Wednesday, December 28, 2016

THE HOPE OF THE NEW YEAR




What do you hope for in this new year?  If you voted for Trump you may be hoping for some changes in our government and hoping America will truly be made great again.  If you didn't maybe you are feeling hopeless.  Our true hope in this world for the new year does not lie in any man, but in our relationship with Jesus Christ and His promises. No politician or world leader, or UN decisions or anything else can take away the true hope of the new year.

Romans 5:2  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 15:13  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Ephesians 1:18  having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

Because we have the light of Christmas, in the coming of our Savior to this world, born into this world miraculously as the God-man, taking on human flesh, taking on Himself our sin, and becoming our Savior, we have the light of hope for whatever this new year brings to us as well.  It is out of the joy of that coming, that we look now to the new year.  Even as the world grows darker and the hate and violence grows more determined to snuff out that light, His light can never be put out. It is a sure hope. It is a hope that will not be disappointed for all who embrace it and receive it by faith.

What will the new year bring to the world? Only God knows.  But His Word tells us His ultimate plan for this world, and how it will end.  We have the beginning and the end told to us.  How we choose to think and act will be determined by how we treat His Word.  To those who embrace it, it is a message of undying hope that is sure, and will produce a genuine joy and peace in the soul.  It will determine how you face your circumstances ahead, how you will treat others around you, and what importance you will give to your time with God and your service to Him.

John 1:4-5  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  (5)  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

We don't have to be overcome if we let that light abide in us daily.  It's not the power of a resolution that will sustain us, but the power of His presence in our inner being, guiding and empowering us to walk according to His light.  Let us be  persuaded all the more then, to be feeding on Him, abiding in Him, and focusing our eyes on Him, as we encounter whatever the new year brings our way.  Will we make it a year of selfish pursuits and worldly gain or will we make it a year of pursuing Him and His glory?  It challenges me to come before Him and ask Him to work His will in my heart more and more.  Paul encouraged the believers to "abound more and more" in all their devotion to and knowledge of God, and in their love for Him and one another (Phil. 1:9; 1 Thess. 3:12). Never are we to settle for where we are at, but to always "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."  (Phil. 3:12)

Because of that hope that the light of the Gospel brought to us, we have the resources in Christ to do this.  How appropriate that we celebrate Christmas right before we celebrate the new year.  If we take the time to truly meditate on that Gospel of hope and joy, it brings us new strength to face the new year, and a purpose in it.  It sets the heart in the right direction.  It's the Gospel that propels us into the new year and gives us courage to face it.  We always hope for good things ahead, new opportunities, new beginnings and chances to start over in the new year.  The Gospel gives us all of that.  And if the new year should bring hardship or sorrow, it gives us the hope and assurance we need to face it and conquer it.

My prayer for all of God's children in 2017 is that we will abound more and more, in whatever place we find ourselves, in the knowledge and love of God and to grow in His grace in every part of our lives.  My prayer for those who have not yet come to know Him as their Savior is that this will be the year they do, and that they will find the true hope of life that will never fail them.

I also join in with the prayer in Revelation 22:17 - "The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come.' And let the one who hears say, 'Come.' And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Revelation 22:20 - "He who testifies to these things says, 'Surely I am coming soon.' Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!"

May this be the year of  Your coming for Your church, Lord Jesus! Titus 2:13 -  "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."

From our house to yours, I hope you all have a blessed new year!



Monday, December 12, 2016

MY SECOND BIRTHDAY




December 12th, 1971, was a very special day for me. It was the day I was born - born the second time that is.  It was the day I was born into the kingdom of God, the day I became a new creation, an act God Himself did in me, making me His own child. I like to share my story to celebrate my birthday.

As a teenager I had all sorts of problems, as most teenagers do, with peer pressure, temptations, and trying to find my place in this world.  I began to wonder, also, about spiritual things.  Who was I? Why was I here?  Who is the real God?  How do I know?  How do I know which religion I should follow?  Is there a heaven and a hell?  If there is which one am I going to?  Can I know?  All these things, as well as all my teenage struggles would eat at me.  And at the end of the day when I was out with a group of friends doing things my conscience told me was wrong, I would lay in bed and look up at the wall at a picture of Jesus that I had "won" reciting the correct order of the Gospels in Sunday School when I was much younger, and this picture of Jesus had eyes that would follow you wherever you were in the room. I would feel those eyes, and I would sense that God was watching me and knew all my sins, and I would be afraid.  And I would pray, "God, show me the way to the truth."

Soon I began to withdraw from friends, and become sort of a loner.  I tried cleaning up my act, but never quite could.  I would see the Bible that was given to me when I was in 2nd grade sitting on my dresser and it was like everything else in my room was invisible and that was sitting there glowing brightly, drawing me to it like a magnet, and I could not resist picking it up and reading it.  I began in the beginning, where you begin in any book.  I read Genesis and Exodus, and saw the law of God, which absolutely condemned me.  I remember actually skipping school one day to spend the day reading it and praying for God to reveal Himself to me.  I was on my knees in horror as I read the law and saw how condemned I was, and fearful that there was no hope for me.  I had broken the commandments, I had taken the Lord's name in vain, and I was guilty, and no amount of trying to rationalize or excuse myself could be done. It was as though I were in a court before the judge and all my crimes had been named and there was not one word to my defense.  My heart sank, because I wanted to know God. I really did. But how was there any way for me to know Him now or find Him? 

I would stare up at that picture and say, God I only want You as my friend.  Please be my friend, as I felt I had no other real friends (my own doing).  But there was a still, small voice, that would whisper in my heart, "I can't be your friend because of your sin."  So I kept reading, I kept praying, I kept seeking.  I would take long walks and ask God to appear to me, to show Himself to me.  I kept hoping to see an angel or Jesus Himself.  But that didn't happen.  Then I heard there were "Jesus People" in town and that they were on the streets telling people about Jesus.  I sought them out, but never found one.  I prayed God show me what church to go to!  Show me how to find if I can be a Christian or not.  I didn't know if He would forgive me. 

Then one day our social studies class brought in pastors from about 13 different churches in the area, one each day, to speak about their beliefs on marriage.  We were studying marriage and religion.  I carefully took notes of each one, asking God to show me where I should go for the answers.  Then one pastor stood out.  My teacher spoke to us before he came in…"now be careful of this guy, he likes to preach!"  That got my attention.  This pastor came in and spoke of what it meant to be born again, and how much God had for those who came to him in true faith to be born again.  He had an excitement and exuberance about him.  He passed out a book at the end of the class.  My heart was on fire.  I read some of the book, and told myself, I'd visit his church on Sunday.  I walked up to the church to read the sign to see what time their service was.  

The next Sunday, though I had all the intentions of going, I woke up very tired and said to myself, I'll just stay in bed, and maybe go the following week.  But there was a compelling force that I felt all around me urging me to get up and go. I kept hearing "no you have to go today. Today is your day."  So I got up. I told my dad where I was going. He said he'd drive me there and pick me up.  He was warning me about "those crazy people."  But he left me off at the door.  I thought to myself, "hmmm, maybe I'll just walk around and wait for him to come pick me up again."  Again there was the compelling force around me that was urging me strongly to go in.  Again I was hearing, "No! you HAVE to go in. Today is your day."  So scared as I was, I went in.  

There was a lady standing in the foyer, nobody else around. I wondered where everyone was.  She said they were all in Sunday School, which was strange to me.  I thought Sunday School was only for children.  I told her I had heard the pastor the week before in school and wanted to check out his church.  She was delighted and I noticed a  "look" on her face.  It was the same look I noticed on the pastor's face when he spoke. What was that?  How did they do that?  Then I notice some girls from my school come up the stairs carrying Bibles and other material, and I wanted to hide myself, because they were more popular girls, from a whole different group than I hung out with, and I thought they would make fun of me.  But they came right up to me, and said how happy they were that I was there and asked me to sit with them. I did. One of them sitting next to me was praying for me under her breath the whole time.  I didn't know what to think of that!  

The pastor spoke, and I don't remember all he said, but through it all I was realizing this was something I didn't have and needed.  At the end he invited anyone who was not born again, and understood that they needed the Lord in their life to raise their hand.  I knew I did but was so scared of what others would think.  I thought for sure these girls would make fun of me. I was crying… a first for me in church. So embarrassed to be crying in church! What would they think.  But again I felt that compelling force, and almost unconsciously, my hand shot up.  I was shaking.  Then the pastor asked those who raised their hands to come forward. What? Go up there in front of everyone!?  I couldn't!  I just couldn't!  Again I heard, "you don't know if today is the last day you have, you don't know if you'll be here tomorrow or next week, today is the day of salvation."  

Again that compelling force drove me up front and I knelt down, in tears and just prayed.  A woman came up next to me and opened her Bible to John 3:16 and read, and said to me, "put your name in there and read it.  Are you a 'whosoever?'"  I read it, and it was like the light came on. "I'm a whosoever! I can come to Jesus!!  He will forgive me!"  She led me in a prayer of forgiveness and to receive Him into my heart.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
(John 1:12-13)


He came into my heart.  I knew it.  Just as sure as I knew it was Sunday, I knew He had come into my heart.  She told me to go home and write this date down in my Bible next to John 3:16 and to tell someone I had prayed this prayer and received Jesus as my Savior.  I remember the absolute relief and joy I felt in my heart…the huge burden that had fallen off of me when I left that day. A thought came to me, "but what if I sin again?"  And just as quickly another thought came to me, "Jesus is in my heart. He will help me."  I remember spending the next 3 days reading through the entire New Testament. It opened up to me and became alive in a way I had never seen before.  I remember a time when I rolled back and forth in my bed laughing saying to myself, "I'm forgiven! I'm a child of God!"  Nothing was so wonderful as that.  I have had many trials, testings, fallings, and heartaches since that day, but He has never left me or abandoned me, and He has grown me, revealed Himself more and more to me, and made the reality of His presence more and more manifest to me.  His reality, presence, and love is so deeply rooted in my entire being, that it is more real than the world around me at times.  I have found Him to be true and His Word true.  I wish with all my heart I could make others to see Him and find this life as well.  How can you keep such a thing to yourself?  You can't.  I want everyone to have Him!  

Friday, December 9, 2016

MY ROCK, FORTRESS, DELIVERER, REFUGE, SHIELD, STRENGTH, AND HIGH TOWER

There have been times in my life, when I wish I could just have a reprieve from life, a vacation of sorts, or some way to escape all of it… the anxiety of it, the apprehension and uncertainty of the future, the pressures, the problems that seem unsolvable, and so on. The funny thing about vacations, is that you can change scenery, and even get away from some of life's pressures, but they are always there with you in your mind, never really ever giving you relief from them. You always have to go back to them, and many times I've said, "I need a vacation from my vacation," once it's over.

I find comfort and strength many times in the Psalms, and this Psalm especially touched me this morning, as well as some of the commentary I read on it. All of Psalm 18 spoke to me, but especially verse 2.

Adam Clarke:

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalms 18:2)

The Lord is my rock -
2. I stand on him as my foundation, and derive every good from him who is the source of good. The word סלע sela signifies those craggy precipices which afford shelter to men and wild animals; where the bees often made their nests, and whence honey was collected in great abundance. “He made him to suck honey out of the rock,” Deu_32:13.
3. He was his fortress; a place of strength and safety, fortified by nature and art, where he could be safe from his enemies. He refers to those inaccessible heights in the rocky, mountainous country of Judea, where he had often found refuge from the pursuit of Saul. What these have been to my body, such has the Lord been to my soul.
Deliverer -
4. מפלתי mephalleti, he who causes me to escape. This refers to his preservation in straits and difficulties. He was often almost surrounded and taken, but still the Lord made a way for his escape - made a way out as his enemies got in; so that, while they got in at one side of his strong hold, he got out of the other, and so escaped with his life. These escapes were so narrow and so unlikely that he plainly saw the hand of the Lord was in them.
5. My God, אלי ,doG Eli, my strong God, not only the object of my adoration, but he who puts strength in my soul.
6. My strength, צורי tsuri. This is a different word from that in the first verse.
Rabbi Maimon has observed that צור tsur, when applied to God, signifies fountain, source, origin, etc. God is not only the source whence my being was derived, but he is the fountain whence I derive all my good; in whom, says David, I will trust. And why? Because he knew him to be an eternal and inexhaustible fountain of goodness. This fine idea is lost in our translation; for we render two Hebrew words of widely different meaning, by the same term in English, strength.
7. My buckler, מגני maginni, my shield, my defender, he who covers my head and my heart, so that I am neither slain nor wounded by the darts of my adversaries.
8. Horn of my salvation. Horn was the emblem of power, and power in exercise…The horn of salvation means a powerful, an efficient salvation.
9. My high tourer; not only a place of defense, but one from which I can discern the country round about, and always be able to discover danger before it approaches me.

Jamieson, Faucett, & Brown commentary: He conceals us (the cleft of the rock) and is an immovable strength in us, He is the power and strength of our salvation. He alone IS our salvation. " The horn, as the means of attack or defense of some of the strongest animals, is a frequent emblem of power or strength efficiently exercised"

He is my "tower" - a high place out of reach of danger. Spiritually speaking, there is no power in this world that can hurt me, because He is all that to me and in me. They may kill the body, but all I really am is His and He is in me. And one day this body will be redeemed as well, and will be untouchable by any evil, just as His is now.

I may not be able to remove myself, physically from this world, or from the pain in my body, or the weaknesses of my flesh, or the trouble that presses in around me, but I do have a place I can go in my inner being, to hide myself in Him, to strengthen my soul, to refresh myself, and to stand strong, and walk. I have His very presence in me that I can turn to, that I can draw from, and that enables me to have insight that I need, wisdom for what I need to do, protection, assurance, and help. His presence alone strengthens my soul. As Christians we have so much yet neglect it, and strive so hard in our own strength and by our own resources all too often instead of learning what it means to be His child and the privileges that go along with being that. We fail to learn Who He is to us, what He is to us, and just what resources we have in Christ.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:3)

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3-4)

What an awesome, wonderful, faithful, strong and mighty God we have Who does all on our behalf! Teach us, Lord, to dwell in Your secret place, abiding under the shadow of Your wings, that we might always find strength for our souls.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

MY HEART AND MY FLESH MAY FAIL, BUT GOD IS THE STRENGTH OF MY HEART

Psalm 73 is one I read a lot in these days of turbulence.  It seems that evil is prevailing in the world many times.  They are too strong for us.  Too powerful.  We have no way to stand against it or defeat it, and we see no justice.  Time and time again we see the good trampled down, the righteous oppressed, tormented and killed.  We see lies spoken as truth and truth as lies. We see good being turned to evil and evil to good.  What are the righteous (those made righteous by the blood of Jesus Himself, not by any merit of their own) to do?

Psalm 73 tells the story and reminds us God does see.  He hears.  He does bring judgment in His day, in His time, and He holds onto His children, reminding them that He alone is the strength of our hearts and our portion forever.  We find we have no real portion in this world, no riches of this life to speak of, and we find Him to be our life, our riches, our portion, and find contentment in Him.  One day we will be with Him in glory!  What is anything we suffer now compared to that? I have a video below which won't show up in your email if you get this in email, but you can go to the link in YouTube to view it.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

HE WILL BEAR YOU UP ON EAGLES' WINGS


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.

Isaiah 40:29-31
(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

THE CONFLICT OF THE SOUL

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:2)

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

THE SURRENDER OF FAITH

SURREN'DER, n. The act of yielding or resigning one's person or the possession of something, into the power of another; as the surrender of a castle to an enemy; the surrender of a right or of claims.
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.