Daily Discovering the Blessing

Posts tagged ‘Reflecting God’

A Peace Filled Heart

Psalm 34:4-5- I sought (inquired of) the Lord and required Him {of necessity and on the authority of His Word} and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears.

It is through peace that the Son of God is revealed in your life. A peaceful, quiet, confident spirit is tuned into God’s frequency.

John 14:27 – Peace I leave with you; My {own} peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. 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.} (Emphasis mine)

“Do not permit!” Stop allowing the tactics of the enemy to touch your heart. Recognize his “modus operandi” immediately. Satan’s sole intention is to compromise your walk before God; to sow his negative influences of fear, worry, concern, intimidation; to knock you off balance in your faith walk, and to reduce God’s powerful, alive, and active Word (Hebrews 4:12) to a place of ineffectiveness (Mark 7:13) in your life.

Tuned into Satan’s frequency – he is the god of this world order (2 Corinthians 4:4) – we cannot at the same time tune in and yield to our Father’s Truth. And the enemy is often very subtle in the strategic placement of distraction in our lives. Caught up in (ensnared in) worldly issues – financial, political, familial, social – we are submitting to and yielding to an unsettledness that does not honor God. We – His children! – bicker and argue and waste precious time proclaiming the rightness of our opinions on various issues when we are meant to be “busy with His business” (John 9:4). Let’s follow our Lord’s example in this. When faced with something seemingly insurmountable, the news of a death, He remained unaffected – “overhearing but ignoring” (Mark 5:36).

Our Lord’s instructions in John 14:27 teach us to be persistent in looking to Him – His peace, His constant loving provision, His Word. The steadfast look to Jesus – attentive, expectant, a “steady and absorbing gaze” (Numbers 21:9), considering no other viewpoint (Romans 4:19-21; 2 Corinthians 4:18) – is what pleases our Father (Hebrews 10:38), receives all of the promises (Hebrews 10:35-36), and disables the negative impact of Satan’s tactics. Our thoughts become aligned with His thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5), our words speak only His Word (John 15:7), our days are filled with and focus on Heaven’s purposes, and we flow, unhindered, in Kingdom rhythm.

It is not surprising, living in this present darkness (Ephesians 6:12), that true heart peace can seem to be elusive; carefree living not easy to achieve. I exhort and encourage you this day to place yourself fully, without reservation, in the care and keeping of the Lord (1 Peter 5:7). Look only to our Lord and Master Jesus. Submit only to the indwelling Holy Spirit. Honor God with your joy, reflect Him with your peaceful heart. Jesus gave and bequeathed to us His peace. Purposefully practice it!

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What do You See?

In the first chapter of the book of Jeremiah, the Lord asks His prophet, “What do you see?” (verse 11 and again in verse 13). And as Jeremiah’s words spoke forth what he saw in his spirit, as he gave utterance to the heavenly vision, God’s plans and purposes were established and eventually manifested for the nation of Israel. “What do you see?” It is a question I have heard quite often from the Holy Spirit during recent times of quiet listening. Along with this question I have received continuing instruction in the profound importance of the thought life. The Word of God instructs us over and over about how powerful the thought process is in our lives.

Proverbs 4:23 – Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flows the springs of life.

Proverbs 23:7 – …for as he thinks in his heart so is he.

Luke 6:45 -…for out of the abundance (overflow) of the heart his mouth speaks.

What we see in the Word of God is a picture of who each of us is meant to be – God’s promises and provision for our healthy, prosperous, purposeful lives through faith in our Lord Jesus, and all that He accomplished on our behalf. The Holy Spirit is constantly retraining us to understand and walk in kingdom reality -not worldly reality. Through His guidance, yielded to it, we become the person we see in the Word. What do you see? What we see through our faith in the absolute Truth of God’s Word, and our trust in His faithfulness to His Word (Hebrews 10:23), directly and profoundly informs our thought life. And, in turn, our thoughts inform our words, and our words create our future days (Hebrews 11:3).

Does your thought life assume blessings, well-being, answered prayer? Let there be no poverty of attitude in you- never speak beggar, never allow your words to utter a negative report. Let the Presence of the Holy Spirit in you color every moment with divine audacity! It is what pleases our Father (Hebrews 10:38). God’s constant love reaches out to us, encouraging us to fully own our redemption; to fully and joyfully and confidently receive the extraordinary benefits of our salvation through Jesus Christ.

What do you see? How you see yourself in your heart is the person that you are. That is faith (or lack of it) creating your reality. Your thought life creates your reality – positively or negatively. Thoughts of “less than” in any area of your life are not kingdom thoughts. Your thoughts released into words are a powerful force.

Proverbs 18:21 – Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it {for death or life}.

That is why we are instructed in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to:

…refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the {true} knowledge of God, and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

Step up into a way of approaching and walking through your days that honors God and your placement in Christ. When you see it in the Word, expect it in your life. Treat this with the seriousness it deserves. Whenever and wherever you see something that does not line up and come into agreement with the Word of God, speak to it; speak with authority (Luke 22:29).Capture every thought. Yielded to the Holy Spirit, what we see, what we think, and what we say will bless your days and honor the Lord.

Renewing our Minds

One of the most reassuring, and encouraging aspects of our walk with God is the assertion that “There is no respect of persons (no partiality) with Him”. (Ephesians 6:9) If one is blessed in receiving what is promised then all can be. If one successfully operates in kingdom principles and demonstrates kingdom authority in spiritual matters, then all can. Along with the blood of the Lamb, it is the word of our testimony that causes us to overcome – to walk in victory. When we hear of a person who received a miraculous healing, or much needed provision, or a timely word to correctly and powerfully address their situation, or teaching and guidance from the Holy Spirit which brought wisdom and clarity, or success in spiritual warfare – we can assume that those same blessings can be ours through faith as well. When we share with each other what God is doing in our lives we are encouraging their faith walk and strengthening their practice of “Heavenspeak”.

Revelation 12:11 – We overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony

I say again, the primary intent of the enemy is to disprove God in the lives of nonbelievers and believers alike. He works at leading astray, offering counterfeit worldviews, and sowing misinformation about the One True and only way to get to God. There are two fronts that we are to battle him on – proclaiming Jesus to the world (letting our light shine and our lives reflect spiritual Truths) and daily renewing our minds to kingdom realities.
We become more “fluent” in our Heavenspeak, more effective in the formation of faith-filled words and pronouncements, as we daily renew our minds with our Father’s Word. When we see something in the Word but are not experiencing it in our lives, how do we remedy that? How do we live fully within our rightful place as citizens of His kingdom? How do we fully experience the Truth that it is our Father’s “good pleasure” to give us the kingdom (Luke 12:32) and all that signifies? Our testimony, our speaking forth the Word of God into each and every situation we encounter, and the testimony of others is the overcoming factor. As we hear and learn and faithfully apply we conquer! (Romans 10:17).
In the book of Acts, there were several instances when Paul was about to be flogged as he traveled preaching the Gospel, but as he claimed Roman citizenship he was instead treated with respect. Those in authority were quite concerned that they had overstepped their bounds and had not treated a Roman citizen with the respect due him.

Acts 22:29 – Instantly those who were about to examine and flog him withdrew from him; and the commandant also was frightened, for he realized that {Paul} was a Roman citizen and he had put him in chains.

Paul knew his rights as a citizen of Rome. All of the world at that time understood the value of Roman citizenship .As a matter of fact, the commandant who had arrested Paul said that he had purchased Roman citizenship as a valuable investment for a great price. (Acts 22:28). Paul responded that he was born Roman, and with authority, demanded that he be treated with the respect due a citizen of the Roman Empire. He knew his rights and he insisted upon them!
This is a very effective picture for us as we grow to understand and walk fully in the spiritual counterpart. Paul knew his rights and privileges as a citizen of the Roman Empire, and we are to know and understand our rights and privileges as citizens of the kingdom of God. Those who attempted to silence and harm Paul, to persecute and silence his message, were unable to touch him because of his protective citizenship. He proclaimed and demanded his rights; he stood his ground and insisted that he be escorted from town by the authorities. (Acts 16:37-39). In the very same way we are to stand our ground on the rights and privileges of the kingdom. Had Paul remained silent and thought, “Well, this persecution and danger must be God’s will so I will walk through it without complaint. I’ll simply accept it and put up with the problem”, the significance of the lesson of citizenship rights would have been lost to us. There’s a reason it is in the Word of God!
Renewing our minds daily with God’s Word creates extravagant transformation and the understanding and establishment of spiritual authority. I heard first hand a similar story to that of Paul’s claim of citizenship rights which occurred in the life of a more recent believer. Called to help an inmate in a Central American prison, Lester Sumrall, a traveling evangelist, discovered a demon possessed woman behind bars, demonstrating personal physical abuse and emotional turmoil. In His earthly ministry, Jesus encountered similar situations (Matthew 8:28-34, Luke 8:27-35) Sumrall prayed with and for her, commanding the spirits to depart from her. Having cast out the evil spirits, he left her in a restored, peaceful state and traveled back to his hotel. In the middle of the night he was woken abruptly as his bed was being shaken so much it was moving out into the center of the room away from the wall. Through Holy Spirit wisdom he understood immediately that this was demonic activity in retaliation for the miracle that had happened at the prison earlier that day. With authority he said, “In the Name of Jesus I command you to stop this shaking and go!” The bed stopped shaking at his word. A moment later he said, “Wait! Put this bed back where it was and then go” and the bed moved back to its original position against the wall.
This brother in faith, this man of God, understood the authority that is ours in Christ (Matthew 28:18, Luke 22:29, John 16:33, Colossians 2:15). That authority not only brought about the woman’s deliverance, it stopped the enemy’s response to that miracle in its tracks. We please our Father when we daily pick up that mantle of authority and walk through our days establishing His kingdom principles, all that Jesus has won for us, wherever He leads. We are transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2) into those faith-filled children of God who will change their world, and the lives of those they encounter, to the honor and glory of God.

Bubbling Over With Hope!

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing {through the experience of your faith} that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope. (Romans 15:13)

Joy and peace in believing! That is the attitude and character trait that should demonstrate your faith walk. Is there an excitement in you – an expectation concerning your reliance upon the Word of God? The wonder, the awesome promises, the supernatural power and reality of what God has spoken and what Jesus has accomplished for us, once truly realized and relied upon, will create such excitement and expectation. In fact, if you are not excited today, if you are not joyfully expectant, you need to take your faith temperature.

What causes a believer to “exult and thrill with inexpressible and glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy”? (1 Peter 1:8) Trust. Trust in our Father – His character and His Word. For if you truly believe that what He says He means; if you truly believe that everything Jesus came to fulfill and accomplish is yours now; if you allow the Holy Spirit to fully represent our Father in your life – to establish His ways of doing and being right as your standard and plumb line – then joy and expectation and excitement will overtake and overcome spiritual malaise.

Every Word of God is filled with power (Hebrews 4:12); is self-fulfilling (Isaiah 61:11) and watched over by God Himself to be sure it is fulfilled (Jeremiah 1:12). When you know beyond all doubt that God loves you (1 John 4), that He desires to be known trustingly and intimately by you:

But if one loves God truly {with affectionate reverence, prompt obedience, and grateful recognition of His blessing}, he is known by God {recognized as worthy of His intimacy and love, and he is owned by Him}. (1 Corinthians 8:3),

and when you understand the work of the Holy Spirit in teaching kingdom living and expectations; when you cooperate with Him in yielding to His guidance and instructions, then you are walking in a kingdom rhythm whose life force is the exultant joy and expectation that demonstrates absolute faith in Him.
This is faith – in God, in our Lord Jesus, and in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Our Lord constantly taught on the importance of rejoicing, and maintaining peace, and refusing to fear. For because faith is the currency of the kingdom, because it is faith alone that pleases God, anything less than these positive spiritual attributes is the precursor to doubt and unbelief. Joy and expectation are the identifiers of strong faith.
The Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God and reveals them to us – His love, His provision, His watchful care, His expectations and His joy. Allow His ministry and the realities of kingdom life fill you with an expectancy that honors and glorifies our Abba.

Judgment’s Legacy

I would like to revisit the characteristic of a carefree walk before God (May 30th blog entry) with a subject that may seem unrelated but is actually quite instrumental in our successful achievement of carefree living. I am speaking here of the very subtle trap of judging others. This seems especially relevant during this political season in our country when so many find it the natural outcome of a democratic system to mock and condemn those whose politics annoy them.

Jesus taught us, in no uncertain terms, that judgment toward others is extremely harmful to our spiritual well-being – our walk before God. In fact, the mercy of God in our lives is contingent upon our obedience to Him in this area.

If you have anything against anyone forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go) in order that your Father Who is in Heaven may also forgive you your {own} failings and shortcomings and let them drop. (Mark 11:25)

In Matthew 18:21-35 to illustrate the negative end result of judging others, Jesus shares the parable of a king and his attendant. While the king forgave his servant much (the equivalent of 10 million dollars), that servant did not extend the same mercy to his fellow servant. When the master heard of this, in his wrath, he called him “contemptible and wicked” and:

…turned him over to the torturers (the jailers) till he should pay all that he owed. (Matthew 19:34)

Jesus instructs us that this is the standard of God’s kingdom (Matthew 19:23). God will deal in similar fashion to those of us who do not extend forgiveness – who dare to judge and condemn others rather than love and forgive.

Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourself. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you {use to} deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

Through Jesus, our Abba extends to sinful men grace and mercy and forgiveness. When we accept His Son as Savior and Lord all of our indiscretions and rebelliousness are forgiven. That is a vast debt, a heavy weight of sin, which is simply wiped out. We are cleansed through His blood. We are fully and completely and entirely forgiven. Be always aware, grateful and filled with thanksgiving concerning the overwhelming preciousness, the supreme advantage, the undeserved gift from our Father of the blank slate when it comes to our offenses. Our Lord Jesus has taken them for us – we are in right standing with God because of Jesus. We receive mercy instead of judgment, grace instead of punishment.

We, in turn, are to extend that blessing to others. We are to be imitators of our Father in this (Ephesians 5:1).He sacrificed His Son so that we could be restored to His grace. How can we now presume to pass judgment on anyone (James 4:12)? Remember, with the measure you deal out it will be dealt back to you. Is there enough personal pleasure in being able to judge someone’s actions or words that will outweigh sacrificing your right standing with God?

The Lord very often directed our attention to this issue because we fall victim to its trap so easily. We so quickly entangle ourselves through this device of the enemy. God judges; we may not!

Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you {yourselves} may not be judged… (James 5:9)

Satan is the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10); we ought not to be!

Our focus, our kingdom work, as children of God, as citizens of His kingdom, is to demonstrate to the lost, dead citizens of the world what God in a life looks like.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves {his fellowman} is begotten (born) of God and is coming {progressively} to know and understand God {to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him}. (1 John 4:7)

When we love others we “perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him“. When we judge we please only the enemy and opt out of grace and mercy. Judgment has no place in the heart of God’s child. It is the presumptuous, prideful attitude and demonstration that we are “better than”. In Jude 1:9 we see the ultimate argument against anyone expressing judgment against another.

But when {even} the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, judicially argued (disputed) about the body of Moses, he dared not {presume to} bring an abusive condemnation against him, but {simply} said, the Lord rebuke you!

If the archangel Michael dare not condemn Satan, we dare not condemn each other!

Judgment replaces our harmony and peace and carefree walk before God with a prideful arrogance and a disobedience that seriously mars our faith walk. Love for others and a desire for their well-being and salvation will overturn and overcome judgment’s penalties and restore peace.

Our Response Time

Whenever we experience challenges, and we will, our response time reveals the level of faith we are operating in. Our response time is profoundly effected by our purposeful resolve to dwell in our Father’s care (Psalm 91:1). When our hearts hold steadily to the Truth that “He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully” (1 Peter 5:7) our response, to any and all situations, will be immediate and powerful and faith-filled.

In Matthew 14:24-27, Jesus responds to the disciples’ fear:

But instantly He spoke to them, saying Take courage! I AM! Stop being afraid!

Later in Verse 31, when Peter’s initial success in walking on water was compromised and defeated by his fear of the storm, Jesus teaches us all through His words:

O you of little faith, why did you doubt?

In Luke 8:49-50 our Lord again schools us in tis powerful lesson:

… a man from the house of the director of the synagogue came and said {to Jairus}, your daughter is dead; do not weary and trouble the Teacher any further. But Jesus, on hearing this, answered him, Do not be seized with alarm or struck with fear; simply believe {in Me as able to do this}, and she shall be made well.

The implication being that Jairus played a role here. His faith in Jesus, or his fear for his daughter, would impact the result.

Where are you situated? What is your perspective when you encounter unexpected, seemingly negative circumstances? Is there an attentive, expectant, steady and absorbing gaze toward Jesus (Numbers 21: 8-9) or fearful regard of the problem?

John 14:27 – Peace I live with you; My {own} peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. 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}

This is kingdom citizenship 101! This is our Abba instructing us in the life-giving art of overcoming the enemy’s attempts to derail our faith. Love of and trust in God casts out all fear. Fear puts an abrupt cessation to the power of faith in your life. Fear is the enemy’s weapon – it is insidiously evil because it accuses God of lying! Fear (worry, concern, anxiety) in your heart proclaims that God and His Word cannot be relied upon – cannot be trusted.

Over and over again in the Old Testament God expects (requires, commands) trust and reliance on Him from His people. In the book of Ezekiel there is an often repeated phrase:

I am the Lord {the Sovereign Ruler, Who calls forth loyalty and obedient service}.

In the New Testament we are born again – new creations (2 Corinthians 5:7). God lives in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 16:7). He enables us (John 16:13-15) to walk in peace (John 14:27) – a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Our wonderful Abba, our awesome Father, not only instructs us in the correct heart attitude which we must cultivate to receive His blessings, He lives in us (2 Timothy 1:14) as our Enabler to accomplish it.

Be quick to recognize and cast away fear. It is a spirit (2 Timothy 1:7) that hinders and diminishes your faith. Every answer that you need – every healing, every provision, all wisdom and knowledge are in Christ. Let your response time celebrate and honor that truth – with thanksgiving.

Love – The First Cause (Part Two)

Mark 11:25 – And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him and let it drop (leave it, let it go), in order that your Father Who is in Heaven may also forgive you your own failings and shortcomings and let them drop.

Mark 11:25 is an important addendum to Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom reality of answered prayer. In the previous verses He was responding to the disciples’ amazement at the withering of the fig tree. He taught that if we have faith in God constantly, and believe that what we ask will take place, it will be done for us. Faith operating in love; when you ask in faith, be sure you hold no ill feelings toward others- make sure that you are “debt-free” in the area of harboring negative feelings for anyone.

Love is meant to be our identifier as believers – as faith-filled children of God. We are the spiritual offspring of the God of love (1 John 4:16). When our motivation in all things is love we are operating in kingdom rhythm, we are pleasing our Father, we are energizing our faith (Galatians 5:6), we are warding off fear and concern and anxiety(1 John 4:18), and we are strengthening and establishing our spirits.

There is only one commandment in the New Testament. The Old Testament is filled with commandments – the Ten Commandments from God through Moses (Exodus 20:1-17), dietary commandments, laws and regulations concerning sacrifices, holy days, family obligations, etc. God was indicating to His people that He was meant to be pre-eminent in the lives of men; the best and safest place for them to be was in obedience to His commands. In fact, curses (well documented, itemized and realized) would be the result of rebellious hearts.

Deuteronomy 28:47 – Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness of {mind and} heart {in gratitude} for the abundance of all {with which He had blessed you.

And then, in love, because of love, He sent Jesus to us. And Jesus taught us that all of those laws and regulations and commandments could be summed up and successfully accomplished by us if we truly love God and love each other.

Matthew 22:37-40 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect) (Deuteronomy 6:5). This is the great (most important, principle) and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as {you do} yourself (Leviticus 19:18). These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the law and the Prophets.

There is only one commandment throughout the New Testament –

John 14:34 – I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you should love one another {John 15:12; John 15:17; 2 John 1:5-6}

When we walk in love we are walking in His light, we are following after His guiding principle, and in the Light there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin (1 John2:10).

1 Corinthians 8:1 – …Mere knowledge causes people to be puffed up (to bear themselves loftily and be proud) but love (affection and good will and benevolence) edifies and builds up and encourages one to grow (to his full stature).

All throughout the Old Testament God continuously called Israel back to Himself – to follow His commandments for their own benefit and blessing. We, in this new dispensation, are to faithfully resolve to follow God’s commandment to love – Him and each other – for our benefit and blessing. Under the banner of love we have confidence that our daily walk is pleasing to Him. No negative influences can exist in the light of love. We are carefree in love to serve God and each other. He knows our frame so well – He made us! Love is the balm, the healing ointment that relieves and refreshes and eases and recreates us daily (Matthew 11:29) And what a wonderful promise and blessing comes with obedience to the commandment:

John 14:23 – Jesus answered, If a person {really} loves Me, he will keep My Word {obey My teaching}; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him.

Love – The First Cause Part One

1Corinthians 13 is a familiar text known to believers and non-believers alike. It is a well established practice at weddings to read this ode to love, and in so doing, to proclaim its powerful foundational role in the establishment of a successful and long-lasting marriage. And yet love – God’s establishment of the principle of love in our lives – is meant to saturate every aspect of living. Love is,in fact, the most powerful force in the universe.

Because our Father God is the most powerful Force in the universe, and God is love (1 John 4:16). Love created our world – love created us! We are made in His image and in His likeness (Genesis 1:26); “…as He is so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). Love is how we were built to operate. As our Abba’s creation, His children, love is the force that keeps our lives in successful working order.

Anger, judgment, fear, stress, hatred, selfishness all cause physical and emotional distress, sickness and disease. We were not built (created) to accommodate such things. Satan’s tactics have no place in God’s creation. His disruptive devices are deadly to our lives. It is that serious. Like wrong puzzle pieces they simply do not fit into our created bodies. They cause us to break down; they are disabling forces that disrupt, sicken, and eventually kill. We were meant to live, move, and have our being through love (Acts 17:28).

Our Abba, in the Old Testament, called His people Israel back into His care over and over again. To this reluctant, self-involved, rebellious nation He continued to send prophets and teachers to warn and woo them back into His loving care, provision and protection. He knows how we are made. He knows what we need to live and succeed. He knows that we thrive on love; love for Him and for each other, and love for ourselves. Love is the healing balm, the peaceful place; love is our spiritual DNA.

In the New Testament love is central; love is the key. Love caused God to sacrifice His beloved Son for us (John 3:16), and love sent Jesus to the cross (John 15:13; Hebrews 12:2).Love is what activates and energizes faith; faith works through love (Galatians 5:6). Since faith is the currency of God’s kingdom, we need to be sure we are operating in its driving force – love. Love for God and each other keeps us blameless and above reproach before Him ( Ephesians 1:4).Knowing our need for Him, love caused God to live in us in the Person of His Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5) to enable us to succeed in life living for Him.

Ephesians 3:17 – May Christ through your faith {actually} dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love.

When you look out at the world that He created for us, when you look at your neighbors, friends, family, and even strangers, when you look in the mirror – let your first thought, your first inclination, be love. It is the God honoring,
God reflecting, God glorifying response.

1 Corinthians 12:13 – And so faith, hope, love abide…these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The Ever Widening Road

As we get closer and closer to the soon return of our Lord, the chasm between God’s revealed expectations – His standards and His righteousness – and the worldly practices and pursuits, the self-involved presumptions. the delusionary philosophies of lost men grows ever wider. We have watched it happen. We can chart its progress. The litany of choices made, and steps taken, away from God’s standards by individuals as well as nations is startlingly apparent.

Certainly, those outside of His love, His attentive care – the dead ones – stray further and further from His Lordship. They renounce His commandments – His ways of doing and being right – as judgmental; rules that they feel harshly infringe upon their freedom. They are lovers of self (2 Timothy 3:3-4) not God. They encourage each other to further and further sin, falsely labeling their beliefs and misdirection as tolerance toward others, personal freedom, and enlightenment. Scripture teaches us that this is what the last days will look like. (2 Timothy 3:1-4)

We have promises in the Word about this situation:

…When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)

It is that standard – our Father’s plumb line- that we raise up. It is not judgmental, it is revelatory. It is not “harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing” (Matthew 11:30), it is freedom. The light of His Word, His wonderful promises to His children, dispels the darkness through which the people of the world are stumbling. We can only shine a light in that darkness when we stand uncompromisingly on His Truth. Here is that uncrossable line. We offer love; in the image of Christ we explain and extend reconciliation with God – yet His standard always holds.

But the ever widening road of compromise and worldly standards and political correctness has made inroads into the church as well. There have always been counterfeit churches (2 Corinthians 11:12-13; Galatians 2:4-5; 2 Peter 2:1) – Christian in name only – from which the Spirit of the Lord has been banished – those who reject God’s full Truth, who compromise His Word to accommodate the world’s loud, clamoring voice, who bow down to the prevalent anti-Christ spirit in the world today, not God’s Holy Spirit. (Jude 1:18-19) Churches who, with a misguided model of Christian love, embrace an inclusiveness that renders them impotent. They do not put God and His revealed will, purpose and plan first. They accommodate worldly standards and ask our heavenly Father to tag along. If you are a friend of the world, you are not a friend of God. (James 4:4)

Take care. Allow God’s Spirit to instruct – to open up your eyes to the dangers of accommodation – an on ramp to the ever widening road. Establish His Word as your standard and His Holy Spirit as your guide through this minefield. The only way that you will bless and powerfully touch the lost is to stand on His Word of Truth with no compromise.

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.