ABIDING IN THE SHADOWS

In Luke 2: 41-49, we are told:

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.  When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual.  After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first,  because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there.  Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”  “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant.

The passage tells us that this incident occurred when Jesus was 12.

 

Here, the 12-year-old Jesus is bewildered as to why His parents were worried about His whereabouts.

“Where did you expect me to be?”

                 OR

“Where else could I have possibly been?”

Was the question that the child Jesus asked, quite perplexed.

Luke 3:23 says “Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry.”

Even though the “Miracle Working Jesus” was not made known until age thirty or so, the scripture tells us clearly that “The Son, doing the will of His Father” had always been there. Present. Doing exactly what the Father had called Him to do:

ABIDING.

As Christians, we often believe that it is only the conscious “thrilling” things of life, are a sign of God’s presence in us.

We are only conscious of God when we are in the act of service: preaching, ministering, charity work, prophecy, church work, when we are in prayer and the expectation of answered prayer.

However, here was Jesus, years before His public ministry began.

When He was just “the carpenter’s son”, faithfully abiding in the will of His Heavenly Father. Behind the scenes. With no audience – except the One who sent Him.

Are we zealous in the shadows?

Are we faithful in obscurity?

Are we abiding in the ordinary, mundane, routine, every day aspects of our lives?

Is abiding in Christ as important to us in the menial things as it is in the grand “everyone is looking at me” things?

Is abiding in Christ as important to us when we the other driver cuts us off in the road?

Is abiding in Christ important when our husband/wife/friend/parent/sibling does not behave in the way that we would prefer them to?

Is abiding in Christ important to us when we don’t receive the things we believe are our right to receive?

Do we abide in Christ when someone disrespects us? Dishonors us? Cheats us? Wrongs us?

Is abiding in Christ important to us when dealing with people we don’t like? Who don’t like us?

Is abiding in Christ important to us even if it does not seem like God even hears us? Not to mention giving us what we are asking of Him?

Are we abiding in Christ in the drudgery of life? Or are we just barely getting through it?

If someone came looking for us in those times, where would they find us?

In our “Father’s House” abiding faithfully? Or in “Our own houses” doing as we see fit, while saying “God will understand.”

God does not call us to perform miracles. He does not call us to raise the dead, heal the sick or save souls.

He calls us to ABIDE IN HIM. OBEY HIM. PLACE HIS WILL ABOVE OUR OWN.

It is in the obedience of ABIDING, that He can now use us to raise the dead. Heal the sick. Save souls.

Jesus Christ says “I and my Father are one” John 10:30

He also says “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5.

Jesus is our only example of what it means to Abide in the Father.

                     AT ALL TIMES!

“How is that even possible?” We ask.

He answers:

For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

Not only was Jesus’ life on earth our example, it is He, by His Spirit, who works in us, enabling us to obey the will of The Father”

But He can only work in us when we come to what is called “The end of ourselves”.

Which simply means that “On my best day, at the peak of my self -flattering reverence of all of the good qualities that I possess – and my  “thank God I’m not like all those weak, useless, sinners” state of mind – I realize that “I” do not have the power or ability to make myself right before God.

Only Jesus Christ can do that.

Only Jesus Christ –through His blood and by His Spirit – can make me acceptable before God.

But Jesus Christ will do NOTHING until we come to Him in the total, broken, humble, inadequacy of ourselves…

…and when we arrive there, we should not ask for any other heart’s desire, except the desire to live every single day, for the rest of our lives, Abiding in Him.

Jesus Christ could only be the “Propitiation for sin” because He was “The Spotless Lamb”.

Not just as an adult but throughout His entire life!

How did He do it? Have we ever thought about this? He was FAITHFUL to His Father his entire life! NEVER, not even once, placing His own will above the will of His Father.

But the Word of God tells us that this is exactly what He did.

Therefore, if we truly believe the Word of God, if we truly believe on the Name of Jesus, then we will ask Him to give us His Spirit. This Spirit, which is His Life; His victorious, successful, perfectly God pleasing Life. It is then by this Spirit and through this Spirit, the Holy Spirit, that we too can live a life that is pleasing to God.

This is the “life” that the Father requires that we live on this earth. This is the “life” causes us to be “in this world” but not “of this world”.

But brethren, we cannot live this life unless we willfully, purposely, determinedly, abide in Christ.   May this be the new life, the Abiding Life, that we desire from this day. Amen.

 

                                                                  

 

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GRACE UPON GRACE

The reading that I will be sharing today was obtained from a devotional that I read in 2016. The only reason I am certain it was in 2016 is that I saved it to my documents, and that’s the date my computer tells me that I saved it on.

I am not sure what impact it had on me in June of 2016. But when I found it today, August 9th,2018, it was the Voice of My Savior speaking not only into my current situation, but speaking directly to ME, in the midst of my current situation.

As it has blessed me today, I pray that the timing of it, blesses a listener today as well.

The reading:

Can a sinner be turned into a saint? Can a twisted life be made right? There is only one appropriate answer— “O Lord God, You know” (Ezekiel 37:3). Never forge ahead with your religious common sense and say, “Oh, yes, with just a little more Bible reading, devotional time, and prayer, I see how it can be done.”

It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we see the activity and mistake panic for inspiration. That is why we see so few fellow workers with God, yet so many people working for God. We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see? Has any spiritual work been accomplished in me at all? The degree of panic activity in my life is equal to the degree of my lack of personal spiritual experience.

“Behold, O My people, I will open your graves…” (Ezekiel 37:12).

When God wants to show you what human nature is like separated from Himself, He shows it to you in yourself. If the Spirit of God has ever given you a vision of what you are apart from the grace of God (and He will only do this when His Spirit is at work in you), then you know that in reality there is no criminal half as bad as you yourself could be without His grace. My “grave” has been opened by God and “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells” (Romans 7:18). God’s Spirit continually reveals to His children what human nature is like apart from His grace.

The grace you had yesterday will not be sufficient for today. Grace is the overflowing favor of God, and you can always count on it being available to draw upon as needed. “…in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses”— that is where our patience is tested (2 Corinthians 6:4).

Are you failing to rely on the grace of God there? Are you saying to yourself, “Oh well, I won’t count this time”? It is not a question of praying and asking God to help you— it is taking the grace of God now. We tend to make prayer the preparation for our service, yet it is never that in the Bible. Prayer is the practice of drawing on the grace of God. Don’t say, “I will endure this until I can get away and pray.” Pray now — draw on the grace of God in your moment of need. Prayer is the most normal and useful thing; it is not simply a reflex action of your devotion to God. We are very slow to learn to draw on God’s grace through prayer.

“…in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors…” (2 Corinthians 6:5)— in all these things, display in your life a drawing on the grace of God, which will show evidence to yourself and to others that you are a miracle of His. Draw on His grace now, not later. The primary word in the spiritual vocabulary is now. Let circumstances take you where they will, but keep drawing on the grace of God in whatever condition you may find yourself. One of the greatest proofs that you are drawing on the grace of God is that you can be totally humiliated before others without displaying even the slightest trace of anything but His grace.

“…having nothing….” Never hold anything in reserve. Pour yourself out, giving the best that you have, and always be poor. Never be diplomatic and careful with the treasure God gives you. “…and yet possessing all things”— this is poverty triumphant (2 Corinthians 6:10).

………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The reason I say that this was my Savior speaking directly to Me in my situation is this:

I found myself deeply sad as I lay down to sleep last night. The truth is that deep down inside I was worried about a lot of “life stuff”, yet at the same time, my “conscious self” was saying “Stop worrying. Trust God.” But the fact that I knew that I was only trying to talk myself down, which, then, confirmed that I did not fully trust God – hence my lack of peace, made me very ashamed of myself. Which made me deeply sad.

So, I asked My Lord in prayer “Why can’t I allow myself – knowing what I know of you- To just be at peace and trust that You see everything? Why all the fear, anxiety and apprehension within me?”

Then, the still, small – but crystal clear – voice said to me “You still do not understand the concept of My Grace and that is why you cannot rest with assurance in Me.”

So, when I woke up this morning, it was as if He had put some breath of simplification into me. My prayer, which I now chose to also wear as my disposition today was: “Lord, you know what this day will bring. I do not. I surrender the Temple that is Me to You today. I will receive this day, as it presents itself, in You. I am a naturally fearful, anxious and apprehensive person, but in You there is no fear, anxiety or apprehension. Therefore, whatever it is, when You bring me to it, I trust You to bring me through it.

 

For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

 

Grace is nothing more than Walking In The Assurance that the Life of Christ within us is able to get us through every situation that tries to get us out of step with Him.

It is one thing to say that we trust God. It is another thing to receive life in the trust of God.

 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” John 1:16 NASB  

Therefore, He has given us grace upon grace. The over-abundance of the assurance that He is with us, and will move in us. If only we become less and allow him to become more in our lives.

“For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

What is it that we have committed to The Lord? We have committed our lives to Him.

Not that we may work for Him, but that He may work in us and through us.

May all who believe, by the power of The Holy Spirit, continue to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

ALL OF OUR LIVING

Most of us are familiar with the bible story of “The Widow’s Mites.”

“ And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”  Mark 3:43-44

The moral of the story has always been taught to be about giving. It is easy to give when one has an abundance. However, when one’s resources are not abundant, it becomes a tad more difficult to part with the little that one has. Jesus was teaching his disciples that this widow’s giving of her farthing was deemed more valuable than that of the rich people who gave more simply because they had more to give. The widow did not have an ample supply of funds. On the contrary, the two mites that she gave were all that she possessed. Yet, her faith motivated her to offer it. Therefore, Jesus, seeing the heart behind the offering deemed it more valuable than the heart behind the offering of those who gave simply because they had an abundance to give.

It is a timeless and valuable lesson. One that should remind us that when we make offering to the Lord, He sees the heart behind the offering. He sees the faith, the underlying motive. He cannot be deceived by quantity. He is, however, moved by the quality – the heart quality – of the offering.

Another thing struck me when I read this passage today.

Perhaps it was the particular words that were used. I am not sure. However, as I read them, they opened up another perspective that I believe is very important.

Verse 44 says, “For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

As I stated before, this story is used, in most cases, to illustrate giving money. However, as I read the words “but she of her want…” and “did cast in all that she had, even all her living.” It became clear to me is that it was some pressing need in the widow’s heart that led her to the treasury that day. Her offering was not made to obey a law, or to be recognized. It was made in direct response to something that was pressing heavily on her heart. Therefore, she came that day to pour herself out. To lay herself bare before the Lord.

The “pressing” may have been a desire. It may even have been a show of thanks. Whatever it was, it moved her to reach out to the Lord with her everything. “Even all her living.”

Let us not even think about money for a moment.

How often do we, in our want of God or our want from God, give all that we have? How do we allow ourselves to be broken down, to the point of physical, emotional and psychological helplessness because God has revealed to us in a “pressing of our spirit” that we are not right with Him?

We may say that we do when we pray. However, where we often (either during church service or personal prayer time) may lose ourselves in prayer, once it’s over, we get up and resume our lives as usual.

However, compare it to the offering of the two mites. Remember, a widow back in those times was a helpless person. She was at the mercy of whomever would provide for her financially and physically because she no longer had a husband. Meaning, since the person, by law, who was legally responsible to provide for her was no longer there, she was alone and without means unless someone else stepped up to provide for her. Therefore, when the widow put in those two mites, she no longer had any money. She put in all she had, and now, she had nothing.

There was no life as usual with the widow that day. She gave it all, “Even all her living.”

The Lord is telling us here that it is the giving of all of our living that He seeks from us.

In Christianity today, it is almost as if the only reason that we seek Christ is to make our life – as we want and desire it to be – better.

But we are still in charge of that life.

We “call the shots”. We envision how the life should turn out and every course of action we take is to ensure that our life visions come to fruition.

But what Jesus wants is for us to give up our lives!

He wants us to take “All of our living” and freely offer it up to Him.

He wants the “pressing” of His Spirit (that, if we are paying attention, reveals to us that we are not right with Him) to stir up a want in us.

What is this “want”?  The “want” is Jesus, Himself!  His very Life!

Jesus does not prompt us to desire an improvement of our lives…

He prompts us to desire a replacement of our lives!

Our life for His Life!  (Galatians 2:20)

The widow in this story represents an impoverished spirit. A spirit that has come to the realization that they have no physical provider. A spirit that has realized that God is the only true provider and it was this realization that manifested as the “want” of the widow.

The widow did not know what was going to happen to her after that moment. But the passage tells us that because Jesus saw and acknowledged the heart of her offering, He was going to take care of her.

Do we have that faith?

Do we have the faith to offer all of our impoverished lives to Him, for the want of Him?

Or would we rather pray for an overabundance first? Then from that overabundance we make an offering. Giving Him only a part of ourselves.

Brethren, as long as we still look upon our lives as being “adequate” or “not that bad” or simply in the need of a “sprucing up”, we will never have the impoverished spirit that the widow represents here.

Jesus wants us, by the enlightenment of His Spirit, to see that in our natural lives, we are as poor widows.

He then wants us to come, driven by the “want” of the better life that Life in Christ has to offer, and offer ‘’all that we have, even all of our living.”

As He saw and acknowledged the widow, He will see and acknowledge us!

He will then establish Himself in our lives as our Husband and our Provider. He will be there constantly to satisfy our every need. As He has promised us that he would.

May we, by His Spirit, continue to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

 

RECEIVE YOUR DELIVERANCE

“And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14

The passage above is not only a very well known one, it is a very comforting one. It is used as a battle cry of sorts for the Christians who proclaim it when they are going through challenging times. It reminds us of not only who our God is, but also of what he is able and willing to do for us when we are “hard pressed on all sides”.

This week, the Lord opened up this passage to my understanding in a very personal way.

The passage, as it is written above, is in the King James Version.  However,  many other versions of the bible write it as:

“Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” NIV

“And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” RSV

“But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” NLT

While these versions say “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still/stay calm”, the KJV states “The Lord shall fight for you and ye shall hold your peace.”

This message is not a comparison of bible translations. When The Lord sent me to this passage, the 3 versions that quote verse 14 as saying  “just be still” were not in line with the message He was giving me. However, when I read the KJV, it all just made perfect sense.

I personally struggle with fighting back when I feel I’m being verbally  attacked. Whenever I am or feel accused, I vehemently fight back by defending myself and it almost always leaves me feeling wretched,  spent and very angry.

It has been a continuous prayer of mine, that the Lord make me, so that I am not affected by what people say to me. It has been a life long struggle, and the older I get, the more it wears on me. As I am  growing in Christ, The Holy Spirit has made me aware that this self defense  mechanism of mine is not a trait that is pleasing to the Lord.  But I just can’t help it. When I’m verbally attacked or provoked,  I engage in the discord by not only defending myself, but mounting a counter-attack on whomever I believe is attacking me.

So it finally got to a breaking point where I confessed to God my bondage to this trait. I was enslaved by it, and I prayed “Lord, I can’t break this chain of bondage…but YOU CAN!

That was when The Spirit sent me to Exodus 14.

Why I say that the KJV of these verses spoke to my dilemma over the others is this:

What does the term ” hold your peace” translate to? It means “to keep silent; to say nothing”. In my dilemma; my challenge, my struggle; that is what my issue has been. Not responding. Not speaking . Not engaging verbally. My struggle has been resisting the indignation that rises within me when I feel that I’m being attacked, or bullied or oppressed.

Therefore,  when the Word of God, brought to Life by His Spirit, tells Me to “Stand still and see the salvation of The Lord. That this “oppressor” (this tyranny of Satan that has had such a hold on me all my life and I could not “change it” by my own power or free myself from it’s chains that bound me) which I see today, I will see it no more!” This bondage; the enslavement;  the powerlessness; “today” God says, “I will set you free! I will deliver you!”

He then sealed it; spoke to my particular condition; and said “I will fight for you AND you will hold your peace.” Meaning, He will fight for me and I will no longer have to fight for myself; defend myself;  rescue myself;  be my own advocate.

I can remain silent under attack, with the ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE that if I trust Him and obey Him, He will fight for me and I won’t have to do a thing!

What a glorious deliverance!

Brethren, is that not all The Lord asks of us? To hand over our fears, anxieties,  worries, concerns over to Him?

Because where we cannot deliver ourselves from these things, HE is more than able to deliver us!

If only we will just trust Him and obey Him.

Think of the story about the woman with an issue of blood for 12 years that is referenced in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. We apply this parable when we are looking for healing from physical infirmities.

But does it really apply to physical infirmities alone?

We all have habitual “issues” of one type or another. That we have had all our lives. Traits that we just accept are alright simply because we have always been that way.

Yet, the whole premise of being born again is that “I am a new creation. Old things have passed away…”. By “old things”, Jesus is referring to all those things in us and of us that are of the carnal nature –which the bible says “is enmity against God”.

If these traits do not exemplify love (the 1st Corinthians 13 definition of love) then they don’t glorify God. If they don’t glorify God, then how can we not accept that we need to be rid of them.

But since they are a very natural part of who and how we are, then as the woman with the issue of blood was desperate to be healed, we should be desperate to be healed of our “issues” as well.

2 Corinthians 3:17 says:

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

And John 8:36 says:

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Our liberty is not unto the flesh to do as we please, as the Apostle Paul said in Galatians,  but when the grace of God reveals to us through the Holy Spirit, where in ourselves – our personalities, our ways , our habits, our mindsets, our thinking, our understanding, what we argue for, what we insist on, what we can’t let go of – we are in bondage – enslaved to carnality – the same grace of God, in Christ Jesus, where we now lay our whole selves at His feet acknowledging how we are powerless to change or free ourselves – saves us. He then says to us, just as He said to the Israelites through Moses “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which I will shew to you to day: for the Oppression whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

What a blessed gift to enter into the relief of God. Where we no longer have to be afraid or enslaved. He will fight for us, and we will be at peace.

Remain encouraged,  brethren. Remain steadfast. Remain faithful to Him. For He has promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us, and God is not a man that He should lie.  He watches over His Word to perform it!

May we continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

ALL OR PART OF JESUS?

In John 5, we are told of Jesus healing a man at the pool called Bethesda, in Jerusalem. The beautiful thing about this miracle is the subtlety with which it is portrayed.

 

John 5: 1-9

“After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.  In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.  Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

 

This was a pool that was known to have “healing powers”. It apparently was true as the bible gives us the very account of an angel “stirring the water” at certain seasons.

 

Since we know that angels only operate at the command of God, we can say that it was God’s healing power that was upon this water and the people knew this. Which was why they waited for the water to be “stirred”. Then, when they rushed in to receive the healing and whoever got there first was in fact healed.

 

Now enters Jesus and he is having a conversation with this man who had an infirmity for 38 years. According to the text, this infirmity affected his mobility. That is why he needed help getting into the water when it was stirred. Hence, his response to Jesus about not having anyone put him in the pool.

 

What a sad and desperate predicament, wouldn’t you say?

 

Here is this pool of water, the source of his healing. So close that he can touch it. Yet, he can’t touch it as a result of his infirmity. The same infirmity he wants to be cured of is also the very barrier to his cleansing.  

 

Now, I’d like us to pay attention to verses 6 and 7.

 

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

Jesus, knowing why the man was there, did not ask him if he needed help getting into the pool. Instead, he asks him “Wilt thou be made whole?” To which the man – not knowing who Jesus was or what Jesus could do – answered in reference to the pool. The only source of healing he knew of.

Can you see where this is going?

How often do we, even though we are followers of Christ, seek “the healing of the pool”, when we should be seeking Christ Himself to make us whole?

Jesus did not ask the man if he wanted to be healed of his particular infirmity. He asked if he desired to me make “whole”.

Not a repair of a part. A restoration of the whole!

We are supposed to come to Christianity seeking Jesus. After all Jesus Himself said:

 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” John 6:44

But when we get here, we take our eyes of the Christ who called us and start following after “pools of healing; showers of blessing; promises for worldly prosperity” and we lose sight of Jesus Christ!

Who in His very Life is contained “healing, blessing, prosperity.”

We don’t need the pools when we have Jesus!

We don’t need the showers when we have Jesus!

We don’t need the promises when we have Jesus!

Every day, He reminds us of His calling and asks us “Will thou be made whole?”

Then, we answer Him, “I have no one to put me in the water.”

So we wait…While the way to wholeness stands right in front of us.

 

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” John 7:37

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”Matthew 11:28

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” John 5:39-40

“Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.” John 6:26-27

Why do we continue to trust in the bread and not in The Bread Giver?

Why don’t we believe that Jesus, knowing Him and growing in Him, is enough?

Why don’t we believe that even though we don’t know how he will keep us, He WILL keep us, because He said He would?

Why do we struggle with loosening our “grip” on how we believe our lives are supposed to be and just surrender our lives to Jesus and allow Him to use our lives for the will of The Father?

Why do we insist on shows of His power for us when, we can have His power in us?

Why do we insist on bits and pieces of Jesus when we can have the whole of Jesus?

In us. Re-making our lives. For His glory.

 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

Christ Seeker, Jesus is asking you today:

“Wilst thou be made whole”?

Unlike the sick man at the pool, you KNOW what Jesus can do.

So, will you say “Yes, Lord. I desire that You make me whole.”

Or will you continue to seek your blessings from the pool when the Lord chooses to stir it?

May we continue to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

A NEW DWELLING PLACE

While I was on my way to church on the night of December 31st, for the New Year’s Day Service, I came across a devotional that ransomed my mind for the entire evening. The topic was taken from the very popular Psalm 91. The verse that was focused on, however, was one that I’ve probably recited hundreds of times. This time, due to the speaker highlighting it in the manner that he did, I derived not only an entirely new meaning of this verse, but a profound entry way into a deeper relationship with God.

 

“Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.”  Psalm 91:9

 

Whenever this verse is read, it is usually acknowledged with a resounding ”Amen”, and rightly so! However, what the author of the devotional asked that really got me thinking was this:

 

The promise is contingent only on “if we have made The Lord our refuge and The Most High our habitation”.

 

Therefore, the obvious question is:

 

Have I made The Lord my refuge?

 

Have I made The Most High my habitation?

 

How do I know if I have?

 

If I have not, how do I do it?

 

There is a zeal that comes as a result of positive thinking.

 

“All will be well”

 

“Everything is going to be ok”; “Everything will turn out fine”.

 

Though there is nothing wrong with positive thinking, the truth is positive thinking is not an indication of Christian faith.

 

Positive thinking is a direct result of a positive/optimistic attitude.

 

That positive attitude can come from human nature, past experience or the profession of a belief that is non-Christian.

 

Believing “everything will be all right” because my spirits are high or because things have worked out well in the past is different from believing these things as a result of my hope in God.

 

If the promise of Psalm 91:9 is to become a reality in my life as a believer, it has to be of the utmost importance to me that The Lord become just that for me.

 

My Refuge. My Habitation. My Dwelling Place. My Home.

 

God must become everything!

 

The danger of “zeal centered” positive thinking for a Christian is that it causes us to make affirmations based on our hopes and desires. We then proceed to ask God to certify those affirmations. Then, when things don’t work out as we hoped, we question God and become disappointed. We have to make sure that our zeal for God is not separate from our knowledge of God, and it is only the Spirit of God, who can give us a knowledge of God.

 

Our faith has to be in God. In his Omniscience.

 

Not in a “good life”; not in things working out how we would rather they work out; but by a total surrender of our lives to Him. As willing vessels. Allowing Him to use us as He pleases. All the while, trusting Him completely as He reveals Himself to us through the Holy Spirit.

 

The only way we can intimate ourselves with God is by recognizing the purpose for which He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, and allowing that purpose to be made a living actuality in our lives via the Holy Spirit

 

The Lord being our Habitation means that He covers us – not our worldly existence, but our life in Him. Our lives are hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3) and the evil one cannot touch us (1 John 5:18, John 14:30b).

 

Under normal circumstances, one would say that making The Most High our Habitation is the easiest thing to do.

 

In theory it is.

 

In words, it is.

 

But in actuality; in the course of “working out of our salvation”, we realize that under the assault of “worldliness” in this present age, it is hard!

 

But for the grace of God in the person of Jesus Christ.

 

It is only the Spirit of Christ that can make it possible for the Most High to be our Habitation.

 

This is why unless we have deliberately sought the Lord in this manner, let us not assume that we have made Him what these verses ask that we make Him.

 

Look at what He saves us from:

 

“No evil will befall thee”

 

“No plague shall come nigh thy dwelling”

 

But only if we deliberately make Him our Refuge and Habitation.

 

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  Ephesians 6:12

 

Fellow sojourners, we need to understand that the evil one is not interested in “interfering with our happiness”, unless he knows that the disruption of our happiness will cause us to stray from God in our hearts. If it is all about happiness in this world, then, it is not about God. If it is all about God, then, we are devoted to Him whether we are “happy” or not. Satan is interested in stealing our joy in the Lord; in causing us to lose our crowns of salvation by losing faith in God.

 

That is why The Lord urges us to make Him our Refuge and Habitation. Because it is only in Him that the evil mentioned in Ephesians 6:12 “will not befall us nor come nigh our dwelling place” which is – our life in Christ.

 

The Lord in His infinite mercy has seen it fit to allow us to see 2018. But it is simply not about “not dying”, it is about “living to declare the works of the Lord” (Psalm 118:17).

 

For every morning that we are given the grace to awaken, let us place the Lord’s promise of Psalm 91:9 before Him in prayer, because He says, “I watch over My Word to perform it” (Jeremiah 1:12).

 

Let us ask Him to fulfill the promise.

 

To become our Refuge and Habitation.

 

The exact way He meant it when He spoke it.

 

The exact way He wills and purposes to be so.

 

That we may always dwell in safety. In Him.

                                                                                                                   His Handmaid

 

ABIDING IN THE SHADOWS

In Luke 2: 41-49, we are told:

 

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover festival.  When Jesus was twelve years old, they attended the festival as usual.  After the celebration was over, they started home to Nazareth, but Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t miss him at first,  because they assumed he was among the other travelers. But when he didn’t show up that evening, they started looking for him among their relatives and friends.When they couldn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem to search for him there.  Three days later they finally discovered him in the Temple, sitting among the religious teachers, listening to them and asking questions. All who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. His parents didn’t know what to think. “Son,” his mother said to him, “why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been frantic, searching for you everywhere.”  “But why did you need to search?” he asked. “Didn’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they didn’t understand what he meant.

The passage tells us that this incident occurred when Jesus was 12.

 

Here, the 12-year-old Jesus is bewildered as to why His parents were worried about His whereabouts.

 

“Where did you expect me to be?”

                 OR

“Where else could I have possibly been?”

 

Was the question that the child Jesus asked, quite perplexed.

 

Luke 3:23 says “Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry.”

 

Even though the “Miracle Working Jesus” was not made known until age thirty or so, the scripture tells us clearly that “The Son, doing the will of His Father” had always been there. Present. Doing exactly what the Father had called Him to do:

 

ABIDING.

 

As Christians, we often believe that it is only the conscious “thrilling” things of life, are a sign of God’s presence in us.

 

We are only conscious of God when we are in the act of service: preaching, ministering, charity work, prophecy, church work, when we are in prayer and the expectation of answered prayer.

 

However, here was Jesus, years before His public ministry began.

 

When He was just “the carpenter’s son”, faithfully abiding in the will of His Heavenly Father. Behind the scenes. With no audience – except the One who sent Him.

 

Are we zealous in the shadows?

 

Are we faithful in obscurity?

 

Are we abiding in the ordinary, mundane, routine, every day aspects of our lives?

 

Is abiding in Christ as important to us in the menial things as it is in the grand “everyone is looking at me” things?

 

Is abiding in Christ as important to us when we the other driver cuts us off in the road?

 

Is abiding in Christ important when our husband/wife/friend/parent/sibling does not behave in the way that we would prefer them to?

 

Is abiding in Christ important to us when we don’t receive the things we believe are our right to receive?

 

Do we abide in Christ when someone disrespects us? Dishonors us? Cheats us? Wrongs us?

 

Is abiding in Christ important to us when dealing with people we don’t like? Who don’t like us?

 

Is abiding in Christ important to us even if it does not seem like God even hears us? Not to mention giving us what we are asking of Him?

 

Are we abiding in Christ in the drudgery of life? Or are we just barely getting through it?

 

If someone came looking for us in those times, where would they find us?

 

In our “Father’s House” abiding faithfully? Or in “Our own houses” doing as we see fit, while saying “God will understand.”

 

God does not call us to perform miracles. He does not call us to raise the dead, heal the sick or save souls.

 

He calls us to ABIDE IN HIM. OBEY HIM. PLACE HIS WILL ABOVE OUR OWN.

 

It is in the obedience of ABIDING, that He can now use us to raise the dead. Heal the sick. Save souls.

 

Jesus Christ says “I and my Father are one” John 10:30

He also says “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5.

Jesus is our only example of what it means to Abide in the Father.

                     AT ALL TIMES!

“How is that even possible?” We ask.

He answers:

For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13

Not only was Jesus’ life on earth our example, it is He, by His Spirit, who works in us, enabling us to obey the will of The Father”

But He can only work in us when we come to what is called “The end of ourselves”.

Which simply means that “On my best day, at the peak of my self -flattering reverence of all of the good qualities that I possess – and my  “thank God I’m not like all those weak, useless, sinners” state of mind – I realize that “I” do not have the power or ability to make myself right before God.

Only Jesus Christ can do that.

Only Jesus Christ –through His blood and by His Spirit – can make me acceptable before God.

But Jesus Christ will do NOTHING until we come to Him in the total, broken, humble, inadequacy of ourselves…

…and when we arrive there, we should not ask for any other heart’s desire, except the desire to live every single day, for the rest of our lives, Abiding in Him.

Jesus Christ could only be the “Propitiation for sin” because He was “The Spotless Lamb”.

Not just as an adult but throughout His entire life!

How did He do it? Have we ever thought about this? He was FAITHFUL to His Father his entire life! NEVER, not even once, placing His own will above the will of His Father.

But the Word of God tells us that this is exactly what He did.

Therefore, if we truly believe the Word of God, if we truly believe on the Name of Jesus, then we will ask Him to give us His Spirit. This Spirit, which is His Life; His victorious, successful, perfectly God pleasing Life. It is then by this Spirit and through this Spirit, the Holy Spirit, that we too can live a life that is pleasing to God.

This is the “life” that the Father requires that we live on this earth. This is the “life” causes us to be “in this world” but not “of this world”.

But brethren, we cannot live this life unless we willfully, purposely, determinedly, abide in Christ.   May this be the new life, the Abiding Life, that we desire from this day. Amen.