Safe and Secure in the Arms of Jesus

THE SECRET PLACE
“He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

PART 2

SAFE AND SECURE IN THE ARMS OF JESUS

“The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.” (Psalm 9:9)

When you were a kid, did you ever have a tree house, a fort or a special place where you could hide from the world? Even if it was inside of an old refrigerator cardboard box, it was a good feeling to have a “secret” place where we could be alone. When we started getting older, we cherished the lock on our bedroom door and now as adults, we love the blessing of having a warm and cozy home that we can call our refuge. Many men have garages, basements, or buildings out back (man caves) where they tinker with projects, as just another form of security and privacy. However, there is another type of “hide away” and is the ultimate special place – it is found in the realm of the Spirit, a “strong tower” of protection that we can run into and be safe. Where is it? It is the place in our heart and soul where we fellowship with Jesus. It is a secret realm where we feel His presence, it is a personal sanctuary where we enjoy the quietness and sense His peace. A haven where we listen intently and adore Him for who He is. How important is it for you to pull away from the chaos and the distractions of this world, and spend time with Him?

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

To be surrounded by His presence is the highest blessing we can experience. It is by His grace and mercy that we can speak freely and honestly confess our failures. Through His unmeasured love we can receive His forgiveness and be refreshed with a new infilling of His Spirit everyday. Our minds can be cleared and our hearts can be cleansed before Him – if we take the time to be with Him. He longs to hold us and talk with us. He loves it when we take our eyes away from the confusion and distractions and focus on Him alone. It is in these precious moments, our attitudes are adjusted and our faith is renewed. It is in these humble times of tears and sorrow that my hope is reinforced and I am reminded of where my strength to “carry on” is coming from. I must spend quiet time with Him – it is not an option. I must leave the well-worn path and find His peaceful harbor. I must find that secret hideaway where I can be spiritually and emotionally healed and restored. To be “pure in heart” one must make contact with the refiner’s fire. It is in the time of reflection, meditation and repentance that we can present ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice. This is not religion – it is a personal relationship where holy intimacy is developed as we continually rest in His bosom. He must become everything to us – All that we are and all that we will ever be.

“The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalm 46:11)

God’s people who rest in Him can say with David the psalmist, “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us: then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us: then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul: then the proud waters had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped, as a bird out of the snare of fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:2-8).

Joel saw an army of mighty men and said, “They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks” (Joel 2:7). Who was he talking about? He was seeing a vision of God’s last day disciples that have made up their minds to stand for truth even if it cost them everything. These are the overcomers that would not allow the pleasures and temptations of this age to soften them or cause them to compromise.

God’s people will not run in fear, because they know they are secure under the precious blood of the Lamb. We know that in spite of all the violence and wrath of men, the body of Christ on earth is growing stronger every day. While all that is temporal is being shaken, governments spinning out of control, and economies collapsing, the true remnant of Christ is solid and unmovable. The imposter church is a religious façade that is not genuine. Many of God’s true followers are hidden away in the secret places of service. The one’s that are learning about intercessory prayer and helping the poor are the remnant of souls in danger of persecution. These wise virgins can be found filling their lamps with oil as they prepare to meet their bridegroom. They have invested their time into His Word; they have responded to His instructions and know Him in the loving power of His resurrection. They surrender their heart and will, they love Him completely.

A missionary to Ireland in the fourth century named “Patrick” expressed the reality of Jesus as “God with us” in this beautiful expression:

CHRIST BE BESIDE ME – CHRIST BE BEFORE ME,
CHRIST BE BEHIND ME – KING OF MY HEART;
CHRIST BE WITHIN ME – CHRIST BE BELOW ME,
CHRIST BE ABOVE ME – NEVER TO PART.
CHRIST ON MY RIGHT HAND – CHRIST ON MY LEFT HAND,
CHRIST ALL AROUND ME – SHIELD IN THE STRIFE;
CHRIST IN MY SLEEPING – CHRIST IN MY SITTING,
CHRIST IN MY RISING – LIGHT OF MY LIFE.

“Father, may I allow Your Word to penetrate my conscience so that it transforms my attitude. I pray that my sin makes me nauseated and causes me to weep because I have disappointed and hurt you. May we not go back to the mud and the life of a swine. Break our hearts and give us a burden to pray for others. May my calloused heart be softened with a fresh revelation of your love. We paint the doorpost of our heart with your shed blood and we speak the promises of your covenant in faith knowing – that your love never fails. Purge me, refine me into your holy image. I love you, amen.”

Times of Refreshing

THE SECRET PLACE
“He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High
shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)

PART 1

TIMES OF REFRESHING

Quiet time with you Lord is the most joyful
You know my thoughts, as I listen for your voice
I want to know you, to see you and touch you
As I draw near, I am humbled and in awe of you

I believe that spending quiet fellowship with God is the ultimate fulfillment we can experience in this realm. Loving Him with all of our heart is the meaning and purpose of living and anything less than these visions of the divine is a failure and great disappointment. Our Father has given each of us the opportunity to live and He carefully planned for us a life of duty and honor. Our duty is to obey His voice and our honor is to love Him and serve Him with all of our heart. The question remains; who will live in the secret place of His presence? There are prophetic signs all around us and God’s Word is being fulfilled every day that is bringing clarity to the remnant of God’s people. In addition to the coming tribulation, there is coming a time of trials and persecution to those who proclaim to be the disciples of Jesus Christ. I would love to write about the future being laden with riches and world peace but I cannot with a conscience sugar coat a pile of mud and call it a chocolate cake. The hardships that I am referring to are the cruel opposition from the world toward those who will stand boldly for God’s truth. However, all is not lost! Just because the world hates Jesus and those who represent Him, does not mean that we will not experience victory. We remember the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace and we rejoice in the promise that no matter how difficult or severe our trial, Jesus will be with us. If we can learn to “abide” in the secret place , we will not be afraid because we are holding hands with the God of heaven and earth. In this light, you and God are a majority and will never fail! Fear is a result of doubt and not being confident of our “standing” with God. If we KNOW that we are “IN CHRIST”, we can walk in faith and confidence no matter what or who is against us. Staying under the shadow of His wings proves how much we trust Him and reveals our passion for our intimate communion with His heart. “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings shall you trust: His truth shall be your shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:4)

Have you ever wondered about how the gifts, miracles and supernatural manifestations should be a normal way of life, but unfortunately, the super-natural power is only manifested at best on rare occasions. The churches have traditionally been thought of as the place of demonstration, but I believe God is trying to teach His people that His power is not reserved just for the corporate sanctuary. Many of the churches have forsaken the call to holiness and this has opened the door to the sin and worldly compromise, which in turn has prompted the Holy Spirit to exit through the back doors. Without the supernatural power of God demonstrating His miracles – there are no miracles! God will not push His way into man’s religious programs and man certainly has no power on his own to do a miracle. God’s people have been called to be “vessels” of honor and purity so that He can be poured out “through” them! It is easy to talk about God’s power, but who will live the holy and dedicated life in order to manifest His power? Selah.

The Lord knows His children and is calling His people to “walk” with Him as a lifestyle – and not just a club membership. Divine appointments are spiritual events that are pre-arranged by God to accomplish His will. It is true that sermons given to the corporate body can be edifying to those who hear it, but there are 166 more hours left in the week that Jesus desires to minister. I personally believe God has provided heavenly warehouses of spiritual armor and gifts and is waiting for his people to start using it, but there again it is much easier to talk about the battle than to actually enlist. There are many excuses that people use to not develop spiritually but in the end we will find disbelief and laziness. Most do not want to learn because they realize that knowledge results in responsibility. It is strange that people would go to all the trouble to attend an assembly on Sunday, to partake of the services, fellowship, activities and even give an offering but never allow the Word of God to influence them during the rest of the week. People who do not study daily are obviously not hungry for God’s revelation so if they are not seeking the daily truth and daily personal relationship with God then why are they visiting Him once a week? Because most people are convinced they can pat God on the head and keep Him satisfied with whatever they choose to offer Him. It is a deception to believe that everything will work out and be alright in the end. Reverential fear is the respect for His perfection to remember and reward without partiality or favoritism. The person who loses the discernment of God’s ability to be a perfect disciplinarian has chosen to enjoy the pleasures and false security of foolishness. “My flesh trembles for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.” (Psalm 119:120)

If Christians prayed, fasted and studied during the week there would be many contributors to the traditional church meetings instead of a lecture and an audience. The problem is that most religiously minded people want to keep God in a house and under the control of service days and times. Walking in the Spirit “constantly” would point to man’s responsibility to live holy and in turn mean that God could be manifested anywhere at any time. It is much easier to “visit” God than invite Him to live with us! Selah. This is why religion is much more popular than being a disciple. Most people do not want to hear sermons that announce how Christianity was never designed to be a spectator sport and there are no benchwarmers – only player/coaches. They would much rather hear about how God wants to bless them with wealth and an easy life filled with pleasure. This humanistic spirit of religion has slowly influenced the masses and has gained many military victories with dousing the flames of Holy Ghost power with the waters of carnality. When the flesh is allowed to rule, it naturally begins to teach heresy that is designed to fulfill the flesh while denying the spirit. Our flesh hates anything to do with being crucified! It does not want to hear about it or talk about it or even entertain the thoughts of it. No doubt it is much easier and convenient to be spoon fed Bible stories like a little baby (sincere milk of the word) than to grow up and actually live a life of faith by seeking out your own salvation with fear and trembling. This is another example where organized religion can take the place of personal spiritual growth if there is not a willing heart that desires to become serious with living for God. We do not know someone intimately by listening to second hand history lessons and the conclusions of someone else’s level of theological understanding. You see, we cannot actually “know” an ancestor just through people telling us how they were and what they did. We can know about them but not really KNOW them. Knowing God is the same way, it is a real, living, PERSONAL journey filled with first hand experiences and the desire to privately hear God one on one. It is about extending our faith in prayer so that we can learn directly from the Holy Spirit and realize he is waiting to slowly reveal what is hidden to us individually. The secret place reveals who He is to us and who we are in Him!

It is true we are an important piece of the universal body of Christ but at the same time a complete unique creation that contains the fullness of the power of the universe. God “in us” gives us everything we need for the unlimited potential to be like Jesus, a spiritual powerhouse with no limits. We are equipped with a transformed mind, a temple that houses the presence of God, along with being a channel for boundless miracles and supernatural wonders. We have been given a small portion of freewill for the purpose of drawing near to God and resisting Satan. (Most events are predestined and even the enemy is used to accomplish God’s divine order of Holy blueprints. This personal worldview is the result of years of difficult searching). But the point is that we have been created with such spiritual versatility yet most do not even comprehend their mission. I know that fellowship is good and the fellow soldiers concept is a healthy, Holy truth but let us remember that God has used the eagle as an example of how a mature and confident representative should live. Like the eagle, a true follower of Christ lives and flies in the higher realm far above those who cannot see the forest for the trees. When everyone leaves the Lord and abandons us, we will stand strong and courageous because we know God personally. When you have seen and touched something or someone, no one can tell you that it was not a real experience. With wisdom, strength and excellent vision we will listen, obey and follow His voice and be filled with joy.

THE WALK OF ABANDONMENT

THE WALK
PART 32

THE WALK OF ABANDONMENT

There have been many things on my mind lately and I presume that circumstances that are happening around me have caused me to think about the endless mysteries of life. I have heard the older we become the more clearly we can see, (though I realize that is not necessarily true), but I will pray that in my life it will happen that way. I have spent a great deal of my life writing about things that were actually way over my head spiritually speaking. Even though I may not understand these realities right now, I still have faith in the promise given to me nearly thirty years ago from God that I would “walk out” everything I write. I have been a seeker of truth but again this does not automatically make me (or you) a “doer” of truth. (Can I get a witness?) Just because I am always thinking and pouring out my heart does not mean that I have attained a plateau on the stairwell of enlightenment. I believe in order for us to KNOW truth, it must be “quickened” in our mind from knowledge – into “revelation”, which is why God’s Word is not “activated” in most Christians. This is one of those spiritual mysteries and a very serious subject because number one – I realize that if anything is wrong it is my fault and two – my destiny is directly connected to figuring this out. If you were still wondering why I have titled this article, “The Walk of Abandonment”, I would say a good question would be; exactly what are we abandoning? Well, (I am so glad you asked). It is like panning for gold. If you are really determined to find the hidden treasure of truth and after you sort through all types of materials, you finally find at the bottom of the pan what you are looking for. Sure, there are causes and reasons and tons of excuses that we need to weed through, that are no doubt connected with the answer, nevertheless, if we are serious about examining our own conscience we will see what God sees. “And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that ask will receive and he that seeks will find and to him that knocks it shall be opened.” (Luke 1:9-10)

I am beginning to realize within my own heart that the key problem I struggle with is the lack of love. What I need to abandon is associated with laying down what I consider to be the idols of my life – the most important “rulers and kings” that sit on the throne of my heart. This includes anything that I cherish and love MORE than God. I believe it would be safe to say that, until I submit all of my possessions and all of my carnal desires, I am NOT a living sacrifice! In addition, until I become a living sacrifice I cannot walk with God as He has called me to do. Selah. We can try to “squeeze” religion into our hectic lifestyle and live in the deception that lukewarm is good enough, but we are only playing a game within a fabricated delusion. God’s Word is like the Ocean and we love to run around on the beach without getting wet. We might stick our toes in but we will not dive in because it will cost us our “will”. We love our pride, our independence, our success and desire the respect from others way too much to become a fanatic for Jesus. We protect our reputation for living our own way, as it is our most precious asset. This is why people are uncomfortable in God’s presence because they KNOW they have betrayed Him! “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides forever.” (I John 15:17) Abandonment lies at the bottom of the pan and is the most important act of obedience for God. Working around the clock for Jesus and praying constantly does not mean that we have abandoned our carnal thinking. There will be multitudes of people that have devoted their time to good works and helpful service but never really abandoned their life to God or loved others as they loved themselves. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue (endless talk); but in deed (action) and in truth (pure motives).” (I John 3:18) “He that loves not – does not know God, for God is love. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. If a man say, I love God and hates (does not love) his brother, he is a liar: for he that does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, that he who loves God – will love his brother also.” (I John 4: 8, 11, 20-21) Some might ask, just whom does the “brother” include? Well, I believe the idea of brother represents the souls of humanity, as in the same way God is no respecter of persons. Let us turn back to Mathew and take a peek at the words of Jesus, “You have heard that it has been said that you must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. However, I say unto you, LOVE your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. That you might be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He makes His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” These next verses are very powerful and are worth spending time thinking about, “For if you love them which love you, what reward do you really have? Do not even the publicans (those who do not regard God’s Word) do the same? And if you salute (respect, acknowledge, act graciously) your brethren (friends, family) only, what exactly are you proving more than the ungodly? Do not even the publicans do the same? Be therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Mathew 5: 43-48) Abandonment in this light means that we drop all of our carnal opinions, critical thoughts, judgments, negativity, stereotypes, profiling, racism, and prejudice, no matter how we were raised or what our politics, doctrines or world views may be. Furthermore, just because we can see they are living in sin does not mean that are not to love their souls! Selah. We that claim to walk with God – must not listen to the voices of carnality that we might reach out in love and compassion to the spirits of all people!

Abandonment is where the rubber meets the road! It is what separates the ninety eight percent of professing Christians from the two percent that actually live it. Abandonment is directly connected to HOW MUCH we love God and HOW FAR we are willing to go for Him. You will always find that love is intertwined with abandonment in either a positive way or negative way. When we abandon our will unto God, it is because we LOVE Him as Mathew 22:37 describes, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” However, when we refuse to abandon our old nature and reject His offer to become a disciple, it is because we LOVE making our own decisions and we LOVE our possessions more than we love Him. “No man can serve two masters: for either he will HATE the one, and LOVE the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mathew 6:24)
Mammon has several different meanings from riches, wealth, possessions, gluttony, prideful attitudes, unjust gain, injustice, selfishness, hoarding, false gods, excessive materialism, and the attitude of covetousness or greed as a negative influence. The idea may also mean an IDOL in which someone puts their TRUST. It seems the idea is not that being wealthy is always a sin but rather the attitudes and temptations that result from the luxuries of abundance. Many people have enjoyed the pleasures of being blessed by God but it takes a very holy, humble individual to be able to handle great wealth – God’s way. I believe that where blessings turn into mammon is when the heart turns from being pure, into a heart filled with carnality. The sensual, self-centered desire for power and control are directly related to financial success and as Mathew 19:23,24 points out, it is very rare to find a truly Godly rich person. “Then said Jesus said unto His disciples, verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” In other words it is not the riches in themselves that are evil because many good things need to be financed like medical supplies, food, housing, education and so on. It is the ATTITUDE of how much we LOVE our “things” as the rich, young ruler can testify. It is the ultimate challenge for man to learn how to abandon himself from the earthly and embrace the heavenly. This revelation and the willpower to separate the temporal from the eternal can ONLY be accomplished through the power of God – for the glory of God! “When the disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, who then can be saved? But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, with men this is IMPOSSIBLE; but with God ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.” (Mathew 19:25-26)
When the disciples dropped their nets, they abandoned their life and picked up a brand new destiny. They did not try to work Jesus in between their busy lifestyle but rather dumped out their life and rearranged everything around serving Jesus in thought, word and deed. Imagine the idea of emptying everything out, discarding what is not important and only putting back in what Father says He wants. Well, that sounds wonderful that a few fishermen had the opportunity to do that but what about us today in our society with our spouses and our responsibilities to work and pay our bills? It does not take but a moment for our “common sense” to start laying ground rules and limitations to our faith. The rules of our culture, our social correctness and our “laws” of how to function as a responsible adult, act as a defense lawyer to argue for our carnality. Have we given Him our “two mites” as Mark chapter 12 records, or have we just given from our abundance?

THE WALK OF PEACE II

THE WALK
PART 29

THE WALK OF PEACE II

I have felt impressed to watch what I eat lately and have started a regular routine of walking and light running. I am taking baby steps but have already experienced some improvement in my stamina. I live in a subdivision that is next to a beautiful old country road. Several years ago, a new road was built and they closed this road, which leaves it isolated and very seldom traveled. The other day I was walking along and was sensitive to God’s presence, and as I looked up into the sky, the white puffy clouds were peacefully floating along. The birds were singing and rabbits were crossing back and forth in the road up ahead. I closed my eyes and breathed deep because I wanted to soak up every drop of this serene contentment. I was talking with God and asking Him to help me with my failures and to teach me how to be more like Jesus. I had many questions about life and situations because I do not understand why certain things happen, but Praise God for His patience to not become annoyed or act as if we get on His nerves.

As I have been walking everyday for the last two weeks, I can say that it enhances your prayer time and clears out your mind so that you can think. I highly recommend that you consider adding walking to your daily “walk” with the Lord. It will tone your entire body and increase your energy while giving you plenty of quiet time with Father. For myself personally, I recognize the danger of sitting in front of the entertainment box every night and how the enemy loves to distract us and steal our precious time. About a month ago on the way to work, I was asking Him to please help me. It seemed immediately after I made the request that I heard a voice in my spirit that said, “I also really need you to help me! It hit me hard and I meditated on this for several days. Without realizing it, how often do we just present our petitions without asking Him what He wants from us? Do we even give Him the time to respond? Since we are too busy to slow down, many times we just give Him our list to fill and rush off to do errands that are more “important”. I wonder if sometimes we stay in a frantic rush to “avoid” what He really desires. Selah. I believe that of all the things we could say or do, that He desires to have All of our heart – and that will give us the peace that is beyond our comprehension. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

We find a story in Luke 10 and verses 38 through 42, about two sisters that loved the Lord. Martha was busy in the kitchen, rushing around and frantic about all the details of serving the meal, while her sister Mary was relaxed, listening to Jesus talk. Martha became aggravated and eventually complained to Jesus about Mary not helping and asked if He would tell her to get up and help her. It is interesting to hear His response because it gives a different perspective about what is truly important in this life. He said, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful (anxious) and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” It is not that He did not appreciate all of the hard work Martha was doing, but instead was making a point that it is more important to spend time with the King than to just labor all the time for the Kingdom. When we are overwhelmed with being busy, our life becomes hectic and exhausting. This in turn causes us to become tense and irritable. I believe Jesus was trying to teach the importance of living in His perfect peace. He is not saying that work is bad because there is much to do, but if we keep Him in our thoughts – our deeds will be pure and our long hours will accomplish everything with the right attitude.

So, let me continue with how much I have been enjoying walking and jogging. There is only one house on the lane and it is down at the end of the road. They have a large white American Bulldog that I would estimate at 80 to 90 pounds that is quite intimidating. It runs free to guard their property and it has run out on me before, growling and bearing its teeth to scare me away. One night the dog ran toward me and the owner caught it and held it until I could pass. Sometimes I see the dog and other times it does not come out, so I have been taking unnecessary risk with a potentially dangerous situation. This past Saturday night, I was running along my usual route and I was feeling good. I went past the house, saw no trace of the dog, and kept on going. I made another lap and headed back down to the end of the road. This time out of the corner of my eye, I saw something white running out of the garage. I turned to see the dog coming at me with full speed, so I stopped to contemplate what I should do. I did not want to be aggressive so I chose to be calm and say gently, – good boy, good boy. Before I could blink an eye, he bit me hard on the wrist. I was in shock as I looked down and saw the blood pouring out of my arm. I must say that in spite of my trauma I am very grateful that he willingly let go instead of locking on and twisting his head. I am completely convinced that he could have torn my hand off and for that matter, could have mauled me to death. There is no way I could have fought this dog off. I believe his “little bite” was simply a warning for me to leave and a notice that next time he would not be so nice. I felt very helpless as I had no protection and I am grateful that he did not keep biting because there would have been nothing I could have done to stop him. God must have restrained him.

Even though I knew the dog did not particularly enjoy me jogging on the road, I really did not think he would actually attack me. I kept thinking that he was probably a big old teddy bear that just liked to appear mean. Now that I look back on it, I should have been carrying mace or some type of protection in case I needed to use it. Well, some family members came out of the house as I was screaming for help. I kept trying to tell someone to hold the dog because I was afraid he was not finished biting me. There were several older women and some teenage girls that came out but they were all afraid to touch the dog. They saw the blood pouring from my wounds and they seemed to panic. I could not understand anything they were saying because they were speaking in Spanish. I finally asked them if they could drive me home and they did, to which I filed a police report and went to the emergency room. They did not stitch the wounds because they wanted them to stay open for a few days. Later that night I had to go back to the emergency room because the pain in my wrist and arm was excruciating. I could not bear the intensity of the pain as the doctor said the swelling was pressing on the nerves in my wrist. They gave me more pain medicine and a shot to put me to sleep. It is Monday morning and I have just returned from my doctor to check for infection and to re-dress the wounds. I will probably miss several days of work this week because I cannot bend my fingers or turn my wrist – but it could have been much worse.

I have been wondering why this happened, as I was having such a peaceful time out alone with God. Nevertheless, I realize that Satan does NOT want us to enjoy God’s presence. I will not allow this disruption to stop my exercising or my time with God. I will keep walking down this lane and have told the devil that nothing can stop me from legally jogging on a public road! I have peace with God and I am so grateful He allowed me to survive. This event has reminded me that as much as we like to believe that we have a hedge of protection around us, maybe it is not completely one hundred percent. In other words, there might be times when the enemy can find a crack in the wall and take advantage of an opportunity to strike. Remember Job was being protected, but Satan begged for access to his flesh for the intention of turning Job away from God. Glory to God, Job held on the best he could and finally passed the test of faithfulness and obedience. The Lord proved to Satan that Job was truly a man of God and He rewarded Job accordingly. We see many stories of people being assaulted by the devil and we wonder how this could be. A family that has a car accident on the way home from church, a church being set on fire or a child that runs out in front of a car, we shake our head in bewilderment. You know, there are many unanswered questions in this life and I am sure we will personally have many more, but the lesson to learn is that it is not what happens to us – it is how we REACT to what happens to us. Sometimes it might be something that we did that causes our problems and sometimes we are completely innocent, but in the end it is how we CHOOSE to deal with it that will cause us to fail or be victorious. The devil wants us to turn against God just like he tried with Job but we must stay strong in our love and confidence with Father to know His Word will never fail.

Sometimes when a crisis happens, it makes us feel that we are defeated. We have a natural tendency to feel sorry for ourselves and become discouraged with our situation. However, God’s peace is the highest, most powerful feeling we can experience because it comes from the spiritual realm. We need to learn to let go of our abilities to handle things and let God make ALL things work together for His purpose. Selah. His peace is far beyond our emotions because His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. His peace is stronger than our fears and crushes our worries and anxieties. His peace floods our heart with His courage and His confidence. Jesus is victorious and His promises are guaranteed to quiet our soul and replace restlessness with contentment. His peace opens the floodgates to His treasure house of joy and freedom to enjoy the beauty of His person. There is only one condition to living in His peace and that is – we must make a determined decision to receive it and accept it! Father will not force His blessings on us and they are not usually automatic. As we grow in His Word and learn about our covenant with Him, we begin to understand the gifts He died for us to have. The darkness CANNOT steal our perfect peace.

THE WALK OF DISCERNMENT

THE WALK
PART 14

THE WALK OF DISCERNMENT

This week I received the sad news of our former pastor Denny Strickland going to be with the Lord. He was so gentle, kind and filled with love and compassion. He drew everyone around him like a magnet because he was such a spiritually wise “Grandfatherly” figure. As a mentor he demonstrated how to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and I will never forget the times with him and all that I learned through watching him WALK the life of a disciple. One example of his discernment is how he could sense the corporate environment when he as the leader needed to make a decision of “direction” for the meeting. When he did not have clarity with the Lord leading in a specific way, instead of trying to force an agenda or panicking with the need to do “something”, he would gently and confidently say, “Let’s just wait on the Lord”. In that time of seeking, praying and worship there would always be a move of God that was so powerful and profound. I learned that as we allow God to do what HE wants to do, it is always wonderful and exactly what we need.

I have a mental image of our heart or “conscience” having a door, with Christ many times desiring deeper access to our will.
Everything that wants our attention stands on the outside and knocks because it wants our attention. It is a simple picture of how the most intimate recesses of our inner being is aware and vulnerable to outside influence. We choose each day whom we “invite” into our secret chambers. “Our heart is a garden, our thoughts are the seeds – we can grow flowers, or we can grow weeds”. The handle to the door is always on the inside which reveals that it is our responsibility to WHOM and WHAT we entertain. One area of discernment is recognizing this constant spiritual reality as the Christian learns the only way to WALK in the awareness of God’s holiness is to keep the door locked to sin and only open it to Christ. There is a large crowd of shady characters that hang around outside our door for the purpose of corrupting our innocence and bringing negative influence. Our eyes and ears are portals to our soul and the devil works overtime to poison our conscience. It is very difficult to avoid being dragged down into a negative state of mind when we willingly allow our heart to be pounded with the corruption of this world. This repeated exposure to negativity, perversion, strife, chaos, violence and foolishness can callous the mind and bring apathy to our state of being. Satan’s strategy is to infect us with depression, anxiety, discouragement, anger, envy, arrogance and many other negative character traits. These bad attitudes pull us down into lukewarmness because they remove us from God’s presence. These symptoms conclude with the heart-breaking diagnosis of the early stages of spiritual “heart disease”. To WALK in God with a pure conscience is to not only be aware – but to obey with joy and peace. We are like a child playing on a sunny day as we are so secure and our outlook is so happy. But the opposite is true when we allow our heart to become dirty with sin and the heaviness that brings sadness and guilt. Those who have the Holy Spirit within them know when they are in God’s presence and when they are taking a wrong exit from the “holy” highway. This built-in alarm system was intended to help us stay on the right track and to warn us of danger. But most of the time, even God’s merciful influence and loving persuasion will not stop us from making wicked decisions. Our freewill can shut off the alarms and ignore His still small voice. It is dangerous to intentionally sin after we have been convicted over and over because it can separate us from His protection. Our tenderness to hear Him and our sincere willingness to respond to Him reveals our level of love for Him.

As we mentioned in the walk of effectiveness, our motives and availability is what Father is searching for and that includes not only our listening but being in the sanctified “position” to be used. He mentions the word “weights” when referring to being hindered or bogged down while trying to run. We realize that we cannot run fast or be free with the heaviness of sin strapped to our ankles. Sin can grow and accumulate if we do not make it a point to (seriously) repent on a regular basis. Actually, it is possible for our sin to become so oppressive and severe that we do not even feel like doing anything for God. If left unchecked we can become so cold and dull that we slide into a dangerous state of needing to be chastised for our rebellion. It is true our new spirit is very sensitive to everything that is connected to God but our carnality can drown out it’s pleading to repent. Do you remember when you were born again? We only desired to be in God’s presence and everything that was offensive to His holiness was extremely noticeable. It would be awesome if we could stay in that bubble of His glory but our flesh is weak to temptation as we hear our favorite sin ringing our doorbell. Those who do not have the reverential fear of God are definitely not concerned with developing their spiritual discernment!

There are many different thoughts that come to mind when people hear the term “discernment” in the world of religious jargon. The dictionary say’s, “to recognize, to perceive, make out clearly, keenly perceptive, shrewd, astute, keen judgment and insight”. We think of being sensitive to hear God’s voice and that is at the heart of the issue, but there is more. Being under the control of God’s influence is the focal point of being a disciple and to WALKING in the Holy Spirit. This is not just in areas we feel comfortable with because “selective hearing” is a trait of being religious without being spiritual. Selah. Along with listening for God’s direction we have the responsibility (the command actually) of being “aware” of our thoughts, words and actions as well. The weaknesses we struggle with are the very places that need the most discernment but are usually the first to be avoided. It is easy to put on a show in front of our peers but discernment is the love of God to help us SENSE what is happening around us and how we deal with situations when no one is watching. The problem with trying to understand about what God is trying to do IN US is that usually most of our problems are “protected” by the will of our flesh. If we enjoy our sin and have no intention of letting it go, then Father will go to the drawing board and begin working on a plan to get our attention (and it will not be pretty). Just because we do not desire for Him to intervene does not mean that He will oblige. If we are truly born again, He WILL bring discipline because He loves us enough to rescue us. As far as making us study, read, write, love, give and live as a shining light of purity, He can only do with what we give Him to work with. Selah. In order for discernment to become activated we must first have a desire to lay down our life to Jesus. Then we must go to the next step of desiring to be filled with His presence so that we can WALK in His Word. This will generate an enthusiasm about allowing His purging fire to cleanse our mind and heart, which will enable us to be willing to walk away from our sin and NOT return! These faith decisions are not done easily but He is more than ready to help us when we take an earnest “baby step” in His direction. Deliverance is the spiritual rescue for those who sincerely call out for freedom and discernment and are only developed in those who really want to be a sold-out follower of Jesus Christ.

So we see that discernment is a spiritual sensitivity to be aware of God’s presence and to help us resist our carnality. Let us stretch our perception to include the negative spiritual forces that are constantly trying to influence our flesh. Advertisement is based on the fact that our ears and eyes are receptors to the brain and are the stimulation and motivation to our thoughts. The devil is not ignorant and his strategies always include the enticement of our emotions. Our old dark nature has “built-in” radar when it comes to things like envy, lust, pride, jealousy, strife, greed and when these “attractions” are dangled in front of us, we naturally reach out to fulfill our desire whatever it may be. Christians who have not realized the reality of how this works are unlearned which is why spiritual discernment is a learned truth that is developed in serious PRAYER. If we have sincerely sought the Lord and allowed Him to do an extensive work in our heart – we will have the opportunity to be tested to see if we are MATURE to obey His will. It is easy to brag about faith and our knowledge when everything is going good but the enemy is always planning a surprise attack and discernment will be a shield of protection and a battle plan for success. How important would it be for the soldiers on a battlefield to be able to hear their orders? In this light we can see clearly just how crucial discernment is for those who desire to WALK with God.
“Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first BIND the strong man? And then he will spoil (rob) his house. He that is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathers not with Me scatters abroad.” (Mathew 12:29-30) The idea behind the attempt to enter into someone’s home while they are there and steal from them is to either do it without them knowing or to over-power them. In this particular scripture we read that Jesus is using the scenario of a thief being able to tie-up the owner while he takes what he wants and leaves without being chased. A security system is for the purpose of warning us when someone is trying to break-in and steal or harm. It is fine to use them on our homes and vehicles but we have spiritual protection that has been provided for us. We have been given angels to watch over us wherever we go and to keep an eye on our possessions. The Lord Himself also guards our life and has given us His blood covenant of protection and His promises connected with our obedience that are constantly saving us from harm. And we have been given a brand new spirit that is in perfect tune with God’s voice and along with The Holy Spirit, we can discern His truth which is our total salvation. This revelation knowledge is very crucial in our decision making abilities because if the enemy CANNOT get in – we can rest in safety. Discernment is the awareness of right and wrong and our will always chooses to obey what we desire. Lord, give us the desire to love you more. The closer we are to you – the more sensitive we will be.