Astonishing Love!

The Story

The divorce was over. 

Since then, Anita had done a lot of things she was not proud of but she had been rejected so long that she was looking for affirmation from anyone.  She used her body to get relief from the words that had played over in her head.  Her ex-husband had told her that ‘no one would ever want her’and she had believed him.  Somehow, now there was vindication.  Everyone wanted her body, but maybe he was right; did any of them really want her?

She had two little children and she was always careful to see that they were cared for, but this last time, when she didn’t know where they were frightened her.  She tracked them down and loaded them into the car.  They stopped at McDonald’s and got hamburgers and fries for everyone.   The drinks she had at the bar before she went home were wearing off.

She drove straight home and put the kids to bed telling them that she loved them.  As she did, she wondered how she would get off this crazy path she was on.  Anita loved her children and knew that the way things were now; she was cheating them of her time and training.  She had given that responsibility to others.

Going Home

When the call came that her Grandmother had died, she left work, picked up the children and put some things in a suit case and began the 28 hour trek to get back home.  She didn’t know it then, but she was headed toward love and freedom.

At the funeral, surrounded by the love of her family and friends, Anita took stock of her situation.  She determined in her heart not to go back to the crazy life she had been living.  She was making good money, but that didn’t make up for the longing in her heart.

Following Her Heart

She quit her job and sold her house over the phone.  She made arrangements with her parents to move in with them until she could get established.  She got a job right away.  Her Sister stepped up to watch the children when she was at work.  She would come home, tired and hurting.  Her bunions throbbing from all the time she was on her feet.  Her dear Mother would get a pan of sudsy warm water and kneel down to lovingly wash her feet.

Love

Her folks never asked questions.  They knew she was different; not the sweet innocent girl who had left their home.  She was worldly and sensual.  It drove them to their knees.  Yet to Anita, they never offered criticism or condemnation.  They only gave love and acceptance.  She was their daughter and they loved her and that was unchangeable.

What Anita did not know was that her Mom was not well, and soon she ended up in the hospital.  The doctor removed her gallbladder and with it 300 gall stones.  Anita had been so self-absorbed; she hadn’t noticed her Mom’s pain.  What remarkable love her Mom had sacrificed to her oldest daughter.

Today’s Lesson:

Anita’s parents showed the love of family.  They accepted her even when their hearts were aching at her condition.  This is a picture of the love of God for His family but it is only a small peek at the astonishing love that Father God has for His kids.

We Have An Enemy Who Lies to Us

Satan and his demons have taught us to believe that everything bad that happens is ‘an act of God.’  We have accepted the idea that God is just waiting for us to make a mistake so that he can lower the boom on us.  We fear Him but we don’t understand that we are supposed to reverence Him.  (That is what the word ‘fear’ means in the Bible – reverence and awe.)

When things are bad, we bargain with Him.  God, If only You will . . . and we make our request and  .promise to be good if only . ..  Father God knows that we can’t be good with our own effort.  He only wants us to love Him by accepting His Son Jesus and then He will change our hearts and our spirits; then being good will become second nature.  It is not about what we do.  It is about Who He is. 

The Truth – God Loves US

  • Every good and perfect gift is from above and from the Father . . .
  • He loves us with an everlasting love.
  • He is good and only does good.
  • He is love.
  • He has promised ‘no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.’
  • His love endures forever.
  • We are His family.
  • We are children of the King.
  • He has given us everything we need for life and godliness.
  • He has forgiven ALL of our sin – past, present, and future!
  • He has made us ‘new creations.’
  • Our old life has passed away and all things have become new.
  • Even when the old habits in our flesh act out, He gently nudges us to turn to Him so that He can help us to be free.

We Live Far Below Our Privilege

The Scripture in Galatians 5:1 is haunting.  It says, “It is for freedom that Christ set us free!”  In church, we don’t see many people who were truly free.  Learning how much Father God loves us brings us to that freedom.

If you are struggling, join me in singing, “yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me,  yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so!”  Whenever we mess up, we can know that God’s love is always available.  Go to Him at once and receive His forgiveness.  It is always available.  Then sing that little chorus over and over again, until you begin to understand His astonishing love.

One Way – Only One Way

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Patrick was suddenly aware of the beautiful woman with crystal blue eyes and chestnut-brown hair.  She was stunning.  She was gracious and approachable.  People seemed to enjoy her presence.  He wanted to win her but had no idea how to do it.  He decided to go out and win the hearts of other women.  He felt that somehow, in this manner, he would learn to win the heart of his loved one.  He became a man of some reputation leaving a trail of broken hearts across the city.  Finally, he felt he was ready.

He had studied about her and knew where she would be.  He arranged to be there and to meet her.  He used all of the methods he had used in winning the affections of the other women.  She looked at him with tears brimming in those crystal-clear blue eyes and said, “Patrick, I saw you long ago and loved you.  I have watched as you have pursued other women and it broke my heart.  Now you come to me with all your experience and it means nothing to me.  All I ever wanted was you.  The way to my heart was clear.  You had only to come to me and I would have received you and loved you.”

Patrick’s face showed his dismay.  “Do you mean that you have wanted me all this time?”  “Yes, I have longed for you.”  Patrick asked, “Is it too late?”  “Dear Patrick, since you have found that there is only one way to my heart and that is to come to me and accept my love, I freely give it and forgive you all your previous efforts. ”

Today’s Lesson:

This is the way of our great God. He has provided one way – only one way – into His Presence.  He sees us pursuing false gods and his heart breaks. He knows that the enemy of our souls wants us to believe that there is more than one way to Him.

There is only one way and it is through the shed blood of Jesus.  He is the Doorway to Father God.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to God, except through Jesus.

All we have to do is stop our self-effort and our self-focus and turn to Him.  He sent His only Son, Jesus, to pay the price for all of our sin.  He made it possible for any one of us, regardless of our past choices or beliefs, to come to Him.  The only qualification is that we accept what Jesus has done for us.  As we turn to Jesus, He provides us everything we need for life and godliness.  He loves us and wants to spend time with us.  He wants us to fall in love with Him and fulfill our destiny.

He knew that we needed Him and so He didn’t make it complicated.  He didn’t give a different way to one group of people and another way to another group.  He knew it needed to be simple and so He provided only one way.

The enemy likes to bring doubt and confusion.  He wants us to question everything.  Satan’s desire is to keep us off-balance and away from the One Way, Jesus.  He wants you to think Jesus is just an enlightened teacher or a prophet, but He doesn’t want you to know Him and the power of His blood.  But Jesus is not enlightened – He is the Light!  Jesus is not just a prophet – He is King of Kings and the Lord of lords!  Jesus said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”  He is God!!!

Today, He is inviting you to come to Him.  He is waiting.  Just tell Him that you want to know Him and ask Him to make Himself real to you.  I assure you that He will.

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?

Jazzie’s Story

 Jazzie was a happy, light-hearted child.  She laughed almost from the day she was born and absolutely everyone was drawn to her.  She only cried when she really had a need and otherwise would play contentedly with her baby doll and her toys.  Her mother wanted to love her but she was so absorbed in the drama of her life that she hardly noticed the graceful, loving little person in her home.

As Jazzie grew older, the dysfunction of her home began to affect her.  There was shouting and anger all around her.  She would quietly slip off to another room to stay out-of-the-way of her older siblings and the adults in the house.  One day, the craziness became a part of her own life and the unspeakable things that she endured, broke her fragile and lovely heart.

She began to keep a low profile, but when things would begin to come apart, anger would rise up in her and she would try to protect herself to no avail.  Soon she reluctantly surrendered to the madness.  All through her growing up years, there was no joy and only survival.  She vowed never let anyone be able to hurt her and built walls around her heart.

Somewhere in the midst of the  pain, she made an agreement that ‘no one would ever love her.’  She had decided that she was not worthy of love.  She made another agreement also and it was ‘I am responsible.’  She felt that she could never trust anyone and she was in charge of herself.  These were very lonely decisions and they led her into deep bitterness.  She would see others falling in love and she would be jealous and hateful toward them.  When a young man would show interest in her, she would let him near for just a brief time and then she would wound him to protect herself from rejection.  A sense that she was powerful began to take root in her and she became prideful.  Everywhere she went, there was strife.

Empty and alone, she had opened a door in her heart that had been filled with an evil presence and often she felt as if it had taken control.  She didn’t know how to stop it and surrendered again.

She still had dreams.  Jazzie was very gifted musically.  She used to sing all the time.  She went to school to get her Masters in Music.   All of her compositions were dark and had an unsettling quality.  She was constantly comparing herself with the other talented students and felt something was missing.  This only deepened her rage.

What Jazzie didn’t know was that the God of the Universe loves her and He was longing for her to lay aside her anger, bitterness, pride and jealousy and turn to Him.  He had already forgiven her and all the people who had hurt her.  He wanted her to know that He was not mad at her.  He had sent people to her to tell her of His great love and He had many others praying for her.  He began to trouble her sleep and her dreams were filled with His voice calling her.

She didn’t know what was happening and still hung on to the hurt and the pain.  An old friend, who knew what her childhood had been, had an encounter with the Lord.  Her life was so changed that Jazzie could hardly recognize her.  She glowed with the life of God.  It hurt Jazzie to be near her.  She wanted her to die!  She didn’t even know why she felt that way.  It was all so confusing.  She knew next to nothing about the Lord and was a total stranger to the Bible.

Her talent began to be noticed and she took a trip to a nearby city to give a concert and spent the night in a hotel.  As she sat on the bed, she surfed the channels on the television.  There was nothing she wanted to watch.  Turning it off, she began to look for something to read and found a Gideon Bible in the drawer by the bed.  She opened it to 1 John 4 and scanned the verses.  She stopped at verse 7.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 

He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

 In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. 

10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 

11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

She began to weep.  She really didn’t understand some of the words, but they by-passed her head and burned into her heart!

She knew that she did not love.

She searched her heart.  She did not love anyone.  Certainly she loved no one in her own family that had so wounded her.  She didn’t even love herself.

“God, if your real, please teach me how to love.  Come into my heart and change me.”  She felt a strange sense of peace that she had never known. She didn’t remember the happy, sweet child that she had been.

There was a flutter in her stony heart and it began to melt.  It was the beginning . . .

Minister of Death

The Pastor stood up in the pulpit.  He was a strikingly good looking man his hair graying a bit and a wonderful resonating voice.  He looked out over his congregation still reeling from the last counseling session is his office the day before.  How could anyone be so involved in so many sinful things?  He just didn’t understand.  Images had penetrated his mind that he just couldn’t shake.  He took a deep breath and began.

After an hour of coming against sin and admonishing everyone, by reminding them that every sin led to death, he begged them to give up anything in their lives that would cause them to come to judgment.  His own heart ached at the things he sometimes thought about.  He told them that “lust led to more lust, anger to more anger, dishonesty to more dishonesty, envy and strife to confusion and every evil work.”  He diagnosed their condition, but gave them no remedy.

He was quite worked up and the people sat in shock!  Their pastor had never before been so forceful.  Everyone sat in the pew, condemned and without hope.

This well intentioned pastor was a “minister of death.”

Today’s lesson:  When we try to be good enough, there is always someone to point out that our efforts are futile.  It is a misery that shows us exactly why God gave us the Law.   It is a bit like the diet started on Monday morning.  After you eat something that is not in the plan you just think, “Well, I blew it, I may as well finish that cake I made for the family.”

The purpose of the rules of the Law was to teach us that we can’t do it on our own.  All of our attempts, at keeping the whole Law,  end in frustration and disappointment.    Lifting up sin never leads us to freedom.  The Bible tells us that when we lift up Jesus, He will draw all of us to Him.

The pastor drew no one to the Lord that day.  He showed them their utter hopelessness without the Lord of Love.  His own sin loomed bigger and bigger as he spoke the words of judgment and condemnation over his listeners.

Jesus offers us grace which produces life.  Our job – our work is to believe on Jesus that God sent.  (John 6:29)  Our work is believing.  His work is doing in us what needs to be done.  Believing and trusting in Him sets us free.

So, do you want to be a minister of life or a minister of death?  Telling people all that they have done wrong never changes them.  We are told in Scripture that “the goodness of God leads people to repentance.”  Rom 2:4.  Repentance is a Bible word that means change.  It is turning away and turning around.  We look to Jesus instead of our sin.  We look to the Father instead of our own personal strength and ability.  We trust it all to Him.

As we turn to Him, His life – the ‘zoe’ life of God – grows bigger in us and we become freer and freer.

Why does the church minister death?  The Apostle Paul said, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel.”  (Galatians 1:6, 7)  This precious pastor never meant to lead people to a different gospel and a different Christ, but ‘there are some who want to trouble us and pervert the gospel.’  There is a demonic realm that interferes with us and we must be ever vigilant.  He wants to steal our freedom and put us back under condemnation.

There is only one Gospel.  It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Grace and  Love.  It is not about our sin.  It is about how He purchased us out of sin with His own blood and lavished His grace upon us.  Now we share with Him all of theblessings that Father God has provided for us.

‘I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing therefore, choose life that both you and your descendants may live!’  Duet 30:19  It is a generational promise!

A Future and a Hope

Annabelle was so caught in the pain of her divorce that it colored every decision that she made.  It had come as a shock when her husband of eight years had decided she wasn’t what he wanted.  He wanted the pretty blonde neighbor.  She knew that he had been leaving in the night and coming back before morning, but she told herself he was troubled by work and was out walking to work it through.  The lie she told herself had been hard for her to believe but she didn’t want to face the truth. When he packed up and left, she had never felt so alone.

Since that day, Annabelle had been afraid to trust anyone.   She didn’t want anyone to get close.  She had been going to church and liked the idea that God loved her, but really didn’t feel the love.  People were nice, but she didn’t let anyone get close and if anyone tried, she would push them away. A woman named Ruth, kept coming to greet her and talk with her.  She would sit with her in church.  Annabelle tried to ignore her, but Ruth didn’t seem to mind her aloof attitude.  She just kept coming back.

One Sunday, Ruth took Annabelle by the hand and said that they were going to go out to lunch together.  Annabelle was so shocked by the touch of her hand, she just mumbled, “Okay.”  At lunch, she asked Annabelle, “Are you tired of living in the past?”  Surprised that Ruth knew what was going on, a tear slipped down Annabelle’s cheek and she looked at this woman who was making her face things. 

Ruth helped her understand that the God who loved her had provided her a future and a hope. “ Lay aside the fear and quit the past,” she said.  That day, Annabelle prayed with Ruth and she felt her heart melt.  Ruth explained that she was made brand new.  Her old life wasn’t who she was anymore.

Ruth explained, ” The future that God has provided you means that your old life has passed away.”  It would take Annabelle some time before she really began to understand in her heart what she knew in her mind.

As believers, we often don’t realize that  we don’t have a past anymore.  “Old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.”  We may still had some of the actions and feelings that we had before we were made new.  In I Corinthians 6:9, there is a long list of identities we had before our new lives in Christ.   The list includes idolater, adulterer, thief and drunk – but then it says, “And such WERE some of you.”  We may still act wrong (we might even think wrong ), but inside we have been made righteous and God will take the inside and bring it to the outside if we will just cooperate with Him.  When His Holy Spirit is in our hearts, He is not mad at us for who we were, and He has a future and a hope for each of us.  He wants us to have all the benefits of our new life.

Annabelle is no longer a rejected divorcée’; she is a child of the living God.  She is royalty.  She is a citizen of heaven.  When she realizes that the past is not her prison anymore and she begins to live the present based on the future, she will find that she is changed from glory to glory.  The past has no hold on her that she  doesn’t give it.

Today’s Lesson:  Begin to lay aside your past.  It’s over!  Romans 12:1 asks us ‘be transformed by the renewing of our mind.’  We have a role to play in finding out that the past is dead.  You may have some things to deal with because of it, but it is no longer your identity.  Father God will help you deal with the results of the old life while he teaches you about the benefits he has in store for you in the new life. 

He tells us in Jer. 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you, plans for a future and a hope and not to bring you sorrow.”  It goes on to say, ‘”Then you will call on me and go and pray to Me and I will listen to you.  And you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity.”

So, it’s up to you.  Live in the past and struggle with the pain; continue to live in fear of having feelings for someone and giving them the power to hurt you, and nuture your unforgiveness because it hurt so much, OR renew your mind and live out of the future promises while watching the present come in line.  In truth, if you call on the name of the Lord, He will answer and show you things you know not!

Life in the Spirit is a blast!  Will you give up your rights to the pain, bitterness and un-forgiveness of your life before Christ and determine to no longer identify with the pain of the past and choose victory in Jesus?  If you need help, please feel free to contact us by e-mail.

Related Sites:

Deep Calls to Deep

Confirming Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

Jeremiah 29:11-14a    11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  12Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.  13And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.  14And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity . . .

Romans 12:1-2   1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Corinthians 3:18
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Jeremiah 33:3
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

Are You a Player?

The padded seats in the stadium behind home place were excellent.  We ordered sandwiches and soft drinks and settled in to enjoy the ambiance of Busch Stadium.   The Arch rose majestically in the background.  The air crackled with anticipation.

The Cardinals and the Diamond Backs came onto the field.  We watched as the players took  their positions and began.  They were vigilant and ready for whatever play they would need to make.  The pitcher worked very hard.  His job was pivotal on both teams.  Everything revolved around him but without the team, he was just tossing a ball.

Notice that we were at the ballgame and in the stadium but we were not in the game.  No matter how expensive the seats or sky box we occupied, we were spectators.  As fans, we could enthusiastically support our team of choice or we could just observe.  But no matter how worked up we might get, we were still on the side lines.  I repeat, we are not in the game.

When Jesus called the disciples, he didn’t call them to sit on the sidelines and watch Him do the work.  He was teaching them and inviting them to participate.  They got to take part in some pretty amazing things.  Peter walked on the water.  Andrew found five loaves and two fish and gave them to the Master.  He blessed the food and then the twelve fed the multitude of 5000 men and their families.  Peter, James and John got to go the Mount of Transfiguration and meet Moses and Elijah and see Jesus transformed in His glory.   They were followers and participants with Him.  He sent them out and they healed people and got them delivered from demonic realm.  Jesus was the pivotal figure, and He was training and using the people around Him to take over when He left them.

So what are we doing?  Our mega churches are a great place to go and hide.  We can sit on the back row and never feel any pressure to get involved.  Even in small fellowships, we can shake our head and say that we are too busy with work and family.  We come on Sunday, listen to the sermon, go to lunch with a few friends, and go home, where we resume life as if we didn’t belong to Jesus.  We are bought and paid for but we have  disengaged.  We have a job to do, but the team is missing our part.

Jesus wanted His followers to participate with Him when he was on earth and He never changes, so why would we think He would be content for us to sit on the sidelines today?

Today’s Lesson:   First of all, remember what it was like when you first met and fell in love with the Lord Jesus?  You wanted everyone to know Him and you told everyone about Him.  You didn’t really know what you were doing, but your were in the game.  It was just a farm team, but you were playing.  It was exciting and you felt alive!

Next, ask Father to help you get back to your first love and begin to support the team again?  It begins with you repenting of having been a spectator and doing your own thing.  Tell Him you are sorry and cry out for help.  He will lift the heaviness that you have been carrying.

It is important for you to know that He is not mad at you.  He loves you!  He wants you to know Him up close and personal.  He wants you to hear the plays that He calls.  Listen and watch for His leading.  Go where He says and He will bring you to a person who will be further down the path to help train you.  Then use your own will and make the decision to move forward into a love relationship with Jesus.

So come on!  Get in the game!  This life is a blast!

Related Sites:

http://pliableheart.wordpress.com

http://joyousbells.wordpress.com

http://www.notafan.com

https://swimlifelessons.wordpress.com/deepcallstodeep

Confirming Scriptures:

Matthew 14:28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”

Luke 9:28-30 Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and [a]gleaming. 30 And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah,

John 6:8-10 One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, *said to Him, 9 “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people [a]sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men [b]sat down, in number aboutfive thousand. NASB

Psalm 31:23 O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserves the faithful, and plentifully rewards the proud doer.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Mark 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

Romans 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Abide

The lights in the house were on and the warmth exuded from that home with a welcoming glow.  Late at night, the young woman arrived home with her date.  Since the lights were bright, the young man didn’t linger in the car.  He graciously walked her to the front door and thanked her for their time together.

This young gentleman recognized that this young woman had one who watched over her and therefore he respected her and had a healthy fear of her protector.  In the light, there was no thought of taking advantage of her or making suggestions he would not have made in  the presence of her guardian.

The light beckoned the girl to come inside and abide in the safety it provided.  It seemed to say, “Come in.  You are safe.  You are loved.”  Her big brother opened the door to her and when she stepped across the threshold, she was at home in the presence of her Father’s love.  He greeted her with a hug and then sat down.  He was her own daddy.  She sat at his feet and told him of the young man and where they had gone that evening.

She rests her head on his knee.  She is at home and has no worries.  She knows that her champion will take care of her and she is totally secure.

When we have receive the finished work of our big brother, Jesus, we meet the Person of the Holy Spirit, who invites us into the family home in the Kingdom.  Our Father God dwells there in unapproachable light.  As His child,  we belong to Him and freely  step into the light with Him where He listens to us and talks with us.  He beckons us to come home through the door He has provided in His Son Jesus.  He is waiting.

This is what abiding is – it is being at home.  So, open the door and come in.

Today’s Lesson:  In the beginning, God said, “Let there be light and there was light.”   And God saw the light and it was good.  God divided the light from the darkness and he called the light ‘boker’ or day.  .  . (‘Boker’ means orderly and discernible – or order from disorder.) . . . and the darkness he called ‘erev’ which is translated eve or night. (‘Erev’ means chaotic.)

The Scripture also intimates that Adam and Eve were clothed with light when they were in the Garden and walked with Father in the cool of the day.  They weren’t just nude when they fell in the Garden of Eden.  The light went out and in their shame they scrambled to cover themselves.  This was the beginning of religion.  Religion is always man’s attempt to cover his actions to try to be acceptable to God, but the central message of the Bible is that God Himself will cover us (with light) – if we can but accept it.

Father never wanted to establish a religion when He sent Jesus to be our Redeemer.   He wants a family that comes to Him of their own free will and gets back into the light.  Choose to live and abide with Him – to be at home with Him.  When we do, He is our shelter, refuge and loving Papa.  We can rest in His light and love.

Many who have found the door in Jesus but have never stepped into the Light.  There is a fear of what He will say, but He is not mad.  He knew you couldn’t do it on your own.  He risked it all by giving you the choice of choosing Him or trying to work it all out through reasoning and religion.

Whether you are just inviting Jesus in today or you have had Him in your heart for years, here is the question, “Have you found your way to the Father?”

Related post:  https://swimlifelessons.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/diving-deeper/

http://joyousbells.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/love-story/

http://pliableheart.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/the-answer/#more-58

http://www.notafan.com/

Confirming Scripture:

Genesis 1, 2 and 3 

All of Psalm 91 which starts out: 

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.

John 15:5
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

John 15:7
If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:9
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.

Deep Calls to Deep

If you love to swim, you know the exhilaration of diving into a deep pool and the freedom of swimming under the surrounding water and the cool, refreshment of the deep.  The limitation is how long you can hold your breath while longing to be able to breathe under water and continue to go deeper.  But for many, there is the fear of the water smothering them and keeping them in its arms and never letting go.

But there is a Deep that is safe and where you are free.  It is the deeper life that God has promised to those of us who draw near.  It is an exhilarating place to be.  It surrounds you with love and refuge.  It holds you and gives you the freedom to go.  But the deeps are so enticing that when we finally get there, we never want to leave.

The depths of the Lord are the ‘everlasting arms’ and the ‘secret place of the Most High.’  It is the place where we abide in Him and He in us.  We are lost in Him.

I once heard an illustration of a bottle in the ocean.  The vessel, if it is tightly capped, will float and bob on the top of the water.  It is in the ocean but it is not filled with the ocean.  A bottle, that is uncapped and open to all the ocean has for it, takes on water.  The more it takes on, the deeper it goes until it is completely filled up and lying in the deep.

And so it is when we go to the ‘Secret Place’ with open spirits, we get lost in Him and in that place, our will comes into line with His will and our way is established and our plans succeed.  Of course, by then, our plans will be His plans and our life will be His life.  His plans are perfect and He gives us a future and a hope.

Just as a person who dives into the deep and takes a deep breath, dies to this life, so it is with those of us who move into the embrace of the everlasting arms breathing in the sweet aroma of His Presence.  We die to all that seems important in this life and become one with the Father.  It is a place of romance, refreshment and direction.  It is the sacred romance.

If you haven’t taken the risk and moved to the deep, I can highly recommend it.  There is no thrill on earth, no peace in the natural realm, no relationship, and no drug that can compare.  It is the ultimate addiction.

Todays Lesson:  The way into the throne room that we have found is to lay aside all pride and agenda; put on worship music that points you to the Father, turn it up loud enough that you can’t hear what you are saying, and get alone in your prayer closet,  in your favorite chair, or on the floor.  Focus all of your attention on our great God, who He is, and His great gifts to us.  He is our Father.  He gave us His Son and His Holy Spirit.  He gave us wisdom.  They are ours if we will  but receive them.  As we come into His arms in the throne room, we enter into His Presence and we find true joy.

I invite you to risk diving into the deep right now.  Give up all that you have held on to.  All excuses, fear, guilt, shame and whatever else has kept you separated.  He isn’t mad at you and doesn’t want to punish you.  He is a Lover. He is wants you.  Enter in and share His great Love.  He who owns the deep and it’s depths is are calling for you personally!  He calls out of His great desire for fellowship and romance with you.  He’s waiting.

Confirming Scriptures:

Revelation 22:1 And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb

Psalm 42:7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

Proverbs 18:4 The words of a man’s mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook.

1 Corinthians 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

Psalm 91:1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

John 15:10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Proverbs 16:3 (AMP)  3Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and so shall your plans be established and succeed.

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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.