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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cart Before the Horse?

The age-old question…what came first the chicken or the egg?  It is such a great question.  For those of us that believe in creation by an all-powerful Creator than of course we answer the chicken. Remember in the beginning He formed all the animals out of the dirt (Genesis 1:24).  Much like us who also were formed from dirt; yet we were given the image and the breath of God (Genesis 1:27 and Genesis 2:7).  Amazing! So, here is a question what comes first grace or works?  So many times I have heard or read about “tension” in the scripture.  By this people mean: one verse says this but another verse seems to say a completely opposite statement.  A while ago I posted a picture named, Tension; you can click there for the link to the picture.

I believe when we look at scripture we need to start at the right starting point.  When we don’t start at the right starting point then of course we see opposing statements.  When we do start at the right starting point then what we have seen as opposing statements actually flow congruent.  Many times one scripture is pulled out against so many other scriptures and pointed out as an opposing scripture.  What is amazing is it usually is trying to denigrate grace.  One such scripture is James 2:17:

“Thus, faith by itself, unaccompanied by actions, is dead.”

Let’s read a little further into James 2:18:

“But someone will say that you have faith and I have actions. Show me this faith of yours without the actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions!”

The reason James is looked at is because it talks about behavior or works.  People that try to throw the grace Jesus bought for us to the wind and try to say it is all about behavior.  James here was talking to double-minded (Definition: (lit: of two souls, of two selves), double-mind-properly, “two souled”; (figuratively) “double-minded,” i.e. a person “split in half,” vacillating like a “spiritual schizophrenic.”) people.  People that said they have spoken with their mouth Jesus is Lord and yet the outflow of their life showed something different.  James makes certain points such as: a desire to treat poor people harshly and rich people well; not taking care of widows and orphans; or favoritism.  James called this a vulgarity.

img_1348If you see tension in scripture, I believe, you are putting the cart before the horse or somewhere within your core beliefs you still have an area of law you are abiding by.  Let me explain a little further. When we understand we are saved by grace alone that it was finished by Jesus the Christ on the Cross for the entire world to have the ability to choose the free gifts of grace–freedom from and power over sin; and salvation.

We are then able to start at the right starting point and will understand the works we do are a NATURAL OUTFLOW of our faith in the Christ which has allowed the Holy Spirit to dwell in us.

Works are a sign, the cart after the horse or the egg that comes from the chicken. It isn’t something you perform but how the Holy Spirit who has come to dwell in you performs as you abide in Jesus.  If the works are the focal point then we have definitely put the cart before the horse. Our focal point needs to start at the truth of all God did through His Son on the Cross and in the Resurrection. Early believers understood this.  It is time for the Church today to understand this as James said:

“Every good act of giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father who made the heavenly lights; with him there is neither variation nor darkness caused by turning.” James ‭1:17‬

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.

It’s an Inside Job

Romans is one of my favorite books in the New Testament. Chapters nine and ten, in Romans, hold a few deep secrets that have been overlooked and/or cast aside for far too long. This season, is the season that God wants to reveal Himself for the truth that is found in the New Covenant and how He has never changed.  He wants us to look at the grand plan He has for this world, the people in this world that He loves so much.  He loves His creation, the people who are created in His image, so much that He sent His only Son to die on the Cross to offer ALL a free gift of righteousness and salvation.  You do nothing more than confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe, trust, have faith in your heart  (the seat of your soul and spirit) the fact that Jesus rose from the dead you then receive righteousness and salvation freely. (Romans 10:9-10).  This is the word of trust the apostles proclaimed according to Paul.

So what does righteousness mean?  Here is the biblehub.com definition:

1343 /dikaiosýnē (“divine approval”) is the regular NT term used for righteousness (“God’s judicial approval”). 1343 /dikaiosýnē (“the approval of God”) refers to what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes.

What does salvation mean? Here is the biblehub.com definition:

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”).]

Though before Paul talked about what we freely receive by trust he had to talk about what this really meant to the Roman Jews and Gentiles that would be listening.  Paul through the Holy Spirit articulated the bare truth of the word of trust and what it really meant to both Jew and Gentile.  So many times now I see the Christian church acting as though we still must fulfill the law to be considered holy, justified and in img_1335right standing with God.  Of course many Christians, me once being one of them, say they believe Jesus accomplished a great work on the Cross and He is Lord of Lords and yet our entire salvation and righteousness still hangs in the balance or is dependent upon my behavior whether it is good=I then am in right standing with God or bad=God has turned away from me and I must somehow make things right between God and I again.  Many Christians today believe this and it is flat-out incorrect beliefs.  Now it isn’t just me saying this is wrong and certainly not the truth but it is Paul who stated it way before me. These many Christians, again I was one who used to believe this way too, remind me of the Jews that Paul talks about in chapters 9 and 10 of Romans.  Here let’s take a look at what Paul says:

“So, what are we to say? This: that Gentiles, even though they were not striving for righteousness, have obtained righteousness; but it is a righteousness grounded in trusting! However, Isra’el, even though they kept pursuing a Torah that offers righteousness, did not reach what the Torah offers. Why? Because they did not pursue righteousness as being grounded in trusting but as if it were grounded in doing legalistic works. They stumbled over the stone that makes people stumble. As the Tanakh puts it, “Look, I am laying in Tziyon a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will trip them up. But he who rests his trust on it will not be humiliated.”” ‭‭Romans (Rom)‬ ‭9:30-33‬ ‭CJB‬‬

“Brothers, my heart’s deepest desire and my prayer to God for Isra’el is for their salvation; for I can testify to their zeal for God. But it is not based on correct understanding; for, since they are unaware of God’s way of making people righteous and instead seek to set up their own, they have not submitted themselves to God’s way of making people righteous. For the goal at which the Torah aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts. Romans (Rom)‬ 10:1-4 ‭CJB‬‬

Paul is very clear: it is simply wrong thinking to believe we must pursue legalistic acts by following the Torah (Law of God according to Moses) to be able to be in right standing with God (otherwise known as righteous or holiness) or to have His salvation.  This thinking is not based on correct understanding.  They are actually desiring to seek their own righteousness and salvation and have not submitted themselves to God’s way of making people righteous.

Paul talks earlier in chapter nine about the promises given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He talks about how the seed of Israel is in Issac.  Paul explains how the promise was given and those that believed in the promise were the seed of Israel. Here it is in scripture:

“For not everyone from Isra’el is truly part of Isra’el; indeed, not all the descendants are seed of Avraham; rather, “What is to be called your ‘seed’ will be in Yitz’chak.” In other words, it is not the physical children who are children of God, but the children the promise refers to who are considered seed.”
‭‭Romans (Rom)‬ ‭9:6-8‬ ‭CJB‬‬

There is a little word “in” or in the Greek “en”. This word is so important even though it is so small.  Let’s look at what it means from the Greek:

1722 en (a preposition) – properly, in (inside, within); (figuratively) “in the realm (sphere) of,” as in the condition (state) in which something operates from the inside (within).

Not every descendant of Abraham are seeds of Abraham; only those that are in Issac.  That believed, trusted in the promise God had given at that time to Abraham.  See Abraham, Isaac and Jacob believed God and to them was accounted righteousness and safety. Not dependent upon how good they acted but simply because they believed the promise.  It was an inside job.  Just like it is an inside job for us now living in the Glory of the New Covenant.  The season of grace.

“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)‬ ‭9:23-24‬ ‭CJB‬‬

We are fortunate to live during such a time as this as we can freely receive righteousness-we are deemed right by the Lord after His examination, completely clean, completely holy, able to stand before our Father in heaven at all times because of Jesus Christ.  And we freely receive salvation-we have been properly, delivered out of danger and into safety; God has rescued us from the penalty and power of sin – and into His provisions (safety).

Next blog post, I will continue with God’s Bigger Picture and how God’s safety really looks like.

We All Have Our Storms

How I see this as the beginning and how God sees the beginning are two different viewpoints…but I will start where I see the beginning; otherwise this would become a book not a blog, lol!!

img_1103It started for me when I stood in the shadow of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.  I have tried to describe the sensation I had while standing in a place in the time period I live in but also knowing the history of this place.  I knew Paul may have walked in the same streets I was walking on and so many early Christians had definitely walked. As I stood there I fully realized: We all have our storms we must weather.  Since then the story of Jesus in the boat with the disciples has been in my mind.  Along with a book I had read by Ted Dekker two years ago.  While pondering the scripture with Jesus in the boat there was a story from my past that also kept coming forward.  Let’s start with the story: I was in high school and although I had done nothing that would even hint towards what would be whispered about me it didn’t stop the rumor that I was pregnant from going around the school.  I went home devastated and my mother told me that the truth would come out. Which of course was an easy one since in nine months there was no pregnancy or baby. I think for most of us our name being dragged in the mud or lies/rumors being told can be devastating. It can ruin people’s livelihoods and yet…God wanted to show me something.

Two years ago when my name began to be drug through the mud I wanted to, just like I wanted in high school, find out where it started at and confront the person or persons. I was angry and wronged.  I think it is difficult for anyone to sit back and listen to what is being said about you that is not true.  For me it has been a desire to clear my name and in doing that clear others too.  There is this piece inside of me that desires the truth and God made me that way and it is good.  Yet again, I knew God wanted to show me something deeper.

A few days ago I woke up feeling so much peace.  I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t pray for hours, I didn’t do anything.  God hears our hearts’ prayers because I had this peace but didn’t understand why I felt such peace.  A couple of days later, still in peace, I woke up and I distinctly heard the Lord say to me:

“It is time to let go of the need to clear your name. Trust Me.”

With this statement I knew that is exactly what He had done for me…taken away my need to clear my name and gave me peace.  I felt safe.  This came from the innermost place within me, my heart.

Please remember: I didn’t do this for myself or go through any particular steps, God simply did it for me, in His time and exactly when I needed it.  And He will do the same for you, because He loves you and desires the best for you.  (Luke 11:13)

After He stated this, He again reminded me of when He was in the boat with His disciples and the book I had read two years ago: 30 A.D. by Ted Dekker.  In this book I had highlighted some things when I had read it and I felt driven to go look.  Here I want to share a few quotes from the book:

“And why does man get angry? Because he feels threatened or wronged. And why does he feel threatened? Because he does not feel safe.”

“No threat in a rumor.”

“Nothing in this world threatens you.”

and lastly: “Release the fear your understanding shows you in the storm…..By trusting Me instead, not the storm and not the boat.”

See the disciples were of little faith or maybe better understood as little trust when they feared the storm and feared for their safety.  What was of greatest importance was the fact that Jesus was in their boat.  This is when I understood that the boat was the perfect example of our heart. What I was beginning to understand is nothing in this world threatens us, as Believers (faith in, trust in) in Christ.  This is how I knew Christians could walk into the Colosseum and face such horrible things.  They lived from a particular place that I wanted to understand and God was helping me to understand.

img_1312Let me dig a little deeper and hopefully put a picture to this.  In the Old Testament the Glory of the Lord was in the temple and now He lives in us, in our heart.  This fact led me to study the word: heart, among many others.  Today though all I want to discuss is the word heart in scripture to bring the fullness out of what Christ did on the Cross and what He is doing inside of us!!! Here the scripture from Romans 6:17:

“But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” NASB‬‬

Let’s look at the word heart in Greek, which will give us the fullness of what is being talked about

Strong’s Concordance
kardia: heart
Original Word: καρδία, ας, ἡ
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transliteration: kardia
Phonetic Spelling: (kar-dee’-ah)
Short Definition: the heart, inner life, intention
Definition: lit: the heart; mind, character, inner self, will, intention, center.
HELPS Word-studies
2588 kardía – heart; “the affective center of our being” and the capacity of moral preference (volitional desire, choice; see P. Hughs, 2 Cor, 354); “desire-producer that makes us tick” (G. Archer), i.e our “desire-decisions” that establish who we really are.  [Heart (2588 /kardía) is mentioned over 800 times in Scripture, but never referring to the literal physical pump that drives the blood. That is, “heart” is only used figuratively (both in the OT and NT.]  universally, καρδία denotes the seat and center of all physical and spiritual life.

Let’s look at the scripture in Ephesians 3:17, where it states exactly where Christ comes to dwell:

“so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lordʼs holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,” NASB

The heart is the center of our being when used in scripture. It not only contains the physical part but the spiritual part of us. When we have declared with our mouth Jesus is Lord and believed (trusted, faith) in our heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved (Romans 10:9). In this the Holy Spirit resides in your heart, the center of your whole being.  Kingdom of heaven resides now within the center of your being. Kingdom meaning rule of God in your heart- both physically and spiritually.  Heaven meaning we truly are seated in heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 2:6).   This is the kingdom of heaven in us and through us.

As I saw this from a much newer perspective, I understood more of what God did in me, for me and my trust in Him deepened. I saw God more clearly, exactly what I have asked for…to see Him as clear as He sees me.  This is a lifelong, eternal relationship. I did not do this myself, I didn’t in and of myself heal myself…no….. I simply live from the fact that Christ lives in me, God has reign over my heart and He means good for me even in the midst of the storm, there is a peace that comes only from Him-it is always there, trust not in your boat (whatever that may be) nor fear what the storm can do to you.

This truth was born out of the fact in trusting (believing) God that I am safe in Jesus, always…no matter what things may look like.

This is something we constantly need to be reminded of, this is why the Body of Christ is so important for one another. The reminder of exactly where you are living from- a heart, your whole being: physical and spiritual where God dwells and has brought His kingdom into.

Letting go of my boat (my name being cleared) didn’t make what was done to me right, it also doesn’t mean I don’t speak truth when called or needed.  What it means is that it is no longer my “end result”, I don’t ever have to see it happen.  If it does great, if it doesn’t I will be okay because:

I trust God and His larger plan.

Amazing Grace, Amazing Peace ❤️

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I Am Forever in Awe of the King

This means that all you have to do in the New Covenant to be righteous is to say you believe in exactly Who Jesus Christ is-the Son of God.