Spiritual heartache

Spiritual heartache

Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it. – Jeremiah 20:9

Jeremiah 15:16-20

 16 Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; forI have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.

 19 Therefore, thus says the LORD, “If you return, then I will restore you – before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, but as for you, you must not turn to them.

 20 “Then I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; and though they fight against you, They will not prevail over you; for I am with you to save you and deliver you,” declares the LORD.

Amanda Smith was born a slave in Maryland. By the age of three, Amanda was freed from physical slavery. But her soul was still in spiritual bondage.

At one time, she thought if only she would go to the altar rail at the front of the church, she would achieve peace with God. But she was afraid that she would embarrass herself. Eventually, she became so weary of the ache inside of her that she went to the altar to pray for salvation. But she came away just as miserable as when she went.

Amanda was ready to throw in the towel regarding her search for the Father, but a whisper said, “pray again.”

“I will pray once more,” said Amanda to herself, “and if there is any such thing as salvation, I am determined to have it this afternoon or die.” On Tuesday, March 17, 1856, she went down to the cellar to pray.

Amanda half-expected that the family would find her dead. She had prayed before without results. She had no assurance of acceptance with God. She wrote,  “I cannot remember the time from my earliest childhood that I did not want to be a Christian, and would often pray alone.”

Again her prayers seemed futile. Darkness settled on her. She remained at odds with God. Finally, in desperation, believing that God would strike her dead because she had promised to get saved or die, she looked up and said, “O, Lord, if You will help me, I will believe You.” In the act of telling God she would believe, she did believe. “O, the peace and joy that flooded my soul!”

Now she was freed from spiritual slavery. From that day forward, Amanda wanted nothing more than to know Him and share the incredible reality of the Father’s presence in her life (https://www.christianity.com/).

Some of the Father’s children ache for Him before they come to know Him. So it was with Amanda Smith. She felt as though she could not live another day without experiencing the peace and joy that salvation would bring her. Before that fateful day, the Father’s peace and the joy were only theoretical constructs. But the day that she met Him, they became realities. Her life was totally changed.

For others like Jeremiah and David, the spiritual hunger and heartache for the Father were the passion of their lives after they were His children.

REFLECT & PRAY

“God’s highest priority for our lives is to develop an intimate and growing relationship with Him. He made us to thirst for Him as we thirst for water and to seek Him as we seek relief from a parched throat” (Stanley).

Father I long to have the heart of David and the passion of Jeremiah for You and Your word. Please ignite and stoke a passionate fire within me and never ceases.

INSIGHT

David, the king of Israel, had an intense love for the Father God. His heart longed for Him. His heart hunger was as intense as extreme thirst.

Psalms 42:1-3

 1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.

 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?

 3 My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

Jeremiah was called to be a prophet, one of the Father’s special servants. It was at an extremely dangerous time. The judgment of God was about to fall. Judah was about to be conquered and Jerusalem destroyed along with the temple by the Babylonians. The people were rebellious and defiant. They refused to receive and believe Jeremiah’s message. They treated him dreadfully. He became so discouraged that he wanted to give up and stop speaking, but he could not.

The Father would not allow Jeremiah to be silent. Although the message would fall on deaf ears. The more he tried, the greater the passionate fire for the Father and His word burned within his heart.

Jeremiah 20:9 But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.

Rather than allowing Jeremiah to give up, something special and marvelous occurred. Jeremiah was supernaturally empowered to declare the message. And he was supernaturally protected. It was as though he was surrounded by an impenetrable wall of bronze.

Jeremiah 15:19-21

 19 Therefore, thus says the LORD, “If you return, then I will restore you – before Me you will stand; and if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, but as for you, you must not turn to them.

 20 “Then I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; and though they fight against you, they will not prevail over you; For I am with you to save you and deliver you,” declares the LORD.

 21 “So I will deliver you from the hand of the wicked, and I will redeem you from the grasp of the violent.”

Jeremiah models for all the children of the King how to respond to the Father’s exhortation. Rather than be despondent and move backwards in disappointed disobedience, Jeremiah repents and acquiesces to the Father’s will and purpose for his life.

Each child of the King has a choice. Jeremiah had chosen to be faithful to his calling. Now he must do so under extremely difficult circumstances. The Father instructed Jeremiah to do only two things. He had to separate the precious from the worthless and continue to speak the message.

It is incumbent upon all of the children of the King do the same.

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Conscience, our inner judge

Conscience, our inner judge

They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. – Romans 2:15

Romans 2:14-15

 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,

 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

Tyrants fear faith. Their greatest hatred is reserved for those forms of Christianity which teach people to obey conscience. And this is for good reason. Few world systems can stand the scrutiny of Biblical faith. Wherever scripture liberates minds, laws are transformed, and governments forced to yield or fall.

For example, in early centuries Christian tenacity compelled Galerius to issue his edict of tolerance ending the Diocletian persecutions. Quaker determination moved England to allow individuals to practice conscientious objection to war. Baptists are largely responsible for the adding of the Bill of Rights to the United States Constitution.

Of all world systems, perhaps Communism has most reason to fear Christianity. Its atheism is diametrically opposed to faith, and Marxist tenets are in large measure nothing but pale imitations of Christian doctrine and eschatology. Communism fears conscience based upon faith.

In Russia on the 23rd of January 1918, the Bolsheviks issued a decree separating church and state. This was welcomed by evangelical Christians, who had suffered terribly under Orthodox persecution. Under Lenin, a certain amount of freedom was allotted to Christians. That changed after his death.

Teaching of religion in schools, private or public, was prohibited. The Soviet constitution favored atheism. Church buildings were confiscated by the state and rented back for sums beyond the ability of congregations to pay. House churches were outlawed. Bible printing became illegal. Preachers were denied ration cards. “You are nonproductive citizens,” they were told. If congregations wished to support their pastors, they first had to pay an exorbitant tax, greater than the minister’s salary. Poor people could not do this.

Christians who refused to obey these laws were sent to labor camps where many died. Every impediment to worship which could be contrived was introduced. In spite of this, pockets of faith survived. “Suffering is testimony to Jesus,” said the children of the King. And rather than pray that their sufferings be relieved, they prayed for strength to bear up under them (https://www.christianity.com).

What is the conscience?

Humanly speaking, a conscience is our inner sense of right and wrong. It either approves or disapproves actions or thoughts based upon the standard we have. If our standard is not in alignment with the Father’s, we can jump to wrong conclusions. What we deem to be right or wrong can be entirely skewed. One’s conscience can become “seared,” that is rendered ineffective, numb, and desensitized (1 Timothy 4:2).

The human conscience is like a judge. It adjudicates and both approves or disapproves. The outcome of its decisions are only as good as its standard of measure.

Many consider the inner voice they hear, to be the Father’s voice. Yet, is that not. This is a common misunderstanding.

It is possible that your conscience may condone what the Father does not condone. And, it is equally possible that your conscience may condemn you for what the Father does not. The Father alone has final judgment in all things. Therefore, Paul cautions each of the Father’s children.

1 Corinthians 4:5 So don’t make judgments about anyone ahead of time – before the Lord returns. For he will bring our darkest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives. Then God will give to each one whatever praise is due.

But when making decisions, it is wise to take our conscience into consideration. To reject the voice of your conscience is asking for trouble

1 Timothy 1:19 Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked.

REFLECT & PRAY

The conscience does not “know” anything. It has no content within itself. Rather it assesses what we know or think we know about right and wrong, and then passes judgment: yay or nay.

Father encourage me to learn Your Truth, and exchange it for my “truth.” Help me to make wise and right decisions based upon Your standards and not my own.

INSIGHT

“The conscience functions something like a computer. A computer is programmed to respond in specific ways to specific information. Also, it responds to information based on the commands it has been programmed to follow . . . The conscience is a responder as well. It responds to certain input just as it has been programmed” (Stanley).

Romans 2:15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.

The Greek word translated conscience is suneidesis. Suneidesis comes from two other Greek words with, sun and to know, oida. It can be literally translated “a knowing with.” The conscience is like an inner judge (Hodges).

In Paul’s thinking, and is almost as though we have a split personality. It seems as if we are divided within ourselves. There are opposing forces inside our own minds. There is a constant arguing and debate going on within regarding moral conduct. They both evaluate the same thing, but from different perspectives. As a result, one condemns while the other condones.

The conscience operates based upon the light and truth that we have. We cannot reject the voice of conscience with impunity, but we can modify the highest standard to which it relates by gaining for ourselves a greater understanding of the truth” (Kruse). The more Truth we know from the word of God, the better informed our conscience will be. Consequently, we can make better decisions.

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Facial recognition

Facial recognition

Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” – Genesis 32:30

Genesis 32:24-31

 24 This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break.

 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.

 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.”

 28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

 29 “Please tell me your name,” Jacob said. “Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

 30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.”

 31 The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.

Facial recognition software “could herald the end of public anonymity,” said Kashmir Hill in The New York Times. There is a new app called Clearview Al. It scours the Internet searching for images of faces. It stalks social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. It has ferreted out more than 3 billion photos and deposited them in a database. It can match faces to this database, using the seemingly, ever-present surveillance cameras, located in major cities. It can match any scanned face to what is stored.

Clearview licenses its technology to more than 600 law enforcement agencies. Such technology invites potential abuse. As we Google a name today, we will be searching for someone by face tomorrow. The surveillance society is just around the corner (The Week, February 07, 2020).

Jacob developed his own facial recognition firmware using his brain and eyes. He had a close encounter with the Father of the third kind. He finds himself wrestling all night with a mysterious figure. Apparently, Jacob must’ve been a very strong person with a great deal of endurance. The match was essentially a draw. He would not let go nor give up until he received a blessing. Jacob asked to know the name of the person with whom he was wrestling. He did not get a direct answer. But rather he received an indirect one. This is the time and place when the Father changed Jacob’s name to Israel.

Genesis 32:25-28

 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket.

 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

 27 “What is your name?” the man asked. He replied, “Jacob.”

 28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

Jacob understood and called the name of the place where the wrestling match occurred, Peniel.

Genesis 32:30 Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.”

The identity of this mysterious person is clarified in the book of Hosea. He was the Angel of the Lord and He was God. The Angel of the Lord is a unique angel who appears frequently in the Old Testament. He is the pre-incarnate Christ but that is a story for another day.

Hosea 12:3-5

 3 Even in the womb, Jacob struggled with his brother; when he became a man, he even fought with God.

 4 Yes, he wrestled with the angel and won. He wept and pleaded for a blessing from him. There at Bethel he met God face to face, and God spoke to him–

 5 the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, the LORD is his name!

For example, if you look closely, He is present and speaks from the burning bush to Moses. He clearly identifies himself as God.

Exodus 3:2 There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up.Exodus 3:14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”

REFLECT & PRAY

In the Father’s kingdom, we win, when we lose.

Father may I follow the advice of Corrie Ten Boom, “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

INSIGHT

There is an obvious lesson to be learned. The Father is more than willing to allow His children to wrestle with Him or His angels. He is not upset or angry when we do this. Undoubtedly, in human terms, He expects it. I would imagine more than anything, He is a tad bit amused that we would be so brash and bold. But that is simply the way He made us.

But ultimately, whether we wrestle physically or verbally with the Father, we will never win. The best we can hope for is a draw. But there is often collateral damage

Genesis 32:25-31

 25 When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and dislocated it.

 31 The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip.

What is the name Israel mean? There is a play on words here that is not obvious in English. In the Hebrew the word translated striven, struggled or fought is sarita. Sarita has the sense of to “contend,” “struggle,” or “contest with” (UBS).

Genesis 32:28 “Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

This sentence explains why Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. In Hebrew, the word translated striven (struggled) is sarita. The first part of the Hebrew verb sarita is linked in sound to Isra in “Isra-el.” The word God in Hebrew is Elohim. El is a common abbreviation for Elohim. El is the second part of the compound name “Isra-el.” Thus Israel is more or less the shorthand for, “you have struggled with God” (Sailhamer).

The focus here is on Jacob’s assertiveness, strength, and endurance. He has the ability to cling onto his stronger opponent despite his injury and the pain that accompanied it. He would not give in nor give up. He was persistent and insisted upon receiving a blessing before he would let go (Hamilton).

How ironic, Jacob won when he lost. He lived the rest of his life limping. Wherever he went, curious people would no doubt ask, “why are you limping?” Probably, he would answer something like this, “I wrestled with the angel of God, even though I lost, I won. Now I limp.”

In the Father’s kingdom, we often win only when we lose.

Matthew 10:39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

The sooner you yield, the sooner you win.

Hebrews 12:11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening, it’s painful! But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it.

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Good Shepherd – Dumb Sheep

Good Shepherd – Dumb Sheep

I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy, dark day.Ezekiel 34:12

Isaiah 40:11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

 11 “For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.
 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.
 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country.

14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel.
 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD.
 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak . . .

The Scriptures often compare people to sheep. They are in drastic need of a shepherd. For centuries, sheep have been considered dumb if not just plain stupid. But a paradigm shift is underway regarding sheep intelligence.

Due to their strong flocking instinct and failure to act independently of one another, sheep have been universally branded “stupid.” But sheep are not stupid. Their only protection from predators is to band together and follow the sheep in front of them.

There is a growing body of evidence that sheep may be smarter than we think.

According to researchers in Australia, sheep can learn and remember. Researchers have developed a complex maze test to measure intelligence and learning in sheep, similar to those used for rats and mice. Using the maze, researchers have concluded that sheep have excellent spatial memory and are able to learn and improve their performance. And they can retain this information for a six-week period.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge discovered that sheep have brain power to equal rodents, monkeys, and in some tests, humans. They discovered sheep “intelligence” while researching Huntington’s disease.

The scientists put sheep through a set of challenges often given to humans suffering from Huntington’s. The sheep showed that they had advanced learning capabilities, as they were able to navigate the challenges in the same way as humans and primates (http://www.sheep101.info/stupidsheep.html).

Sheep need a shepherd who lovingly cares for them. The prophet Ezekiel condemned the leaders of Israel at that time as bad shepherds. Israel’s leaders had exploited them and failed to protect and cherish them.

But promises were made about a future good and wonderful shepherd. God himself would be their shepherd and promised to rescue them.

Ezekiel 34:12 I will be like a shepherd looking for his scattered flock. I will find my sheep and rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered on a cloudy, dark day. –

Isaiah 40:11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart.

Promise made!

REFLECT & PRAY

God is greater than anything on earth (Isaiah 40:12–20) or anything in heaven (Isaiah 40: 21–26). Creation shows His wisdom, power, and immensity. He is greater than the nations and their gods. He founded the earth and sits on the throne of heaven, and nothing is equal to our God, let alone greater than our God (Wiersbe).

Father thank You that You are a great loving and caring shepherd. Thank you that you sent the Good Shepherd to sacrifice His life that we might have eternal life and experience the loving care of a tenderhearted Shepherd forever.

INSIGHT

Promise fulfilled!

John 10:11-15

 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep.

 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

 14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,

 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.

But there’s more.

John 10:27-29

 27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;

 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.

 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Who gave the Lord Jesus Christ the sheep that belong to Him? The Father, long before the world existed. From among all of the people that would ever be born, a flock of people were chosen to belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. Before the sheep hear and respond to their Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ’s voice, He says they already “My sheep.”

The Greek language has several past tenses. One of them is called the perfect tense. The perfect tense is used to describe an action which occurs in the past at a single point in time with continuing results into the future.

Point action in the past            · |

                                            └─────────  Continues into the future

My Father, who has given them to me (John 10:29). The Greek verb translated perfect is dedoken which comes from the Greek verb didomi. Here the Greek verb dedoken  has the sense that the Father has given sheep to the Lord Jesus Christ at some point in the past and they continue to be His sheep into the future.

We belong to the Lord Jesus Christ because the Father has given us to Him.

Before the sheep hear and respond to their Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ’s voice, He said they already “My sheep.”

You are already His sheep before He calls you. And when His sheep hear His voice they come and follow Him. Your identity as His sheep is actualized. At that very moment in time, the Lord Jesus Christ gives each of His sheep eternal life. Eternal life lasts forever. It begins at the moment of faith. Every child of the King has eternal life right now. They do not have to wait for death.

But there’s even more. Because the Father is greater than all, no one can snatch one sheep out  of His hand. Each sheep is safe. He will feed and carry His sheep in His arms, holding them close to His heart (Isaiah 40:11).

Jesus promised three things.

(1) He promised eternal life. He promised that if they accepted him as Master and Lord, if they became members of his flock, all the littleness of earthly life would be gone and they would know the splendor and the magnificence of the life of God.

(2) He promised a life that would know no end.

(3) He promised a life that was secure. Nothing could snatch them from his hand. This would not mean that they would be saved from sorrow, from suffering and from death; but [in] . . . the darkest hour they would still be conscious of the everlasting arms underneath and about them. Even in a world crashing to disaster, they would know the serenity of God (Barclay).

Spiritual facelift

Spiritual facelift

For as he thinks within himself, so he is. – Proverbs 23:7

2 Corinthians 3:18 So all of us with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz was a plastic surgeon and a psychologist. He discovered that when he changed a person’s face, it often resulted in a changed personality and life. For some reason, a new face, gave many people, but not all, a whole new life. In some cases, a new face resulted in no changes in that individual’s life. Maltz was fascinated and wanted to understand why.

Why do people get facelifts? Often it is because they are not pleased with their appearance. They feel badly about themselves. They have what is now called a “poor self-image.”

He began to focus on the spiritual and psychological component of the individuals he treated. Your self-image is tied to your self-worth. Maltz helped popularize the term “self-image.” Our self-image and patterns of thinking impact what we do. Apparently our self-image or self-concept provides our mind with direction. It provides targets, goals, and aspirations.

Cybernetics is derived from the Greek term kybernetes. Kybernetes comes from the Greek verb kybernao which means to steer. Kybernetes refers to a helmsman, steersman, governor, pilot, or rudder.

One’s mind automatically pursues goals based upon your self-concept. Maltz coined the term, Psycho-Cybernetics, to describe this phenomenon.

The conclusion is fairly simple. Your self-image is not automatically transformed by changing your outward appearance. A psychological or spiritual facelift is frequently also required.

Dr. Maltz’s efforts in Psycho-Cybernetics helped launch a whole new genre: the self-help movement.

In modern times, Psycho-Cybernetics was only discovered in the 1950s and 1960s. But Solomon had it figured out three millennial ago. He wrote about it in the book of Proverbs circa 1000 BC.

Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is.

The Hebrew word translated thinks is shaar. Shaar means “to arrange.” For example a scale of balancesor thoughts (Ross). Shaar has the sense of calculated, literally “as he calculated in his soul.” Hence, our inner thinking, reveals our true self-identity. “Johns Hopkins noted that one’s ‘inscape’ determines his landscape” (Waltke).

Many “modern discoveries” derived from experience, thought, imagination, and reflection are no more than rediscoveries of what the Father said in His word thousands of years ago. Revelation precedes and often outpaces the discoveries of modern rationalism and empiricism. It’s really fantastic to have a Father God that knows everything all the time.

REFLECT & PRAY

Our inner thinking, reveals our true self-identity “God is after transformed lives, not merely reformed ones” (Stanley).

Father how well I know that my inner-self is a very poor reflection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Encourage me daily to allow the Holy Spirit to change me from one degree of glory to another.

INSIGHT                               

Not only do the Scriptures indicate that we act out what we think, they also describe how to go about transforming our inner-self. It requires “personal training” in an entirely different sense of the term. We invite the Holy Spirit to become our “personal trainer.”

2 Corinthians 3:18 So all of us with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is at work in the life of each child of the King. He is transforming us over time from what we have been to what we will be. This makeover is a lifelong process. It is not an instantaneous change. It is not one and done. It requires spending a lot of time in the word of God. “As we train our minds to focus on the person of Jesus, as we meditate on Him, the Spirit begins molding us into His image” (Stanley).

We are enabled to see the Father’s glory in and through His word. His glory is revealed in His word. “The image of God that we see in the Word accurately reflects God though we do not yet see God Himself. What we see in the mirror of God’s Word is the Lord, not ourselves. We experience gradual transformation. As we observe Christ’s glory we advance in Christlikeness and reflect His glory, not in our faces but in our characters” (Constable).

Every day we probably look into a mirror. We always see the same thing, our own face. Paul is saying that the image in the mirror begins to change over time from our face, to the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. The more time we spend in Father’s word and see His glory and the glory of His son the Lord Jesus Christ, the more Christlike we become.

The Father is an expert at performing spiritual facelifts. He never earned a MD degree. He has something far greater, a GOD “degree.”

The word translated changed is metamorphoo in Greek. The English word metamorphosis comes from this verb. Metamorphoo describes the process that changes something from the inside out. We commonly use it when we describe the transformation of insects from larva, to pupa, and finally into an adult.

2 Corinthians 3:18 “presents a truth so exciting that I marvel so many believers have missed it – or ignored it. You and I can share the image of Jesus Christ and go ‘from glory to glory’ through the ministry of the Spirit of God” (Wiersbe)!

The transformation occurs in our minds. It is a process of renewal, remodeling, and reconstruction.

Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

There is a natural principal at work. We begin to take on the characteristics of people we spend our time with.

Psalms 1:1-2

 1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.

 2 But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

With whom or what do you spend most of your time? Do you desire to become more like the Lord Jesus Christ, then spend more time with Him in the Word. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

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Preoccupation limits seeing

Preoccupation limits seeing

She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. – John 20:14

John 20:13-16

13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her. “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

 14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him.

 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?” She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

 16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

“From ancient times, the core idea of the soul is the soul is the capacity to integrate different functions into a single being or into a single person. The soul is what holds us all together: what connects our will and our minds and our bodies and c him him onnects us to God.”

A healthy soul is whole and integrated. It is connected to God. A person with a healthy soul is at peace with God, with himself, and with other people. When the soul is understood and attended to, we can be liberated from hurry, preoccupation, unsatisfied desires, and chronic discontent” (John Ortberg).


So often our ability to see is clouded because of our preoccupation and inward self-reflection. Mary failed to see and recognize Jesus due to her grief, self-reflection, and preoccupation. We see only that which we have the inward power of seeing (Westcott).
 
After Jesus’s death, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early in the morning and found the stone rolled away and His body gone (John 20:1-2). She ran to get Peter and John, who returned with her to find the tomb empty (John 20:3-10). But Mary lingered outside in her grief (John 20:11). When Jesus appeared there, “she did not realize that it was Jesus” (John 20:14), thinking He was the gardener (John 20:15) (Elisa Morgan).

How is it even possible that Mary could not recognize the Lord Jesus Christ after spending so much time with Him? Perhaps, she simply was unable to see what she was not expecting to see. She anticipated that she would find a tomb with the stone covering the entrance. Behind the stone would be a dead body. Yet, He was alive! He was standing right in front of her.

How was she able to finally recognize Him? The moment she heard the Lord Jesus Christ speak her name, “Mary,” she knew it was Him. Somehow or another, down through the ages, once someone hears their name spoken by the Father or the Lord Jesus Christ, they remember Their voice. I remember exactly how it sounds when my mother my name or my wife calls my name.

REFLECT & PRAY

How often do we only see what we only want to see? Daily events, preoccupation, and the vicissitudes of life often obscure what the Father is trying to reveal to us.

Father give me discernment to see the Lord Jesus Christ with the eyes of my heart. Enable me to discern Your guidance and to recognize whatever You desire to teach me.

INSIGHT


How do treasury agents learn to detect counterfeit money? You would think the answer is simple, study counterfeit money to become aware of its characteristics. But in fact, it is just the opposite.

Treasury agents become very, very familiar with the characteristics of real money. One treasury agent summarizes the approach with the phrase, “touch, tilt, look at, look through.”

And so it is with the children of the King. The more we get to know the real thing, the real Lord Jesus Christ, the more we develop protective discernment against counterfeits.

This does not happen overnight. It takes practice, determination, and experience.

Hebrews 5:14 Those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

As we walk through life, we should expect to see the Lord Jesus Christ and hear His voice. The more familiar and acquainted we become with Him, the more we see Him.

In the Gospel of John, some outsiders, probably Gentiles, came to worship. They had undoubtedly heard the stories about the Lord Jesus Christ, and they were excited to meet and spend time with Him. They came to Philip.

John 12:21 “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”

If you wish to see the Lord Jesus Christ, pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened to be enabled to do so. This is Paul’s prayer for all the Father’s children.

Ephesians 1:18-19

 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,

 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

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You are never too old to live your dream

You are never too old to live your dream

He was thirty years old when he began serving in the court of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And when Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he inspected the entire land of Egypt. – Genesis 41:46

Genesis 41:8-43

 8 Pharaoh was very disturbed by the dreams. So he called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. When Pharaoh told them his dreams, not one of them could tell him what they meant.

 14 Pharaoh sent for Joseph at once . . .

 15 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream last night, and no one here can tell me what it means. But I have heard that when you hear about a dream you can interpret it.”

 16 “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.”

 17 So Pharaoh told Joseph his dreams . . .

 25 Joseph responded, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God is telling Pharaoh in advance what he is about to do.

 29 The next seven years will be a period of great prosperity throughout the land of Egypt.

 30 But afterward there will be seven years of famine so great that all the prosperity will be forgotten in Egypt. Famine will destroy the land.

 33 “Therefore, Pharaoh should find an intelligent and wise man and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt.

 34 Then Pharaoh should appoint supervisors over the land and let them collect one-fifth of all the crops during the seven good years.

 37 Joseph’s suggestions were well received by Pharaoh and his officials.

 38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God?”

 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are.

 40 You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.”

 41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.”

 42 Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and placed it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothing and hung a gold chain around his neck.

 43 Then he had Joseph ride in the chariot reserved for his second-in-command. And wherever Joseph went, the command was shouted, “Kneel down!” So Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of all Egypt.

When David Ayres had a kidney transplant 15 years ago, the Ontario native was sure his days playing competitive hockey were over. But on February 22, 2020, at the age of 42, the Zamboni driver made his NHL debut. He was in the stands over Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena, watching the Maple Leafs play the Carolina hurricanes, when Carolina’s two goalies, James Reimer and Petr Mrazek, were injured during a game. As the Maple Leaf’s designated emergency goalie, Ayres put on a Hurricanes uniform and hit the ice.

He became the oldest goaltender (at 42 years, 194 days) to win his NHL regular-season debut, and for this. David Ayres’ game-winning stick is now on display in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He gave up 2 goals but then stopped 8 shots, helping the Hurricanes when 6-3. Ayres said, “I was absolutely nervous!” But “it was awesome.”

Obviously, Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams brought about a tremendous positive change in his life. From the dungeon to the throne room in day! But earlier in his life when he was young, he was the one having dreams. And as for our interpretations caused him nothing but trouble.

He was one of 12 brothers. He dreamed that his brothers would one day bow down and serve him. He made the rather huge mistake of telling them. They were already jealous, and now they were furious. And finally another dream came in which even his own parents bow down before him. Foolishly, once again he mistakenly told his brothers. (Genesis 37:4-11). They determined to make plans to kill him out of pure malice, spite, and envy. Fratricide loomed on the horizon (Genesis 37:18).

But Reuben interceded, and Joseph’s life was spared. He was thrown into a cistern and left there. Now Judah steps Up, and suggests they sell him as a slave. And so Joseph at age 17, was sold as a slave and was taken to Egypt. In Egypt, Joseph was bought by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.

Genesis 39:2 The LORD was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.

Potiphar put him in charge of his entire household and everything he owned. Joseph was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and sentenced to prison. Joseph was a prisoner for just a little over 12 years. What chance was there now that his dreams would ever be fulfilled?

This is called, “the death of a vision.” The Father takes many of His children through this experience as a part of their preparation for service down the road. He uses setbacks, disappointments, and even disillusionment. His goal is to teach us to trust Him and depend upon Him solely for success.

REFLECT & PRAY

The Father often works in totally unexpected ways to fulfill His personal promises that once began only with the vision for the future.

Father thank you it is never too late and that we are never too old to live our dreams. We recognize our lives are in your hands and we trust You for the future.

INSIGHT

When the famine hits, the entire geographical area is affected. Only Egypt has grain. As a result, Joseph’s 11 brothers and father find themselves in Egypt. And they all bow down before him. His mother Rachel had already died.

“Faced with the death of a vision, a person must hold on to hope, anticipating and expecting God to work out His revealed will in one’s life, even when it seems impossible. This ‘season’ of waiting provides us with the opportunity to develop Christlike character, to realize our shortcomings and inadequacies, and to trust God to demonstrate His power and bring the vision to fulfillment” (Gothard).

You are never too old to live your dream. It took Joseph around 25 years to realize his. In the valleys are often very low, filled with disappointment, unmet expectations, betrayal, and ultimately fulfillment beyond his wildest imagination.

Often, the death of a vision is a prerequisite, a steppingstone, to its fulfillment. The hardest part is waiting and maintaining faith and trust.

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The enemy of my enemy is my friend

The enemy of my enemy is my friend

You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave. The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.” – Isaiah 28:15

Isaiah 28:16-18

 16 Therefore, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “Look! I am placing a foundation stone in Zion, a firm and tested stone. It is a precious cornerstone that is safe to build on. Whoever believes need never be shaken.”

 17 “I will test you with the measuring line of justice and the plumb line of righteousness. Since your refuge is made of lies, a hailstorm will knock it down. Since it is made of deception, a flood will sweep it away.”

 18 “I will cancel the bargain you made to cheat death, and I will overturn your deal to dodge the grave. When the terrible enemy sweeps through, you will be trampled into the ground.”

There is a lesson to be learned for America in general, and the Father’s children in particular. Sometimes it is necessary to lay down our disagreements and form coalitions for the greater good. In 2020, with the outbreak of COVID-19, is it such a time?

Beginning in 2019, after intense political mudslinging and “fake news,” and three subsequent elections, none of the candidates were able to form a needed majority coalition to become prime minister of Israel. Suddenly everything changed. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s current prime minister, and Benny Gantz, his major opponent, compromised. Why?

Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White party stated, “I chose the only path possible at this time, a national emergency government!” Why?

Gantz explained as follows, “We are facing one of the most serious challenges in the history of our country. It is a global challenge of exceptional magnitude, and it has hit Israel at a time of crippling political deadlock and unbearable divisions – a lethal combination. Leadership has never been more necessary. Leading has never been more difficult.”

“As a soldier who has dedicated my life to protecting the State of Israel, I have vowed to carry my commitment to the country forward and inform my decisions as a political leader. At this time of crisis, I had no choice but to put politics aside and choose the only path that allows us to avoid a fourth election. Because at a time like this, pulling people out to the polls again – many of whom have lost their livelihoods and are riddled with anxiety about the future – is inconceivable. I chose the only path which positions Israel to effectively fight this horrific pandemic: the path of a national emergency government.”

“More than ever, Israel needs unity. Israel needs strong and capable leadership, able to relentlessly fight the coronavirus, while protecting Israel’s democracy.”

“And let me state clearly: No matter how fierce the battle, I will never compromise on democracy. I will never compromise on the principles underpinning the votes of the more than one million Israelis who voted for Blue and White.”

If there was ever a balancing act that required wisdom, discernment, and direction from the Father, it is dealing with enemies.

On the one hand we are to trust the Father with all of our hearts in every and all situations. We are to depend upon Him, and Him alone. Before the children of Israel entered the promised land, they were sternly warned. And the Father told them why. The Father provided sufficient reason for caution and the need to obey Him.

Exodus 23:32-33

 32 Make no treaties with them or their gods.

 33 . . . they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry.

But they did not listen and did the exact opposite and eventually began to worship idols and false gods.

There were to eschew foreign alliances and depend upon the Father alone for their safety. But again they did not listen.

Isaiah 30:2-5

 2 For without consulting me, you have gone down to Egypt for help. You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection. You have tried to hide in his shade.

 3 But by trusting Pharaoh, you will be humiliated, and by depending on him, you will be disgraced.

 5 all who trust in him will be ashamed. He will not help you. Instead, he will disgrace you.”

Isaiah 28:15 You boast, “We have struck a bargain to cheat death and have made a deal to dodge the grave. The coming destruction can never touch us, for we have built a strong refuge made of lies and deception.”

In each and every case, the results were disastrous. We as the Father’s children should take His advice and obey His commands for our own well-being and protection. And regrettably we do the same thing, do we not? The Old Testament is replete with remarkable miraculous intervention by the Father on behalf of those He loves (Joshua 10:11-14).

But this is a double-edged conundrum.

REFLECT & PRAY

Too often we think we have a “better idea” than the Father. Really?

Father thank You that You have provided a firm foundation stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, upon which I can stand and never be shaken. I have only to believe and trust You and the Lord Jesus Christ Your perfect provision. I need not panic nor be disturbed.

INSIGHT

Sometimes there is wisdom in and necessity for forming alliances with our enemies, when we face a threat from an even greater enemy.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, is an ancient proverb. Perhaps it is derived from principles set forth in the Art of War, by Sun Tsu. It suggests that two opposing parties can or should work together against a common enemy.

Winston Churchill made reference to this principal during World War II when America and Great Britain became allied with Russia to defeat Hitler. Churchill said, “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the Devil in the House of Commons.”

There is an old story told of the Father’s children being inside of a fort. An enemy attacked them, and the soldiers threw stones over the wall at them. And what did the children of the King do? They picked up the stones and began to throw them at one another. It is so easy to be a stone thrower, is it not?

All the children of the King face far greater enemies than each other: the world, the devil, and the flesh to name but a few. Should we not lay aside our often-petty differences regarding practices or beliefs? Should we not stop acting like infantile 5-year-olds in a sandbox fighting over toys? Is it time to put on our grown-up clothes?

In 2020, entirely new practices were put into place for people’s safety worldwide: social distancing, stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, lockdown, working from home, and telemedicine.

How often do we bicker over silly things with those we love? Is this the time to lay down our stones and work to enhance our family relationships? Perhaps it is a marvelous God-given opportunity to renew our vows, fall in love again or grow deeper in love for one another and once again become best friends.

What is the alternative?

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