DO NOT FORSAKE YOUR MERCY

A few weeks ago, I was working on my computer, when my husband asked me a question. The emotion with which I responded to his question caused him to ask “why are you so angry”? I explained why I felt as I did in that moment, but, I knew that it had more to do than just that moment. Though I reacted in anger in that moment, I knew that it simply wasn’t anger.

I likened my feelings unto a boxer, who after a boxing match, was still walking around with his boxing gloves on. Every one kept saying “The fight’s over. Take your gloves off”. But, he refused. I refused. Because I anticipated that I would need them again. Soon. So, I wanted to make sure I was ready for the fight.

I soon came to realize what the feeling was. It was fear. It was frustration. The reason for my fear and frustration came from a state of spiritual dissatisfaction that I found myself in. It wasn’t a state where my faith in God was shaky. It wasn’t a state where I had grown tired of the work of God. It was a state where my heart had grown weary. It had grown weary because the “imperfect things” that exist in my world were starting to take a toll on me. And where re-directing my energies had been helping me to overlook these dissatisfactions, the re-directs were no longer enough. My strategy was no longer working.

So, I took my troubles to God in prayer, and what I explicitly got from Him was that I have to walk through this fire; and not just walk through it, I can not falter, even for one second, while I walk through. He said that I must continue to work as He directs me to, in every facet of life that He has placed me in, as that position demands that I be. I have to do it, and I have to do it well. And my response to that was “I can’t do it. It’s killing me inside and it is causing my heart to harden. And all He said to me was “Hardening your heart is your way of coping, and since it is in your heart that I dwell, hardening it is not an option. Whatever it is that you require, to be who I am instructing you to be, require it of me, and of no one else”. And for all the sense that what the instruction made to me, it made me feel as if a huge weight had been placed on me. It all just felt so hard!

So, in the midst of the height of my unhappiness, I was in my car and three songs played in succession on the radio. The first was titled “Great Is Your Mercy Towards Me”. The second was “Praise Him in the Middle of It”. The Third was “I can’t make it without you, Lord”. As I listened to each one, all I could do was smile, shake my head, and marvel at how timely this God is when it comes to sending the right kind of help at the right time.

The second chapter of the book of Jonah focuses exclusively on one thing. The prayer that Jonah rendered to God when He was in the belly of the whale.

Most of us are familiar with the story, I’m sure. God assigned Jonah to a mission, and for reasons that seemed justified to him, Jonah had no intentions of complying God’s instruction. So, in the midst of Jonah’s of disobedience, God caused him to be thrown off a ship, into the ocean, and caused a whale to swallow him up.

Jonah was at his depth while in the belly of that whale. Literally and figuratively. It was from that depth that he prayed:

I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice. For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me. Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple. The waters compassed me about, even to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head. I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars was about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O Lord my God. When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple. They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of theLord. And the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land.

Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations that make no sense. In the midst of those situations, we often ask “ How did I get here”? Also, in those times, we are at the mercy of a host of different emotions like anger, confusion, frustration, sadness, depression, bitterness, jealousy, envy, desperation, and hopelessness. It is during those times that we experience our “Belly of the Whale” moments.

Note that we are not always severed from God in those moments, nor is God silent. If anything, God makes it clear to us in those moments that He requires us to be exactly where we are. But what makes it so bad is that those moments can be extremely difficult. They are physically difficult. They are emotionally difficult. They are mentally difficult. And we, like Jonah, just want to curl up at the bottom of the boat and sleep. But if the Lord has appointed us to a task, then we must face it. No matter how difficult it seems.

God chose Jonah for that mission to Nineveh. He knew every strength, every weakness, every flaw, that Jonah possessed. Yet, it was him, Jonah, whom the Lord chose. For one reason: It was Jonah, who God had specially empowered for that mission.

If you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, and your desire is to abide in Him, and have Him abide in you, then wherever you may find yourself, or what ever difficult situation that you may be going through, know that God has empowered you to go through it. He knows us. He sees us. Every imperfection in us. Yet, He chose us!

Verse 8 of that Jonah 2 says “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy”.

The grace that we have in Jesus Christ is that though we are imperfect, because we love Him and walk in Him, He covers us. Not because we deserve it, but because He is merciful to those whom He loves. However, when we place our trust, our hopes, our sustenance anywhere else but in Christ, EVEN IF THAT SOMEWHERE ELSE IS OURSELVES (our understanding, our wisdom, our resources, our intelligence, our fears, etc) then we forsake the mercy of Christ, and end up going it alone. When we trust in ourselves, or any other source outside of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, then, we forsake the covering, the victory, the protection, that comes with trusting and relying totally on God! We forsake our safety net; our saving grace; our own mercy, freely given by God to those who love Him.

So, brethren, when we find ourselves in our Belly of the Whale Moments, let us cry out to the Lord in the midst of our distress. Let us open up our mouths, honestly, and confess our fears to Him. If the fear is in our hearts, He already sees it. Confessing it with our mouths just shows that we are now ready to hear from Him. Let us accept that we don’t know how we’re going to do it, but let us trust that He does.

I know that one of the reasons that God allowed me to get to this very low, and lonely point was so that I can share my personal trial and let people know that it’s okay to feel confused. It’s okay to feel helpless. It’s okay to feel afraid. Just know that you’re not alone. If we remain in Christ, then Christ remains in us. Actively! We just have to hold on to Him. Listen to Him. Trust Him. Obey Him. He WILL get us through!

Psalm 34:19 says “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.”

Psalm 28:7 says “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

My soul is indeed lightening as I share this. It is my prayer that as you read it, yours too may become lighter if you happen to be in a similar situation. The journey continues; and yes, it will be rough and downright painful at times. But, I rest in the knowledge that every step I take, I take under the cover of the One who ransomed my soul. He has promised that He will never leave me nor forsake me. And I believe that promise.

What about you?

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Share your thoughts, that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ, The handmaid at His feet.

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HE WILL RUN TO YOU

If you are familiar with this Blog, you will know that I am inspired greatly by music.

I awoke with a song playing in my spirit the other day. The song is titled “When God Ran” by Benny Hester. There’s also a rendition by the gospel singing group Phillips, Craig & Dean. It’s a very beautiful song that contains a very powerful message. The message of the song is the story of The Prodigal Son as told in Luke 15:11-32. It’s the story being told by the prodigal son about his father’s reaction when he returned home.

We all know that the father’s action in that story really represents how God reacts to us whenever we return home to Him.

But the beauty of the song and the story is that the father didn’t just receive his son back home. Verse 20 says:

“ But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”

The father saw his son approaching, and ran out to meet him.

He ran.

It is only, tremendous excitement, pure joy and deep, profound love that that causes a person to run to receive someone else.

There were no questions asked. There was no explanation necessary. He was just happy that His son had come home.

Brethren, God receives us in the exact same manner, when we come home. With pure joy. With tremendous excitement. With a deep and profound love.

Luke 15:7 says:

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Also

Matthew 18:12-14 says:

“How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.”

It is a joyful thing for God and all the heavens when one of His children, previously gone astray, returns home. It is a complete victory for the cause of Christ! We should never treat it lightly.

This Friday, as the world celebrates “love” with the celebration of Valentine’s Day, let us take a moment to reflect on God’s love for us, His children.

Let us really sit quietly and consider it: consider how He has expressed it in days of old: consider how He expresses it today: consider how He has shown it in the lives of others; consider how He has shown it in your life.

This love that God has for us is not a simple love. It is not a love that is based on feelings and emotions. But, the only way we can even begin to understand this love, is when we take the time to get to know the God that loves us so.

The lyrics of hymn that I love read:

How deep the Father’s love for us,

How vast beyond all measure

That He should give His only Son

To make a wretch His treasure

The first bible verse that we usually learn as children or new babes in Christ is John 3:16 which says

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

We cannot understand or appreciate God’s love without having an understanding of who He is; why He is; how He is.

This understanding does not come from a carnal knowledge or intelligence. It comes from one source; and this one source happens to have been the greatest show of God’s love for us:

Knowing Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 3:17-19 says:

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

So, brethren, it does not matter what you have done. It does not matter how far you have strayed or wandered away. It doesn’t even matter if you were upset with Him and left in anger, doubt or fear.

All God cares about is us desiring, with a contrite heart, to come back home.

He’s sitting by the window. Watching. Waiting. As you approach, He will see you, and He will run to you, receive you in His arms, kiss you and forgive you.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

As Always, share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ.

The handmaid at His feet.

HIS INSTRUCTION

Many of us are familiar with the story of Joshua, the Israelites, and the Walls of Jericho. Indeed, it has become a popular prayer on the tongue of many a Christian. The prayer is usually declaration of the removal of any obstacle in our lives that is preventing us from reaching, receiving or attaining something, and it usually follows along the lines of “may all of the walls of Jericho in our lives fall down, In the name of Jesus”. To which all who hear, shout a resounding “Amen”.

What many have failed to realize in that story is that something significant happened in order for those walls to come tumbling down. And by “something” I am not simply referring to the “shout” of the Israelites upon the conclusion of their 7th march around the city.

Joshua 6 gives the full account of the event, and the events that led to “the Event”. But it is the events that led up to “The Event” that I want us to take note of.

Joshua 6:2-16 says:

And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor. And ye shall compass the city, all ye men of war, and go round about the city once. Thus shalt thou do six days. And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day ye shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when ye hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat, and the people shall ascend up every man straight before him. And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD. And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD. And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp. And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rear guard came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city.

There was a specific way that the Lord asked that this mission be carried out. He gave very specific instructions on what was to be done. Not only in how many times they were to march around the city; not only in that they were not to make any sound with their voices during the 1st 6 marches, one march each day for 6 days, but for the sound of the trumpets; not only in that after the 7th march of the 7 marches on that 7th day, and the long sounding of the trumpets, at Joshua’s command, only then were they to shout a mighty shout, but God gave them the order in which they were to line up. He was very specific in that 7 priests were to bear the Ark of the Covenant. They were to follow behind another 7 priests who carried and blew the trumpets made of ram’s horns. An armed man was to go before the 7 Priests who blew the trumpets, and another armed man following behind the priests who bore the Ark of the Covenant.

This exact instruction was given through the Angel of God, directly to Joshua.

Joshua then gave the exact instruction to the priests and the people, who in turn, obeyed the instruction exactly as it was given to them.

As a result, verse 20 says:

So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.

For the sake of contrast, let us examine another part of this story.

Even after the fall of the wall, in the course of taking the city, the Lord, again, gave very specific instructions to the people of Israel.

Joshua 6:17-19 & 7:1 tells us:

And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD. But the children of Israel committed a trespass in the accursed thing: for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took of the accursed thing: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against the children of Israel.

After the fall of Jericho, Joshua and the children of Israel were riding the tide of their victory in the strength of the Lord. Which is why what happened soon after left Joshua very confused and in despair.

Joshua 7:2-9 says:

And Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Bethaven, on the east of Bethel, and spake unto them, saying, Go up and view the country. And the men went up and viewed Ai. And they returned to Joshua, and said unto him, Let not all the people go up; but let about two or three thousand men go up and smite Ai; and make not all the people to labour thither; for they are but few. So there went up thither of the people about three thousand men: and they fled before the men of Ai. And the men of Ai smote of them about thirty and six men: for they chased them from before the gate even unto Shebarim, and smote them in the going down: wherefore the hearts of the people melted, and became as water. And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O LORD God, wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God we had been content, and dwelt on the other side Jordan! O LORD, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backs before their enemies! For the Canaanites and all the inhabitants of the land shall hear of it, and shall environ us round, and cut off our name from the earth: and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?

To which the Lord responded with:

And the LORD said unto Joshua, Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also transgressed my covenant which I commanded them: for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stolen, and dissembled also, and they have put it even among their own stuff. Therefore the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies, but turned their backs before their enemies, because they were accursed: neither will I be with you any more, except ye destroy the accursed from among you. (Joshua 7:10-12)

The Lord had specifically ordered that the only live souls to be spared in Jericho be Rahab, the prostitute, who hid the spies of Israel and those who were in her household. Likewise, the only other thing that was to be taken from Jericho was the silver, gold and the vessels of brass and iron. Those were consecrated unto the Lord, and were to be put into the treasury of the Lord. But, one person disobeyed. Just one person! Who did not do it exactly as God had commanded. Therefore, because of the partial disobedience of one person, the Lord withdrew His hand of protection from an entire people!

When you read further in that chapter, you will see that it was not until that person admitted to what he did, returned the items that he had disobediently taken, and was thereafter stoned to death and burned (he and his entire household including his cattle), did the Lord now restore His Hand over the people of Israel.

When the Lord gives specific instruction, brethren, it is important that we follow that instruction.

He is a merciful and compassionate God. But let us not forget, that He is also a consuming fire.

For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:29)

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

Moses and the Israelites had to obey a series of instructions leading up to their exodus from Egypt. But even as the exodus began, instructions still came. The Lord said in Exodus 14:2:

Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea. For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in. And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so.

The Lord specifically instructed them to go in the direction of the Red Sea, knowing that He would harden the heart of Pharaoh who in turn would go after them and believe that based on where they were headed, they would be trapped.

Moses was not privy to the manner of miracle that the Lord was about to perform. Yet, he did not argue. He simply obeyed.

God could have caused an earthquake to happen that could have torn down the walls of Jericho. God could have instructed the Israelites to take a path which would have led them around the Red Sea, or He could have caused Pharaoh and his army to not come after them. Instead, He instructed the leaders, Joshua and Moses, respectively, who in turn instructed the people of Israel into a course of action, to which their obedience to His instruction not only brought them face to face with what appeared to be an insurmountable predicament, but that instruction, and the precise obedience of that instruction, brought them to their deliverance.

It was God who tore down the walls of Jericho. It was God who parted the Red Sea for the people of Israel to walk through. But He did it only after they obeyed His instruction.

We cry to God everyday for one need or another. One miracle or another. We ask Him to “tear down the walls of Jericho in our lives”, or “to part the Red Seas in our lives”. But let us honestly ask ourselves a question. Have we obeyed His every instruction on that which we are seeking from Him? Do we ask while standing still or are we moving in faith and obedience. The Israelites were on the banks of the Red Sea when God parted it. Joshua and his men were right outside the walls of Jericho when the Lord brought it crashing down.

Are you a million miles away from what it is that you are seeking from God?

Are you arguing, rationalizing, negotiating, or flat out disobeying every instruction from the Holy Spirit that is supposed to move you to the banks/walls of your deliverance? Just because it doesn’t seem to make sense, or it seems difficult, or because it’s an action that you are not accustomed to?

Every thing that has to do with the expectation of a move from God, comes with instruction from God. This is the time, brethren. Today is the precise time in our lives when we have to be a Moses; be a Joshua, and seek the face of God. We must pray, fervently and continuously. We must meditate on His Word, in thought and deed. We must learn to recognize His voice and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, we must heed the instruction that the Spirit gives to us. Because it is only in total obedience to God that we place ourselves in the right place, at His right time, to receive our deliverance. The deliverance that only He can provide.

It is my prayer that as we continue our spiritual journey during this season of Lent, that the Lord teach us how to recognize his voice, and that He give us the strength, the courage to mind His instruction, in every aspect of our lives.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

As always, please, share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,
The handmaid at His feet.

HIS ANGUISH

The word anguish, when used as a noun means “severe mental or physical pain or suffering”. When used as a verb, it means “be extremely distressed about something”.

Think about the word. Think about it’s meaning.

Now, consider the story that you already know again.

The story of your salvation

It was in anguish that Christ saved us.

It wasn’t in the midst of a beautiful meadow blossoming with beautiful flowers. It wasn’t with him standing on a stage, making a declaration and receiving roaring applause. It wasn’t at the height of a long prestigious career, after having received numerous awards and medals. It wasn’t done with laughter and the joyful accolades of encouraging men and women, boys, and girls.

It was done in anguish. It was agonizing, painful, brutal, torturous, and downright gruesome.

He, Jesus Christ, the sinless one, gave himself up to die, that we might be saved, in total and complete anguish.

He told the truth; that He is the son of God, and for that truth, He was arrested, condemned, beaten, mocked, and crucified.

Before these events took place, Matthew 26: 36-46 says:

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

As we enter into the week of the passion of Christ, it is extremely important that we remember all of the pain, all of the torture, and the absolute anguish, that he had to undergo.

It is important that we remember His state when His soul was deeply troubled.

It is important that we remember how He had to go to the Father in prayer to receive strength for that which He was about to undergo for our sakes.

It is important that we remember every crack of the whip that split the flesh on His back.

It is important that we remember the prick of every thorn that pierced his head from the crown of thorns that was pressed on his head.

It is important to remember that he felt every ounce of weight from that cross that was placed on the bruised shoulder of His already weakened body. The cross that his weakened body had to carry & support. In the midst of the whip and yells from the soldiers, the shouting from the crowd.

It is important that we remember that He felt the pain when the hammered a square peg through his palms and feet as they nailed Him to that cross, and it was from those nails that He was suspended on that cross.

It is important that we remember that He hung there, suspended, I’m pain, in agony, it anguish, while He cried out to the Father, until He eventually gave up the ghost.

Why is it important to remember all of these details?

Because it is so easy to forget. It’s one thing to remember that He died for our sins. It’s another thing entirely to remember the manner in which He died for our sins.

Because we humans have a high intolerance for pain. We frown at discomfort, and shriek at suffering.

We beg and cry to God to ease our pain when we suffer for ourselves, not to mention the thought of suffering on behalf of another.

For most of us it’s unthinkable.

We forget, however that it was in someone else’s suffering that we were saved.

It was through someone else’s death that we are now able to live.

So, when we go through life, and painful moments present themselves, let us not act as if God has not equipped us to endure. Because He has.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. (John 12:24 )

Because remembering the details should cause us to pause and reflect on the love of God. What would cause Him to allow His son to suffer in such a way?

His love for the one who He created in His own image.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

We often pray that Christ’s death on the cross not be vain in our lives. Whenever we pray this prayer, we also need to envision His anguish, and ask that it too, not be for naught.

So, when we start to moan and cry that we have not warranted the suffering that we happen to go through at any time, let us in that moment, trust God, just as Christ trusted Him in that very dark and grueling hour. Then, let us remember Christ, and that it was in anguish; in suffering, that Jesus gave us what we are truly not deserving of. The gift of everlasting life.

May the gift of His death, and the glorious rewards of His resurrection, be our inheritance. Now, and forevermore. Amen.

Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet.

JESUS SAVES

One day, we were in the car and we drove past one of those signs that I’m sure many of us have seen before. It was a sign, in the shape of a cross that read “Jesus Saves”. My son, who was 13 then asked what was a very amusing question at the time, but later I admitted to myself was a very intelligent question:

Jesus saves what?

I was born into a Christian home. I went to church because my parents took me to church. It wasn’t until middle school that I began to attend church on my own. But then again, even that was simply out of habit. I developed a personal relationship with Christ when I was in high school. That was when I began to have a genuine interest in the message of salvation. That when I began to desire to know Jesus for myself. It was then that I began to come into the knowledge of what exactly it is that Jesus saves.

So, the question is not only valid, but it is extremely vital. It is also a question that every single Christian should be able to answer.

My life has been a series of lessons. Once one is learned, the Lord starts me on another one. The life lesson that I’m currently on is “The demonstration of love”.

Matthew 22: 36-40 says

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

The amazing thing about this God that we serve is that for everything that He instructs us to do, He always; directly or through a messenger or servant; shows us how to do it.

So, when we are given the commandment to love God and our fellow man, faithfully, the Lord shows us how.

How does one really know when they are loved? How does one believe that they are loved? The answer is quite simple. When they see, and feel love based on the demonstration of love from another.

God has been demonstrating his love for man since creation. First of all, He put us in a beautiful garden, furnished with everything that we could ever want and need. Then, even after we disobeyed Him, He continued to show His love with mercy, long suffering, and compassion. God demonstrated, and demonstrates his love by sending His word through His ministers and prophets to guide and lead us away from the path of eternal damnation.

But to solidify the deal; to ensure that those who received His love would be saved and taken care of for eternity, He demonstrated His love in the mightiest of ways. He offered up himself, in the image of his son. To be the sacrifice for those who truly love Him.

To an unbeliever, this makes no sense. But to those who have been called, and are trying to find their way to Him, we ponder this act, and based on the demonstration, and the reason behind it, we feel the love, which causes us to believe the one who has demonstrated the love.

So, when posed with the question “Jesus saves what”? One who can feel the love of God; one who has begun to establish a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, can confidently answer:

“Jesus saves me”!

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23 KJV)

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (John 3:36 KJV)

Jesus saves me from a destiny of damnation that sin condemns me to. The grace of eternal life abides in me as long as I abide in Christ.

You’ll notice I said “Jesus saves me”, not Jesus ‘saved’ me. The process of salvation is a continuous one for as long as we sojourn on this earth. Temptation, trials and tribulations are a daily occurrence. Satan’s mission to rob us of our crown of salvation is active every minute of every day. So, Christ’s effort to save us is a continuous process. A never ending gift from Him to those who receive His love.

But as “feeling loved” is a specific connection between the giver and the recipient; as “showing love” is a deliberate effort from the giver to the desired recipient, answering the question “Jesus saves what ?” Can only be answered on an individual basis.

Coming into the understanding of “What Jesus saves” is a personal and individual experience. No one can make you feel the love of God any more than anyone can force you to fall in love with someone.

It has to blossom in you. It has to awaken in you. And it is only then that you will feel it, begin to understand it, begin to walk in it, and begin to allow it grow you.

But where every human cannot fall in love with every human because we are all not connected to one another that way, all of those called by God do have the ability to love God because we ARE connected to Him that way.

God is actively doing His part. He has & continues to demonstrate His love for us, to us. Individually. Specifically.

He wants us to receive His love.
He wants us to understand His love.
He wants us to feel His love.
He wants us to share His love.

Because it is in doing all these that we will truly understand what Jesus saves.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.

Share your thoughts, that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ.
The handmaid at His feet.

BEYOND CONVINCING

I was reading a passage in John chapter 3, and a phrase in the passage that Iʼve read many times before suddenly caught my attention.

Nicodemus was one of the Pharisees, and as we know, the Pharisees did not accept the message of Jesus Christ or believe Him to be the Messiah. In fact, they rejected His miracles and often claimed that He healed through the power of demons. But the passage tells us that “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night…”

The depiction of the hour when Nicodemus came to see Jesus is very telling of the manner in which he came. In hiding. Under the cover of darkness, so, his fellow Pharisees would not see him and believe him to be giving ear to this man, who at the time, they were seeking to kill. But his opening statement to Jesus depicted that very fact. Nicodemus said:
“Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

This very act and statement of Nicodemus indicated a very important thing: That he was not of the same belief as his fellow Pharisees that this Jesus was a fake. He believed, based on the miracles that He had seen Jesus perform, that He was truly a man of God. But he was struggling. He was struggling against everything he had learned thus far; he was struggling with the thought of how his fellow Pharisees would react if they even knew that he was doing what he was doing; he was struggling against what he had always believed, and how all of that was being brought to question in the light of what he now had before him.

He was struggling to see.
He wanted, just as he was, for Jesus to do something: say something, that would convince him that He was who He said he was.

But Jesusʼ answer to him made one thing very clear. Believing in the Son of God is not a matter of “convincing”. It is not even a physical process. It doesnʼt take place in our minds. Believing doesnʼt even take place in our hearts. It takes place in our spirit.

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. ”Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his motherʼs womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ʻYou must be born again.ʼ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:5-8)

The phrase that I stated earlier as having caught my attention was what Jesus said in John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot SEE the kingdom of God.”
Though Nicodemus did not understand what was being said to him, Jesus was simply telling him that as long as the process was taking place in his head; as long as he was looking for a sign: as long as he was looking for Jesus to “convince him”, then he (Nicodemus) would never “see” the truth; the Kingdom of God; that is Jesus the Savior of the world.

Jesus was saying that Nicodemus would need to be born again, that is TRANSFORMED, from a flesh thinker, into a spirit processor. And it would only be then that his eyes would be opened and he would be able to see.

Again, processing Jesusʼ words in his flesh, Nicodemus literally translated “born again” as the physical process of giving birth. So, Jesus went further in verse 5 to state the type of birth to which he was referring. “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Which is the process of baptism. But what is critical to note here is that Jesus cautioned Nicodemus; even as He cautions you and I today, to not get caught up in the term “Born again”. Jesus cautions us not to believe for one moment that the culmination of the TRANSFORMATION lies solely in tooting the phrase “Iʼm born again”.

In verses 7-8 Jesus says:
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ʻYou must be born again.ʼ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The TRANSFORMATION is in the receiving of His Spirit of Christ.
We believe that Jesus is because we are transformed by His Spirit. We know in our hearts that Jesus is Lord because we have been transformed by His spirit.

We “see” the Kingdom of God as eternal life in Christ Jesus because we have died from being flesh thinkers, and been born again into being Spirit processors.
It is not a mental process. It does not involve rationale, psychology or even reasoning. It requires one thing and one thing only: Submission!

The Spirit will call. But it is we who have to answer. The Spirit will stir. But it is we who have to yield.
The Spirit will prompt. But it is we who have to submit.
The spirit called, stirred and prompted Nicodemus.
That was why he stole away in the middle of the night to seek Jesus.
That was why in John 7:50-51 he said to his fellow Pharisees: “Nicodemus (he who came to Jesus by night, being one of them) said to them, “Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
That was also why after Jesus was crucified, it was he who accompanied Joseph of Arimathea to take His body, embalm it with spices, wrap it in linen and place it in the tomb.

Without the Spirit of Christ living in us, we are condemned to living in the flesh. Running everything that concerns God, Christ and salvation through the filter of our minds, under the guidance of our so called wisdom and intelligence. This life without Christ is living in darkness, and it is this darkness that is the condemnation. We are only freed from this condemnation when we accept Jesus Christ. When we allow His Spirit to reveal Him to us. This is when we come into the light. (John 3:18-21)

It is important to note that this darkness is not accidental. All of the “reasoning & logical explanation” that rise up to to keep minds active and spirits unyielding is Satanʼs way of keeping people in darkness; away from the light. The light of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Once we yield to Christ, that self that was was in darkness, the flesh thinker dies. The new person, the spirit processor is then born.

Brethren, no one can be convinced to believe that Jesus is Lord, and our mission as messengers of the gospel is not to convince anyone! It is simply to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. It is to share our experience of what the gift of salvation has done to us. How it has changed us. How Jesus has saved us. Jesus did the work of His Father. The 12 disciples did their work according to their individual calling. The women who ministered to Jesus did their work. The apostles did their work. Know your calling. Know your work, and do it. The Spirit of Christ will give everyone a chance to receive Him. They will have seen signs, heard testimony, and received the prompting. It is then up to them; up to you; up to me, to receive Him. and begin to live in Him. So that we can “see” the Kingdom of God, and in so doing, “enter in”.

Now unto him that is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Share your thoughts, that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,
The handmaid at His feet.

THE FILTER

Coming into the knowledge of Christ is a joyous occasion. It is a rebirth; an awakening; a new beginning; a new life!

It is a cause for great celebration! And that is truly how every Christian ought to view it.

Were you excited when you became a Christian?

Did you “feel” your re-birthing?

How did your re-birth take place?

When did your re-birth take place.

Were there tears streaming down your face?

Were you on your knees? Standing? Laying prostrate?

Were you shouting your praise? Speaking softly? Was it a barely audible whisper? Or was there simply a peaceful smile on your face?

Did you even feel a change? Have you felt a change? Do you feel a change?

I had the pleasure of sitting in on a youth bible study once, and during the course of it, a young lady shared “I’d always gone to church with my parents when I was younger, but when “I” became a Christian, I…”

It’s one of the most beautiful statements on Christianity that I’ve ever heard. 

Some of us were born into the church, and have been attending church all our lives. 

Some of us came to church when we were facing some problem or crisis.

What happened to “you” when you became a Christian? How did you feel? Did you feel any different? What changed for you?

More honestly, are you a Christian yet? Or are you still a church goer? A better informed church goer?

Are you one who knows of the way, yet does not follow the way? Or do you pave the way according to your own understanding? According to your comfort level?

Do you still “live your life”? or do you “live your life in Christ?

What does that living one’s life in Christ even mean?

I was having a talk with my sixteen year old daughter a few days ago, and I was explaining to her why it’s important to become conscious of Christ when it’s time to make certain life decisions. Because when we make life decisions, there are certain “filters” that we pass these matters through.

Filter 1. One’s upbringing: Whether we like it or not: whether we are conscious of it or not, this reality affects everything. It is either what causes us to head in or away from a certain direction. It is the primary basis for the things that we are used to, comfortable with, tolerant of, intolerant of, or simply can’t wait to get very far away from. It comes from family structure, culture, tradition, and early life influences. It is also the first and the longest condition that is imposed upon or ingrained in us as people.

Filter 2. Personal preferences: Here, the filter is one’s self. Our likes, dislikes, tendencies, habits, beliefs, mindsets, passions, fears, way of thinking, our learned behaviors, our vices, etc. All those things that are particular to us as individuals. It’s onset is later than the first filter, but as we become older and more independent, it becomes the more dominant of the two filters.

Then, I told my daughter that there is another filter. Though optional, it’s, in my opinion, the most important of them all.

Filter 3. The filter that is Christ Jesus. It is the filter that is installed when we “become Christians”. It causes us to no longer do things solely based on what we alone think is right. Instead, it causes us to check our desires against what the Word of God says. It causes us to deliberately seek the  interpretation of the Holy Spirit. It causes us to: in spite of the output of Filter 1 and Filter 2, yearn to affirm that in whatever decision we are making, we are right with God.

When we accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior; when we give our lives to Christ; and become ‘Christians’, the truth is that we are no longer calling the shots. It is Christ in us who calls the shots. When we become Christians, we no longer order our steps. We ask Christ to order our steps. We ALLOW Christ to order our steps.

Psalm 119:133 says:

Order my steps in Your word,

And let no iniquity have dominion over me.

Proverbs 16:9says:

A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

I spoke in the previous blog article about no longer being flesh thinkers, but instead, becoming spirit processors.

When our desires, thoughts, feelings, perceptions, predispositions, emotions, knowledge, understanding, plans, wishes, notions, goals, ambitions, pass through the filter that is Christ Jesus, we are in essence asking Him to direct our next step, our actions, our thought process, our reactions, our utterances, our hearts, everything that we think, say, or do- according to His Word; according to His Spirit; in accordance with His will for our salvation, and for the glory of His Name.

We often forget that begin making decisions for ourselves when we are very young. When a child is dropped off in pre-school/nursery school for the first time, though the parents have given him/her pointers, advice and guidance on what to do, what to say, and how to conduct themselves; every step that little child makes, every single day that they are in that school, away from their parents, will be their own decision. Those decisions will be prompted by something within them: something they’ve learned from their parents, other siblings, other friends, or wherever they learned it from. But whatever influences that child chooses to draw from will be simply that: Their Decision!

So, in this beautiful, yet dangerous world that we live in, where we will face all sorts of difficult, life altering decisions every single moment of every single day, who better to lean on for guidance to make those decisions other than He who holds the entire world in the palm of His Hand??!!   Who better to seek wisdom from other than He who IS Wisdom itself??!!

So, brethren, ask yourself this honest question today.

Are you truly a Christian?

Are you passing EVERY ASPECT of your life through Filter # 3?

The filter that is Christ Jesus?

Are you really committing ALL of your ways (those you are aware and unaware of) to him?

Have you surrendered to Him and asked Him to order your steps in His Word?

If you are, then I hope you have answers to all those questions concerning “your transformation” that I asked earlier in this write up.

If not, what are you waiting for? 

 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

As always, share your thoughts, that you might encourage your brethren.

In Christ,

The handmaid at His feet.