March 2, 2015
Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. 2 Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. 5 Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.
First the Test, then the Blessing
As a people of God we can often relate with the children of Israel out in the wilderness. Most all of us have experienced our share of trials and tribulation and some of us more than others. While we pray and trust God, sometimes we may be tempted to murmur, if not out loud, then in our minds. When we pray we expect God to just listen up and get that prayer answered. So why doesn’t it always work that way? Why do we sometimes have to wait and endure so long to see our answer?
One of the first things we have to remember here is who is the parent and who is the child. Who is training whom? There are many instances in our present day society that it is evident that the child is in charge and not the parents. When the child demands the parents obey promptly to keep that spoiled child happy and content. God wants to bless us, but He doesn’t want to spoil us. He is not the great celestial Santa Clause that some like to imagine and even believe that He is. God is the Father and He is not just any Father. He is the awesome creator God and Father. The first thing we must learn, to operate in alignment with His kingdom, is that we are not in charge, He is! That seems an obvious statement, but it is one that we often seem to forget in practical living.
James 4: 3 says, “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Our Father is not raising his children to walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit, so when we ask we are often tested to see what is truly in our hearts. It is not so much for God’s benefit as for ours, so that we can really see our true motives.
What leaps out to me as I read this passage in Deuteronomy 8 is “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna. What came first the test or the provision? It has to be obvious even to the unbeliever that well over a million people could not have survived out in a wilderness without a supernatural provision. It is apparent in this scripture that when they received the manna and the provision it wasn’t always in accordance with their timetable and expectations. As a result, many of them would begin to grumble, murmur and complain. While I am sure none of us reading this have ever been guilty of doing that, it is enlightening to know that in God’s economy, provision and blessing works on His time table and not ours. Why do we need faith if we never have to believe in hope for the expectation of its manifestation?
Romans 5:1-5 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” We love to rejoice in the goodness and blessing of God. We love to rejoice in the salvation we have in Christ and the forgiveness of our sins. We should, these are glorious, but then look what it says we should also rejoice in. Suffering! Why should we have to endure suffering? Didn’t Jesus do all of that? No, He was our example of suffering and what it works in us. Suffering is a training tool to teach us obedience along with the attributes of obedience which are patience, perseverance, character and hope in what does not disappoint us.
Hebrews 5:7-10 says of Jesus, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” God is calling those that can here this to this same high priesthood in Christ Jesus, but to walk in the priestly calling we must be willing to walk where Jesus walked and suffer like He suffered. This identification with His life will bring the ultimate blessing, but first we must walk through the ultimate test. Do not despair if you are in this hard place of testing and suffering, use it to learn the perseverance, patience, character and hope that you need to press into His highest and inherit the blessing. “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. (Luke 6:40)”
February 27, 2015
1 Corinthians 12:25 –26
so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Yesterday, I began to have some gout flare up in the ball of my foot, above my right toe. It causes swelling, inflammation and pain that can become quite severe. It is a little affliction, not any greater than many others endure, but I felt like through it the Lord was ministering to me this morning about the body. I noticed how my own body reacted to the pain in this member. My hands would gently message it and my other leg and foot would take upon itself more of the weight when I walked. My mind was thinking about what I needed to do to get rid of it. My body was cognizant and responsive to the pain in one of my members. Each one did what it could to lessen or relieve that pain or minister to it.
I began to think, are we in tune with the body of Christ like our own bodies are with their members. In this scripture and those that precede it, the apostle Paul goes through quite a discourse explaining how the body is many members and yet one spirit. These many are made one and function as one through the unity of the Holy Spirit.
As I was meditating this morning on this truth I was thinking about how many times we, for instance, attend the funeral of a friend and we offer our condolences and then we often remark with the platitude, “if there is any thing that I can do, call me.” I think that is more for our benefit than theirs. We feel like somehow we have reached out and made ourselves available for their need, when in reality we have excused ourselves from really meeting any needs. Wouldn’t it be far more effective if we looked around and saw a particular need that we could do that would really minister to them in this time and then with their permission do it? That would effectively be ministering to the need in the body and this particular member.
I know that with myself it is far too easy to get caught up in my life, my agenda and all that I need to do and really miss the ministry and responsibility I have in meeting the needs of the body; rather that would be in my family or in others. I can become desensitized and unaware of the hurt in others and what I could do to minister to that need at that time. This is where we all need to stay in tune and sensitive to the Holy Spirit, because we function and minister to one another through His power and anointing. It may not be miraculous, but is often practical and necessary. Often the miracle begins to take place after we have ministered and went our way. We are not there in those circumstances to get the glory, but to minister the love of Christ and bring Him the glory.
The second part of body ministry is that even as we fill up one another’s needs, strengthening, providing and empowering each other, we, in turn are the servants of the world. A healthy body of Christ is God’s ministry and gift to the world. We are there individually and corporately to minister to the needs of others. We are willing to give ourselves, even as Jesus did on a daily basis to minister in whatever circumstances the Father placed Him in. Let us be sensitive and responsive to the needs around us.
The key to body ministry is that we all function out of the Spirit and by the Spirit. That Spirit is love and love always is thinking and moving on the behalf of others. The Holy Spirit mobilizes us as one man, for one purpose, to fulfill the will and expression of the Father. The expression of the Father is love and love meets the needs in one another.
February 26, 2015
Descended to an Ascended Life
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
Jesus came down that He might bring us up. The Son of God became the son of man so that He might bring the sons of men to be the sons of God. Christ came down and imparted Himself into humanity that He might bring us into His ascended life. It is a life that is marked by the same attributes as the One who has gifted and imparted it to us. It is a life wherein we die to live, a paradox that the world doesn’t comprehend. Just as a caterpillar dies to it’s old ways in the cocoon of transformation, so we are transformed and changed from glory to glory, even into the same image, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18). While we live the blessed life, in the favor and fellowship of the Spirit of God, we, at the same time, may be living out the trials and tribulations that are facing us in this world. Again, we find a paradox that we can find peace and joy in the midst of trials and tribulations. While we descend in a spirit of humility into the lives of those that God has placed within our influence, loving them in Christ and meeting them where they are at, we are living an ascended life that is drawing us into the presence of the Father. With eyes and heart set upon things above, we are not an island unto ourselves we are a light and a ladder to bring others to ascend with us in hope and in faith.
The Lord, when He ascended up on high, led captivity captive and gave gift unto men. These gifts He gave us, were not for our glory, but for His. He is glorified when these gifts serve to bring others into this ascending life. While we are ascending up into Him in spirit, we are being poured out and offering up a spiritual sacrifice in the natural. The abundance of God’s glory is manifested in our weakness. When we are operating out of an ascended life then others will see Christ; they will not see us, because the ascended life is not about us, but about Him. We become a usable commodity spent upon a higher good and calling. We spend and are spent that others might taste and partake of that ascended life.
Allow me to leave you with the Apostle Paul’s definition in 2 Corinthians 4:7-19, of the ascended life and how he also descended that he might ascend, but not without hope and not alone.
“7But this precious treasure–this light and power that now shines within us–is held in perishable containers, that is, in our weak bodies. So everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own.
8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don’t give up and quit. 9We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. 10Through suffering, these bodies of ours constantly share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
11Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be obvious in our dying bodies. 12So we live in the face of death, but it has resulted in eternal life for you.
13But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, and so I speak.” 14We know that the same God who raised our Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself along with you. 15All of these things are for your benefit. And as God’s grace brings more and more people to Christ, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
16That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. 17For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! 18So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”
February 23, 2015
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 13Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16Do not err, my beloved brethren.
Trapped by Our Appetites
We have bird feeders outside our sliding glass door, on the deck near the house. We love to drink our coffee and watch the birds in the morning. The squirrels also love our bird feeders, because it is a free lunch for them. I have a squirrel trap that I use when the situation gets out of hand to trap the squirrels and haul them off. It is a rectangular cage about two and half feet long. About two thirds of the way back there is a plate on the floor that spans the width of the cage and it has a rod that connects up to the door. When the trap is set, the rod holds the spring-loaded door open, but when something steps on the plate it pulls the rod out of the catch and the door springs shut and locks.
Recently, we have, what appears to be a new litter of squirrels that have discovered the bird feeders, so I had to dig out the trap out and start catching them. Yesterday I found one trapped and another one was on the outside trying to console or help him. We hauled the trapped one off to a park about two or three miles down the road and last night I set the trap again.
This morning as I was spending my time with the Lord, I looked up and saw one of the squirrels in the birdfeeders. He hadn’t come from the ground, but had jumped over from the roof to try and eat his fill. Eventually, he jumped back on the roof and disappeared. After a brief period of time he reappeared, this time walking on top of the deck railing gleaning some of the fallen seed. As I watched he eventually made his way down to the deck where he continued to forage for food. The squirrel trap was set and on the deck, beneath the birdfeeder. I had placed a few peanuts in a plate in the back of the cage along with a trail of nuts that led out of the cage and onto the deck. Initially the squirrel wasn’t real interested in the cage and seemed a little leery, but eventually as he was searching for food the peanuts captured his attention. At first he would go all around the cage looking for another way to get the peanuts, not finding any he eventually stuck his head in the door and grabbed one of the closest peanuts, taking it up to the railing to enjoy it. This little ritual continued on as each time he would venture just a little further back into the cage. At one point he even got on top of the cage and seemed to be testing it to see if he could trip it. Since nothing happened he continued to go back and get one peanut at a time till eventually he tripped the door and was trapped. Suddenly the priority wasn’t about the peanuts anymore it was about the fact that he was trapped and there was no way out. Now all of the attention had turned from his appetite to trying to get free from his bondage.
I felt like the Lord was giving me an object lesson about how we become ensnared by our fleshly appetites and the progression of temptation, to sin, to death. It is rare that one who has experienced Christ turns around and walks headlong into sin and death. It usually is a slow progression of enticing compromises that lead us to that point. We may, like that squirrel, have started in the heavenly and the high places. Little by little our appetites led us lower and lower. We know about the snare of temptation and sin. We may have even seen others caught in it and the destruction it brought. Somehow we think we are just a little smarter, more discerning, more spiritual and we won’t get caught. We start out very cautious, but when nothing happens over a period of time we get self confident that we’ve got this figured out and that we are beating the system. Then comes that day we finally go too far and the door slams shut. Suddenly our sin is discovered and revealed. Our world comes crashing down. Suddenly those temptations and sins that we were so enthralled with mean nothing in light of the consequences we are faced with. Our reputation may be ruined, our family may be lost. There may be any number of devastating consequences we may be facing because we had succumbed to temptation. We who may have once have been considered wise and righteous, may now appear as the fool.
Perhaps this is a warning to all of us to be aware of the areas of temptation and like Joseph, to flee from it. Be sure that our sin will find us out eventually. May we not allow ourselves, like the squirrel, to become ensnared and trapped by our fleshly appetites.
February 20, 2015
WHO YOU ARE IN CHIRST
Here some scriptures that are by no means exhaustive of the subject concerning our identity in Christ. It is important that we get these scripture deep into our heart and confess them over our lives daily, so that we are constantly brought into rememberance of who we are in Christ. The enemy’s greatest device is to try and separate us from our identity in Him. When he does, he can bring in condemnation, unworthiness and failure to discourage us in our faith. Stand strong and take these scripture into you heart, along with others that you may add to them.
” “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
24“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
25“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”
I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. 12While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,j who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
1 John 4: 17
By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthyg when God called you. 27Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28God chose things despised by the world,h things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. 29As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God.
30God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. 31Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 5:21
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
…And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
1 Peter 2:9-10
But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;10for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
2 Peter 1:2-4
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;3seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.4For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
1 John 4:4
Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
February 19, 2015
To every [thing there is] a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
Each season is created and set forth in the time and purposes God. We are a blessed people in that we live in the fullness of time. Everyone is created for a purpose, but not everyone will be the full expression of God’s purpose. God has a people that have sensed the stirring of His Spirit within their soul. They have sensed and perceived the Almighty’s hand upon them. It may be hard to explain to the average person, because it may not be a greatness that is seen with the outward eye or understanding. There comes to be a knowing within your heart that you are here in this season for a reason and that reason is for His purpose.
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.” Are we called according to His purpose? One of the things that will signify your calling in Christ is your love for God. “All things work together for them that LOVE GOD.” The love of God is pronounced because it is His love that will help you stay the course through all of the things that are working good in your life. While the outcome of what is working is good, the process of working that good may be very difficult and trying. That is because it is processing out the old man, as the new man in Christ Jesus is coming forth. A golden vessel is a good thing, but the process of getting it from the ore hidden in the earth to that beautifully crafted golden vessel was a process of crushing, fire, being pounded upon by the smith and shaped by the goodness of it craftsman. Throughout so much of that process no one could have seen what it would ultimately be but the Master Craftsman that purposed it.
Many of us have been called and purposed. We have a destiny to fulfill in Christ, but we must stay the course as Father brings us through the process unto our perfection. Even with that knowing that is within us, we sometimes become discouraged, disillusioned, distracted and sometimes discontent.
Father is speaking unto His people in this hour to stay the course. Press into your purpose with all of your heart and being. The promises to the churches in Revelations were not just to the called and purposed, but to the overcomer. The overcomer will stay the course, because he no longer lives, but Christ in him. Old things are passing away, behold, all things become new. Embrace your new creation man and even the processing that comes with it for you were created and purposed for such a time as this.