28 August 2015

Jew or Gentile

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. ~Acts 10:44-48
The context of these verses is one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Cornelius, a Centurion, believed. He taught his household. They lived faithfully, and Cornelius took seriously the charge to relieve the suffering of others, to care for the poor. This faithful man was visited by an angel and instructed to send for Simon Peter. Cornelius did so, and as his servants were traveling to ask Peter to come to Cornelius' house, Peter had the vision of the sheet let down from heaven holding all manner of traditionally unclean animals, with God telling him three times to kill and eat. He pondered on this, and as Cornelius' servants were literally at the door, asking for Peter, God revealed the meaning of the vision to him: “Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them” (Acts 10:29b-20).

I love how God orchestrated these events, happening in perfect concert, to open the way for what happens next.

So Peter went with these Gentiles who came calling, and when he reached Cornelius' house, preached the reality of Jesus' life, death, and victory. As he bore witness--personal witness that he had seen Jesus Christ--the Holy Spirit fell upon the Gentiles. The Jews there, in Cornelius' house, had received the ordinances they believed were necessary for God to favor anyone . . . and yet, here were these uncircumcised Gentiles speaking in tongues and praising God. Various translations render the word "magnify" in verse 46 as extolling, exalting, praising, and declaring the greatness of God. And let me tell you: when Holy Spirit falls upon you, that's all you want to do, so great is your awe and wonder at the love and acceptance He pours out without measure.

The Jews had faith in their ordinances.

The Gentiles had no ordinances.

Yet God poured out upon both groups without respect to that difference.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. ~Hebrews 13:8
The gospel is so, so simple: Jesus WON. He will rescue us, and in so doing, win our hearts with the sheer beauty of His love and the wonder of His gift, and then we follow Him forever more, as our lives become a love offering to the One who has given us everything.

We don't need to complicate, pad, or embellish the gospel. We just need to live it, in its simplicity, its no-limits, boundless possibility. Praise God! :o)

He says to us:
Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. ~3 Nephi 11:30
And:
And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. 
Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. 
And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth. ~3 Nephi 11:38-41
And:
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. ~Luke 22:19-21 

27 August 2015

Be Learning

And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do. 
 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel. ~2 Nephi 31:12-13
"He that is baptized in my name".

The name of Jesus is His nature. His nature is His will. They're all wrapped up together like light, truth, spirit, and matter. If we are baptized in His name, we're baptized according to His will, and according to His nature.

But it's verse thirteen that really sticks out to me, this morning. There's a pattern and promise in that verse:

  1. Follow the Son with full purpose of heart.
  2. Act in no hypocrisy.
  3. Act in no deception.
  4. Act with real intent.
  5. Repent continually.
  6. Be willing to take upon you the name--the will and nature--of Jesus Christ.
  7. Then the Father will send the Holy Spirit to cleanse our souls, and we receive the Holy Ghost. 
  8. Gifts of the Spirit follow.
Numbers seven and eight are the fruit of the first six steps.

If the fruit--the Holy Ghost and gifts of the Holy Spirit--are not present, then it's time to troubleshoot numbers one through six. Because God said if we'll do those first six things, then the promised fruit will follow. Every time.

We don't know what we don't know. Coming out of that not knowing, and into an understanding of where we're erring can be so painful, so discouraging. But the promise of Jesus still stands:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.. ~Matthew 11:28-29 KJV
Joseph Smith said:
 A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge.
 And Paul wrote:
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ~Romans 12:2 NLT
 We simply must be learning. From Jesus. Whether it's through scripture, or His voice directly, or the ministry of His servants and our fellow-laborers in the vineyard, we must be learning.

Dear Father, refresh our minds to learn from You anew, to seek Your word and Your way of looking at things. Teach us Your wisdom, Your love, how to walk in forgiveness with one another. Show us the difference between pleasing You, and pleasing our flesh---between the peace and joy of the Lord and the fleshly satisfaction exacting justice and earning praise brings. I love You, God. Thank You for the way You have laid everything out so clearly in scripture, and have made the Way so plain and precious. In Jesus' name, amen.

26 August 2015

He WILL


Jesus didn't say, "Ask, and if I feel like it, I'll give", or "Seek, and if I'm in the mood, you'll find".

He spoke in the declarative. This is not about a fickle God, playing favorites. This is a powerful reassurance to those who petition Father God . . . assurance that when they pray, when they seek, when they knock, He responds. And responds with good things. Always.

It's me, with my expectations and limitations, that doesn't see, doesn't recognize, doesn't follow God's leading into the amazing things that He has planned for me. He gives. Good things.

Father God, help me believe You more, open my heart and show me any strongholds, any stakes, any areas where I'm not willing to simply believe what You have said, and trust You. I want to be Yours, to follow what You say, and to live in Your presence. In Jesus' name, amen.

22 August 2015

A Prophecy is not a Pounding

But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men." ~1 Cor 14:3 NKJV

BlueLetterBible's lexicon has this to say about "kai", the Greek word translated as "and" in that verse:

"a primary particle, having a copulative and sometimes also a cumulative force"

The prophetic operates in all three, simultaneously: edification AND exhortation AND comfort. The verse doesn't say "exhortation OR edification OR comfort". If one is lacking, then can it really be prophecy? Even the hardest messages from Old Testament prophets carried God's heart-cry of "Repent, it's not too late!"

Father God, I'm so grateful that Holy Spirit has carried Your word into my heart with the three-fold action of the prophetic. It has utterly revolutionized my life, and all I can do is praise and glorify Your name, live in Your will, and pray I can love my neighbor as You and Jesus first loved me. In Jesus' beautiful name, amen. 

21 August 2015

On Repentance

"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?"
Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." ~Acts 2:36-38
In answer to the people's heart-stricken cry of "What shall we do?", Peter answers, saying (my paraphrase):

"Change the way you look at and comprehend things (Romans 12:2), begin, and then continue, to let God renew your minds constantly so you can turn toward Him in all things, more and more."

Repentance has gone from a dreaded, guilt-ridden burden to one of the greatest joys of my life. It is a continuous learning from God, resulting in an adjusting of things within myself, and then receiving an increased portion--an increase in bandwidth and spectrum--of the Holy Spirit, which then teaches me more about the heart of God, who God is, what God's will is for me, which then changes the way I see things, beginning the process again. So incredibly different from the way I used to understand and approach repentance: a five-step penance checklist for the bad line items in my otherwise righteous life.

Father God, I'm in awe of You. Every day is an incredible gift, a packet of wonder and beauty and JOY in what You do among Your children. You keep on astounding me as You reveal more of who You are, more of Your character, desires and attributes. And what a delight it is to my soul that I get to exist in a constant process of learning what You reveal (which learning is so lovely, in and of itself!), then adjusting my life to the new understanding, only to learn more of Your kindness, mercy, love and grace! God, let my walk today be saturated with YOU. Let Your reach be extended into the areas of my influence. Make me a sponge, Lord, to be immersed into and soak up Your living water, and then release it generously into the lives around me. Living Your will, more and more, bit by bit each day, is the most precious gift. Let it rain, Father. Open hearts to receive, minds to comprehend, and let souls be saved, in Jesus' name, amen.

20 August 2015

The Violence of Fire

"By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. 
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. 
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, QUENCHED THE VIOLENCE OF FIRE, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again." ~Hebrews 11:29-35, NJKV
Quenching fire is just one item in a long, long list of things believers have done by faith.

Our region is on fire.

What are we waiting for?

Father God, I stand in faith--ON my faith in Your word--that the prayer of the righteous, those covered by the blood of Your Son, can and WILL quench the violence of fire. I cannot think of a single reason You, as a loving and compassionate Lord and King, would desire to destroy homes and fields. I declare the fires in our region OUT, in Jesus' name!!! By whatever means you decree, Father. Move Your hand, release rain without lightning, and bring peace and safety again to the mountains and towns, fields and homes of those who live within reach of the flames. ALL things are subject to Your power, and Your will. I will stand, and I will speak into being what Holy Spirit is saying right now: BE STILL, in Jesus' name. AMEN.

Please join me in prayer--wherever you are, whatever you believe.

17 August 2015

Faith Comes by Hearing

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ~Romans 10:17, NKJV
This is a verse that I've heard quoted many, many times. I've also heard it explained, but I wanted to know, thoroughly, for myself what it means. Lucky you, you get to read my first thorough word study. :o) The following definitions are from the Blue Letter Bible mobile app. (LOVE that one. It runs quickly on my old phone.)

Faith = Greek pistis: conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the New Testament, of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship with God and divine things.

Hearing = Greek akoe: the sense of hearing; the organ of hearing (ears); the thing heard (instruction--namely oral preaching of the gospel)

Word = Greek rhema: that which is or has been uttered by the living voice, thing spoken, word

So, my understanding of the verse has now become this:
Conviction of the truth of our relationship to God comes by hearing the inspired teaching of what God has spoken to mankind.
Preaching is teaching, directed by the Holy Spirit, and calibrated by the Holy Spirit to teach the things that those listening need most to hear in that moment. This ties directly into 2 Nephi 33:1.
And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men. ~2 Nephi 33:1
 Preaching is so vital. And so is being prepared to hear. When the speaker and the hearer are both filled with the Holy Spirit, miracles happen. Minds are renewed (Romans 12:2). Hearts are brought to repentance. Lives are changed. Souls are saved.

Father God, renew my mind and teach me through everything that happens in my life. Let me see Your hand in all things, let me see You moving in everything around me. Teach me how to manifest Your mercy and greatness, your love and grace, to everyone around me. Give me the words, give me the resources, give me whatever You know I need to do the work You have for me to do in my life, in my family, in the body of Christ, and in the earth, in Jesus' name. Amen.

13 August 2015

On Prayer

I am SO beyond words grateful for the ability to praise God. Because, when my soul stretches toward heaven, driven to prayer by things I see in this world, by souls hurting, souls stumbling, souls wrestling with confusion, earnestly doing the best they can, I can fall on my knees and let my heart pour out my knowledge of God's goodness, His kindness, His gentleness, His unfailing love, His faithfulness, His trustworthiness, His thoughtfulness, His desires that are purely for our GOOD, and whatever other things come to mind that I love about this God of ours that came to earth, gave everything, fully submitted, won the victory NONE of us could win for ourselves, and then straightway turned around and gave us every last bit of it if we will but receive it from Him and let Him show us what to do next.

I don't know what to pray, right now. But I know my God. And I can praise Him. I can glorify Him. I can seat Him upon the highest places in my own heart and mind. I can receive the Holy Spirit in my own heart, and let Jesus take the reins from there.

Just lead me, Lord. I'll follow.


The Oil of Joy for Mourning

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, 
because the Lord has anointed meto proclaim good news to the poor. 
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, 
to proclaim freedom for the captives 
and release from darkness for the prisoners, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor 
and the day of vengeance of our God, 
to comfort all who mourn, 
and provide for those who grieve in Zion— 
to bestow on them a crown of beauty 
instead of ashes,the oil of joy 
instead of mourning, 
and a garment of praise 
instead of a spirit of despair. 
They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
a planting of the Lord 
for the display of his splendor.  
~Isaiah 61:1-3, NIV
 This morning when I woke, I got up and began to make my bed. As I did, I suddenly remembered a time in the recent past when I cried out to my God in mourning, wrestling in prayer for something so dear to my heart. The contrast between that moment and this morning's rising stood out starkly in my mind and heart, and I thought, "He truly does give the oil of joy for mourning".

In looking up that passage this morning, the surrounding verses make that phrase even more beautiful. What an amazing and beautiful task Isaiah was given, to write these verses about the One who would come to save, and Who then would send His Spirit to us, tasking us thus:
And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 
So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 
~2 Corinthians 5:15-21
 These words from Isaiah declare the mission of those who have received the love of God, and are new creatures in Christ . . . and what a work that is! I can't imagine a better work, than, empowered by Christ Jesus through His Holy Spirit, to proclaim good news to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives, release prisoners from darkness, comfort the mourning, to facilitate the receipt of beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, and to utterly abolish despair with praise of the Living God.

Father God, use me, please. Show me Your will, Your desires. Give me Your eyes today, and Your heart, to respond with love. Let me be open in my praise and joyful in my interactions, fearless and gentle, because You love me. I long to see the people of God flourish as a planting of Your own, a beautiful display of Your splendor. You astound me, God, the strength and kindness of Your heart, and the unlimited potential for all who rely upon You. Move in Your people, Father. In Jesus' name, amen.



10 August 2015

Righteousness of the Pharisees

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. ~Matthew 5:20
The Pharisees and scribes got one thing right: they kept the Torah with incredible dedication. They kept the Talmud with equal zeal. The Torah is the written word of God. The Talmud is the collection of the teachings and instructions of their rabbis, added alongside the Torah over the centuries.

But even that wasn't enough, and still isn't enough, to gain entrance into heaven.

On June 28th, as Vern and I sat in a disciplinary council and answered the questions asked of us, an answer we frequently gave was that we followed Jesus Christ, both through scripture and His words directly to us. (Remember--the words of God don't contradict scripture. God doesn't contradict Himself, as He is unchangeable.) The consistent response to our declared fealty to our Lord from several High Council members at different points in the meeting faithfully followed this principle: "Following the prophet (or leaders) is the only thing we need to do to be saved."

Whoever the current president of the LDS Church may be, he is but a man. The instructions of a man will never get you into heaven. The loyal obedience to instructions from man and God wouldn't get the Pharisees into heaven . . . why do we think that a more limited form of that obedience--to the word of men alone--will get us more than the Pharisees? I was taught, in the LDS Church, that if a leader instructed me to do something against my conscience, not only should I do it anyway, but that God would still bless me for it because I was obeying my leaders, "His anointed". So, if I lived obedient to that teaching, I could have a life lived in varying depth of sin (turning away from God and ignoring communications from the Holy Ghost), and yet was told that God would still not only save, but exalt me.

Amulek said to Zeezrom, speaking of Jesus:
And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins. ~Alma 11:37
A life strewn with sin--conscious turning away from what God is asking--will never produce a soul that can be saved.

I've been faced with leaders advising me against my conscience three times over a period twelve years. The first two times, I capitulated.

I learned, from those first two capitulations, that God would most definitely NOT bless me anyway. When presented with the third leader, pressuring me to obey him over scripture and my conscience, I chose differently. Faced with the repercussions I could see would affect myself and my family, and seeing behind me the consequences of the last two times I had done the "right" thing according to the church's teachings, the cost I was asked to bear in obeying my leader was simply too high. I was unwilling to enter into sin--to turn away from Jesus Christ's words in scripture as well as His word to me through the Holy Ghost--in order to please anyone. Not even my leaders.

The first two times, I had the approval of my leaders, but no approval from heaven. This last time, the consequences in my relationship with my ward leadership were heartbreaking. But the peace and blessing from heaven was unmistakable, and filled to overflowing the hurting space left behind by the disapproval of that leadership.

Those first two times, my righteousness was that of the Pharisees and scribes. I was following the rule of the hierarchy above me, but disregarding the rule of Jesus Christ in my own heart and His word in scripture. This last time, the fruit that has been borne out by my choice has shown me there is definitely more to be gained, more promised blessings to be poured out and received, when the voice of God is heeded over all others.

07 August 2015

My will for God's? Deal.

Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people! Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. ~James 4:7,8,10
I'm finding I really love a lot of the book of James.  These three verses today really taught me something both beautiful and powerful, illustrated by the following points.

  1. We have power over the devil. This life is a test, not a trap.
  2. God responds when we seek Him. The word doesn't say, "Draw near unto God, and He'll consider drawing near to you". It is a certainty. When we truly draw near to God, He responds by closing all of the distance you'll allow Him to. Every time. If He doesn't seem any closer, double-check Who you believe God is. If you attribute to Him characteristics He doesn't have, you'll be drawing near unto something else.
  3. Submission to God, humbling ourselves before Him, is the path to being lifted up by Him. We cannot lift ourselves, EVER, and still be in right alignment with the One who descended below all things, showing us the true path of leadership.
I want to talk about number three for a bit today. As I was reading this passage and recording some thoughts about it, I wrote that we humble ourselves by giving our will, our personal power, to God as we submit to Him. Because He is perfectly just, we receive again what we have given: His gives us His will, and His power to carry it out.

What a trade!

The devil is not so just nor so honest in his dealings. When we give him our will and power, he uses it to please himself, to wreak havoc, to hurt us, others, and the heart of God, stealing, killing and destroying, leaving us empty and alone.

The sweet peace, the comfort, the joy, that comes when I'm walking in God's will, submitted to His sovereignty, is something I simply won't trade.

Father God, thank You for always continuing to reveal who You are as I search Your word. Thank You for Your teaching, for the body of Christ that sustains when things grow challenging, for those You've given me to love, and to be loved by. Thank You for all we have, and all You will do in our lives. I so look forward to seeing Your work continue to unfold in my life, and the life of my family. In Jesus' name, amen.

05 August 2015

A Book of Mormon, we have got a Book of Mormon . . .

In a recent discussion on facebook about whether or not the Torah is still important today, I offered the following thoughts:

It's important to mark the difference between the law given to Moses on the mountain, and the law Moses recorded that God had given Adam. The law of Moses has been fulfilled. The law given since the time of Adam stands still, as instruction from God.

The Bible has long been ignored or wrested by Mormons, subvehiculated due to the mentions of it having things taken out of it. Modern translations and hermeneutics faithful to the original texts go a LONG way toward repairing the damage done by various translators whose personal or cultural agendas influenced their work. We have online access to the original Greek & Hebrew through great resources like Blue Letter Bible and Bible Gateway. There is no excuse for us to not make a serious study of the very book of scripture that fueled the Restoration (James 1:5, anyone?), which preserves so much of the religious context of the stories in the Book of Mormon, and which was the primary text for the Lectures on Faith. Some denominations in Protestant Christianity are far closer to the things taught by Joseph Smith than what we call Mormonism today. (This has been a several-year study for me, both from written sources and first-hand experience with actual, real live Christians. ;o)

The Bible has an advantage the Book of Mormon does not: the original languages. The closest we can get with the Book of Mormon is Webster's 1828 Dictionary. (That alone is an amazing key to understanding what Joseph Smith was trying to convey in his translation.) But when it comes to the Bible, we have far more in-depth tools. The word "fulfill", as used in Matthew 5:17, is an important example, as in our modern usage, it means to finish something. Fulfilling a contract means you are no longer bound by that contract. But if you do a word study in the Greek, it's used differently: "to cause God's will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God's promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment".  Jesus was the fulfillment of the law because He showed us how to live so God's intent, the spirit of the law, could be made manifest (or fulfilled) in our lives. He fulfilled the law in that He lived such that God could bless Him in the way the law was designed to provide. Fulfilling the law is so God the Father can give to us, not because are supposed to give to Him, to satisfy His demands.

The word of God is immutable. The victory of Jesus rent the veil, giving us direct access to heaven. Blood sacrifice was no longer required. The physical anointings of oil were no longer needed to keep priests from being struck dead in the temple. But if we want to touch heaven, if we want to enter into His courts, we must be filled with spiritual oil: the Holy Spirit. The purpose of the laws given since Adam are the same: to lead us to God. Jesus showed us how they are spiritual, and how they should be kept. He didn't abolish them. He allowed His Father to fulfill the promises made in them, in Jesus' life.

Jesus changed the way we see the law; but He did not change the fact that God's words exist independent of time, and never return void, empty, powerless, or ineffectual. God's calendar is a great example. As are His financial laws.

The Bible is made more clear and powerful by the Book of Mormon. Just as the Book of Mormon is expanded and made more clear and powerful by the Bible. They are both the word of God, and therefore we can understand each one in light of the other, because the word of God always agrees with itself. God does not change.

We Mormon-taught all need a great deal of cross-pollination so our assumptions can be challenged, and we can study and seek God's perspective in all things.

03 August 2015

Let Us Praise Him!

"Therefore, by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name." ~Hebrews 13:15 NKJV

Our thanks and praise is an offering our God truly loves and delights in.

It has been an interesting process for me, raised in a sub-culture that doesn't do this, to learn to thank and praise God frequently and openly. I sometimes wonder if my praise and gratitude, heard by the more traditional LDS people in my life, sounds irreverent to their ears. As Jesus has methodically dismantled the many barriers I had put up between us, though, I've become truly comfortable with His name, with talking to Him randomly and whenever, with including Him in every moment of my day that I possibly can. Just being conscious of the reality of His presence, always with every one of us, carries such beauty for me. 

You see, He won. He paid the ultimate price that defeated sin and death, so He could have the power, and the right, to be present spiritually with us all the time. It's we who, in our weakness, are unaware of Him. He has been seated on His Father's throne, in heaven, but is spiritually present everywhere, always. Our side of that arrangement, we who have chosen to follow Him, is that we are physically on earth, but are seated, spiritually, with Him in heavenly places. Such a beautiful reciprocity, the Victory of Jesus rending the veil, opening the heavens to us and pouring down fellowship with God and empowerment to do His will, and the ability to praise and thank Him continually.

Father God, I am SO glad for the gift of praise! I am so gloriously thankful for the mechanism of spoken gratitude to You, that draws my heart ever nearer to You. You've said that You are pleased with the confessing of Your hand in all things, and I rejoice that I have the power to do so. Thank You, God. So much. In Jesus' name, amen.

Scripture: necessary for a faithful walk.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." ~2 Timothy 3:16-17

Without the equipping and completing effect of scripture, those of us who try to follow Jesus Christ cannot be mature or prepared to do everything God needs us to do. We have such an advantage, now, to have such an impressive canon from which to learn. We can learn from the mistakes of those who came before--with access limited only by our own desires.

Please. Fill yourself with the Word of God. Write the scriptures upon your heart, so you can always have them with you. There are few treasures more lovely than a mind and heart full of what God has spoken to His children.

Infinity divided by any number is infinity.

“When an evil spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none. Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order.  Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before.” ~Matthew 12:43-45a
In those verses, the evil spirits can get back into their former home because it is *vacant*.

When I fill myself with God--His spirit, His love, His thoughts--evil spirits cannot abide it. When I let that filling out--through praise, worship, prayer, service, or any active form of expression--that effect is powerfully amplified.

I have been subject to devils in the past because I accepted their dominion. I thought I was depressed, or just "feeling blue", or discouraged, or whatever. But I know better now. :) Now, if I can't find a solid reason for why I'm feeling blue, or overwhelmed, or grouchy, I can be sure it's a spiritual attack. I KNOW two things: my God does NOT want me to feel that way, and He has given me power over evil--otherwise this life wouldn't be a test, it would be a cruel trap. So I stand on the word of God, and refuse to be subject to demonic dominion. Sometimes that means I call on the name of Jesus. Sometimes I simply say, in that God-given authority, "I'm NOT doing this." Jesus has taught this to my heart, and I now stand on it. Peter walked, not upon the water, but upon the Word of God: "Come".

We have POWER in these situations. Don't just roll over and submit to it. Jesus already WON, and He fully and completely offers that victory to us, if we will but receive and walk in it.

Father God, I can't tell you how amazed, joyful, happy, and full of love I get when I stop to think about what You have done, and what Jesus did for me . . . for all of us. I just feel like I'm going to burst! (That's why worship is so wonderful to me: I can burst into song, and give tongue to some of the power that rises up in my soul when I think of all that I've been given, all that salvation means to me!) I'm so amazed at how Jesus would have gone through everything that He did, even if I was His only creation. And yet, He sacrificed and submitted and won for each of us as if we truly WERE His only creation. What He did was infinite--applicable to each and every one of us, without limit. His atoning sacrifice never "runs out". We are ALL His favorites, all Your favorites. I love having an infinitely loving God, because when you divide infinity, you get infinity. Endless love, no matter how you try to slice it. Thank You! Love You, God. In Jesus' name, amen!!!