Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Peas in a Strainer

One evening while  I was cooking a package of frozen peas for our evening meal, the Lord  unexpectedly revealed to me the most amazing analogy. Right before my eyes the Lord so clearly explained Calvary. I have never forgotten.

When the girls were young, peas were not their favorite vegetable. But now that  our nest is empty,  my husband and I do  enjoy the small sweet peas that we can mix in with our mashed potatoes.This  night when I poured the peas into the strainer, this revelation hit me ," The strainer was the cross of Jesus Christ, the peas were all my sins.  They staysd in the strainer, while the water passed through Just as in my new birth. I was free from the power of my sin. That was it!!! The peas in the strainer represented all my sins and every time that I sinned, I could repent and be free from guilt and shame.  The cross is a living power in my life that keeps me separate from my sin.  I am so grateful for the gift of repentance and a new life in Christ.. 

I believe that Jesus doesn't want us to stand looking at the cross, but by faith to know that we have been consumed  in His death, burial and resurrection. That he has separated us from our sins.  As a new creation,  we are no longer sinners, but saints that can choose to sin.  It is quite a difference to think of yourself as a saint, one set apart to God being transformed into His image every day, rather than as a sinner in need of a Savior all of the time.  That need has been satisfied in Christ Jesus.  His sacrifice has produced in me a daily deep gratitude for the cross, because by faith through grace, Jesus has set me free from my physical birth in Adam to a new spiritual  birth in Christ. If it cost Him His life, it will cost me my SELF-LIFE, my lower nature.  It is no longer my will, but His will that is important to be done.  It is all about Jesus and not about me. What a freedom I feel every day, as He is working out my salvation!!!  

Every time I cook a pot of peas, and drain them in a strainer, I think of this analogy. We have been separated from the power of our sin by the grace of God.  St. Paul acknowledges this struggle with his flesh in Romans 7  "Now if I do what I do not want, IT IS NO LONGER I WHO DO IT, but SIN ( my lower nature) that dwells in me." God's grace enables us to repent and turn from any sin that might entangle us.  He finally concludes the answer in Chapter 8 verse 1, 2. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death."  We are the most BLESSED people in the whole universe.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Most Misunderstood Person

I believe God the Holy Spirit is the most misunderstood person of the Godhead!  The Godhead consists of three persons;  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Our God is three persons, one God.  All three are equal is essence, but different in function.  In the beginning of creation, God the Father was the designer, God the Son, the creator, God the Holy Spirit the life giver. It was He, who breathed LIFE on all that was created and spiritual life into Adam.

When man was created,  again all three were involved. "Let US make man in our image." Together, they created man to be the greatest expression of their glory.

When Adam willfully choose to sin, his glory was taken from him. He was found naked, lost and alone. Man became a broken image of God's glory.  The consequences of his sin was sickness, disease and death and it continues to plague mankind even today. This is just a short synopsis to bring us to ask ourselves " what happened to to the human spirit, when Adam fell?"  Physically, we all  still  daily function as human being very nicely.  We  hardly ever think that we are sinners and far to familiar with sickness, disease, death.  We expect it. Yet, we still fight to live, even on our death beds!  Our bodies have a long memory and strive to maintain the eternal life once experienced before the Fall.  It doesn't give up easy. Physical death will come. 

All this leads me to another question.  If the Holy Spirit still sustained physically life after the Fall,  why isn't man  full of the Holy Spirit  worshiping God today? He can't.  He is spiritual dead. eternally separated from God.  God could have washed His hands of mankind and started over.  What would of happened to you and me?  We are not after thoughts of God.  He knew us before the foundation of the world.  We would have been judged along with Adam and forever LOST.  

But again, God the Father had a plan, God the Son would implement it and God the Holy Spirit would give back to man his SPIRITUAL life, to be able to communicate with his creator as it was in the beginning. God is a spirit and man is a spirit being also, made in His image. Only by our spirits can we worship God in spirit and in truth, (John 4:24)  But how can he worship Him if we are spiritually dead, separated from God?   We can't.  Our spirits must be born again. The blood of Jesus has cleansed us from all our personal sins and paid the penalty of Adam's for all who believe, but without the work of the Holy Spirit, there is still no spiritual life.

 Jesus told His disciples that He would not leave them as orphans, I will come to you." (John 14:18) That promised was fulfilled after Jesus' resurrection, when He appeared to His disciples in the Upper Room. "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.  And when he had said this He BREATHED ON THEM and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Spiritual life was restored to them as a testimony of the finished work of Christ. Fifty days later at Pentecost the POWER of the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples to enable them to go into all the world to prech the gospel of God news. Adam's sin has been paid. It is finished!!!

The same promise is for us today. " Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." By faith we have been saved, born again to a newness of life. The Holy Spirit is breathed back into us and by faith,  we receive the power of the Holy Spirit, the testify that Jesus is alive and the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Because he lives, we live also in Him. (John 14:19,20)  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Desert Place

Have you ever wondered why it took forty years for the Israelites to cross over the Jordan river into the Promised Land, when they were ONLY ELEVEN DAYS away! One would think,"that's crazy, how could that ever happen?"  But, it did. The Israelites wandered in the desert because of their fear and unbelief. 

Have you ever experienced a kind of desert place in the Lord and wondered how you got there? Your devotions are dry, your fellowship with the Lord is distant, and reading the word is dull?  Somehow' you feel cut off and  cry out to the Lord, "Where are You?" and the response is silence. 

If you are wandering in a desert place, I understand exactly how you feel and it is a hard to understand how you got there.  At times, I have wandered for days and even weeks!  The cry of my heart is, " Why is this happening?  I miss you Lord. I don't understand?  If this is a test of my faith, then I have failed miserably."

Over the years, I have come to learn two things about a desert place. I am sure that you could share many more with me.  The first time I experienced the desert, the Lord spoke to me about His people Israel in Numbers 13 and 14.  When Moses sent out the ten spies into the promised land, only Caleb and Joshua BELIEVED what the Lord told them even BEFORE they went out.  The other eight spies were filled with fear and unbelief and cost the whole Nation the opportunity of living in the promised land for forty years.  They doubted God's word and their unbelief grieved God's heart.  He wanted to give them a new home land with all kinds of possibilities.

As I pondered this story, I am very grateful that I was are not living back then. My unbelief isn't any different than theirs.  I have God's written word speaking to me every day. But when the trials and temptations come, where is my faith? I have doubted God's Word!  My doubt has lead to unbelief and unbelief led to discrediting God's character, who created me. The only way out of this horrible dry place, is to confess my sin of unbelief and not try to excuse myself pretending I believe God for everything, because I didn't.  The Lord had to reproved me, and that was a good thing. My confession was the road to freedom. I was now more acquainted with the spirit of doubt and unbelief and able to recognize its voice and rebuke it. 

The same voice of the devil that spoke to Eve in the Garden is in the world today  questioning God in everything, "Did God say". I am continuing to learn, when I hear that voice, to stop and question,"IS IT GOD'S WORD OR THE DEVIL'S LIES!"

Faith in God is a gift, we receive when we are born again.  It is like a muscle that has to grow through trials and tribulations. James 1:2 says, " for you know that the testing of your faith, produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

My second thought about being in a desert place doesn't have to do with doubt and unbelief.  Once the Lord spoke to my heart, "The desert place doesn't have to be a hard place.  It is a time of testing and a time when you grow the most in your faith.  Have you ever seen a desert flower?  They are some of My most beautiful flowers.  They have learned to grow in a dry place because they know that I care for them. You are My desert flower".

Brother and sister, if you are in a dry place, and you are trusting God with His plans for your life, you are becoming one of His most beautiful desert flowers. A delight to His eyes, as you increase in your faith.  God will be able to do the impossible through you. He is perfecting your faith and you will lack nothing.  You will be able to believe Him for anything, because in the days ahead, it will be a good thing that your faith has been exercised.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Death of a Moralist

 I was raised from childhood to read my bible. I memorized the 10 commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the 23rd Psalm when in grammar school. I loved the Christmas and Easter story and believed that Jesus was a very unusual and a different kind of person, who once lived and taught mankind how to govern themselves. I remember many of the sayings from scripture that my mother tried to teach me, like "turn your other cheek" or "do unto others as you would have them do to you."  Honestly, I didn't understand either one.  Who wanted to turn their cheek?  You could get hurt!  Of course I thought I was a Christian.  I had to be. I went to church every Sunday, and lived in a Christian Nation, the United States, right? WRONG! I was a CHRISTIAN MORALIST.

I was raised to think that Christianity was all about being good, following the ten commandments, which I failed many times, and being like Jesus.  He was a very moral person.  He didn't argue with His mother or Father, or fight with His siblings.  He was forgiving and kind and went to synagogue every Saturday.  Jesus was my good example to follow.  I survived through grade school and high school until I entered college.  College was a different world. I found it hard to be good!  There was drinking, swearing, dating, and cheating on exams all around me.  I had a big problem with my Christian worldview.  My faith was challenged.  I soon found out that my faith was in a RELIGION call Christianity.  I didn't know that Jesus wasn't religious and that I could have a personal relationship with Him.

After one year of  college, my Christian faith was shaken to its roots. Fortunately, I was dating a "christian moralist" and he asked me to marry him.  Knowing what I know today, "It was a God thing". We kept each other on the straight and narrow path. We have been married now for 54 years and the eyes of our understanding have been enlightened to see that Jesus is not religious or a moralist. He is God,  resurrected, alive, and living His life through His body the church by the person of the Holy Spirit.. 

Once the Holy Spirit started to open my eyes to the Living Word of God, the bible took on a whole new dimension.   The Gospel of John became my favorite book and later the book of Romans . John Chapter 16:12-15  says "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak of His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak and He will declare  to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you."  WOW, I never realized until then the importance of the Holy Spirit and that He was a person, not just a spirit floating in the clouds.

As I continued to read the bible,  it was as if God was speaking to me personally for the first time.  Growing up, I had never heard  anything about the person of the Holy Spirit.  He was the missing link. I now realize that without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to understand or to interpret the Word of God.  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and a very important person of the Godhead.  I never want to quench Him because He is the one who continues to reveal the  Risen Lord Jesus Christ to me. He is not an "IT". He is a person, who has come to replace Jesus on earth.  The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin and opens our eyes to see our need for a Savoir and to bring us safely home to the Father, as the bride of His son Jesus.  THE RELIGIOUS MORALIST HAS DIED IN JESUS CHRIST and NO LONGER LIVES.
" I have been crucified with Christ Jesus.  It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:19,20,