TWO KINDS OF PEACE…

Spiritual Blog - Peace

John 14:25-28 –These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.  26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.  27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  28 You have heard Me say to you, ‘I am going away and coming back to you.’ If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, ‘I am going to the Father,’ for My Father is greater than I.”  NKJV

So much said in such a small passage of scripture!  So much comfort, hope, encouragement, direction, and information for our daily walk!  I love the Promises of our Lord not only to those standing with him physically at the time but reaching into all successive generations and this passage is one of those incredibly powerful tidbits from the Treasure Trove of His Promises.

Notice He tells them that although I’ve been teaching you and some of it you don’t remember but don’t worry the HELPER, the Holy Spirit, coming from the Father will TEACH YOU and bring to your remembrance all that I’ve taught you.  You and I have a helper, teacher, comforter, advocate, attorney, guide, and guard in the person of the Holy Spirit.  He even prays through us when we don’t know how to pray!  He quickens our minds when we have forgotten important divine truths.  He is ever present!

Then the Lord goes further and says PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU but he qualifies that by saying it is “MY PEACE” – not the world’s peace.  His peace is unshakable and never dependent upon outside circumstances or influences it is WHO HE IS.  We have “perfect peace” when our minds are fixed upon Him.  We have “unshakable peace” when we are in right relationship with Him.  We may be penniless, in pain, facing impossible odds but because of HIM we can “Live in Peace”.  That is what He gives and something the world has no concept of and is incapable of giving it.

Next, He expands that peace further calming our concerns about not only the immediate future but eternity.  Don’t allow a troubled heart to rule, just remember my PROMISE.  I said that I was going away and in doing so I would prepare a place for you and if I went away I would come again for you.  That’s it, my eternal destiny is settled.  I don’t have to worry about my retirement plan in eternity He has taken care of it.  I don’t have to worry about my healthcare plan in eternity He has taken care of it.  I know that because of Who He Is I can trust Him and He backs up what He promises with the assurance of the Father!   What more could we ask?

Therefore, if you lack ask.  If you have fears, turn to Him.  If the turmoil of this life comes at you like billowing waves of a raging ocean look to Him and crawl up in His arms and REST.  His Peace is OUR PEACE!  His Promise is OUR PROMISE!  Thank you, Lord, for the assurance and evidence of your love, compassion, and concern for us!

May God watch over you as you go through your day!

COMMITMENT AND THE THOUGHT LIFE…

Spiritual Blog - Thoughts

Proverbs 16:3 – “Commit your works to the LORD, And your thoughts will be established.” NKJV

I have studied and meditated upon this passage for a long time and pondered it in my heart.  Let me share something that I see here and this is by no means a statement that it is the exhaustive interpretation of the passage but something that I believe the Holy Spirit quickened to me for me and I share it with you.  Should he quicken it to you then take it for yourself.

If I commit my works, labors, efforts, and plans to the Lord He will establish, root and ground my thoughts in right things.  What does that mean?  Well, one thing that the Spirit quickened to my heart for me was that my thinking gets off track because I am focusing on what “I plan to do” albeit for the Kingdom but it is still “What I plan to do or am doing.”  The plan, the work, the effort originated with me so if my thinking is not on track spiritually it is because I have failed to “seek Him first and foremost” regarding the task at hand!  Frequently it is, I saw a need, had a desire and being a person of action moved forward to do something about it.  It might be noble in itself and even praiseworthy for the most part but if it was not ordered of the Lord, IT IS NOT what needs to be done (at least not by me at this point in time).  So, if I commit my WORKS to the Lord, my THOUGHTS have to become aligned with His THOUGHTS and therefore as I think His thoughts I know, through the Holy Spirit and His Word what He desires for the moment and my thought life becomes “established” resulting in my “works” succeeding because they are ORDERED OF THE LORD!

Too often, I have pursued a good cause without adequately consulting the Lord.  It might have been prompted by pressure from the Church, peers, my desire to see the need met or any number of other things but the TIMING WAS WRONG because the THINKING WAS WRONG.  My thoughts had not been brought “captive” to the obedience of Christ.  They were not sinful thoughts or even bad thoughts but not established thoughts.  They were self-inspired thoughts and that misaligns my relationship with God.  It must always be God as the center of my universe.  It cannot be me as the center.  He will not affirm your desires to make you feel good about what you are doing, but He will “order your steps” when you seek Him first and foremost.

Therefore, before you launch out on that new project or ministry “commit” it to the Lord.  Take it to prayer and seek His face regarding the matter and as your thoughts are established you will find either “peace” to proceed” or a “check” in your spirit and know that you need to more diligently seek Him.  Doing what He desires, when He desires it, the way He desires it is the most important thing – – We are human beings, not just human doings.  It is more important to do WHAT He desires than to just do something because you deem it to be GOOD, NOBLE, and WORTHY.  You just might not be the person to do the task, but one of those assigned to intercede for it.

May the Lord Bless you as you continue your week in His glorious Kingdom!

WHAT GOD REALLY WANTS FROM US…

Spiritual Blog - Obedience

1 Samuel 15:22-23 –So Samuel said: “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” NKJV

 

A long time ago I grew weary with what I call Performance Christianity.  That is keeping a list of the good things that one does so as to hopefully balance the scales of justice on that final day and compare oneself with another to justify one’s failure and flaws.  I have longed for what I call “Relational Christianity”.  That is developing a personal relationship with God through the Holy Spirit making Him first, seeking Him above all else, and walking in total obedience to His Word and Will.  It is clear from Samuel’s decree to King Saul how God views performance in comparison to relationship or sacrifice compared to obedience.

The New Covenant did not bring us a freedom for relational obligations concerning the “Laws or Word of God”.  It simply transferred us from the curse of death and transferred us into a relationship where we escape death and gain eternal life.  A good way to describe this would be that in Natural National Israel under the Old Covenant circumcision was a sign of the Covenant but under Grace and the New Covenant it is no longer in the flesh but in the heart.

Romans 2:28-29 – “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” NKJV

Colossians 2:9-15 – “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; 10 and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. 11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” NKJV

The New Covenant Relationship becomes a matter of the heart, rather than outward obedience or keeping a list of laws, rules, and regulations.  It does not mean that we don’t obey God’s laws, rules, and regulations but through “Grace” we now are able to have His Law “written upon our hearts” through the circumcision of the Spirit of God and are able to OBEY!  What God wants is our hearts not just our flesh.  If He has our hearts, he has our flesh too If He only has our flesh, then we may still have a rebellious heart and not be walking in true obedience out of love but simply putting on a “Public Show” and depending on our outward demonstration to justify us.  It won’t for ONLY JESUS can justify and that is through His Sacrifice on the Cross!

May God bless you as you move forward in Him!  Have a great day and week in Christ!

THERE IS A REASON WHY GOD DOES NOT ALWAYS DO THINGS INSTANTLY…

Spiritual Blog - Instant

Exodus 23:27-33 – “I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come, and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28 And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. 29 I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. 30 Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land. 31 And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea to the sea, Philistia, and from the desert to the River. For I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you shall drive them out before you. 32 You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. 33 They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.”  NKJV

 

In the history of the Nation of Israel who was carrying the “Seed” of the Christ so that “All Men Could Be Saved,” God chose to delay, at times, giving them full possession of the promises.  There was a very simple reason as is listed in the passage above and the same is true in our lives, though we do not always see nor figure out the reason, and He does not always explain.  We just need to learn to “trust” His wisdom and provision.  He does what is best when it is best and in the best way!  If we accept that we will find far less struggle in life and far more peace.

In the case above, God said I am going to drive out the inhabitants occupying your promise but I am not going to do it in one year because if I do the beast of the field will be too numerous for you because there are not enough of you yet to occupy the land.  He did explain that “little by little” I am going to drive them out and thus “little by little” you will become numerous and strong enough to take possession of the promise.  Sometimes we may just not be strong enough.  Maybe there is growth in some area of our lives that needs to transpire before we are ready to take possession of the promise and it will be a blessing and not become a curse.  We are too impatient and want everything instantly.  I can testify to that regarding some physical trials I’m going through.  I want full recovery or healing instantly but sometimes it happens a little at a time and day by day.  I often can see the progress and frequently want it to move quickly or instantly, but I am learning that although I don’t understand, I believe that God is working in my best interest and giving me the care and wisdom to reach a full recovery and be stronger than ever.  Therefore, I have declared to Him, for that, I can wait.  In so many other areas of life we become incredibly impatient and live in a microwave world and instant everything.  We live coffee break Christianity rather than marathon Christianity.  We want instant promotion rather than developmental learning.  But, let it be known that God is not intimidated by our demands, nor does he wear a watch or watch a calendar.  He operates in His timing and His timing is always perfect.

Thank you each one for your prayers for my wife, my brother-in-law, and myself.  We covet your continued prayers and believe God is working in ways we cannot see.  You are such a blessing and although I am often unable to respond as my heart desires, I see your words and feel your prayers.  Your love, compassion, and concern are moving and appreciated.

Blessings to each of you as you begin your week in the King of Kings and Lord of Lord!

OUR MEASURING STICK…

Spiritual Blog - Measuring

2 Corinthians 10:12-18 –For we are not bold to class or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves; but when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding. 13 But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ; 15 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, 16 so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. 17 But HE WHO BOASTS IS TO BOAST IN THE LORD. 18 For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.” NASU

Through the years I’ve known preachers and laity alike who name the name of Christ but use other people as their rule of measuring themselves.  They live in comparison rather than relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  They get their significance, and sense of self-worth from forming a list of those whom they deem lesser than themselves (in accomplishment, keeping the rules, etc.) and are frequently jealous of those whom they recognize as either being more spiritual or better at keeping the rules than they.  THAT IS NOT CHRISTIANITY!  If anything is it LEGALISM and they allow themselves to become Pharisees.

Paul tells the Corinthian church that his objective is not to be compared to another nor boast beyond the measure (grace, gift, ability, talent, etc.) the Lord has given him.  He repeatedly tells believers everywhere that the measure is not another person but Christ Himself.  His statement in (verse 18) is most powerful – “For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.”  Having people consider us great means little if on that final day we fail to hear the Lord say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant…”  Without the WELL DONE from Jesus, all that atta-boys or accolades of men are meaningless.

I have endeavored to emulate Christ, not some other minister!  I have never wanted to be an echo but have always wanted to be a voice.  When I preach, teach or write I do not want people to see me I truly want them to see Christ in me.  I don’t want people following me and encourage people to only follow me as I follow the Lord.  I cannot save anyone’s soul but He can.  I am human and subject to fail or disappoint you but He WILL NOT!  I recognize that too often I have fallen short but HE DOES NOT!  I recognize my inadequacies but HE HAS NONE!

If I can speak or write a word that will point you to Him and inspire you to trust Him and build your faith then I have fulfilled my assignment!  If whatever gift, talent, or ability He has placed in me helps someone scale the heights to a more, lofty plane spiritually then I have completed my assignment.  I want it to be inscribed on my tombstone when that day comes as it was of David… “He fulfilled the purposes of God in his generation then he died.”  (Acts 13:36).  That is my passion to not just pursue the purposes of God for my life but to fulfill them.  I do not want to compare myself or be compared with any other human being.  I desire to manifest Christ as I know that is the desire of each of you.  Therefore, let us each take stock of our lives and if we are guilty of comparison living rather than relational living, let’s repent and cease and turn our eyes fully upon Jesus and allow Him to have FULL CONTROL of our lives!

May you have a fulfilling Father’s Day today and enjoy the presence of the Lord in your hearts and lives!  May He guide you into the pathways He desires for you to walk, open the doors He wants you to go through, and bring about divine encounters with those to whom He desires you to minister to or be ministered to by!

Blessings upon you and all that you do for the cause of His Kingdom!

OLD TREES CAN STILL PRODUCE FRUIT…

Spiritual Blog - Fruit

Psalms 92:12-15 – “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Planted in the house of the LORD, They will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green, 15 To declare that the LORD is upright; He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”  NASU

I recall vividly my mother’s 92nd birthday celebration and how wonderful it was.  She lived a little more than three years longer and we treasured her and her life.  I remember how much she enjoyed seeing all the family, reminiscing about old times, eating her birthday cake and ice cream, seeing, the little ones play, hearing the singing, watching the videos and opening her presents.  Yet, there was something more that struck me as I watched her and those around her.  She has reached a very advanced age but was still green and flourishing in producing spiritual fruit in the lives of those around her.  She was a cornerstone in our family and had been for all our lives.  Her peaceable demeanor and spirit brings calmness to almost any situation and commands respect from everyone because of her demonstrated life.  She has positively influenced many not only in our family but in every environment she finds herself.  I consider her an example of this passage.

God sustained her on numerous occasions when it appeared that she could not live in the natural.  He has provided for her on occasions when it appeared that financial disaster would strike and was beyond the ability of her family to offset.  She continued to produce spiritual fruit in her aged years and “spiritually” was full of sap and green.  Her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren will carry on her legacy now that she is no longer with us in the natural.  Her example and encouragement will never be forgotten.   She was always more concerned about others than herself.  She always demonstrated unconditional love.  She took the high road of righteousness when it would be easy to succumb to the temptation to retaliate or react negatively.  She spoke peace when anger would have been understandable by most and the pattern or path of many.  She was faithful to the Lord for all these years and prayed her children through many battles even when she was not sure what the battle was, she knew her offspring was in trouble or danger and would not release the horns of the altar until there was an answer from heaven.  She determined that I would return from Vietnam and refused to relinquish her hope and faith and I believe on numerous occasions it was directly related to her prayers that I am alive today.

Not to make this solely about her but about God, she recognized God as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  She recognized Jesus Christ as her personal savior.  She honored her father and mother more than anyone I have ever witnessed in my years and exhibited the spirit of Christ daily.  Therefore, God sustained her, made her flourish in the House of the Lord and caused her to produce fruit in her old age and keep her green and flourishing as he will each of us if we “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.”  We need to treasure the examples of those who have preceded us and follow those examples making God the “center of our lives” in all things!

So it is with a grateful heart that I say thank you Lord for my precious godly mother, and godly heritage in my parents and grandparents.  Thank You, Lord, for your faithfulness!  May each of you find this weekend filled with a sense of the presence of the Lord and go through the week in His strength and power!

Blessings abundantly to each!

PONDERING…. PONDERING… PONDERING…

Spiritual Blog - Ponderning

Proverbs 4:20-27 – “My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. 21 Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; 22 For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh. 23 Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life. 24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you. 25 Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you. 26 Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. 27 Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” NKJV

How well do you receive instruction?  How well did you listen to the counsel of your parents and then later those who were mentors in your life?  How well do you listen to the voice of the Spirit of the Lord?  How well do you listen to the Words of Scripture?  These are very important questions because when we look at the counsel given here there are instructions with great promise.  We are told numerous things regarding heeding instruction (godly instruction) and given some guidance as to how we are to respond:

  1. Listening is the key to success.
  2. Never losing sight of the instruction, the goal, the promise, or the potential is the requirement.
  3. Keeping them in the center of our hearts will keep us on course and keep us from being sidetracked.

The promise is that in doing so we will find that they are life and health to us in every dimension.  We are further instructed to:

  1. Keep our Guard our Hearts with all diligence or with great care, paying attention to detail and never allowing ourselves to grow lax, slack, or laxidasical. Out of the heart flows life or death.
  2. Put away a deceitful mouth, tongue, or talk and refuse to engage in perverse conversation or communication.
  3. Keep your focus on the goal, always pressing toward the mark of the prize of the High Calling of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then we come to the point I want to focus on:  Ponder the path of your feet.  We are told to give careful consideration to the path we are on and taking.  We are to weigh the positives and negatives.  We are to consider the ramifications of our course of action.  Our walk, (feet) represent our life, so we are to give careful consideration to LIFE.  Through establishing a “right path” designed and directed by the Holy Spirit based on the instructions given we will “establish” our ways not just our direction and in doing so enable our lives to maintain an even constant course with a consistent goal and direction.  We will be anchored in Him, His Word, and His Purpose.  Therefore above all else, “ponder the path of your feet”.  Think about your direction, your purpose, your process, and your potential.  God has and does give instruction; it is up to us to “walk that out in reality”.  So PONDER, PONDER, and PONDER!  You will never regret taking the path designed and desired by the Holy One of Israel.  He will never leave you nor forsake you and NEVER guide you down a wrong path!

Blessings as you enter your special and victorious weekend.  May God’s best be yours every step of the way!