Living Light

Stirring The Deep


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Circles of Life…. To be Born Again PART 1

Circles of Life….

To be Born Again PART 1

Imagine two separate circles. The smaller one represents the spirit of man and the much larger one represents the spirit of God. We are either a part of one or the other. We enter into them by being born; one by being born in the flesh through man; the other by being born in the spirit through God. John 3:1-21

The first human man to know God, Adam, was the first man into the circle of the spirit of man when he chose to go his own way. This circle encompasses man’s will fulfilling his own desires completely separate thus contrary to God. To be a part of the second circle, the spirit of God, is to be in unison with God’s will and to be one with Him. John 17:23

When we are physically born, we are born of the flesh and therefore into the spirit of man. Our spirit is easily corruptible because it’s detached from God. Further, it’s a spirit that is corrupted because it’s united to the others in the circle who are of the spirit of man and thus corrupted. 1 John 5:19

Within the individual circles everyone is connected. Everyone impacts, influences and affects each other. If we are in the circle we are a part of that circle; being shaped by those in it. Some connections are stronger than others, but all influence one another to some degree. Thus what circle we are in will determine the condition of our spirit.

Where we clearly see the impact of this connection as in the circle of the spirit of man is in families. Everyone has “issues” that has caused a whole host of problems, issues like a lack of value, rejection, neglect, perfectionism, irrational fear, jealousy, addiction, manipulation, and pride. Many of these issues often start with one’s parents, because it’s a strong connection, then those issues are fed by others in the circle. One person gets issues from their parents, which they got from their parents as so on. Issues are passed along like a disease.

When we are born into this world we are born into the spirit of man, therefore we are in bondage to corruption. Psalm 51:5 At conception, we begin to be affected by those in that circle. We are born with a self will that is detached from God and connected to this degraded spirit of man. Immediately, we started to absorb other’s issues like our parents’ issues making them our own. Imagine if we didn’t “own” them how differently our lives would have played out? But we never had a choice to receive them or not we just did because we were connected to them. This influential element is how it is in these circles; we are connected to everyone else because we share the same spirit.

Every issue I’ve had is because I’ve “owned” someone else’s issues. They modeled lack of value, so that is what I learned. They treated me poorly because their own pain, but I took it as something wrong with me. This isn’t pointing the finger – it’s acknowledging that we are all connected. (When we get older we have more of choice about how to handle our issues, though if we are in the circle of man it is just moving from one corruption to the next.) This is true for everyone. And once I owned it, which we do at a young age, it corrupted my mind sending me on a path of ill-thinking, which led to destructive mind and behaviors, thus a corrupted life.

Now you can see how that death/sin was passed along through one man, Adam. And how life is passed along through one man, Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:22 We are all connected. Flesh conceives flesh. Spirit conceives spirit. John 3:6

To be continued …


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A Gift Often Left Unopened: the Holy Spirit

A Gift Often Left Unopened:

the Holy Spirit

Thanksgiving always begs the question, what are we thankful for? One gift our Father gives us is the Holy Spirit to teach, help, guide and counsel each one of us. John 14:15-17, 1 John 2:27

For years, I felt like God forgot me on this account. There were several reasons for this, but a couple were I really didn’t ask (Luke 11:13) and I wasn’t making an effort to listen. The Spirit is given to help us, but if we aren’t seeking and listening we’ll believe He isn’t there at all.

This gift we have been given is tremendous. If you’ve never stopped to listen to His counsel you may wonder – what is it like? Here is a quote I pulled off a fellow blogger’s site, RunHoly, from a woman and her experience of this gift;

“I know when the Lord is speaking to me because literally the air around me changes. There is a stillness that settles all my raging emotions and questions and simply bids me to be silent, listen, and consider what I hear. And then it’s almost as if it comes from the center of my being–the answer, the revelation, the instruction, and it is sealed in this definite place inside of me that I can’t describe. I only know that I must do what I’ve been prompted to do. If I resist, I can’t breathe, but when I say yes and obey, the most incredible sense of knowing and peace overtakes me, and the matter is settled once and for all.” –Michelle Mckinney Hammond

To learn to listen to the Spirit’s leading in our lives is an art especially these days with all the noise around us and in our heads. Cultivating this habit of being still and hearing the Spirit’s counsel is critical for several reasons:

The Spirit’s counsel:

• Is contrary to man’s wisdom
• Brings God’s power into our actions
• Has fruitful outcomes
• Is different from man’s wisdom

The Bible is loaded with examples of these points but here are two that I recently read. In Luke 5:5, fishermen had been casting their nets all day and catching nothing. Jesus told them to cast the nets out one more time. But what would another cast do when all the previous ones turned up empty? According to the wisdom of the world, it would be stupid to waste time and energy doing exactly what you had done before and what you proved doesn’t work, right? But at Jesus’ word, they cast their nets one more time and caught so much fish that their boat started to sink. The Spirit’s counsel is contrary to the world’s and at His counsel things happen. When He tells us to do something it’s for a reason and when we act according to His instruction, we are acting in a power beyond ourselves. We accomplish what we could never do on our own.

If the Spirit tells us to do something and we don’t or we aren’t listening, we will miss out on the blessing. What if those fishermen just ignored Him? What if they listened but said – you’re crazy there aren’t any fish I’m tired and going home? Often, when we do hear His instruction, we don’t realize it was His instruction and/or we talk ourselves out of following it because it doesn’t resonate with the wisdom we know and miss out on the blessings. God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts and that is why it’s so important to develop the art of listening to the Spirit. God wants to do so much in our lives, but many aren’t listening. And we have to listen to Him because His counsel is different from most counsel we receive. Many are praying and crying out to God, but are they listening to the instruction that will be an answer to their prayer?

Another great example is Joshua who sought and listened to God’s counsel and the accomplishments in his life showed it. The time he didn’t seek God’s counsel in Joshua 9:14 and acted on his own judgment he was defeated. But when he sought God’s counsel and obeyed it, God prospered all his efforts. It was tremendous the nations he conquered and the battles he won. But look at the crazy instructions God gave him, Jericho being a great example. Walking around a city blowing trumpets in order to conquer it? Doesn’t seem like a very effective strategy by the world’s definitions of logic. However, it brought the walls down and the Israelites took over the city. What unique counsel; not something man’s wisdom would suggest. But the oddity of God’s guidance brought glory to whom glory and praise are due – God. There was no doubt it was God’s doing. Listening to His instruction is for our good and His glory. Joshua 23:10, Judges 7:2

A main point of these two scenarios in Luke and Joshua and MANY others in the Bible where we see the uniqueness, contrary nature, power and outcomes of God’s counsel is that we should seek His counsel and not our own. We need to learn to listen to the one He gave us to counsel us, the Holy Spirit. He uses different strategies and if we aren’t listening we won’t know what they are and we’ll act in our own judgment and we will live the consequences of it.

What does it mean to be lead by the Spirit? To listen to the Spirit? To seek His counsel? It means abiding in the entire Word of God to become personally aquainted with His voice to be able to discern it in our lives. It means cultivating the habit of being still in His presence, seeking His counsel, understanding confirmation and acting on it. I’m finding this practice has MANY rewards as I’m learning to listen. When we are listening to His counsel for our lives and walking in it then we are doing His will and not our own of what we think we should do. We are walking in the spirit – literally walking according to His words.

God gave the Spirit to reside with us always to teach, counsel and guide. But if we never stop and listen, what’s the point of this incredible gift? It is like having a present that you never open and use. He has given us the Spirit for our good, to help us and lead us where we need to go, and to fill our lives with actions done in God’s power not ours.

This holiday season take time to consider this awesome gift and show true gratitude by cultivating the art of seeking and listening to His counsel. You never know what will happen – perhaps your nets will break or you’ll conquer those seemingly impossible giants. Whatever it is you’ll be acting in His power that is bound to blow your socks off.

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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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Seeing the Truth

Seeing the Truth

 

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
Author, Poet and Philosopher, Henry David Thoreau

To be able to see what is true and real far exceeds physical sight. There are multiple things that fog our vision like faulty cognitive filters, false beliefs, and deceptive people. Because the factors, which fog our vision, started in childhood rarely are we aware that our vision is anything but okay. But for all of us, it is way off and the decisions of our lives, troubles, pains, conflicts, and so on tell just how off it is.

So how does someone who has foggy vision and doesn’t realize it ever see reality? The only way is to gain another set of eyes. When God’s spirit dwells within us as part of our new life in Christ, we get another pair of eyes searching the depths of our souls. As we nurture our relationship with God and draw near to Him strengthening His Spirit within us our sight comes more into focus and we begin to see things as they truly are.

The closer I draw near to God, the clearer I see myself, others and all the things around me. As I gain my new sight, it astounds me how blind I’ve been in my life. I have made many many poor decisions from not seeing clearly. And my greatest blindness has been about myself – which I think is true of everyone. We have always lived with our frame of mind and perspective. Until we have someone separate from ourselves, who is as close to our soul as we are, and who is nothing but truth then we will always be blind to some degree.

To see clearly we need God. We need to be in a relationship with Him and growing in truth. Otherwise we will continue to live and make decisions as we always have based on lies about us, others and this world. As a result, we and our loved ones suffer for it. The ripple effect of not seeing clearly is tremendous.

But once we begin to see, the freedom we experience is remarkable. Blindness is a thief to true life and a destroyer of life. The truth does set us free, but we need the eyes to see it.


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What God is Offering Us

What God is Offering Us

 

Now that I am here in the midst of God’s presence enjoying His kingdom, it astounds me how deceived I was about this life and resisted it for many years. Fear kept me at an arm’s length. I thought my life would be boring, miserable and no fun. I thought I would be chained to should to’s and have to’s, and live a life of suffering, lack, discipline, regulations, because it was good for me. Therefore I wore a Christian shell. I didn’t want God that close.

Where did I get this impression? Mostly from churches and other Christians who wore a forced smile while their lives were miserable – it wasn’t very compelling. Despite what they said, I wasn’t convinced they had much to rejoice about, therefore I believed what God was offering outside of eternal salvation wasn’t that desirous. I made judgments about God based on man. Stupid and nonsensical I know, but most people, Christian and not, do the same thing.

After coming to several low points in my life, when I felt I didn’t have much to lose anyway, I decided to give God a try.  I found a life totally unexpected, nothing what I imagined and it had been waiting for me in the Word the whole time.

I had to look in the Word to find the truth, not others. Many churches and Christians portray a wanting life because they are living by manmade doctrines. Man’s ways bring death, God’s life. Just because someone says they are speaking God’s truth, doesn’t mean they are. Fear blinds us, misconceptions deceive us, and a lack of seeking keeps us in bondage.

The life He is offering to those who are willing to give up living their way and seek His is nothing but tremendous and desirous; a life of provision, protection, mercy, truth, peace, rest, joy and love. You don’t need hell to scare people into His arms. He is offering what everyone wants unconditional love. What God desires above all is love; to love us and for us to love Him. Mark 12:30 How incredible of a God is He.

Instead of hell fire that doesn’t foster love, but fear, what we need is truth about God and what He is offering us. Look at what God desires; freedom, love, rejoicing souls, overflowing joy, and sincere praise for all His goodness toward us. He doesn’t even want us to try to earn His affections with good works, but asks us to rest and trust His work in us. No other god is like Him.

Many believe this wonderful life is only on a spiritual level and in the physical realm we continue to suffer like everyone else. Believing this lie kills our witness and dishonors God’s love for us. My experiences don’t support that thinking and neither does His Word. It is replete with examples, physical examples, of how He desires to bless and does bless His people; healing sicknesses, restoring lives, delivering from fears and afflictions, providing for needs, and helping in troubles. He is all consuming. His care is very real and active in our lives, if we trust Him.

Believing God’s blessings are mainly spiritual not only kills our witness, dishonors God but also blinds us to what God wants to do in our lives. If our lives are lacking and yet we believe that is how life is then we never probe deeper. Our problems are to wake us up that something needs attending to. Manifestation of pain is the beginning to the path of freedom. Fears, troubles, and afflictions are to drive us to seek and draw near.

For example, learning His ways verses ours takes time. Often we think we are doing things His way when we are serving our manmade religion. When we serve the wrong thing we experience lack or discomfort because God is trying to get our attention that something is off.

Also, God tests us. We are going to be in situations that test what we really believe. Our finances will run low, we will struggle with an illness, and a relationship will be strained. God is asking; do you believe I am your provider, healer, and deliver? How we respond, who we go to, what we trust in will give Him our answer. Believing those things are just life, also gives Him an answer.

And then there is that a constant battle in our souls between our beautiful new spirit and our decaying flesh that gives heartache and frustration.

All these things cause discomfort, pain, and frustration but that is not were we are to stay, they are all opportunities to witness the power of God, to increase our trust in Him, and to draw near to Him in a way we couldn’t if we didn’t have them. If we accept them as life, we miss out on their purpose, to push us into the presence of God and to experience His mercy and love.

We have a constant hope which fills us with a deep lasting joy. God is on our side. When He is our trust we are victors. What gives God glory? Not defeated miserable lives, but triumphant ones and He has given us everything we need to be victorious, if we will surrender and do things His way. We are our own worst enemy, if we can learn to humble ourselves under His hand – we will find true peace and rest, then our lives will glorify Him.

For most of us, our lives aren’t reflective of the life God wants to give. The road is narrow and few find it, therefore, we can’t depend on others to show us what a life in God’s kingdom is about; we have to go to His Word, the pure Truth. When we read it with a heart to know and not prove our own philosophies or some else’s, we will discover the path of life.


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The Power of Confession

 The Power of Confession

 

A while ago, my mom and I had a heart to heart discussing some of our deepest wounds. It wasn’t meant to be a confession, though that is exactly what it was. We were simply being honest and open about issues we face and how they impacted each other and sometimes still do.

Recently, my husband and I had a similar conversation. Again, it wasn’t meant to be a confession, we were just being transparent about pains and weaknesses and how they affect each other. Like the conversation with my mom, our talk was liberating on many levels. We had confessed our shortcomings to God many times, and told each other sorry for things we had done, but when we exposed the depths of our souls and our own pain that caused pain in each other; it took healing to a new level and brought us closer. Through our words, love abounded and pain receded.

The freedom and restoration I experienced from these two encounters got me thinking about the power of confession. Both conversations encompassed deep wounds and I am discovering the deeper the pain the more restorative the confession. Usually we are scratching the surface when we tell someone we are sorry, but when we pour out our souls to another in love it is truly powerful.

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

When and why is confession between two people so powerful that it heals years of pain? When it is grounded and flows from love. As for the why, there are many reasons it is powerful, but here are three.

1. Vulnerability in confession communicates the extent of our love for someone. A heart of confession is open, honest, contrite, humble, and doesn’t care just about itself but also others. When we are willing to be naked, vulnerable, weak and to set our pride aside it reveals our love for the other person. If we didn’t love them we wouldn’t be willing to be so open and exposed. Our willingness to unveil our souls is powerful because it infuses truth and love into the relationship

2. Words have power. Created in God’s image our words have tremendous power. They can heal or damage. Openly stating that we have caused hurt, though often unintentionally, frees and heals the hearer. Confessions are words of love, which are more potent than words of pain.

3. Truth manifests love. The more we see and know about ourselves and others in the light of God’s truth, the more we can truly love. Knowledge brings understanding which fosters love, which sets us free.

We are made to love and for that reason most of what we do involves others including our healing and theirs. Philippians 2:4 Confession is just as much about the other person as it is about us. God may know, we may know but they don’t know our heart until we speak it. When we put our pride aside, acknowledge the pain we feel and caused we love. The reward is two-fold; we are more fully freed and healed from our brokenness and so are they. Even if others aren’t ready to confess their part in creating pain, the love we show will help heal their brokenness and put them on a path of being able to face their own pain and the pain they caused.

Confession doesn’t promise something similar won’t happen again. It expresses our hearts that we don’t desire to hurt. We are human and putting off our old self and living in the new life is a process. Letting others see into our hearts to know that we desire to give love not pain covers a multitude of sins.