"Count it all joy when you fall into various trials."

Posts tagged ‘spirituality’

Excellence – not Perfection

Perfection

Once again Abigail had blown it!  She had cleaned the house and thought she had covered every corner.  When her husband, Kyle, came home, he lost it!  Look at this drawer!  It is a mess.  I am so sick of you not doing things right!  She rushed over and began to straighten the offending drawer.  She sighed.  Nothing she ever did was good enough.

Yesterday he had run his finger over the top of the door and found dust.  He raved.  She felt again like nothing she ever did was good enough.  The day before, he told her he  had written a date on top of the refrigerator a week before and she hadn’t found it.  He ridiculed her.

She tried.  She really did, but it was impossible to please him.

Today’s Lesson:

Often we think God is as demanding as Kyle.  Even though we try, we can’t live up to the Law that we see in Scripture.  We may say a swear word or we get angry at our kids.  We don’t pray or read our Bible every day.  We are sure that we have disappointed the Lord and soon we give up trying to reach Him.

The Good News!

God knew we could never be perfect and that is why He gave us the Law so that we could see the futility of trying to do it on our own.  He sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for all of our sin and imperfection.  He did what we could not do.  He has released us from all condemnation.

He looks at us as little children.  If your toddler spills his milk, you don’t give him away or tell him that he is useless.  You clean it up and fill the glass again and use a cup that won’t spill.  You help him learn how to manage new challenges so that he can become a responsible adult.  It takes time to develop a child into a person of excellence.  It is done step-by-step and moment-by-moment.  You love them, encourage them, discipline them and give them room to make mistakes.

God is much nicer than you are.  He is Good and  His Loving-kindness endures forever!

It is  Satan who has made us think that God is our critic.  He is not.  He knew we couldn’t live the life we see in the Law – not even  the basic ten commandments.  Jesus had to become a man and dwell among us and pay the full price for all the things we have done and will do.  He covered everything including our thoughts, actions, attitudes, all kinds of sin and fears.  When we accept what Jesus has done, He begins to complete the good work He has begun in us.  He won’t stop or give up on us.

He might put us on hold if we get too rebellious but He waits patiently for us to turn back to HIm.

Excellence

When we yield to the Spirit of God, we begin to become who has intended us to be.  He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.  Everything!  He has made us the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.  He has sent His own Holy Spirit to live in us to help us, lead us, guide us and comfort us.

He is nicer than the most loving parent and He brings us into people of excellence and not perfection.

Perfection!  “It ain’t ever gonna happen – so get over it and enjoy the patience and the love of God who restores us and loves us at all times.”

There is a process that happens over time as we yield to the leading of the Lord and it yields excellence.  When you mess up, confess it to the Lord, and walk free of the guilt and shame.

 Tell the devil to ‘shut up!’  He will want to continue to beat you with your failures.  He thinks he is so clever.  He tempts you to do wrong and then beats you for doing it.  

Freedom!

God sees that you have made a mistake and as soon as you confess it, you are released it and you are free.  I love the Scripture that says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free!”

Trust Him with all the circumstances of your life and live free!

Share a time that you when you knew you were free!

If the Door is Open, Why are You Still in the Cage?

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The eagle was restless.  He had been in this cage in the zoo for several years.  It was where they brought him after he broke his wing.  He moved back and forth within the confines of the space.  He knew somehow that he was made for more but all he knew was the four corners of his prison.  He really didn’t even have room to fly and it was something he no longer remembered.  His handler would open the door and he would hop out on his leather glove and he would feed him.  It worked, but something was different.

When his handler came today they moved him to a smaller cage after the feeding.  This was unacceptable and he cried out his distress.  They put the enclosure in a van and they began moving.  He was confused and frightened.  They drove for a long time and when the vehicle stopped, a new emotion hit the bird.  His heart was racing and he felt like it would explode in his proud breast as panic overwhelmed him.

The handler removed the cage and sat it on the ground a few feet away from the van.   Then a remarkable thing happened.  He opened the door to this small cage and stepped away.  The eagle sat there looking at the opening.  What did it mean?  Usually, he put his hand with the leather glove in the space and he would get on it, but today, he just opened the door.

The mountain air was refreshing him and he raised his head.  The man knelt to the side of the cage and the leathered hand offered him food to leave the enclosure.  He tentatively took it.  Stepping back, he offered more food and the eagle knew that to get it, he would have to step out of the cage.  Tentatively and with apprehension, he slowly inched forward in ‘un-eagle’ like fashion.  He took the food and turned to go back in to the cage, but the door was closed.

He was free!  Free to sit on the ground.  Free to fly, but to the frustration of his friend was that he just sat there, puzzling over his new situation.  He began to walk around on the soft mountain turf.  He walked over and climbed on a rock and looked out over his new domain.  He longed to see more.  He longed for  . . . something.

In the distance, he heard the cry of another eagle and something broke inside his heart.  Without fanfare or preamble, he spread his wings and lifted into the air over the canyon.  When he heard the call of one like him, everything came into focus.  He didn’t need a lesson on how to fly.  Flying was part of who he is.  He is an eagle.  Soaring higher and higher, moving toward the other eagle, he was truly free.

Years ago, I was with an early morning prayer group, when God gave me a vision as I sat on the steps that led up to the platform in the church.  I was looking out over the pews that would soon be occupied by the congregation.  In the vision, I could see them sitting there inside cages with the doors open.  They were free, but they had chosen to stay enclosed in the prison of their own beliefs and laws.  They didn’t understand the fullness of what Christ had done for them.  They were eagles who were sitting in parlor cages like chickens unable to take their freedom.  My heart broke.

The Scripture in Galatians 5:1 in one translation reads, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”  This troubled me greatly as I was saved and in the church, but I was not free.  I told a friend of mine, a pastor’s wife, that ‘I knew Christianity worked.”  She asked me to call her when I figured it out!

We can be blind guides leading others.  We have an open door.  Jesus Christ is the door.  We have stepped inside and we are free, but we are paralyzed because we don’t understand what the freedom means.  So, how do we fly?

What has made us prisoners and enslaves us when the promised freedom is readily available?  We are caught in church doctrine, rules and the judgement of others and as well as

ourselves.  We want to do right but it seems that we do just the opposite much like the Apostle Paul in Romans 7.  What ties us to the cage?  When we are tempted and fail, we beat ourselves with our failure and then we step away from the door.  We are still free but we have no knowledge of how to fly – how to delight in the freedom.

The enemy knows that we are free, but he hates us and uses the only tool in his tool box:  condemnation.  He knows our weaknesses and so he arranges temptations.  When we give in, he then unleashes a barrage of words into our minds that sounds like us, but is really from him.

To illustrate:  Sue decided to eat in a healthy way and to stop eating sweets.  She did well for two weeks and was invited to a party.  They had the most beautiful array of desserts and she succumbed to the molten chocolate cake.  She savored each bite.  When she got home later, the pain began.  ‘Why did I do that?  I had promised myself I wouldn’t eat sugar and now I ate a huge dose of it!  I am a failure.  I can’t do this.  I will never be able to eat healthy!”  At that, she goes into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator door and begins to eat whatever she can find.

What Sue didn’t understand is that the molten chocolate cake wasn’t her enemy.  All she had to do was confess this to her God, forgive herself, and continue on the healthy eating path.  But when she listened to the lies of the enemy, she went back under bondage and entered the cage.  The door is still open, but she is in prison.

Listen, the voice of your Redeemer Who is calling to you.  Move toward it and begin to fly.  The truth is you are free!

 

Is the Presence of God Absent?

We walked into the church hopeful.  We had looked for a long time and we were getting discouraged.  Within a short time we knew we had hit the ‘religion’ jackpot.  There was an active ‘amen’ corner.   The lady that sang the solo had no talent and was chosen for her hair style and lack of make-up.  The reverend was very loud and pointed an accusing finger at the congregation who seemed to be used to the berating.  He talked of the devil and condemned each of us to our own private corner of hell UNLESS we repented from our sin.  I could think of no reason to repent but only had a desire to flee.  If this was ‘church,’ we wanted no part in it!  We quickly delivered ourselves outside to the fresh air and blue sky.  It was not our first disappointment and would not be our last.

It must grieve God’s Father heart that we can be satisfied to sit under this oppression and call it Christian.  Being abused every Sunday morning by a leader who has never even have had an encounter with the Living God.  There is a good chance that s/he is not even a part of God’s family.  This person is what the Bible calls a ‘hireling,’ not a shepherd.  He found a career and used his public speaking skills to try to scare people out of hell, but I think he may just have succeeded in convincing them that if this was what church was about, they wanted no part of it.

Other leaders may not be so overt, but they are all about psychology, or they are a friendly social club that only teaches the easy parts of the Bible  There are so many ways that the church has been infiltrated by the devil and the world.

When we were first brought into the family of God, we were zealous and accepted everything we encountered as coming from Heaven.  After several woundings and our son walking away in disgust, we realized that there must be more to the church thing than what we had first thought.

So, we continued our search to find a place where the Spirit of God actually showed up when we came together.  We love the Lord and spent time with Him on a regular basis.  We really did come into His Presence from time-to-time, but it seemed that the more we hung around certain churches, the less we encountered Him.  Finally we gave up and stayed home.  This was really not a solution either.  At home, we began to drift.  I started reading Christian Fiction instead of the Bible – a voyeur into the lives of people who actually seemed to get it.  My husband just pulled in and his wounds isolated him.  Every so often, I would venture into another ‘church.’  If I could persuade him to come, he would give me a list of why everything was wrong, and he was right!

But I was starved for fellowship – the kind the Bible speaks of – koininea – a coming together in unity and oneness.  Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father were One.  I wanted that and I wanted it with my husband.

I attended a small 7:00 AM fellowship in my small town.  There was a young man there that changed before my eyes.  He went from being a good denominational man to a radiant expression of the Presence of God.  He kept inviting me to come to a small church he attended.  He assurred me it was different.  I was intrigued.

When I went, it was definitely different – totally different from church as usual.  The leader claimed to walk and talk with God on a daily basis and taught the Word of God with authority.  Not completely convinced, I went several times before I asked hubby to come with me.  He came but not with a happy heart.  I could tell he was impressed but sitting for a long time is hard on him and the guy could talk!  After two and a half hours, the meeting broke up.  My dear man told me that I should go to this fellowship, but it wasn’t for him.

So with his blessing, I continued to go.  I changed so much that he knew something was up.  One day, he decided it was time to visit with the leader and he found a man-of-God who not only affirmed him but drew him into a friendship.

We began to attend as a couple.  God has done amazing things in our lives in the last six or seven months.  Now we sit through sermons that can last much longer than two hours and still be hungry for more.  We are learning to enter into and abide in the Presence of God.  He is not just Almighty God to us anymore; He is now our Papa – Abba – Father God.  He loves us and we know it.  We love Him because of it.

This fellowship has become our family.  We are now involved in going to the streets to invite people into His Presence.  It has changed our lives forever.

If your church doesn’t have the Presence of Father God in their services and if it doesn’t show in the lives of those who attend, find a place where God is present.  It makes all the difference.

Is your church abiding in His Presence.  Are you?

Hearing God’s Voice

I don’t want to share with you the twisted road that the devil had me on before I came to the knowledge that Jesus died for me and He did it because Father God loves us so much; It still amazes me that He sacrificed His own Son on our behalf. And, as if that wasn’t enough, He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us and bring us into Father’s Presence.

My testimony is NOT about what I did before, but what I DO almost every day.

When I first met the Lord Jesus, I fell in love with Him. I discovered that the only way to have a relationship with Him was to spend time with Him. So, that is what I did. For months and months, I spent time in the Bible and talking to Him. He introduced me to God the Father and invited me into the Heavenly Throne Room.

To prepare my heart when I want to meet with Him, I put on loud worship music so I can shut out my surroundings and sometimes I open the Bible – I shut my eyes and I am transported into Heaven and the Throne Room.

I know, I know; you are saying, “Whoa! What do you mean, you go into the Heavenly Throne Room!”

You see we are not citizens of the world anymore. We belong to our Family in Heaven where God is our Father and Jesus is our big Brother. We have imaginations given to us by Father God. (The devil has corrupted them and many people don’t think they are okay anymore, but they are.) So I close my eyes and ask Jesus for permission to enter into the Throne Room (He is the Door.)   He is seated at Father’s right hand. I come in and I am engulfed in Light. I feel the cares of the day fall off and I take my seat next to my big Brother, Jesus. From here I find out what the Father’s will is for me.

OR sometimes, I just crawl up in Father God’s Lap and call Him “Abba” (Hebrew for Daddy”) and tell Him everything that is on my heart and rest in Him. Sometimes, I just sit on the floor and look at Them and watch all the angels.

It is really a wonderful. I can go there anytime. The more I go, the easier it is. You can do it too. Don’t be afraid. Your imagination was given by Father so that you could see Him. He is able to help you see the right things. It is always a good experience.

He loves us and wants us to know Him. He wants us to love Him – romance Him, if you will. It is how you have a wonderful relationship with someone you love. There is no relationship without alone time intimately with the other.

So much of what the world has done tries to convince us that we can find this level of intimacy with another person here on earth, but it is just not possible. But I promise that when you shut everything else out, He will meet you and love you as you love Him.  Learn how to open the door to your heart any time, any where!

The Scriptures uses the symbolism of the Church as the Bride of Christ. There is no relationship more intimate than a Bride with her Lover and that is who we are to Him.

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Religion or Encounter?? You choose!

My Mama didn’t believe in joining a church because of her Mama’s religion. They taught you would get ‘the Mark of the Beast’ if you did. (I didn’t know what that was.) Grandma’s religion had made atheists of all of her kids because it was, what was then called the “holiness” movement. She wore dark stockings, no make-up and did not believe in having much of anything. There was no radio, television, indoor plumbing and for many years, no refrigerator. She carried wood and coal and used an outhouse until she was 90 years old. Her belief colored all of our lives. Mom and Dad could never agree on what to do about church and so they slept in and sent me to a small church two blocks away.

At that little church, we had a series of pastors, at least two of which I believe loved the Lord. The others were merely religious and not true shepherds.

The one that negatively impacted me the most was a man who had been asked to leave his previous denomination – and pastorate (at least that is what I remember.) Reverend was very unhappy. He had five children who were unique in that they didn’t even fit in and I know that was painful for them.

His wife was the one that still causes me to shake my head. One thing I remembered vividly was that she wore silk stockings with a seam down the back and acres of unshaved hair beneath them. She taught Sunday School. Her favorite song was “Holy, Holy, Holy” and I always felt she was singing about herself as she closed her eyes and warbled in a high stringy soprano.

She didn’t like me much. I was a bit of a leader among our small fellowship. The kids voted for me to give the Youth Sunday sermon. When the news got to Mrs. Reverend, she took me aside and said, “Reverend and I don’t believe that we should have someone in the pul-pit (emphasis on pit) that isn’t a member of the chucha (no ‘r’ and strong last ‘ch’).”

I was very hurt and confused. I left and went to a church across town until they left. It was years before I could hear the song ‘Holy, Holy, Holy and focus on the one it was about.

At no time did anyone in that small church talk to me about the Gospel. There was no power and often little love. It was a place where some folks were thought of as pillars and others as necessary but not honored.

When I went through my rebellious years, I turned from traditional ‘religion’ and started looking at alternatives including the New Age. I found the focus on me and I liked it. I had a new religion and I was the ‘god’ of that religion. It was comfortable but it did not satisfy.  I did what felt right in my own eyes.

Many years later, as I drove down the street listening to R. W. Shambach on the radio, the Holy Spirit spoke directly to my heart and my life changed forever. I had an encounter with the Living God.  I learned that afternoon that God was real, He loved me and had a plan for me  the most amazing thing of all, I found out that I was forgiven. God Himself walked me through receiving His forgiveness and washing me clean. No one can ever convince me that God is not real. He is real! I am His and He is mine.

Religion is an ugly thing.  It is a practice of traditions not instituted by God. It is primarily cultural and doesn’t focus itself on the love and Presence of God.   It talks about God but doesn’t really know Him and can be a mere history lesson.

Religion is found in many different forms and even embraces Christianity that has explained away the power of God.  Because they do not experience it, they deny it.  I includes many different belief systems from all around the world. It incites people to have wars to protect their doctrines and beliefs.  There is form but no supernatural power.

Today’s Lesson:

What religion has is tradition, judgement, culture, doctrine, history, and social clubs as well as conflict with anyone who disagrees with them. What God has is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Righteousness is His gift to us at our acceptance of His Son’s finished work.

Peace is ‘shalom’ in Hebrew which means wholeness – complete in Him.

Joy comes from His Presence and has no opposite and is found only abiding in Him.

A relationship with the Living God is far better than religion.

Are you in religion? Or do you personally know and fellowship with the living God?

If you don’t know Him, I invite you to an encounter with the Living God by accepting the finished work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  It is easy to do.  Just call on the Name of the Lord Jesus and believe with you heart – NOT your head – and you will be saved and He will send the Holy Spirit to Guide you into all Truth.  Then ask Him to make Himself real to you and He will.

Let me know if you make this decision.

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