Are You in the Way or is the Way in You??

Frank walked along the path in the early evening.  “It won’t be long before it is dark,” he mused, “I should be getting back.”  In a few minutes the sun was down and darkness was closing in rapidly.  He knew the path well, but the darkness began to conceal it.  He wished he had left home earlier or at least brought a flash light.

As he rounded the bend about one mile from the main road, a figure stepped out in front of him.  He could sense the size of the man, but couldn’t make out his features.  “Hello?”  The intruder didn’t speak.  “Excuse me,” he said as he tried to go around this silent interruption to his solitude.  The man grabbed him by the arm.  Alarm spread through Frank as he asked, “What do you want?”  Still there was no response.

Gathering his courage, Frank began to speak in soft tones.  “Sir, I don’t know why you have put yourself in my way tonight, but I have good news for you.”  The hold on his arm loosened slightly.  “You may not be aware that there is someone who loves you very much.  He lives in me an wants me to tell you that he understands and that he knows you are frightened and alone and that you don’t know what to do or where to turn.

He calls Himself the Way and I am His follower.  He knows that you thought to harm me by getting in my way tonight, but instead he wants to save you and has sent you to me, so that I could help you.  Won’t you please tell me why you are here and how I can help?”  For the first time, the man spoke, “My name is Stanley and I don’t know what to do.”

Frank thought he heard a sob escape from the man and he reached out and placed his hand over the hand the held him.  “It’s okay.  Let’s go get a cup of coffee and work this out.”

Today’s Lesson:

Frank knew who he had inside him.  He knew Him well.  Fear had tried to win the day when the tall anonymous man grabbed his arm, but he immediately turned to the One who lives in him and recovered his peace.  After whispering a brief prayer, he was able to share the Way out of the problems that Stanley was encountering.

This is what is possible to us when we lay aside religion and get to know Jesus.  He IS the Way, the Truth and the Light.  When the Way truly lives in us, we can be bold in the most threatening situations.  As long as we are alive, the love of Jesus can reach out.

Sometimes we are so busy judging the person who is in trouble that we don’t want to be around them.  There are many stories of people who go to church to find help only to be told they don’t measure up.  It is God’s job to judge the world and for believers there is ‘no condemnation.’  When we judge others, it clouds our thinking and keeps us from the love that sets us all free.

So the question for today is:  Are you in the way or is the Way in you?

What is the Name of the Wall Between You and God?

A young man was coming for prayer and ministry regularly.  His heart was hard and though he obviously was seeking, he couldn’t get passed the barrier that He had put up against the Lord.  We loved him faithfully for more than a year.

When the focus of our lives is ‘all about me,’ we are living in the pride of life.  Pride gets in the way.  It can be bad.  It will take you to a wall and once you hit it, the only recovery is to deal with it through Christ and confession leading to humility and then the wall will come down.

One day the young man texted pastor and it read, “Is the wall that I struggle with pride?”  He shot back, “It always is.”

When we are in pride, we resist the truth that is trying to set us free.  Father God will give us many opportunities to walk in humility.  If we keep resisting, He steps back from haughtiness.

Today’s lesson:  Die to your will and give God your future and your life.  Always remember how to kill pride because the old man will continually try to bring you back to the wall.  That is where he is comfortable.  We had a whole life of living any way we wanted and now we are releasing that and God is taking charge of areas that each of us had been running.

When we stay in sin, our old man commands us and we obey; thereby keeping others from coming to know Jesus.  ‘How is that?’ you ask.  When we walk in the ways of our soul man, the devil laughs.  The reason is that he is keeping us from walking in God’s ways.  He knows that when we do God’s will, we show others the goodness of God and that leads men to repentance.  Rom 2:4, 1 Pet 2:9

Everyone who is not born-again is dead.  Yes, they breathe, eat, sleep, and work but they are dead spiritually.  When we are born-from-above, we come alive spiritually.  Our soulish man still argues with us.  He wants to sin.  He has had a lot of practice and has become quite good at it.

Until we are washed by the water of the Word (Jesus) and the Spirit, we do not enjoy the many benefits we have in God.  ‘It is for freedom that Christ set us free,’ Gal.5:1.  He set us free from the compulsion to sin and gave us the right to live in the Presence of God.  What do we find there?  In the Presence of God is fullness of joy!  Grace becomes like oxygen to us.  As we give grace to others, we breathe the Kingdom of God in and out.  Mercy is multiplied grace.  Compassion is God’s love poured out on those who don’t deserve it.  Not only that, but the retirement benefits are ‘out of this world!’

There is a river of life that flows out from the throne of God.  We are all wells and we get filled with life when we spend time in His Presence.  There is no death here.

We draw out the water of the river with our tongue.  Don’t clog your well with words of unbelief and condemnation.  Draw the water out with words of life gracing yourself and others.

Kill pride and keep the down the wall between you and the Lord.  Spend time in His Presence and joy will overtake you and others will see it and desire what you have.  God’s goodness to you will lead others to come to Him.

Old Lady Brady's Joy Journey

Are there really people thatGod has created to throw away?  Is it His will that some of us are destined for hell?  Who would they be?  Why would God bother to create people for destruction? Let’s look at how “Christians” look at people who are ‘different’ from their idea of Christian life.

Recently I became aware that some good church folks think it is okay to look down on and even dismiss some people.  In fact, if one of these undesirables comes into their sanctuaries, they would be put on the back row in the balcony so as not to offend.

What does a candidate for salvation look like?  Are they well-groomed, middle class with a good income and not too many problems?  Are these the only ones God loves?

So who are we throwing away?

A young man gives his heart to the Lord and then tells his pastor…

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Father Longing . . .

The divorce happened when the children were young.  She hoped it wouldn’t be too hard on the kids but she watched as her son begged for them to try once more.  As young as he was, he felt like he had caused the rift between Mom and Dad, but it just wasn’t so.  His tender nature wanted peace and longed for the family to be one.  He ached but he didn’t let Mom see the depth of his pain. Dad moved out and moved on.

I don’t know when she first knew the extent of his pain, but by then there was little she could do about it.  She tried not to talk about her own pain within his hearing, but she was not always successful.  He longed for his father and he loved his mother.  He was a tender spirit and hungry for a family.  When Dad remarried and then later Mom remarried, he made every effort to fit in so that his desire for a family might actually happen.

When he married, he determined to make things work – at any price.  In the beginning, he and his wife got along well.  He indulged her.  They were a two career couple and all went well until they had a child.   As he neared forty, he thought they had developed as a couple and were strong enough to ensure a stable family unit.

 After the baby came, she became depressed.  Worse yet, they were totally unprepared for the difference in their child rearing philosophy.  The change in their relationship hit him like a baseball bat to the gut!  The wall between them got higher and wider.  One day, she announced that she was no longer interested in maintaining the relationship.  His world crashed.

People long to find that one relationship that fulfills and doesn’t wound.  Fear of being hurt keeps us from trusting and we isolate or we just have random encounters.  Once in a while, someone talks to us about Jesus but skepticism believes it is just one more road to disappointment.  No father, mother, or spouse ever proved faithful and by extension God must be the one who was ultimately responsible for the pain.  How can we trust the One who calls Himself Father?

Today’s Lesson:   What we don’t understand is that God is Love.  Really!  The love of God is rich and pure and measureless.  His loving kindness endures forever.  He longs for us more than we long for Him.  But like any relationship, He won’t force Himself on us. He waits for us to draw near.  Then He reciprocates.

Father risked giving us free-will so we could choose to love Him like He loves us.  So the boy who became a man and a father can choose to love Him or not.  He may not understand that it is the only answer that will satisfy,  If he continues on his own, there will still be a longing in his heart and Father God will never quit longing for Him.   He will quicken His servants to pray for the young man, his ex-wife and their child.  He will send some to lift up Jesus in their presence and so draw them to Himself. 

The condemnation this young father feels will keep him focused on himself.  He will lack confidence  and will live from his soul.  He will hunger for the approval of others.  At last, if he runs out of options, falls to his knees and calls on the name of the Lord from his heart and faith enters, the love of Father God will wash over him and he won’t remember why he didn’t call out sooner.

When this happens, it is the beginning of fulfillment of the longing in both this young man’s heart and in Father God’s heart as well.

If you have a loved one who is far away, keep loving them and praying for them.  I have received comfort from the song that says, “The boy is reachable;  the girl is reachable.  To God he’s visible.  All things are possible.  If God can reach His hand of love through time, Touch an old sinner’s heart like mine, The boy is reachable, I know he’s reachable.”

Related Post:

Deep Calls to Deep

Confirming Scriptures:

John 12:32
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.

Ezekiel 34:16 

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick . . .

I Sam 2:30 – . . . or those who honor Me I will honor. . .

Deuteronomy 5:29
Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!

Psalm 10:17
O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear

Psalm 13:5
But I have trusted in Your loving kindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.

Psalm 14:1
The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”

Psalm 27:8
When You said, “ Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, O LORD, I shall seek.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 69:32
The humble have seen it and are glad; You who seek God, let your heart revive.

Psalm 27:8
When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

Secret Place

When my Daddy was a boy in the 1920’s, he found what he thought was an excellent place to hide.  The old roll top desk in the parlor had a deep dark cavity where he could conceal himself from his parents.  With stealth, he secluded himself under the desk and pulled the large chair in behind securing the secret place.  He was safe from being discovered.

Soon, his parents realized they didn’t know where he was.  They began to holler for him.  “Lee-ee, Lee-ee,” they called.  No answer.  Again they called, “Lee!  Lee!”  No answer.  His Mom rang the dinner bell alarming the others on the farm.  Still no one had seen him.  She went to the old wooden wall phone and did the general ring to let the neighbors know they couldn’t find their son.  The neighbors began to show up as the concern for his welfare grew by the minute.

The young lad, Lee, was under the desk, safe and secure in his hiding place.  He was very pleased with himself.  Finally, having enjoyed his prank fully and chuckling at his own joke, he pushed the chair out and revealed himself.  His Mom grabbed him and hugged him with tears flowing down her face.  After the reunion, she realized that he had tricked her and after a severe scolding, he got a spanking that I think he never forgot the rest of his life!

As a born-from-above child of God, we have a Secret Place available to us because we belong to the One who shelters us there.   He is our refuge and our fortress and we can fully trust Him.  It is a place where we are invited to live and abide.

But when we decide that we can face the world on our own and step out from under the protection of the Most High, we face consequences that make my Daddy’s spanking seem like a wonderful reward.  It is at our own peril that we confront the enemy in our own strength.

When we are lured into temptation by doubting in God’s great love, we are greeted for a brief moment with what seems like a good deal.  Our enemy always starts with a pleasant temptation – like the fruit in the Garden of Eden.  Our enemy doesn’t show us beyond the pleasure.

For instance, the enemy may start us out with a pretty green, very tasty alcoholic drink called a Grasshopper;  there are few concoctions that can match it for taste and style.  There is a social aspect to having a drink along with a desire to fit in.  This simple beverage may lead to addiction and a devastating end.

I understand that it doesn’t happen all at once.  It is a slow and steady process that lures us in deeper and deeper until we have lost everyone and everything we held dear.  It feels like there is no way to return.  The user is hooked!

Today’s Lesson:  Regardless of the temptation, run to the Secret Place where you find safety, peace, joy, welcome, comfort, ease, guidance, and love.  It is home.  It is the biggest perk that we have as children of the Most High.

As we abide in His Presence, we trust in His timing.  When He chooses to lead us to confront the enemy, it is on His terms and we rest in His provision.  We delight in His Presence and as we participate with Him, He takes care of the problems as they arise.  What privilege we have when we dwell with Him.  No evil can befall us.  His angel guards take our part.  Thousands are no issue for Him.

Why do we doubt Him?  Why do we get too busy to settle in and find Him in the Secret Place?  Are we playing church and trying to impress others with our abilities?  Our ability is inability when we face of our enemy alone.  We are lots of noise with no victory in our life, while we are deceived into thinking we are really special.

The escape is to get into the Secret Place and rest in Him.  When we advance under His directive and act on our God-given authority, we are an unstoppable force.  The Gates of Hell cannot prevail against us!!!

Related sites:

Abide

Deep Calls to Deep

Happily Ever After

Confirming Scripture:

Psalm 91

1He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.

4He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

6Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

8Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;

10There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.

12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

14Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

16With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

Joy Killers

Have you ever argued with your spouse just before church?  Or gossiped about a neighbor? Or been involved in a church split?  Or talked about your pastor at the end of the service with the kids in the back seat?  Do you just pass it off and say, “Who doesn’t?  It’s no big deal.”

Are not these things based in envy, judgement, and pride.  Do you think  highly of yourself and that your opinions are supreme above others?  Do you carry yourself with pride because of your great knowledge and understanding?

Do you not know that if you strive, judge and envy others, that you will be judged and  there will be confusion and every evil work all around you? Is this what you want in a fellowship?  Would you hang out with you?

He turns away from us

The Scripture plainly tells us to esteem others better than ourselves.  It tells us to judge not or we will be judged.  Strife kills the joy we have in His Presence because He withdraws Himself from us when we engage in it.

Strife and judging are works of our self-will and they give the enemy access.  The Bible says that when we engage in this kind of divisive activity our enemies laugh.  I don’t want the devil and his minions to laugh at me, do you?

Today’s lesson is:  Draw near to the Lord in all humility.  Lay yourself on the altar and receive His forgiveness.  He isn’t mad at you.  He just can’t hang with you when you do these things.  He doesn’t want you to do this because it hurts you and others.  He is waiting for you.  He loves you.  He forgives you.  He wants to manifest Himself to you.

What do you want?  Do you want to be right or do you want to live righteously and take pleasure in the joy of His Presence?

This is the year of encounter with our Great God and Father.  IF you draw near, He will.  I promise.  But if you have been doing your own thing for a long time, He may wait a bit until He knows that you are serious.  Are you?

Confirming Scriptures:

James 4:8  Draw near to God and He will draw nearto you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and  purify your hearts, you  double-minded.  NASB

James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. NASB

James 3:16  16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.  KJV

I Tim 6: 2b – 6  If you have leaders there who teach otherwise, who refuse the solid words of our Master Jesus and this godly instruction, tag them for what they are: ignorant windbags who infect the air with germs of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors. Eventually there’s an epidemic of backstabbing, and truth is but a distant memory. They think religion is a way to make a fast buck.   The Message

1 Cor 3:1-3    And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.  I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,  for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

Prov 20:3  Keeping away from strife is an honor for a man, But any fool will [b]quarrel.

Psalms 80:6    You make us an object of contention to our neighbors, And our enemies laugh among themselves.