What Do You Do With Failure?!?!

The Lord, a few years back, had shared with me the statement I put in the picture right here:IMG_1492.PNG  This was hard for me to hear back then because I was a “law woman”. Keeping the rules with a slave mentality instead of a daughter mentality was the relationship I chose to have with my Father in Heaven…until He set me free (see It is Time to Let Go of the Rules-Otherwise Known as the Law).  Yesterday, as I talked with a good friend, the Lord reminded me of this word. As I was talking, I finally received understanding for this statement because He has helped me understand how to be His woman.  First and foremost, we must start at the right starting point: Jesus took my place and all punishment, condemnation, and sickness, that was my due because of sin, was placed on His body and for that I am eternally grateful.  I didn’t understand this when He had told me this a few years ago…I was still striving in my own effort to hold up my part of the bargain in this relationship with God; which I had been taught in the church to do (religious law keeping). If I didn’t hold up my part of the bargain then I was lacking, God would then turn away from me or lift His hand of protection. I would then have to go to Him repent, showing enough remorse. Then, and only then, He would be able to look back towards me, cover me again with His hand and all would be well……until…….I somehow messed up again.  This was a continual process of shame, guilt and remorse….and I NEVER felt like I would EVER be good enough for Him.  Wow!! So the statement, there is no failure in Him had me mystified…until….yesterday.  All because I have the right starting point now.  Here is the picture God gave me:

When I see His timeline or plan, many times it comes to me as a tapestry that is being made.  It is not complete, but is complete.  In the inner weaving of this fabric pattern are the failures in which He has made a beautiful tapestry out of.  Yes, the failures which He has made beautiful.  How can that be?!?!?!!!! These failures are not failures because they have actually fulfilled a purpose in our lives which He ALWAYS make BEAUTIFUL for His sons and daughters.  The scripture that comes to mind is this:

“Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose;”
‭‭Romans (Rom)‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭CJB

I encourage you to put past failures in His hands and take a look at the bigger picture of the tapestry of life that He is creating.  It is beautiful and honors Him. ❤

Resting in the Armor of God

How many times have you been taught about the armor of God?  I can say I have sat through many teachings and preaching regarding the armor of God.  Most times the teaching was about how I needed to put on the armor, keep on the armor, how not to take off the armor.  I don’t know about you but for me God wanted to reassure me that it wasn’t so much about me and my behavior but about Him and standing in what He has already done for me.

I have been waiting awhile to write about this.  I have been so excited to write about this topic.  Here is why: the Lord had asked me, “Darlene, do you know how well Bryan (my husband is a police officer) knows how to use his weapons?”  I answered, “Yes.” Then He asked,  “Do you understand how to use My weapons?”  I answered, “I don’t know.”  “It is time for you to understand,” He replied.

Let’s look at the scripture in Ephesians:

“Finally, grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with his mighty strength! Use all the armor and weaponry that God provides, so that you will be able to stand against the deceptive tactics of the Adversary. For we are not struggling against human beings, but against the rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm. So take up every piece of war equipment God provides; so that when the evil day comes, you will be able to resist; and when the battle is won, you will still be standing. Therefore, stand! Have the belt of truth buckled around your waist, put on righteousness for a breastplate, and wear on your feet the readiness that comes from the Good News of shalom. Always carry the shield of trust, with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One. And take the helmet of deliverance; along with the sword given by the Spirit, that is, the Word of God; as you pray at all times, with all kinds of prayers and requests, in the Spirit, vigilantly and persistently, for all God’s people.” ‭‭Ephesians (Eph)‬ ‭6:10-14, 16-18‬ ‭CJB

You may want to read It All Begins and Ends With TrustWalk Confidently-It All Begins and Ends With Trust (Faith) (Part 2), and A New Wine Skin if you haven’t already.  These set up where I am going next.  Like I said in It All Begins and Ends With Trust:

The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy your trust. That is what he is roaming about to do. Yet God brought eternal life through His Son which we receive through trust.

One of the things I have been telling myself and others lately is God never promised that we would not have “evil days”.  What is interesting is Paul also told us that our struggle is not against human beings.  Now we have to look at context here.  This is during some evil days.  Christ followers are being fed to lions, crucified, boiled in tar….by other HUMANS.  What, the what!?!?!!!  If Christ followers were being told by Paul to specifically do something when all of this was happening to them, we might want to take note.  I have to say I have not been fed to lions, crucified or boiled….but some tactics felt like that in my life….just not unto death in this lifetime.  So….let’s pick apart this very strong statement Paul makes through the Holy Spirit.

First Paul reminds us of the very thing in which I believe the entire armor truly consists of in his opening statement in Ephesians 6:10:

“grow powerful in union with the Lord, in union with his mighty strength!”

Here is the direct translation from Biblehub.com:

“be empowered (1743-I fill with power, strengthen, make strong)

in [the] Lord and in the strength (2904 dominion, strength, power; a mighty deed)

of the might (2479-strength(absolutely),power,might,force,ability*) of him.”

Note that there are two different strength meanings in this verse.  What I want you to see is how God does this for us.  We do not do this for ourselves.  We simply TRUST (believe) He will do it for us or already has done it for us and we thank Him for doing it.  I want to clarify here, my strength comes from the Lord alone.  I do not have enough strength of my own to be able to stand in circumstances that are beyond me. Truly I don’t know how people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus do life.  I love the direct translation from bible hub.com because it helps us to start at the right starting point-trusting (faith) Him to do for us what we can not.

Next Paul calls what he talks about next our “war equipment that God PROVIDES” and that we are to put it on or use it so that we can stand (2476-I cause to stand) against the schemes (3180-a way of search after something, an inquiry; a method), scheming, craftiness, deceit.).  Again I want you to see in the Greek that HE will enable us to stand against the methodology of the evil one or “rulers, authorities and cosmic powers governing this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realm”.  Father causes us to be able to stand!

Now into the nitty-gritty.  I believe Paul is showing us the way to stand during trials and tribulations.  Yes they come to the believer and the non-believer.  As believers we do not get a pass on these trials and tribulations: but what we do get is Someone, the Great I Am that walks it with us, enables us to stand, helps us to see a greater picture and to have good come out of it (2 Corinthians 4:8-12, Romans 8:28).

Truth-But not merely truth as spoken; truth of idea;reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness: true to fact. Literal: what can’t be hidden.=Jesus is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6).

Righteousness-divine righteousness. =Jesus gave us our divine righteousness our righteousness is like filthy rags (1 Corinthians 1:30,Isaiah 64:6)  Romans 10:10 helps describe why righteousness is a breastplate; because, “For with the heart one goes on trusting and thus continues toward righteousness.”

Peace-Good News of Shalom-wholeness.  Jesus came so that we would have “firm footing, foundation, preparation, readiness” in that He came to give us wholeness (shalom, peace).  This is a foundational truth of what He did for us in His death and resurrection and what He desires for us to share with others. (Luke 1:79)

Trust-belief, come to trust, confidence, be persuaded, core meaning of faith=DIVINE PERSUASION- Jesus came, died and was resurrected and our part is to believe in who He said He is. This is why we are to always carry this “shield”. It all starts in the faith of Who Jesus is. For we have been delivered by grace through trusting and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift. (Ephesians 2:8). This shield (4570) thwarts, extinguishes, and I suppress.  As we trust the true battle is won. Like I said above the enemy wants to steal, kill or destroy your trust.

Salvation-saving, bring salvation. This word is derived from the word soter which means Savior who of course is Jesus– Again Romans 10:10 helps us understand why salvation is a helmet, while with the mouth one keeps on making public acknowledgement and thus continues toward deliverance (salvation).

Sword (3162 properly, a slaughter knife; a short sword or dagger mainly used for stabbing; figuratively- an instrument for exacting retribution) given by the Spirit which is the word (rhema) of God.  In Matthew both the sword and word (rhema) are used for the first time in the New Testament.  Let’s look at both: in Matthew 10:34 Jesus says He came to bring a sword and in Matthew 4:4 Jesus says we are not to live by bread alone but every rhema (word) coming out of the mouth of God.  Also in Revelation Jesus is shown to have a sword coming from his mouth (Revelation 1:16).  Rhema word is very different from the Logos word.  Rhema (4487) means  (from 4483 /rhéō, “to speak”) – a spoken word, made “by the living voice” (J. Thayer). 4487 /rhḗma (“spoken-word”) is commonly used in the NT (and in LXX) for the Lord speaking His dynamic, living word in a believer to inbirth faith (“His inwrought persuasion”). Because we are here to continue Jesus’ ministry (see A New Wine Skin for more info) we are to speak what the Spirit tells us to. Remember when Paul encouraged us that we would know what to say when we need to say it (Matthew 10:19).  We are to bring the necessary words in the time of need through being connected to the vine Who is Jesus.  This is how we know what to pray…by His Spirit in us.

So how in the world do we do this?  I have been taught I need to prayerfully put on each piece and make sure none of my armor slips off. If it slips off I need to say sorry and pray to put it back on. I have finally truly repented from this way of thinking and see it God’s way.  I believe the Lord has shown me exactly how we are clothed in the armor and are able to fully use the weaponry God has given us.  Please note God gave this all to us through His Son.  His Son made the way for all of the above.  All we need to do is believe in Who Jesus is.  We find a great secret in Isaiah 56 and Hebrews 4. Let’s take a look:

Isaiah 56:1-2 (CJB)

“Observe justice, do what is right,
for my salvation is close to coming,
my righteousness to being revealed.”
Happy is the person who does this,
anyone who grasps it firmly,
who keeps Shabbat and does not profane it,
and keeps himself from doing any evil.

  • (7676 Shabbat or Sabbath means rest for the heart. 2490 Profane means to  take it for granted. And remember this is under the law.)

Hebrews 4:1-3 (MSG)

“For as long, then, as that promise of resting in him pulls us on to God’s goal for us, we need to be careful that we’re not disqualified. We received the same promises as those people in the wilderness, but the promises didn’t do them a bit of good because they didn’t receive the promises with faith. If we believe, though, we’ll experience that state of resting. But not if we don’t have faith.

‭‭How are we disqualified? By not having faith or trust in Who Jesus is–the Son of God! Once again faith (4102) is a gift from God never generated by us.  Again this all begins and ends with faith.  Faith as small as a mustard seed that each of us is given by a loving Father in heaven.

So, we have a choice, yes that is a free will choice that God also gave us, to enter His rest as we choose to believe the Good News of Who He is and choose to trust He has truly done it all for us.  This is why we can approach the throne boldly with our IMG_1459requests, our prayers; we can stand in the evil day and when God has completed or literally, “worked down to the end-point,” i.e. to an exact, definite conclusion (2716 katergazomai)— we are still standing, because of what Jesus did for us.  We trust that Jesus is Who He says He is and that the promises are ours…we rest in ALL that Jesus accomplished at the Cross in His death and in His resurrection.

That is literally what the armor is….resting in ALL THAT CHRIST DID FOR YOU.  Otherwise known as standing in Christ the vine.

And we pray in the Spirit. The Greek word “en” is contained within this sentence, “in the Spirit”.  Realize again this word means:

  • properly, in (inside, within); (figuratively) “in the realm (sphere) of,” as in the condition (state) in which something operates from the inside (within).

The Holy Spirit dwells within us and time after time the prayers that have been “in the Spirit” always align with God’s will.  This truly is a whole other topic that will take another post.  Realize though or prayerfully ask Father what His will is in situations…not what you expect but what is His will.  His love is multi-dimensional and doesn’t always look the way you think it has to. Ask Him and rest in Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk Confidently-It All Begins and Ends With Trust (Faith) (Part 2)

I left off last post, It All Begins and Ends With Trust, with a teaser to read Numbers 5:18-27.  If you haven’t read it here it is:

“The cohen will place the woman before ADONAI, unbind the woman’s hair and put the grain offering for remembering in her hands, the grain offering for jealousy; while the cohen has in his hand the water of embitterment and cursing. The cohen will make her swear by saying to her, “If no man has gone to bed with you, if you have not gone astray to make yourself unclean while under your husband’s authority, then be free from this water of embitterment and cursing. But if you have in fact gone astray while under your husband’s authority and become unclean, because some man other than your husband has gone to bed with you…” then the cohen is to make the woman swear with an oath that includes a curse; the cohen will say to the woman, “…may ADONAI make you an object of cursing and condemnation among your people by making your private parts shrivel and your abdomen swell up! May this water that causes the curse go into your inner parts and make your abdomen swell and your private parts shrivel up!” — and the woman is to respond, “ Amen! Amen!” “The cohen is to write these curses on a scroll, wash them off into the water of embitterment” and make the woman drink the water of embitterment and cursing — the water of cursing will enter her and become bitter. Then the cohen is to remove the grain offering for jealousy from the woman’s hand, wave the grain offering before ADONAI and bring it to the altar. The cohen is to take a handful of the grain offering as its reminder portion and make it go up in smoke on the altar; afterwards, he is to make the woman drink the water. When he has made her drink the water, then, if she is unclean and has been unfaithful to her husband, the water that causes the curse will enter her and become bitter, so that her abdomen swells and her private parts shrivel up; and the woman will become an object of cursing among her people.” ‭‭B’midbar (Num)‬ ‭5:18-27‬ ‭CJB‬‬

(If you want to read the whole of this directive in Numbers 18 start with verse 11.)

What got me to this verse was actually studying why Jesus didn’t drink the first drink He was offered before the Cross and why He drank the second offer of bitter drink.  There is always purpose in everything He did.  So as I studied the two words for the two drinks offered to Him at the Cross there was a distinction in the words and the origin.  I have talked about looking at the Greek and Hebrew and meanings and also when they are used: first time word is used etc. So, let’s dig in to the words!

The story is found in Matthew 27,  Mark 15, Luke 23, and partly in John 19. Let’s look at Matthew 27:34 and 48-50; and John 19:28-30 to get a full picture:

“they gave him wine mixed with bitter gall to drink; but after tasting it, he would not drink it.” Matthew27:34‬ ‭CJB‬‬

“Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, soaked it in vinegar, put it on a stick and gave it to him to drink. The rest said, “Wait! Let’s see if Eliyahu comes and rescues him.” But Yeshua, again crying out in a loud voice, yielded up his spirit.” Matthew 27:48-50‬ ‭CJB‬‬

“After this, knowing that all things had accomplished their purpose, Yeshua, in order to fulfill the words of the Tanakh, said, “I’m thirsty.” A jar full of cheap sour wine was there; so they soaked a sponge in the wine, coated it with oregano leaves and held it up to his mouth. After Yeshua had taken the wine, he said, “It is accomplished!” And, letting his head droop, he delivered up his spirit.” John ‭19:28-30‬ ‭CJB‬‬

In verse 34 wine is made from grapes and the gall is bitter herbs. You can check here Verse 34 at biblehub for yourself or here is the definition from biblehub.com:

1. bile, gall: Matthew 27:34 (cf. the Sept. Psalm 68:22 ()) (cf. B. D., under the word Gall); Acts 8:23 (on which see πικρία); for מְרֵרָה, Job 16:13.

Then we can get to the Old Testament word from Job 16:13 in which we learn the root word for this is marar (4843) which is found in our opening scripture with the woman drinking the bitter water.  He tasted the bitter waters we have had to drink because of our transgressions: “These bitter herbs, called maror (ma-ror), are symbolic of the bitterness of slavery and the miserable existence in Egypt. To us as Christians, the eating of bitter herbs reminds us of our lives before we knew the Savior. The maror also symbolizes the bitter cup our Lord tasted on our behalf. The horseradish brings tears to our eyes as we taste it and remember”(Celebrating Biblical Feasts, Zimmerman, pg. 67). img_1384This means, He knew what it was like to be us.  Yet, He was still sin free.  Remember, He had been fully tested in the 40 days in the desert (see Matthew 4).  Thus, when Jesus tasted this drink yet chose not to drink He was stating He is like us in that He understands the bitterness and that He is the one and only pure Passover Lamb (fully man and fully God) that would choose to be sacrificed for the whole world (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Now that we are sure He is THE PASSOVER LAMB of all Passover lambs let’s see why He drank the last vinegar offered to Him?  This is the last act He does before yielding up His Spirit. And it is a critical move on His part. This is the only time this word is used in the New Testament scripture.  The Greek word for vinegar here is:

3690 óksos – Definition: vinegar, sour wine mixed with water, a common drink of Roman soldiers.

Just before His last statement, after He had taken all of the worlds transgressions, iniquities, pain, diseases, wounded for our crimes, punished for our sins, disciplined for our wholeness (Isaiah 53), Jesus cries out My God, My God why have You forsaken Me!  Jesus says this because His Father allowed Jesus to become each of us on the Cross.  Jesus became every person that has ever been born and all of our wrong doing, all of our disease was put on Him the perfect sacrifice.

Before Jesus gives up His Spirit he does one last thing He drinks the sour wine, vinegar or vinegar wine.  I believe I am only scratching the surface here.  I believe Jesus drinking this sour wine/vinegar symbolizes a few things and I want to point out two of them.  First, this word vinegar is associated with Number 6:3 chomats (2558) and is something a Nazarite could not drink when making a vow to God to separate him or herself from the world and live only for God. I believe His drinking this chomats Jesus was making it known that through Him you would now be separated from the world (John 15:19). That only through Him is access to a relationship with God.  We no longer had to make a vow and work for the relationship with God. A relationship was provided by the work Jesus accomplished on the Cross.

Second, we needed to understand that the full cup of God’s wrath had been finished on the Cross within Jesus Himself.  There are many scriptures that state cup of wrath but the one I want to look at is in Isaiah 51:22

“this is what your Lord ADONAI says, your God, who defends his people: “Here, I have removed from your hand the cup of drunkenness, the goblet of my fury. You will never drink it again.” CJB‬‬

Isaiah 51-54 tells of the hope that is coming in and through Jesus Christ.  It tells of ALL that will be accomplished through Him.  It tells of God’s plan for ALL the people of the world through His Son’s sacrifice.  When Jesus took that drink after He had asked why have You forsaken me, it was that He had fully drank the cup of fury or anger and we as believers in Him NEVER HAVE TO DRINK IT AGAIN because He physically removed it.  He kept His promise.  He proclaimed, “IT IS FINISHED!”  ALL OF IT!

Let me make this as clear as day.  The curse has been removed from us.  We as believers DO NOT, CAN NOT EVER live under a curse, EVER.  Once you understand and truly know this truth you stand in the power and authority Jesus Christ suffered, drank, died and resurrected for us to have.  Read Isaiah above again actually go and read Isaiah 51-54 for yourself and understand or see ALL of what God did for us through His Beloved Son and remember Who lives in you through His Holy Spirit.  Many times I have known Christians have believed we can be cursed but that is not TRUTH.  We can not be cursed….now if you believe you can then I believe that causes the ability for the curse to alight (Proverbs 26:2).  Since Jesus swallowed God’s fury that should have been our due, I stand fully aware in what Jesus did for me.  I simply trust, believe in what Jesus did for me. So can you!

 

 

It All Begins and Ends With Trust

I have been studying blessings and curses and how it pertains to what Jesus did for us.  I have been also studying the armor of God that Paul talks about in Ephesians.  God will tell us things so that we pray, so that we stand.  I think the standing we have learned vs the way the early believers stood are different.  I believe this is because the early believers knew it was a fight for faith or trust above anything else-remember Paul firmly stated to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (‭‭2 Timothy (2 Ti)‬ 4:7) and also, “Fight the good fight of the faith, take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you testified so well to your faith before many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12).

Faith meaning to believe, trust, cling to. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  In Romans 14:23 Paul states, “But the doubter comes under condemnation if he eats, because his action is not based on trust. And anything not based on trust is a sin.”.  Now, no worries here because Paul talks more about faith or trust here in Romans 12:6 “But we have gifts that differ and which are meant to be used according to the grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, use it to the extent of your trust;”. And remember Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man takes and sows in his field. It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it grows up it is larger than any garden plant and becomes a tree, so that the birds flying about come and nest in its branches.”” Mattityahu (Mat)‬ ‭13:31-32‬ ‭CJB‬‬. Also Paul stated, “For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift.” ‭‭Ephesians (Eph)‬ ‭2:8‬ ‭CJB‬‬. So, we start off with a mustard seed and God grows our faith which is a gift of God.

Some may have more trust in one area and another more trust in a different area….that is why Paul said, “or, to put it another way, so that by my being with you, we might, through the faith we share, encourage one another.”  The common faith, trust or belief in Who Jesus is and what He accomplished for us we have as believers when we come together we are able to encourage one another as God grows our faith in who we are in Him through our life circumstances.

I refuse to make the enemy bigger than God (read Why Seek Something Inferior??? (Charlie Game) or God Is Bigger Than The Boogeyman?) or believe that God doesn’t know the circumstances that are going on in my life (read God’s Big Plan).  Faith or trust in Who God is and all of what Jesus Christ did for us in His death and resurrection is exactly what the enemy wants us not to trust or believe in.  We tend to think it is about the circumstances when truly the enemy is trying to bring doubt to our belief or trust in ALL that Jesus did and how the Father loves us.  img_1365This is truly the enemy’s tactic.  The enemy wants to steal, kill and destroy your trust.  That is what he is roaming about to do.  Yet God brought eternal life through His Son which we receive through trust. So with this foundation in the next post I will get into either the armor of God or blessings and curses…..stay tuned. 😊 This is exciting stuff!

God’s Big Plan

Two core values, the place where I live from, are 1) God is good– no matter my circumstances and 2) Nothing can ever separate me from the love of God.  I have not somehow produced this as my value, I simply don’t state that I have this value it has been given by God.  Because this is a place I live from it becomes my starting point as I walk through life with Him in me.  I believe as I have walked through life and tough circumstances have happened to me, family, friends these beliefs were formed in me by His hand…simply beautiful but also at times painful.  Maybe this might be better explained by Molinos, a writer in the 1600’s. His books were burned all over Europe and if you were found with one of his books it meant automatic excommunication from the Church. His fate was to be put on trial, sealed up in a dungeon so his face could never to be seen again. It is told that while he was in the dungeon he repented and on that day the Pope declared a holiday and people partied in the streets celebrating his supposed repentance.  He never left the dungeon though and died in 1696. Here is what he wrote about humility:

“True humility is an inward thing..It is an understanding so vast that no tongue can express it.  From this revelation proceeds a glimpse of the grace of God….a grace which takes pleasure in encompassing that person with the pure goodness of God.” Pg  43

As you read this keep in mind two of my core beliefs.  I wrote on Facebook a few days ago as I shared a memory from two years ago: We do skip death…I will be posting a blog on this soon….this was the biggest hope for Israel and it became true with Jesus…It is our perspective that needs to shift into our Father’s big plan and what salvation means. ❤ There is much hope!!  Here is the memory I shared:

Today I am chewing on GOD LOVES ME NO MATTER WHAT. Look: Enoch by an act of faith skipped death, he pleased God. Paul goes on to say it is impossible to please God without faith. And then further, WHY? (Hebrews 11:5-6 MSG) Simply put, ALL you do is believe God is real and true (Jesus is my Lord and Savior) and KNOW that He LOVES YOU-unconditionally. Period. That is all. The love part is challenging because our filters, that we have been taught, of how we see God. Keep chewing on God loves me no matter what. This brings such great pleasure to our Father in heaven. 💜

When I had re-read this memory and some of the comments immediately the Lord told me you do skip death.  And I was like, “Huh???!!!”  That is when He said Darlene go look up the word “death” associated with this passage in Hebrews…..so I did.  Here is what it means directly from biblehub.com:

2288 thánatos (derived from 2348 /thnḗskō, “to die”) – physical or spiritual death; (figuratively) separation from the life (salvation) of God forever by dying without first experiencing death to self to receive His gift of salvation.

Again a commonality to the word salvation from my earlier post It’s an Inside Job, separation from the life (salvation) and receiving His gift of salvation.  Again let’s look at the definition of salvation from the same source:

Cognate: 4991 sōtēría (from 4982 /sṓzō, “to save, rescue”) – salvation, i.e. God’s rescue which delivers believers out of destruction and into His safety. See 4982 (sōzō).

4982 sṓzō (from sōs, “safe, rescued”) – properly, deliver out of danger and into safety; used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety). [4982 (sṓzō) is the root of: 4990 /sōtḗr (“Savior”), 4991 /sōtēría (“salvation”) and the adjectival form, 4992 /sōtḗrion (what is “saved/rescued from destruction and brought into divine safety”).]

Please note the root of sózō is sōs….SOS. The well-known code to ask for rescue.  Amazing!! Anyhow, how does God’s big plan, SOS and death all come together?  Let me first start with what I believed salvation to be before.  For me it meant I was saved and not going to hell.  I believed in Jesus and that meant I was saved from eternal damnation.  As I grew in my Christian faith I heard arguments of whether or not you could “lose your salvation or not”.  Yet still what does this encompass and what did the early believers have or understand that we at times seem to be missing.  Here is one example the Lord keeps pressing me with:

Maybe this is only me but I know of others who have viewed it the same way.  Have you ever looked at your life or others lives and because of their circumstances thought oh they aren’t blessed or I am not as blessed as them because of this situation in my life i.e.: sickness, children, lack of children or something you would think as negatory??  I know I have.  I have thought in the past okay my life is going well I am in favor with God…and when it isn’t going well…oh I must not be in favor with God.  This is incorrect when we are no longer under the law and under grace.  This actual thinking allows the enemy to have you running in circles many times chasing something down that no longer has an impact in your life.  This is wrong thinking because if we believe this way we are actually saying to all those Christians who were put to death at the Colosseum we would have to say they are less blessed than those who were not.  We would even have to go so far to say Peter was less blessed than John since he ended being martyred and John on the other hand survived so many ways of trying to kill him. (John 21:18-23)

I know this is a tough subject but I wanted to share what I feel the Lord has been showing me in Romans 8-10 regarding this subject.  See when we think this way we are saying to the potter: we, being mere clay, why did you make me this way?  Instead we must look at His larger picture, His larger plan and know that His will is perfect. He keeps telling me Darlene you just play your small bit part in connection with Me.  Does this mean my life is perfect, No certainly not!  We still live in a world that is moaning for its redemption or the return of the King of kings!!  Does this mean I do not believe in healing, No certainly not!  Or other miracles, no certainly not.  But ultimately my faith does not lie in those things it lies in Jesus.  Because of faith Enoch skipped death and Abraham was made righteous and now because Jesus died we haveimg_1340 approval from God, the righteous One and because Jesus rose from the dead we have been freed from the power and  penalty of sin and removed from destruction into God’s safety/provision. We have life eternal.  The early Christians, I believe, looked past their present circumstances and didn’t judge their worthiness to God by what they faced; but by Who they believed in.  I desire the church, the believers of today to do the same.  To note their worthiness in what God did for them not in their present circumstances.

What we need to understand is that speaking our faith, trust belief in Who Jesus is and in our hearts have faith trust and believe that Jesus rose from the dead…it speaks of Who He is the first fruits.  That we skip death, the real death–the separation from life (salvation-God’s promises and provisions). Yes our bodies will die the first death yet it is like opening a door to pass through it.

Above and beyond everything, I believe, God’s interest lies in the desire for all to know Him.  He will go to extreme measures for His one lost sheep.  Didn’t He for you?  He certainly did for me.  And as people, Christians we play our part in this tapestry called God’s plan and somehow it isn’t always comfortable.  Yet, through that discomfort comes great and good things if we set our eyes on that.  This isn’t easy, yet I believe this is a place God wants us to have balance in.  Let’s look at this in scripture.

“Now what if God, even though he was quite willing to demonstrate his anger and make known his power, patiently put up with people who deserved punishment and were ripe for destruction? What if he did this in order to make known the riches of his glory to those who are the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — that is, to us, whom he called not only from among the Jews but also from among the Gentiles?” ‭Romans (Rom)‬ ‭9:22-24‬ ‭CJB‬‬

The whole plan with Pharoah up until the time of Jesus had been a plan for God to show his glory to us, those living during Jesus’ time till now.  All the people, all the things that happened were ultimately to show His Glory.  Jesus spoke to this in John 21. See Peter was told exactly how he would die and approximately when and why he would die that particular death.  Peter was told it was for His Glory. I don’t know if I could know this, could you?  Yet, it was obviously with purpose. Peter though asked about John and this is what Jesus said:

“If I want him to stay on until I come, what is it to you? You, follow me!”” John 21:22

In the midst of my circumstances, friends circumstances and my life…I simply follow Him knowing I have my bit part to play to bring Him Glory in the way He desires me to.  He is the potter and I am mere clay.  I know He has the best for me and for others, no matter what their current circumstances are and that He loves, loves, loves us.  Pharoah made a choice because God hardened his heart so that the whole world will know His Name.  Yet I know Pharoah got a choice whether or not to follow Jesus.  See my faith has healed me.  My faith in Jesus has healed me, given me peace (shalom), taken all my sin, given me power over sin, given me eternal life, put me into God’s safety and given me God’s provision.  This is the place I live from while also understanding my life will not always look the way I think it should; but God will bring goodness out of it. All I have to do is look at the many who walked before me….the Christians martyred. It is with great purpose we individually live and with great purpose each individual impacts history and the tapestry of God’s larger plan. I am assured we have exactly what we need in the time we need it to bring God glory and to let those around us know the riches of His glory.

Have You Counted the Gain?!? 

Someone, from my past, would ask me quite often if “I had count the cost” to follow Jesus when I would choose to do what God asked me to do. This statement would bring a sense of fear. Fear that I had not thought of everything that could possibly go wrong by choosing to live fully for Christ. I don’t think it was the purpose to bring fear with the question; but for me it did. I knew there was no way I could ever possibly anticipate or fathom all the “bad” things that could happen to me if I choose to do what God asked of me. Yet still, I choose to trust God with my whole life.

Over the past year, the cost of choosing to follow the Lord and do what He has asked me to do by most accounts could be considered great and yet not once during this time, until the  last few weeks, had I even thought of the question. Did I count the cost before stepping forward almost a year ago? Not for myself, not for my husband (because he was in agreement with me), yet I did for my sons (although they were even in agreement with me). Yet, they are my children and truly in my heart I would love to be able to always protect them from everything that could possibly hurt them. I know that is impossible. Yet again here I had a choice, we all had a choice to walk this out as a family. I knew what it would cost them and at the age of fifteen and fourteen they learned the cost, but they didn’t even flinch in stepping forward with Jesus. See they could see the benefits of their choice far outweighed any choices others would make towards them. And yet what God offered them, freedom in Him, is worth more than gold.

Anyone looking at our lives now may think, ‘oh they lost so much’. Yet with the proper perspective, not one built on fear, we have actually gained more. It would look like we lost friendships, community, jobs and yet we gained friendships forged through fire and new relationships, a community of people that are based on the pure love of Christ, and time. Time for the things that God has desired for me to have time for. My sons say it well….they gained freedom in Him to live life to the fullest in a perfect relationship with their Father in Heaven, not because of anything that they did, but because they are better understanding now ALL that Jesus did for them.

I believe the question should be, “have you counted the gain in your choice to follow the Lord?” instead of  “have you counted the cost?”. One question brings great hope when the other brings great fear. Jesus did not look at what He would lose, He looked at the “Joy set before Him.” (Hebrews 12:2). For so long in my life I have chosen to look at all Jesus the Christ suffered. I am NOT minimizing at all what He suffered. Yet, I honestly believe He desires for us not to look at what, for a moment, looks like what He lost: His life. He willingly laid down His life for each of us, for the entire world (1 John 3:16). He didn’t count the cost….He only counted the gain. The Greek word for endured in Hebrews 12:2 is hypomeno, this literally means remaining under (the load). Also the Greek word kata phroneo is used for despised. This word means literally: to judge against. This helps give us a better idea of what was being explained to the Hebrews through Paul. Jesus was able to remain under the load and put shame in its rightful place because of the joy set before Him. The joy set before Him is each of us. The entire world of humanity that was created in His image. This is gain in His eyes.

IMG_0663-0In the Garden of Gethesmane where Jesus, according to Luke, sweat blood while asking Father three times to take this cup from Him but not my will Yours be done, His love for His Father and for us is astounding here. Jesus was fully God here and knew the cost that only He could pay. I believe He began feeling the cost there in Gethesmane. Jesus was also fully man and He knew the pain that He had been born to endure and the load He would need to remain under to complete what He was born to do for all humanity. I believe Luke wanted to make sure and tell us, through the Holy Spirit, that the process had already begun at the end of the Passover meal. The separation of Father and Son began. Just like when the Passover lamb is taken from his mother. Jesus experienced all of our emotions and physical body experiences. With this separation began the process of the payment of ALL of the sin, condemnation, curse, sickness for the entire world for all time. Jesus knew this would be set upon Him, Holy God, and I believe this start of the payment caused the sweating of blood (Matthew 26:38, Luke 22:33-34) . Jesus, Who is holy, and could not even look upon sin would become the Passover lamb that would take all of the sin of all humanity for all time upon Himself.

We need to understand, Jesus was not a counting of cost at Gethsamene He instead kept His eyes upon the Faher and when His Father had to turn away while Jesus was on the Cross (Matthew 27:46) I believe Jesus kept His eyes on His prize, His beautiful bride. That is counting the GAIN.

 The process, of what Jesus would do, had begun long ago when He was born. Actually the decision had been made back at the beginning of the world when Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Isaiah 53). In this great love affair with His Beloved humanity, God has not counted the cost but only counted the gain—to be loved by His beloved.

So, I no longer focus on whether or not I am willing to pay the cost. I, like Jesus, focus on the gain. There is always gain with God because Jesus paid our cost and He then gave us abundance in every area of our lives because He made the way for us to become sons and daughters of God. Full of life, health, favor, freedom and love. That is only gain.

Are There Still Martyrs in First World Countries?

 What do you think of when you hear the name Joan of Arc? Do you think peasant, woman, young, someone who heard from God, someone who heard from a saint, someone who called out the dauphin of France though he was dressed as a peasant????…. Or do you think martyr!!

There are still martyrs today around the world. Standing in their faith for Jesus Christ. We think of martyrs as beheaded, burned at the stake, crucified, eaten by lions, or walled up alive. In first world countries thankfully these types of martyrs no longer exist. We can think back in history where they did, but no longer, thank God. Yet, today I want to really look at the definition of martyr and how that may apply to first world countries. It may not look the same and yet the meaning behind it is the same.

We can read about martyrs, not so long ago, being burned at the stake for carrying a bible. Bibles were only allowed to be written in Latin and only the clergy was allowed to read it. The laity was told they would not be able to understand nor were they holy enough to touch the bible. This is a far cry from the times of Jesus’ first apostles when the letters were read out loud to all that wanted to listen.

Thankfully, here in first world countries, we no longer see people tied to wood piles and set on fire but we do see people martyred in a very underhanded insidious manner that is covered up with don’t speak ill of the church or the clergy/pastors of the church. This is just as bad as when a perpetrator tells the victim, “Don’t say anything or …”. It is time for the rugs to come off, uncover and bring to light what is underneath, for healing and health.

So you might ask, “Do you know any martyrs today?” Here is the definition of martyr:

  • a person who is killed or suffers greatly for a religion, cause etc.

What I have seen happen over the last several months would turn most people’s stomachs. Is it just as bad as watching people burned at the stake? I don’t know. I do know that it is appalling because it reeks of purposeful destruction. It has its own distinct disgusting stench. Friendships lost, families torn-division;  shunning; lies; trying to ruin people’s lives and even their livelihoods. This is never of God, ever. What this is and always has been is someone or a group wanting control. Look through history and you can see what caused martyrdom was a need to have control by any means necessary. Today though, at least in first world countries, it is frowned upon to kill people to have control; so deliberately lying and using fear as a tactic to try and ruin people’s lives seems more acceptable???

People have told me many times…..you will be persecuted just as Jesus was…and even by those in the church. Okay fine…yes we will….we deal with people. Yet, isn’t it also just as important not to hide these very things? Isn’t it just as important that we have an open dialog to bring health and healing in places that are sick? There has never been a problem solved by covering it up. The problem MUST come into the light and be looked at with eyes wide open. To hear all sides of the story with open and honest dialogue with a desire to seek what God is saying.

It is time for the individuals in the church to stand up and say either we are part of the problem or part of the solution. It is time to look at what goes on inside the four walls of some churches and not allow these destructive things to occur. For this to happen, Christians must choose to be open and forth coming, and understand we ALL walk in God’s grace and forgiveness. Once we truly understand this, people will not be afraid to uncover the things that have been done to them, what they have done or agreed with which has caused people to be martyred at the hands of those that are in a position of authority, otherwise known as spiritual abuse. The only way for freedom for ALL involved is to uncover and confront those who are abusing. This must be done with a heart of love so it can bring health and healing. The same steps that are used in a secular intervention needs to be used in these situations. A true desire to change (repentance) would need to occur to bring health and healing to all involved.

So, I had asked the question,”if I know martyrs today”. Today I could stand up and say, Yes! I have seen whole families shunned, lied about, cut off, friendships divided, families trying to be divided, businesses shunned, jobs lost all in the Name of Christ. Yet, that doesn’t sound very Christ like to me. These martyrs, that I know, have only chosen to do what is right and DID NOT choose division. They chose love, to not be controlled and would not bend to threats to do otherwise. These are the martyrs I see today in first world countries.

Maybe you have been in a hurtful situation at church. I highly recommend the book Toxic Faith. This book describes in greater detail what parts we have played and how to heal in these circumstances.