Wednesday, October 26, 2016
I wanted to share this encouraging song to anyone today who has found their strength gone, or almost gone, who is in a hard place, or a battle they seem to not be able to fight anymore. I've had some of those and recently again found myself literally plowed down by the enemy, who attacked like a flood, and I could not stand. There are times in ourselves we cannot stand. But we can cry out to God, we can wait on Him, and we can trust His power to raise us up on those eagles' wings.
We don't have wings. We can't fly. We sometimes grow weary and lose strength. We lose heart. We even lose faith, and falter, because the lies and delusions and twisting of truth of the enemy in our minds and hearts is overwhelming. There comes a time when we say, "Lord, no use in my striving or fighting. The enemy is too much for me. But he is not too much for You! I rest in Your care for me, in Your love for me, and in Your power. I will wait on You, until You lift me up again, on Your most powerful wings and bring me to safety once again.
(29) He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
(30) Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
(31) but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord
Who abide in His shadow for life
Say to the Lord
"My refuge, my rock in whom I trust!"
And He will raise you up on eagles' wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand.
The snare of the fowler will never capture you
And famine will bring you no fear
Under His wings your refuge
His faithfulness your shield.
And He will raise you up on eagles' wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand.
You need not fear the terror of the night
Nor the arrow that flies by day
Though thousands fall about you
Near you it shall not come.
And He will raise you up on eagles' wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand.
For to His angels He's given a command
To guard you in all of your ways
Upon their hands they will bear you up
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.
And He will raise you up on eagles' wings
Bear you on the breath of dawn
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand...
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
William MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: "It is worth noticing that grace comes first, then peace. This is always the order. Only after grace has dealt with the sin question can peace be known. And only through the undeserved strength which God gives from day to day can the believer experience peace, perfect peace, in all the changing moods of life."
For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. (Romans 7:15-20)
Loving the Father's will was the subject of a previous article. As God's child, we have placed in us, the desire to do His will. He has given us a new heart, a new will, and desires to please Him through His Spirit coming into our hearts, if we are born of His Spirit. Yet we find within us a conflict. There is the enemy accusing us, twisting our motives and God's will, our weakness and inability with God's demands, our condemning ourselves, or satan condemning us, putting our eyes on ourselves rather than God, causing us to have irresolvable conflict in our soul, that only God Himself can sort out. There are times I've cried out, "God! I do want Your will, but I can't discern what it is! The conflict inside of me brings confusion, and I can't understand what's coming from my flesh, the enemy twisting in my head Your Word, Your will, Your command, my own desires, my own weaknesses and inability and how to resolve it!" I find myself in hopeless despair ever to live up to His will! As I struggle through, trying desperately to come to peace with this conflict in my soul, trying to honestly discern what is of God, what is of the devil, what is of me, I realize I cannot. His Word comes to me, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil." (Proverbs 3:5-7)
I realize it is only God Himself, through His Word, by His Spirit that can discern the thoughts, the intentions of the heart, and divide between soul and spirit. "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
I must not wrestle with it, or try to discern it by my knowledge or understanding, or my feelings, or anything else, and especially not by another's opinion. I must do as the Word says. I must go to Him, acknowledging Him. Even if I should seek wiser counsel, I need first to acknowledge and seek Him. And then if I do seek another's counsel that too must be brought before Him. I must not lean on another's understanding anymore than I lean on my own.
Webster's 1828 dictionary: Acknowledge: 1. To own, avow or admit to be true, by a declaration of assent; as to acknowledge the being of a God. 2. To own or notice with particular regard.
I must own, avow, declare God as my God, my Father, to regard Him alone as the One Who knows all, Who understands perfectly His will, the schemes of the enemy and the ways he is able to deceive, twist, and condemn falsely. He alone is the One Who understands all the intricacies in my heart, the motives, the feelings, the desires, and divide between His own work in me, His own Spirit, and what is coming from my own flesh, which is very deceptive, always holding onto what it desires. He alone is able to conquer all those places in my heart, to help my will conform to His will. He alone is able to resolve the conflict. It is He Who works in me to will to do His will and then enables me to carry it out. I cannot do that by my own understanding and efforts. When I try, I fail, I fall, I stumble in the dark, and the enemy then comes in for the kill with condemnation, until I feel buried under it and hopeless to ever find peace.
God is our peace. His grace is sufficient for us in the conflict to enable us. His power is sufficient for us to do all. We can't understand, we can't trust, we can't rest, we can't do until He comes into the situation, into the conflict. We can easily deceive ourselves and others. As we look to Him, then we are able to look away from the conflict itself, to stop the struggle, and to look to Him. Then we are able to say, "It is Yours Lord. I will trust You with all my heart, not lean on my own understanding, and I know You will direct my path, You will discern, You will make Your will clear and understood in me, and bring my will to conform to Yours." We find rest in our souls though perhaps the conflict is not yet resolved to our understanding. It is now cast on Him. We stand in His grace, in His peace, and determine that we will submit ourselves to His Spirit in our hearts as He resolves and brings discernment and light - as we wait on Him. We stand in His salvation against the attacks of the enemy's condemnation. We stand in His righteousness, knowing we have none in ourselves, and His will be ultimately fulfilled in us.
We must submit or present ourselves to the working of His will in us, by placing ourselves before Him in His Word, letting it speak to us, letting it divide soul and spirit, letting it bring light, truth, and counsel to our hearts. Most of all we need to let Him reveal Himself, His heart, His mind, His will to us through that Word. As we do that we grow in love to Him, we grow in our awe of Him. We desire His will above our own. We find we don't have to strive but as His Word becomes our delight, we want it more than anything else. We find almost without realizing it that there has been a work in our hearts to make us conform to that will even in our feelings and desires and the will of our flesh no longer has a hold on us.
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (Galatians 5:16-17)
Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. (Psalms 37:4-6)
There is two ways to think on Ps. 37:4. If we delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us our heart's desire, or if we delight ourselves in the Lord He will put the right desires in our heart. I have found both to be true in my own experience. As I delight in Him, my desires become what He desires for me and others. Then, those very desires that I am asking of Him, He gives. What a wonderful God we have! Our wonderful Father does not want a slave relationship with us. He wants us to discover Him, His heart, His will. He tells us life eternal is in order that we may know Him! (John 17:3) He wants us to know Him, not just to come to Him as a slave master. He does not force submission. He reveals Himself to us, which makes us unable to do anything other than to adore and worship Him, to delight in Him, and to desire His perfect will, even when it is a sacrifice to us. When we are "in the Spirit" we are being filled with the Spirit and with the will of the Spirit.
Under the law there was more of the slave/master type of relationship. "As to man, the law and the ordinances were only bondage. They aimed at bridling the will without its being changed."--J.N. Darby
Grace and peace is what Paul greeted the church in Ephesus with. Grace gives us the enablement to know Him, love Him, love His will, and to do it. Peace is the outcome. As we stand in all God has done for us, in us, and trust His work, His power, His provision alone, submitting ourselves to Him as we abide in Him, by that grace, we find the Father's will more and more the pure will of our hearts. And only in submission to that will do we find peace from the conflict of the soul. It is our hope and promise that one day the conflict will be over forever. We will have the most perfect peace at that time than we can now comprehend, in His presence, in His likeness, where nothing can ever again be in His presence that is not conformed to that blessed will.
For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. (Galatians 5:5)
Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (1 John 3:2-3)
Knowing this, it stands to reason, we should do all we can to as much as we can, embrace, love, and cherish the Father's will, to seek it, know it, and submit to it. This is what ultimately, we will live in perfectly. It is in His will alone we are made complete, whole, and have His peace. Amen, even so Father, work Your will in our hearts! Deliver us from all that hinders it in us and around us. In Jesus name amen.
Saturday, October 8, 2016
1. A yielding or giving up.
A yielding or giving up—that speaks of two things to me. It can mean defeat, or it can mean victory, depending on whom we yield or give up to. We can give up ourselves to despair and discouragement and the voice of the enemy—in surrendering ourselves in unbelief. Or we can give up, in our struggle with despair and discouragement, weakness, unbelief, whatever it is the enemy is trying to get us to surrender to, and yield in faith, (confidence in God’s power and not our own), and resign our whole entire person, body, mind, spirit, to His power, His Spirit in us, and His perfect work accomplished on our behalf for us. We may not understand it all, but we can resign ourselves, by choice to it’s working out in our lives.
No matter how small that surrender is—how weak that faith is—we can persist in resigning ourselves over to it, yielding to it, giving up to it. This is the surrender of faith.
What surrender is not, is a struggling in our own strength of will and resolve to become what God wants us to be. It is never accomplished in ourselves or of ourselves by the power of our will. So many Christians believe it is up to the strength of their will to keep themselves and surrender all to God. All the while, it is God at work in us, calling us to surrender, and then empowering us for it, and maintaining it by working in us to will and to do of His good pleasure—Philippians 2:13. What He requires, He makes provision for.
Andrew Murray, in His book, Absolute Surrender, says this:
“God Accomplishes Your Surrender
“I am sure there is many a heart that says: ‘Ah, but that absolute surrender implies so much!’ Someone says: ‘Oh, I have passed through so much trial and suffering, and there is so much of the self-life still remaining, and I dare not face the entire giving of it up, because I know it will cause so much trouble and agony.’
“Alas! alas! that God’s children have such thoughts of Him, such cruel thoughts. Oh, I come to you with a message, fearful and anxious one. God does not ask you to give the perfect surrender in your strength, or by the power of your will; God is willing to work it in you. Do we not read: “It is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure”? And that is what we should seek for - to go on our faces before God, until our hearts learn to believe that the everlasting God Himself will come in to turn out what is wrong, to conquer what is evil, and to work what is well-pleasing in His blessed sight. God Himself will work it in you.”
Surrender is a choice we make, to yield to the power of another. Whose power do you want to yield to? The choices are, 1) our own power, 2) the power of the spirits of darkness and deception, or 3) the power of God. Therefore, surrender is an act of faith in one of those powers. When we see that God’s power is true, God’s Word is true, yet we feel the strength of our flesh to hold on to its power, and struggle with the doubts and fears in our own mind, and the oppression of the enemy, we can know, that if we do not have to yield to any of it! We can know that all we need do is cry out to God, our Abba, and that act of faith in itself is a surrender to His power to come to our aid and deliver us. We are not yielding to the power of our own flesh or of the enemy if we cry out to God in our weakness for His power to come to our aid.
Often we think that we are not surrendering until we feel the full strength of that ability in ourselves to overcome every doubt, fear, and temptation. But the smallest act of faith, in crying out to God is an act of surrender, that says to Him, “this child does not want to yield to the powers that overwhelm him, and sees he is not able in himself to overcome them, but is putting trust in me by calling out to me.” He accepts our very weakest surrender. In fact it is in that weakness of utter helplessness in ourselves that true surrender is possible, as it cannot come from anything but faith in His power and not in ourselves at all.
“And he said, The things which are impossible with men are possible with God”- Luke 18:27
We may feel it impossible to bring ourselves to the kind of surrender God requires of us. But it is God who works in our hearts to desire that surrender, and it is God who always gives the enabling power to do what He requires of us. If we look at our hearts, we see ourselves, holding onto that life it has known, and power over itself and its rights. We look to God, and see that though it is impossible with us, it is possible with Him. We don’t have to wait to feel it. We can yield, give our hearts up to His power and ability over our hearts and wait on Him to do His work in filling us with His mind and heart by His Spirit that He has given us.
Faith is not a feeling. Faith is relying on a fact, receiving something as true—God’s existence is fact, His Word is fact, even though we do not have to understand it all to believe it and know it is truth. We can know it is truth and accept it. We can know God is alive and though we don’t know Him or understand Him completely or as we should, we can have faith in Him. Surrender is not a feeling either, but is an act, based on faith. We do not have to have all the answers to surrender, in faith, to God, that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who come to Him (Hebrews 11:6). And by coming, He will teach us more of Himself. If we are guided only by feelings than we are no better off than an animal that is a slave to every impulse for survival. But we have God’s Spirit indwelling us if we have been born again. God gave us the ability to act against our feelings, not being overcome by them, and act in faith in what we know to be true when our feelings tell us otherwise. That faith is there by His Spirit convincing us His Word is truth. We yield ourselves to that truth, regardless of every thought the enemy screams in our ear to the contrary and regardless of our helpless feelings and emotions. We may feel unbelief, but we do not have to act in unbelief. We can yield, give up, resign ourselves over to God in those times to His safekeeping and to His fulfilling His purpose in our lives. We can cling to His Word and give ourselves up to its truth. I’ve heard people say, “I can’t help how I feel”. No—but you do not have to be controlled by your feelings or given over to them. You are not their slave. You have God as your resource to call on!
God accepts our very weakest surrender. Our crying out to Him in utter weakness is never unheard and never unanswered. May our hearts be comforted in this. He never asks us to come to Him in full strength of our own ability. He only asks us ever to come to Him in the humility of our own inability, utter helplessness, and weakness.
Hearing Your call to come, we come Lord, in our weakness, trusting You to be the power of that surrender, relying on You to be resurrection life in us, raising us up to the life You call us to. In Jesus name.
Saturday, October 1, 2016
(Ephesians 6:10) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
There are so many things I tell myself I cannot face, or I cannot do, or that are way too much for me. It's easy in a world hostile to God to become discouraged and despair. It's easy to think of those suffering for Christ in such unspeakable ways, and to tell myself, "I could never endure that!" But God never tells us to muster up enough courage, or faith, or strength in ourselves or in our flesh. He never tells us to call on our own resources. He never tells us to strengthen our flesh. He does tell us to be strong "in the Lord." He tells us to be strong "in the power of His might." We learn that we can only do that by daily "putting on the whole armor of God." We learn that as we are being filled with the Spirit daily, as we take in His living Word, that we are filled with assurance, strength in our inner being, faith, hope, love, and all the fruit of the Spirit which is the power of His might. His presence in us is made manifest and He assures our hearts of His love and provision for us.
There are many things in this world that we should rightly fear. Aside from God's indwelling presence and His promises we have good reason to fear. We have good reason to despair, as we see evil forcing itself on us and overcoming the world, thinking to take it as its own and rule making all earth's inhabitants its slave. How are we to stand up against such things? If we think we can, if we think we have the strength to do so, we only deceive ourselves. If we are rightly made to see the lack in ourselves and our own insufficiency, it causes our hearts to cry out, "Abba, Father!" We look to Him. We turn to His Word, reminding ourselves of His promises, of His blessed hope, of His truth, His righteousness, His peace, His faith, His salvation, the privilege of prayer and coming to His throne of grace and mercy at our time of need and the assurance that because of the blood of Christ we are heard, and we are strengthened with the power...the very true power of all He is, and has promised us, and we are assured, as His Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are children of God. We are assured that if we suffer with Him, we will also reign with Him. That inheritance is more real to us than anything we are now experiencing in this world. The knowledge that He could come for us at any moment gives us energy to all the more live to please Him and to bring His light before a dying world. It gives us joy that strengthens our walk, knowing this is not our home, but we are ambassadors for a Heavenly city while here below. We live to please our King!
It is the power of HIS strength. It is the power He gives as we are in fellowship with Him. We cannot be living as we please, ignoring our fellowship with God, and just calling on Him when we have a problem, as though He were our magic lamp, where we go to have things go our way when we need. We must be dressed, daily, in the full armor of God. We must walk in the provision He has given. He Himself, in our spirits, is that full armor, that provision, that strength. It is not received apart from our union with Him, as though it were a separate force we can somehow receive.
(11) Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
(12) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
(13) Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
(14) Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
(15) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
(16) Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
(17) And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
(18) Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
This is daily surrender of faith, and communion with God. This is understanding our position and calling in Christ. This is "no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God Who gave Himself up for me." (Gal. 2:20). This is living by the Spirit of God, not by the flesh. Unless we learn in these perilous times, to live by the Spirit we will not have the armor of God in place in the time of need, when our trial comes. And it will come. God does not spare us from tribulation in this world. He told us just as they persecuted Him, they would persecute His followers, and all who love Him. Since the Lord was resurrected and gave His Spirit to those who believe Him, this has been the time of our tribulation as the church. The time of the world's tribulation is soon to come, when the Lord calls His ambassadors home to be with Him.
The world hates the light of His truth, because it exposes their lies and their sin, which they love and cling to. They choose to hide in the darkness. A child of God cannot walk in darkness with the world to appease the world, but must choose to either stand with Christ, bearing His reproach, and be light in that darkness, or to deny Christ and be a part of the darkness instead. Those who truly love Him and have His Spirit indwelling them, cannot but choose His light and life and suffering. Yet today there are many professing Christians who find it more comfortable to be a part of the darkness, the lies of the enemy that pervert His true Gospel, just enough so that they think they can have both Christ (a jesus of their own making - an idol), and the world as well.
We are faced with a choice when we are faced with evil. Will we hide ourselves in the darkness, or will we stand in the power of His might? God has a way of revealing what is of faith or what is actually of the flesh (living by our own will, appetites, and abilities for ourselves).
I've been meditating on Hebrews 11 lately, and I see throughout the book of Hebrews, that the hearts of those being addressed were being tested to see if they had true faith... the faith that "entered in" and truly believed God. Hebrews 11 talks about the actions of faith, or what faith truly produced in the hearts and lives of those who possessed it. When we are put to the test, true faith is revealed because we can only act on what we truly believe, are convicted of, and the heart truly accepts, which I wrote about in my last devotional. It is by this conviction, the evidence in our hearts of what God speaks to us and we believe, that we are strengthened in the power of His might for whatever He calls us to endure, or obey, or wait on Him for.
So what do I do if I find myself lacking, and I fall short? There is always one way to receive from God. It is to turn to Him in surrender of humility and faith. Humility - acknowledging our inability, sin, and weakness. Surrender - the giving up of ourselves, our own understanding, our own way, our own self-serving. Faith, trusting in His written Word to be true to what He says, and applying ourselves to it. If we ask, we receive. But we must ask with sincere hearts. He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). We must not look to our own feelings, weaknesses, or understanding but look to what He says, and choose to surrender our whole self to that in trusting it. This is the surrender of faith. It is not a surrender of ourselves by our own strength or power, which is impossible. Our flesh cannot surrender itself to death, because it seeks only to please itself. But we can surrender to the Lord in our weakness trusting He alone has the power of salvation and deliverance through His cross, through His resurrection, and through the Spirit He gives us.
We must wait on Him. To wait on Him is to spend time before Him, His Word, letting His Spirit bring the living Word to our hearts to examine, to cleanse, to fill, to empower, to build faith in our hearts. We must abide in Him through this daily fellowship.
(3) Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
(4) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
(5) I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
(6) If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
(7) If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
(8) Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Father in Heaven, You see our hearts, our helplessness, and our need. You only command that which You intend to fulfill in us Yourself. I ask that You examine our hearts and fill us with the power of Your might, to do that which You are calling us to, and sending us forth to do. In Jesus name, amen.
Friday, September 30, 2016
(6) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
(7) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—
(8) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
There is a love that is true love with no pretenses, no games, no conditions. We don't know love really, apart from God's love. Mostly human love is selfish...more a desire to be loved. But God's love not only comes to us when we are helpless to help ourselves, when we are lost sinners and unable to be reconciled to this great holy God, but He actually came Himself to make the way for us so that we can be free of sin and all that separates us from Him. He came Himself and paid the penalty for our sin.
Even so, this love continues to conquer every part of our being as we learn to live by faith in Him, and He indwells us. He is always at work, conquering every part of our hearts until we are completely surrendered to His will. His will is always at work in us. It is His love that does this. His love is a stronger power than any other power in Heaven or hell. Even while we go through severe testings, sufferings, and trials, we can be assured all has to go through His nail-scarred hands and all is for our ultimate good and freedom. I wrote this song as I was going through my own struggles in life and finding I needed to trust His hand in my life through all, and His love that would never fail.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Faith is the reality. Faith is the assurance of what God tells us to hope for. Faith is the conviction of what we don't yet see. Faith is an action inside of our inner being that must act always. What we truly believe in our hearts, is what we truly act on. We may say one thing and do another, only because we don't truly believe what we say. We will ultimately act on what we truly believe in our heart of hearts.
Vincent Word Studies on faith: " Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is a real seeing."
Faith comes to the child of God through the Holy Spirit coming to abide in him, as he believes in the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, as revealed in God's Word, the Bible. That faith will be tested sorely through fiery trials in this life, and genuine faith will be purified and shown to be what it is in that fiery furnace, just as it did for Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego. What it may otherwise show to us, is that our faith was in the wrong place, and a genuine faith in the God of the Bible was never there. The book of Hebrews tested the Hebrew believer's heart, to see if they had this kind of faith, or were they rather holding on to the Jewish system and law rather than truly embracing the only true salvation through Jesus Christ. Did they truly "enter in?" (Hebrews 3:19-4:3). It's interesting to do a look at the list of faith actions listed in Hebrews 11, and see what faith - genuine faith in God - the confidence His Word is true and alive, the "assurance of things hoped for, and conviction of things not seen," produces in the lives of those who have it.
Look at all the action words of faith in the chapter and list them.
received, v. 12
offered, v. 4
even in death still speaks, v. 4
was taken up, v. 5
pleased God, v. 5
constructed an ark, v. 7
condemned the world, v. 7
became heir of righteousness, v. 7
obeyed, v. 8
went out, not knowing where, v. 8
went to live in a foreign land, in tents, v. 9
looked for a city designed and built by God, v. 10
received power to conceive though past age, v. 11
considered God faithful Who promised, v. 11
had descendants born to him even though "as good as dead," v. 12
died in faith having not received promises but only greeted them afar, v. 13
considered themselves strangers and pilgrims on earth, v. 13
seek a homeland that is not on this earth, v. 14
desire a better country, v. 16
when tested offered up his only son, v. 17
considered God able to even raise the dead, in order to keep His Word, v. 19
received his son back again, v. 19
invoked future blessings, v. 20
blessed each of his sons, v. 21
prophesied of the exodus of Israelites and gave directions for his bones, v. 22
Moses hidden by parents, v. 23
no fear of the king's edict, v. 23
refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter, v. 24
choosing mistreatment over pleasures of sin, v. 25
left Egypt, not afraid of the king, v. 27
endured as seeing Him Who is invisible, v. 27
kept the passover and sprinkled the blood, v. 28
crossed the Red Sea on dry land, v. 29
encircled the walls of Jericho and they fell down, v. 30
gave friendly welcome to Israel spies, and did not perish, v. 31
conquered kingdoms, v. 33
enforced justice, v. 33
obtained promises, v. 33
stopped mouths of lions, v. 33
quenched the power of fire, v. 34
became mighty in war, v. 34
put foreign armies to flight, v. 34
received back their dead, v. 35
refused release from torture, v. 35
suffered mocking and flogging, chains and imprisonment, v. 36
were stoned, sawn in two, and killed with the sword, v. 37
went about in sheep and goat skins, destitute, afflicted, mistreated, v. 37
wandering about in desserts, mountains, and dens, caves of the earth, v. 38
(39) And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised,
(40) since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.
How then, should we be, if we are born of this same Spirit, Who is a guarantee of an eternal inheritance, incorruptible, kept in Heaven for us. How should we walk, if indwelt, truly, by the Holy Spirit... the Spirit of the Holy God of the Bible? Is He truly living in your heart? Have you "entered into" that "rest of faith" in His work alone? No, not a set of beliefs about Him, but He Himself, indwelling you by the act of being born again. This chapter tells us there is evidence of that in our lives when put to the test. Faith always acts on what it truly believes. When one has the Spirit in them, living in them, counseling them, guiding them, leading them, then their actions will ultimately be in accordance with all He says to us in His Word, rejecting this world, and embracing His promises. "Whether we live or die we are the Lord's." (Philippians 1:20-22)
(1) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
(2) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(3) Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
(4) In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
We don't "act on faith" trying to have faith in our faith, but faith acts in us and through us because it has to. It's true faith in our hearts produced by the Holy Spirit in us, convincing us of His Word, that it is true, that makes that Word as much or more of a reality to us than those things we see around us, that causes our actions to have to follow that conviction. It's because we know and are convinced. Not because we conjure up a faith in the power of our faith, as though we are gods and can make anything happen if we "believe" hard enough.
Those who are born again know. Those who aren't let themselves be convinced by another voice, another shepherd, not the true Shepherd. So eventually those who are of a different flock will reveal themselves.
(1) "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.
(2) But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
(3) To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
(4) When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
(5) A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."
How do you know if you're following the true Shepherd? Only by listening to His voice... His Word. If you disagree with His Word, you disagree with Him. If you hate His Word, you hate Him. If you neglect or deny His Word, you neglect or deny Him. If you take a man's word over His, disregarding His, then you are following another shepherd, one who is "the hired hand, and not a shepherd," but who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
(10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
(11) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(12) He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
(13) He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
(14) I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,
(15) just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
If we follow the true Shepherd of our souls, and have His Spirit abiding in us, we have an assurance from Him that produces faith through anything we have to go through in this world, knowing we have a better inheritance waiting for us. We know that nothing or no one can snatch us out of His hand or take Him away from us or separate us from His love.
(27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
(28) I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
(29) My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
(35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
(36) As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
(37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
(38) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
(39) nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Be careful who you listen to. Be careful where your faith is. The testing of it will prove it, not to God, as He knows all, but to our own hearts. If we fail the test, it causes us to look into His Word, to seek His face, to learn from Him, and to submit to Him. God will never fail us. If we ask Him for true faith, He will give it. It's not about whether or not we are strong enough, or how much we can endure. It's about His indwelling presence and His strength, endurance, and faithfulness, and the knowing and conviction of things He promises. True faith allows all the dross to be taken away, and willingly allows itself to be refined in the fire, because it must. It can do nothing else. It says, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:68-69)
May the Lord cheer our hearts and encourage us in the day of evil, with His Word of faith and hope and love. "For, 'yet a little while, and the coming One will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls." (Hebrews 10:37-39)
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
I remember a time when I was in Bible college, earnestly seeking God's direction and will for my life. I wanted to do something great for Him. Was He calling me to be a missionary? A Pastor's wife? Did He have some fulltime ministry for me? I knew I wanted to give my whole life to serving Him, but how? I was on my knees at a prayer meeting asking Him, "Lord! Please show me what You are calling me to be!" That still small voice came to me, simply saying, "to be my child." I had been a Christian for 2 years. I had no idea what the Lord meant by that. I AM Your child Lord! What do you want me to be? But in my forty-some years of being a child of God, He has been showing me what it means to be His child. I am His child always, in every walk of life I am in, wherever that leads, and whatever work that calls me to, or whatever circumstance. I am His child.
An amazing thing - to be actually a child of God, His offspring, His inheritance, His own family. The world wrongfully talks about the "brotherhood of man" claiming God is the Father of all, but the Bible tells us differently. God truly is the creator of all, and calls all to be His children, but only those who are born of His seed and have His Spirit abiding in them are become His children. And we don't even fathom at this time what we will ultimately be when our redemption is complete. We only know we'll be like Him!
So what is He like? The "church" of today has apostasized from a Biblical Christianity to a postmodern Christianity, sadly, and they've made their own Jesus, whom they decide is much more fitting for their lifestyle, dreams, and ambitions in this life. They've thrown out the Bible, and created their own. They practice new age mysticism rather than having the Holy Spirit. But those who want to know the real Jesus, those who want to find Him in truth, know that the one source of finding that is the book He gave us to reveal His truth to us, to reveal Himself to us, to give us a revelation of all that He will do and has done from beginning of time to the end of time in this world. Those who are His true children have something in common, they love their Father's will. They love His Word. It is from this Word, and this Holy Spirit they are born again and receive new life.
When we become His child, it's because of a new birth. It is not a decision to join a church, or to join a Christian mindset, or an ideology, or to start fixing yourself up to look like what you define as a Christian. It is an act of God. It is not an act of man.
John 3:3-6 Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." (4) Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" (5) Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, (13) who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
God Himself has to give you that "right" or "power" to make you His child. You cannot just decide, "I'm going to be a child of God from now on. I'm going to follow God's law and go to church, and join with other Christians and clean up my life." It is when we see that we are so completely separated from Him, so lost, so full of sin that He could never call us His own, or have anything to do with us; and then we see that He alone out of His own love, His own sacrifice by His blood, made the only way that we could be justified before Him, cleansed from all our corruption, and that He being God, is able to, by His power, remove that sin "as far as the east is from the west" and give us a whole new nature, a divine nature, by coming into our hearts, renewing it, and dwelling there, making us a whole new creature in Christ. It is then we are His child. It is ONLY then.
Romans 8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
If we are His child it's because we are "of His seed." Just as we are the biological children of our parents because we are born of the seed of our father. Those born of the earthly seed of their father have characteristics of their father. They will resemble their earthly parents and people will recognize them as being a part of that family. Those who are of the seed of God will also have His characteristics growing in them, so that they will be recognized as part of His family.
1 John 3:7-10 Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. (8) Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (9) No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. (10) By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.
These characteristics come about in them because of the "seed" in them. Not because of their strong enough willpower, or their strong enough faith to keep doing the right things or tow the line. But because of the Spirit of God Who now abides in them, Who remains in them forever.
John 14:16-17 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, (17) even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
Another characteristic of being His child is that the more we grow in this new life, the more we grow to be conformed to His image. We take on His nature, becoming like Him, and like Him, loving our Father's will (John 4:34). Doing His will becomes our desire, not something we must against our will submit to. We have our fleshly human nature, and there is always a battle with it. The flesh is always lusting against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. If you are His child, you will have this battle raging in you. One who is not, does not have this battle. But His Spirit in us has power to raise us up above those fleshly lusts when we agree with Him and submit ourselves to Him, trusting in His power alone to "raise us up to newness of life." It's understanding our position in Him, as His child, and knowing what He has done in us (Ephesians 1-2) that enables us to walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh. It is not having a strong enough will, but being filled with His will through His Spirit. It is having a "renewed will," renewed by the Holy Spirit (Colossians 3:10, Titus 3:5).
Galatians 5:16-18 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (17) For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The more we walk in the Spirit, the more we love what He loves, the more we desire His will and to put away our own will. The more we trust our Father's will, the more we will love His will. The flesh desires what makes it feel good and comfortable and satisfies its lust or pride. When we see God's will, and love it, we are empowered to put aside the comforts and desires and pride of our flesh and embrace His will. The more we do so, the more the love for that will grows in our hearts.
Many times we find a conflict in our soul with our will vs. God's will. But as His child, we do want His will. We often let the flesh deceive us, however, in desiring to bring together His will and our own, and find ways to manipulate the Word of God to somehow convince ourselves His will is really the same as ours. We convince ourselves that God wants us to be happy and feel good, and have a good life, so He must want what we want for ourselves. Even though the Bible may tell us what we desire is sin, we somehow let our emotions guide us into believing a lie. Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
How dangerous that is. How dangerous it is to get away from His Word - His light - His truth exposer. We cannot separate His Word from His will. We cannot separate His Word from Him. When we do we believe the lie our flesh and it's lust deceives us with. Sin is extremely deceitful and our only way of overcoming it is to abide in His Word, letting that Word, His will, fill our spirits. Many of His children don't resemble Him, sadly, because they have gotten away from listening to their Father's voice and began listening to the voice of a stranger. If they are truly His children, His Spirit will continually be calling them back to the truth of His Word, and though He may chastise for a time, it is for the purpose of restoring, as a loving Father Who chastises the children He loves. He will not let His children go. He will chastise and correct. Many of His children suffer needlessly because of following their own heart rather than their heavenly Father's. If they are His children, they will never feel comfortable outside of His will.
As His children, we will also suffer with Him, as Jesus suffered in this world. Because the world rejects God, they also reject His children. Because they hate the truth (which is Jesus Himself, and His Word), they will hate those who love the truth, who obey and cling to and keep His Word. Again we have a choice. Will we love our Father's will, even to suffer with Him, in order to do His will in this evil world? Will we give up our own will for happiness in this world, possibly losing all earthly possessions, or position, in order to embrace our Father's will and share in the same sufferings Jesus did? Will we share in His shame - the shame of the cross - with He, Who took on our shame? I think of the shame of my past sins, and cringe, and am so grateful that Jesus took all my shame. How can I say no to accepting the shame this world gives me for identifying with Him? As His child, I must take humiliation, ridicule, embarrassment, and all that the world does to me because I am His. I desire to do that with thanksgiving, knowing what an honor it is to be counted worthy to do so. I pray more each day that my Father will enable me to grow in my love for His will, no matter what it costs me. I pray for each of us that during this awful dark hour in this world, all the more we will stand in His light, embracing His will, no matter how much the world hates us for it. Father give us the power to do so, for it is You Who works in us to will and to do of Your good pleasure always.
Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, (13) for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.