The Power of Thought

Proverbs 23:7 says, As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Our thoughts are important. They define us. They direct us.

~As a child when I had blood drawn, I required lying down so that I wouldn’t faint.

“I need that blood. They are taking important blood that my body needs,” my little mind figured. “I will be weak without it until my body makes more.”

Little did I know that I fainted then simply because of my thoughts, not because of the blood loss. I fainted because I thought “fainting” thoughts.

As an adult, I no longer faint when having blood drawn because my thoughts have changed. I know that my body makes plenty of blood and can spare as many vials as the lab may need.

“They’re taking extra blood that my body doesn’t need,” I tell myself. Now, while having blood drawn, I think non-fainting thoughts so I don’t faint.

My focus and thoughts guide my actions. I think the way I want to go.

~My husband, Thom, races dirt bikes (motorcycles) in the woods for fun. He knows that his focus determines his direction. He knows that if he mistakenly focuses on the trees lining the trail, he will crash into one of them. Instead, he chooses to focus only on the trail ahead of him so that he will stay safely on it.

His focus and thoughts guide his actions. He thinks the way he wants to go.

We, as Christians, must focus on and think true thoughts. When we call ourselves sinners, we are not agreeing with God about who we are or what He has done for us. This is not only rude, it is ignorant, disgraceful and blasphemous to Him. Christ did not die to leave us sinners! He died so that we could be like Him in the new nature He has given us (2 Cor. 5:17).

When we decide to agree with God and call ourselves the new nature as He does, then we slowly begin to act like the new nature. Over time, the repetition of telling ourselves the truth will act as the tiny rudder that turns the whole ship around. During the process of learning who He has made us, we give ourselves grace, truth and time as first our identity, then our character gradually transforms.

So, what does this look like in real life? In my case, self talk sounds like this, “If I am the new nature which I am because God says so-  then what would the new nature do in this particular circumstance? She would walk in agreement with God because she is one spirit with Him.” Then I find out what His word reveals about the reality of the situation and my appointed path in it.

If the situation seems foreign or awkward to me, I prayerfully imagine myself repeatedly walking on the appointed path according to His Word to lay down the pathways in my brain for me to actually walk in it. Then I ask God for wisdom, courage, strength and peace to follow through on it.

If I struggle to follow the Lord, I ask Him to show me the blockage. If necessary, I get help from a friend, relative, therapist or whoever can help me break through.

And sometimes in my weakness I just pray, “Lord, I cannot do this! But I fully surrender to you and trust you, and ask that you lead me and do it through me.”

He always honors my weakness!

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor. 12:9).

The old nature faints. The new nature stays conscious.

The old nature crashes into trees. The new nature rides on the open path.

The old nature feeds on lies. The new nature feeds on truth.

Focus on Christ and the new nature He has made you.

Every Scripture points you to the Glorious Christ, and your glorious new nature in Him (John 5:39)!

Our thoughts are important. They define us. They direct us.

Think the way you want to go.

 

Proverbs 23:7  As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!

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

2 Corinthians 12:19 My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

 

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Transformation Prayer Ministry (TPM)

Spirit beckons
Holy hosts
Hurting hearts
Come trust
Come exchange
One rope
One chain

Take dominion
Remember the knot
Feel the pain
Surrender your belief
Crucify the lie
Receive relief
Vanquish the pain

Truth heals
A new story
Heart healing
Freedom found
Lightness of Spirit
Lie by lie
Glory to glory

Via the power of the Holy Spirit Transformation Prayer Ministry (TPM), founded by Dr. Ed Smith, is shattering lies within the hearts of men and growing globally to over 150 countries at no cost to the recipients.

TPM operates out of the truth that “the only power (territory) the enemy has over you is the lies that you believe.” TPM replaces lies with truth. Truth is power.

Christ was into healing in His earthly ministry, and still is today. He gave us TPM to facilitate for His body rapid healing and empowering.

I call TPM “healing in the HOV lane.”

TPM is not something new or something Ed created. Rather it is simply a means by which we can intentionally cooperate with God in doing what He has done all along. It is the difference between knowing the truth with the logical mind and knowing it experientially with the heart. When the Lord supplies His healing perspective, it moves beyond the intellect and becomes experiential.

If you’re not familiar with TPM, educate yourself. We want to be into what Christ is into. Christ is very much into TPM.

Please contact me (ashleydwille@gmail.com) if you need healing.

Matthew 4:23
And he went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

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Stewardship of Your Mind

How to successfully steward your mind? Let’s review the basics.

Firstly, God owns you inside and out, head to toe. He has gifted you with a powerful feature of the new nature: your mind. Your mind is holy just as the rest of you is holy, set apart for God’s purposes. God has given you -and only you- full stewardship over your mind. You have an instruction manual and maintenance guide for your mind in the Word of God.

Living inside you is everything you need for a godly life and mind (2 Pet.1:3). Believing (John 6:29) and seeking (Matt. 7:7) what is already there (2 Cor. 5:17) is all that is required for a lifetime of transformation (John 3:7, Luke 17:21).

Secondly, the LORD will show you what to allow in and what to discard. Unique to every individual, His ways are always consistent with His truth. He will teach you to guard your eyes and ears which are doorways to your soul, and lead you in meditations to heal and strengthen your mind. He will teach you how to take authority over your thoughts as His mind becomes yours, more often than not.

The mind is fluid and plastic, able to repair, change and transform to your liking. Linked with the heart, the mind is part and parcel of the soul. Ideally, your mind can be used as God designed it according to your unique temperament, gifts, skills and history.

Because all of our minds are damaged from the Fall and from growing up in dysfunctional families, healing of the mind is an integral part of stewardship. Believing lies comprises the majority of damage inflicted on our minds by the world system and our broken receptors. Extracting these lies heals our minds. Healing can be accomplished through various means, including Transformational Prayer Ministry (TPM), individual/group therapy, meditation, brain mapping and biofeedback, spending time in nature, and so on.

Again, your mind is a gift. It’s not a garbage can, which is what the world would have you believe. Lovingly protecting your mind and filling it with pure thoughts and meditations glorifies God. Just as important, reaching out for help with the dark places in your mind and soul glorifies God as well.

“Taking out the trash” issue by issue is “cleaning house” internally. Purifying our minds is a crucial factor in gaining spiritual maturity. Consider the condition of your physical house  if you never took out the trash or cleaned it-??

Finally, Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “As a man thinks, so is he.” Decide with the LORD how you want to be, then shape your mind in that exact way. What you think is who you are, and your reality. Your mind can be fully aligned with the LORD. It all depends how much time, attention and surrender you are willing to devote to it, which is determined by how critical a pursuit you believe it to be.

Think of your mind as a house that you can decorate, arranging furniture inside and even landscaping outside. Have fun with it! God will show you what your unique and precious mind was meant to be and do in His economy.

In the learning curve, grace stays in place. Always give yourself grace and truth, and in that order. Never condemnationJesus Christ = Grace + Truth (John 1:14). Grace is always first, unless dealing with a Pharisee. In that case, skip the grace, deliver truth.

If you’re interested in maximizing the use of your mind for your blessing and God’s glory, here are some tips. Start at #1 and proceed through to #7. Return to any of the steps as often as necessary and as you are led. Habits become practices.

1) SURRENDER your mind

Our minds are not our own. We have been bought in full with the precious blood of Christ.

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

2) FILL your mind 

Inclusive in the process of filling of your mind is taking authority over your mind. Remember this: No one in the whole world has any authority over your mind -except you. This is so important. Believers don’t grasp the divine power of a renewed mind connected closely with the LORD (Matt. 11:28, Ps 23:1). This is what we were designed for and how we are meant to live.

mind-of-christ-picOne point we sometimes forget is that we HAVE BEEN GIVEN the MIND OF CHRIST at salvation. That’s the gift of God. Our stewardship involves believing it and maintaining  proper care of our minds. Stewardship of the mind is not meant to be a stressful process, only a learning process, just like the “mail in/mail out” boxes on an office desk or laptop.

Become aware that you already are the new nature, and that you were designed purposefully to live rejoicing in your salvation, meditating on, thanking and worshiping the LORD.

Ephesians 5:20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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

Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Hebrews 12:3 Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Psalm 143:5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that You have done; I ponder the work of Your hands.

Psalm 63:6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate and thoughtfully focus on You in the night watches,

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.

Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts unto God.

3) RENEW your mind

renewOur minds can fall back into the gutter if we’re not paying attention. Renewal is the only way to set the mind straight and keep it straight. Renew your mind as a way of life. Meditate to transform your mind. Apply James 5:16 as necessary.

1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Philippians 4:5-7 The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Ezekiel 26:36 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.(Future reference to Christ’s death and resurrection -which is past tense; you have this now!)

Proverbs 23:7 For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

4) SET your mind

Setting your mind is like choosing a TV channel for your mind. The remote is in your hand. You always have the final say in what channel you select or frequency you receive to dwell on and operate out of. God’s perspective always trumps your own. You are in Him.

remoteColossians 3:1-2 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.

Isaiah 26:3 You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Mark 9:23 Jesus said to him, “[You say to Me,] ‘If You can?’ All things are possible for the one who believes and trusts [in Me]!”

Hebrews 10:35 So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!

5) PROTECT your mind

protectAvoid exposure to points of entry for the enemy (Prov. 25:28). This is common sense. Have a simple plan of action to take when it occurs. Get help with your weaknesses so that the enemy doesn’t have an unfair advantage over you. He planted your childhood wounds and has definite plans for them.

Proverbs 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 25:28 He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.

Romans 1:28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.

2 Corinthians 10: 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Ephesians 4:22-23 regarding your previous way of life, you put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, 23 and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude],

Luke 21:34 But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

6) FILTER your mind.

We can’t always determine what enters our minds, but we can certainly determine what stays there. Humble yourself. Let that dark ball bounce on out. Replace it with truth. Reframing can help. Apply James 5:16 as regularly as necessary.filter

2 Corinthians 10: 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age,

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want

2 Peter 3:18 but grow [spiritually mature] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

7) REST your mind

Media continues screaming its relentless virtual reality. When television was first introduced, the public didn’t call it the “idiot box” for no reason. Media saturation numbs our minds and hearts to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

2 Chronicles 20:12b We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

mind-of-christBeginning stewardship of the mind with a black and white mentality (Gen. 2:17, 2 Cor. 3:6) is common, but not helpful. In time, as you walk with Christ and grow in His grace and knowledge (2 Pet. 3:18), the struggle between black and white will naturally give way to the simplicity of grace and truth (John 1:14) in all things (Rom. 5:20).

A process detailed in My Journey Through the Cross, spiritual growth can resemble a child making the landmark move from riding a tricycle. The wobbling and toppling he initially experiences on the new two-wheeler slowly give way to smooth, balanced riding, which becomes second-nature, and quite enjoyable. This easing (Matt.11:30) evidences that you have graduated from dining on the tree of knowledge to feasting on the tree of Life (Gen. 2:9, 3:7, Rev.22:2), and hopefully are headed toward the Sabbath Rest (Heb. 4:9-11).
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.

2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.

Roman 5:20 And the law came in besides, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly:

Matthew 7:7 Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

John 6:29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 3:17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

Revelation 22:2 also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:30  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

John 3:7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’

Luke 17:21 neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.

Genesis 2:2 On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.

Hebrews 4:9-11 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God;for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

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NDEs

Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are commonplace these days. However, the Thomas’s in the faith remain full of doubt.

I know one leader in our church poo-poos them. Even John Piper struggles.

Why so skeptical?

~Do they not “see” what Scripture reveals?
~Do they lack discernment?
~Do they mistakenly attempt to put Almighty God in a human-sized box?
~Are they afraid of what they don’t understand in the spirit realm?
~Are they unaware of parallel universes?
~Do they dismiss all NDEs because some of them are deceptive?
~Are they so concrete, they walk more by sight than by faith (2 Cor. 5:7)?
~Are they so detail oriented that they miss the big picture (John 20:27)?

2 Corinthians 12:22 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows.

If you do your research, you will find that many NDEs are consistent with one another and with the multitude of verses describing heaven and hell.

With the Word of God and the spirit of discernment, we can see plainly that human experience often lines up with God’s truth. A recent sampling:

To Heaven and Back by Mary C. Neal

Imagine Heaven by Pastor John Burke

Face to Face with Jesus by Samaa Habib

Heaven is Beyond Your Wildest Dreams by Sid Roth

 Routine Surgery Opens Door to Heaven  Dean Braxton’s testimony about heaven when his body died for 1:45 minutes at cbn.com or charismanews.com.

Daily we witness the world spinning faster and faster into chaos as we approach the end of days. In His perfect timing, the LORD is showing off on a global level creatively bringing souls into His kingdom. Among many venues, He’s using NDEs to do so.

Although NDEs have occurred throughout history, in these days for His purposes the LORD is dialing the dark glass (1 Cor. 13:12) from opaque to slightly more translucent.  We see this in the dreams, visions and numerous testimonies (Luke 23:43, Joel 2:28) of the spirit realm and afterlife which are consistent with the Scriptures, notwithstanding those that are deceptive (2 Cor.11:14, 2 Thes.2:3, 1 Tim. 4:1) promoting Universalism and so on.

As such, with the Holy Spirit moving, more souls have come to Christ in the last decades than in the history of the world. Do we seriously need to review the milky fact that Satan never leads people to salvation in Christ alone? Come on.

The Scriptures relay many aspects of heaven, but less details. If NDE heaven testimonies reveal more than Scripture reveals, yet remain consistent with it, I am happy to consider discerningly each one of them.

Furthermore, John 21:25 tells us that, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” 

If “the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” about all that Jesus did while here, could the Bible possibly contain all there is to know about heaven? If the whole world would not have room for all the books written about Christ’s ministry, then all the universe could not contain all the books that would be written about heaven.

The many things that Jesus did here reflect, but surely can’t compare, to the awesome vastness of heaven’s glory. So, John 21:25 affirms for us that the Scriptures can’t and don’t reveal all we might consider about our true home.

Thus, vertical NDEs.

What a radical thought! –Let’s consider all of the Scriptural evidence that the LORD provides for us about heaven (Eph. 4:14).

 

John 20:27 “Then he [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.

On the topic of NDEs or any other for that matter, Thomas’s in the faith will always be with us (John 3:13). So let’s continue to walk by faith speaking the truth in love to them, just as Jesus did.
What Happens When We Die

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

2 Corinthians 12:22 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know–God knows.

Joel 2:28 And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

Luke 23:43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight.

John 3:12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

2 Thessalonians 2:3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way

1 Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Ephesians 4:14 We are not meant to remain as children but to grow up in every way into Christ.

Ephesians 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,

Acts 7:56 “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

2 Corinthians 12:3-4 And I know that such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, [only] God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words which man is not permitted to speak [words too sacred to tell].

Luke 16:19-31  “Now there was a certain rich man who was habitually dressed in expensive purple and fine linen, and celebrated and lived joyously in splendor every day. 20 And a poor man named Lazarus, was laid at his gate, covered with sores. 21 He [eagerly] longed to eat the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. 22 Now it happened that the poor man died and his spirit was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s [e]bosom (paradise); and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (paradise). 24 And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in severe agony in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things [all the comforts and delights], and Lazarus likewise bad things [all the discomforts and distresses]; but now he is comforted here [in paradise], while you are in severe agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you [people] a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to come over from here to you will not be able, and none may cross over from there to us.’ 27 So the rich man said, ‘Then, father [Abraham], I beg you to send Lazarus to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may solemnly warn them and witness to them, so that they too will not come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have [the Scriptures given by] Moses and the [writings of the] Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 He replied, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent [they will change their old way of thinking and seek God and His righteousness].’ 31 And he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to [the messages of] Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

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Nullifying Grace

The enemy delights in nullification of the perfect and final work of Christ (Heb. 8:13, 10:10, 2 Cor. 3:6). All day long… he tempts us to add to or take from grace.

Adding to grace nullifies grace.

The enemy knows that adding to Christ’s finished work nullifies grace. If we add to grace, we fall from grace (Gal. 5:4). If we add to grace, the enemy laughs watching us puff ourselves up only to fall and be humbled.

Jesus Plus…are you falling for it?

Jesus plus circumcision

Jesus plus baptism as an infant

Jesus plus immersion as an adult

Jesus plus belonging to a particular denomination

Jesus plus worshipping on Saturday

Jesus plus being on duty as a servant at all times

Jesus plus daily Bible study and prayer

Jesus plus confessing your sins

Jesus plus regularly witnessing

Jesus plus tithing

Jesus plus not wearing pants, make up or jewelry

Jesus plus not drinking, smoking or dancing

Jesus plus centuries of traditions of man

Jesus plus a certain level of obedience

Jesus plus going to church every Sunday

Jesus plus taking communion

Jesus plus “renewing” the covenant…

Taking from grace nullifies grace. 

The enemy knows that removing grace by replacing it with condemnation (Rom.8:1) nullifies grace, and incapacitates us. That’s why he uses it, and God doesn’t. Condemnation is the enemy’s sharpest tool of manipulation. If we receive his condemnation, he chuckles watching us try to “fix” things between us and God. As if we could. And, as if God hasn’t already. (Spiritual tip: He did because we can’t. 2 Cor. 5:21)

Well acquainted with the vulnerability of our flesh, the angel of light hovers in the background of our minds. His whip stirs harshness, guilt and condemnation within.

Viewing God through this lens, the flesh then strains for a gold star marching to the beat of workaholism. Meanwhile, flesh naturally obeys the voice of condemnation, believing straight away it must now compensate with some kind of penance because the Sacrifice is

Insufficient.

Trapped within the enemy’s game of cat and mouse, we live blinded to God’s tsunami of grace, nullifying the triumphant victory we praise Him for. 

Galatians 2:21 says, “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” Nullify in the Greek is athetō, meaning “to do away with what has been laid down.” Grace has been laid down for us to walk in moment by moment. We must never do away with it by adding to or taking away from it.

If we nullify grace by seeking righteousness through our own actions, then we must ask ourselves if our lives show clearly that Christ died for a purpose (Gal. 2:21). 

Receiving Grace If We Sin

Just as adding to grace nullifies it, receiving condemnation nullifies grace. If we sin (1 John 2:1), we are not condemned (Rom. 8:1), but commanded (Js. 5:16) to confess our sins to one another and pray for one another so that we may be healed. If we sin, God’s plan for us is not condemnation, but healing. (Think about it…was Christ into healing?)

If we sin, God is not angry with us. This is counterintuitive. That’s why He gave us His Word to straighten our broken intuition from the Fall. His unconditional, unilateral covenant cannot be broken by those who believe. If we slip up and sin, we are not breaking the covenant if we still believe Him. Believing Him is the only condition on which the covenant is unconditional. Believe means to trust in, to rely on, to adhere to.

That teaching, “our sin breaks fellowship with God,” is nonsense and unbiblical (1 John 2:1). Christ paid for all sin forever so that He could have a relationship with each of us. Period. The truth is that NOTHING can separate us from the love of Christ (Rom 8:38-39), not even sin. That’s why the cross was a perfect and eternal victory!

Think about it… Christ BECAME sin (2 Cor. 5:21). Hello. He’s obviously well acquainted with sin and can certainly help us escape and heal from it. He’s our friend now at all times (Heb. 4:15-16). Christ very much wants to heal all of our personhood, including the sins and wounds in our hearts (Ez.36:26) that cause us to hurt ourselves, others, and dishonor Him.

Think about it…God KNOWS Christ took all the punishment for all sin for all men for all time -that’s past, present and future. Christ said Himself that the sin issue is finished (John 19:30). He will not even deal with sin when He returns (Heb. 9:28b).

Anger? No. Mercy? Yes. God wants to help us (Heb. 4:16) if we sin… to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18) so we can live in freedom (Gal. 5:1) as the new nature (2 Cor.5:17) He has made us. Freedom is why He came.

If we sin, are we in need? Yes! So, along with James 5:16 we can also apply a need verse:

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of NEED. There you have it. The secret to victory is receiving mercy and grace from God, not performing for Him (Is. 64:4b) or boasting in ourselves (1 Cor. 4:7).

(1 John 1:9 is not a command, but a conditional salvation verse. See 1 John 1:9 Info and  Confessing Sin)

In conclusion, for us humans, God’s grace is just counterintuitive. There is a day and night difference between wanting to walk humbly in agreement and intimacy with God (Amos 3:3), and believing pridefully that we must perform certain activities or receive condemnation. The more we believe we “must do” for God to measure up to His heights, the more we reveal identification with the enemy (Is. 14:13). Our striving to measure up simply flies in the face of grace.

We can talk truthfully about the self-focused generation of today all day long, but we unknowingly join in the parade of selfishness when we make our salvation about ourselves, even a little. In our arrogance we might assume we’re helping God save us (as if He needs our help), but the truth is that we are stealing God’s glory by nullifying His grace (Eph. 2:8).

His grace is His glory (John 1:14; Eph. 1:6, 2:8; 2 Cor. 4:15)!

If we could only see the reality of all Christ has done for us, we would rejoice in high spirits continually with deepest thanksgiving and wondrous relief! The dark thoughts of adding to  or taking from grace would never even enter our minds. We would see clearly that His abundant flow grace is MORE than enough for absolutely everything (2 Cor. 12:9).

He gives grace. We receive grace. God’s New Covenant of grace is unconditional, unilateral and cannot be broken by those who believe. That’s why it is a perfect and eternal covenant. That’s the glory of grace.

Humans are not the performers, repairers or sustainers of God’s unconditional, unilateral covenant. It’s just not possible. Bowing to humbly receive His grace 24/7/365 positions us properly as the recipient of the New Covenant of God’s grace (Heb. 12:2a).

All day long… let’s bow and receive.

“Let me feel that love come over me
  Let me feel how strong it could be”  

(Steve Winwood, Higher Love)

Reflective prayer:

-LORD, show me why and how I am trying to add to Your perfect, finished work.
-Show me why and how I am taking from grace by allowing condemnation in my life.
-Please open my eyes to see ALL You have done FOR me in your death and resurrection.
-Reveal anywhere my calloused hands have attempted to manipulate the Gospel nullifying Your grace (Gal. 2:21).
-Expose my fear and pride (1 Cor. 4:5). They are not who I am (2 Cor. 5:17).
-Empower me to throw these behind me (Matt. 16:23).
-Extract forever every claim the enemy has on me (John 14:30).
-Please humble me and teach me to walk whole-heartedly in step with you as the new nature you have already made me (Col. 3:10).

Hebrews 8:13 By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Hebrews 10:10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

2 Corinthians 3:6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

Galatians 5:4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Isaiah 64:4b  all our righteous acts are like filthy rags

1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.

James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 Hebrews 9:28b and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Hebrews 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

2 Peter 3:18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Isaiah 14:13 You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

2 Corinthians 4:15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 4:5 For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives.

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

Matthew 16:23 Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.

John 14:30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me,

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

Hebrews 12:2a fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Colossians 3:10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him

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Renew the Covenant?

The idea of renewing the covenant is blasphemy. Let me explain.

The New Covenant is Almighty God’s covenant. It is not ours.

The New Covenant is an unconditional or unilateral covenant. That means we have no part in it. This is in contrast to the conditional or bilateral covenant where both parties have duties to fulfill. (See link below.)

As fallen humans, we could not make a covenant with God if we tried. (In fact, the only one we could make successfully is, a covenant of failure.) We seem to have trouble accepting the fact that we have absolutely no bargaining power at all with God. Zero.

Our only choice is whether we choose to believe His covenant. That’s it.

God initiates, performs and fulfills the New Covenant (1 Thess. 5:24). We simply believe (John 6:29), confess (Rom. 10:9) Him and walk by faith (Heb. 11:6).

I fail to understand the idea of covenant renewal because nowhere in Scripture are we instructed to renew the covenant. It is impossible for us to do since we did not, and could not, make the covenant.

Furthermore, the idea of renewing the perfect and eternal covenant of Jesus Christ is blasphemy. Why? Because in its very nature, a perfect covenant is never renewed or repeated. That would put Christ to shame (Heb. 6:6, Gal. 6:7).

The New Covenant is final (Heb. 13:20). It is finished (John 19:30). That’s exactly how it is perfect and eternal, and cannot be broken by those who believe.

We are never instructed to renew the covenant. However, Scripture instructs us repeatedly to renew our unbelieving minds (Eph. 4:23, Rom. 12:2) so that we can live by faith (Heb. 11:6) believing God, who made the covenant.

And right in line with that, in the communion sacrament, Christ instructs us to, “Remember Me (Luke 22:19).”

That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

In summary, renewing our minds and remembering the unbelievable victory of Christ for us in the New Covenant are both good and acceptable and pleasing to God.

The silly, and blasphemous, idea of renewing the covenant must die.

1 Thessalonians 5:24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

John 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

Romans 10:9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.

Hebrews 6:6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Hebrews 13:20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep,

John 19:30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Ephesians 4:23 be made new in the attitude of your minds;

Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God,

Luke 22:19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”

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Do Not Nullify Grace

Do not nullify the grace of God. 

In Galatians 2:21, Paul states, “I do not ignore or nullify the [gracious gift of the] grace of God [His amazing, unmerited favor], for if righteousness comes through [observing] the Law, then Christ died needlessly. [His suffering and death would have had no purpose whatsoever.]”

How do we nullify or ignore the grace of God?

By condemning, accusing, and berating ourselves. And others.

This energy blocks God’s ongoing tsunami of grace to us.

Search high and low. There is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1-2). It’s just not there.

Learn to walk in agreement with God (Amos 3:3).

He has affirming and encouraging thoughts toward us.

He has made us like Him in our new nature in Christ.

Let God work in you through your circumstance.

Listen to yourself. No condemnation. Ever.

Take a new path.

Agree with Him giving yourself grace.

Breathe. Cry. Receive it.

Allow Him to complete what He started in you.

It’s not your job to do the work.

It’s your job to listen and follow, and agree.

That includes receiving His grace continually.

The work and the results are up to Him.

 

Meditate on these truths about your adoption into Christ.

 

Galatians 2:21 I do not ignore or nullify the [gracious gift of the] grace of God [His amazing, unmerited favor], for if righteousness comes through [observing] the Law, then Christ died needlessly. [His suffering and death would have had no purpose whatsoever.]”

Amos 3:3 Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?

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

Romans 8:15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”

James 1:2-4 Consider it nothing but joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. 3 Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.

Romans 8:1-2 Therefore there is now no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment] for those who are in Christ Jesus [who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior]. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Hebrews 12:1-2a Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, 2 [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity],

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RE: Union

Midline cracks
Rupture
The ancient barrier
Between us
Chunks and pieces tumble
Stirring clouds of dust and debris
Clouding my vision

The barrier arose
Stone by stone
With rain and strain
Reinforced
With pain and disdain

As billows settle
A lost dream
I recognize
That handsome figure
Holding
Chiseled features
Sable tresses
Tender eyes
Brawny chest
Divine handiwork

He steps to lay
With strong hand
On the crumbling rubble
His forgotten covenant
Of charity
To his bride

A foundational fracture
Ruptures
My unsentimental heart
I remember my vow
Before high festivities
Of Ritz and Rolls
A veil floating behind
New gold
On intertwined fingers

Then unaware
The rocky vertical path
Ahead
Traversed apart
Hands long released

I step to lay
With delicate hand
Upon the ruins
My tattered covenant
Of love
To my groom

Initiating renovation
He covers my gold with his
Breaking ground

A new foundation
Accommodation
Restoration
Intimate relation
Acceleration
Contemplation
Of oneness

FullSizeRender-9

Psalm 126:3-5
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.

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Unity

Unity once endured as a benign topic for true believers. Not anymore.

Here and on my YT channel, in “The Coming Division,” I addressed this issue.

In review, as you probably know by now, the Pope has called for one world unity under a one-world religion and one-world government. But there have been some significant developments with the teachings of some leaders that I feel the need the point out.

For reference, have you seen the bumper sticker, COEXIST?  That’s the vibe. Peace and Love —without Truth. You need to understand it. This world religion combines Islam, Buddhism, Science, Judaism, Taoism, the occult and Christianity. And it’s growing.

Remember that if you’re walking in the dark, you don’t know it (Prov. 4:19, John 11:10). But for those of us who live in the light, we see clearly, while the spirit of Christ living within us convulses at this Anti Christ movement.

Many popular “Christian” leaders are calling for world unity.

With that in mind, I want to warn you of the dangers and the idolatry of learning from any leader without your own close and personal relationship with the LORD, and regular,  Holy Spirit-inspired study of the Scriptures.

I want to warn you also of becoming emotionally attached to any leader or receiving from them blindly with the false assumption that they could never err or misinterpret through human understanding.

Be careful to place the cross of Christ between you and the leader and ask the LORD to reveal any error to you. Be open to His leading. With discernment, take the good and leave the bad. One more thing, be aware of staying with the same leader too long, which will limit you to growing only as far as they have grown.

…This may sound extreme, but have you noticed that we are living in extreme times?

The gift of discernment is a must-have at this time in history. Ask God for it, and use it (1 John 4:1).

The seductive game is called “match and lead.” They match your faith perfectly through years of teaching you and gaining your trust and admiration. Then they gradually lead you astray. The teaching tactics are perfectly consistent with the Gnostic teachings which plagued the early church. They use the same words as the genuine faith does: “body of Christ,” “unity,” “the heart of Christ,” and so on.

Rick Warren appears to be a head honcho in this deception with his millions of followers from the Purpose Driven Life. James Robison has also met with the Pope concerning the issue of religious unity. Beth Moore has appeared numerous times on his lifetodaytv. She has also visited repeatedly the Joyce Meyer Enjoying Every Day Life show, agreeing whole-heartedly with Meyer on the specific issue of “across the board” unity.

Moore shares her dreams of “God showing her” that Roman Catholicism is Christian. She also teaches (paraphrasing) that she doesn’t know what “it” will be, but that God is going to do something “really big” concerning unity in the “body of Christ.” When He does, she says, there will be many “scoffers” who will oppose this unity, and that the “true believers” must be ready for this and not let it rattle them.

Hmmm…

To me it sounds like she is preparing her followers to submit to world unity. IF that is the case, then she is is a wolf in sheep’s clothing cleverly deceiving many people.

These are only a few. Investigate and research others for yourself. Examine closely their actions and associations, not just their doctrinally correct public statements and longtime popular teachings.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits,” Christ said (Matt. 7:15-16).

If you believe you could never be deceived, remember that the very angels in heaven, and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, were carefully deceived by the angel of light (Gen. 3:1, 2 Cor. 11:13).

The sheep hear the Shepherd’s voice and follow (John 10:27, Matt. 10:16). The Good Shepherd is leading His sheep in His will and purposes to enjoy eternity with Him in heaven. He is laughing at the Anti Christ global peace and unity agenda leading to destruction (Ps. 37:12-13).

See also, Satanists Posing as Christians YouTube post.

If you’re sleepy, wake up! If you’re off course, steer straight! If you’re distracted, focus! 

The LORD will show you the way because He is the Way, and lead you into all truth because He IS the Truth (John 14:6)! Press in!

 

Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made.

Proverbs 4:19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.

John 11:10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.

John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the light. No man comes to the Father except through Me.

John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.

Matthew 10:16 I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Psalm 37:12-13 The wicked plot against the righteous
and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he knows their day is coming.

Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

2 Corinthians 11:13 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

1 John 2:26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

1 John 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Revelation 21:27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who practices idolatry or deceit, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

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The Gift of Desperation

The gift –of what??

Who in their right mind would classify desperation as -a gift?

I would.

Because every place of desperation within me that I have surrendered to the Lord, He has led me to healing and relief.

In fact, each of those places over the years that I surrendered to Him already belonged to Him simply because He had purchased the entirety of my soul with His blood.

When He placed His finger on an area, I chose to voluntarily release it to Him. Some I released instantly. Others took time.

Think for a moment…

Where in your life might you be burning out on your own resources?

Where might you be avoiding surrender? Why is that?

Are you forgetting the Shepherd in your troubles?

For a desperate sheep, He will make Himself known:

~When I was fearful of public speaking, He challenged me to attend ToastMasters. Reluctantly, I did, but afterwards was so relieved.

~When I struggled with relinquishing sugar, He showed me that the root was parental abandonment. Grieving and eating good fats healed me.

~When I struggled wanting a closer relationship with my husband, He showed me that the root was parental rejection. Again, grieving (and boundaries) healed me.

~When I was ready to leave my husband, with a gifted therapist He gave me strength and courage to make hard decisions and stand my ground.

~When I seemed to have a personality conflict with one of my children, He showed me her temperament type and led me to understand her.

~When I struggled with hypersomnia, anxiety and confusion, He showed me that I had PTSD and needed medication. A quick fix.

~When I found myself regularly feeling ill around a family member, He taught me to use strong, tough boundaries and to speak truth in love. Because my voice mattered.

~When I had become emotionally attached to another man while my husband had been cold toward me for years and wouldn’t listen to my issue, the Lord sent a psychic to our table at a Chinese restaurant to deliver the message to him. Really.

~When the fires of affliction in my life blazed longer and hotter than I could bear, the Shepherd poured out His grace in long-suffering to me as I hid in the cleft of the Rock.

~When I cried out to God for help because I was too exhausted (due to health issues unknown to me at the time) to finish errands including purchasing two bags of ice for our cookout that night, the Lord sent the ice delivery man to me at the check out counter.

~When I grew furious with the Lord and blew up at Him, He comforted me in my distress.

~When I felt sour around loud, bossy personalities, He reminded me how I was bullied seven separate times during my childhood starting at age five.

~When I twice faced inevitable confrontation with narcissistic personalities, He strengthened me with courage and wisdom to succeed and make necessary changes.

~When He frequently answers my call to rescue me, He knows it stems from never being heard, helped or rescued when I was bullied all those years.

~When no one understands me, He does.

~When I get sick of living in this world, He reassures me of His purposes for me.

 

In all of these places, and so many more, He showed me the way OUT of the pain, the distress, the misery, the confusion, the panic, the overwhelm.

He IS the Way Out!

When sheep choose to focus on the Shepherd and follow His promptings, eventually they come to find protection, provision, peace, order, rest, refreshment, and righteousness through and through (Ps. 23).

 

Pull yourself away from that distraction.

Follow Him. Stay on His heels no matter where He leads.

When you do, surprisingly, He inevitably transforms your desperation into a gift!

In your humility and persistence, He will lead you to the relief you desperately need.

Jeremiah 6:16

Jeremiah 6:16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
3 He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Psalm 107:19
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.

Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Isaiah 30:15 For thus said the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

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The Back Twist

How do you get him to do that?” Thom pondered out loud to me sporting a confused demeanor as we sat together on the sofa in the basement.

Henry had jumped in my lap and worked up a symphony of purrs as he circled and settled down to his liking. After a few minutes he stretched out like a sausage, flipped over on his back exposing his belly, then twisted himself gladly into a radically relaxed position, his limbs hanging in every direction.

I call it the back twist.

Henry

Henry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“It’s called trust,” I replied.

You see, Henry knows that I am in tune with him. So, in return he is naturally in tune with me. I respond to his needs. I know what he likes and I do it. I know what he doesn’t like and I avoid it.

Trust is pivotal in any relationship. The deeper the trust, the more relaxed and vulnerable the relationship can be.

Maintaining sensitivity to the needs of others and responding appropriately builds trust in our relationships. Otherwise, if we’re continually wrapped up in our own world (often unintentionally wounding others), trusting us can become too much of a challenge for others.

But what about our relationship with God?

One Saturday morning my friend, Lisa, rang my doorbell for our coffee date. Through the years, our conversations often entailed learning to trust God.

When my daughter opened the front door and Lisa caught a glimpse of me standing in the foyer with one of our cats lying beneath me while I stroked his tummy with my foot, she recognized instantly our theme.

“That’s how you are with God!” she exclaimed, as she crossed the threshold without a formal greeting and pointing to the twirl of fluff laid out in front of her.

That morning with me and my cats, Lisa gleaned from God a cozy picture of trust, and due to her growth and discernment she was able to recognize it as such.

With a history of earned trust between us, my cats (and dogs) enjoy complete vulnerability with me. Is it a stretch to say ~ that we also can develop with God a relationship based on trust… and even learn to do the back twist with Him?

Some questions to ponder in this pursuit:

~Am I comfortable being vulnerable with God?
~Can I lay my soul open before Him?
~Have I ever stood before Him completely naked?
~Do I hide parts of myself from Him?
~Have I ever given God permission to do whatever He wants in my life? With my soul? My family? My job?
~Is there anything I hold tightly to that I don’t trust Him with? Have I asked Him to reveal these areas to me?
~Does it occur to me that He already sees everything inside me? Even areas I’m too chicken to face?
~If I’ve honestly given everything inside and out to Him and permission for Him to do whatever He wants, then I have nothing to lose.

Great places to start to learn trust are spending time in safe, believing communities and time alone with God. These settings can give us opportunity to deal regularly with the multi-layered issues of fear, shame, guilt, sin, control, judgment and condemnation we harbor.

When we take the valuable time to whittle away at these walls, our intimacy with God increases exponentially. When too many of these issues stand as walls between God and us, we can’t be in tune with Him for very long, if at all.

In dealing with our issues, even though discomfort may be the initial sensation, we must be brave and never let it intimidate us from reaping the rewards of knowing God intimately. Discomfort and emotional pain are effective tools that the enemy uses to intimidate the saints, preventing them from knowing their God intimately.

Psalm 126:5 encourages us not to cower in fear when facing our issues, “They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing.” Always best to press onward, inward and upward through the pain or discomfort and get to the sweet spot of truth and freedom awaiting us. Afterwards, we have only to learn how to stay there (Gal. 5:1, Eph. 6:14). Usually, it is by learning to rest (Heb. 4:9-11, Matt.11:28-30) which by the way, is also an issue of trust.

Whether in group or alone, I delight in getting to the root. Once there, I know I have found victory. For instance, if I sense any fear in thinking about intimacy with God, I must ask myself why. Then I have to open, and prayerfully examine, my heart to find the answer. The LORD is always helpful with this because He can see what I cannot.

If I admit deep down that I feel He must have something against me, then that is usually related to a layer of guilt or shame. So, I explore it. Often the root goes back to a related event in my life where I internalized guilt or shame. So, I unpack the shame, the related event, my perceptions of it and the people and thought processes which activated it. I bring these issues out in the open progressively to myself, God and others, in which ever order feels most appropriate. Sharing these issues with safe people who can relate to me is healing and causes me to gain a greater perspective on truth.

God always brings up the next issue at just the right time. Issues that arise in relationships are huge indications that God is pointing out areas inside me that could use some attention. Perhaps I’m not speaking up for myself or I’m dreading having a difficult conversation with someone or I’m not exercising strong enough boundaries. Facing the issue, getting wise counsel and support, then deciding how best to handle it would be the next step for me. (Cloud and Townsend have many practical books on relationship management.)

So how does God get me to do the back twist with Him??

Again, it’s called trust. And it involves a step-by-step process unique to each individual. Just as I trained Henry to trust, God trained me.

HenryBelly up? Come on, now. Consider the richness of blessing in asking God to lead you in the necessary steps to do the back twist with Him!

Psalm 5:11
But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; let them ever sing and shout for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; let those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.

Psalm 16:1
KEEP and protect me, O God, for in You I have found refuge, and in You do I put my trust and hide myself.

Psalm 18:2
The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer; my God, my keen and firm Strength in Whom I will trust and take refuge, my Shield, and the Horn of my salvation, my High Tower.

Psalm 18:30
As for God, His way is perfect! The word of the Lord is tested and tried; He is a shield to all those who take refuge and put their trust in Him.

Psalm 34:8
O taste and see that the Lord [our God] is good! Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man who trusts and takes refuge in Him.

Psalm 37:5
Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.

Psalm 52:8
But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God; I trust in and confidently rely on the loving-kindness and the mercy of God forever and ever.

Psalm 62:8
Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us (a fortress and a high tower). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]!

Psalm 73:28
But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord God and made Him my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.

Psalm 78:53
And He led them on safely and in confident trust, so that they feared not; but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.

Psalm 91:2
I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!

Psalm 91:14
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness–trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

Psalm 93:5
Your testimonies are very sure; holiness [apparent in separation from sin, with simple trust and hearty obedience] is becoming to Your house, O Lord, forever.

Psalm 115:11
You who [reverently] fear the Lord, trust in and lean on the Lord! He is their Help and their Shield.

Psalm 118:8
It is better to trust and take refuge in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

Psalm 119:66
Teach me good judgment, wise and right discernment, and knowledge, for I have believed (trusted, relied on, and clung to) Your commandments.

Psalm 143:8
Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for on You do I lean and in You do I trust. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk, for I lift up my inner self to You.

Proverbs 3:23
Then you will walk in your way securely and in confident trust, and you shall not dash your foot or stumble.

Galatians 5:1
IN [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off].

Ephesians 6:14
Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God,

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Sin Consciousness

Are you conscious of sin? Are you struggling with sin? Are you tired of sin?

The root of sin consciousness is the decision of unbelief to access tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:9). God never intended for us to have sin consciousness. That’s why in His protective nature He instructed Adam that he was free to eat of the other trees, but not of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). That tree entangles us to no end (Heb 12:1) because, in and of ourselves, we are not equipped to deal with the TarBabypower and destructiveness of sin.

If you’re old enough you may remember Tar Baby in the Uncle Remus stories. My mom read those to me when I was a young child. I remember great tension within me during the encounters between Br’er Rabbit and Tar Baby. I wanted desperately to tell Br’er Rabbit to stop allowing himself to become entangled with the tar. The more Br’er Rabbit fought Tar Baby, the more ensnared he became. He couldn’t see that Tar Baby was not a real baby, but a clever trap laid for him.

Tar Baby is a picture of sin (Heb 12:1).

Our consciousness of sin stems from the fact that in our search for Life (John 14:6), we identify with our old nature and access the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The problem is that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil cannot give life because it has no life. It only sends us in chaotic sin circles attempting to manage the unmanageable, knowing deep down that we have not found life, only misery.

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil could be called the tree of sin. In its branches we become entangled and enslaved to sin, sins, and the idea of sin. In our distorted minds, sin grows and magnifies itself apparently exceeding God in power. In our striving against it, sin becomes a formidable idol that we unknowingly serve and worship instead of God.

As I shared in my book, My Journey Through the Cross, the LORD spoke to me when I lay trapped in sin consciousness. He said, “If sin is all you seek, then sin is all you’ll find. If you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you’ll find holiness and righteousness instead.” That word from Him completely changed my course.

Once we tire of sin, sin, and more sin, we may finally come to the end of ourselves (Rom. 7:24-25). When we realize our helplessness, hopelessness and powerlessness at the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we may rethink our approach. We can seek and start to understand the difference between the two trees, and explore the tree of Life instead.

Here are some ideas that may help us take a leap forward in the exploration of this fantastically wonderful topic which leads to freedom:

~The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a picture of the law which defines, pinpoints, entices and empowers sin in us (Rom.7:4-12), pointing us to Calvary (Rom. 8:3).

~The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is parallel to the outer sanctum (Heb. 9:9-10).

~The tree of Life is parallel to the inner sanctum (Heb. 9:8).

~The tree of the knowledge of good and evil barricades us from the tree of Life just as the outer sanctum keeps us from the inner sanctum.

~The tree of Life and the inner sanctum are where we want to hang out!

~The tree of Life is a picture of the inner sanctum (Heb. 9:8) which is not disclosed to us as long as we hold to the outer sanctum or the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Hebrews 9:26-28 reveals the reality for us today of the all-inclusive statement Christ made before He gave up His spirit on Calvary, “It is finished” (John 19:30). What He meant was that His work of taking away sin (John 1:29), which John the Baptist prophesied, was finished. Christ knew He had paid the sin debt in full for all sin, for all who believe, for all time. By His once-for-all perfect and eternal sacrifice (Heb. 9:27) He has put away or removed our sin (Heb. 9:26) as far as the East is from the West. This truth is confirmed in the fact that when He returns He will not even deal with sin (Heb. 9:28).

If the tree of the knowledge of good and evil could be called the tree of sin, then the tree of life could be called the tree of Christ (John 14:6).

Perfecting the human conscience is not pie-in-the-sky theology. It is the will of God for every believer. Read the book of Hebrews. Revelation on the reality of Christ’s final and eternal work brings an end to sin consciousness (Heb. 9:9, 14).

Romans 8:3 nails it. For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice],

Romans 8:3 begs the question, “Have you accepted the sacrifice?” If you have, it’s time to leave behind the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and feed only on the tree of Life.

I think we all know that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is not going anywhere. But just like Br’er Rabbit needed to steer clear of Tar Baby, we can learn to avoid that tree. If you’re looking for Life, you definitely won’t find it there. 

The Good News is that tree of life is not going anywhere either! Thank God, Christ has given us His nature and DNA by the Holy Spirit. In accessing the tree of life as the new nature, we experience no stings, no snares and no bitter aftertaste.

It delivers one thing only: Life!

The light of Life (John 8:12).

Eternal Life (John 3:36).

Life abundant (John 10:10).

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us

John 14:6a Jesus answered, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.”

Genesis 2:9 And [in that garden] the Lord God caused to grow from the ground every tree that is desirable and pleasing to the sight and good (suitable, pleasant) for food; the tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the [experiential] knowledge (recognition) of [the difference between] good and evil.

Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely (unconditionally) eat [the fruit] from every tree of the garden; 17 but [only] from the tree of the knowledge (recognition) of good and evil you shall not eat, otherwise on the day that you eat from it, you shall most certainly [h]die [because of your disobedience].”

Hebrews 10:2 For if it were otherwise, would not these sacrifices have stopped being offered? For the worshipers, having once [for all time] been cleansed, would no longer have a consciousness of sin.

Hebrews 9:8-10 By this the Holy Spirit signifies that the way into the Holy Place [the true Holy of Holies and the presence of God] has not yet been disclosed as long as the first or outer tabernacle is still standing [that is, as long as the Levitical system of worship remains a recognized institution],
9 for this [first or outer tabernacle] is a symbol [that is, an archetype or paradigm] for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which are incapable of perfecting the conscience and renewing the [inner self of the] worshiper.
10 For they [the gifts, sacrifices, and ceremonies] deal only with [clean and unclean] food and drink and various ritual washings, [mere] external regulations for the body imposed [to help the worshipers] until the time of reformation [that is, the time of the new order when Christ will establish the reality of what these things foreshadow—a better covenant].

Hebrews 9:13-14 For if the sprinkling of [ceremonially] defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a [burnt] heifer is sufficient for the cleansing of the body, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal [Holy] Spirit willingly offered Himself unblemished [that is, without moral or spiritual imperfection as a sacrifice] to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the ever living God?

Hebrews 9:26-28 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer over and over since the foundation of the world; but now once for all at the consummation of the ages He has appeared and been publicly manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And just as it is appointed and destined for all men to die once and after this [comes certain] judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once and once for all to bear [as a burden] the sins of many, will appear a second time [when he returns to earth], not to deal with sin, but to bring salvation to those who are eagerly and confidently waiting for Him.

Romans 7:4-12 Therefore, my fellow believers, you too died to the Law through the [crucified] body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. 5 When we were living in the flesh [trapped by sin], the sinful passions, which were awakened by [that which] the Law [identifies as sin], were at work in our body to bear fruit for death [since the willingness to sin led to death and separation from God]. 6 But now we have been released from the Law and its penalty, having died [through Christ] to that by which we were held captive, so that we serve [God] in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter [of the Law].

7 What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, if it had not been for the Law, I would not have recognized sin. For I would not have known [for example] about coveting [what belongs to another, and would have had no sense of guilt] if the Law had not [repeatedly] said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, finding an opportunity through the commandment [to express itself] produced in me every kind of coveting and selfish desire. For without the Law sin is dead [the recognition of sin is inactive]. 9 I was once alive without [knowledge of] the Law; but when the commandment came [and I understood its meaning], sin became alive and I died [since the Law sentenced me to death]. 10 And the very commandment which was intended to bring life, actually proved to bring death for me. 11 For sin, seizing its opportunity through the commandment, beguiled and completely deceived me, and [d]using it as a weapon killed me [separating me from God]. 12 So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.

Romans 8:3 For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [[a]the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice],

John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

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