24 February 2015

True Messengers

Since all this* is true, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past [them] and slip away. 
For if the message given through angels [the Law spoken by them to Moses] was authentic and proved sure, and every violation and disobedience received an appropriate (just and adequate) penalty, 
How shall we escape [appropriate retribution] if we neglect and refuse to pay attention to such a great salvation [as is now offered to us, letting it drift past us forever]? For it was declared at first by the Lord [Himself], and it was confirmed to us and proved to be real and genuine by those who personally heard [Him speak]. 
[Besides this evidence] it was also established and plainly endorsed by God, Who showed His approval of it by signs and wonders and various miraculous manifestations of [His] power and by imparting the gifts of the Holy Spirit [to the believers] according to His own will.  ~Hebrews 2:1-4 AMP     
*"This" refers to Hebrews chapter one, in which is laid out the Sonship and Godhood of Jesus Christ.
Things of which the earnest believer should take note:

Verse 1: It's not only possible to let truths slip away, for us to drift away from truths we have known, but it WILL happen unless we expend effort to attend to them.

Verses 2-3: We're presented with an amazing opportunity: salvation through Jesus Christ. Will we pursue it? Or will it drift past as we busy ourselves with other things?

Verses 3-4: Those who know Jesus not only proclaim Him. Miracles and wonders follow them. That's how the Almighty God of Heaven and Earth shows the listener the authenticity of those who proclaim Him.

Even the devil recognizes Jesus is Lord--but that same devil uses the name of Jesus to wage wars, persecute, and enslave. Signs and wonders do not follow those who proclaim Jesus' name, yet teach Him according to the flesh, or according to the desires of the enemy of our souls. We are given, in scripture, so we may know how to judge any who claim they are sent from God, or claim gifts (such as the title of prophet) or ministry under Him:
16 You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?
17 Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying, worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit.
18 A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit [worthy of admiration].
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.
20 Therefore, you will fully know them by their fruits.  ~Matthew 7:16-20 AMP
 If someone says they are sent by God, are His chosen spokesmen, what is their fruit? If they seem to have pretty decent fruit, look closer. Fruit that is appealing on the outside can still carry decay in the core. Do the signs and wonders, miracles and healings, set as the example by Christ and His early apostles, follow them? Are they plentiful? Or apparently lacking? Do these people teach we should conceal those things, hiding the very instances of God showing forth the way He works?
As He passed along, He noticed a man blind from his birth. 
His disciples asked Him, Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind? 
Jesus answered, It was not that this man or his parents sinned, but he was born blind in order that the workings of God should be manifested (displayed and illustrated) in him. ~John 9:1-3 AMP
It is only in our weaknesses and infirmities that we see the power of God. When we're strong enough to take care of things, what need have we of His power?
But He said to me, "My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness." Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!
So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful in divine strength).  ~2 Corinthians 12:9-10 AMP
 Not only should the signs that followed Jesus and His early apostles follow those that believe, but notice this:
I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.  ~John 14:12 (Emphasis mine.)

I have grown wary of those who teach we should keep the miracles of God silent. Jesus told His disciples a sure sign of steadfast belief in Him is greater works than He did. As God, when He speaks, that thing IS. The opposite doesn't spontaneously come into existence later and supercede His word. Why would it be pleasing to God to conceal the very things He said would be signs of His followers? How could that further His work, or increase faith in Him? The man, blind from birth, was healed so he could be a walking testimony of the power of God. Not so he could pretend nothing happened.

Jesus didn't mess around with this kind of stuff. He doesn't mess around with you and me, either. If He taught something, then He meant it.

I believe Him.

And I'm looking for true messengers from my Father.

13 February 2015

What Will I Choose?

Earlier yesterday evening, I thought over how I had let the day get away from me early on, not staking out time to spend in the Word of God. And I regretted it. I had needed the strength that comes from time spent in scripture, as had my family, and yet I didn't have that strength to offer, that day.

In discussing a few things with Vern shortly thereafter, I shared that I felt like I lived some kind of strange, dual life; that half of the time I felt capable and confident, that I could handle whatever came my way, and things would be all right; but the other half, I felt overwhelmed, frustrated, utterly incapable and full of despair. It seemed surreal, to me, that I could alternately experience such totally different states of mind, and that whichever one I was in seemed just as real as the other did when I was in it.

Not long after that, Holy Spirit brought to mind a little grain of knowledge I had tucked away: the word "psychology" comes from the Greek word psycho.
from Greek psukhÄ“ ‘breath, soul, mind.’
Current practitioners call psychology the study of the human mind, but as the Lectures on Faith explain:
"And he [Jesus] being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, . . . "
 I continued to think on that little revelation into the evening, meditating on how it applied to my earlier heart cry. How could I experience two such totally different states of mind, states of spirit, and have them both feel like actual reality? Then this came to mind:
And so now we find ourselves having to choose. It's a healthy thing. You ought to have to choose. You ought to have your salvation at peril on how you choose. . . . You should have to choose. And your eternal peril should hang in the balance as you make that choice. That is a perfect conundrum, in my view. Grow up. Accept the burden. Find out. Learn about God. Or be damned by your carelessness, by your indifference, by your refusal to go forward. It ought to be so. And it ought to be put to you plainly. And you ought to have to choose. And you ought to have to choose every time you hear [the enemy] offer something to you. . . . Because [he is] either offering you something . . . that will save you, or [he is] offering something that [he] hope[s] will damn you, because [he's] signing you up on the wrong team. It ought to be so. Everlastingly, it ought to be so" (Denver Snuffer, Lecture 2, "Faith", September 28th 2013, Idaho Falls, ID).
It's a choice.

Which do I want?

Do I want to exist in the reality of damnation?

Or thrive in the reality of salvation . . . the reality determined by the wishes of the enemy of my soul, or the brilliantly-lit and deeply powerful reality framed by the words of the Living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One who gave His all for me, the perfectly loving, perfectly just and astoundingly generous Jehovah?
For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. 

Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  

(Jeremiah 29:11-13, AMP)
Who do I choose to believe?

To whose words do I give power?

I've spent years and years under the rule of the lies of the enemy . . . lies of defeat, of believing I had to give my all first, and then hope for salvation at the judgement day. That I had to laboriously trudge through life, hungering for the occasional crumb from the Lord's hand to palliate the desperate nature of my existence. And the crumbs would always come . . . God gave them to me as soon and as often as I would accept them. But I didn't look for His grace, I didn't understand His love or His extravagant generosity, and so I lived the life of a spiritual pauper while the riches of Heaven lay strewn all around me.

I think you can guess Whom I choose to believe, now.

Image found here.

Which "reality" I choose is up to me. God has said a LOT about my life, about all of our lives. In Him we WILL overcome. He hasn't abandoned us. He won't abandon us.

We can't do it on our own, but with Him, we can do ALL things.
And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me. (Moroni 7:33)
Jesus said, "If ye will".

It's a choice.

And I choose FAITH. I choose LIFE. I choose Jesus Christ.

When confusion's my companion
And despair holds me for ransom
I will feel no fear
I know that You are near

When I'm caught deep in the valley
With chaos for my company
I'll find my comfort here
‘Cause I know that You are near

My help comes from You
You're right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness
all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don't have to see to believe
that You're lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders

You mend what once was shattered
And You turn my tears to laughter
Your forgiveness is my fortress
Oh Your mercy is relentless

My help is from You
Don't have to see it to believe it
My help is from you
Don't have to see it, ‘cause I know,
‘cause I know it's true

~For King & Country, "Shoulders"

11 February 2015

God's Word: Powerful and Precious

"For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12 AMP)

The Word of God truly does shine light on, or reveal, the innermost parts of humanity, helping us to perceive and understand aright what we should do, how we should respond to things, how we should change. It's the most powerful agent for the transformation into the image and likeness of God that all true believers seek. (Romans 12:1-2)

Father, thank You for giving to, and preserving Your Word for, us. I thank You that I live in a day where the Word is not only available to all, but it is available with so much context and clarity. Studying Your words has revolutionized my life, never ceases to fill me with light & truth, and has been the most powerful agent in my life for revealing Your Love, Character and Will. Thank You, my wonderful, loving, perfect, just & merciful God. It's so GOOD to finally know You. In Jesus' name Amen!

07 February 2015

Knowing God IS Life Eternal

"And this is eternal life: [it means] to know (to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand) You, the only true and real God, and [likewise] to know Him, Jesus [as the] Christ (the Anointed One, the Messiah), Whom You have sent." ~John 17:3 AMP
Eternal life is to KNOW God.

God has been trying to tell me, over the last couple of weeks, that this whole process of coming unto Him, of finding salvation in Him, is a helluva lot easier (i.e. takes far fewer works!) than I ever thought . . . and that Jesus REALLY wasn't kidding when He says He clothes me in His righteousness.

Let's get this one thing absolutely straight: I am so so so imperfect.

I have SO many things to work on, so many little choices each day that I want to do differently tomorrow (and that I have tried to do differently so many "tomorrows" in the past, but still totally suck at), and yet I find myself receiving more and more. And the most significant thing that precedes the receipt of each new blessing from the Lord is learning something . . . simply learning something that opens my mind and heart such that God is allowed to move more freely in my life, to do things I never thought He could do.

This is mind-bending.

I'm not advocating a "do nothing" salvation. Not even CLOSE. Our God asks for the biggest and hardest things of all: our hearts, and our diligent efforts in obedience to His word.

And yet, the more I try to do so (and the more my understanding is expanded to see even in even more detail how much I fail, it seems!), the more He seems to give me, the more He seems to reach out and fill the weak and pathetic places where my desire is strong, but my flesh is so wholly inadequate.

Is this what it means, the salvation that Jesus offers?

Father God, you astound me. Jesus, You continually amaze me. I truly cannot grasp the wonder that is salvation through Yahweh, nor the depth and breadth and height and depth of the overflowing, overpowering, relentless love that You both offer me. Whatever You're doing, keep doing it, please! I feel like I'm failing, and yet, from what keeps happening in my life, You keep showing me, (over and over!!!), that I am succeeding beyond my wildest dreams. Is this really what You want? Is this really how it is supposed to go? This wonder in worshiping You, this honestly trying, this continual biffing it flat on my face, and this endless and relentless desire in my heart to please You? If so, it's YOURS, God. It's all Yours, forever and ever, in Jesus' name, I declare it!

03 February 2015

The Small and Simple

4 The Lord gave me this message: 
5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
    Before you were born I set you apart
    and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”
6 “O Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!” 
7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, ‘I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you. 8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord, have spoken!” 9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said, 
“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
10 Today I appoint you to stand up
    against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down,
    destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up
    and plant.”
~Jeremiah 1

The Lord God truly does choose those who are considered unfit, or unworthy, according to the wisdom of the flesh, to fulfill His purposes. Wild men in the wilderness, youths, women.
Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. ~Alma 37:6
Our God truly does use the smallest, simplest, and least powerful things to bring about His purposes. One of the defining characteristics of abuse is excessive force. God isn't an abusive parent--He never uses excessive force. We mortals love an opulent display of power, a strutting display for all to witness. And yet, God doesn't strut or puff out His chest, speaking most often into my mind and heart with a still, small voice.

It's hard to grasp just what it is that God calls me, calls each of us, to do. He has plans for us so incredible, so filled with love and joy and His presence . . . and yet He often brings those plans about in ordinary, simple ways. Things like loving our families, using our hands to do everyday things like shake someone's hand, wave in greeting, or pick up something dropped unawares. Simple gestures can allow His love and power to rush in and change a life. The smallest shift can bring redemption into the heart of man.

Lord, I am Yours. I know I say that a lot, and I think I'm still pretty lousy at it. But I want to proclaim it over and over, and remind myself every moment of every day, so I can practice being Yours like I would practice the piano, with repetition, focus, and joy. Open my eyes to see You moving in the lives of those around me, Lord, to see the small and simple things You use, and make use of me however You choose. I trust You, King of Heaven's Armies, to make so much more of me than I ever could of myself. In Jesus' name, amen.

01 February 2015

Spirit or Flesh?

But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. (Galatians 5:16-17 AMP)

So long as we walk according to our own agendas, our own ideas, our own parameters, we cannot be walking in the Holy Spirit. 

Father in Heaven, lead me into a more  trusting, a more solid, a more habitual relationship with You. Jesus, lead me into life eternal, and use me more and more in Your work. Teach me how to better serve in my first ministry: my family. I want to be led in the paths of Godliness, I want to be so solidly in Your way of seeing things, Your way of responding to things, that doing something different would never occur to me. Thank You for the things You've taught me today . . . there are so many! And Thank You for the work You have set before me. I love Your plans for Your children, and rejoice in speaking them into life. I have loved resting in You today, God, and I pray I might learn better how to lead others to You, in Jesus' name, amen.