The Tumbleweed

Tumbleweeds. Perhaps you’ve never seen a real one. My father liked to watch westerns on TV, and quite often a tumbleweed would blow across the street. I saw my first ones when we drove through the Texas panhandle going to Colorado or Wyoming during December. When we made that trip in June, I didn’t know which plants were tumbleweeds because they have flowers and don’t show their characteristic tumbling. Only in late fall do they die, the roots separate from the plant and wind blows them wherever it wants. Why do tumbleweeds tumble? Because they broadcast their seeds over acres of land that way.

A few days ago I saw on Facebook the life of a tumbleweed. When it said at the end that when the plant dies, the wind can blow to spread its seeds, suddenly Galatians 2:20 popped into my mind. What? I’m looking at the story of a tumbleweed on Facebook fondly remembering the times we saw them and scripture interrupts my thoughts? Yes, the Holy Spirit immediately awakened me to the context of this plant dying and becoming fruitful.

 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels – a plentiful harvest of new lives (John 12:24.)

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20 New Living Translation.)

 The more our old inner nature of sin dies, the greater Christ through the Holy Spirit will live in us. Then we’ll bear a good harvest of fruit for the Lord.

Advertisements

Abba, I Belong to You; My Chains Are Gone!

“Abba, I belong to You.” This new-to-me song spoke to my heart, and those words kept going through my mind as I drove home after church today. Words from a second song, which I know, blended with those precious other words. “Break every chain; break every chain.” I sang those two phrases together several times as I drove by myself.

Then the Light came on, and I saw the relationship. And that’s the crux of the whole thing! Relationship! If we’re a child of God, we belong to our heavenly Father, which Abba means. Then Jesus has already broken all those chains off us! He did that at the cross long ago. All we need do is to step out of them.

Maybe we don’t see ourselves in chains. But do you have issues that keep the overflowing peace and joy of the Lord from showing in your life? They may be family relationship, financial, illness, job. Whatever they are, Jesus death on the cross broke those chains off you. So just step out of them.

Now I know that’s far easier said than done. I struggle with the doing myself. But I’m beginning to see myself without certain chains I’ve carried, and that’s a large part of getting rid of them. When we see ourselves as Father sees us, then our hope is built; our confidence in his Word grows until we walk out of those chains. We say we believe the Bible is true, and we do, but often we lack confidence in it. We don’t know that we know that we know!

Good relationships don’t form just because the mind says that would benefit me. Good relationships come from the heart. And we must get God’s promises into our heart and mind so that we know without doubting that they’re true. When we do that, then we begin seeing chains breaking because we know Father’s love does not leave us bound in any kind of bondage. Father’s love, when we really grasp it, sets us free. We’re free but we must recognize it and stand in it. When our enemy tries to make us think otherwise, we must fight for our victory and stand firm that whatever chain has been broken will stay broken. God’s kids aren’t meant to be slaves.

Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand first against him and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. (1 Peter 5:7-9 New Living Translation.)

No one escapes trouble in this life, even if we’re believers in Jesus Christ as our Savior. Just look at all the people in the New Testament. But sometimes our chains may come about through generational issues that come down the family line, and Christ sets us free from these. He also frees us from addictions of any kind. In an early blog post, I wrote how I was addicted to soap operas because of moving much and not having good friends. That was 40 years ago when TV wasn’t nearly as explicit as it is now, but I didn’t want my children to see what I watched. The Holy Spirit filled my heart and took away the loneliness that drove me to those shows, and I’ve never been interested in them since.

Often we limit God by not anticipating Him being able to do all He says He can. Then we will not find release from our chains. Hebrews 11:6 states, It is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. Matthew 19:26, Mark 9:23, 10:27, and 14:36 all tell us that ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE WITH GOD. We must believe that to see miracles.

If we’re seeking answers from our loving Father, then we must believe that He will answer us. Otherwise, we might as well not ask. Go to your Father in faith and receive what He very much wants to give you. Tell Him, “Abba, I belong to You.” Then acknowledge that your chains were broken and step out of them!

My Thanksgiving

Father, I thank You that You have already won all my battles. I praise You for the victories over disease, lost jobs, lack of finances. I thank you for salvations and renewals of love for You. I thank you for new heavenly births.

I thank You for so many blessings You’ve given me. And for the faith to believe You and the rewarding of my tiny faith, growing it into mountain-shaking faith. Father, I thank You that nothing is impossible with You.

I thank You for your amazing love. That love carries me through hardships and good times alike. That love flowing out of me returns double-fold to You, for it teaches me to love You more. That love fills me until it overflows to those around me.

Lord, open their eyes to see Jesus in me, not for my honor but for your glory, Father, so that what they see in me, they will hunger for themselves.

Father, they don’t know your love. They are lonely, fearful, hurting and lost. They need You, holy God. Here I am, Lord, use me to show them your Son. Open their eyes, holy God. Open their eyes, I pray.

My Prayer

Father, I love You, but it’s such a small insignificant amount compared to how You love me. Teach me how to love You more. Give me a fiery, burning love for You that will never lessen or be quenched.

You are so almighty, all-powerful, mountainous, marvelous, without any kind of defect or lessening. You are all-in-all! Nothing and no one compares to You. You were before all and will endure for everlasting. All-powerful Creator of all that exists. You always were; You always will be.

In spite of all your marvelous might, You love me. You cherish me. You forgive me! Even when I miss opportunities to worship You or to magnify your name, your love never fails. You are merciful to me and compassionate. You see my broken heart and bring me peace and joy. You give me strength when I am weak. You direct my steps with your eye. You protect me from the evil one and show me how to stand strong against him. You teach my hands to war against him. You surround me with your love and sing over me.

And Father, what You do for me, You will surely do for another. You have no favorites. You gave your Son to die for each person in the world, so surely You would love them as well. You teach me how to love others as You have loved me. Indeed, without knowing your love for me, it’s difficult to fully love others unselfishly, without an agenda, even when we don’t recognize it.

Father, You amaze me and I thank You. I’m eternally grateful to You. I bow down and worship You and sing your praises. You are my God. Teach me to love You more. Amen.

The Dandelion

The Dandelion

 

 

IMG_0541

Photo by Jack Hawley on Pexels.com

“Get that weed out of my yard!” “Pull it up by the roots so it doesn’t grow again!” Most people don’t want dandelions in their neighborhoods because of their propensity for spreading when the wind blows their multiple seeds all around.

What if we look at the dandelion in a different way? Would I want to be one? Perhaps. Suppose we see the seeds of the dandelion as something good – like love and mercy. Imagine if I could live a life that spreads God’s love everywhere I go. That love would also bring forgiveness, compassion and responsibility. What if many people who call themselves Christians became dandelions, spreading the fruit of the Spirit all over our city?

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23a New Living Translation.)

Can we even begin to imagine the difference our country would experience if everyone who calls themselves by the name of Christ displayed this kind of fruit? Think I’ll plant a dozen spiritual dandelions in my yard!

 

 

Our Daddy-God Is Faithful!

 Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

 Old Faithful Geyser continually erupts every day and night, all year round, never missing a time. Eruptions occur about every 70-90 minutes with park rangers giving an estimate, but only that. A tall gusher reaches close to 200 feet but often follows a shorter one.

My husband and I have watched this fascinating sight many times with a couple of thousand people in late June or have seen it a few times by ourselves in December, always special to behold. The first winter I saw it, while mentally knowing Old Faithful blew all year, surprised me when I realized this great display happened with no one watching. Of course, I knew the Park didn’t turn it on for visitors, but a sudden realization hit me that it doesn’t depend on what people do.

In the same way, I think we often think God’s faithfulness depends on how “good” we are. We’ve read the Bible that says He remains with us at all seasons. During crisis times, however, we might feel like the harsh reality of winter hit and wonder if our loving Father knows our situation, just as I realized afresh that Old Faithful operates with no spectators as well as thousands. These times call for us to draw closer to our Daddy-God so we do realize He’s present. Often we tend to pull away in unbelief, but that hinders our remaining steady during the crisis.

Reviewing God’s Word helps me hold onto my faith in difficult circumstances, and these verses promise our Father’s faithfulness to us forever. All Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible.

Deuteronomy 32:3-4: For I proclaim the name of the Lord; Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He.

Psalm 36:5: Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

John 14:16-18: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.

Hebrews 13:5-6: He Himself has said, “I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU,” so that we confidently say, “THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME?” [Their emphasis.]

You might wonder why I call the Father of Christ-followers “Daddy-God.” In the New Testament, Jesus used this very term of intimacy when He prayed before the crucifixion. Since we are God’s children, He desires us to have this same intimacy with Him. “Abba” translates to our word “Daddy.”

Mark 14:36: And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Romans 8:15-16: For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,

Galatians 4:6-7: Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore, you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God.

Yes, circumstances may go from bad to worse, but consider what our loving Father did: He gave his own beloved Son to die for us so we could be his children. Certainly then, He remains faithful to us throughout our lives. Situations make no difference. Our Daddy-God loves us!

 

Independence Day 2018

Picnics, fireworks, family gatherings, friends meeting each other – all these form a part of our usual July 4th activities; yet, they’re only one side. We must always remember the blood of countless men and women from the revolutionary war all through the years. Those lives cost far too great a price to only consider the fun side of this great day. I still believe we live in the greatest country on earth, originally founded primarily on Judeo-Christian principles. The obvious general moral decline of our precious country concerns many of us, but the US still brings many blessings to her people. Therefore, we celebrate and enjoy this wonderful day.

Living in a democracy where we’re free to live as we please makes life abundant. We can live where we want, go where we want, do what we want within reason, and eat what we want. We dress as we please to suit the weather and what we are doing. I see some women covered head to foot, even on scorching hot days.  I realize that is their religion and their right, but I’m thankful for short sleeves in the heat and humidity of my area.

Yes, living independently in our great country provides many huge blessings. But in another way, being dependent brings even greater provisions – if we’re dependent on God as our Father. Learning that takes time but returns wonderful rewards. When we’re dependent on His Holy Spirit guiding us, assurance gives us security in our decisions. He speaks to us throughout the day if we merely stay tuned in. Yes, not in an audible voice but in one we soon learn to recognize as the voice of Truth.

Long ago I discovered this principle when I bought groceries. Since my friend’s husband was out of work at the time, I planned to buy some extra things to give her. Although I hadn’t planned to buy her any coffee, that idea popped into my mind strongly, so I got some. A couple of hours later when I delivered the groceries, the coffee delighted her above all. She usually enjoyed it all day long; and they’d been without coffee for a couple of days because she didn’t have the money to buy anything that wasn’t a necessity.

Another experience in that same era came as I thought a couple of times a day about someone who wasn’t that often in my thoughts, though we did know each other. I’d usually pray for her and her family but not contact her. After this happened several times with the same person, I called her a couple of times when she came to mind so much. Each time she needed prayer. I learned that whenever I’m thinking of someone who usually isn’t on my daily radar to stop and pray for them. That’s the Holy Spirit putting me on alert. At other times, I’ve had someone tell me they prayed for me during a certain period, and I’d needed the prayers then.

I learned that when we depend on the Holy Spirit to guide us, life works better. We don’t have the confusion that can occur otherwise; we become intercessors for others and can offer an encouraging word when someone desperately needs it. Of course, our Father God speaks to us in different ways: the Holy Spirit brings thoughts to our minds that don’t originate with us; the Bible quickens our hearts as we read certain verses or chapters; songs bring messages, as well as our spiritual leaders. We do well to heed these and other ways our Lord guides us.

The first part of Psalm 46:10 says in several translations, “Be still and know that I am God.” We need often stillness to hear God speak to us, though He can speak at other times. We do, however, need to that stillness to know God in the fullness it’s possible for us to know Him. When clutter fills our minds with all the need-to-do things on a particular day, difficulty arises in hearing through all the cacophony of confusion. I like the New American Standard Bible in that case, for it tells us to “Cease striving and know I am God.”

Sometimes we think God may say something to us and we don’t want to hear it. That verse rings true here too. Perhaps our loving Father isn’t saying what we think, but we won’t know until we’re quiet enough to hear that gentle voice whisper in our heart. If He does speak a word that turns against our natural inclination, then He will give us grace to follow whatever His direction is, if we quit fighting.

Even as we celebrate our independence as a country, let’s learn dependence on our loving Father God.

Praises to My God

(A word of explanation: The last couple of weeks at the night services, my church has been giving us time to sit still before God and simply listen to what He says to us.This is what He spoke to me.)

 The Opening

 The mighty rushing wind of your Holy Spirit comes in and sweeps away all fears, all doubts, all hesitancy, all reluctance. That wind sweeps away all but your sweet, gentle voice, and I hear You say, “Come to me, my child. Sit beside me and learn who I am. For I am gentle and loving. I bring you comfort and security. My love for you is boundless.

Praises to My Lord God Almighty

I sing to You because You are beautiful
I sing to You because You are holy
High and lifted up:

Above all that ever was
Above all that is now
Above all that ever will be
Above all the skies
Deeper than the deepest ocean.

That’s less than You are – far less –
But it gives me an idea of just how immensely large You are.
But just an idea.
Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent.
The words ring true for You
But I’m too small to understand them.

Lord, I’m amazed in your presence.
I can’t grasp just who You are
But speak to my spirit
Reveal more of yourself to me.

Open my eyes to better see glimpses of Holy You
Impress on my heart just who You are
Teach me a righteous fear of You.
Teach me of your holiness and glory
Let me see You through the clouds and midst
Give me clear vision.

Holy Lord God Almighty,
Continue to open my eyes more each day
Until I see You completely
In all your glory and holiness.

I sing to You because You are beautiful
I sing to You because You are holy
High and lifted up; glorious beyond compare
I sing to You until I shall see You face to face
And then I’ll bow and worship You as never before!

   
Second Praise 

Oh holy, holy God
I worship and adore You
For You first loved me
You taught me what love is.

You’ve carried me in the night seasons
And rejoiced with me in the joyous times.
Whatever my circumstances
Wherever I’ve been –
You have been there too.

You’ve guided me with your eye
And when I wasn’t paying attention
You guided me with your hand.

Holy, Precious Father!
There is no one like You
I love and adore You
For there’s no one like You.

Father, your love amazes me
It lifts my heart high
Even when I’m down
Your love draws me high.

Your love is secure
You will not fail
Even when I neglect You
Your love continues true.

But Lord, my heart’s desire is to ever draw closer
Closer to your love
Closer to your holiness
Closer to your glory.

Father, I long to reflect my Jesus
Just as the moon reflects the sun
I long to look more like Jesus
And reflect Him to the world.

Amen.

Stir up Your Spiritual Gift!

God gives all His children spiritual gifts, and if we don’t know what they are, we need to ask Him. Someone who knows us well can help also because often they see the gifts before we’re aware of them. Father gives these gifts to bless others so that all the body of Christ grows and matures, but in using them, we’re blessed as well.

Those of you who follow my blog regularly noticed that for a while I didn’t post very often. While doing lots of other things, I had some ideas but simply didn’t spend the time before Father to receive what He wanted me to write. While I didn’t deny time with Him, at that point I needed more and didn’t give it. I didn’t stir up my gifting.

A couple of weeks ago my pastor preached on 2 Timothy 1:6. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy, his disciple who was serving the Lord but perhaps not with his whole heart. Paul recalls how Timothy’s mother and grandmother had great faith and now Timothy lives that same faith, but Paul sees a problem. The New Living Translation writes it this way: This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.

God gives spiritual gifts and often does that when someone prays for us. He doesn’t require it, however. Our Father doesn’t have specific rules and regulations about how he does things so that we won’t say “this must happen for that to occur.” He works as He pleases, but we all do receive gifts.

Sometimes we allow our circumstances to interfere with using our gifts, and that’s what I let happen for a little while. I’d read a couple of meditations about using our gifts, and when my pastor spoke about this topic, I knew God meant me! Perhaps more people needed to hear that sermon, but I knew it hit it’s mark in me.

Notice that Paul tells Timothy to fan into flames the gift. I’d let my gift sit and smolder for a time, just like a fire has coals but needs to be stirred to really do its job. In the same way, Timothy and I had to stop being lazy about what Father gave us and get to work using it.

I don’t call myself a writer, as a precious internet friend told me. She sees herself as a scribe, one who writes what they are given. I’m that same way. I don’t sit at the computer and think about what to write. The Holy Spirit puts an idea in my heart, and I sit and the words flow. Sometimes I think I’m led to write about a subject, and I get part of it done but can’t finish it. I save the draft in case I come back to it in the future; often I don’t. But when I’m writing what the Spirit guides me to write, words flow to the computer. I do edit it, sometimes several times to get it correct, but know this will bless someone the day they read it. That’s using my spiritual gift as Father intends. That what He wants us all to do.

Understanding the Spiritual Armor

When I first put on the spiritual armor, I had trouble remembering the order, so I learned the pieces from head down and used that way for a while. Then one day I wondered why it was listed in such a seemingly disconnected way. That’s when my Father whispered in my mind that He has a reason for that process. As I thought about this, I began to understand that reasoning and have put it on correctly ever since.

God led Paul to write about the spiritual armor in Ephesians 6:10-18 after telling these believers in Jesus Christ how to live a life pleasing to Him. Paul, being a prisoner in Rome, knew he’d never see them again and so wanted to help them as much as possible. Most likely, Paul intended this letter to circulate to all the churches in the area. This and Philippians are my favorite letters of all those Paul wrote. Ephesians tells us in chapter one where our spiritual standing lives and how blessed we are. Stuffed full of golden nuggets, we do well to study this book repeatedly. Chapter six gives us final instructions for living a genuine Christian life and at the end tells us how to fight all Satan throws against us.

Ephesians 6:10-12 (New Living Translation* – NLT)  Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might.  11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world’s rulers of this darkness, and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

 Here Paul tells us that our troubles aren’t caused by people but by the spirits and powers ruling those people. When one becomes a Christ-follower, Satan realizes that person is a threat to him and his kingdom, so he starts to attack that one in various ways. That doesn’t mean non-believers don’t have problems also because Satan’s whole aim is to “steal, kill and destroy.” Jesus calls our enemy the thief in John 10:10 and uses these words to describe him. But Jesus goes on to say that He came to give us a satisfying and rich life [not necessarily rich in money or material possessions, though some Christ-followers are] (NLT). That’s what makes following Jesus such a wonderful blessing. Next Paul describes the spiritual armor that protects us from the assaults of Satan. Then, we’re to stand strong even through the assaults. Christians become stronger through the warfare we endure, but our aim centers on standing for Jesus, no matter what. Without this armor, we cannot stand.

 Ephesians 6:13-17 (NLT):   Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. 16 In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17 (The Message Bible** – MSG):   Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. 14 Truth, righteousness, 15 peace, 16 faith, 17 and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. I really like this version because it’s so succinct, telling us exactly what’s what.

How do we wear the spiritual armor?

We’re to wrap ourselves in the truth of God’s word, which is the first piece of armor we must wear. Why? Because if we don’t know the truth, the other pieces can’t help us. When the Holy Spirit breaks through to our spirit that Jesus really is the Son of God and that His blood shed so long ago will forgive our sins, then we confess them and turn away from them and start on the path as a child of God. (Please note, salvation only begins with this first step; our full salvation continues as we grow closer to the Lord in this life and finds fulfillment when we arrive in heaven.)

The breastplate of righteousness comes in and gives us that right standing before God, so we can enter His presence and talk with Him. This piece goes over our heart and gives us encouragement to live a godly life daily.

We need these and the other pieces of spiritual armor all the way through our lives because the devil will always try to turn us from the truth of God’s Word. That’s not meant at all to be discouraging but simply states the fact that we do have an enemy who doesn’t want us to follow our Lord.

Next we put on the shoes of the peace that comes from knowing and acting on the Word of God. When we become a believer in Jesus Christ, we receive peace from God because all our sins are forgiven. Afterwards, we’ll find that peace disappears if we stray from God’s way, so we must go back and confess that wrong against God and others; then we’ll regain that peace. This peace also helps us be at peace with other people because once we learn of our Father’s great forgiveness towards us, then we’re enabled to forgive others. For more on God’s peace, please read Philippians 4:6-8 below. I think describing this peace with shoes is important because it indicates that this special inward peace goes with us, no matter what circumstances we face. Paul was in prison when he wrote about this wonderful peace and contentment from God that remains always with us (see also Philippians 4:11, 13 and 19.)

Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT):  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Graham Cooke, a godly author and speaker, calls negative thinking “the worship language of the devil” because that’s what he wants us to do. Negative thinking gets us depressed and almost giving up on God. That’s why Paul tells us to keep on thinking about all the goodness of our heavenly Father. Not that we deny earthly problems, but  we realize our circumstances are governed by a God who loves us so much that He gave His own Son to die for us. Unless they were fighting in a war for our country, I seriously doubt I’d ever let one of my sons sacrifice his life for someone who didn’t even like us; yet, that’s exactly what God did! Romans 5:8 (NLT):  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

We take up the shield of faith, which grows larger the more we involve ourselves in Bible study and prayer. Our faith is only enough to believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior when we first become a Christian but as we follow our Lord, it grows. We’ll never not need that faith because Satan will always try to discourage it, as the Word says, by throwing those flaming darts of doubt, confusion and lies. That shield is stronger than he is, though, so we can stand faithful as long as we remember that fact. 1 John 4:4 reminds us that the Holy Spirit who lives within us is greater than the devil who rules the world. The Bible goes on to tell us that without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Faith starts at the beginning of our Christian life and goes through till the end. In Luke 18:8 Jesus asks when He returns, will He find faith on the earth?

The helmet of salvation operates best with all the rest of the armor. We cover our heads (indicating our minds, wills and emotions) guarding them against all doubts and lies Satan and the world in general try to throw at us, but we must know the truth to effectively protect ourselves or others when we’re talking with them. When we’re believers in Jesus Christ, we experience a relationship with Him. Being a good person, joining a church or following a certain religious doctrine doesn’t make us a believer. Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship with our Lord.

The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. This sword only works if we have an experiential knowledge of the Bible. That means we’ve walked with God and can put His Word into practice. We don’t simply read the Bible as we would another book. Jesus used the sword of the Spirit to defeat Satan when He was tempted in the wilderness (see Matthew 4:1-11) and we’re to do the same thing.

Why is the last piece of the spiritual armor the Word of God? Because everything we think, say or do must be checked by the Bible. It’s the controller of what is and isn’t good for us under God’s leadership. Yes, there are gray areas that aren’t mentioned, things that weren’t even possible during Bible times. For example, television and the internet supplies both spiritual food and spiritual death. Some things remain neutral. When we wear the rest of the armor, we can easily tell which is which. Does what we see build us up spiritually or tear us down? Does it meet the test of Philippians 4:8? If we want to discern the difference, we can. Jesus defeated Satan by using the Word of God and so can we.

James 4:7-10 (MSG):  So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. 8 Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. 9 Hit bottom and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. 10 Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

The Final Act

 Ephesians 6:18-20 (NLT)  Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. 19 And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. 20 I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

Why do we put on and keep on this armor? To protect us from all that the enemy of our souls throws at us. And even more than that, it prepares us to pray as the Holy Spirit leads us to pray not only for ourselves but for other believers – those we know and those around the world. We also pray for those who do not yet know our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

We must support ourselves and keep our hopes high in the Lord. Likewise, we must support each other because all of us experience days that discourage us and need a special word of encouragement at that time. Long ago, I learned that when someone’s name came to mind, to pray for that person. This happened several times with the same lady, so I started calling her then to see how things were going. Each time, she needed prayer about something. I learned then to always pray, no matter where I was, when I suddenly thought of someone, especially if they weren’t usually on my mind’s radar.

If we keep up with Christian news, we know many believers in numerous countries are persecuted, jailed or killed for being Christians and spreading the gospel.  It’s our responsibility as free people to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who miss this freedom. We pray for their safety but also their courage and strength to stand strong during persecution. We also pray for the persecutors because they don’t know Jesus as their Savior. We can pray that either by their captive’s witness, through dreams or other ways that they too will accept Christ. Jesus always cared for those who don’t know Him and still does.

Matthew 9:36-38 (NLT   He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.”

Thus, it’s our job as believers to protect ourselves from Satan’s attacks and to pray for other believers, whether we know them or not. As well, our duty and privilege call us to pray for those who don’t know Him that they will accept Christ as their Savior. One way Paul mentions he needs prayer is that he will be bold to say exactly what needs to be said. He doesn’t suggest they pray for his quick release, as I probably would, but I’m not sure I’d pray for boldness to witness when it would likely cost me more persecution. Responsibilities come with being a Christian – to others and especially to our Father who loves and gives us so very much. Will we continually wear our spiritual armor and pray for ourselves, for others and for those who don’t yet know our Savior and Lord?

____________

*   Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

**  THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. l rights reserved.

***  I use these modern Bible translations because they are easier to understand for people whose first language may not be English because this goes on my blog, with many readers whom I don’t know.

Come, My Child

Imagine you’re the parent of a child you’ve always been close to; you could talk about anything and did. Slowly that child drifted away from that intimacy, talking only about school as a whole and not staying as close by as previously. He put you on the back burner. How would you feel? What would you do to regain that previous relationship? This child still wasn’t doing anything particularly wrong; he was keeping curfew, his grades were still high, but you missed the way he’d share what his day had been like, what his friends were doing. Something changed and you didn’t like it.

Now suppose you were standing before God and you’re the child who’s not as intimate as you used to be. Yes, you pray and read the Bible but you don’t have that time of just being with your Father. You’re not a nominal Christian but you notice the difference in the way things are. You may even wonder what’s happened. At church you think it would be great to be as close to God as some others seem to be; but when you leave, nothing changes. One day you’re praying and hear your Father quietly whisper this to your heart:

“Come to Me, my child. Come and feast at my table, for you are lacking in nourishment. You are anemic because you’re not partaking enough of my blood. It is life-sustaining, but you are totally weak and feeble. You need Me, much more of Me than you’ve been getting.

“Come now and let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow; though they are red like crimson they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land.” (Isaiah 1:18-19 New American Standard Bible.)

“Come and buy food without price. Money can’t buy my food, only love and devotion can (see Isaiah 55:1-4).  How can you buy without money or price? You can buy with love, devotion and time – a time of withdrawal from the world. ‘Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near’” (verse 6).

Jesus’ blood paid the price for the forgiveness of our sins – all of them. Not just the biggies, but the simple things like saying something unpleasant to your family or friend, having a wrong attitude, neglect of Bible study, little time in prayer. Jesus’ blood covers all these and all the other wrongs we do. His blood protects us from the enemy of our souls. It does so much more than we give it credit for, but that’s not our focus now.

Are you willing to set aside more time to spend with your heavenly Father? Will you allow the Holy Spirit to have His way? How much time out of the day do you actually spend thinking about God? Is it enough for the relationship with Him that you desire? I’ve been in this place and asked myself these same questions and find I need more time with my Daddy-God to be satisfied, for He can fill voids nothing else can. We were created in His image and when we let go of that deeper relationship, our hearts yearn for it; we notice the void. Let’s listen to those words again, and go feast at the Father’s table and find the life-sustaining nourishment we need.

“Come to Me, my child. Come and feast at my table, for you are lacking in nourishment. You are anemic because you’re not partaking enough of my blood. It is life-sustaining, but you are totally weak and feeble. You need Me, much more of Me than you’ve been getting.”

What will I do? What will you do? Our soul’s prosperity hinges on the answer.

 

What I Do or Who I Am?

If I’m a Christian, claiming to become more like Jesus, is my Christianity what I do or who I am? We get very closely identified with our jobs and when people ask, we say I’m a teacher, a lawyer, secretary, whatever. But is that really who you are or what you do? Naturally, it’s what you do to make a living. But it’s not the essential of you as a person; hopefully you’re the same type person when you’re not in that role.

In the same way, we as believers in Jesus Christ must aim to be Christians from the inside out, not simply to act like we’re one. Are we the same type person when we’re not in church as we are in it? If we’re kind and friendly in church, are we when at home or work? If we love Jesus in church, do we outside in the world?

Let’s ponder these questions and discover who we really are. Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31 New King James Bible.)

 

Letter to My Child

My Dear Child,

You can’t imagine how much I’ve longed for you, for the intimacy we once had, for the former joys together. If you were in some far-off country, I could understand it, but we live almost next door; yet I seldom hear from you. Yes, you often read the letters I’ve sent, but you don’t seem to take them to heart, and you rarely talk with me to discuss them. Can’t you understand that my heart yearns to explain in more detail all I’ve written there, to give you deeper insight? Can you imagine how precious your voice is to me? Each word you say, I treasure.

I realize you’ve gotten offended because you don’t understand some of my dealings; but if you were in my place, you’d have done the same thing because I see in the future and understand how things will affect you then. Because of my great love for you, I’ve allowed some things that momentarily hurt you and seem to your destruction. Dear child, you don’t recognize how much stronger you’ll become by weathering these storms and hard times. You need to grow strong and secure, not to be a pampered sloth. Just as your physical body grows weak if you aren’t busy tending to your business, so your spirit grows weak if you never have difficulties to overcome. They are there to teach you victory, not to get you down. Learn what it means to see your strength renewing day by day and your victories overcoming whatever challenges you.

Precious one of mine, you are far too valuable to simply let you slip away from me; that’s why I continually call you back to the place where you belong. Don’t get lost in the mire of the world; it can’t satisfy you. Only my presence can meet all your needs and give you the joy you long to experience once again. Come, sit beside me and hear my whispers to your heart. Show your love; don’t just tell me. Come, sit in my embrace and hear my sweet song over you. Let me show you my love for you. Wallow in it; enjoy it; let it encircle you and warm your heart again. You aren’t a stranger to me for I know you very well. Come, eat from my overflowing table and let your heart be glad. You are my beloved.

Is this our heavenly Father’s letter written to me? To you? If so, how will it be answered?

Passover and Easter – What They Mean to Me

 

While I don’t have any Jewish ancestors that I know of, I grew up learning the intense story of the Jewish Passover and how the blood of a blemish-free lamp put on the doorpost of their home saved the first-born from certain death, even among the animals. Then the whole family with their flocks escaped from slavery in Egypt to journey into God’s land long ago promised to Abraham, the founder of the Jewish people. I know that story like it was a part of my personal history.

As I reflect on it this morning, which is the first day of Passover, I see how similar it is to my story. In what way, you might ask. Jesus, the Son of God, lived as a perfect man on earth and then died on the cross so that He might be that blemish-free Lamb for me. This enables me to escape from slavery to sin (Romans 6:16-18, 7:14) to become a willing servant (and friend, see John 15:15) of God. It means I now have power not the do the wrong things I really don’t want to do. It means I don’t have to be addicted to anything, no matter what it is because Jesus died to set me free from all bondages.

What does that mean practically? It means I know that I’m a beloved daughter of God Almighty, a joint-heir with Jesus Christ with all the treasures of heaven. Even if no one else in the whole world loved me, I am deeply and passionately loved by my heavenly Father. That love gives me security in a sometimes-hostile world. That great love says resources beyond the normal human means become available when I need them. My husband and I live not far from Houston, Texas and sometimes go there. A couple of times over the years cars pulled in front of us from another lane, seemingly only avoiding the front of our car by a couple of inches. I thanked my Father of Love each time that we weren’t in an accident. While that’s not saying that disastrous things don’t happen because I’m a Christian (because they do), it is saying I feel an extra measure of protection because angels watch over me (Hebrews 1:14).

Besides that, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from death and His ascension into heaven means that He sits beside Father God (Romans 8:26-27, 34; Hebrews 7:25) praying for me and for you! That brings me great assurance, plus the Holy Spirit lives in me so that silently when I have no words for what I want to pray, He knows what I need and speaks the words needed sometimes silently and sometimes in a language I can’t understand.

The full meaning of Easter means that my heart remains peaceful even when my circumstances become troublesome or dire (John 14:27). Does this automatically happen? No, I must put those circumstances into my Father’s hands and allow Him to work them out. I don’t worry and fret but keep my eyes focused on Him. I discipline my mind so that my focus remains on all the many reasons I have for thanksgiving and not on my situation. While I don’t ignore or pretend it doesn’t exist, it’s not the whole point of my life during that time. Certainly, I ask my Father for wisdom in dealing with that condition and take wise steps to help it become as good as possible.

Easter brings joy. Joy overshadows happiness because it lasts when the reason for the happiness passes. Joy gives life zest and encourages us to look forward to what comes next. Joy makes life worthwhile, even in the hard times. Joy sets me free from the drudgery of daily life. Joy keeps me focused on Jesus, who is Joy.

Look up because your redemption draws near – Jesus is with you and lives in you (Galatians 2:20). He continually prays for you (Hebrews 7:25) and He will never leave you or forsake you (Psalm 27:9, Hebrews 13:5). Rejoice, for He is risen! That means you and I have new life!

Clogged Arteries

Many people get clogged arteries as they age and then must take medicine to clear them. But, do I have spiritual clogged arteries? What? When our spiritual arteries get clogged, our relationship with Father God gets hindered and Holy Spirit no longer flows freely within us, just like blood becomes partially blocked in our physical arteries when they’re clogged. Continue reading

The Batter

Imagine that you are the last batter in the last inning of a baseball game. Already.  your team has two outs and the bases are loaded. If you can make a home run and bring in those four points, your team wins. Otherwise, it loses. What a responsibility!

In the reality of eternal life, each Christ-follower stands at that place. While we will not lose our destiny in heaven, all those on the bases who do not know Jesus Christ as their personal Savior will spend eternity in hell. What an overwhelming responsibility! Yet, if we are willing, the Holy Spirit will use each of us to help show the joy of Jesus to those who do not know Him. Our only responsibility is to obey what our Father asks us to do. We speak when we’re led to speak, we live a life that witnesses to what we say, and we pray for those who do not know our Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Continue reading

Almost Unbelievable Blessings – But Believe Them!

Let me introduce you to two amazing verses that probably most believers read over without paying proper attention to the real meaning of them; I know I did. These are Ephesians 1:3 and 2:6. Only more recently have I given them real thought, though I’ve read the Bible most of my life, and even wrote a simple study of this book long ago. This meditation covers the first verse and soon a second will cover Ephesians 2:6 because they contain too much material to discuss at one time. Continue reading

Admiration of My Father God

Father, thank you that I can call Almighty God, Creator of everything, my Father! That’s amazing to me – that you would allow your holy Son to come to earth, live a perfect life, die an agonizing death, then go back home to heaven, now sitting beside you and praying for me. That’s unimaginable! No other god ever mentioned on earth would think to do such things; they condemn me and require much of me if I believe in them. But you love me unconditionally. I fathom this only a little but it gives me great joy.

Yes, such joy to know that One who lives eternally understands and loves me with all my shortcomings and inadequacies. You accept me just as I am. I don’t have to try to make myself better. You don’t require that of me; instead, you ask me to simply trust you to make all the inner changes required, and I do. You enable me to change for better. I know that deeply-rooted issues I simply can’t change; the pain from them is too great. But Father, you know how to solve those issues and erase that hurt. You take my sorrow and give me joy. You are amazing!

Father, I can’t begin to grasp how fantastic you are – forever present, holy, just, forgiving but punishing when I won’t give up evil ways, loving even those who turn against you. But you are merciful, gracious, kind, self-controlling to the extent of relenting your anger when I repent and follow you. You look at me with longing for my love and a deep relationship with me, communicating all through the day. Even when I go through trials, you comfort me, giving me your Holy Spirit to guide and direct me.

Awesome, wonderful, majestic, totally true, totally just, totally love – no words can describe you – so far are you above anything I can imagine. But the bottom line is that you love me and are my heavenly Father. Though I can’t totally comprehend all this means, I rejoice in it!

For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish [in hell*] but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him [in God’s Son, Jesus Christ*] is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16-18 New American Standard Bible.)

* My insertion.