, will bless you, guide your steps, and save your life

When I discovered the richness and power of Psalm 91, it became a daily ritual to speak it out in faith, in its entirety over my family.  I went through the process of memorizing it, but really, because I spoke it out every morning, the memorization process was not overly challenging.  Its promise of protection from plague, from slander, and from accident; its promise of peaceful dwelling places and long life, so truly reflect what our Father desires for His children.   But we must dwell there.  We must make Him our refuge.  We must set our love upon Him.  With God there is an “if you… then I” clause; the establishment of a covenant relationship.  And the “if you” (our part) is always if you trust Me, if you seek after Me, if you set your heart to understand and obey My ways of doing and being right, if you submit to My Word as your standard, if your faith rests entirely on Me. And every single one of those “if you’s” is always and only for our benefit and blessing.  God said early on in his demonstration of covenant:

I call heaven and earth to witness this day against you that I have set before you life and death, the blessings and the curses; therefore choose life that you and your descendants may live.  (Deuteronomy 30:19) 

I want to caution here a proviso which I heard long ago from my pastor.  When you hear these things, simply parroting them because they work for other people will never do.  Early on in your walk with the Lord, when you are a “baby” in the things of the kingdom, trying out what you hear others say about walking with God may well bring about desired results, and you will see some promises fulfilled.  But even as we expect our children to mature and gradually take on adult responsibilities, so too in the Kingdom walk.  Throughout the Amplified Bible faith is defined as “The leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute faith and confidence.”  (1 Timothy 1:4 is one such example.)  Speaking forth God’s Word effectively eventually requires the understanding that our God will “watch over His Word, and hasten to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12).

And so, daily, I spoke this wonderful Psalm over my family.  One day, my husband arrived home with an amazing story.  He worked at the time as a mail carrier, and in the process of delivering mail on a rural route he had driven into a driveway on a small, narrow country road to deliver a package to the customer’s door.  As he was backing out of the driveway to continue along on his route, he looked down the road to be sure the way was clear.  Looking to his left he saw a small sports car coming in his direction with great speed.  He intended to put his foot on the brake to allow the car to pass but mistakenly placed his foot on the accelerator, which quickly brought him out into the middle of the road.  Not knowing what else to do – the oncoming car was just too close – he braced for impact.   There was no room on or off the road for the car to avoid him. He closed his eyes and hunched down over the steering wheel.  He waited and waited but nothing happened.   No squealing of brakes, no crunching of metal upon metal! Opening his eyes, he looked in the direction from which the car had been coming and saw nothing.  Looking down the road in the opposite direction he saw the car, still speeding, traveling away from him down the road.  Jim said that the only way that could have happened would be that as the car approached his mail vehicle in the middle of the road it dematerialized, drove through his car, and rematerialized on the other side! I said to him, let me show you what I have been praying every morning for us.  He read the entire Psalm and said, “Don’t stop praying that!”

There is “self-fulfilling power” in all of God’s Word to us (Isaiah 61:11).  It is “…alive and full of power {making It active, operative, energizing, and effective}… (Hebrews 4:12}. There is, therefore, creative power in speaking forth God’s Word in faith.  He is faithful to His promises (1 Corinthians 1:9). In the very same way that our Father created this world (Genesis 1) by speaking it forth, we imitate our Creator (Ephesians 5:1) by speaking forth His covenant promises into our lives.  Psalm 91 gives us such a rich and powerful representation of the life our Father means for us to experience.  Let’s “dwell” there for a while and as a result, “really come to know {practically, through experience for ourselves} (Ephesians 3:19) God’s loving provision and protection for His family.

The Inevitability of Seasons – Don’t Despise the Journey – Part Two

As we speak of the seasons in our lives, allow a little instructive side path here! Our Father is the God of revelation knowledge.  Throughout time in His interactions with men He discloses things to come.  In fact, prophetic utterances are necessary to the unfolding of His will. Throughout the Old and New Testaments He communicates with His chosen people concerning things to come through the voices of the prophets.  Through them He speaks His will into being. Without that spoken prophetic word there is no heavenly vision, pronouncement and manifestation. Think of how many prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah fill the books of the Old Testament. This is how God established the operating principles of this world.  Starting in Genesis (“and God said” over and over again) and continuing through the prophets right through Jesus and into the book of Revelation.  Although these words are spoken by Jesus, they could well be spoken by all the prophets: 

This is because I have never spoken on my own authority or of my own accord or as self-appointed, but the Father Who sent Me has Himself given me orders [concerning] what to say and what to do. And I know that His commandment is [means] eternal life.  So whatever I speak I am saying [exactly] what My Father has told Me to say and in accordance with His instructions. (John 12:49-50) 

When a child of God receives revelation knowledge about things to come in their lives that is not necessarily the moment to rush out and try to accomplish it. The Holy Spirit may be speaking of five seasons down the road on your path.  How many stories have been told along these lines!  The wisdom of people who waited on God’s perfect timing is an example for all of us, and the foolishness of those who ran out ahead of schedule in an effort to accomplish what they heard is a cautionary tale. When God reveals future seasons to you it is the time to cherish it in your heart, speak of it to your Father, ask the Holy Spirit for the steps to take (if any at this time).  It is the time to use your words of faith to speak forth the vision – to trust His timing and obey each leading as they come; to take the steps He tells you to take when He tells you to take them.  That is honoring the seasons He has established for your life.

As I have related previously, when I was serving God as Headmaster of a Christian school I received just such revelation knowledge a year in advance.  It became clear to me through times of prayer that I was to step away from that position – that particular season was coming to an end. I sensed in my spirit that there was a new and different direction I was to take.  Had I submitted my resignation the moment that I heard his, I would have been running ahead of God’s purposes.  I would have been out of His will.  I would have been rushing the season. That which He showed me did eventually come to pass, in His time and at the right season.

Correctly discerning the times and seasons of our lives is not a difficult assignment or an overly challenging ability.  Relinquished into His care, trusting in His leading, and acknowledging that God’s plans and purposes for you are so much better than anything you could come up with by yourself is the proper vantage point.  It is that attitude of trust and faith that greatly pleases our Father (Hebrews 10:38). There is a peace about the seasons of our lives when that understanding is in evidence through our words, our actions, and our gratitude to the One Who knows us best and loves us with a “great and wonderful and intense love” (Ephesians 2:4).

{Excerpt from the upcoming book Mornings in the Garden}

Him We Preach

Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God) that we may present every person mature (full-grown, fully initiated, complete, and perfect) in Christ  (the Anointed One).  (Colossians 1:28)

Him we preach! Truly, that is our daily calling – our mandate. In our activities and interactions, our words , our demeanor – we are to preach Jesus. As born again children of God, it is our reason for being (Ephesians 1:12).  We preach outwardly, but also inwardly.  Scripture tells us that the word of our testimony is an overcoming force (Revelation 12:11).   Our words reach out to speak to others of His love and the reality of spiritual things.  We exhort, encourage, proclaim – yes, we even warn.  The same holds true as we preach inwardly as well.

Him we preach as we oversee the maturing of our own spirits; as we determine to live in, and be defined by, His Word.  When we rise to face the events and challenges of the day, we are successful when we do so from the vantage point of recognizing that we are not in charge.  We were “bought with a price {purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own} (1 Corinthians 6:20, 1 Corinthians 7:23).  We are representatives, ambassadors, of God’s kingdomministers of the Gospel (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). Our life’s purpose is to glorify our Lord, and without Him, without fully leaning on and relying on Him, we can do no good thing (John 15:4-5).  And so, Him we preach inwardly as we establish priorities according to His standards, obey Holy Spirit guidance, prayerfully consider life choices, and practice His Presence.  When we:

…work out (cultivate, carry out to the goal, and fully complete) {our} own salvation with reverence and awe and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ}.  (Philippians 2:12)

we warn and admonish ourselves into maturity, into a “full-grown, fully initiated, complete and perfect” stand in Jesus.

Him we preach inwardly as we honor and love each other in order to please and obey our Father; as we determine to attend to the Holy Spirit within; to align our thoughts with God’s thoughts; to look out on this world, this day, through the authority and Truth of the Word, only; to see ourselves through the mirror of the Word (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Him we preach to ourselves as we establish His Truth only in every area of our lives – our health, our finances, our decision making, the raising up of our children, our spirit’s maturity.  Every moment of every day we are spiritual beings encountering challenges to our authority (Matthew 28:18, Luke 22:29) and our determination to get it right according to God’s standards (Matthew 6:33). Released into Holy Spirit care, firmly attached to the Vine (Matthew 15:1), casting every care (1 Peter 5:7), and living carefree before our Father, is to be our constant dwelling place:

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. (1 Peter 5:7)

We preach ourselves into obedience and constant heart peace. Our Father instructs us to allow that peace to rule as umpire in our hearts, being the balm through which we settle all of life’s issues and questions (Colossians 3:15). We need to immediately recognize when that peace is being compromised; when we have stepped away from its influence. Pursue peace (1 Peter 3:11).  It is in that peaceful place that we effectively hear Spirit guidance and honor our Father – there is where faith prevails and our effective witness to the world and to ourselves is accomplished.

Him we preach!

 

The God-Fashioned Life

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), {fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs}, but be transformed (changed) by the {entire} renewal of your mind {by its new ideals and its new attitudes}, so that you may prove {for yourselves} what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect {in His sight for you}. (Romans 12:2)

One often encounters a poverty of faith among believers gathered together in His name; gathered together to study God’s Word and purportedly to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the Gospel; gathered together to encourage and edify and exhort each other in faith. Their spoken words often negate God’s Word as they reference illnesses and an inability to truly know God and His ways. One dear sister in Christ, when asked to identify someone who was a great spiritual example in her life spoke of a friend who calmly and peacefully glorified God in her life through a severe illness that He had seen fit to put on her. Those listening nodded wisely, commiserating with an all too familiar situation!
The opening two verses of Romans 12 exhort us to dedicate our lives to God – our bodies and our minds. We are a family of faith. Our every moment, our every thought, our very identity given over to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. What our Father says in His Word is our plumb line in life. His Word and His promises usher us into kingdom living.
When He says “I Am the Lord Who heals you” (Genesis 15:26), when Jesus says, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) as He “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38), when we fully understand that what God has promised He will do (Hebrews 10:23) through the application of our faith to the Truth of His Word, and that “there is no respect of persons (no partiality) with Him” (Ephesians 6:9) – what He has done for one we can expect He will do for us – then health and healing belong to us!
When our Father says that “He delights in the prosperity of His servant” (Psalm 35:27), when He teaches that to sow generously is also to reap generously (2 Corinthians 6:9), when His ways of doing and being right teach us to prosper and be successful in all that we do (Joshua 1:8), we are to take Him at His word. Unbelief mocks prosperity. Faith believes it, speaks it and receives it with joy!
The words we speak either activate or nullify the promises of God in our lives. We are made in His image, He spoke this world into being and we speak our tomorrows into existence. It is either our faith or our doubt and unbelief that fashions our future days.

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)

In Hebrews 4:2 Paul identifies the cause of a powerless Gospel.

The message they heard did not benefit them, because it was not mixed with faith (with the leaning of the entire personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom and goodness)… (emphasis mine)

Romans 10:2 carries a similar message:

I bear them witness that they have a certain zeal and enthusiasm for God, but it is not enlightened and according to {correct and vital} knowledge.

They are impressively energized concerning God – but they are doing everything backward. (Message Bible version)

Don’t speak what you see in front of you – what your physical eyes observe or what your physical body feels. Speak God’s Word, His promises concerning you. Don’t allow the natural to take precedence over the supernatural. For as a born again child of God, filled with the Holy Spirit and eternity minded – you are to be well-versed in the supernatural. A God-fashioned life is fueled by and focused on His Word to us. That Word transforms us. It re-creates us into the likeness of His Son, and it greatly pleases our Father that we trust in and rely on that Word for our every need in life (Hebrews 10:38). It establishes us in peace and under girds our every step.

Take on an entirely new way of life – a God-fashioned life – a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces His character in you. (Ephesians 4:22-24 –Message Bible)

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (Romans 12: 1-2 – Message Bible)

The Practiced Life

These are challenging days for the maintaining of Gospel peace, and the practice of, and commitment to, walking in righteousness. The resolve to “get it right” before God is a daily, hourly, sometimes moment-by-moment attention to His ways of doing and being right – never our own notions, personal feelings and sensibilities, or emotional responses to issues and current events.

I’m sure this has been the case throughout history. Every generation must contend with Satan’s efforts to distract focus, diminish effectiveness, and destroy peace. There is nothing complicated about the antidote to all this. And yet the simplicity of it eludes many. Obey God. Trust and rely on His Word. Attend to the daily guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit of God Who lives within you if you have been born again (John 3:5-7; 1 Corinthians 3:16) is our daily Teacher, Counselor, and Helper (John 16:13-15). He points out for us areas that need fixing – areas in which we are falling short of the glory of God. Jesus taught us:

…He {the Spirit} will take the things that are Mine, and will reveal (declare, disclose, transmit) it to you. (John 16:15)

The ministry of the Holy Spirit helps us “get it right” before God.

Of late, I have found myself becoming more and more agitated, irritated, and judgmental about the state of American politics. It is so easy to get caught up in the world’s turmoil. (I am reminded here of Smith Wigglesworth, English evangelist, who invited a visitor into his home but insisted that the newspaper the visitor was carrying remain outside!) This process even catches up members of the family of faith as we either condemn or justify the words and actions of our leaders.

Factions and divisions are a part of the human condition. In the first chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul speaks of such dissensions entering into and disturbing the spiritual well-being of the church at Corinth. If these tactics of the enemy can trouble Spirit filled believers, he can succeed in directing us away from God’s expectations, His commands.

This is My commandment: that you love one another {just} as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

And so, because I was incorrectly attending to current worldly affairs, because it was disturbing my peace, because I fell into practicing the judgment of many, and vigorously reviled and denounced those I disagreed with, the Friend, the Counselor, my Advocate intervened! God’s Word is “alive, operative, energizing and effective…exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12) And God’s alive and active Word in Luke 6 “exposed and judged” that which was hindering my peace. Reading verses 27-37 , I was clearly expected to repent, relinquish, and readjust. Here were my instructions in righteousness:

– whatever you want men to do for you, you must do exactly that for them (verse 31)
– love your enemies, act nobly toward those who hate you; pray for them (verses 27-28)
– be like God Who is “ kind and charitable and good to the ungrateful and the selfish and wicked” (verse 35)
– JUDGE NOT and you will not be judged (verse 37)

These instructions from the Head of the Church are undeniable. This is how He expects us to think and act. Add to that the admonition to pray for those in authority (1 Timothy 2:1) and the caution to us concerning the tongue in James 3:9-10:

With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men who were made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come forth blessing and cursing. These things, my brethren, ought not to be so.

Faith in God’s Word is demonstrated through unconditional obedience. As the Holy Spirit illuminates Scripture for our attention, there must be a willingness to give it first place in our hearts and our corresponding actions. We cannot call Jesus Lord is we do not put into practice what He tells us. (Luke 6:46). It is always only for our benefit. It is where peace lives.

Obedience Releases Blessings

Your level of true success in life, which ultimately means your level of success in serving God, is directly related to how you regard the realities of the spiritual realm; how your daily heart knowledge informs your head knowledge that the realm of the Spirit – God’s domain – not only exists, but that it instructs and determines our physical reality. The unseen directly effects that which we see. When that understanding guides us, then and only then are we in full kingdom “rhythm”. While there are many choices we could make in life, many paths we could walk down, many goals we could pursue, there is only one path that holds and releases all the blessings that are ours in Jesus (Ephesians 1:3). Those blessings, those promises God has made with His covenant people, are not automatically released with the new birth. They are received through our faith in the reality and the authority of the heavenly realm.

I have heard many cautionary stories of brothers and sisters in Christ who have veered off their “appointed course” (Hebrews 12:1) – those who willfully disobeyed the leading of the Spirit; those who received promising prophetic utterance over their life and ministry which was never fulfilled; those who let the stumbling block of idolatry {and that manifests itself in so many forms, but simply put, it refers to holding anything or anyone as more important than God} overcome their first love (Revelation 2:4). But each and every one of these failures, these falling-short-of-glory-stories, can be simply diagnosed as not requiring God as their “first and vital necessity” (1 Chronicles 28:9).

Obedience requires first listening to the Spirit and then acting on what we are told. Careful and correct listening requires the resolve to spend time with God. The determination to spend time alone with God requires the acceptance, the acknowledgment, that GOD IS, and that He is my first need in life.

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come {near} to God must {necessarily} believe that God exists and that He rewards those who {earnestly and diligently} seek Him {out}. (Hebrews 11:6)

When you “search diligently for Him and regard Him as the foremost necessity of your life” (Zephaniah 2:3), when that heart resolve defines us, then obedience to His Word and to His guidance becomes our very reason for being and our vantage point. And when we know that our hearts are right before God in this way, our faith in our Father’s Word, unhindered by doubt and self-condemnation, receives the promise (Hebrews 10:35-36).

Physical beings walking around in this physical world, strongly influenced by the tyranny of our physical senses, need mind renewal (Romans 12:2) and spiritual rebirth (John 3:3) to overcome the influence of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Knowing this, our Creator gave to mankind the life of Jesus to imitate, the teachings of Jesus to obey, and the Gift of the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the realities of His kingdom. True faith receives this new way of seeing what life is actually all about, submits in love and trust to His Word, yields to and obeys the Spirit’s guidance and walks in full manifestation of His promised blessings. Only God living in us could accomplish such a transformation (John 14:23; John 17:21). Daily experiencing this world through the eyes of the Spirit instructs us in the reality of the spiritual realm. Released into His care, relinquishing any personal notions of what we think should be, in order to honor and seek His plans and purposes, is our daily calling. Anything short of that compromises God’s plan for our lives.

Obedience to all of these truths ushers in the blessings of God – all that His Word says is ours. And they are extraordinary blessings. Life lived in the Spirit, yielded to the Spirit, is filled with our Abba’s watchful and tender care and all of the blessings He says are ours in Jesus.

Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians3:20-21)

Behold What Manner of Love…

When my son Gary was young – 4 or 5 years old – he had a best friend whose mother would very often say to him, “What does it feel like to be you and be so loved?” Wonderful words for a child to hear! Children flourish and thrive and become their very best selves when in their hearts they understand the truth of how very loved they are.

The Holy Spirit has been impressing upon me how vitally important it is to meditate on, and to own as truth, how loved I am by God. No past experiences, no human inadequacies, no self-judgment, no tactics of the enemy can diminish or call into question God’s love for me. If and when every moment of the day is steeped in that knowing, peace and absolute trust and rejoicing prevail and define our character, our interactions, and our faith walk. And we become our very best selves in Jesus.

Our spirits need to feed on:

But God – so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us……(Ephesians 2:1)

…I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Colossians 2:20)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should become children of God. (1 John 2:1)
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…The love God cherishes for us. God is love…We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:16,19)

…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)

Our deep and intimate knowledge of Him comes not only from careful time in the Word, which is the revealed will of God and a revelation of His character, but also from the indwelling Holy Spirit informing our heart attitude concerning its acceptance of and expression of Scripture’s absolute reality. Heart perceptions profoundly fashion our walk of faith. What we understand our Father to be ultimately directs our steps.

It is our faith in His goodness and faithfulness to His Word (His promises to us) that pleases our Father (Romans 10:38). Galatians 5:6 teaches us that our faith walk – our trust in God – is “activated and energized and expressed and working through love“. Our love for God is our expression of thanksgiving and gratitude for His love for us (1 John 4). When we truly understand and, when our hearts in childlike trust, receive the wonderful, affirming eternal Truth that our Creator deeply loves us affectionately and watchfully (1 Peter 5:7) there is no place in our thoughts for fear or anxiety or concern. And that love is not just for the Body of Christ as a whole. It is for us individually.

God expects faith from His children, but first He pours out and surrounds us with His love. We are to submit and be obedient to His will and leading, but first He assures us of His wonderful care. Many times throughout each day pause and consider how greatly you are loved by God. For truly you have never lived an unloved day in your life. Think back over all of your past days – the mistakes, the worries, the willful and sometimes self-involved actions. God was there loving you all along.

I pray God’s Words to you:

{That you may really come} to know {practically, through experience for yourselves} the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge {without experience}. (Ephesians 3:19)

“Oh, if only I had known God’s plan in its fullness. I might never have had a tear in my life. God is so abundant, so full of love and mercy; there is no lack to those who trust in Him.”
Smith Wigglesworth

Daily Renewal – Part Four

A third misrepresentation of the Gospel message quite prevalent in the Church is the practice of speaking in tongues. Since Pentecost and the days of the “early” church – as seen in the book of Acts – the gift of tongues has been clearly linked with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And yet so many born again children of God are attempting their faith walk – this life in the Spirit – without this powerful “tool”. It has been explained away as only a phenomenon in the early days of the church; it has been shied away from as strange and weird and excessive. As with every other blessing extended to us by our Father, if it is not taught, if it is not consistently heard, there will be no faith established in the lives of believers to receive and practice it (Romans 10:17). And yet praying in the Spirit – speaking with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance – is available to every believer.

We are speaking here about the Body of Christ stepping up into the fullness of what the Bible says is ours in Jesus. When various churches teach and preach a message that downplays, entirely ignores, or even condemns vital aspects of our faith walk, when what God has equipped us with is shunned and misrepresented through incorrect teaching (or no teaching at all) we do not walk fully in the abundant life God has for us. And whenever God’s blessings, His gifts to us, are diminished in any way, we have played right into the hands of the enemy whose ultimate goal is to disprove God and HIs Word. Misrepresentation of our Father’s plans and purposes for His children deserves such strong words.

The practice of speaking in tongues is spoken of throughout the New Testament. We must hold God’s Word to us – His instructions to our spirits – as more dear and more true than information from any other source. When we see it in the Word we must appropriate it for our lives.

In the book of Acts we observe that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was always accompanied with the gift of tongues {Acts 2:4, Acts 8:5-18, Acts 10:45-46, Acts 19:6}. Eight years after Pentecost {Acts 8:5-18}, ten years after Pentecost {Acts 10:45-46|, and twenty years after Pentecost {Acts 19:6} when believers were baptized with the Holy Spirit, the initial evidence of that was speaking with other tongues. As you read these passages, notice that in every instance speaking with tongues was the proof, the convincing demonstration to all, of Holy Spirit baptism and indwelling.

In Mark 16:7 Jesus said:

And these attesting signs will accompany those who believe; in My Name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new languages.

The Young’s Literal Translation, The King James version, and the New International version have Mark 16:17 as “they shall speak with new tongues”.

But what is the purpose of this “new language” in the believer’s prayer life? What is our Father’s loving intention in this? First, we build up and strengthen our faith walk (our spirit).

He who speaks in a strange tongue edifies and improves himself.

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines “edifies” as “to give constant increase in Christian knowledge and a life conformed thereto”. Strong’s Concordance defines “edifies” as “to construct or build up”, which agrees with Jude 20:

But you, beloved, build yourselves up {founded} on your most Holy Faith {made progress, rise like and edifice higher and higher] praying in the Holy Spirit.

How do we know that Paul is referring to speaking in tongues in Jude 20 when he says “praying in the Holy Spirit”? Look at 1 Corinthians 14:14-15 –

For if I pray in an {unknown} tongue, my spirit {by the Holy Spirit within me} prays, but my mind is unproductive {it bears no fruit and helps nobody}. Then what an I to do? I will pray with my spirit {by the Holy Spirit that is within me}, but I will also pray {intelligently} with my mind and understanding.

So there is praying in the Spirit (tongues) and praying in the natural (intelligence).

Kenneth Hagin has written:

“God is a Spirit. When we pray in tongues our spirit is in direct contact with God, Who is a Spirit. We are talking to Him by a divine supernatural means.”

Secondly, the Spirit is helping us pray what He knows we need to be praying about. 1 Corinthians 14:2 says:

For one who speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to man, but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning because in the Holy Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things {not obvious to the understanding}.

Weymouth’s Translation says “he speaks divine secrets“. The Message Bible says “sharing intimacies just between you and Him“.

When in our limited understanding we are unable to pray effectively, the Holy Spirit prays through and for us (Romans 8:26-27). When we yield our tongues to the Holy Spirit we are refreshed in our spirits (Isaiah 28:11-12). We are honoring God’s gift to us and acknowledging the truth of His Word when we submit to the Holy Spirit in this way.

As with every blessing our Father has extended to us, we receive as we act in faith. And our faith gets stronger through attending to the Word of God on the subject. Through hearing and hearing and hearing our spirits are edified and we claim as ours what God has established for our blessing. Ask Him to teach you along these lines, for it is clear through Scripture that our Father’s desire for His children is that we speak with other tongues as the Spirit gives utterance.