Posted in Christianity

Fret Not!

Thoughts this morning…

Mt 6:33,34. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and ALL THESE THINGS will be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough troubles of its own.”

A quotation attributed to both Origen and Clement of Alexandria on this passage: “Ask great things and little things shall be added to you; ask heavenly things and earthly things shall be added to you.”

We need not fixate on the temporal worries, although it is the natural way to see our problems. Instead we might take Jesus more seriously and seek after what He instructs us to have as our priorities – the spiritual above the physical. This takes some practice of redirecting our thoughts heavenward in prayer and communion with our Father and familiarity with His many promises. But the results will prove that this is how we should live.

This is the way Jesus lived and exemplified for us that physical things follow after the pursuit of the spiritual treasures. Thus we cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us. Seek nothing more than, “Your will not my will be done.” And leave it all with Him.

If God has seen to the needs of our salvation through the finished work of Jesus Christ His Son our Savior, then surely He can get us through this temporal experience and life.

Recall the words of Mary at the wedding, as she says to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you,” so her words come to us His servants in the 21st Century. Seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness and believing firmly that all else shall be added unto us is a good place to start!

If anxiety is a problem, why not give this a try, and watch what happens. His promises are as good as His Word which never fails. So let’s be diligent to know and study it and to pray accordingly!

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Blaiseintotheblue, out!

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality

Some Days Are Like That

Sometimes none of it makes sense. Yet we can ask – in faith – for wisdom, not doubting.

But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.” James 1:4 AMPC

Meaningful and relevant thought From T Austin-Sparks:

“Things that enter into our history we cannot always fathom, but the explanation which we can give is that, whatever there may be as second causes, the Lord is Sovereign and He thinks it worthwhile sometimes to allow what the world would call the most terrible thing to overtake for the time being, and it would seem that His Name and interests suffer through that thing, but through that thing He brings His people to a place of maturity and they get to know the Lord for themselves.”

(Or, looking at the far view in Latin: Non si male nunc et olim sic erit. Though now we suffer, we shall not suffer always.)

Take heart, unfinished saints in the works, beloved in Christ. “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was aware and loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:28,29. AMPC

Take heart, and have a blessedly meaningful day…

Posted in Christianity

The Asbury Event

What’s really disturbing is the outcry of CRITICISM of this event at Asbury U… “They didn’t say this; they didn’t do that… it’s not going where we think it should… it’s not ‘changing our country’… bla, bla, bla…”

For crying out loud!!! Are you God? It’s up to Him what He’s doing and where He’s taking it and how long HIS PLAN – not your ideas – will take.

Reminds me of some events from the Bible. “He cannot possibly be the Messiah. He comes from Nazareth. Can any good thing come from there?” (Get the whole story, eh?)

“Even though we prayed for Peter all night, that couldn’t be him at the door. They had him locked up! Must be his ghost. Nothing to see here.”

Why pray if you don’t really believe prayer will be answered??? You pray for a move of God, and when something starts with signs following of repentance and contrition and rebirth, well, that just cannot possibly be a move of God. Because it’s not happening the way you think it should.

We ought to be thankful and on our knees rejoicing and repenting that God would even come to do ANYTHING in a country this full of depravity and hypocrisy. It’s a blessing and a show of His willingness to show up where He is still welcome. These young people know that the mess this world is will unfold under their watch. And what better thing to do than to prepare themselves with prayer and inviting Him to be present in events to which there are going to be no human answers!

Have a care, you nay sayers. You’re about a nano millimeter from the potential of blaspheming the Holy Spirit!

Soli Deo Gloria! Amen!

Posted in Christianity

Prayer as a Way of Life

See Col 4:2 NASB. “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”

During the wee hours (one of my friends calls this the “4th Watch”) I was strongly stirred to write out prayers for every person on the evening prayer list. My time for insomnia to hit. Roughly 3-6 a.m. Redeeming the time. Not that I have completed that task yet, but I’m coming to realize that it’s not just about responding with a praying hands emoji to the needs of loved ones or the world. Actually praying is more than an intention in your head.

It is helpful to be orderly when it comes to prayer and to keep it centered in Scripture as the focus of meditation. Lack of “structure” may be what puts off a great many people from ever developing a solid prayer practice. There may also be a critical attitude toward any sort of written prayers as well. Personally I find written prayers and prayer books very useful as a springboard into more personalized or spontaneous praying. They help to get things on track as well as keeping it there, and aid with being mindful of one’s connection to God throughout the day.

God knows our tendencies toward a wandering mind and distraction, especially in a time when so many claim ADHD and the like, so He would probably rather that we draw near and begin with form prayers than not at all. The more one turns toward God in prayer, the better. Besides, it is good discipline to learn to be still, and it may be that some of our “pathology” is due to never having had that encouraged as a child. Nor might there have been any example of it. Just saying…

Written prayers (you can make up your own too) make good launch pads into more spontaneous talks with Jesus. Over time I have found it useful to develop 2 sets of prayers – a personal one to begin the day, then one for evening where the family can pray together. Prayer features to begin and end the day. It takes a little getting used to, but it becomes a very good habit, as it greatly improves the spiritual atmosphere of the home. God is given the lead, and no one can go wrong with that! 

To share prayer at least once a day is, in my opinion, as vital – if not more so – as sharing a meal together as a family. These are times where there’s a rather patent agenda to isolate and separate people, and this is a good way to combat that direction in our own homes, if we do not allow the sinister powers that be to fragment our families by not praying together and sharing a meal at the same time at the same table together. We should always desire to see things for what they are, and then call our Lord Jesus Christ into it to be our guide and protector.

Ephesians 6:18 NASB. “With every prayer and request, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be alert with all perseverance and every request for all the saints.”  

1 Corinthians 14:14,15 NASB. “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive. What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit, but I will sing with the mind also.” 

1 Samuel 12:23 NASB. “Furthermore, as for me, far be it from me that I would sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.”

These passages all point to the fact that the work of God’s people is prayer more than anything. We are the body temples of the Holy Spirit. Jesus calls His Father’s house a house of prayer.

Christ our Head intercedes for us, makes His plea before the Mercy Seat on behalf of His shed blood for our sins and having paid the death penalty for us. He is the Head and we are His body. So is not the body where the head is, engaged in what the Head does?

Samuel calls it sin to fail to pray for God’s people, even when they strayed! We are to pray at all times. We are to pray with both the spirit and the understanding. Paul exemplified and taught this to a very high degree.

The beauty of prayer as our service to others is that, even as one becomes older or may be disabled, it is a good way to stay spiritually fruitful. Jesus directs us to go into our inner room, shut the door, and pray in secret, per Matthew 6:5,6. That is encouraging for anyone with decreasing mobility or ability for going out to an activity, and who might feel that he or she has nothing to offer anymore amidst the people of Christ.

The Royal Priesthood is not only about worship and praise and “activity” but also prayer. Older Christians or disabled who still desire to serve the Lord and His people do well to consider devoting themselves to prayer as a new way of life! Consider how, in exile, the Lord mightily used an elderly John!

We do well also to pray for those who are shut in, or for anyone who seems to be left out of the church shuffle, so to speak, that the Holy Spirit would stir their hearts to kindle in them the will and the wherewithal to be about the Heavenly Father’s business of prayer, as their opportunity to still offer and contribute this gift of prayer.

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

Over, ’n’ out, Blaiseintotheblue

Posted in Christianity, Uncategorized

A Work in Progress

A Work in Progress – Becoming What We Are in Christ

1 Samuel 16:7b NKJV. “… For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

2 Corinthians 5:14, 16 NKJV. “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; … Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.”

Is this to say that we need not espouse the directive to become holy, that our sanctification is not to be manifest, that we never encourage or exhort or pray for one another, or that the life of Christ within us remains some sort of hidden candle that never brings its light to the world, or that it is OK to sin that grace may abound?

By no means!

What it does mean is that we do not judge according to our own standards of what we see on the outside of a person, as indicating what God is doing on the inside of a person, as to their spiritual progress. We are to regard them as someone for whom Christ shed His blood and thus they are His claim. What He works in them, or the time it takes is not up to us.

So often our regard for one another is according to the flesh. We need to “see” a different way. Paul points to a “mystery” here: that is, if One (Jesus Christ) died for all, then all died. 

This is the feature of proclaiming the Gospel, so that all who died in Christ may hear and also join Him in His resurrection, as having been made new creatures in Him.

Let’s consider that in light of Ephesians 2:4-10.  I’ll let you look that up rather than writing it here. Have you taken this reality to heart? It means to live according to the “vision” of already having died and made love in the death and resurrection of Jesus! It is in this reality that we live, move, and have our being – becoming what we have been made already – ever being cleansed and made whole by grace through faith, and that the Holy Spirit is ever cleansing us and making us whole – wholly – holy more like Jesus all the time.

We become what we are. Paradoxically. Choose into it and live out from it. That is the expectation of the Gospel!

Pick up an acorn from the ground, and say, “This is an oak tree!” And so it will be – when it is planted into the ground, subjected to being diminished and to dying to its current form. That must happen, if the “life codes” put in it by our Creator are to be awakened, and thus it may gradually become something other than a little nut. It involves a process to become what it is, that great big tree that we cannot see, except with the eyes of faith in God’s intention for the acorn.

Like the acorn, we are to become what we are, not just remain little nuts. That is the expectation of the Gospel! But, as Jesus makes clear, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” John 12:24 NKJV. That is applicable to any seed, pit, or nut.

Here’s another way to see it. 

As I write this, I can see a very large painting I finished some months ago, yet it was started over 25 years ago! There were clearly long periods of dormancy. Other priorities seemed to prohibit finishing it. It sat in the basement gathering dust for years after only the background had been painted. It had to be lifted out of its space in the dark, and put back on the easel. Cleaned up before the rest of the paint could be applied to it. Then recently, something prompted me to get working on it again, and it seemed urgent to complete it. So a work in progress, even though with many delays, had finally become what it was intended to be – after it became clear in my mind what the subject was really all about.

As I finished it, I realized that this is how the Christian life works. It’s always a work in progress. We are its recipients, thanks be to the Holy Spirit.

We should never give up on anyone, especially our fellow believers, as confused or problematic as they may seem to us! Jesus does not give up on us! 

This is why we do not cease to give thanks and to make mention of one another in our prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ and Father of glory, may give to us all the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. This is a paraphrase from Ephesians 5 beginning at verse 15-23. It was how Paul prayed for believers!

This prayer is well worth adapting, to be prayed over all who name the name of Christ Jesus. We can include our sometimes discouraged selves! We cannot see what we are to be without the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. Once you see it, you cannot unsee it, and the “vision” will encourage and spur you on.

It’s important to get rid of the reductionistic, “linear” thinking that has beset the definitions of the Gospel. We have to see all that He has made available to us, in order to be all that He desires us to become according to His will – comprehending no one according to the flesh. In other words according to our human, finite opinions about where this one or that one ought to be by now.

The Holy Spirit used my painting to illustrate this to me. The chief Creator and Master Artist! He reinforced – with the encouragement of this project – an understanding about His work in me, and especially in others. It just doesn’t happen all at once. His grace is all sufficient! And He is patient beyond our imagining.

I have also noticed that some of the great classic hymns were not brought forth to completion overnight. Lyrics, for example, might have been penned by a Reformer from the 16th century, but the words were known only to a few of perhaps his contemporaries. Or the words may have been written by someone anonymous, yet having a good sense of being able to combine good theology with poetry. Yet a century later, someone else comes up with a melody. And a century after that someone translates it, and it is published and put into a hymnal – which you have the honor of holding in your hands. The truly worthwhile works seldom happen in the blink of an eye.

(And just an aside – this is also why I advocate for the use of hymnals: They put you in a prayerful posture, with your head bowed and your hands in a receptive position, filled with the word of God in poetic rendition.) 

Nature and creative processes are works of God that don’t happen overnight. And so it is with those to whom God gives the right to become His sons and daughters, those who believe on His name. We are His workmanship, cast in the earth forge of affliction and trial, to bring forth beings of eternal glory and beauty and fitting us for the heavenly kingdom. This is an amazing gift!

Consequently we must be patient in prayer, even for those who may resist the Gospel as they live according to the world and the flesh. Prayer and patience will prevail. We see them and call upon God on their behalf, always remembering that the purchase price of their soul has been paid by the blood of the Lamb Who takes away the sin of the world. 

There’s also a time and a place for a truthful admonition, rebuke, or some encouragement, by the way.

We should also be ever prepared to present the precious foundational Gospel with this understanding: that which has been provided in and through the work of Christ Jesus must be entered into and lived, in repentance and faith, ever turning to Him Who has been given all authority in heaven and on earth.

Let’s never take for granted the “Great Commission.” “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ ” Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV. Pray, ponder, proclaim!

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8,9 NKJV.

Posted in Christianity

A Time to be Sheepish and Follow the Lamb

One of the prime characteristic of our time is deception. It comes politically, socially, philosophically, scientifically, medically, and especially religiously. And every other imaginable way. But especially in spiritual “pursuits.”

Entities have long been masquerading as the departed, as saints, as angels, pretending to “bring a word” from God … Complete with FALSE signs, wonders, miracles. Now it’s escalating, and many are enticed and lured into what seems so good and so right. They look for phenomena, for “secrets,” for power, for a way to beat the future. Or it may be a boredom with “ordinary” church, and a yearning for an indescribable “something more.” A higher consciousness and a new way to get there. Maybe even a desire to be “more spiritual” than the next person. Or might it even be an unacknowledged lack of trust in the all sufficiency of the finished work of Jesus Christ?

There are a lot of motives that can take a soul off the Narrow Way in Christ and into the woods of enchantment.

Where’s the “First Love,” Jesus Christ, in all this?

These stirrings and attractions and allurements can happen even to faithful Christians. They just slide away in the hum drum, little by little. Tired. Dry. Thirsty. Impatient. Curious. Hurt. Any state of vulnerability. The arch predator knows your weak spot. It will be where he aims to set his hook! He has something for everyone.

It can happen to the very diligent. Watch out!

Consider Revelation 2:3-5 BSB. “Without growing weary, you have persevered and endured many things for the sake of My name. But I have this against you: You have abandoned your first love. Therefore, keep in mind how far you have fallen. Repent and perform the deeds you did at first. But if you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”


There’s an adversary. Make no mistake about it, and it’s time for game on – according to this.

The coming of the lawless one will be accompanied by the working of Satan, with every kind of power, sign, and FALSE wonder, and with every wicked deception directed against those who are perishing, because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them.” 1 Thessalonians 2:9,10. BSB

Consider to whom this is directed and why…

Do you really love the Truth? What’s your weak spot?

Beware of what you seek, what you open yourself up to… It’s playing with fire if you’re naive about this, and it will take you down a black hole where you will not want to be.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and Satan loves one – especially an emptied mind given over to Eastern practices and occult pursuits, and he will send lots of his willing associates of an incorporeal sort into it to deceive. This has no place in the Christian’s life, even when it’s “Christianized” with so called “Christian Contemplative” practices.

Ask yourself, why would Christians need pagan practices to connect with God? This was always what got the ancient people of God into trouble – pulling the practices of the peoples around them into their life and worship: idolatry, necromancy, human sacrifice, and eventual judgement. It always escalates.

And there’s nothing new under the sun, is there?

Yea, hath God said … ?” Genesis 3:1

He has provided all that’s needed, by His grace, to be received through faith, and lived out in love and good works. He has provided His will through His Word, the Holy Bible. He has opened the way to His throne of grace through prayer.

There are those pesky Ten Commandments, which some seem to think are only ten suggestions, to be “interpreted” as needed.

Pray regularly and in all circumstances. Study Scripture. Learn from Jesus. The “metaphysical appearances” are unnecessary. Jesus mentioned this in the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus – that if people will not heed the law and the prophets, then neither will they listen if someone should come back to them from the dead.

Be on the alert, be vigilant – circumspect, watchful. Your adversary the devil walks about seeking those who are naive and vulnerable whom he may devour. He is a hungry lion! Pray for the Holy Spirit continually. Stop making excuses and give the boot to whatever rises up in you that wants to pull you in the direction of “deeper spiritual experiences.” They will be deeper alright. So deep you will wind up in over your head in at best some very dark spiritual oppression, if not out and out possession.

If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him! Surrender yourself in full to Jesus Christ. That’s what’s needful. Stay there. Come back if you have left the simple and pure devotion to Him!

I am afraid, however, that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may be led astray from your simple and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims a Jesus other than the One we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the One you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it way too easily.” 2 Corinthians 11:3,4. BSB

Please consider and ponder the many warnings from God’s word:

Most importantly, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.” 2 Peter 3:3. BSB

There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not receive My words: The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.” John 12:48. BSB

Now the Spirit expressly states that in later times some will abandon the faith to follow deceitful spirits and the teachings of demons.” 1 Timothy 4:1. BSB

But in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.” Hebrews 1:2. BSB

But because you are not My sheep, you refuse to believe. My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:26-28. BSB

This is the one really important time when it’s good to be His sheep.

Posted in Christianity

The Narrow Way – Surrender To The Cross

Psalm 85:8,9. NKJV. “I will hear what God the Lord will speak, For He will speak peace To His people and to His saints; But let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land.”

A Lot of people want to make America great again. This cannot be done by politics or social movements. If America is to be “great” again (if she ever was, in terms of what “great” actually means in terms of what Jesus taught), she must be filled with the glory of God. In that light alone America may be great “again”. And if she is ever to be great and glorious, then she must become godly, living in full surrender to the redemption and salvation won for her in Jesus Christ. This is true for any nation! 

For not all paths lead to God, or are in God, contrary to the popular thought of the times. I realize that is a very unpopular claim in an “I’m OK, you’re OK” kind of world which despises Jesus Christ. Or even among churchy people who lean toward an implied universalist mindset.

Lost in the woods and off the path, morally and ethically and without godly wisdom and understanding to guide us, we need a compass to come back to the path – the Way of the Cross.

There is no other Way. Only one. That is through the One Redeemer and Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom is given all authority in heaven and on earth, Who by His cross and resurrection has purchased and won us from sin and eternal death, Satan, and self. The One Who is the Way, Truth, and Life. This is the premise of any “glory” to which we would lay claim. This is His authority.

And oh, how sophisticated 21st Century man hates the idea of divine authority!

In this Psalm of the sons of Korah, we find a prayer that the Lord will restore favor to the land. While it is true that God is love and mercy, desiring to bestow favor to the land, we cannot see this on our own terms and definitions – which, more than likely, is some sort of emotional fascination with unmitigated tolerance and softness toward what we want or think will make us feel good. Much of this comes from decades of conditioning by the ideas that come out of the entertainment industry, with idolizes hedonism, sin, and rebellion toward God.

Rather, the love and mercy of God make it imperative for Him to communicate to us how things actually work. God’s love has a “tough love” component. After all, He is bringing many sons to glory! (Hebrews 2:10) What we are now is not what we are to be! As the best Parent, He speaks to us – outwardly – by way of His word, the Bible, and by way – inwardly – through a conscience informed by His truth. He pours out His Spirit, Who writes His truth on our hearts.

Are we listening? Can we say with the psalmist, “I will hear what God the LORD will speak”?

He is calling us back onto the path of repentance, of turning toward Him – hearing, heeding, and following the Lord Jesus on His path of holiness and righteousness. This is the Way of the Cross, described in an old fashioned word seldom heard in the church anymore: it is a way of “mortification.” Death to the world, the devil, and the flesh. Here is where He provides blessing, good, and protection for those who follow Him.

Yes, there are the “influences” – corporeal and incorporeal – calling us off the path and back into the woods, where they would rob us of our Lord’s blessing and goodness. So if we follow those voices which would lure us into selfish, sinful lifestyles, we are lured into that which has as its goal the destruction of both soul and body. Eternally.

This brings to mind an old hymn which makes a good prayer for help in hearing what the Lord will speak to help stay on the path of everlasting life. There are 4 verses, but I will offer only the first one and then the third later: 

Let us ever walk with Jesus, 

Follow His example pure; 

Flee the world which would deceive us 

And to sin our souls allure. 

Ever in His footsteps treading, 

Body here yet soul above, 

Full of faith and hope and love, 

Let us do our Father’s bidding; 

Faithful Lord, abide with me; 

Savior, lead, I follow Thee.” 

(Tune: Sigismund von Birken 1652. Lyrics: Georg G. Boltze 1788. Translation: J. Adam Rimbach 1900.)

The basis of this old hymn is one of those mostly overlooked little verses, John 11:16. “Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.’” They are on the way to the grave of Lazarus, who has just passed away, but he is not referring to dying with Lazarus.

What a treasure is in this little verse, but in a sense it addresses the Gospel in our co-death with Jesus. (Read Ephesians 2:4-10) So, we go on to verse 3 of the hymn:

Let us also die with Jesus,

His death from the second death

From our soul’s destruction frees us,

Quickens us with life’s glad breath.

Let us mortify while living,

Flesh and blood and die to sin,

And the grave that shuts us in

Shall but prove the gate to heaven.

Jesus, here I die to Thee,

There to live eternally.” 

Why this Thomas was called the Twin has many interpretations. So I’d like to offer my take on it. Spiritually he “twins” with Jesus. He chooses to be inseparable from Him, to be as He is. Where Jesus goes, he goes, and he encourages the others likewise to follow.

The Cross is always the narrow way that leads to life. It is the only way, in fact, of eternal life. It is foolishness to those who are perishing, as they seek to find eternal life by other spiritual paths, or they seek to preserve and improve this temporal existence. But to all who are being saved, the Cross is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18.

Are you going with Him?

Posted in Christianity, Observations

God’s Goodness Is In All Circumstances

Ponderings… I may have posted something similar previously, but the thought, the concept of this truth, stays with me…

In praying the Psalms, patterns reveal themselves about God being ever present. Perhaps at some point I may do a series on all of them.

Psalm 31:19. Oh how great is Your goodness, Which You have laid up for those who fear You, Which You have prepared for those who trust in You in the presence of the sons of men.

Psalm 23:5. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup overflows.

When reading through this Psalm 31, it becomes evident that King David is experiencing a great amount of adversity. The accounts of his life reveal unimaginable strife, turmoil, conflict, war, affliction, sin, and rebellion. All of these conspired against the right to reign over God’s people tasked to him by the Lord, for which He was anointed. He is a rough type or shadow of Christ, and called a man after God’s own heart.

What becomes clear is that his attention is set above these challenges. The progression of his prayer shows first how he brings his lament over circumstances to the Lord, and he moves into profession of faith :14 – “But as for me, I trust in You. You are my God. My times are in Your hands.”

He then asks for deliverance from his enemies and persecutors, and to be saved out of the circumstances. It was time for the wicked to have their day of shame, even to be silenced in the grave! He boldly calls on the power of God to put down the bullies (my word) who lie and speak insolent things with pride and contempt against the righteous. This seems to be the pivotal point for turning things around – where the prayer changes direction.

What follows is essentially a chorus of praise of God, Who in spite of circumstances works miraculous things, bringing the light of awareness of it into very dark times. Right in front of a world in conflict and opposition with the Lord and His people.

Verses 23 and 24 are strong encouragement to love the Lord and hope in Him. This is for all us saints – those set apart for His plans and specific purposes for each one.

Be of good courage! (A good time to check out Romans 8:18-30) The promise follows, based upon his experiences and knowledge , “He shall strengthen your heart!”

There’s a little meme out there which keeps popping up: “Stay calm and pray a psalm.” You can also sing, chant, read reflectively, or meditate on one as well. This one covers the bases of how prayer can flow, going from a lament over how things are perceived circumstantially, through laying down that view and burden at the Lord’s feet, and then accelerating up into a place of transcending our view of circumstances, by way of declaring and praising God’s goodness and blessing for those who put their trust in Him – in the presence of the sons of men, who will either be full of hatred and envy, or there may be some who will see it who will come to Him in surrender.

This is why the Psalms are often called the prayer book or the hymn book of the Church. Over and over the pattern is made clear, by David and the other very artful inspired sacred song writers who contributed to the Psalms, that our Lord is very interactive in the affairs of those whom He has claimed in Christ Jesus.

The Psalms show us how to make prayer practical and applicable to life.

If our “religion” is not that, making us aware of what a relationship with God looks like, then of what use is it? The cross is the path, and it is not the easy and broad way.

Soli Deo Gloria. Amen.

“Off world” and out into the blue!


Posted in Christianity

Grace: Justice and Mercy Bringing Purity of Heart

Ezekiel 36: 25-37 NKJV. “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”

We all love to “claim” certain promises of God, often as means to deny what we’d rather not experience, due to the misunderstanding of grace as only what feels good. But there are a lot of promises for divine dealing with sin. 2 Peter 1:2-4, which reveals that God has given to us “… exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”

But, full stop! There’s more! There are some “conditions” to be met – not aside from grace, but that we need to see grace in a fuller way, in all the Lord’s dealings with us. What is perceived as a threat or “negative” can actually be part of His promises.

But have we made idols out of emotional highs and feeling good?

The entirety of Ezekiel 36 gives us a rundown on all aspects of God’s grace, as He brings it into our lives in an up close and personal way. Let’s recall that those Old Testament events were given for examples to us, upon whom the end of the ages has come. (See 1 Corinthians 10:10-12.)

So, what may be a little difficult to swallow and digest is that grace is not just about those Holy Ghost hallelujahs, highs, and happiness, what we call “positive” experiences. It’s about the “negative” aspects of life that we often find ourselves praying will be taken away.

But consider Job. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Ezekiel 36 more than hints that it is often through the oppression God allows by the disagreeable nations of the world to whom God gives political, social, and religious hegemony – that the prosperity and privileges enjoyed as one aspect of God’s grace disappear from what we perceive as our right, what we think we “deserve.” 

God uses what works to cleanse hearts. He does not need our opinions as an advisory capacity. This can be said of personal circumstances as well as political and social forces.

We have to let that sink in, acknowledging that it is all allowed by God’s hand.

His people go into captivity, or are overtaken, because their hearts are turned away from Him and become filled with impurities – of the ways, religions, and priorities of the world, of the nations surrounding them. This can happen on a personal to political scale!

And then, when those nations – those adversarial forces – become joyful, of a spiteful mind, plundering and pillaging, God begins to deal with them also, for overstepping their bounds. He pours out His fury on them, when they go beyond what He sent them to do (which is to cause His people to turn toward Him when in captivity, to surrender themselves to Him in full). Then He sets the captives free. 

Thus Ezekiel 36 is well worth contemplating in its entirety, so as to notice the pattern of God’s modus operandi.

It is because we do not acknowledge this pattern, that we are prone to stumble, wrongfully concluding – because of “negative” experiences – that our prayers are not being answered according to His will. The truth is, we do not see what time it is, according to His dealings with humanity generally and His own people specifically. Our prayers are being answered, but do we have the eyes to see that His ways are not our ways?

God’s grace governs all, for God IS love! If a nation is in the midst of tribulation, it is by God’s grace, expressed as the “tough love” aspect of the Father of all things.  It is expressed in judgment, as the human children step out of bounds with sins of omission and commission of thought, word, and deed. of not being of one mind with our Lord.

If we experience blessing and abundance, it is likewise because of His love. If we can look at our “good” times and our “bad” times as coming from the all powerful hand of a righteous, loving Father, life makes much more sense, and all things carry meaning, not hopelessness.

Thus we are to encourage one another according to His wisdom, not according to what we “feel.” This is perhaps one of the hardest things to learn in a culture that is soft with good times and prosperity. But learn it we will. When it’s not soft and to our liking.

It is not because of resting on the laurels of the past, regarding ourselves as a “Christian” nation, or even a “true” church, that He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called by His name. Our Father’s business is the business of creating clean hearts and steadfast spirits, according to His truth and wisdom. He is bringing many sons in Christ Jesus to glory.

It may also disrupt our me centered self absorption somewhat to begin to comprehend that He does all things for the sake of His name! (See Ezekiel 36:21-23). That name is above every name – the name of Jesus! – and stands for what has been given to Him: all authority in heaven and on earth. 

So often His name has been profaned by His own people in the midst of the nations! Could this be why we are instructed to pray, in the first words of the prayer He taught us, “Hallowed be Thy name”?

He does not exist for our glory, but we exist for His. Yet He is always bringing about our good for His glory. Not according to our understanding or our timetable. The entire prayer He taught is about the “process” of His grace, as it works both divine justice and mercy, which purify the heart and bring glory to His name. All of that is grace. All of it is good.

May we view life through the lens of His understanding, acknowledging our Lord as omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient – in all events of life. This will not happen without a pure heart which is fully His and holding back nothing. And it is He Who creates this through all His dealings with us.

We do not get to pick and choose which of His promises apply to us. They all do. Sometimes – as needed – we are promised judgment and justice. At other times we will find ourselves in a place of blessing and mercy. Or moving from one to the other. Ezekiel 36 gives us the picture of this process.

The key is to be of one mind with Him, so that we know “what time it is,” and to comprehend Him in the midst of all of it! 

“All to Jesus I surrender; I surrender all.” This is expressed in prayer, the sacrifice of praise, and the giving of thanks in all times and places – the expressions of faith.

We do well to come to a place where we can see that being filled with the Holy Spirit is not always about feeling good and jumping up and down with a Holy Ghost happy dance. Often it is about the strength – in His power – to endure to the end and be saved. In everyday life as it unfolds.

It is through much tribulation that we enter the kingdom of heaven. See Acts 14:22.

Soli Deo Gloria! Amen.

Posted in Christianity, Spirituality

The Missing Ingredients

The Missing Ingredients –

Here is the much needed message of the day. Spirituality ought to be very practical in terms of servanthood and humility in Christ. This puts a different and more accurate spin on the verse here, often “interpreted” in some sort of bombastic way about doing a lot of accomplishments for the sake of notoriety, even “for” the Lord. (There’s nothing like spiritual ego / pride!) Everybody wants to “be somebody.” But is this the Lord’s way for most of us??? See Mr. Sparks’ thoughts below…

From January 14, 2023
By T. Austin-Sparks from: The Risen Lord and the Things Which Cannot be Shaken – Chapter 10

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)

Christ’s spirituality was not that He was remote from what was practical in everyday life. It was that He was bringing heavenly forces and resources to bear upon the practical matters of everyday life. You can wash doors, or clothes, or floors, or do any of these ordinary domestic things, in spirituality. People seem to think that spiritual work and ordinary work, household work for example, are two different things. They talk about the spiritual work and the other work. Now, you can bring heavenly resources in to do anything that is legitimate, and the doing of those things may be a testimony.

The majority of people have no occasion to draw upon heavenly resources for a platform ministry. For the most part their work is of some regular, daily kind, and very often they feel utterly unable for it, and they are tempted to think that if they had some spiritual ministry to fulfill, if they had to go and take a meeting, or speak to some souls about spiritual matters, they could make a claim upon the Lord for help and He would carry them through. For the trivial round and common task such a thought is all too often wholly absent from the mind. Now, exactly the same resources have to come into the ordinary work as into what we call spiritual work. It has all to be done on a spiritual basis, and therefore to be a testimony. To get through an ordinary day’s work often requires something more than ordinary human resources. Spirituality consists in our doing everything as out from heaven. Let us be careful how we draw a line, lest we make a distinction between the spiritual and “the rest.”

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