Urgency in the Atmosphere

There’s urgency in the atmosphere – there’s no time to waste and wander because this life is a breath.  Let us get to the call to make disciples and run our races looking unto Jesus – following Him, our crosses in tow because living crucified means living amplified.  It is the only way our lives have any weight.  It’s the only way we truly LIVE – He must increase, and me?..I must decrease.

He is trustworthy.  He is worthy.  He is worth it. Our very great reward.  The only treasure worth seeking.  He is King Alive and for Him, we lay down our lives because He laid down His.  King Alive, King of my own Heart, and King of the Universe.

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  James 4:8

I really feel an urgency in the Spirit of the Lord to get up and get moving with the things He’s put in our hearts.  Obviously, we wait upon Him and you may KNOW you’re in a waiting season.  But, I also believe there are people who are hanging back thinking there’s “all the time in the world” when in reality, the time is short.  That’s what I feel like the Lord is saying to someone today.  And the wonderful truth is that when we draw near to Him, we will hear from Him.  He will speak to us…we just need the Spiritual guts to obey, don’t we!

You may be wondering about the reference to King Alive. This Name for Jesus came from a very brief dream I had several years ago. In the dream, the Church gathering that we attended was called “King Alive“, and it just stuck in my brain.  And now, just between Jesus and I, sometimes I refer to Him in that way.  I believe whole-heartedly that He still speaks strongly in visions and dreams today.  He wants to reveal Himself to us more and more.  If He wants to say something to me, I want ears to hear it, and I don’t care how!  In my humble opinion, we don’t have time to waste wondering ‘if’ He does or ‘how’ He does it.  We are the branches and we need to be continually IN HIM, our True Vine!  So press in to Him today!  Ask Him for the ability to hear His voice however He wants to speak to you, and then pay attention!  Our King wants to show Himself very Alive and very Active in our lives every single day.

Just a personal note:  I wrote the upper section in my journal at 5:02am exactly 1 month ago (3/21/18)…and as I was searching for something else this morning, it caught my attention.  I haven’t published anything on here since the end of 2016!  I didn’t realize that until I actually signed in to my blog account today.  When I started this blog 4 years ago, I heard the LORD loudly and clearly in my Spirit to only publish things when He tells me to.  I felt that release to put this word out today.  It actually feels quite strange to type this, but it’s clear to me this is one of those “now” words for me to REMEMBER, maybe someone else needs it, too.  I trust the Lord with it!

Father, if there are things You are reminding us are “NOW” for us, give us the boldness to move, the trust in You to say “Yes, Lord” and then step out in faith no matter what.  Give us ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.  Increase our faith, Father!!  We need You, Lord, every second of every single day!  You are the Vine, Jesus, and we want to stay “in” you all day long and never turn aside.  You are the kind of Shepherd King that leaves the 99 for the 1, we are each that special to You, would You extend an awareness to each heart that she (or he) is THAT important to You today?  Your are glorious, and You are mighty, and You are WONDERFUL.  Show Your goodness to each one today, Lord, and be glorified in us, be glorified in Your Church, be glorified in our Nation today, in Jesus Name Amen!

Removing Me

 

Hebrews 12 is one of those chapters in God’s Word where you can start highlighting from verse 1 and end up highlighting all of them down to verse 29.  I read this chapter recently and just yesterday I was reminded again of the last 5 verses of Hebrews 12:

See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire.

Check out how The Message says it:

25-27 So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.  28-29 Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

One of the things that really stands out to me is verse 25.  “See to it that you don’t refuse Him who is speaking.”  Do we really believe that the Lord our God is speaking to us today?  I  most certainly do!  What on earth would we do if He wasn’t speaking?  What a hopeless existence we would have…and boring!  My two closest friends and prayer partners often just laugh at what a total blast it is to know the Lord Jesus and experience His power in our lives.  Oh yes, Sisters, He is speaking!

BUT…honestly and truly and openly, we need to consider this.

Are we refusing Him in any way?

How often to do we just plain ignore Him?

Are we turning a deaf ear to our Savior with all the distractions and busyness in our lives?

If He ever lives to intercede for us, shouldn’t we ever live to listen for His voice & worship Him?

Recently I’ve been attending an intercessory prayer class a different church in my town.  Something suggested to us in the first class was to begin praying Psalm 139:23-24:

When I invite Him to come in and to search me and try me and to know my anxious thoughts and to shine His light on the darkness of my offensive ways, THAT is me receiving Him!  When you get the spiritual guts up to actually ask Him to invade your inner-most motives, it is such a picture of us receiving Him.  We then receive Him in His fullness.  We come ready to respond; our hearts set to do His will and actually follow the way everlasting.

When I tune my ear to hear His voice, I’m receiving His Kingdom which cannot be shaken.

Inviting Him in, I’m agreeing with Him, and my heart is joining with His and becoming one.

I really believe that this is when our worship becomes acceptable, filled with reverence and awe, like Hebrews 12:28 says.  Then we can worship in spirit and in truth, because the lies we’ve been believing and living are then exposed in the brilliant light of His glory and holiness.

Isn’t that what we want, y’all?  We want the Lord Jesus to search & shake & cut & remove every dead branch in us that is not bearing MUCH fruit.  We want to be pruned because we KNOW that He is a God of His Word. We KNOW that it is for our own good when He cuts us back.  We KNOW that we can trust Him.

But, isn’t it so incredibly difficult not to resist His sheers when we see them coming?! These sinful and selfish wills of ours refuse death at all costs it seems. Self is laden with this ‘never say die’ insolence; it’s born within our flesh from the beginning. But, what rescues us from this plague of human nature bent on self-preservation?  I think I have a good idea, and it’s found in Isaiah chapter 6.

This account has long captured my imagination.  It’s Isaiah’s testimony of having encountered our Living God in all His holiness.

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”

Have you ever encountered God like that?

Some of you may remember me giving my testimony in a post I shared a couple years ago: “How God Broke Me Out of My Striving.”  That was the encounter with the Lord that literally redirected the entire trajectory of my life.  Until we see Him for Who He really is, we can’t get a clear look at ourselves.  And we cannot rely on a 1-time repentance to keep us going God’s direction.  Sin is ever before us.  Our enemy seeks to destroy us.  Our flesh rises up within us against the knowledge of our Living God.  This examination and repentance has to be daily, lest our enemy get a foothold!

Even recently when I started praying Psalm 139:23-24, I was not aware of any overt or unconfessed sin in my life.  I feel like I’m hearing the Holy Spirit speak to my heart quite regularly.  My desire for Him is increasing, and along with that I understand that the enemy of our souls seeks to destroy each of those things by whatever means he can.  The enemy will take whatever foothold we give him, so we must be on guard.  We want to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves, as Jesus said.

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So, what happens when you start asking the Lord to test you and try you and see if there are offensive ways in your heart?  He starts revealing stuff we’d rather not believe about ourselves.  Things that don’t make it onto Facebook and Instagram feeds.  It’s ugly.  And vile.  Our offensive ways do not define who we are anymore, praise Jesus, we really are NEW creations!  But, offensive ways in us must be dealt with and slain ASAP!  How can we have clean hands and pure hearts if we don’t ever invite the Lord God to examine us inside and out?

Our hearts collectively as His Bride are what our Bridegroom is after.  The Father is after my whole heart and your whole heart.  And He wants us to be Holy as He is Holy.

Recently, I began reading a book called, “The Days of His Presence” by Francis Frangipane. There is a quote I want to share with you where he refers to an experience he had with God Almighty, much like the Isaiah 6 encounter.  I read this just days ago and I cannot get over it.

With my inner eyes I discovered the truth about my righteousness.  Remember, I felt close to the Lord.  As a man who was seeking God with fasting, I considered my spiritual condition to be good.  Yet I suddenly became aware of my true human condition.  The flaws in my life became unbearably vivid and utterly sinful.  I saw my iniquity not as something I occasionally committed but something I perpetually was.

I became instantly aware of the many times I could have been more loving or kind or sensitive, but I hardened my heart instead.  I also saw how instinctively selfish nearly all of my thoughts and actions were.  Yet for all that was resident within me of unrighteousness, I felt no rebuke from the Lord, nor did I feel condemnation.  No voice came from Heaven to convict me of my wrongs.  The only voice condemning me was my own; in the light of His presence I abhorred myself (see Job 42:6 KJV)

Without any buffer of self-justification or deceit, with no other person but God to whom to compare myself, I saw how far short of His glory I truly was.  I knew why mankind needed the atoning blood of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  And I knew that no amount of personal attainment in and of itself could ever make me like Jesus.  In the most profound way, I understood that only Christ could live like Christ.  God’s plan was not to improve me but to remove me so that the Lord Jesus Himself could actually live His life through me (Galatians 2:20).  In His indwelling would rest my hope of becoming like Him.

That last three sentences are the ones I can’t get over.  Only Jesus can live like Jesus.  God’s plan is not to improve me but to remove me so that that Lord Jesus Himself can actually life His life through me.  Him indwelling me is my hope of becoming like Him.

Galatians 2:20 (Amplified Bible)

I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Colossians 3:3 in the NLT says, “For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Amen, Lord Jesus!  I surrender!  Come and take over!

So, let’s be brave.  Let’s not refuse Him in any way.  Let’s get the spiritual guts to fall face-down in front of Him and ask Him to show us what needs to be confessed and forsaken and slain.  He’s gentle and humble in Spirit, He is kind, and He is good. He has great plans for us, there are good works He’s prepared in advance for us, and He loves moldable clay vessels in His hands.  And let’s worship Him like we never have before.

It occurs to me that we are living in days where luke-warmth will not stand.  We are in critical hours, Girls, and we have the distinct privilege of calling Him our King.  Oh, that our lives would be a sweet smelling incense to Him.  That our communication with Him would be open and honest and fully-committed to do His will.

Lord Jesus, make us about Your business and whatever it takes to serve You, give us hearts willing to obey.  You are so worthy of our entire lives poured out for You, and You are so worth it!

 

 

 

 

Faithful God

In light of what we witnessed on November 8th into the early hours of November 9th, 2016, all I can say over and over is:

1) Thank You for Your mercies, Jesus!

2) We serve the God of miracles!

3) Now is when the war fought on our knees really begins!

I fully realize the divide in our nation, and even that there are other believers that do not share my opinion & feelings.  My prayer becomes that we really would be unified as the body of Christ and as a nation, truly one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.  As much as I have prayed, believed, fasted, and cried out to the Lord over this election, I have a confession: my faith was NOT strong on Tuesday, November 8th mid-morning to early afternoon. I was believing the enemy’s lie that the Church was too little too late.  There was a very ominous realization that we could have a very, very different United States of America by the time my little boy is a teenager, one that our forefathers would not even recognize.  That America would be a nation no longer able to be called “one nation under God” by any stretch of the imagination.  Even though I KNEW the Lord had instructed me to keep my eyes off what was seen and on what is unseen, but foolishly in my mind, I went there.

“What if the Lord doesn’t move on our behalf?”

“What if our nation takes the dive head-long into the abyss, completely deceived?”

But, when Ohio “went red” last night everything changed.  I knew deep in my bones God was doing what we had so diligently and desperately prayed!  We asked Him to restore righteousness in our land…to heal our land.  There was only one candidate that carried the hope of the restoration of righteous judges in the land, only one candidate that stood for life.

Ohio was highly significant to me for a couple of reasons.  I was in Middletown, Ohio exactly 1 year ago at the Appeal to Heaven Conference, on a prayer assignment from the Lord with my Mom and my 2 co-workers.  It was centered completely around praying for our nation.  In just the past 2 months, revival has broken out in the state of Ohio especially among high school kids!  It’s been through God’s sovereign timing in a movement called “Revive Ohio” (through the ministry Time to Revive). As we watched the live coverage on TV, then came Florida & North Carolina as the next critical states to go red.  Both are states where Time to Revive has been pouring into cities with the Gospel & carrying the message of unity in the Body of Christ.

As the body of Christ in America, we really had prayed and believed 2 Chronicles 7:14 faithfully for our nation.  I cannot begin to count how many nationwide simulcast prayer events and prayer calls sprang up in response to the Lord calling us to cry out to Him.

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

However, American Christians are not the only ones who were praying for America!   It seems the world could feel how significant this outcome would be.  One of the most touching to my heart was a group of thousands of believers from all nations who gathered in Jerusalem on November 7th and they cried out to the Father for America.

Locally, 2 Chronicles 7:14 gripped our whole county.  30-40 different churches committed to preaching on this same topic for 4 weeks leading up to the election.  It culminated with a prayer gathering held Sunday night before the election.

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It’s estimated 4,000-5,000 men, women, and children of all ages and denominational backgrounds showed up at a park just off our little town square to worship the Lord God and pray together over this election. (photo credit: Isaac Duke)

In each of these gatherings, believers humbled ourselves, we prayed, we sought His face, we confessed sin and began turning away from wickedness and “Lord, forgive our sins and heal our Land” was our mighty request of the Father.  I believe that because of His mercy, His grace, and His immense kindness, He did hear us from heaven.  Oh yes, and glory to His Name, we will watch Him as He heals our land!  Not one thing has changed yet on a large scale, yet this we call to mind & therefore we have hope, His mercies are new every single morning.

Regardless of the outcome of this election, I fully believe He intended to revive His Church from our slumber.  Trump or Clinton, we are destined to become unified as the body of Christ because our Father loves to give His Son what He asks for.  Jesus prayed for US in John 17:21-23.

21 I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. 23 I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.

Jesus asked that we would be one so the world would know He came.  We get to take that personally!  And as my sweet friend pointed out to me, as we watched state after state go “red” it was as if you could watch the blood of Jesus cover us.  We were seeing a picture of His mercy triumph over judgement.  His mercy rained down on us.

I had been so disturbed recently by Barak Obama’s words as he took the stage in support of Hillary Clinton.  His phrasing was this: “Let’s finish the job!”  In my mind, it’s as if I could hear the enemy’s voice in those words, “Let’s put the nail in the coffin of what this nation was created to be.”  YET, our God is greater than he who is in the world!  What the enemy absolutely intended for our destruction, our God meant for good.  Just days after he had said those words, I witnessed another miracle while watching President Obama’s first addressed the public following the elections.  When he spoke about the peaceful transfer of power between he and Donald Trump; I was genuinely impressed by his sincerity.  This was not the same Barak Obama we have come to know, he was different it seemed…humbled maybe.  Come to think of it, in the Presidential acceptance speech on Tuesday night, neither was it the Donald Trump we’ve come to know.  The Prince of Peace is on the move, and may America’s government be on His shoulders (Isaiah 9).

I believe as we watched the Lord miraculously move across our nation Tuesday night, we got the double portion of blessing instead of the curse.  He is going to revive His Bride and He is going to heal our land.  But the mantle on us, the body of Christ, is that we must continue to humble ourselves, continue to pray, continue to flee from the devil and draw near to God.  We are to be the salt and light in this generation on the earth.  Our next assignment, as the Church, has just now begun!

Because of this election outcome, the option for our nation to be under God is alive!  He is a God of His word and the God of miracles!  My hope is placed firmly in that fact, and not any man nor any other elected official.  I firmly believe that our King of Kings deposes and raises up earthly kings to reside over nations.  I believe that He has chosen Donald Trump for such a time as this and we are to be lifting this man and so many other leaders in prayer.

I am firmly believing God for the turning of our nation back to Him…for a third great awakening in this nation. There are fields ripe for harvest, may we be willing to be sent out into His harvest fields.  May we carry the Good News to a dying and deceived world with love, and joy, and peace, and patience, and kindness, with goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  May we carry God’s grace and truth and speak with boldness.

At 2:44am I watched Gov. Pence take the stage as the VP-elect. This is a man whose Bible was open to the book of Acts on his desk as friends at the True Woman Conference in September toured his office in Indianapolis.  It was the same day of the Cry Out women’s national prayer event that we hosted in our town.  In 1857, on the same day (September 23rd) a nationwide revival began which started with a very small group of people committed to prayer (You can listen to the story here).   There are no coincidences!

There are many things that I do not know and do not yet understand, but this is what I do know:

  • Our God is an all-consuming fire.
  • His hand is not too short to intervene.  Ever.
  • Nothing is too hard for Him!!!
  • We witnessed one of the greatest miracles of our lifetime last night in the national realm.  All glory goes to our great & awesome God because no man can explain it.
  • Now we get serious about praying for President-Elect Donald Trump, VP-Elect Mike Pence, and every other elected official & cabinet member & Supreme Court justice, both currently and the ones who will be appointed.
  • Now we press forward in believing Him for even greater miracles of healing and alignment in the body of Christ & our nation at large.

We must become messengers of His goodness and grace like never before to our fellow Americans who have a very different ideology of the direction America should go.  Blessed are the peacemakers…may we be peace makers in Jesus Name.  May His grace on our lives be contagious and winsome, our words seasoned with salt because there is much hurt and confusion out there.  Jesus is the answer to all of it.  And we get the privilege of being His hands and His feet…

I want to leave you with a portion of the statement given by Dutch Sheets on November 9th, 2016:

Last night, as the results came in, I wept, knowing that mercy had, indeed, triumphed over judgment (James 2:13).

While I rejoice, however, I also realize there is still much work to do. Though it is appropriate to celebrate, we must remember this is only a beginning. Yes, it can be the new beginning we have so passionately craved, but it is still just that—the beginning. In the words of the immortal Winston Churchill, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

As for me, I intend to do my part to ensure that the Church doesn’t go back to sleep. I will continue to work tirelessly for the fullness of a great revival—a third great awakening—to sweep across America and the world. Nothing else will empower us to finish what has begun. And we must continue to pray for President-elect Trump and our other government leaders. For this assignment, however, I simply say, “Well done, praying Church, well done.” –Dutch Sheets

 

 

Loving Him with EVERYTHING: Our God is an All-Consuming Fire

So, the concept found in Genesis 29:20 has just totally seized my heart.

So Jacob served 7 years for Rachel and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her.

I started out meditating on this verse yesterday, then the Lord completely turned my attention on another passage of scripture. The thought of really loving the LORD our God that way is overwhelming me. The way that Jacob loved Rachel is how we should love the LORD our God.  Immediately I thought of Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:37 when He told us what the greatest commandment is.

Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:4-15.  And it has just totally unwound me as I’ve read it this morning; it’s one of those moments where I can’t read the words on the page through tears. The greatest commandment given us is to LOVE the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. The greatest. It’s the first scripture that Jewish children ever memorize. Deuteronomy 6. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. I beg you to read this slowly and personalize what He is saying here. Let’s just not read it like we always do. Don’t allow it to be familiar to you right now.

Deuteronomy 6:4-15  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and tie shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob to give you – with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant – and when you eat and are full then take care lest you forget the LORD, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by His name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods the gods of the peoples who are around you – for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God – lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and He destroy you from off the face of the earth.

The Lord showed me these verses as if they were smaller edible pieces.  It made me think of a couple scriptures where His Word is compared to food.  Here’s what Jeremiah said,

Jeremiah 15:16  When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies.

Here’s what the LORD told Ezekiel,

Ezekiel 3:3  Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.

Lord, may we be hungry for You today. If we’re not, I pray for a supernatural hunger to come over us even at this moment. Every other god that is vying for our attention and affection, make it sickening to us as we seek You, the LORD our God. May we be satisfied with nothing else, Lord Jesus, You alone!

So, here we go.  Let’s break Deuteronomy 6:4-15 into edible slices:

v. 4a  Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

The Hebrew word here, like many other Hebrew words, is difficult to fully encompass in English. I prefer the NIV because it says “all of your heart, mind, soul and strength.” It’s all of those. Our entire being. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus is telling the Jews to whom He’s speaking to go back to the most basic of knowledge of the LORD their God. The very first thing they ever learned as a child is that they should love Him with everything they are and everything they have.

v. 4b  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

He wants our hearts so much. I could give an exhaustive list of all the times the Word of God implores us to give Him our whole hearts and how He despises our “religious acts” if our hearts are not fully His. Oh, LORD God, forgive us. Forgive us for checking off boxes in our lists of what we can do for You, when we don’t really even think of You at all while we’re doing it. Oh Father, we repent.

Even now, let’s have the spiritual guts to examine our motives. Better yet, let’s have the spiritual guts to ask Him to circumcise our hearts completely and cut away every part that is impure. Father, test us and try us and see if there be any offensive ways in us, then lead us in The Way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)

vv. 5-9 You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and tie shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

May He be the central theme of our lives. May His praise be on our lips continually (Psalm 34:1). May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be pleasing in His sight (Psalm 19:14). May we be bold in our going out and in every word we speak (Acts 4:29). There are so many things we could say about these verses in Deuteronomy 6. Oh, LORD our God, help us. Make us creative and bold and obedient in the walking out of these commands.

vv. 10-12  And when the LORD your God brings you into the land that He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob to give you – with great and good cities that you did not build, and houses full of all good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig and vineyards and olive trees that you did not plant – and when you eat and are full then take care lest you forget the LORD, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

He has a land in which to bring each one of us. There are lands where we will place our feet that He will give to us. Our boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places (Psalm 16:5-6) and He knows where each one is at (Acts 17:26).

Think about how many things God has done in our lives that we #1 – do NOT deserve and #2 – that we ourselves had nothing to do with it coming to pass. He is a Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children (Luke 11:13). Every single one of us enjoy the incomparable benefits of His love and His goodness, deserving none of it!

We get into so much trouble when we think we’re doing God favors or that He’s really lucky to have us on His side. We are deceived when we believe that our blessings come from our own good behavior. He is no respecter of persons. It is His grace alone. It is His magnificent grace that provides blessing and provision and victory. We are SO quick to forget Him when we rely on ourselves. We fill our bellies with so many things that we forget Him. It happened over and over again to the nation of Israel, do we think it won’t happen to us?

He ALONE has set us free from our past bondage. You and I were slaves to sin, we were in a ditch that we could not save ourselves from, and it was The Lord alone Who rescued us out of the darkness into His marvelous light. Oh Father, do not let us forget Your wonderful works! Father, expose our self-reliance and self-exaltation. Expose our reliance on anything other than You. Cause our minds to recognize Your hand of blessing and provision and victory so that we may praise Your Name!!! Crucify our flesh every time it rears its head, Lord Jesus! We have been crucified with You, help us remember it is no longer we who live but You who lives in us!!!

v. 13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by His name you shall swear.

Amplified Bible: You shall fear [only] the Lord your God; and you shall serve Him [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect] and swear [oaths] by His name [alone].

Father, rid us completely of the fear of man, it is a snare to us (Proverbs 29:25). Oh God, that we would recognize it in ourselves immediately. Holy Spirit shine light on our fear of anything but the LORD our God! Fear the LORD alone, oh my soul. Give us undivided hearts that we may fear Your Name (Psalm 86:11).

We want to serve You will awe-filled reverence and profound respect. In this world, we want Your Name to be known and ours to be forgotten. Lord Jesus, may Your Name alone be on the banner we wave.

Jesus quotes this same verse in Deuteronomy 6:13 to satan during His wilderness temptation (for the record I purposely do not capitalize the name of the enemy when I write it, it’s just a thing I do that symbolically keeps him in his un-exalted place.)

Luke 4:8 Jesus replied to him, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’”

Only You, Jesus. Only You. You are our Bridegroom coming for a bride who has made herself ready. Oh that You would find us pure and spotless, not giving our hearts to another.

vv.14-15  You shall not go after other gods the gods of the peoples who are around you – for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God – lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and He destroy you from off the face of the earth.

We are so foolish when we go after anyone or anything but God. Fearing Him is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).

All else falls short.
All else is lacking.
All else is deception.

He alone is to be feared.
He alone worshiped.
He alone pursued.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. He is an all-consuming fire. He is a jealous God. He will not stand for the love due Him to be showered elsewhere. He hates adultery. He alone is due our full affection. He alone is worthy of our whole hearts. His eyes search this entire planet searching, looking, seeking those of us who would bow our hearts completely to Him alone.

2 Chronicles 16:9a  NIV – For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

ESV – For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

NASB – For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

NLT – The eyes of the LORD search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.

 

It is our connection with Him and to Him that contains all the strength and the power we would ever need. He is the power source.  If I lack love, He is my source.  If I lack endurance, He is my source.  If I lack anything I need, I must connect with my Father in Heaven to receive it.

And if I want to connect to Him, I have got to look at Him. His eyes are searching THE ENTIRE WORLD, y’all. The whole thing!!! His eyes are looking and searching to and fro and and when He finds those of us who are looking back at Him!  Picture that in your mind for a moment.

See your eyes connecting with His.  Feel that intimacy.  Look into His eyes.

Listen to how John describes His eyes in Revelation 1:14 AMP

His [all-seeing] eyes were [flashing] like a flame of fire [piercing into my being].

His eyes are looking everywhere for the ones of His children who are looking for Him! And He is an all-consuming fire. His eyes pierce into my being. The flames of all-consuming fire in His eyes consume my entire being. Come on!!! My heart is about to jump out of my chest!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A million times, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! DO IT, LORD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s when it catches fire. That’s when we receive what we need. He knows where we need strength. We are weak, He is strong, oh how we need Him! He’s the source of all we need.

You know what just blows me away. He just wants our love. He just wants everything. Shouldn’t it just be simple to look honestly at our lives and see where we’re bowing to another? If we will crucify our flesh long enough and get the spiritual guts to ask Holy Spirit, He will show us where we are not returning to our first love. He will expose what is lukewarm in us. He is an all-consuming fire. If we are allowing His love to pierce our being, we WILL either heat up or we walk away, there is no other option.

Listen to Deuteronomy 4:23-24 AMP, just 2 chapters prior to what we’ve been studying in Deuteronomy 6:

So be on your guard and watch yourselves, so that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He has made with you, and make for yourselves a carved or sculpted image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire; He is a jealous (impassioned) God [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely His].

Jesus Christ our Messiah purchased you & I when He hung on the tree and satisfied the wrath of God on our behalf. We are rightfully His. We are uniquely His. He can do with us exactly what He wants if we are willing. The question is, do we love Him with our whole hearts and do we trust Him?

Holy Spirit, right now, expose every area we attempt to hold back because we have created for ourselves an image in the form of anything which You have forbidden. Expose it now. We want our eyes looking fully into Your wonderful face. Make the things of earth dim to us as we seek You and find You! Oh Father, that we would seek You with ALL of our hearts (Jeremiah 29:13) !!!

This entire post started with a verse in Genesis 29 speaking of Jacob serving 7 years and it seeming as nothing to him because of Rachel, the one whom he loved. His eyes were on her. He knew that she was the territory destined to be his. He kept her in the forefront of his mind as he labored for Laban, even when he was cheated and done wrong, his heart was fully with the one he loved. And that made 7 long years seem as a few days.

What is your heart longing for?
What have you not seen happen that you believe God has said would come to pass?
Have you grown weary?
Is 7 years feeling like 700 years instead of a few days?
Where are your eyes?
What are you looking to?
Who are you trusting in?
Where are your eyes focused?
On what do you have your heart set?

Matthew 24:12-13  Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Sisters, we are in desperate need of divine endurance. We are surrounded by sin. We are surrounded by an enemy who seeks to destroy us and our testimonies and our families and our communities and our nation. We have seen the love of many grow cold, and even our own has grown lukewarm and cold at times. But, the one who endures to the end will be saved. We will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Our God is an all-consuming fire. Let Him pierce your heart today and ignite a fire that cannot be quenched.

Father, send enduring fire into our hearts. Consume us. Burn away every ounce of flesh and self that we have made into an idol which You forbid. Shake everything so that what cannot be shaken remains (Hebrews 12:27-28). Father, pluck out by the root every single thing in our hearts that You have not planted (Matthew 15:13). We are holy vessels. Oh that we would be useful. Oh that we would be ready.

2 Timothy 2:21-22  Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [which are dishonorable—disobedient, sinful], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified [set apart for a special purpose and], useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Run away from youthful lusts—pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those [believers] who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Consume us, Lord! Consume us with a holy passion for You! Set our hearts on fire! You are worthy and You are worth it!

Worship Him with this awesome song asking Him to set a fire down in our souls, asking Him for more.  Lord Jesus, we want more!  Oh that He would increase and we decrease…

On the Waves: When Jesus doesn’t do what you think He’s going to do

Great faith chooses to get out of the boat.

Great faith chooses to walk toward Jesus and believe Him when He calls.

Great faith keeps her eyes fixed on His eyes and looks full in His wonderful face.

Great faith chooses HIM regardless of the temptations that are swelling all around her.

Reality is that life outside the boat can be flat-out scary.  Minimally, it can be uncomfortable.  All manner of temptation lurks attempting to take your focus off of Jesus.

  1. temptation to look around at the progressive waves of your own flesh and Satan’s attacks ready to take you under, one after another…after another

  2. temptation to consider the actual depth of the waters you find yourself in

  3. temptation to know the vast limitations of your own swimming skills and your general lack of endurance

  4. temptation to lean on your own understanding that walking on water is, in fact, not humanly possible

  5. temptation to think that you can do this water-walking alone or that your way is perhaps better than His, which is blatantly preposterous given points 1-4, and yet remains a temptation never-the-less

  6. temptation to hear the safety of the boat beckoning you to get back in for goodness sake and dry off and get warm, are you crazy? who does this?  protect yourself!!!

  7. temptation to tell Him “no thanks” the next time He invites you out, this water-walking of great faith is fine for someone who is stronger than you or knows more than you or actually has the mustard seed’s worth of faith He asks in order to see some kind of miracle like this

But, Jesus.  But, JESUS.  BUT, JESUS!!!  Praise His Name!

He never leaves.  He always rescues.

I don’t believe I’ve ever been out on the deep waters of faith like I am right now.  Certainly not this deep.  I don’t recall having an opportunity to believe for the impossible as much as I have this year.  The first 3 months of 2016 were smooth sailing, quite honestly.  Not many waves at all, it wasn’t very scary and quite frankly I had literally received every answer I wanted from the Lord for some pretty bold requests. Particularly, I had been tracking dead-on with my expectations being very high in what I knew God could do and expectations very low as to the “how” He might do them.  But, last night was the 2nd time in 2 weeks that I got a neti-pot style cleansing of the sinuses with salty sea water (great analogy brought to you from last week’s episode of Living Proof with Beth Moore)…because last night I took my eyes off my Savior for a second and looked fully at what my human brain was willing to wrap around.  This is not an effective tactic when you are out on the water.  Just ask Peter.  It’s always better to recognize Who Jesus is, and stick with Him.

In this particular situation last night though, I saw only what did Jesus not do instead of what He did…even though He performed a total miracle.  Have you ever done that?

Then, I sulled up.  I don’t know if that’s actually a word, y’all. But that’s what my Dad says when a horse he’s training stops responding to him; basically the horse goes into lockdown about to throw a fit.  It’s the same word we use in our family when people act like that (finger pointing directly at ME).  All in my heart.  Every bit of it.  Outwardly, I was saying words of thanksgiving and gratitude and acting how I was supposed to act when God comes through in such a massive way.

Mere words never fool God though.  He doesn’t care all that much about our “external” looking good, does He?  He tells us over and over and over again it’s the condition of our heart that He’s concerned about.  And when I woke up this morning after partially repenting and knowing my heart was not right, He was right there inviting me into full-on repentance.

I was not the 1 leper who came running to Jesus’ feet when I realized what He had done like I should have been (Luke 17).  He deserved massive praise from me!  He deserved tears of joy and my heart to have been leaping out of my chest in thanksgiving!  But, that’s not what He received from me last night.  The sin of pride crept in mightily underneath me and enveloped me and brought me crashing down hard, as pride always does (Proverbs 16:18).  And no one else knows.  Only me and my patient, kind, Holy and wonder-working God.  (Well, now y’all do…but we are to confess our sin to one another, right? (James 5:16))

I was offended that He didn’t perform the miracle I was believing Him for in the way that I expected it.  I was annoyed in my spirit that His method of healing was different than I had made my mind up that it would be.  He didn’t follow my orders.

My hands literally shake even typing those 5 words.  But, it’s the truth.  That’s why I withheld my praise.

I ask the Lord continually not to let my flesh get away with anything displeasing to Him.  And, He didn’t.  He didn’t let me stay hard-hearted very long, praise His Name.  He didn’t have to beat my wayward thinking out of me, either. (Insert memories of stubborn horses who have not been so fortunate).  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Hebrews 12:11 ESV).  He always knows what we need.  He’s a good, good Father that way, isn’t He?

As Romans 2:4 says, it was His kindness that led me to repentance.  And as only God can, He timed it where I had to read Matthew chapter 11 out loud to my family in our nightly Bible reading when all of this battle was happening in my heart.  It’s the story of when John the Baptist is in prison asking if Jesus really is the One.  It’s when John is sitting there thinking, “There is NO WAY if Jesus is who He says He is that He’s leaving me in this prison!”  And you know what Jesus sent John’s disciples to go back and tell him…

Blessed is the one who is not offended by Me.  (Matthew 11:6 ESV)

He loved John so much.  But, Jesus didn’t do what John expected.  John had a really hard outcome awaiting him and he had to trust that Jesus was who He said He was.  And Jesus wanted John to experience blessing.

Offense never brings blessing.

Humility before and trust in Jesus always does.

And when I woke up this morning I heard the Lord say to my heart, “Look fully into my face.”  In other words, He was asking me to look at His eyes.  Just like I try to get my sulled-up 4 year old to do when he’s upset so that I can speak truth and life to him.  Just like Jesus was doing for John the Baptist.

He’s so kind.

He knows that if we will look at His eyes our feet will not sink into the ocean of doubt surrounding us.

And you know what is starting to well up in my heart right now…12 hours after my highly disappointing water-walking performance?  I’m starting to feel Him call me out there again with Him.

He has brought me way too far to turn back now.  I’m out here with Him.  Come what feels like hell or at least high waters, I am His.  The truth is that the gates of hell actually will NOT prevail!  It can feel like it, it can look like it, and it can seem like all of it is breaking loose in your circumstances in front of everyone or maybe only in your own heart where no one else knows.  When Jesus said, “It is finished.” He meant it, and Satan knows it.  Our battle with flesh and enemy are not over just yet, but we can rest assured that we are overcomers because we belong to Jesus!

And He is always good.  And He never leaves us.  And He never forsakes.

He loves us, as my little boy says, “Really MUCH!”

He is an ‘again’ kind of God.  He delights when we humble ourselves and realize how much we need Him.  I had to realize that I have NO idea what all He did in this situation.  Someday I will find out, and He will put an exclamation point on His sovereignty.  And, I’ll rejoice again that He did not leave me in my pit of haughtiness.

We know that it’s impossible to please Him without faith.  And I want to please Him.  I want to hear Him say well-done.  I know you do, too.

We want to look full in His wonderful face because it’s that same face that bowed before the Father and sweat drops of blood because His own will was not matching up with the Father’s at the moment.  He was willing to deny Himself and take up His cross so that you and I could get out of the boat with Him one more time in great faith.

He’s trustworthy for a million reasons…mostly because He’s been where I am, but He didn’t fail.  He has felt all the emotions I have but didn’t sin.  He’s felt more pain than I’ll ever imagine, and walked through more heart-breaking situations with His children over millennia and it didn’t keep Him from radically leaving His throne to rescue the 1.

I want to be more like Him.

Whatever He says, I’m in again.  Wherever He leads, I’m going.

Whatever He is doing in the Earth and has a mind to invite me to walk with Him…I’m all in with Jesus.

And it’s not because I trust me.

I don’t.

I trust Him.

 

All to Him I Owe…

If You didn’t do what You did, I would not be able to live.

If you didn’t do what You did, I’d be lost as I could be.

I’d be blind, begging, dying.  And all without hope.

Lost, blind, begging and dying in a lost and dying world…

BUT, The Cross.

BUT, our Good Good Father saw fit to make a way so it didn’t have to be that way.

BUT, YOU, my precious Savior.  The perfect, spotless, blemish-less, sinless Lamb Who laid down Your life of Your own accord.

You went.  You suffered inconceivable pain and shame and separation for me.  For them.  For all of us.

Every act foretold in days long, long past.  Every detail fulfilled.

From the senseless hatred that drove men to kill.

To Your brilliant mercy & grace that would tear the veil of separation once and for all.

All of this, SO THAT sinners could be saved.

…like me

…like you

…like the very high priests and religious leaders who offered Him up on false charges that day

…the same crowd members on Sunday, who were pleased to shout Hosanna waving palm branches with one hand while the other launched their cloaks into the dust for Him, by Friday screaming “Crucify Him” with all the other sheep who had gone astray.

…like every single one of us

We were all lost and dying without hope.  Lost and dying and deserving hell.

BUT, Jesus.

BUT, You!  Yeshua, our Hamashiach – You didn’t back down.

You didn’t flee or crack under the pressure.

Quite literally the weight of the entire world for all of eternity was on You.

And you bore our sin.  On purpose.

The enemy really thought he had you.  He thought he won.  But, my oh my, what a surprise  he must have had when You got up!

The victory that I get to claim is the one that Jesus won.  And He gave it to me.

Is that not the greatest and most unfair and excessive gift in all of time?

Life for death.  And a crown of righteousness for my head.

Not only that, but He covered me in a robe of righteousness.  He exchanged and bore my sinful nature so that I can be adorned in jewels; a bride pure and spotless.

He took my tears and gave me joy.  He took my evil and made me holy.

In Him, my regret becomes hope.  My ugly past is redeemed for a beautiful future.

He took my spirit of heaviness and gave me a mantle of praise.

My broken heart was made new.

My broken mind was made pure.

My broken spirit was made whole.

He got wounded and I got healed.

And I think I owe Him my life.

I really do.  I look at all of that, and as I write these words it just makes total sense to me that my life is, in fact, NOT my own.

He sought me and then He bought me with His redeeming blood.

And pouring my life out for Him, holding nothing back from Him, living to obey and follow and listen for His voice every second of every single day is actually what makes sense to me.

If Jesus paid it all, then ALL to Him I owe.

He’s worthy…and He’s worth it!!!

He is risen, we are free and I am rejoicing!  Happy Resurrection Sunday!!!

With Unveiled Faces…

There’s something about opening the pages of a new journal this morning that sets my heart on fire to see what my walk with Jesus will hold this trip around the sun.  The 3 journals stacked here on the left chronicled 2015.

 

IMG_1759

And today…today there’s fresh new pages.  There is a fresh new year to see God’s GOODNESS, to report of His GLORY, and to experience His GRACE revealed in the most wonderful of places and the most unexpected of scenes.

But before I move on too quickly, I always love being able to look back at what God was saying to me this time last year.  I wrote a blog about the word He gave me and my best friend for 2015 about prayer (which you can read here).  God DID radically transform my prayer life last year.  As I flipped through those early dates of 2015 I came across this…

It’s what I penned on 1/18/15, here’s what it says:

“Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.”

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 MSG

We all get to come. Unveiled, bare, holding nothing back, no doubts, no fear, no fighting what He’s saying, no resistance, no fluffing up or puffing up, no pouting or whining, no dressing-up or messing-with.  -God, remove the veil; nothing between You & us, Lord God.”

—So, this morning when I was reading this very entry I was amazed again at God’s perfect timing.  It was just last night I was standing in front of my mirror about to brush my teeth, and I was looking at my face.  I was pondering what it must have looked like when Moses’ face shone radiantly after having been with the Lord (so much so that he had to wear a veil).  I was thinking about what it means to be beautiful and how different God’s definition of beauty is compared with ours.

I want my life to shine like that, don’t you?  I want a life of beauty and a face that shines His love.  And the thing about what Paul is saying here in 2 Corinthians is that we get to be face-to-face with the Risen Messiah at any second of any 24-hour period. No wait necessary, and no veil needed. That thing was torn in half the day He defeated sin & death once and for all eternity (Matt 27:51, Heb 10:19-22) .

So, in 2016, let’s get rid of the veils of self-protection we love to wear.

Let’s run so close behind Him that the dust He kicks up gets all over us.

His ways becoming our ways.

Our lives looking more & more like His.

And just like the Message so beautifully translates 2 Corinthians 3:18… let’s shine brightly & beautifully the awesome LOVE and passion of Yeshua, our Deliverer and our Friend.

Week 12 – Colossians 4:2-18 “How to Pray, Walk and Talk”

I’m almost overcome with amazement at the timing of God in our lives with events upon the earth and the study of the scriptures. You and I live in a very different climate than we did this time last week. Our Supreme Court made a ruling that signifies a profound change within the landscape of our day. Now more than ever, friends, we must be alert and watching for the return of our Savior. Now more than ever, we must be diligent to serve Him and make the most of every opportunity we have to share the Good News. Now, more than ever, we must love with a love that costs us everything. Over the past week that I have been studying these scriptures in Colossians 4, God has given me several opportunities to encourage people with these very words. There is profound insight to be gained as we close our study on Colossians here in week 12. I pray that Paul’s words will fall on good soil today. We live in, I believe, such a very significant hour on God’s Kingdom calendar. We certainly live in a weighty time in God’s calendar concerning the United States of America. No time has ever been more important for His Bride to wake up and go to work in the harvest fields. In 6 months, friends, I believe with everything in me that we will be living in very different circumstances as Believers. Wake up today, be alert, the Lord is coming soon!   Please open your bibles to Colossians 4:2-18. Here is the link to your notes and 5 days of homework:   Col PN 4.2-18

Colossians 4:2

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

  1. Pray steadfastly with thanks, being alert

From the Greek definition of “Steadfastly in Prayer”:

Pray Steadfastly

to adhere TO PRAYER, to be devoted TO PRAYER

to be steadfastly attentive TO PRAYER, to give unremitting care TO PRAYER

to continue all the time in PRAYER

to persevere and not to faint IN PRAYER

to show one’s self courageous for PRAYER

to be in constant readiness for PRAYER, wait on constantly IN PRAYER

Greek Definition: “Be Watchful in Prayer”

to keep awake, spiritual alertness, be vigilant; to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one

This definition just gets me!  Keep awake, be alert, be vigilant in prayer.  There are things that we must fight for in prayer.  Our enemy is coming at us with a force we have not yet seen.  He intends to undo the very fabric of our society with intense deception.   Also, our God will send judgement on a nation that will not cease turning her back on Him.  It is His way, He is mighty and Holy and is incredibly patient.  He sends warning after warning to nations who pridefully shove Him away.  It is highly likely that there will be calamity after calamity that befalls the USA unless we pray.  PRAY!!!  Pray for revival among the people who call upon His Name, pray that the church would wake up and DO what God has told us to do.  Love Him with everything we have, love our neighbors as ourselves, and go out into all the world and make disciples.  None of that happens without total dependance upon God in prayer.

This same word for “be watchful” that Paul uses in verse 2 is used by Jesus here:

Matthew 24:42-43 ESV

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.

The King James says, “Watch therefore…”

The NASB says, “Therefore be on the alert…”

If you and I will tune-in to what the Holy Spirit is saying, and how He is moving, we will have insight that we could NEVER have otherwise. He is the Helper. Oh that we would receive the help we need from Him as we pray. Lord, help us to be alert, watching, being vigilant in prayer and watching for the Lord.

The next word we see in regard to prayer is  “with Thanksgiving.”  Such a strong theme in Colossians, I believe this is the 6th time Paul commands thankfulness in 4 chapters!  Do not miss the significance of this theme of gratitude just because Paul keeps repeating it. Do not let repetition lull you to sleep; allow his repetition of calling us to thankfulness wake you up. Take heed! Be thankful!  It changes everything.

Then we go right into verses 3 & 4:

Colossians 4:3-4

At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

  1. Pray for others, for open doors for the Word, and for God’s message to be made clear by whoever is speaking it.

One of the biggest cliché’s among Christian is “When God closes one door He always opens another.” And it’s a cliché because it’s true…He does it all the time! We can trust Him! He does not leave us in the hallway forever.  But, here, Paul is asking them to join him asking the Father to make a way for the Gospel to move forward. To bring Gentiles into the fold in order to make Jews jealous (Romans 11:11), the mystery of Christ had to be made plain.

Paul needed incredible stamina and boldness in order to declare the truth, sometimes in very hostile situations. This mission is WHY he was sitting in prison. And just look at what doors opened up for YOU & I to hear the gospel message because of Paul’s willingness to serve the Lord while behind bars. If Paul had not been locked up, who knows if he would have taken the time to sit down and pen these letters the Holy Spirit spoke through him to all of us today. It’s a total wonder, and I am amazed continually at God’s providential brilliance. We are living proof of the answer to this prayer, y’all. I don’t know if that completely overwhelms you or not, but I challenge you to let it. Let God’s sovereign power engulf your mind and heart.

He is a God who calls us to pray and then delights to answer our prayers! The fact that we are called into partnership with Him astounds me. God knows everything, He knows if and when we will pray, He knows what we will say, and yet it is His joy that we call out and cry out and converse with Him continually because prayer changes US. Prayer changes things, situations, people, outcomes, timing of events, focus, and mostly it changes us. Prayer is a lifeline to the only One Who knows what is best.

Paul then asks for prayer that he would make it clear, which is how he ought to speak. I heard a lady shout out during a live-streamed sermon I was watching recently from Revive Indiana, “Make it plain, Preacher!” And you can imagine it said with the best Jesus-lovin’, southern, beautiful black woman’s voice. It was precious and it was biblical! Then the best part was the preacher looked at her and replied in a laugh, “I’m tryin’!” And it was hilarious, and it was good. She wanted clarity and he was trying to deliver it. And all the while, it was exactly what Paul was asking the Colossians to pray for him.

I want us to read Colossians 4:2-4 in The Message:

Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.

Oh, Lord Jesus, help us live our lives in a way that makes Jesus plain as day to people. And speaking of how we should live, let’s go to verse 5 now.

Colossians 4:5

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.

  1. Walk in wisdom, don’t waste time, recognize opportunities to show non-believers who Jesus is

You have likely heard someone say, “You may be the only Bible someone ever reads.”  That is what I thought of when I began studying Colossians 4:5.  There is a great passage in 2 Corinthians 3 that speaks of this very idea.  We are letters from Christ Jesus to the world.  The world is literally dying without Him, and we carry the Good News within us every single day.  Oh God, that we would let our light shine among men, so that they may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven (Matthew 5:16).

2 Corinthians 3:2

You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all.  And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

Y’all – people need Jesus. America needs Jesus!!! And the only Bible many people have read or even seen is either being lived out by you…or not lived out by you. I just recently spoke to a church planter’s wife in Ft. Collins, CO and she shared with my friends and I how we could pray for this area they serve. Very, very few people have a relationship with Christ Jesus. The average home price in their community is $360K and they are just as lost as the homeless people on the streets of Dallas. She, her husband, their 4 children, and Living Rock Church are the only exposure some of these people have ever had with the Gospel. They are the letter of recommendation that people can read, written by the Spirit of the Living God.  Are you?

 A.T. Robertson in Paul and the Intellectuals says,

Every occasion is an open market of opportunity for Christ. It is so easy to let opportunities slip by unused. John A. Broadus used to say that opportunity was like a fleet horse that pauses for one moment by one’s side. If you fail to mount him in that moment, you can hear the clatter of his hoofs down the corridor of time. That opportunity is gone forever. One has to pay for what he buys in the open market when others bid for the privilege.

“It will sometimes cost selfish ease, personal convenience, comfort, reputation, money; in any case, in every case, however, they are to pay the price, purchase for themselves the opportunity, and save their unsaved neighbors or friends.” (Alexander)

 We live in a world of lost souls drowning in a sea of lies. Yet, we have the greatest news of all human history. Is it worth the loss of our ease to share the Good News with someone today. But, we have been trained by the world of political correctness to keep our mouths shut. And look where we are…mouths shut in fear of offending, few bringing the Good News for decades, God continually being asked to leave our schools and government offices, trading the truth about God for lies. Oh God have mercy on us! Oh God, make US the letters of recommendation for Your Great Name! Help us, Lord! Give us opportunities today to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with someone, and give us the guts to stick our foot in the stirrup grab the saddle horn and swing up on the back of that horse of opportunity.

Our time is so short, we MUST make the most of every opportunity. Get outside the safe walls of our churches and engage people in life. Show them Jesus, take Jesus to the outsiders so they can become insiders!

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

  1. Speak graciously, know how to answer anyone who questions you

If we are going to make the most of our opportunities with unbelievers, then we must speak graciously, seasoned with salt so that we can know how to answer each person.  One commentary I read says that “seasoned with salt” is a metaphor for Christians giving a powerful and attractive testimony to non-Christians.  Let’s look at what Jesus said in Matthew 5:13:

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

The commentary in the ESV Global Study Bible says, “As salt is beneficial in a number of ways (preservative and seasoning, etc.) so are disciples of Jesus who influence the world for good.”

It may feel at times that the message of Jesus Christ is being trampled under people’s feet in the world today, especially in our country.  But, remember what Jesus said to us!  We are the salt of the earth.  If those of us who are willing to stand up and be counted as a follower of Jesus Christ, unwavering in our faith will be worth our salt.  Oh how I pray that more and more of us will!

Now, let’s look at “knowing how to answer each person.”

1 Peter 3:13-17 ESV

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

If you are worth your salt, and you do take a stand for Jesus, chances are that you will be questioned at some point. Now, since we live in the belt buckle of the Bible Belt, it is unlikely that any of us have faced much questioning and certainly unlikely that we’ve faced persecution in the past. However, I believe wholeheartedly that days are coming in which we will. I believe that we will face more and more questioning and persecution as time progresses in the climate of our culture. I believe that you and I will need excessive wisdom and grace with which to answer those who question our faith and our stance for what the Bible says. We must return to the truth of Colossians 4 and 1 Peter 3:15. We must be prepared! And how do we prepare? We pray. We watch and we pray. We walk in wisdom making the most of every opportunity and we speak with grace.

Let’s look at one more verse in 1 Peter 4:7:

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

I heard a sermon by Francis Chan in January from the Passion Conference in Houston where he taught this passage.  Look at what 1 Peter 4:7 is saying.  We usually think of prayer as a means to an end.  Prayer is the means when we say “God, come fix this or that” and whatever situation He intervenes within is the end.  This passage totally flips our understanding of that.  1.  Realize the end of all thing is near, 2. be self-controlled, 3. be sober-minded FOR THE SAKE OF YOUR PRAYERS.  Your prayer life and my prayer life are dependent upon our understanding of the urgent day we live in, our self-control and our minds being clear and  sober SO THAT OUR PRAYER life can be effective!  Prayer is the point.  Our conversations with God are being stored up in golden bowls.  Our conversations with other people who follow Jesus are being recorded!  Listen to this:

Malachi 3:16

Then those who feared the Lordspoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.

Just wow.  Oh, y’all, let’s pray like we’ve never prayed before!  It will be worth it!  He longs to pour out His Spirit upon us in these last days.  Do not let 2015 be the year where you do not experience Him or have His power in your life because you did not ask Him.  He is a good Father, Who knows how to give good gifts to His children!

  1. Be encouraged, give thanks, and spur one another on in this walk following Christ Jesus. We are in this thing together, side-by-side, the family of God.

 Colossians 4:7-8

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 

Who: He gets mentioned in Acts 20:4, Ephesians, Colossians, Titus, and 2 Timothy.

What: He’s a beloved brother, faithful minister & fellow servant in the Lord

Why: to update them about Paul and to encourage their hearts

Colossians 4:9

and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.

Who: Onesimus;  Do you know how it is when there is a story with too many details to casually mention. I feel like Paul is saying that here with the subject of Onesimus. It’s as if he can’t get into that right now, it would take him another chapter and he doesn’t have time, he’s pressed in his heart to write a letter to Philemon directly so that Onesimus can get on with his life as a follower of Christ Jesus. I want to know what took place there! Don’t you?! What kind of conversion story must Onesimus have?

What: he’s a faithful and beloved brother, he is a Colossian

Why: he and Tychicus will tell them the whole story

Colossians 4:10a 

Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you,

Who: Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. Acts 19:29, 20:4, 27:2, and in Philemon he’s mentioned

What: he’s in prison alongside Paul

Why: he wants to greet these brothers and sisters he’s never met

Colossians 4:10b

and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him),

Who: Mark the cousin of Barnabas; not the same Mark the Apostle who wrote the Gospel. Not the Mark whom Paul and Barnabas sharply disagreed over in Acts 15:37-39. Philemon 1:24 mentions him as well amongst this same group with Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke.

What: they received instructions to welcome him if he comes

Colossians 4:11 

and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.

Who: It’s the only mention of Jesus, called Justus in God’s Word

What: He and Mark, Barnabas’ cousin are the only Jewish Believers with Paul

Why: They have been a comfort to Paul

Colossians 4:12-13 

Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis.

Who: Epaphras, he’s mentioned in Chapter 1, here and in Philemon

What: He is always struggling on behalf of the Church in Colossae in his prayers; Paul has witnessed his hard work on behalf of them and those in Laodicea and Hierapolis

Why: So that they may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

Colossians 4:14 

Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas.

Who: Luke, mentioned in 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 1:24, the book of Acts chapter 16 when it turns from “they” to “we”, Luke is the narrator for the 1st 15 chapters then becomes an eyewitness in ch.16

Who #2: Demas – mentioned also in Philemon, but by the time Paul wrote 2 Timothy 4:10, “For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.”

What: They send greeting to the Church in Colossae

Colossians 4:15-16

Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.  And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 

Who: Laodicea is mentioned in 2:1, 4:13-16, Revelation 1:11, 3:14. Nypha is only mentioned here in the Bible. She hosted the church in Laodicea is all we know. Paul sent a letter there, but it was not preserved.

What: Read this letter to the Colossians, then send it to be read to the Church in Laodicea, then read the Laodicean letter in the Colossian Church as well.

Colossians 4:17 

And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

Who: Archippus. In Philemon 1:2b, “…and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Why: He is encouraging and propelling Archippus into the ministry that he received from the Lord.

Colossians 4:18 

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Paul wants them to remember his chains.

Hebrews 13:3

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.

Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American pastor imprisoned in Iran for sharing the Gospel.  Follow his story here:

https://www.facebook.com/PrayForPastorSaeedAbedini?fref=ts

Remember the persecuted Believers around the world in prayer; remember those who are experiencing hardship for the sake of the Gospel.

Open Doors:  https://www.opendoorsusa.org

Voice of the Martyrs:  http://www.persecution.com/public/newsroom.aspx

As you consider the magnitude of weight this message today holds, be sober-minded and self-controlled for the sake of your prayers.  For the sake of your prayers, realize that the end is near.  Do not waste time, sisters.  Do not be about your own business, be about your Father’s business.  And realize this, when He walks into a room (and He delights to do that when you ask Him in prayer) everything changes.  His power is overwhelming, His grace is astounding, His mercy triumphs, and His love cures.  He is worthy of our very lives poured out as an offering, let that sink in as you listen and worship today…

Week 11 – Colossians 3:18-4:1 “Life at Home, according to The Lord”

God is a God of order and wonder. He is a God who brings our chaos back into order. Our homes are no exception. He has a divine desire over our homes, as believers, and Paul gives straight-forward answers to how life is to run at home, according to the Lord.

What we studied in all of Colossians 3 thus far is THE PERFECT set-up for how households should run in the faith! Do you remember discussing how we are to put off the old self and put on the new self?

Back in April of 2014, we had a women’s prayer meeting at my church.  My assignment was to pray for families.  I had just begun my study of Colossians then, and the Lord laid Colossians 3:12-16 on my heart to pray for families.

You remember, it tells us to put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, bear with one another, forgive and love so that you will be bound together in perfect harmony. Let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts, be thankful, let God’s Word dwell in you richly, teach & admonish one another with singing with thankful hearts to God, and do everything as though you represent Christ Jesus.  What I did not realize at the time I was praying these scriptures over families was that the very next verses are instructions for Christian households!  God’s order is perfect and beautiful and He knows how to instruct us in ways that are for our good.

Here are your notes and homework for this week:  Col PN 3.18-4.1

Here in our scriptures today starting in Colossians 3:18, Paul goes directly to men and women as it relates to marriage. Marriage is the representation on earth as our heavenly relationship is with God.  He, in all His infinite God-ness chose to call us, as the body of Christ, also the Bride of Christ.

Isaiah 54:5

For your Maker is your husband, the Lord of hosts is his name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth he is called.

Let’s look closely at the husband and wife relationship and the divine order in which God instructs us to live.

1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

Husbands and wives are a picture of the unity and diversity that is found in the Trinity.

Wayne Grudem (Systematic Theology) says of marriage, “

We see, not a trinity as with God, but at least a remarkable unity of two persons, persons who remain distinct individuals yet also become one in body, mind and spirit.

God’s word tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:16 and Ephesians 5:31 that the two shall become one flesh.  Men and women have distinct and different roles yet equal in value.  We see this unity among the Trinity exemplified when Jesus speaking in John 16: 12-15:

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

I love how within the Godhead, 3 in 1, there is beautiful and perfect unity.   3 distinct persons, 3 distinct roles, 1 in unity.

1 Corinthians 15:27-28 NLT

For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.)  Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.

Col 3:18

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

  1. It is fitting in the Lord for a wife to submit under her husband. (Col 3:18)

The ESV Global Study Bible notes,

It was typical in Roman households to tell wives to “obey.” Paul appeals to them to submit, based on his conviction that men have a God-given leadership role in the family. However, Paul is not simply telling wives to follow the cultural patterns of the day; he tells them to live as is fitting in the Lord.

The word used here for “submit” in the Greek is primarily a military term which means:  to rank under; to be in subjection to; submitting yourself

I want to appeal to you about the place of  submission:

  • It is a place of protection
  • It is a place of support
  • It is a place of help
  • It is a place of partnership
  • It is a place of good order & effectiveness

We have all of these things when a military operation is in effect. We are called not to exist as families who follow Christ; we are called to battle. If we want to be effective at winning the world for Jesus we must be unified as the body of Christ, and under that heading we must be unified within the family. God did not leave us to wonder how we can be unified within the family. He, through Paul’s words to the Colossians, tells us exactly how in these verses!

So, let’s take a look back in Genesis at how this all began…

Read Genesis 2:16-25, 3:1-7

Eve was not there when God gave the commandment about the tree ; she was created after He told Adam the rules (Genesis 2:16-18). So, in order to sin, Eve had to:

  1. Doubt her husband
  2. Doubt God

Because of temptation of beauty, taste for food, desire for more wisdom and knowledge of good and EVIL (up to this point there was no evil, up to this encounter she had never ever been exposed to evil, yet it lured her in), she left the protective covering of her husband and God. She was lured into believing she could take authority that she had no business carrying.  And it was for her destruction, and it was for Adam’s destruction, and it was for our destruction.

3 things about Adam’s role:

  1. He did not love his wife enough to protect her from the lies of the enemy
  2. He did not love his wife enough to defend her against the enemy
  3. He listened to his voice of his wife above the voice of God

Adam sat back in the submissive role and allowed Eve to take the leadership role, and  we have been reaping the destruction of this fall ever since.  When we defy God’s authority, when we leave His boundaries of order and protection, we then spiral headlong into chaos.  Chaos is what you and I witness in families daily as we interact in this fallen world.  God’s ways bring chaos back into order!  Praise His Name!

Ephesians 5:22-24

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

1 Peter 3:1-2 Amplified Bible

In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands [subordinate yourselves as being secondary to and dependent on them, and adapt yourselves to them], so that even if any do not obey the Word [of God], they may be won over not by discussion but by the [godly] lives of their wives, when they observe the pure and modest way in which you conduct yourselves, together with your reverence [for your husband; you are to feel for him all that reverence includes: to respect, defer to, revere him—to honor, esteem, appreciate, prize, and, in the human sense, to adore him, that is, to admire, praise, be devoted to, deeply love, and enjoy your husband].

Hear me when I say this: This message is COUNTER-CULTURAL. If you want to live according to God’s Word, the world around will not understand it. This verse contains so much of my testimony of how God has changed me and made this such a beautiful reality in my life and in my marriage. But, as we get ready to celebrate 7 years of marriage in July, I will tell you that I did not always respect or defer to my husband. I was infected with a disease that slowly crept its way into my psyche as a church-going and Jesus-professing young woman.

This idea of feminism has plagued and infected our society so severely that, as women today, we have to literally THROW AWAY everything we’ve been taught from our culture about how men and women relate to one another, especially in dating and marriage.

It’s this super-weird dichotomy created where we are so insecure and so deprived of Godly leadership in our homes that little girls are dying to have the attention of men.  AND, at the very same time, we are raised to desire to rule over men and take charge of our own lives/careers/finances, etc. in order to prove we don’t need them!

We want them to notice us and desire us, and we are taught by our culture to use the power and influence we have (typically sexual in nature) so that we can rule over them.

I know all this because I lived this reality for 28 years. God flat-out wrecked me in October of 2010. Leading up to a conference called True Woman, where I had been partnering with the Revive our Hearts ministry who put on the conference. I had been fervently praying Isaiah 6, that the women who came to True Woman would so encounter the Lord’s glory that it would change everything. I asked the Lord to fill the Ft. Worth Convention Center with the train of His robe, that all who needed healing in any way would have to do nothing more than reach out and touch the hem of His robe. I prayed for such a mighty move of God that women would be marked forever by their encounter with Him. That we would be changed because we see Him as He is.

Oh He did it, alright!

And I was the one who received 100 fold of everything I had prayed.

I heard Mary Kassian speak about true womanhood according to the Bible and how vast a chasm separated that from the feministic culture in which I was raised. I could not stand or even sit with the weight of what God showed me that night. Her message included a story of a girl who could easily have been me she described. I had the same stry. She might as well have said, in that group of 8000+ women, “Hey, Sharla Robertson, I’m going to tell your story – but I’ll change the name to protect your privacy.” It did not feel like she protected my privacy. But, I was exposed.

And, though I know I would have died had my God not held back the fullness of His glory; it felt like the fullness was upon me and I was undone. As soon as she called for a time of confession and prayer at the end; I ran to the prayer room. When I got to the 3rd row of chairs from the back I fell to the floor and wept. I was not a big crier before then, and I was definitely not super emotional – just cool, calm, in control, that was me.

And He wrecked my pride that night.

And He wrecked my coolness.

And He wrecked my wretched desire to rule over my husband.

And He wrecked my driven-ness to be successful according to this world.

I encountered the One True God, and though I had known who He was all my life, I had received Him as my Savior at age 9, I had read my bible and wanted to love Him more and desired to serve Him…it had ALL been tainted by a very skewed view of what I thought my life was about or should be about. Really, honestly it was still all about me. Jesus was for me, and I was for Him being for me.

After that night at True Woman ’10, I was now for Jesus. Period. And I was different. I was ready to obey Him for real now. I was ready to take up my cross and follow Him. And my life for the past 5.5 years has been excessively blessed because He did not leave me in my wrongness and filth. He made me new.

I’m convinced that Colossians 3:19 will not make sense to any American woman until she has a right view of herself in view of a Holy God.

When we see Him as He is -> We then see ourselves as we should.

We then trust His ways are right, and it becomes our joy to do what is fitting in the Lord.

Col 3:19 

Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

  1. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (Col 3:19)

Growing up, all I had seen modeled in my home was a husband who was harsh with his wife. I am so glad for a redeeming God who is the most brilliantly perfect Bridegroom. No matter what you have experienced, no matter what horrible human example has infected your belief about marriage or how a husband should treat his wife, your God and my God can redeem your heart and your mind with the truth.

The ESV Global Study Bible says,

Violence, threats, and unkind words are not acceptable in the Christian household.

Ephesians 5:25-33

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Jesus is the perfect husband.   We’re going to study this in Day 1 of our homework. I love how husbands need look no further than our Savior to find out how God wants wives loved in the home of the Believer. He cares deeply about how his children dwell together.

Col 3:20 

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

  1. It pleases the Lord for Children to obey their parents in everything (col 3:20)

The Greek word used here for OBEY is: “to listen, attend” and so “to be obedient”; harken to a command.

This is a completely different word than is used for wives. Submitting implies a willful act of placing oneself under authority; with children and parents they are under the authority and are to act accordingly by listening and being obedient to what they hear.

Ephesians 6:1-3

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise),  “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” (ref. Exodus 20:12)

As children, it is for our good to obey our parents. Rebellion brings destruction in families. God’s ways are right!

Col 3:21 

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged

  1. Fathers can either instill courage into or discourage their children (Col 3:21)

Have you ever seen this played out in real life? Sons whose father cannot be pleased will spend their life trying to be exactly like their father in order to gain approval.  Daughters who feel their Dads do not connect or are emotionally absent will end up rebelling and seeking comfort with other men in destructive ways.

The ESV Global Study Bible:

A father’s negative emotions and actions can cause a child to be discouraged.

Ephesians 6:4

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

God’s word says instead for Fathers to bring their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, instead of discouraging them. Give them what they need, encourage them in the Lord!

Col 3:22 

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.

  1. Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with sincere hearts, fearing the Lord. (Col 3:22)

The idea of being a bondservant in our day is quite a foreign thing to us as Americans. We have seen the horrors of hurt and anguish plaguing the human race since the days of true slavery in the U.S. You and I witness, all too often, different people groups carrying scars and very serious wounds from generations ago, for their kinsmen who were mistreated in the worst of ways. The Bible absolutely speaks against human trafficking and slavery in 1 Timothy 1:10.

But, we can apply the principles in Colossians 3:22-4:1 to the employer-employee relationships in our lives today. Listen to the historical context in which bondservants worked in the 1st century when Paul is writing.

Notes from 1 Corinthians 7:21 in the ESV study bible:

Being a bondservant in NT times was different from the institution of slavery in North America during the 17th-19th centuries. Slaves (bondservants, servants) generally were permitted to work for pay and to save enough to buy their freedom (Matt 25:15 where the “servants” were entrusted with immense amounts of $ and responsibility). The NT assumes that trafficking in human beings is a sin (1 Tim 1:10, Rev 18:11-13), and Paul urges Christian bondservants who can gain…freedom to do so . The released bondservant to officially designated a “freedman” and frequently continued to work for his form master.

 And now, notes from Ephesians 6:5, in the same ESV Study Bible:

It is estimated that slaves (or bondservants) composed about 1/3 of the population of a city like Ephesus. They were considered part of a family, so Paul’s instructions for bondservants were a natural part of his dealing with family relationships. Paul does not endorse the existing system of servitude. Instead, he provides instructions to believing masters and bondservants regarding their relationship to each other in the Lord, and how this should be lived out within the bounds of their social and legal culture. The principles in this passage apply today in terms of submission to any lawful authority, unless it requires a believer to disobey God’s Word or to fundamentally compromise one’s commitment to Christ (Acts 4:19,20) with a sincere heart. Fulfilling one’s obligations is service to the Lord (Eph 6:6-7)

Eph 6:5-9 is the parallel section to Colossians 3 on bondservants and masters:

Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,  not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free. Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

The next verses in Colossians 3 tie this all together.  What I want us to be aware of is that we will undoubtedly encounter difficult people in dealing with family, friends, strangers, church members, and co-workers.  As we deal with people, whomever they are, we are to understand that God expects our sincerity of heart;  He expects us to do good to all people.

Colossians 3:23-25 

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

  1. Work for the Lord, not for men.   He is the one who can truly reward you. You reap what you sew, so serve the Lord. (Col 3:23-25)

We studied v.17 of Colossians 3 last week:

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Now, let’s take look at Revelation 22:12-14,

“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”  Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates.

In Day 4 homework, we’ll discuss what we actually all deserve and how much Grace God gives in that He does NOT give us what we deserve when we are in Christ Jesus.

God does not respect masters more than bondservants.  He does not play favorites.  He prefers not the husband over the wife or the children over the parents.  We all have distinct and different roles we are called to, yet we are all equal in value to the Father.  Our God judges our hearts.  He is the One who either rewards us for what is right in our lives and allows us to reap what we sew if we do wrong.

Galatians 6:7-10

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Do not grow weary in doing good to your spouse.  Do not grow weary in doing good to your employer or employees, your mother, your cousin, your brothers and sisters in Christ, or your friends.  And in the same way, we know that God tells us to do good to those who do not believe!  We are to do good to all people, even our enemies, because in ALL things and in ALL relationships, when we are in Christ – we represent Him.

Colossians 4:1

Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

  1. If you are in charge, be just and fair, knowing you have a Master in Heaven who is in charge of you. (Col 4:1)

Our parallel verse in Ephesians 6:9

Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.

If you hold a leadership position in any capacity, it is your responsibility to act justly and fairly to those subject to your decision-making. It is a privilege to have a leadership role; we should treat it accordingly.

There is a phenomenal segment of God’s Word where Jesus is teaching in Luke 12:35-48.  If you have the opportunity to follow-up with reading it today, I assure you it will be well worth it.  It ties these concepts we’ve discussed today up brilliantly, as only Jesus can.  We will end our time today with Luke 12:48b:

Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Our homes are to be places of refuge and unity, effective ministry and joy; places where we work out this faith that God has called us to.  Remember that the reality we live in today is a mere shadow of the things to come.  Regard the Lord in your distinct role in your home, whomever you are and wherever you are.  You are valuable to Him.  It will be for your good and the good of everyone around you.  As you enter this time of worship, I pray the Lord, who is the only King Who would ever love us enough to leave His throne, will reveal His beautiful design to you today!