Daily Discovering the Blessing

Posts tagged ‘“The Vine Life”’

The Salve of Heaven

…salve to put on your eyes that you may see. (Revelation 3:18)

{Salve – an ointment used to promote healing.}

In Proverbs 4:22-24 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 vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flows the springs of life.

How do we keep and guard our hearts? By letting peace rule as umpire!

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always]. (Colossians 3:15)

Maintaining and cultivating peace is a healing salve that will profoundly alter a life. When we look out on the world, and our own lives, from the vantage point of peace, that is the faith stand our Lord expects from His children. Seeing the world from that peaceful place profoundly alters the reality of the moment; it thwarts the enemy’s attempts to compromise the Word of God; it colors the day with the confidence and the beauty and the successful overcoming that characterize God’s highest and best for our lives. The Hebrew word for peace is “Shalom” which means “nothing missing, nothing broken”. Peace is a fruit if the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and a direct result of unbroken connection to the vine. It is also a choice to be obedient and improves and strengthens through practice. Our Lord Jesus is called the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). In Christ we have nothing missing, nothing broken, and that understanding should color our words, our thoughts, and our expectations. In John 14:27 He encourages and admonishes us:

Peace I leave with you. My {own} peace I now give and bequeath 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}.

That peace in Jesus, that peace of Jesus, is ours as we resolve to remain firmly connected to the Vine (John 15:1). Notice that while He has assured us that His peace is ours, that He has given it to us, it is our responsibility to believe it and maintain it. We must always apply that salve of peace to our eyes so that we can see and expect correctly. All of our Father’s Word comes with the proviso that it is ours according to our faith. We are not to allow negative feelings to weaken our connection to Him. In fact, knowing us so well, our Creator instructs us in successful living by showing us where to look and what to see:

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)

We know the Word, we believe the Word, and we assume always that the alive and active Word (Hebrews 4:12) is life and Truth to us. It is faith in the powerful Word of God that runs interference with fear and the associated feelings it dredges up. Imagine a branch on a healthy tree, a tree abounding with life and flourishing. But that particular branch is very concerned that, unlike all of the other firmly connected branches, it will not be taken care of by the life-giving sap coursing through the tree. It is fearful and unsettled, agitated and disturbed that it will not remain safely and firmly connected to the tree’s strength; it does not trust in the tree’s care and is concerned for its very life. Yet the life of the tree is there in the branch, and continues to offer all of its goodness to the branch. What a foolish waste of energy and emotion! For all the branch needs to do is rest in its placement on the tree, assured of the tree’s care and commitment to its branches.

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 (1 Peter 3:11). Truly, all that means is that we are to  take God at His Word and walk in the peace that He has already given to us through the Person of His Son and our Lord.

Peace in our hearts, in our daily lives, in our interactions with others is an informed choice based on the knowledge and understanding of God’s Word (Matthew 5:9). And that informed choice is under girded through practice and experience. For once we have tasted the heart benefit of the peaceful response in 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 peace is its Amen – so be it. Peace in our hearts is the acknowledgement that in everything we encounter as believers, as citizens of the Kingdom, 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 to 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 (Isaiah 26:3).

When any negative disruptive influence tries to infect your days, apply the healing salve of Heaven; the life coursing through the vine. 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.

{After all} the kingdom of God is not a matter of {getting the} food and drink {one likes} , but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and {heart} peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17

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Mornings in the Garden – The Vine Life

Nature shows us the result of a branch whose connection to its tree has been compromised in some way. It hangs lifelessly, its leaves withered or dead; the life force of the tree no longer feeds it. Garden flowers whose stalks have been bent or severed in some way exhibit comparable results. Similarly, lives unconnected or loosely connected to the Vine (John 15:1) exhibit troubling symptoms. Those not connected at all are dead – in the world without God (Ephesians 2:12). Those loosely connected – filled with misconceptions about God and His Word, or permitting the weeds we spoke of previously to remain in their garden – reveal diminished and often bankrupt lives; the promises of God unable to make the difference in their days that He desires for His children. Vine life has some amazing repercussions in a life; the stipulation being that we must make ourselves aware – or be made aware – of all that is ours in Christ.

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

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

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

When she told me of her brother’s joyful reaction to the book I smiled in remembrance of my similar reaction in discovering Bosworth and the glorious message of Christ the Healer. I too had a negative diagnosis spoken over me long ago. I too was once filled with fear until God’s Word miraculously and forever changed my understanding regarding healing and health. Darkness and fear are transformed into light and joy upon the entrance of God’s Word, His eternal promises, into any situation that life and the enemy of God can throw our way. These Genesis moments are a direct result of honoring and believing God’s Word.

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

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

And that life transforming joy is the direct result of daily being purposefully plugged in to the Vine.

We are responsible for maintaining our connection to the Vine (John 15:2-8). As we live in Jesus, as we attend faithfully to His Word, as we allow no compromise with the world to alter our placement in Him, and as we live daily in the faith in God that we are called to, life attached to the Vine becomes a flourishing, vital force that transforms our daily reality, blesses us and those who observe us, and ushers in the promises of God.

Mornings in the Garden – Those Pesky Weeds

Matthew 13:3 – Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them out.

Anyone who seriously tends a garden recognizes the absolute imperative to seek out and destroy weeds! Weeds are aggravating invaders into what otherwise would be a pleasing and gratifying sight – your well-planned, carefully cultivated, and visually soothing creation. Weeds are insidious in their encroachment upon our best laid plans. For serious gardeners, weeding can be a very cathartic experience if they will let it be. If your gardens are extensive, then the weeding aspect of the gardening experience is on your daily to-do list during the growing season.

Chemical solutions – sprays, powder applications, liquid weed killers in a can – offend many gardeners who desire a kinder and gentler approach to their gardens. Pouring, spraying, and sprinkling their way to a weed free existence seems to many, and to me, a harsh and mistaken approach to nature’s challenges. Pouring poison onto your creation to eradicate unwanted visitors somehow alters your relationship with your gardens, otherwise lovingly tended. Bullying your way to beauty somehow reinterprets your garden’s purpose and compromises the effectiveness of your stewardship. The use of these “quick fixes” may seem an easy way to alleviate the problem of weeds and pests, but the potential side effects are a cause for concern in the same way that worldly solutions to life issues which ignore God’s ways of doing and being right (Matthew 6:33) are counterfeit remedies.

Some weeds relinquish their position in the garden easily while others maintain a hold that indicates their intended permanent placement within the floral landscape. Some send their root structure underground and pop up here and there throughout the flower beds, establishing a tunneling system that appears to set up squatter’s rights among the rightful inhabitants of your garden – the plants you chose for that particular plot. Left unaddressed, the presence of weeds in your garden will eventually reduce an otherwise lovely landscape to the appearance of a long neglected and discarded property – uncared for and abandoned.

Left to their own devices they flourish and “choke” the life out of your garden’s vision – they grow out and grab for themselves the benefit of sunshine – they usurp the soil’s nutrients for themselves, robbing the rightful occupants of the garden space, which must now cope with less sun and less goodness from the soil. They “deplete the soil, intercept the sun and take up room” (Luke 13:7). And where once beauty was expected, there is now the dismal and disheartening look of neglect.

It is the garden well-tended, diligently weeded, purposefully, thoughtfully and honorably cultivated that honors the gardener and shows forth the beauty and intended purpose of careful stewardship. For with the guidance of the Holy Spirit we oversee the careful weeding of our own personal plot of land – our walk before the Lord.

It is not only easy, but also instructive to draw parallels between the careful tending of our physical gardens with the careful tending of our spiritual garden. Weeds within our own lives can fall under so many categories – bad habits which have become firmly established, negative worldly attitudes which color our days and our interactions with God and others, generational dysfunction, misconceptions concerning spiritual Truths, and just plain old sin (missing the mark in terms of God’s ways of doing and being right) are but a few. For our purposes of understanding the identification and removal of spiritual weeds, we will define these weeds as anything that hinders our spiritual growth and pleasing walk before God.

The Holy Spirit is there to shine a light upon the weeds in our life’s garden. When we get purposeful about our relationship with Him we can be assured that with His help our walk before God can take on a well-manicured appearance – honoring to Him and a powerful witness to others. He will help rid our garden of the weeds that would hinder spiritual growth.  The ways of the world – the methods and philosophies that promise self-improvement, the programs listing steps to take to achieve various goals, the gurus, teachers, and groups offering the way to enlightenment and success in any area – are poor substitutes for the work of the Holy Spirit and are the spiritual equivalent of the chemical solutions we spoke of earlier! God’s ways and solutions to the weed problem are, if you will allow the extended metaphor, the organic solution. He Who knows us intimately, Who knows our end from our beginning, Who knows our correct path, our giftings and our outcome – is our Master Gardener. To trust His ways and not the world’s ways is to shun anything else that would attempt to pour its artificial sustenance into your life’s garden. The “organic” weed killers which we will be addressing in future posts,  used through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, honor the life and the beauty of God’s most beloved creation – you!

Mornings in the Garden – Introduction

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

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

When I was the headmaster of a Christian school, and prior to that as a teacher in the classroom, quite often I felt the Lord indicate to me that this was my garden to tend. This was my area of stewardship before Him. The lives of the students and teachers in my charge were truly His garden. How I attended to this task was daily informed by that sense of responsibility to the Master Gardener. We all have an area of stewardship, a garden if you will, which we are to till “in the service of God and man” (Genesis 1:28). The manner in which we approach this Truth, the manner in which we set out about our day, either embracing that God-given task or ignoring its call upon our lives, is directly related to our impact upon eternity for many.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matthew 11:29 – Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good – not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant) and My burden is light and easy to be borne. [Emphasis mine]

Kingdom rhythm acknowledges that the work is the Lord’s (Philippians 2:13). We are entirely enabled in our heavenly assignment through the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit Who guides, instructs, counsels, helps, intercedes, and strengthens us (John 16:7) .
Not only did our Father, our Abba (see Romans 8:15), give us our Kingdom assignment, He sent us His Spirit to work through us and accomplish the task! It is the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit Who accomplishes the work. He completes and perfects and makes us what we ought to be and He equips us with everything that we need to carry out God’s will. He works in us to accomplish all of this (Hebrews 13:21). The job of listening and obeying is ours – the work is His. We simply follow where the Master is leading, absolutely trusting that He wants to always do us only good. Kingdom rhythm is unforced and restful. It is, if we will understand and allow it to be, Freedom!

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
(Matthew 11:30 –Message Bible)

So let’s draw some parallels.  The world that we see, that our Abba created for us, teaches great spiritual lessons if we will allow it to.  Early mornings in the garden is how our Lord began each day (Mark 1:35, Luke 4:42, 5:16), taking quiet time aside to pray and to listen to His voice; our Father’s voice. Early mornings in our life’s garden will establish that peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), and the undeniable sense that here is where our life’s purpose lies. The gardens that we tend in the physical have much to say to the gardens that we tend in the Spirit. Let’s let them speak!

The Wonders of Salvation

He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation. (Psalm 91:15-16)

We come to the closing verses of this wonderful Psalm of protection and God’s promises of sheltering and preservation. Over and over throughout His Letter of Love to us it is His stated intention to care for and protect His people (Psalm 15:9. 97:11, Jeremiah 31:3, Luke 19:42, 1 Peter 5:7). The opening phrase, “He shall call upon Me”, is in reference to the ones who have set their love upon Him (verses 9 and 14), those who:

…seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and is righteousness (His ways of doing and being right)… (Matthew 6:33) {Emphasis mine}

We have His assurance that when we are in that position of trust in Him, when our love is set upon our Father, we can rely on and expect His answer when we call out to Him. James 1:5 confirms this promise:

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God {Who gives} to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him.  {Emphasis mine}

It is our absolute faith in this Word from our Father that receives His answers. His covenant promises to us.  Our God has given His Word, He has established this Truth for us to rely on. And our faith in His reliability, His faithfulness to His Word, is the key.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting).  For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and is tossed by the wind.  For truly, let not such a person believe that he will receive anything {he asks for} from the Lord. (James 1:6-7)

God’s Word carries us through troubles safely to the other side. It’s not that born again believers, children of God, won’t experience troubles n this life – challenges, obstacles, the attempts of the enemy to disprove God’s Word.  Jesus said:

I have told you these things so that in Me you may have {perfect} peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration, but be of good cheer {take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted}! For I have overcome the world. {I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.} (John 16:33) {Emphasis mine}

Our faith walk sees those obstacles and challenges as an opportunity for God to show Himself strong on our behalf. Our mindset, our spirit’s rallying cry, must be, “If it doesn’t line up with the Word it may not stand.”  Faith considers Jesus and all He accomplished on our behalf, never the problem confronting us (Romans 4:19-21). For the promise is , “I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him“. {Emphasis mine}

God’s pleasure in the faith of His children (Hebrews 10:38), our absolute trust in His power, wisdom, goodness. and His Word,  is revealed here in verse 16.  He will “honor” you.  In other words, He esteems you, He dignifies you, He treats you as precious and holds you in high regard! Jesus said:

…If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.  (John 12:26)

We are to honor the Father (Psalm 86:11). We are to honor each other (Romans 12:10). We are to treat ourselves with honor ((1 Corinthians 6:19-20), and “live and conduct ourselves honorably” (Romans 13:13). When we walk in that Truth, that awareness, when we reflect our Father in those actions, He tells us that He honors us.

“But wait, there’s more!” Along with all of the blessings and protections of Psalm 91, God will satisfy us with long life and show us His salvation.  The word “salvation” is extraordinarily weighty.  With great wonder and awe, we need to take in its full impact and make it our own.  We need to walk in this knowing every day.

Jesus is our salvation (Romans 1:16).  The original Greek word for salvation in the New Testament is the word “sozo,” which in its full complete definition means heal, preserve, save, make whole, rescue, deliver, protect, make prosperous!  In the Old Testament, salvation in the Hebrew is the word “Yeshuwah” (Jesus!), and means aid, victory, prosperity, health, and welfare.

Being saved through Jesus, experiencing God’s salvation, is not only meant to be the comfort that Heaven is your destination.  It is the assurance of all that the original Greek and Hebrew words signify.  When we truly understand all of the aspects of His salvation covenant, which God desires for each of us, it will powerfully and profoundly affect our daily expectations.

I began this in-depth look at Psalm 91 by sharing that I speak it out daily over every member of my extended family.  It is such revelation about our Father’s heart and character.  I encourage you to stand on these promises and speak them forth over your family every day.

Knowing, Honoring, and Cherishing God

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. (Psalm 91:7) {Part Two}

God does not reveal Himself as wanting to be intimately known if we could not achieve it. He does not, like an unfair, unjust taskmaster, develop a long list of unreasonable requirements which we could never fulfill. That’s Satan’s misrepresentation of Him! Like a loving parent raising up children, our Abba (Mark 14:36; Galatians 4:6) shows us the right path to take, the correct way to think, speak, and act, and the manner in which He is to be known and understood. With extraordinary love He grants to us:

…a spirit of wisdom and revelation {of insight into mysteries and secrets} in the {deep and intimate} knowledge of Him. (Ephesians 1:17)

Because being intimately known, and therefore honored and cherished, by His children is the desire of God’s heart, the enemy has thrown many roadblocks in our way. Satan’s aim is to distort Truth, disrupt progress, and diminish God’s standards and revealed will in our lives. Those who buy into those tactics fall by the wayside- a thousand at our side and ten thousand at our right hand. When you entertain the idea that God is unknowable and unreachable, that we can never truly interact with Him and hold conversation with Him, you are listening to the enemy’s lies and not attending to God’s Word or His Spirit. When we accept the world’s view of the inevitability of troubles to be dealt with, calamities to endure, and sorrows to bear up under, we are not permitting the Word to readjust our thinking and acting. When we explain away Scriptural Truth as “not for today” or really only spiritual concepts not valid in this physical realm, we give away His established blessings and reject the full life Jesus accomplished on our behalf. And we fall victim to unbelief in the integrity and the power of God’s Word.

There are obviously some who are troubling and disturbing and bewildering you {with a different kind of teaching which they offer as a gospel} and want to pervert and distort the Gospel of Christ (the Messiah) {into something which it absolutely is not!} (Galatians 1:7)

From Genesis to Revelation God extends to mankind the Truth that He wants to be known, and known intimately. Through the ministry of the Holy Spirit that ability has been given. Our part in this relationship with our Creator is to seek after Him as our “first and vital necessity” (1 Chronicles 28:9); to give Him, His Word (Jesus), and His Spirit first place in our lives; to cherish Him as our very reason for being; to love His Word as our most precious possession; to daily honor Him with time spent in His Presence (getting to know Him and to recognize His voice); to imitate Him “…and follow His example}, as well-beloved children {imitate their father} (Ephesians 5:1)

Then no false gospel, no teaching contrary to His Word, no thoughts contrary to Gospel Truth will compromise or diminish your faith walk. The blood of Jesus, which won our salvation, and our testimony of our Father’s goodness and loving-kindness will define our days. And while many in your life might fall short of this blessed life in Christ:

A thousand… at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand….

Standing firmly, with resolve and absolute trust and confidence, on God’s Word, that tragic falling short will not come near you.

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!

 

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!

Daily Renewal – Part Two

We continue addressing the vitally important, life-altering practice of speaking God’s Word and His Truth into our days -spiritual realities transforming the physical world. We renew our minds and our situations with the words we resolve to speak.

Keith Moore, pastor and teacher to the Body of Christ shared two powerful stories along these lines. Always remember that when you hear such testimonies- this is the will of God concerning you as well. for He is no respecter of persons and what the Truth of His Word has accomplished in one life it will accomplish for all through faith in His stated Word, His revealed will. (Ephesians 6:9)

A man came to Pastor Moore actually quite hopeless concerning his addiction to nicotine. He said that he had been prayed for many times to be able to stop smoking with no success. He had often thrown away packages of cigarettes only to go in search of them again. Pastor Moore counseled him to say, every time he bought a package of cigarettes, “I don’t need or want to smoke.” Every time he took out a cigarette and lit it up he was to say, “I don’t require nicotine any longer.” In between puffs he was to speak out, “I don’t need cigarettes.” With some surprise the man warily agreed to these instructions. After a few weeks he came up to Pastor Moore amazed and joyful, testifying that one day he went to have a cigarette and simply did not want it anymore. He was free! The words of his mouth changed his outcome.

Pastor Moore also tells of a daughter of God who was extremely ill with stomach cancer. She had been a missionary, teaching and preaching the Word of God in Central America, but was now “bedfast”, reduced to skin and bones. How disease robs us of our vitality and our work and witness for the Lord! This sister in the Lord could keep no food in her stomach; whatever she ate came right back up again. She was so weak she could barely be heard when she spoke. Pastor Moore leaned in close to hear her whisper, “I am so weak I can’t keep any food down.” He heard in his spirit, “Let the weak say I am strong.” (Joel 3:10) He told her to repeat after him, “I am strong in the Lord and in the power of His might”. Slowly at first, very slowly and almost inaudibly she spoke those words. For forty-five minutes he and she spoke those words until her voice could be heard outside by all who passed by, praising God and speaking in faith. Pastor Moore instructed her to say when she tried to eat and couldn’t keep it down, “I have a ravenous appetite. I eat in health and my body receives in health.” He further instructed her never again to say, “I am so weak and I can’t keep any food in my stomach.” Every time she threw up (in other words when visible physical symptoms still seemed to prevail) she was to wipe off her mouth and say, “I eat in health and my body receives in health.” Two or three months later she was up and about the work of the Lord, gaining weight and walking in health.

I too, along with so many others, have experienced a season of physical attack. For truly, that is how we must view such encounters. One brother in Christ has said, “I consider a splinter in my finger as an assassination attempt.” Smith Wigglesworth has said:

If it is only a finger or a tooth that aches, if it is only a corn on your foot that pinches you or anything in the body that detracts from the higher spiritual attainment, the kingdom of Heaven is dethroned to a degree. Disease or weakness or any distraction in you is a power of violence that can take the kingdom of Heaven in you by force. The same spiritual power that will reveal this to you will relieve you. On the authority of the Word of God, I maintain that “greater is He that is in you” (1 John 4:4) than any power of Satan that is around you. How much more would be done if you would inwardly claim your rights and deliver yourselves.” {Smith Wigglesworth Devotional}

For many months an infection requiring surgery kept me unable to walk. I was at first wheel chair bound and spent a month in hospital and at a rehabilitation facility, followed by months at home seated on the couch. During this process I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes. From the very outset of this physical attack I knew two things – God is my Healer and I needed to speak that Truth every day, all day. I listened to healing tapes concerning healing. I read Keith Moore’s book on Healing. Gloria Copeland’s books on healing promises and God’s Will for You, and Bosworth’s Christ the Healer. I fed on God’s Truth concerning healing. I spoke God’s Truth concerning healing. I called my body strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. I spoke to my pancreas – spirit taking authority over flesh – and said, “My pancreas is strong and healthy and it produces just the right amount of insulin for the nutrition I give my body.” I said, “Diabetes is a disease under the curse of the law (Deuteronomy 28:15, 61), but Jesus has redeemed me from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13). I called my circulatory system strong and healthy and my blood pressure normal. I called my immune system strong in the Lord and healthy. In fact, for many weeks I daily went through an inventory of all my body parts and systems- brain, heart, lungs, digestive system, etc. – calling them healthy and exhorting them to perform their functions and to fulfill their purpose the way the Creator God made them to perform.

I came home from the hospital with medication for every physical issue the medical community had discovered. I checked my blood sugar four times each day as instructed and gave myself insulin shots, all the while saying that this was a short lived phenomenon. I checked my blood pressure every day, as instructed (there was a pill for that too). I was given sleeping pills and stomach acid pills and pills for nausea. I had no appetite (all the while calling my appetite strong and healthy) and often gagged and threw up due to the regimen of pills and the toll the infection had exacted from my physical well-being. I called my digestive system a healthy receiver of good food.

When I truly just wanted to share with others how awful I was feeling – weak, nauseous, and yes, sometimes discouraged –I spoke only what the Word says about me instead. I remembered a similar testimony from Barbara Arbo, a sister in Christ whose prayer ministry at The Sanctuary – a New England place of prayer in New Hampshire that is such a blessing to the Body of Christ. Barbara says that when well-meaning friends asked her how she was feeling after a serious and painful injury, her answer was always “I am getting better and better and stronger and stronger every day.” That became my mantra as well. Every day I spoke praises to God for His love and goodness to me and for the reality of and the manifestation of my full healing. When I weakened in this – and I did – my wonderful faith-filled daughter encouraged and exhorted me to stand on His promises only.

One by one, every issue and the associated medication for that issue was gone. My appetite is no longer compromised, no blood pressure medication is needed; no insulin is needed for my blood sugar levels are within normal range. I am the healed of the Lord!

Jesus said, “Take no thought” about physical issues. (Matthew 6:25). Consider not (Romans 4:19) the concerns and limitations and hindrances of the flesh. Speak only what God speaks about you.

When the church does not teach these Truths, the Body of Christ suffers and is weakened. We must encourage each other into mountain moving faith. We must exhort each other to “have faith in God constantly”. We must give each other firm footing in all of the promises of God. Take great care with what you are hearing and speaking.

And He said to them, “Be careful what you are hearing. The measure {of thought and study} you give {to the truth you hear} will be the measure {of virtue and knowledge} that comes back to you – and more {besides} will be given to you who hear. (Mark 4:24)

Vitally United

In Isaiah 28 we are told what causes times of true refreshing. It is our full and complete reliance on the Lord – not on our own abilities and understanding (Proverbs 3:5), not on the teachings and traditions and doctrines of scholars and religion (Isaiah 28:13; Mark 7:13; Colossians 2:8), not on what those in the world around us accept and expect (Mark 7:7). Our Father, our Creator, encourages our absolute reliance upon Him throughout Scripture and condemns the half-hearted, lukewarm (Revelation 3:16), and even dismissive approach to Him ; keeping Him at a distance in the guise of reverence and the mistaken sense that we can never truly know Him.

Isaiah 29:13 – And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips but remove their hearts and minds far from Me, and their fear and reverence for Me are a commandment of men that is learned by repetition {without any thought as to the meaning}

Success is life submitted to the purposes and plans of our Creator. Worshipping our Father in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) means that we are vitally united to Him.

John 15:4-5 – …neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me…apart from Me {cut off from vital union with Me} you can do nothing.

Nothing! Without His guidance, without our absolute submission to His Word and His Spirit, we do nothing of lasting, eternal, God-pleasing value. It is God in us Who works to:

Strengthen (complete, perfect) and make you what you ought to be and equip you with everything good that you may carry out His will {while He Himself} works in you and accomplishes that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ… (Hebrews 13:21)

Jesus is our example in this when He said:

I have glorified You down here on the earth by completing the work that You gave for Me to do. (John 17:4)

We glorify our Father when we submit, listen carefully, and truly pay attention daily to His leading, so that we too can complete the work that He has for us to do. The Holy Spirit has teaching and instructions, guidance and strengthening for us every day. He will, if we will carefully attend, help us build a character pleasing to our Father, witness to those who need Heaven’s touch, establish our own unique ministry to the world, and daily give evidence to the peace and joy that are ours in Jesus (John 14:27; John 15:11).

In Acts 9, God calls on Ananias,a disciple in Damascus, to go lay hands on Paul that He would regain his sight. At first Ananias is very concerned about approaching Paul for he knew of Paul’s reputation in severely persecuting Christians. But on God’s leading, at His command, Ananias obeyed. Smith Wigglesworth says of him:

“Ananias…lived in a place where God could talk to him. His ears were opened. He was one who listened to the things from Heaven.”

Ananias is a brother-in-Christ for whom it could be said:

…on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherin I should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You. (Psalm 143:8)

Take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself to His keeping (Acts 16:31). Stay vitally united to the Lord.

…for the Father is seeking just such people as these for His worshippers. (John 4:23)