Saturday, November 22, 2014


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I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD! (Psalms 27:13-14)

Just one of the benefits of being "in Christ" and a child of God is that no matter how dark it gets, no matter the trial, no matter the evil around you, or the devastation you face, we know we'll see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. We know that we have hope and that there is something good to look to. The world does not have that hope. They have to make good here and now, however and by whatever means possible. Those outside of Christ must get for themselves whatever they can, and when there is loss of all they thought was their life in this world, they are without hope. And when death comes, their heaven is past, and they have nothing to look forward to. For them, this earth was the closest they will ever be to Heaven. They enjoyed God's goodness even though never recognizing it as His or coming from Him. They enjoyed life which was a gift from Him. They enjoyed food, laughter, love, provision for their needs, and all was from His hand, yet they never recognized it as His, so they used it up for themselves however they could, worshipping the things created rather than the Creator; and when it was gone they found themselves separated from Him and all that came from His hand. His rain and His sunshine fall on the just and on the unjust. People don't recognize His goodness even while they are enjoying it. They never have enough to satisfy, and without Him, they never will. Self-love can never be satisfied.

It should never be so for His own children though. How much we need to see and recognize His goodness to us, even now in a fallen world, where sin has corrupted and brought suffering and harshness to life. Rather than be surprised at the evil we see, we should be all the more surprised it has not gotten worse than it is by now, and that the goodness of the Lord is still around us for us to hope for and enjoy and know that it is only a foreshadow of things to come that He has for us. His goodness in this world at this time is polluted and corrupted by the selfishness and hardness of mankind who refuse to give Him glory (Romans 1:18-32). What they suffer as a result is merely God giving them over to what they wanted and asked for.

But as believers, we have the opportunity now to look at His goodness, to see His goodness surrounding us. We have opportunity to give Him glory even in the hardships suffered to always see the goodness of the Lord that we enjoy. It's human nature to look at the bad and totally miss the good. So we miss the glory of the Lord in our trials. We forget all the promises He has given us for each and every one and we focus on our pain. Yet when we begin to be thankful for the goodness of the Lord to us, and recognize His blessings we are lifted up and strengthened to endure all else. In the Lord, there is always hope, and always goodness, and always praise. There is always reason to give thanks. The fact that He lives in you and wants to fellowship with you is reason alone for praise. The fact that He promises that any evil in this world however it touches you will not hurt you but will be used for your good, is great reason to praise Him. The fact that not one single thing can come your way without passing first through His nail-scarred hands is reason for praise. The fact that nothing below or above can separate you from His love is reason for praise. The fact that He has sealed you with His Holy Spirit and given you a promise that you have an inheritance in His kingdom forever and ever and will never pass away or become defiled in any way, is reason for praise.

As Corrie Ten Boom once said, "There is no pit so deep, that Jesus is not deeper still" (The Hiding Place).

This is the season for thanksgiving. We have a holiday one day a year to give thanks. We've experienced the goodness of the Lord in many ways every day, that we are probably oblivious to. Things could always be worse than they are. Thank God they aren't. Thank God we have the goodness of the Lord in our hearts and we don't have to be overcome by evil but through Christ in us, can overcome evil with good. We need to keep our confidence that we WILL see His goodness and walk in the "land of the living" where no evil can again touch us or those we love. It's His promise. It's our hope. Paul tells us, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God concerning you" (1 Thess. 5:18). We desperately want to know God's will when we are walking through testings of our faith or need to make important decisions. This is His sure will for you in all things, whatever they may be. We are to give thanks. We are never to give up hope and faith in our loving Savior and what He is doing in our lives. We can give thanks that all is being worked out for good and we will see His goodness in the land of the living. The "land of the living" though it will one day be a place where we dwell, is even now a "place" where we dwell, though not physical. It is the place of being "in Christ" where the living dwell, and where we can abide in Him and His life always. If we do what we know to be His will, He will eventually lead us into further knowledge of His will as we keep on walking in faith and hope. Our very first obligation to obedience is to be thankful in all things. This is our first response - our first duty. What we consider circumstances to endure now, may later turn out to be an open door of blessing if we walk in faith trusting His hand. Back to Corrie Ten Boom, in part of her story, in The Hiding Place, when she was in a Nazi concentration camp and there was a terrible lice infestation Betsy was trying to tell her she needed to thank God for everything. Corrie said, "I can't thank Him for the lice." Later they learned it was because of the lice that the guards did not come into their building to molest them. Corrie learned a lesson in giving thanks in all things. We can trust our Heavenly Father with every single detail in our lives and should never think He has let up on His care of us or His love for us. If we continue to walk in faith and thanksgiving, we will see the goodness of the Lord.

His goodness is something I'm learning I don't want to miss! I don't want to miss it by my grumbling, or by my wanting of other things, or by my just failing to look for it. Every day we can see something of His goodness to us if we are looking.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him." The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:21-26)

Let us, each day look for those new mercies, and the goodness of the Lord, and not fail to give thanks, as we wait upon the Lord.

Abba, open our eyes to see the goodness of the Lord and to help us to remember this hope always that we WILL see the goodness of the Lord, even as we are called to endure so much that is not good now. Let us never give up hope in your goodness. Help us to trust in Your goodness no matter what. Your goodness never changes, fades, or fails. It's always there. Praise You Lord!

If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


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Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. (Psalms 25:8-9)

"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 18:10-14)

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (Proverbs 14:12)

One of the marks of most false religions and cults is that they teach self-righteousness in some form or another. That is, a sense of being "righteous in one's self." They teach that in some way a person can achieve a level of goodness in themselves by their own efforts, and reach either a state of godhood themselves, or achieve God's approval by their works and "obedience" to a set of rules or law that their particular group has put together. Just the same, those who claim to have no religion, and claim to be atheists, have a sense of righteousness in themselves, thinking themselves good without God, and have no sin or need of a Savior. In trying to set up their own moral standard, they develop their own causes which gives them purpose in their own supposed goodness. But God has made a remarkable way for mankind to find His salvation, goodness, and true righteousness. It is through humility alone, that man, seeing himself as a hopeless sinner, comes to find a salvation that is completely of God Himself, all of grace, and that there is not one thing He can do to purchase or earn that salvation for himself, not when he tries to hold onto and justify his sin. Rather than seeing himself as some little god that is able to attain perfection, he is stripped bare in his soul to the realization that he is nothing but clay and completely sinful in the light of a holy, perfect God. It's only in this state, when a man is brought low, when he truly sees himself as God sees him, that He is freely cleansed from his sin and brought into the true righteousness that God alone gives, by grace alone, through faith alone. And just as we received Him, so we walk in Him (Colossians 2). The only true righteousness is the righteousness of God.

I had a dream once that shook me. I'm not claiming it was some special vision of God or anything, but nevertheless, it had a strong impact on me. In my early Christian life, I thought my "obedience" so called was my righteousness. I understood I was saved by grace and that the Lord had come to live in my heart, but I did not understand His righteousness was now mine, imputed to me. I was up and down, according to how good I did or didn't do and according to my feelings. One night I had a dream where I died along with some others in a car accident. I was taken to heaven, and brought into a room to wait until summoned. Soon an angel came to get us and brought us into a huge auditorium filled with people that you couldn't even see the end of. In front there was a huge screen that everyone could see. I saw a man there with Jesus, and his life was being shown on the screen, and all that he did for Christ with pure motives was rewarded, and he was given rewards, which he was to take before the Father and lay at His feet. I was called to come forward and it was my turn to have my life on the screen for all to see. Everything I had thought I did for Christ I saw the self-serving motives to, and the self-dependence, and the pride. I came away with nothing but filthy rags, and I was to lay that before the Father's feet. I remember feeling such shame and sorrow and wishing I could go back and do it over again, and then suddenly I was awake, and I was so glad to find that it was all a dream!! I did have a chance to really serve the Lord!

The thing that stood out to me the most in that dream was my motives, my heart, my pride. All I thought I was doing as a Christian was nothing but me, me, me. It still took me some years to understand the righteousness of God I had in Christ, but the Lord was faithful to show me, patient to teach me, and longsuffering with me as I stumbled and got back up again many times. Finally He opened my eyes to see, He alone is my righteousness. If I hoped in anything else, I would find it filthy rags one day before Him and His holiness. What a loss!!! The only glory we have or will ever have is the glory of God Himself in us. All else will be looked on with such disdain and shame. All the pomp and impressions of man and the glory he gives himself will one day be seen for the foolishness and shame it is before God and man, for all to see. That is a very sobering thought for those who put themselves or others on a pedestal. It's a sobering thought for any of us, who even in the least things in life think more highly of ourselves than we ought.

The world teaches self-importance and self-exaltation. Yet this is the very heart of what is wrong with the world and the root of evil in the world. In today's world especially there is more and more of a movement against the righteousness of God proclaimed in His Word, the Bible, and in the self-righteousness of mankind, a hatred and animosity and violence against all who love His righteousness and trust in that alone as theirs. There is a hatred that is becoming more and more aggressive against all that is of that true righteousness because it exposes their hearts and acts, and reveals just what it is in God's light. When one has their own "light" which is really darkness, they have to do all they can to snuff out the true light that will expose it.

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God." (John 3:19-21)

One day, however, everyone's works will be exposed before all, and nothing hidden will remain hidden (1 Cor. 4:5; Luke 12:2-3). All will be brought out in the open for all to see, what was of God or what was of man - what was of the Spirit or what was of flesh. I know one thing, I want to be found in His righteousness alone. Obedience to Him is obedience to the Gospel, which is faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, receiving His righteousness, humbling ourselves before Him, and allowing His life to then be our life here as His ambassadors in this world, until one day we will be with Him where He is, fit for His perfect holy Heaven by that righteousness alone. Nothing blemished or imperfect will be there! Imagine! For man to think he can achieve that kind of perfection through supposed obedience to the law is nothing but a degrading of God's perfect standard, lowering it to their own level of "righteousness" which in God's eyes is as filthy rags.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Philippians 3:7-9)

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. (Romans 3:21-27)

Why is it so hard for the world to receive such a remarkable gift? Why is it so difficult for us to accept something so freely given to all who will come to Him? It is human pride alone! We must somehow see something good in ourselves. We must somehow see that we've earned what we get. The greatest hindrance of all to a person receiving Christ is simply pride. It keeps us from admitting sin, and defeat, and failure. It tries continually to put a good light on our grossest sins and make them look like something beautiful, something good, something justified. The lost seek to create their own "morality" justifying their immorality, calling evil good and good evil. The more the world does so, the more it hates the light of God's holy Word and His people. Yet, still, only those who have humbled themselves to see their sin, admit it, and receive His free gift of salvation will go away justified. One day the truth will be made known. We can face His light daily now, or later. But we will face it. How glorious to stand before Him one day dressed in His righteousness that He freely gave!! What an assurance that will be in the hearts of all who do so. What a false assurance those will have who trust in their obedience to some form of religion or law they think will save them, and what a disappointment they will find!

Dear Lord, may we be found in You on that day dressed in Your righteousness alone, and not our own works at all. Open our eyes to see what You have freely given to all who believe, and the greatest love that any human could ever know that you so freely give to whosoever will. Enable us to see our pride for all it is, that it is truly our shame. Help us to let it go for the glory that You have for us, and allow us to be clothed in the most beautiful garments that You alone can provide.

If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


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All blessings come from the Lord.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17)

Even while they sometimes come to us through vessels He uses or conditions He allows to be brought about, or circumstances we are placed in, they are from His hand. One blessing that seldom is looked on by any of us as a "blessing" is God's chastisement or discipline in our lives. Yet once one goes through that chastisement, and has learned from it, they realize the life and communion they have now in Christ, is so far beyond any pain the chastisement brought, that there is no comparison. Though it was painful, though it was hard to endure, though it was agony at the time, it brought you to a place in Christ that is stable, sure, and full of peace and fellowship in Him, if you relied on Him through it. You realize a communion that you never had before. To rejoice in our sufferings, is to have faith that they are working in us something far superior, and it is trusting our Lord Who shed His blood for us.

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:5-11)

The meaning of the Greek word for chastisement, from Thayer's dictionary:
Thayer Definition:
1) the whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment) It also includes the training and care of the body
2) whatever in adults also cultivates the soul, especially by correcting mistakes and curbing passions.
2a) instruction which aims at increasing virtue
2b) chastisement, chastening, (of the evils with which God visits men for their amendment)

From Strong's: From G3811; tutorage, that is, education or training; by implication disciplinary correction: - chastening, chastisement, instruction, nurture.

What human father would not see to the nurturing, training, education, correction and instruction of the child he loves? A good father would try to do his best in that. God is not just a "good" Father, but thee perfect Father, and His chastisement in our lives is for "training in godliness." If our spiritual growth and life were all up to us, sad to say, we'd be most miserable and would not see to it. Have you ever heard of a child that disciplines him or herself? Their natural tendency is to be totally self-centered and to demand their own way in everything, even throwing tantrums if they don't get it. Eventually when they get to maturity, if they have been trained well, they learn to practice self-discipline in the things they were taught and disciplined in by their parents. But as believers, we need discipline from the Lord, to be trained in our spiritual walk. I believe God is more interested in what we are becoming in Him, than what we are "doing for Him." Much of the "doing" is "wood, hay, and stubble" anyway, being done in our own flesh, until we are made vessels of honor He can work through by His Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:12-14).

The blessing of this training cannot be measured. It is eternal. It brings about not only blessing here and now, in our communion with our Lord, and our knowing Him more, and the peace that brings, but it brings to us eternal rewards that cannot be taken from us forever. It's hard for us to grasp "forever." We are so temporal in all our thinking. But temporal thinking will not get us through the trials we endure in this life. It will only cause us to miss what God is working in and through us in the chastisement He is bringing to us. It's difficult enough to go through the trials and sufferings of this life, but as a believer how much worse if we suffer in vain because we did not trust the Lord's hand in our trial, knowing that it is for our training, our nurturing, our discipline, our very good (Romans 8:28)! We are no better off than the unbeliever then. We have His promise to rely on and trust in, that He will work all things together for our good, for our ultimate glorification in Him, not to be taken lightly.

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:24-31)

I would encourage you to read the entire chapter of Romans 8. We are not without hope, no matter how severe the testing. We are being taught how to apply His promises to our lives, how to "put on Christ" and to walk by faith, not by sight. Walking takes practice and sometimes we take one step and fall, and then maybe two, and eventually as we keep getting back up and keep taking those steps we become more stable, and more sure on our "feet" and we start walking with confidence. Some Christians, sadly, no matter how long they have been saved, have never learned how to walk. It takes effort to make those steps, and does not feel natural at first. I heard a testimony recently at a Voice of the Martyrs conference, from a lady whose husband was tortured and murdered because of His faith and work for the Lord. She was bitter toward those who did this and hated them. She was convicted that she was to love her enemies and pray for them. She knew she had to but did not feel it. She couldn't do it, but she decided she had to be obedient. At first the prayers for her enemies were nothing but words from her mouth that were not in her heart. But each time she prayed for them, eventually the Holy Spirit took over and filled her heart with genuine prayer from the heart for them and she was able to do it with ease. This is the exercise of "putting on Christ", walking in obedience, walking by faith. We take the steps, He puts the power and life into it.

Yet how sad when we think only temporally, and we disregard His Word that gives us that hope and promise and we only murmur and complain and never see the blessing He is working in us through the chastisement. Or if we see the chastisement as "punishment" or "judgment" from God as though He were applying it in anger then we run from Him, and place ourselves under a spirit of condemnation, rather than seeing His love through it, and submitting to His hand. We may not see ourselves as "running from God" though if we are not submitting to His hand in our lives seeking His wisdom through it and His glory, rather than just our own temporal comfort, we miss that blessing, and it's all in vain, and we have run from what He has for us. It won't benefit us. Yet God Who is faithful will keep working in us until we finally come to see it for what it is. The stronger our flesh's rule in us, I believe, the greater the discipline it takes to free us from ourselves, it seems.

Some of us seem to have a lifetime of discipline to walk in, such as a sickness or infirmity that we have to endure in this body as long as we're alive. It's one thing to have a terminal illness - at least you know it will end, and you will be free and with the Lord, if you are a believer. But to have something that you just have to live with, endure, accept, and there is so far no cure for, or to live in chronic pain every day, is another thing. Or to be born in a country where you are subjected constantly, day after day, to fear of terror by those who hate God and His children and want to steal, kill, and destroy, just as their father the devil bids them to do. There is no escape, but only learning to endure it by His grace, and not be overcome by it, and to learn to find His glory in it. We all have our different callings, locations, and things to endure. Sometimes there is no deliverance other than the Lord's coming to take us home. This is not because of God's displeasure of us. This is not because God is against us. What does it say? It is because of His love for us, and He confirms His love to us in it and assures us that He is for us, and if He is for us, who or what in heaven or earth can be against us? They may be against us, but they cannot defeat us. Through the things we endure we learn to rely on God and to know Him and the fellowship of His sufferings and become like Him, as we do as His Word says, seeking His face in all, and submitting to Him. Those who are the most broken in the flesh, learn to cling to Him the most, and He becomes the most dear to.

He does give us promise in the midst of each testing or hardship. He does not leave us helpless and He gives us promises that we can count on.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (James 1:2-5)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:6-10)

Sometimes the "way of escape" is to let God take you by the hand and teach you how to walk through it, by His power and grace, and to stand so that we are not hurt by it. He gives us feet that can walk on water, and not be overwhelmed by the storm and the tidal waves. He teaches us to overcome evil rather than to be overcome by evil. He reveals Himself there with us in the fiery furnace. He teaches us to find His shelter and rest even while in the storm itself, before delivering us from out of the storm. Paul learned that whatever his circumstances, whether he was being persecuted, suffered loss, or whether he had plenty, to be content. None of us is content in this life if we suffer, but in Christ, Paul showed us that it is possible as we learn to completely rely on Him through all. We learn that Jesus IS our contentment, and we are most content in His fellowship and closeness, regardless of the suffering. This kind of contentment does not come about just by human will. It is worked in us through the many chastisements the Lord brings to us, as we trust in Him and learn to submit to Him and know Him through them. It is worked in us through many hardships as we learn to make Christ our contentment.

God is never trying to "make us stronger" through our trials. This is a mistake many make. That is, He is not trying to "strengthen our flesh." Many times I've cried, "Why is this happening to me. It's only making me weaker, not stronger! I can't do anything! What good am I to God?" Sometimes He brings us to utter helplessness regarding our flesh, but remember what Paul learned in that?

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

How different a heavenly way of thinking is from the earthly, worldly way of thinking! It is totally opposite of human nature or human psychology that seeks to strengthen "self." It is only by divine nature that it is reasonable at all! It is only from Heaven's perspective that it can make any sense at all to live the Christian life. If there were no more hope than what we have in this life the Christian life would be the most unreasonable and hopeless and miserable life of all. Why would we endure, if there were not some promise of blessing for that endurance? Why would we suffer shame, reproach, persecution, etc., if there were not an eternal promise and hope? Yet many "Christians" live as though this life were meant to be our Heaven now. It's preached "God wants you to be your happiest now!" I don't think so.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)

If Christ, then why not us, His children as well? Do we think to learn it without suffering in the flesh? Do we think ourselves superior to Christ Himself?

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1 Corinthians 15:17-19)

But Christ has been raised, and we have been raised with Him, and shall be raised to be with Him in eternity. What we gain through all in this world will be eternal gain for us. Where our treasure is there our heart will be also. If we look at each hardship in this world we've been given to endure as God wants us to see it, the benefit holds much treasure for us that cannot be measured. If we see it as the blessing it is to us, we will gain much. Let's not miss the blessing, disguised as chastisement, that God has for each one of us Who are born again, children of God. This is our joy and hope. Let's not take it lightly, or toss it away, or miss it. Abba, enable us to embrace it with joy, trusting in You! You will never fail in all Your purposes! You have provided for all!

If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


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What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9)

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

"Practice makes perfect" they say. Exercise builds endurance. Sometimes we need to stop and ask ourselves if we are practicing what we have read in the Word and exercising those things. Are we reading it and walking away and forgetting it? How are we applying it to our lives. We don't grow in grace and knowledge of God just by reading it. We need to take it in to our hearts and minds and apply all of it to our lives. We need to actually do it! Simple right? Well, I guess not because the Lord seems to have to remind us again and again, and sometimes, in my life, it seems I've had to learn and relearn and relearn again, the same things over and over through various trials or circumstances. I have to be reminded many times over of something the Lord showed me very clearly in His Word, and then be reminded that yet another time, I must apply that Word to my walk, and not quit applying it.

We wonder why our lives get all messed up sometimes and why we are going through something in particular (Proverbs 19:3). Sometimes things happen beyond our control or anything we've done, but there are many times our own lack of applying the Word and walking in the Spirit has caused us to end up in a situation we do not want to be in. Many times we don't see or understand why or what we did or did not do that brought us to where we are at. Maybe we were just going about our business, doing things the way we wanted to do them, then everything fell apart. But in those things God allowed in our lives that are painful, we are forced to take a look and ask, and as we spend time in His Word He reveals to us what our flesh is and what led us to where we ended up. "Why did God let this happen to me?" We may cry out, not understanding or seeing. We don't see anything we did "wrong" or could have done differently. But maybe God saw fit to give us a little "practice" in putting our faith in Him in ways we have not even seen yet, forcing us to get up and exercise some godliness. He won't just do it for us. He wants us to get up, take what He's given us, by faith, and act on it, not just once, but as many times as necessary, until our walk is no longer feeble, but sure and steady and confident in Him.

It's a time that we need, more than ever, to sit at His feet, and let Him teach us. We need to let Him instruct us in His Word, and then we need to take that Word and act on it. If we don't act on it in faith, it won't have any benefit to us. We can't get by just seeking to do our own thing reading a few comfy verses each day to give us a lift, and expect God to just bless everything we do. He has a different plan. His purposes are higher than our purposes. He has given us His Word to be our light to our path, to be our guide, our counsel, and our very life. Are we practicing what we are reading? Are we taking it to heart? Are we applying faith to it? Are we making it our own and walking in it?

For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. (Hebrews 4:2)

If we forget to, God has a way of reminding us again and again. I know I have needed that reminder often and I still do, and my Abba never fails to give it to me! We take it lightly if we are neglecting His Word in a certain area of our lives, overlooking it easily, but God does not. He never overlooks or fails to make sure to accomplish His Word in us and bring us to the place of seeing where we are neglecting Him, and drawing us back to His Word of life for instruction and counsel, giving us opportunity to benefit from it once again.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. (James 1:22-25)

If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:17)

In contrast, if you "know these things"... the things Scripture teaches us how to live by faith and how we are to conduct ourselves, and then we don't do them, how miserable we'll be! How much we'll miss! How little of Christ we'll really know and how little His life with benefit us. Of course, if we are not even reading the Word, we won't "know these things!" And then we are not practicing them either, but just living life our own way, pursuing our own interests. He's given us the greatest treasure and there is nothing on earth that can compare. There is nothing in this life we could gain for ourselves that could even minutely compare with what riches He has for us here and for eternity in Him, in knowing Him, in having His life flowing through us, in seeing His fruit produced in us and in seeing the life that comes forth to others we love because of it. There is nothing in this life that we could pursue that compares to the eternal rewards He has for us. If we really get a glimpse of it, we would pursue that life with all our hearts, not just casually, or half-heartedly, or as it suits us. This wonderful blessed Word of God, so full of true treasure and riches, so full of all we need to live life to the fullest in Christ, if we apply it and walk by faith in it, trusting in Him, rather than ourselves, can be of no benefit to us if we do not put our faith in it and practice and apply what it says. What a loss! It's one I know I don't want.

I know many times I have failed to apply it or remember to. But recently, I am made more aware than ever that every breath I am given the grace to breathe in this world, I want not to be wasted, but to be for eternal purpose in Him. As the world grows more evil, my view becomes more and more clear of what is important to me. What is important to God is what is becoming more and more important to me in this world. I want to make sure I am not neglecting that most important thing letting daily life crowd it out. I want to make sure that I am putting into practice all He gives me. I want to hold fast to that which matters, and live for Him.

"Practice these things"...that is the things that matter. Practice the things that matter.

Practice walking by faith daily, whatever the situation, from the smallest to the greatest things that come your way. Practice "putting on Christ" each day and walking by faith in Him. Practice love to others. Practice hope that doesn't give up. Practice being His light however He calls you to be. Practice denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following Him. Practice prayer and thanksgiving in every circumstance. We may not feel it, and it may not come natural, and we may be tempted, tossed, and oppressed, but practice godliness to all people anyway...put on Christ! Put off the flesh. It's by faith in His living Word, taking that Word into our spirits and trusting it is true as it says. He is good to His Word. We can count on it, walk in it, and practice it daily, trusting His power in us to live in and through us. We are not "obligated to the flesh to cater to its demands."

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (Romans 8:12-13)

You do not have to let the flesh have its way in you. You have the Spirit of God, if you are born of that Spirit and have come to saving faith in Christ. If so, you do not have to give in to the demands of your flesh no matter how loud or strong they are.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

"I can't help how I feel." No but you can help how you act, and can choose to trust and rely on all God has given you to stand and walk in and practice His Word. Tell yourself what His Word says, when your flesh or the enemy is telling you something contrary. Tell yourself what God's promise to you is, and what His command to you is, and then by faith, practice it, even if everything inside of you "feels" differently. Feelings follow faith. Faith does not follow feelings. Never will. Don't let your feelings control you. By faith, present yourself to God, and trust His Spirit in you to overcome the flesh (Romans 6:11-18).

The Christian life is more than feelings, it's more than experience, it's more than getting blessed. The Christian life is Christ in you, your hope of glory, and it is that, as we practice walking according to that life in us and all He is to us and has provided for us. If we lack wisdom He says to just ask for it, and He will give it, for every circumstance (James 1:2-6).

Abba, Father, enable us to see where we are lacking in our practicing daily all the things Your Word gives us, and in practicing faith instead of doubt, hope instead of despair, and trust that where You lead us, You will provide all for us and continue to bring us through. Help us to see when we lose our way or when we get onto a wrong path what brought us there. Help us to understand more and more the life that You would want us to practice and do daily, for Your glory, in Jesus name, amen.

If you are not sure you have eternal life, if you want to know more about salvation through Jesus Christ, and how you can be sure, you can read more about it here.