Faith .. mmm. :)

Acts 3 (NIV)

1One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.

6Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter Speaks to the Onlookers

11While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. 16By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.

17“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer.19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.’a

24“Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days.25And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’b 26When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

The Righteous Will Flourish & Shine

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
Psalm 92:12 (NIV)

This reminded me of a verse that has been on my heart this week …

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. Proverbs 4:18 (NLT)

This sort of encouragement is always the best. Purposeful. Fulfilling, and Clear.

Psalm 92
(NLT) continues to describe the godly or righteous.
12 But the godly will flourish like palm trees
and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
13 For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house.
They flourish in the courts of our God.
14Even in old age they will still produce fruit;
they will remain vital and green.
15They will declare, “The LORD is just!
He is my rock!
There is no evil in him!”

Flourish. Grow. Be fruitful…at every age! Vital and green!
I am feeling this way now! I believe it for all of my future!
I am excited!

May you experience this too! Let us stay in the house of the Lord…in His presence!!!

Faith: Unimaginable Results

It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.
Hebrews 11:7

Obedience to God is love (see post: Love: Walk In It!) Earlier this week the Holy Spirit led me to an understanding of love as obedience to God.

Then, how we grow through endurance (see yesterday’s post).

I can only imagine how much Noah endured, in building the ark … doing things that had never happened before, with only a dependence on God. Yet, because he trusted and was obedient he saved his family from the flood. Not only that, but he received righteousness that comes by faith.

Testing and endurance are never easy .. but if the issue at hand is overcome, the results are unimaginable. Looking forward to such results! Amen!

Testing & Growth: Where Is Your Hope?

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.
James 1:3

Wow. This season is all about growth…through endurance.
Wait… that’s my year. It’s to find joy in the growth…joy in enduring.
yup. See verse 2Dear brothers and sisters,a when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.
That’s 2017 for me. And some others that I have personally spoken with.

What reward must be ahead for those of us who God has His hand upon, and is pushing us on … growing pains?

There must be a great reward … Hope!

And yet, when we endure God sometimes hides the hope (or that’s what I’m going to call it here). Sometimes things are hopeful, and sometimes they look hopeless.
I believe it is most difficult to endure when you have no hope… or when God takes the hope of other things out of your life so that you can only have hope in Him.

Stretching .. pulling .. healing … hurting. Uncomfortability. Yet,
HOPE in Him!

My prayer is for those of us who are learning and growing, that we would learn completely. That there would be no holes to come back to later, but rather that there would be wholeness found in the healing of our perspectives. May the perspective we acquire be aligned with God’s desired outcome.

Favoritism Forbidden

But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. James 2:9 (NLT)

Wow.

When I read the previous verse for context, what really hit me was that age-old concept to love your neighbor as yourself. So if you show favoritism, you are really not doing that… you are raising some up, and having a prejudice towards others. What a way to contradict any view that prejudice is permissible.

When I went back to the beginning of the chapter, for some more context, verse 2 says: 2For example, suppose someone comes into your meetingb dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. 3If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, 4doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?

Evil motives .. giving special attention to a person because of their money.
Money, not being a tool in someone’s hands … but actually a measurement of someone’s worth.

This really hits home in a slightly different area for me, as I just read this article by a law firm, about how often non-profits in America can be ‘incentivized’ by money. If you didn’t know, I have a heart for helping non-profits and this motivation for money is something that I really despise. I’ve been involved in fundraising for a large non-profit, as an employee for a for-profit organization. I didn’t know how-it-all-worked in the beginning, but when I found out .. I had to quit. My conscience could not stand seeing such a small percentage of funds actually reaching the people intended, and how money was … in my opinion, misused.

Then, I read a little further back. And this really impacted me:
5Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? 6But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? 7Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble namec you bear?

These verses reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend just over a week ago, concerning how those who often give, are those who don’t have so much. Interesting how – possibly jaded – James is against people who are rich, that they are more likely to oppress you. Very interesting.

If money is just a tool, maybe we shouldn’t be seeking the hands that have it, but more the heart of the Father (God) in terms of His plans. The concept then that He will provide, and that as we seek His heart and His plans, the funds that are necessary will show themselves to fulfill the plans He has.

Once again, the part about prejudice … let us not discriminate between people for their wealth, or otherwise. Rather, let us love our neighbor as ourself.

For more on love .. yesterday’s post was about how love is being obedient to God: Love : Walk In It!

Do you have an area in your life that you could love better, and maybe even be less discriminatory? Please tell me in the comments below. 🙂

Love : Walk In It!

And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
2 John 1:6

Obedience is love. Obedience to God. God who loved us first. God who loves everyone .. even those who do not choose Him. Love. Always LOVE is the greatest command.

Contextual verses:
5I am writing to remind you, dear friends,c that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. 6Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

7I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ camed in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8Watch out that you do not lose what wee have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward.

Diligence. Alertness. Earnestness. Intensity. Quickness. Vigor. (Thesaurus.com)
Let us be diligent .. in Service and as we Let Him Shine clearly!
Let us be excellent vessels, that His love may be seen in all we do.

Can you be more specific in the ways that you are obedient as God commands or leads, and therefore being loving as He is loving?

Let Him Shine clearly!

Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom.
James 4:9 (NIV)

I was not expecting this verse this morning. However, the context is humility.

The NLT version says Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 

The verses before and after are:
4You adulterers!a Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the spirit God has placed within us is filled with envy?b6But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say,

“God opposes the proud but favors the humble.”c

7So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

So the PerspectiVerse is really about taking life … and yourself seriously. You should be sober in your thinking of yourself and not just joking around about …sin or your relationship with God. Double-mindedness is the word used in the NIV .. but in this translation you see the phrase “loyalty is divided” between God and the world.
Is this related to “let your yes be yes, and your no be no“.? (Matthew 5:37)

Yesterday’s post on “Service” in relation to this, is that our hearts need to be in the right place. Everything that we do is important…let us not be frivolous or facetious (one of 4 synonyms for joking) in the way we live our lives as an act of service to the Lord.

Do you see an area in your life where you are divided… possibly you are not truly choosing to follow Christ, or lay down your personal desires so that His light might shine brighter and more clearly in or through your life. Let it Shine!

Service

There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord.
1 Corinthians 12:5

This marks a change of season for me. The last few days were about maturing… listening to God, and being obedient. Being silent through transition yet expecting to move from the place of difficulty or pain, to that of abundance!

This verse reminds me of the fact that it is not necessarily what we do, if our hearts are in the right place. If our hearts are after God, then we will choose what He has for us. We will consistently choose Him! And we must train ourselves in this, to be obedient, and to choose well!

The PerspectiVerse comes from a chapter discussing spiritual gifts. These verses are so important in regards to these things. Check it Out!!

1Now, dear brothers and sisters,a regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us. I don’t want you to misunderstand this. 2You know that when you were still pagans, you were led astray and swept along in worshiping speechless idols. 3So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.

4There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. 5There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. 6God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.

7A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. 8To one person the Spirit gives the ability to give wise adviceb; to another the same Spirit gives a message of special knowledge.c

And so on it goes…

This makes me think of all the aspects of the Holy Spirit…of God. We cannot know everything there is to know about God … but we get glimpses…here and there, through other people who are made in the image of God.(Genesis 9:6).

The key here, in my opinion, is to be aware of what the Holy Spirit is doing, and not to worry so much about HOW God is moving, but rather, to be aware of WHAT He is getting across. Each gift has a different purpose and is used as a different tool to paint the picture that He wants us to see. Let us have open ears to hear, and eyes to see (Luke 14:35) – this verse actually speaks of flavorless salt being useless, in the NLT version. Let us be full of flavor, and purpose, and understanding. Amen!

Raised with Christ. United. A New Creation

For He raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:6


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17


For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Romans 6:4

I love the fact that we are new creations in Christ. We no longer are led by a sin nature… but rather we have the option….the opportunities to choose a better way,  every time. 

Choose Him! #Quickly

All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.  Ephesians 2:3

As a section, for context:
1Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. 2You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world.aHe is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. 3All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

4But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.

8God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.10For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

I love this passage. And the “used to” aspect of this teaching. We are no longer of sin nature if we have chosen Christ. We are now God’s masterpiece created in Christ, to do the things that He originally planned for us! Not a reward, but a gift!!

What a wealthy place it is, to understand that we are not worthy of any reward ..but rather that God loves us so much as to grow.
Full of promise…full of opportunity … to meet Him where He is meeting us.

When faced with hardship or difficulties in life, we were led by our sin nature until we chose Christ. Now we have the complete opportunity, every moment, to choose His best! He will answer when we ask, He is there for us. The question is, will we meet Him where He stands, or will we be led by sinful inclinations.

I hope we choose Him!! Every time.