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The Ultimate Beauty Secret

The Ultimate Beauty Secret

 

Here is what the Spirit has been teaching me this week. And this one is for the MEN as well!

People hold different images of what beauty is and true beauty comes in many varieties. In my opinion, true beauty isn’t just about outward appearances. The outward appearance can be very deceiving about the true self. True beauty moves from inside to out. The inside and outside are connected. A huge mistake in this society’s wisdom is that it too often tries to separate the two and deal just with the outside (medications, diets, surgeries etc). If you want outward changes focus inward because when we attend to the inside then the outside will follow.

True love is the defining element of true beauty; love of God, others and yourself. Yes yourself, because you can’t truly know the love of God and not have a love for the creation He made and loves, you. I realize this can be a slippery slope – this love of self – because it can be be a negative false love in terms of narcissistic, self-absorbed and so on. But when the love of self comes from the love of God it is as it should be.

What is the ultimate beauty secret? Love. And how do we gain this true love of God? Stir the Deep, the one thing that changes everything else. I know I say this is the answer to everything, but I have found in my life that to be the case. When I read Matthew 6:33 – I decided to live it. And found it to be true. As we draw close to God in truth and abide in His Word as a bride (what I call stirring the deep), our spirits born of Him grow and strengthen in us. As a result we become more united to Him, and His love, truth and wisdom fill our beings – our thoughts, actions and lives. Many “issues” that we have, which resulted in broken down bodies and a lack of care for ourselves, are resolved as we draw near to Him in truth. It isn’t an instant process by any means. But it is the only path to true life.

When our spirits are NOT rightly connected to God– then this is what we see:

Destructive stress, bottled up resentment and bitterness, festering anger, jealousy, emotional pain, lack of self-worth, envy, unforgiveness, endless worry, and the list goes on. These things eat away at our lives destroying them. They wreck havoc in our spirits thus our bodies. All these affect us starting inward moving outward. For them we eat too much or not enough. We live with stress, lack of balance, harmful addictions and habits, and self-loathing. We don’t take care of ourselves. We treat ourselves worse than we treat our cars. We make poor decisions, which leads to more problems. What’s happening in our physical bodies is often a result of what’s happing inward. Our spiritual health affects our physical health and treatment of ourselves.

When our spirits are rightly connected to God and anchored in His love this is what we see:

As we learn the truth about us, God and others, the jealousy and envy flee and instead we enjoy uniqueness, freedom, and joy in which we flourish. We experience the love of God which gives us a love for God, others and ourselves, which affects how we attend to each one of these. As we understand our value as His cherished creation and child, we start to take care of ourselves and treat ourselves with respect, which spreads to others. From the wisdom gained, we make good decisions in all areas of our lives and the self-destructive behaviors and habits dissipate. As our relationship with God grows, our trust in Him expands and the stress and worry wane and balance, rest, peace, courage, and power increase. As we experience His mercy, forgiveness floods our hearts and resentment, anger and bitterness flee.

We start to live as the new creation that we are in Him – and that changes everything.

Our lives are governed by our spirit – our thoughts, words, actions, reactions. When our spirits are rightly connected to God, then we live as we were created and God created us very good. Everything is affected by our relationship with God. If you are wanting to make outward changes in your life – start inward with your relationship with Him – because then your efforts won’t be in vain. What we need is a daily diet of God’s Word.

Proverbs 4:22 For they (God’s Words) are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.

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Lesson in Love from My Cats

Lesson in Love from My Cats

Malcolm & Sophie

The other day during my quiet time – I gained yet another insight from my cats, a lesson in love.

For over 13 years, it was me and my husband – no children, no pets. Then last October we got Malcolm and Sophie. Their addition has brought so much to our home – much more than I ever imagined. I’m surprised at the amount of love and care I feel for them. It was unexpected. I mean they are just cats.

As I was sitting there doing my quiet time with one lying on one side on my notebook and the other on the side next to my Bible, a certain characteristic of love came to mind that I hadn’t really considered before. With that insight, the Spirit took me into a deeper understanding of our purpose and why we were created.

When Malcolm and Sophie came into our home my love expanded. This is what I learned. Our love is like a land mass and as others come into our lives, and as we grow to love them the territory expands. In addition, the love dynamic between me and someone else is unique to us because we are unique. So with each new addition, our love grows in a unique way, just like no plot of land is exactly like another. It’s an incredible phenomenon that I’m finding my words don’t justify in sharing.

This expansion idea of love as well as the uniqueness of love between individuals taught me the deeper truth of our purpose. I’ve believed for several years now that we were created with the purpose to abide with God in love. It is our purpose now and for eternity. 1 Corin 13:8, 1 Corin 13:13 But what I realized is God made us to expand His expression of love. Love is only love when there are different parties involved – ones to give love and ones to receive the love. The more giving and receiving, the more love abounds. So He created us; souls with the ability to embrace His love and love Him in return that the territory of love might be vast and rich with each unique dynamic of love. And not only is the love expressed between Him and us, but us and others. Eternity will be incredible. Consider the most powerful experience of love you have had – then multiply that a hundred fold – that’s eternity with God. Why would you ever want to miss out on it?

Because each one of us has a unique love dynamic with God because we are each unique, we are infinitely valuable and one can’t replace the other. Sophie could never replace Malcolm and vice versa. This distinctive value puts a tremendous value on each one of us not only to each other, but to our Heavenly Father. This individual value is why there is so much rejoicing in heaven over one soul who enters the kingdom of God. Luke 15:3-10 We are irreplaceable. We can’t compare ourselves to others; we are all unique as our creator made us to be. Now if that doesn’t do anything for your self-esteem – nothing will.

Some believe that God created us to worship Him. Worship is a state of the heart. It is the natural response when we are rightly related to Him, including abiding in His love. Therefore it gladdens God’s heart, because it’s the fruit that we know Him and He is first in our lives. But that is only a reflection of our purpose which is to abide with Him in love. Because, I believe we were created for this purpose, it’s our part to foster a relationship of love with Him – love which consists of intimacy, knowing, trusting – for that’s why we are here. If we neglect that engagement we neglect our purpose and His will for us. John 17:23-26

Mark 12:30-31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

One more point about all this. There is a HUGE difference between loving others and God with our corrupted version of love and the pure love of God. Though our love won’t be as pure as God’s because of the influence of the world’s perverse idea of love, as new creations in Christ we grow more and more in the love of God. One of the many gifts of being His child is that you receive His love to know and to give. As I seek for His love to consume my life, I am finding it’s incredibly more pure and perfect than any rendition of love I previously had or gave. It often amazes me what I feel for others and how deeply I feel it – things I never had before. They aren’t fleeting emotions, but substantive land masses because they are fruit of a new heart created in His likeness.

We settle far too easily for corrupted, perverted, and destructive emotions that we call love. God is offering us a true, deep and real love that is of Him so why settle? We all want love. We all want His love whether we realize it or not. It’s a driving force in our lives. But until we seek and know the love of God as our own, we will experience a great lack in this area. God is offering us the love we deeply desire because He put that desire in us to draw us to Him and to be filled by Him. And only by being deeply connected to Him do we truly know this love to experience and to give others and are able to truly expand our territory of love including to our cats.

“I love my God, but with no love of mine for I have none to give;
I love Thee, Lord, but all that love is Thine, for by Thy life I live.
I am as nothing, and rejoice to be
emptied and lost and swallowed up in Thee” (Madame Guyon).

1 Thessalonians 3:12 “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,”

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Foundation for Young Believers

Foundation for Young Believers

 

In previous videos, I shared my story of coming out of the church system – not the true church, body of believers, but the system, the institution. I addressed the issue often raised about “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves” and in this video I share some thoughts on another issue raised about young believers needing that “structure”.

You can subscribe to the videos at http://www.youtube.com/stirringthedeep

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Living in the Kingdom of God NOW

Living in the Kingdom of God

NOW

Beach Walk

The other day as I was walking on the beach, I reflected upon on the bleakness of our times contrasted to the beautiful truth of God’s Kingdom here on earth. I thought about how many people are waiting for heaven when God has given us access to His Kingdom now – something few truly enter into. Most are sitting on the sideline waiting and missing out on an incredible journey now. The reflection took me back to that poignant moment in my walk – the realization of the realness of His Kingdom here on earth and in my life.

The Realness of the Kingdom on Earth

One morning many years ago, my husband came into the kitchen where I was sitting having my quiet time. He said, “Can I interrupt you for a moment?” “Sure!” I said. I’m always ready to hear an insight. He said (paraphrasing) from what he was reading and what the spirit was teaching the Kingdom of God in our lives is just as real as this physical life. Therefore, dwelling it affects our earthly lives now in very powerful and real ways. We are called to a different existence now. His words confirmed what I had been learning. Often God teaches us individually similar truths at similar times – it never ceases to amaze us.

We dived into an extraordinary conversation about the Kingdom. We volleyed back and forth on what God was showing us. Our study, our circumstances, and our conversation were uncovering this mind altering truth. God was unveiling the mystery of His Kingdom. That day catapulted our lives in a new direction. The Kingdom of God became real like the sand that runs through your fingers and the surf that dashes across your feet. We discern it differently than the physical world but its affect on us is more potent than what we see. The impact in our lives from dwelling in God’s Kingdom affects our health, family, marriage, work, everything. It isn’t pie in the sky; it’s pie you eat. We were transitioning from hearing the truth of the Kingdom to it becoming our home. It’s like hearing about a country verses traveling there.

What is the Kingdom of God?

The Kingdom of God is within us. It is God’s Spirit within us. It is Him conquering the territory of our soul and moving in as King and us stepping aside. It is us being reconciled back to God through Christ’s sacrifice and dwelling in the presence of God and all that He is. In His presence, His Kingdom, I’ve experienced in substantive ways His love, mercy, truth, joy, peace, rest, comfort, deliverance, healing, power, strength, protection, provision, purity, goodness, purpose, beauty, wisdom, counsel, freedom, instruction, perfection, and sovereignty – all far beyond what the world offers. And when those things fill your life your life changes dramatically. Meditating on what He has given me in each one of these is something I often do. As we seek God’s face with our heart and soul in the truth of His Word, then these treasures become apart of our lives. It’s tremendous as I’m discovering.

The Focus of Jesus’ Teaching

Luke 4:43 but He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent
.”

The Kingdom is the focus of Jesus’ teaching. It is the reason He came to earth. It is the place He opened to us with His eternal sacrifice, as His gift of righteousness opened the door. We need His righteousness because we have none and we only enter this Kingdom if we are spotless. The travesty is many are spiritually born and given this gift, but are stuck in the birth canal. If we neglect to enter in, learn, seek, and explore this new place then we abandon what Jesus brought us, abundant life. For God is life. It’s something we seek with our spiritual eyes, because it isn’t discerned with our physical eyes, but its power in our lives that dominates everything we do see.

The world functions by its wisdom and we, the children of God, by God’s. Just as we are born into the physical world, we are born into this spiritual one. For those who aren’t born into the spiritual, their lives function and are limited by the rules of the physical world. For us who have been spiritually born, we have a new set of rules that govern our lives as we live according to God’s wisdom. How we succeed, fulfill our dreams, define our purpose, make decisions, and obtain wisdom; and what brings joy, pleasure, and happiness are some of the areas where we learn and enjoy a new way of living.

The Journey into the Kingdom

Coming to understand how to live in our new life takes time. Just as we grow physically learning to function in the earthly realm, we grow spiritually. In order to do both we eat. In one we consume food, in the other the Truth, the Word. If we don’t nourish our spirits we won’t mature and will continue to live as we always have, outside His promises. How many mal-nourished Christians do you see? How many do you see feasting on the pure Word, and not man’s watered-down interpretation? If we ate more of His pure truth we would grow and live as we are called in His presence and not as mere men. 1 Corinthians 3:3 Why don’t you see the affects of the Kingdom in people’s lives? Because they aren’t eating or aren’t eating and digesting the pure Word of God.

For us to know and live in the Kingdom was and still is Christ’s passion. We don’t have to wait until heaven to experience a life with God that far exceeds what the world offers. Our response to Jesus’ gift of His life that allows us entrance into this world is seeking understanding and belief in all the promises of our new home. If we don’t take the time to discover its treasures, we never leave the airport. We stay just outside a world that would transform our lives. We remain in the wasteland of endless striving and insatiable hungers. Jesus came to give us life, life in His Kingdom. In it we find the abundant life He came to give. As His bride, it is our part to enter in and explore and we do by stirring the deep.

Verses to ponder about the treasures of God’s kingdom:

1. Blessing

Proverbs 10:22, Psalm 84:11, Psalm 115: 12-15

2. Provision

Psalm 81:10, 16, Philippians 4:19, Matthew 6:25-33

3. Healing

Matthew 10:7-8, 2 Kings 20:5b, Psalm 30:2, James 5:15-16

4. Peace with God

Philippians 4:7 , John 14:27, John 16:33, Ephesians 2:14

5. Happiness/Joy

Psalm 144:15 , Proverbs 16:20, Proverbs 3:13, Job 5:17

6. Rest

Psalm 116:7, Psalm 55:2,2 Matthew 11:28, Philippians 4:11-13

7. Protection/Safety

Psalm 50:15, Psalm 4:8, Psalm 91:9-11, Psalm 71:3

8. Freedom

John 8:32,36, 1 Corinthians 6:12, Psalm 119:45, 2 Corinthians 3:17

9. Deliverance

Isaiah 40:4, Psalm 34:17, Psalm 32:10 , Proverbs 13:15

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A Message from the Ants: The Well Travelled Path

A Message from the Ants:

The Well Travelled Path

 

Recently our house was invaded by tiny little creatures who absolutely amaze me in their focus, determination and perseverance. They do a lot of work for their size. Their work is organized and fairly efficient. There are some who stray off the trodden path. I found wanders climbing on the stove, swimming in the honey, and exploring the tub. But for the most part the majority is disciplined in their efforts to gather food and carry it back to the colony. They are an impressive creation.

As these little guys started to take over, we decided to intervene – though they were proving to be captivating entertainment for my cats. After being carefully observed, some ants would meet their demise under a furry paw poking and prodding at them.

We strategically placed traps, which looked like little houses, for them to crawl into full of tasty sweet liquid. One then two would find this magnificent oasis then tell the others. Before long the traps overflowed with feasting ants. Little did they know it was the drink of death despite its tasty flavor swirling in their mouths. Proud in their discovery, they carried this sweet death back to their colony. The next couple of days the number of ants tripled, quadrupled, sextupled into these little houses. But as the days passed, the black lines traveling back and forth began to wane and day by day more and more disappeared until there were none.

Truly I don’t like killing these little creatures, but when they start climbing over the keyboard, on my hand, in my tea cup, it is time to put an end to the madness. I wish I could become on of them for a just a day to tell them to go find food somewhere else, but we have our limitations.

As I watched these ants this past week in their diligent pursuit, it brought to mind a far more serious image.

Sometimes our intentions can be quite good but we are loyally headed on a path that leads to death. We are focused, diligent, and faithful and believe we are gathering the best food for ourselves and those we love – but it is the food of death. We are trying to do our best but we are on the wrong path. Proverbs 7:25-27

Let me explain. In these days, the last days, the Word vehemently warns us that deception grows worse and worse. Matthew 24:11. Deception is what we hold as truth, which is really a lie. False prophets are deceiving many. Their deception is becoming so extensive and sly that if given enough time even the elect would be deceived. Matthew 24:24 Think about that for a minute.

The church system is like the poison liquid traps. For some that analogy may be overwhelming to consider. But after reading, asking and praying over God’s Word for years this message has only grown stronger and others are hearing the same thing. The time is upon us where the enemy is taking over the sanctuary, the house of God, the church system. Lamentations 2:7, 4:12, Jeremiah 7:30. Satan is smart. The traps don’t look evil but good, nourishing, fulfilling – the worst kind of evil and deception there is because people believe they are on a good path.

I feel this message strongly upon me and out of my love for others I am sharing it but . . . it is hard. I know how much the church system means to many of you. But if you were enjoying a great time visiting with friends and I knew there was a fire consuming the building I would tell you. I’m compelled to repeat the warning that Jesus gave us – look out for the deception it will be extensive and the ultimate ruse because it could mislead even the elect! Matthew 24:4 Get out while you still can. Matthew 24:15-17, Rev 18:2-4.

What the church system offers seems wonderful, good, tasty, healthy, but it leads to death because it is putting a barrier between people and God and His truth. People go to church thinking they are drawing closer to God but the institution erects itself inbetween a deep relationship between them and God. Though they speak of God and the Bible, the truth is twisted just enough to make it a lie – a lie that kills. Not all do this intentionally. But regardless if the intention is good or bad – the result is the same. People look to the church to provide and protect – not God. They look to the church to be fed – not God. They lack a real love for the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:10 And this misplacement of trust leads to their downfall. Many have good intentions, but they are headed down the wrong path. Over and over God tells us what is to come. We need to start seeking truth and get out of our habitual ways of walking the well travelled path.

I won’t mislead you – it is hard, very hard to leave what has been engrained in you that you should do. And there are additional reasons it is hard – some I’ll talk about in my video to follow where I share part of my story. Unfortunately, easy was never a word used by Jesus, the prophets, or apostles to describe these times. There are hard choices we have to make – some which will bring persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12-17

The GOOD NEWS is God is calling out to His people. He is gathering them together under His wing through His Word. He is revealing Himself in powerful ways to those who seek Him. He is connecting believers outside of the church system. He is providing and protecting those who come to Him. He is feeding from the greenest of pastures – out of His hand. He is the Great Shepherd. He is the sanctuary that can’t be corrupted. He is doing something new and those who seek will find it. It is a tremendous time to be cultivating a real and deep relationship with God.

Many are faithfully committed to their church because that is what they’ve always done. It is the trodden path. Have you gotten into the habit of thinking you must go to church because that is what a good Christian does? Now is the time to deeply question and seek God’s truth about where He wants you. We are so quick to rationalize, justify and excuse – but what does His voice say? His Word tells us what will become of the house called by His name. Listen to His Words, heed His warning.

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

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Obedience is Freedom

Obedience is Freedom

Freedom

 

There are many paradoxes when we dive into the realm of understanding the spiritual dynamics of life. Here is another one.

The other day at the beach there were two dogs reminding me of a valuable lesson in life; obedience is freedom.

The first one was playing catch with his owner running into the cool ocean waves and retrieving his favorite ball. Highly trained, he obeyed each command his owner gave. Running, jumping, leaping, bounding, wagging his tail, and grinning ear to ear, he was having the time of his life.

The second dog was on a short leash. Pulling so there was no give, he drove forward trying to escape the bondage – if only he could run free! He couldn’t understand why he wasn’t free, so he pulled and pulled. However, unbeknown to him, he would never have what he was striving for. He wasn’t in control despite his efforts – his owner was. With his arm about to come out of the socket, the owner pulled back. The dog went one way and he another. Frustration covered the owner’s face, shaded by disappointment. He wanted to let his dog off the leash, but he couldn’t – because he wouldn’t obey his voice. So the battle warred on, the dog pulling in one direction and the owner in the other as they plowed through the sand. No one looked happy about the arrangement. The owner’s eyes revealed his thoughts – if only his dog would listen, what freedom he would have.

In our relationship with God, we can be like either of these two dogs. We have the perfect owner, who is ready to teach and train us so we can live a life of freedom and enjoyment, but we chose either to listen and follow our Lord’s voice or not listen and push forward going nowhere. The first way leads to immense freedom, joy, and living as we desire. The second leads to limitations, frustrations and never obtaining what we long for. Like the dogs, we either run toward our Lord in freedom and delight or away in bondage and frustration.

Obedience brings freedom. Because the first dog listened to his owner and the owner could trust him to listen – he had immense liberties. He could run unleashed, frolic in the ocean, and play with his ball. When the owner called, the dog listened and followed. He was granted freedom because there was a bond of trust. The owner trusted him to listen and he trusted his owner to lead. As a result of his obedience, he lived the life he wanted to and enjoyed an incredible bond with his owner along the way.

But the second dog didn’t listen and chose to go his own way; therefore he didn’t have any true freedom. He thought he was moving closer to having his freedom by all that pulling, but it was leading nowhere. There was no trust on either end. Therefore, there was no deep bond, and the owner and the dog missed out enjoying a rich life together.

The gift and secret of obedience is that it’s really about desire. When you know that God truly wants your best and happiness then you can trust Him and follow where He leads. When the first owner walked down the beach – the dog followed close behind. The dog delighted in following his master because he knew it led to what he wanted – a rich close relationship with his owner, freedom, and enjoyment of life.

In the same way, when we trust God and know He desires our best, we want to follow Him. Our obedience is our desire. From past experiences, we have learned our ways lead to bondage and His ways to freedom. In choosing His way, we experience a close bond with God, freedom and enjoyments in life. On the other hand, if we don’t know and trust Him we won’t follow Him. We will believe we know better and as a result we won’t live in the freedom we could and we won’t have the life we could – the life we truly desire. The second dog has no idea the extent of what he is missing – and it is a great deal.

God is good. He delights in giving us good things and freedoms just like the first owner, who had a huge smile as he watched his dog have the time of his life. The only way to a rich abundant life is following Him and listening to God’s voice. Obedience is freedom.

Which dog are you? Are you enjoying a strong close bond with God playing with Him in the ocean waves, or are you pulling away thinking you know better, missing on a relationship with Him and suffering for it?

Proverbs 16:20 He who heeds the word wisely will find good, And whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he.

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Year of the Bible

Year of the Bible

Bible Bill

Regardless of the outcome, if this is pronounced the Year of the Bible or not, it is always the Year of the Bible because God’s Word prevails. God is God even if people don’t believe He is. His truth is the Truth, even if people don’t believe it. It is the Year of the Bible in every country always. God is sovereign. His plans for this world, found in His Word, are working out according to His will regardless if we recognize Him or not. Somehow we think if we acknowledge God as God that makes Him God. He is God. What we do or don’t do doesn’t change that fact, though often we act like it does. It is like the ants in my backyard telling me I don’t exist. Well the fact is I do and they are crawling around my yard. I can let them wander around or I can spray them with Home Defense – the choice is mine.

Regardless if they say it is or isn’t the Year of the Bible – the truth is it always is.


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Hypocrisy vs Immature Spirits

Hypocrisy vs Immature Spirits

 

Hypocrisy, saying one thing and doing another, is one complaint I hear more than most about Christians.

In their brethrens defense, Christians often reply with a chuckle that is why they are in church, they need it!

Hypocrisy on any level shouldn’t be tolerated. Jesus didn’t tolerate it and neither should we among each other. (Matthew 23:28-29, Romans 12:9. James 3:17) Yet, I feel too often we overlook it. We will whisper behind Susie’s back about what she is doing and wonder how she can claim to be a “good Christian” . . . but to her face in private exhorting her in truth and love? We don’t see this accountability very often and possibly because of the fear of appearing self-righteous. It isn’t self-righteous it is love, and we should expect Susie to hold us accountable as well.

However, what I think happens more often than not is what non-believers are witnessing are immature spirits more so than hypocrisy. Immature spirits live mostly in their flesh lives and not of their spirits. And with the mistaken identity of “goodness” hanging over Christians’ heads when others see us not acting in the expected manner then we are called hypocrites. If we don’t claim to be good then we aren’t hypocrites. People misunderstand what authentic Christianity (not the copycat religion of Christianity of following rules, trying to be a good person, and following a strict code of behavior) means; we have to share with them the truth.

1. It is a huge fallacy that being a Christian means you are good. Conversely, it means you realize you aren’t good and never will be and therefore need the goodness of Christ so you can intimately abide in the presence of a Holy God.

2.  Authentic Christianity entails becoming a new creation by having a new spirit born within and from that spirit true life blossoms. The new spirit is born small and needs proper nourishment to grow and mature. When the new spirit grows then it desires to do the will of God. It isn’t a forced obedience but a natural desire. However, because the new spirit co-exists with our old, we will never perfectly do the will of God that is faultless and good, but hopefully we become more inline with it.

3. Christianity isn’t a performance based religion of good works like every other religion. It is a union with God that is made possible when we become a living spirit as He is spirit. The world and religious Christianity imposes rules and behaviors on us, but true Christianity isn’t about rules but being connected to God, us in Him and Him in us. As a result, good things may come from us, but is has nothing to do with us. It is the fruit of God’s Spirit flowing through us because we are connected to Him.

4. This flowing fruit that comes as we surrender our will to His isn’t instant. It takes years of abiding in God’s truth, learning, growing. And even then our flesh is a strong contender to our spirits’ wills. In my experience to live as a new creation is a long process that I imagine will last a lifetime.

5. Authentic Christianity teaches people have no goodness of their own. No one is good but God. Matthew 19:17 The key to understanding this truth is how we define goodness and how God does is different. His goodness is defined by His omniscience, pure love and complete truth – three things no human has. Therefore only He is truly good. The rest of us have warped versions and ideas of goodness. Christians who praise, claim, or try to be good don’t get this truth. They have a copycat religion of because we can’t have our own goodness.

We, Christians, need to be comfortable with who we are and who we are not, and stop claiming, giving and accepting the praise from others that we are good. We all have a desire to be good that is why there are so many performance based religions but that desire is to draw us to God’s goodness not our own. We need to stop focusing on goodness like every other religion and put our energy into cultivating a relationship with God, what the gospel is all about.

Our response to the accusers shouldn’t be to excuse our brethren, but to say to you are right, hypocrisy is wrong and educate them on who we truly are – we aren’t about goodness we are about abiding in a relationship with God and if good flows from that then give credit where credit is due.

Psalm 71:16 I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD; I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only.


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Of Law or Of Grace

Of Law or Of Grace

 

I read a post several weeks ago. The woman said she felt such a strong disconnect with mainstream Christianity that she wished to be called something other than Christian to denote the separation.  I resonated with her comment and as I thought about it, I see a clear separation in one underlining belief that affects everything.

Though called by the same name, there are two different groups of Christians who couldn’t be further apart; those who are under the law and those who are under grace.

Those under the law go to church, tithe, try to act like a good person, participate in ministries, and go to Bible Studies because that is what they should do as Christians. If they don’t then they feel guilt however subtle. If they do they feel good about themselves.  Their faith has become a religion of works earning their place in heaven or in God’s heart. Their obedience is out of fear of God pulling away and withdrawing His blessings. In essence their actions are bribes to receive His good favor. Deuteronomy 10:17

Plain Truth Magazine put out an interesting article this month on churchaholics, which describes this group. The article is worth the read a couple of times.

In contrast, the other group lives solely by grace. They focus on abiding in God’s truth, nurturing their relationship and whatever good comes out is the fruit of His spirit within them and not by their power of will or efforts.  Because it is His work and not theirs, there is no guilt in doing or not doing.  What they do is about desire not raw obedience. Obedience pertains not to bribing God to bless them or be good to them; it has to do with how close they are to God. They experience blessings because God is in their lives. The closer they are to Him the more they experience all He is. He is their reward; their everything.

Which group is correct?

The covenant we have with God is established on grace. In Christ there is nothing we can add to our salvation or sanctification. Exodus 31:13 It is the second part where the do-gooders go sideways off the path of life. We enter God’s kingdom by grace, we grow in it by grace and we become great by grace. We do nothing. Matthew 18:3-4 Everything comes from God’s spirit working in and through us. We don’t work for God, He works through us. Nothing is forced, earned or contrived.

When we start to add anything to the covenant of grace then we are trespassers to His covenant, and are no longer abiding in it. Matthew 25:29 If we aren’t living, breathing and acting from grace, then we aren’t living.

The doctrine of grace is not easy to accept and follow in a world where our value and acceptance is based on what we do. Under grace it is disobedient to try to work, earn, and prove. Hebrews 4:11 We all fall at times into the trap of works, but what are we striving for grace or works? Every other religion is based on works and many Christians have joined them. Therefore they have a different religion with a different god.  2 Corinthians 11:4 That’s the separation.

And the tricky part is the majority of those who say they are under grace are actually under the law. The masses think they are under grace because leaders tell them they are, but if they examine their deep-seeded motives they would see they aren’t. The two groups talk the same lingo, but the foundation of their motivations, actions, and judgments denote a huge separation.

How could they be so misled? The legalism is disguised, subtle and in what people praise, not necessarily say. It is couched in friendly, loving words, sweet smiles and jovial countenances, but it is law all the same. You should be in churchDo whatever you do, but make sure you come to church. (smiles)

They are like your sweet but over controlling mother, playing the guilt trip card. If you were a good Christian then you would be in church. Guilt is a very powerful motivator.  We do whatever we can to remove its presence in our lives. And most churches are employing this tactic to maintain their costly lifestyle and doing so they are breaking their covenant of grace with God and bringing many down with them.

We come to God with our lives one way, grace. We either live by His covenant or not at all.

I think the church was at one time an instrument of God to grow His people, much like Egypt. Deuteronomy 5:6, 26:5-6 But like Egypt it has become a house of bondage with its oppression of should to’s. God is calling His people to Him in grace and those who know the true Shepherd’s voice will follow it.


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Who is Israel?

Who is Israel?

 

God’s Word is complex, intricate, and perfect. There is nothing straightforward about it because it is living, layer upon layer, precept upon precept, full of symbolism, parables, and riddles. Truths lie beneath the surface to be revealed to whom God chooses through His spirit. 1 Corinthians 2:14, Proverbs 1:5-6, Isaiah 28:13, Luke 8:10

One area that shows such complexity and perfection is how He talks about Israel (along with other symbolic names for His people) within the prophets; mainly Isaiah through Malachi. Who is He talking about exactly; the actual seed of Abraham, the country Israel, and/or those born of Christ?

Now, what’s the big deal? Most of what those prophets talked about has already been fulfilled. Has it? Anyway, it pertains to someone else, not me. Does it? It depends on who you believe Israel is. Understanding this one thing changes everything.

If we are the temple of God that means we are established on the words of the prophets and apostles with Christ as the cornerstone. Ephesians 2:20 We are established by words because words reflect our beliefs, which affect what or who our faith is in, which affects everything. For this reason, God desires us to know His truth. He gave us one job; believe in Him. John 6:29 And because Christ is the Word, we need to know what the Word is saying so we can believe it. That means we have to seek and know THE truth to believe and be established on it. Otherwise we are building someone else’s temple.

I have been exploring this topic, Israel, and here are some of my thoughts . . .

Initially, Israel, which was Jacob’s new name after he wrestled with God (how about the symbolism in that?!), were those who were physically born from Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. Jacob had 12 sons who grew into the 12 tribes. God’s law pertained to these people. They were His special people that He chose out of all the other nations to know Him. They were His because of their physical birth.

But then Christ came and things changed. Now those spiritually born through Christ are God’s family. The old covenant is obsolete. Hebrews 8:13 Once we come into God’s kingdom we have a new citizenship, there is no Greek or Jew. Galatians 3:28 We are now of God’s family and spiritually Israel.

The true Israel, the people of God, is no longer about the flesh but the spirit. Romans 2:29

Romans 4:13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

Galatians 3:7 Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.

Galatians 3:29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise

Galatians 4:28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise.

In Peter’s and Paul’s day, the idea that God’s people were no longer determined by physical birth took getting use to. That is why there was a separation between the Israelites and Gentiles (those who were of the blood line of Abraham and those who weren’t). For the first time they were going outside the physical family. Imagine how odd that was after all those years? In Christ, God did a new thing. His family is no longer formed through physical birth but by spiritual birth.

God wants none to perish including the original Israelite nation, but now like every one else all that matters is if we are spiritually born in Christ. 2 Peter 3:9 That is why there is no Greek (gentile) or Jew (Israel), there is only Christ. Who is Israel or God’s family now? Looking at the verses above, it is those who claim to be spiritually born in Christ.

This is where it gets fun. When you read the prophets, you see a strong parallel among what they say and the prophecy of the New Testament, because the prophets are speaking of a future time as well as the past. Revelation 10:7 The prophets are speaking of one prophecy on top of another. The events in the Old Testament served as examples of what will happen in the end. 1 Corinthians 10:11.

If the prophets are speaking of the future, wouldn’t they talk about Israel as it is in the future? What true Israel is today? I think so. Why would they talk about an obsolete covenant? God has told us that covenant is gone and now all is through Christ. The prophets wrote for a time, when the Word would be available to His people so they could read it, know it and take heed when they needed it the most.

I think the prophets are talking about those called by His name today. If you read the prophets with this mindset, it changes everything because they are talking about His church today and it doesn’t look good.