Copyrights reserved and conditional. Please don’t plagiarize. Feel free to post or copy as long as full credit is given to me “Laura Edgar”. I Laura R. Edgar reserve by copyright all monetary rights 100% and rights to title and trademark. To thine own self be true.
What if under one condition could a man write books of wisdom and still be respected by his peers. And the condition was this, every author must obey all his own words at all times for, if he doesn’t he shall be considered by one- and-all a hypocrite undeserving of the pen. I then say to this, thank God for and behold thy faithful hypocrite. For truly good men do evil. And atrocious men do good if only for display. No man [mankind] is at his best through every passing juncture of the season’s change. Please my fellows allow our writer his birthright of human perfection which is in fact, God’s calculated plan for an imperfect being. But for our many wise authors allowing their God-selves to surface, by clawing through the dark, narrow, natural mind. They do then spring forth into light. And we through time stock our libraries with Love-filled words of Wisdom and Grace. We devour the very words by our appetite of Hope. And then our wise authors fade away from their best sparsely enabling the wisdom they know works. Thank God then for thy faithful hypocrite.___________________Laura Edgar
“And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” KJV
Paradise for the HellBound is about complete life transformation. How do we overcome depression, fear, stress, and anxiety? How do we both know and accomplish God’s will? Peace of mind is at the forefront of a worthwhile life so how do we attain peace? Is God as hard on us as we are on ourselves? Do rules and regulations equal spirituality? How do we improve our relationship with God and become enlightened and fulfilled? Paradise for the HellBound shows us scripture which portrays God as Loving and forgiving. The book shows how to rely on God rather than rallying to be God’s advocate as if we were on equal footing with God Himself. God does not need our endorsement as if the creator were a brand of tennis shoe to promote. And if a man seeks not his maker with his whole heart we cannot force him to believe at the heart level by intellectual teachings. We are neither qualified to change a man’s heart, nor have we the temperance to properly judge our brothers heart. But if a man seeks peace and serenity he is a willing candidate for achieving it by directions and spiritual exercises. You will find the directions to your own personal and authentic spiritual experience in Paradise for the HellBound.
PARADISE FOR THE HELLBOUND
A BOOK ABOUT CHANGE
To my sister, Brenda who never had a fair chance at self-Love yet was many times my only true spiritual encouragement. Her Grace-filled forgiveness rings forth beyond eternity.
CLICK ON THE “here” TO GO TO VARIOUS CHAPTERS OF THE BOOK.
Table of Contents
“FEAR NOT”skip to fear chapter “FEAR NOT”- here
click here to read UNHEALTHY FEAR
click here to read THE FACES OF LOVE
TRUTH THE MAGIC CARPET RIDE TO LOVE
click here TRUTH
click here to read JUST LIKE JONAH
click here to read PERPETUAL GRACE
click here to read THE DREADED SIN OF FORNICATION
click here to read REPENTANCE AN UGLY WORD OR A GRACIOUS GIFT
click here to read WISDOM
click here to read MAYBE SATAN?
click here to read LAW VS LOVE
click here to read ARMOUR OF GOD
click here to read BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
click here to read GOSPEL OF PEACE
click here to read SHIELD OF FAITH
click here to read HELMET OF SALVATION
click here to read THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
(don’t click on the word prayer it will take you to “prayer” articles on this site. CLICK ON THE “here”) thankyou.
click here to read CIRCUMFERENCE OF PRAYER
click here to read PRAYERS OF SUPPLICATION
Click here LAMENTATION OF PRAYER
click here to read WARFARE PRAYER
click here to read PRAYERS OF DELIVERANCE
click here to read PRAISE, WORSHIP, AND THANKSGIVING
click here to read OUR WEAKEST PRAYER
click here to read SPIRITUAL GIFTS
click here to read BAPTISM OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
click here to read DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
click here to read THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD GIFT
click here to read INTERPRETATION OF TONGUES
Click here to read GIFTS OF HEALING AND DELIVERANCE
click here to read MY SUPERNATURAL HEALING FROM HEPATITIS B
Click here to read BRINGER OF LIGHT
Click here to read CARRY THE MESSAGE NOT THE MAN
Click here to read COMMUNICATION And TERMINOLOGY
Click here to read GOATS AND SHEEP
Click here to read MARY AND MARTHA
Click here to read DREAMS AND INTERPRETATIONS
Click here to read DREAM IDENTITY
Click here to read “BOWELS OF THE EARTH”: THE DREAM
Click here to read THE OUT-OF-BODY DREAM
Click here SNAKE DREAMS
Click here to read VISIONS
Click here to read OUR VISIONS CLARIFY OUR TRIALS OF FIRE
Click here to read THE VISION OF DEATH (Death is my servant)
Click here to read THE VISION DURING MY OVERDOSE
Click here to read A VISION OF JESUS
Click here to read WILL YOU TRUST ME NOW?
Click here to read MEDITATION IN CHRIST
Click here to read HOW TO MEDITATE
Click here to read MANDOLINA
Click here to read MEET ME A VISION
Click here to read THE PINNACLES OF TIME
Click here to read THE PINNACLES OF TIME 2
Click here to read THE MYSTERY OF THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN
Click here to read WHAT ABOUT THE AFTERLIFE?
Click here to read DENIAL
Click here to read JESUS THE MAN
Click here to read PARADISE FOR THE HELLBOUND
Tears are an expression of feelings that words cannot cradle tears are pure heart-spoken truth. Our hearts truth is oftentimes illogical from the minds perspective. Our minds distort and misconstrue that which our heart speaks to us because it views the heart’s feelings and opinions as weak, fearful and even ridiculous. The ego abides in our mind and tells us; “Your heart makes no sense it is wrong moreover you should be ashamed that you are fearful!”
Our intricate thought mistakes our heart’s words as pitiful and a threat to its own survival so it changes our soul’s deepest truths to fit that which (ironically) shame itself dictates. The mind has such a great capacity for reason and yet our sometimes-enlightened psyches fail to understand and accept our own hearts voice.
The whole person being void of the courage it takes to set out toward a quest to know and embrace itself, flounders. Our ego transforms our hearts truth into an egotistical rational of perceptions therefore, how and when will our heart ever truly be expressed.
I drove by a little elementary school in a small town in Florida. On the sign out front in bold black letters, lit up with white light it said; “Anxiety workshop every Tuesday 3pm in the auditorium.” I thought to myself Wow! Thank God a school that is actually helping the children with the ever-growing problem of anxiety. I asked my 16-year-old daughter who sat in the car with me “Would you like to go to the workshop?” She snapped “No Mom!” I did not expect her to comply she rebukes all my suggestions pretty much.
Anxiety is a pretty word for fear and our world is living in fear yet very few people want to address it much less admit it. That is understandable. Most of us were taught at an early age that it is a shame to be afraid. Fear represents feebleness, weakness, pansy, scaredy-cat, chicken-shit, and yellow-belly not to mention a few more choice words that I won’t mention. With labels like these branded into our innocent adolescent psyche’s why would we do anything other than repress our fears? Stuff it down into the depths of our bowels where unfortunately it makes us sick both physically and emotionally. In this book are the solutions to fear.
In The Bible we have been instructed to “Fear not” by God, Jesus, angels, prophets and so on. Well, that is easier said than done. One of the main reasons that I have published this book is to share the practical ways I have found to overcome fear. Although it seems as if fear is wrong and bad, it is not. Emotions or feelings are never wrong but rather the wrong lies in hurtful acts committed in response to fear. If I label my emotions wrong, I label myself wrong. If I label my fears wrong, I am more likely to repress my fears and stay in denial of them rather than doing self-appraisal so, I can move forward to the solutions for the fear that I feel. How can I ask God to remove a fear that I am too ashamed to admit that I have? Repressed fear causes all kinds of problems in life. Knee jerk reactions to fear damages our relationships.
It has been said in churches and among some Christians that fear and faith cannot abide in a person at the same time. That statement well-meaning as he who says it may be sets us all up for failure. Since fear is a human survival emotion, the phrase calls all of humanity faithless because all of humanity have fears.
Most would agree that Hope is a beautiful thing, a godly, spiritual virtue. The Bible teaches us “Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen”. Without the presence of fear, neither courage nor hope could exist. Where hope lies there is usually an underlying fear that the hope will not be fulfilled therefore fear is simply a part of the human condition and can be dealt with by courage, faith, and an abiding hope. Furthermore, if we label all fear Satanic I must be the walking incarnate of Satan himself.
I do not want to leave out the kind of fear that keeps us from doing not so smart stuff. The kind of common sense fear that preserves life. Without the fear rooted in self-preservation, the human race would not exist.
“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith, he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.”
Of course, it was not Noah that condemned the world but rather his faith helped him to believe the world would be condemned…and drowned.
Ironically, this scripture is taken from the part of the Bible that Christians and Bible scholars alike call “The Hall of Faith”. It is said often in the church that faith and fear cannot inhabit a vessel at the same time yet…this scripture about the building of the ark shows us otherwise. Noah acted initially out of “holy fear” when building the ark yet he also applied faith to his giant task of saving humanity. I suppose he just wanted to save himself and his family and probably did not think too much about saving the entire human race.
“So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.”
Without healthy fears, the human race would not survive.
I recall when I was a young born again Christian thumbing through my bible opening to different pages randomly, hoping God would give my poor sinner’s conscience some relief. Desperately I studied different translations, deeper Greek definitions, topical studies, character studies, references, depictions and on and on. I attended Bible studies and heard many different preachers of all denominations. There was no doubt in my mind that The Bible was the anointed word of God. Yet it continually triggered my guilt and shame as often as I read it. I could find only condemnation in this intricate book of law and Love.
What possible reason could I have to continue reading a book that regularly condemned me, me a born again still struggling sinner? Why continue walking in these churches of judgment? I had experienced a grand white light spiritual experience in a little church in the meadow where I first met Jesus. Therefore, I would not give up on His Holy Bible nor would I give up on myself! My walk with God had begun by my investigating a Gideon’s Bible. I remember reading Paul’s struggle with his besetting sin and I so related to his struggle and to his self-condemnation for it. However then to my own shame, I could not overcome sin nor could I reconcile with the harsh Biblical words that I read and yet I continued my studies.
In the beginning of my walk with God, some religious authority or another uttered the dreaded threats of Hell fire. Me, being an impressionable young and recently born again Christian I cringed as the preacher harped on the things that I was still doing that would land me in Hell.
What is the bibles definition of Hell anyway? Here are some definitions taken from my Strong’s Bible Dictionary.
She-hole- From Hades or the world of the dead (as if a subterranean retreat) including its accessories and inmates-grave, hell, pit. (From Old Testament Hebrew)
Tartaroo, from Tartaros- the deepest abyss of Hades; to incarcerate in eternal torment-cast down to Hell.
Gheh’-en-nah- used figuratively as a name for the place (or state) of everlasting punishment.
Yikes! Hell is not a happy place to think about, it strikes fear into the minds and hearts of those who believe in its existence. I surmise from the definition of “Tartaroo” that there may be levels of Hell. Seemingly, the deeper one goes into Hell the worse it gets. It reminds me of a four star hotel where the finest penthouse is at the top floor. I am not here to explain away anything in the Bible I just want to understand it and share my understanding with you.
I do believe Hell exists, because it is in my Bible. I believe my Bible because of experience not blind faith. My beliefs came much like Apostle Paul explains in this scripture:
First Thessalonians 1:5
“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. And ye became followers of us, and of The Lord having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost.”
The people I know including myself that have peace of mind and usually live by the golden rule; have a grounded relationship with God. That relationship sprouted out of an intense need in their life. A need that they could not resolve by themselves. We reached a point of powerlessness or in other words a state of intense neediness with no solution in sight. Therefore, we sought God for help. We then learned to rely on God and it worked.
The fears of death, life, and condemnation are real. Fear can permeate our everyday life in a negative way if not put into perspective. Using fear to control other adult’s behavior is wrong. Living our lives in constant fear of one thing or another is an unhappy existence. Going to church out of guilt to find yet more guilt and shame adds insult to injury. Listening to preachers who continually address their perceived sins of people who they think will go to Hell is condemnation from the pulpit. These types of sermons usually reflect some unresolved issue or sin in the heart of he who harshly judges. It is certainly easier for us mortals to look at the sins of others than point that high-powered perception at ourselves, for then we may have to change. Change may seem too difficult or even impossible. The thing about sin is that, oftentimes the shortcomings we detest in others we have done or still do ourselves.
“So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.”
Saint John 8:1-10 tells a short story of the Pharisees condemning an adulterous woman. The Scribes and Pharisees wanted the woman, an adulterer violently punished stoned to death for her alleged sexual crime and betrayal! I wonder what could have been in their hearts. Jesus took a different attitude toward this sinner. He said compassionately; “Neither do I condemn you” He showed understanding not condemnation. Therefore, we should also and so should the speaker from the pulpit. Commonly, when a preacher or minister begins his judgment sermon of railing accusations toward those he feels are of lesser value than himself the most judgmental in the crowd will be shouting amen the loudest. Those who harshly judge consistently apply examination to everybody but themselves.
What about this fear God thing? Here are some definitions of fear.
Fib-eh-o- To frighten, i.e. revere to be sore afraid, fear exceedingly, reverence. (Strong’s Concordance)
First Peter 2:17
“Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”
Taking into consideration the root word or Greek Bible definitions of fear, I prefer “revere” God rather than to be “sore afraid” of God. But then again, I am not the one looking at a burning bush or a fiery angel of God. Until that happens, I will visualize God as Loving rather than scary.
The reason that I refer to Greek dictionary translations is that the New Testament was first written in Greek with some Latin and Aramaic as well. Therefore, to understand a scriptural word thoroughly I refer to its root Greek definition. Here is a little more explanation of the New Testament according to Biblica a bible website.
“The New Testament was written in Greek. This seems strange, since you might think it would be either Hebrew or Aramaic. However, Greek was the language of scholarship during the years of the composition of the New Testament from 50 to 100 AD. The fact is that many Jews could not even read Hebrew anymore, and this disturbed the Jewish leaders a lot! Therefore, around 300 BC a translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek was undertaken, and it was completed around 200 BC. Gradually, the Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint became widely accepted and was even used in many synagogues. It also became a wonderful missionary tool for the early Christians, for then the Greeks could read God’s Word in their own tongue.” (Reference http://www.biblica.com/en-us/bible/bible-faqs/in-what-language-was-the-bible-first-written/)
In conclusion, our lives can become consumed by fear. There is the healthy fear and then there is the fear that can become anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias, stress, sleeplessness, paranoia, fear that causes violent and harmful reactions, fear of loss that provokes all kinds of grasping, stealing, lying and cheating behaviors. Fears that cause all manner of insecurities, vanities, and the list goes on. There are solutions to these fears and that is what this book is about…changing fear into Love.
THE FACES OF LOVE
click here to read RETURN TO TOP
At any given point in time I can stop, breath and choose Love. I do not always feel Loving sometimes; I just have to walk through my negative agitation praying that I don’t hurt anyone with my words.
Some people believe in a condition of “Oneness” that everything we see and feel is an illusion and there is really only Love. However, I am a finite being of flesh and blood; I understand some things are truly destructive for me. If all things are Love then my understanding of Love is wrong. The infinite does not negate the finite for the temporal is part of the eternal my flesh is temporal and I do not believe “everything is an illusion except Love.”
First John 3:18
“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but indeed and in truth.”
In an attempt to fully understand the “fear of God” term, I will start by trying to grasp the depth of His Love for me as His child. Would my own mother throw me away or would I throw my own child away? God is mine as much as I am His. One example of God’s Love is illustrated in the most famous scripture of all.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”
My initial reaction to the story in Genesis of Abraham sacrificing Isaac in relation to my own child is hell no! Not even! In all reality, I am not sure any circumstance could allow me that kind of faith. Although I do believe it is possible to believe and trust God that strongly. I believe with God all things are possible (Mark 14:36). I would have to know beyond any doubt that sacrificing my child would vastly benefit him and the masses. Even then, I do not know if I could follow through. To follow through would require a clear vision of wonderful results. Mother Mary must have had that vision when she let go of her son Jesus to be sacrificed. Abraham must have had that vision when he moved to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:10). To know to some extent God’s Love it is necessary to invoke the ingredients of faith and hope. Faith and hope are planted by God and grow in our hearts by our own experiences with God and life. Faith and Hope are gifts but allowing them to grow by exerting and exercising them little by little is where the real strength comes from.
These Biblical stories of great faith and Love simply remind me I have much room to grow to reach the level of spiritual awareness that Mary, Jesus, Abraham, and God Himself had to be capable of exercising such intense acts of sacrifice. (Bear with me while I assume most believers know these common and basic church Bible stories) Again, to connect with God’s Love we should keep in mind our own experience with His Love. Grace is a prime example of Love.
Grace is the unmerited Love and favor of God toward mankind (Webster’s) But more importantly his favor toward us as individuals.
Grace happens when I do not reap the negative and typical consequences of my own foolish actions. This saving grace creates thankfulness in my heart and helps me to realize God’s Love toward me. Keep alive your times of grace they will surly strengthen your faith! We can call this kind of grace “divine intervention” and it is.
“For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
Without realizing our mistakes and gaining life’s’ lessons we do not see God’s grace working in our lives. So then, what fresh reasons have we to feel grateful or thankful toward God?
Loving grace is evident when God forgives us. Pure forgiveness (no strings attached, no grudges, payback or keeping score) by God or me reeks of Love! How do I understand that God forgives me? If God teaches words to live by from the Bible, does He not also live by them?
First Peter 4:8 “Above all things have fervent Love for one another, for Love will cover a multitude of sins”.
First John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, but Love covers all sins”.
First John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His son cleanses us from all sin.”
Cover – To procure pardon of them from God, Not to regard or impute them. (Thayer English Greek Lexicon to the New Testament.)
First John 4:8 “He who does not Love, does not know God for GOD IS LOVE.”
I have had a revelation of the truth of God’s word. These scriptures tell me I have His forgiveness and I believe it. If I confess my sins to God and repent with an honest heart conveying that I AM sorry (be real with God) I will receive a relief from the guilt, pain, and shame of my sins. Of course if, the sin has hurt someone else I may have an amends to make before feeling truly cleansed of guilt. Sometimes I need to confess my sins to a non-judgmental third party before deciding the best action to take regarding amends. Someone who cares and relates to my mistakes, a person who is empathic will definitely provide the best relief when I confess my sins.
James 5:16 “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of the righteous availeth much.”
Thank God confession really works! When I feel the relief from guilt in my heart, I know God has forgiven me. Here is a scripture even more direct on how to cover sin.
James 5:20 “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
Confession by the guilty, in spite of how foreboding most feel about it not only hides the confessor’s sins but also if the sinner is turned from the error of his ways, the spiritual dynamic also covers a multitude of sin for the nonjudgmental, empathic listener he confesses it to. The process though uncomfortable at first is absolutely miraculous and wonderful!
“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.”
Testing these types of promises from God are one way our faith is built and our beliefs are forged."
Is this process of expelling guilt a recipe for the justification or rationalization of sin? Have we found a way to continue basking in our on-going sin? Simply confess and then be on our debaucherous and merry way? We could interpret and apply the word of God that way; Lord knows The Bible has been twisted and shaken every way possible. However, Personally I do not want to continue to struggle with guilt and shame. I want to overcome sin. What I understand with my heart from all of these words is; by loving others, by showering forgiveness and grace I actually am loving myself. I am creating good consequences in my life rather than painful ones.
These scriptures tell me that I am human, and should accept it. When I do make mistakes, I need and want relief from guilt. If I do not get relief this way, the right way, by confession and amends guilt will come out in self-hate and hate for others, it will come out sideways! Guilt will either direct me toward distractions or direct me toward solutions
There is a huge difference between struggling for unattainable perfection failing to live up to it then beating ourselves to a pulp in our minds and heart thinking that somehow if we flog ourselves enough THEN we will be good and acceptable to our self our Lord and pears. Verses the pure and anointed process God has set down to relieve our guilt by confession. WE ABSOLUTELY DO NOT HAVE THE INALIENABLE RIGHT TO CONDEMN OR PUNISH OURSELVES. The decision to punish or not to punish lies in the realm of our Higher Power who is qualified to judge fairly.
The most common distraction from guilt is to focus on being intolerant of others. Intolerance, the big red flag that says self-examination is in order! When bathing in guilt’s turmoil I do not like you or God so I jump on the condemnation bandwagon yee-ha! I could write-off the word of God all together because of the God given repercussions of sin. In this guilty frame of mind all I get out of reading or hearing the word of God is an uncomfortable yucky feeling with every sentence. Perhaps our heart tells us that we do not deserve forgiveness. Would a God of Love create us with weakness on purpose without showing us a practical way to overcome them? Would a God of Love not help us to become a joyous Christ like human about which the Bible speaks? There is a recipe for human success in The Holy Bible if we can just open our minds to new thought patterns and amended behaviors. Open-minded, willingness is the vital ingredient for spirituality.
I don’t know about you but when I came out of the womb, I was not all-knowing. Neither did my parents teach me how to live a Christ-like abundant life. The doctor did not hand me an instruction manual for achieving fulfillment and joy. Nor did he give me directions on how to not feel hurt or fear without negative reactions. I have struggled through life repressing emotions and fearing what people think of me. Unhappiness with myself drove me to self-destructive actions…..and what about this Love thing.
In first Corinthians 13:13 Apostle Paul states that Love is a gift, the greatest gift of all spiritual gifts. Maybe you’re thinking, “Oh no not more of this new age love stuff!” Preconceived notions and contempt prior to investigation stunt the possibility for spiritual growth. God is Love; maybe there is something to this gift of Love. Can God’s type of Love improve my daily life? If Love is a gift, I want it! If it will make me happy and content and I can deploy Love in defense of misery please God, give it to me! Am I aware that I do not show enough Love towards others? This is an important question. Do I show Love only toward those that Love me and resent the rest of mankind or visa-versa? All I need do is ask God for His Love.
First John 5:14&15
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions we have asked of Him.”
According to God’s word, we know that it is His will that we feel and show Love. Therefore, we are asking for something that He wants us to have to further our walk with Him and become fulfilled, and content. In times past, I thought my own selfish desires were what I needed from God. Experience has shown me that once I started asking for things He says I need I got much better results for myself. I found out that what I want is usually not what my heart and soul needs. It is time we started asking God for what he says is good. Changing our prayers to God requires faith because we are resisting our instinctual carnal nature. It begins by realizing all the stuff I thought I needed, has not brought me peace. Our coveted carnal needs are merely distractions from our true soul’s needs. God knows what I need more than I do; I think I will allow Him to give it to me!
“Verily, I say unto you, except ye be converted and become as little children ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
We must smash our concept of a condemning God along with our condemnation of ourselves. We have learned not to trust people. We have found that if we trust, we are then vulnerable and get hurt. Even most of our parents at some point lied and hurt us. With our already fragile trust barometer how can we expect to trust and depend on a God that religion teaches, by law will send us to death and Hell? So far, these rules and regulations brought forth by the church have not helped us find anything except fear, guilt, and shame. I can remember thinking while in church; “are these people really as perfect and obedient as they appear? They seemed to have all the answers and portrayed perfect lives. However, Jesus said that we should “become as little children”. Un-corrupt Little children do not have all the answers! Little children are open-minded to learn. Little children are naturally honest. They have humility and enjoy listening rather than struggling to be heard. Children have the capacity to learn.
“A fool has no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.”
If I hope to receive any good thing from God’s word, I must honestly look at myself and ask how spiritual principles apply to me. God’s word does me no good if I continually apply it to others! I must receive it concerning me to gain the wisdom and knowledge it offers. Awareness of other people’s sin does not benefit me unless I can see the little bit of them in me. I need also to realize God’s Love for me in a way that brings me some peace of mind, a way that assures me He will not cast me into Hell and torment. I do well to envision that Hell simply does not exist for me so why should I judge weather others are headed that way. How can I truly trust God? However, trust Him I must to be willing to do His will! In all paradoxical reality, when I finally surrender to God’s Love and direction I find a new freedom a true “walking in the Spirit”.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance: against such there is no law.”
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
It is easy to tell you “Believe what God says!” Hearing and believing are two different things. Believing with my intellect and knowing in my heart are also two very different things.
The father of a very sick and emotionally tortured child came to Jesus for help; the father said, “If thou canst do anything have compassion on us and help us”. Jesus said to him “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”
“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord I believe; help thou my unbelief.”
The father of a very sick child believed Jesus could heal his child yet he feared. He acknowledged his own doubt. He was aware of his unbelief and confessed it to Jesus promptly in desperation to have the child he loved cured of the torturous malady or “dumb spirit”. The ingredients of honesty, Love for his child, desperation and the fact that he knew he needed help (humility) saved his child. Not to mention he was open-minded to the possibilities of a miracle in spite of his “unbelief”. These simple ingredients, though not easily invoked are the same ingredients used to accomplish many great acts of God through man. When I have fear doubt or lack of faith, I ask God for help and He does help in one way or another of this I can attest.
Let us investigate more about the gift of Love.
First John 4:20 and 21
“If someone says “I Love God” and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he who does not Love his brother whom he has seen, how can he Love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must Love his brother also.”
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (New International Version)
These scriptures are quite a lot to digest. If someone came to me and asked me to sum up the entire New Testament in two suggestions I would say to them: Love God and Love others.” Well, how in the heck do we accomplish that?
The word love is one of the most words in the English language; it has been confused and misused. The word has been invoked to manipulate and control and used to try to appease. I have found at least thirteen different definitions in my Webster’s’ dictionary alone defining love. Definitions range in extreme from God’s sacred Love for us to sex and passionate desire. Our Biblical translators are not a lot of help with the confusion. These brilliant writers have stamped the word “love” over several and varied original root Greek terms throughout the New Testament. Our King James Version scholars felt apparently that some of the Greek love-type words are more akin to charity and translated accordingly. After much study and my own confusion, I have concluded that there are four types of godly Love.
Firstly, our own God inspired, caring, respectful and thoughtful Love toward others whom may or may not Love us. This includes Love towards others in spite of their own unloving behavior. I say God inspired because either we do not feel the Love and yet we show it in giving (charitable) actions because we know it is the right thing to do or we are filled with that giving, precious feeling of godly Love and we show it, again we show it. (Action)
The second definition for Love transpires from me to God. A particular part of my heart is only for Him, the One who will never let me down, even if sometimes I do not remember that.
The third type of Love is portrayed in the Bible though it is neither explained nor addressed this is the Love of self. “Love my neighbor as myself” implies I know how to and do Love myself. To me this means knowing how to respect myself, nurture myself and do what is most beneficial for me spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have lived most of my life having no idea how to Love myself truly. I know what it means to feel contempt toward myself for not doing that which my own heart urges. How could I have possibly carried out the command to Love others without my own self Love? Self-Love is learning to be godly toward one’s self.
Fourth and last is God’s Love toward me, this kind of Love deserves an all-together separate Love category. The powerful Love that God holds in his being toward me would blow my mortal body and mind to pieces if it entered my flesh in its fullness and power. Next, my spirit would be blasted to another dimension where it need not be enslaved by space or time, where Love is at home…..and we simply stamp this embodiment of spirituality with our standard definition and call it “love” oh well, I think it at least deserves a capitol L.
Let’s see what great attainable wisdom the Bible possesses about Love.
First Corinthians 13:4-8
“Love suffers long and is kind, Love does not envy; Love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails”…
I am no spiritual giant, full Of Love, never getting angry or resentful. I am no authority on this Love thing. I do know that when I received Christ as my savior I also received a new Love for my fellow man. I felt the Love and I acted on it. We can grow toward living these scriptural examples of perfect Love. It is said “Gods not done with me yet. If I would like to make progress spiritually, I can compare myself with perfection and pray for improvement. If I compare myself to the hooker or the drunk to make myself feel superior or justified, I stunt my own emotional and spiritual growth. Ironically, that kind of belittling view of others is a character flaw in itself so; I am using bad character (false comparison) to make me feel like I have good character. False comparisons are nice, they make me feel good, and I like feeling good and at one time, that kind of ego boosting was good enough for me. Then I started doing honest self-appraisal, not to condemn myself but to begin to change.
People do not usually change where character is concerned. I have received a recipe to accomplish good change. If you are fearful, miserable or life just plain sucks for you be grateful. Self-sufficient, complacent people are not usually motivated for rigorously seeking God. Miserably unhappy people often are very willing to find relief from God for their emptiness. Self-sufficient people are the ones we observe and say, “Darn Mrs. Smith down the road always has it so together! And look at all the neat stuff she has, she seems to want for nothing.” I hope that by the time Mrs. Smith reaches her deathbed she will take the opportunity to cry to God. I do want to point out though, if she waits until then to seek God; she will not have had the opportunity to know (as humanly possible) the wonders of God’s Love while on this wondrous earth. Nor would she have the blessing of sharing that Love toward others. Therefore, as it is said so often human misery can be a blessing in disguise. Though it certainly does not feel like a blessing at the time, I can attest to that.
I believe Love is an action”. Ask yourself in an honest self-appraisal what are the true motives behind the actions you choose to take. Are you acting out of fear or Love?
Suppose a man goes out of town on a business trip. He finds himself calling his wife ten times a day telling her he loves her. We could label his obsession Love or fear, depends on his level of self-awareness. Hypothetically, we can now see his heart, it is full of fear, fear of losing her to another man because he is not there with her to guard over her. He fears he is not enough for her sexually or emotionally. He fears if she leaves him no other woman will want him. He is really checking up on her not overflowing with feelings of good intention and godly Love. He is insecure, un-grounded spiritually and let’s not judge him by his obsessive behavior he has not had an education on building self-esteem. He has not been exercising the faith that builds strong, self-assured character. What do you think would happen if he realized his own heart and told her his fear then prayed about his shortcomings? It would be a heck of a start in the direction of Love and healing. We know his actions are not from Love, because “Love thinks no evil”, “It rejoices in truth, and does not seek its own” all he is thinking about is “his own”! He is not communicating with her on an honest level. His repeated mantras of “I love you” are really saying, “I am scared”!
Visualize this: A couple meet and have a strong attraction toward one another. They spend a few months together, of course; they are on their best behavior. She is attracted to his sports car and he is attracted to her blonde bombshellism. He feels proud (false pride) when he gets her around his buddies and she is proud to drive that prize of a car. He tells her “I love you” often but does he really? I think he loves the temporary fix he is getting for his feelings by being around her. Let’s align his “love” for her with the Bible.
First Corinthians chapter 13
“Love is not puffed up and does not parade itself” Uh-oh! “Love sides with truth.” Has he told her, “Hey babe I only want you around for the hood ornament effect because, actually I am suffering from intense feelings of inadequacy and you’re my best shot at a good life.” Fat chance! I think he better pray for honesty and start his path of truth by admitting to himself his motives where the blonde babe is concerned. Next, he needs to get very honest with his God! Does this mean for him to live a spiritual life he can’t be in a relationship with a good looking women? Let’s hope not, but right now he needs to work on himself.
We can carry this kind of fake love into relationships with even our own children who we Love dearly. Bailing them out when they should be reaping consequences of their own actions is another counterfeit for Love. Often it is easier to yell and scream at them than to follow through on well-considered discipline. It is easier to try to fix them then realize they need to feel and express emotional pain to be emotionally healthy. Shutting down their tears with candy or money because it makes us uncomfortable to see them cry is selfishness not Love. Showing them, we understand just what they are feeling and care is so much more healing for them than shutting them down with quick fixes. It takes a relationship with God to exhibit empathy and tough Love.
I was talking to a woman about God, she asked, “How can there be a God of Love in this world? Look at the pain, suffering, and war, all the abuse, perversion, murdering, backbiting, and the list of horror goes on, atrocities, diabolical profit taking schemes, etc.” I am definitely not sanctioned to defend God for how he made man. I will not attempt to protect God He can take care of Himself. I can however share my understanding of the circumstance of Love, yet suffering. I believe we are spiritual beings in earthbound, fleshly bodies. I believe we are here to learn what we need to take to the next life. These bodies are destine to grow old and deteriorate from the get go, our bodies are temporary.
First Corinthians 15:50-54
“Now this I say then brethren that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For the corruptible must put on in-corruption, and this mortal must put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written; “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Personally, I do not think human conception was my first beginning; I believe I was with the Father before my human origin and chose this human experience. This possibility does not nullify my need for or faith in Christ. We clearly do not have the complete spiritual story. One thing sure, I need to grow spiritually to be happy. Would my Father not afford me this loving opportunity? Would not your God afford you this opportunity? Life’s most valuable lessons have always come through difficulty. We are to be over comers, this implies obstacles. (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26 etc.) My flesh or self-will is the very thing I need overcome. Apostle Paul in Romans 8:37 said,
“We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”
The real battle lies within our own mind. Overcoming is about conquering our own human nature to gain continual connection with the Spirit of God. By relinquishing my selfish, will to God and asking for His teaching and knowledge. I will open myself up to all manner of spiritual enlightenment and growth. The things I see with these eyes are a very small part of the bigger picture that I do not see.
The greatest and most precious things in life are gifts. We think we can acquire them, to our own dismay. Gifts are given if we can just receive them. When we give away the things, we feel we need the most we are fit to receive the greatest gifts in life. We need to open our spiritual eyes and see the view. Things get very stale in life if we only see with our carnal eyes. Expanding our view in daily life for us, is impossible, for God to expand our sight is His pleasure; He created us for just that. I must communicate my heart to Him even if I feel unworthy and guilty. I had a friend who feared over life’s numerous and foreboding tragedies I told her that, to change by seeing life in a better light is a gift from God.
ONE LITTLE GIRL’S TALE OF LOVE LOST
To tell a Love tale I sit I ponder.
What have I to offer?
Have I memory of God’s great gift?
Put down on paper Love never quits… Everlasting to everlasting.
There was a girl who felt alone.
Feared the world hid at home.
Ran out doors asked the question:
“How do I Love through suffering and pain?
I cannot see to behold my joy!
Memories of anguish heartless men.
Long for comfort need to Love.”
No answer night and day!
She posed the question over again.
An odd day a walk outside,
No people where had they gone.
The streets empty no cars passed by.
No squirrels not a sound.
She sat quiet a wondering mind.
No one to answer her question dear, she realized then a paralyzing fear.
She had the answer all along; a look inside she…. did belong.
The time had passed to Love the strange the not so pretty…
They are gone.____________________________________________
“TRUTH THE MAGIC CARPET RIDE TO LOVE”
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“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty I will say of the LORD, [He is] my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely, he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, [and] from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth [shall be thy] shield and buckler.”
Truth is pure and flawless it protects and purifies he who speaks it.
Some do mistake hurtful and inconsiderate candor for an act of principled loyalty to God’s truth. Just because something is true does not mean I have the right to shout it from the rooftops in the name of my own good character. It is not deceptive to quench truthful yet unkind words. When we avoid hurting people, we also avoid poisoning our own heart by not planting that spoken root of bitterness. If my mother asks me how she looks I can say “fabulous” and she does look fabulous compared to many people I have seen. I could just say “You look fine mom.” rather than saying, “Mother you look overweight, pale and full of fear”. If I try I can see some good in the way my mother looks. I could point out how the color of her outfit suits her so well. Compassion, respect, and truth are Godly principles and the precepts of God never oppose one another because a house divided against itself will surely come to desolation. Meaning I do not have to lie to be considerate and find an encouragement or compliment to bless someone with.
“And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”
First John 4:7
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.”
Chances are, if you are anything like me after reading the scripture you are wondering; how do I love everyone all the time? Or, maybe you’re thinking…I don’t have this Love thing down pat, I must not be “born of God” or “of God”. Do not feel alone, I doubt any of us have the wherewithal to Love our enemies or even to Love those who Love us, all of the time. Who wants to go to the pastor and painfully tell of our lack of Love toward our neighbor? We could just stay in complete denial of our loveless condition but that would be spiritually harmful. Honestly, I have at times been so far detached from my own true feelings I had a complete misconception of who I was. If we see ourselves with clear self-honesty; then and only then is there a chance to change and allow more Love into our lives. The worst thing about not admitting negative feelings or thoughts is they tend to fester and grow into larger and darker emotions. The prerequisite to most spiritual growth is the ability to exercise self-honesty.
Pinocchio’s nose grew and grew with each lie. Telling the truth is a kindergarten concept. However, allot of us have developed far more comfortable strategies for dealing with life’s difficult situations. We have perfected dishonest survival techniques that do not place truth as a priority in our dealings with others. We are older now and have boatloads of experience with truth. We believe we have gleaned wise conclusions from said experience. This kindergarten concept of truth that most have brushed aside as childish and ineffective is one of the keys to our happiness and peace of mind. Truth sets our hearts in position to receive joy and lowers our susceptibility to stress and fear. It is no accident Apostle Paul listed truth as one piece of the “amour of God”. (Ephesians 6:14) Hearing and knowing this scripture myself for years did not help me until I put the truth principle into action.
It is not easy to admit hidden and shameful truths about ourselves. Suppose I do not want to admit some deep-rooted resentment toward someone or confess, I have hate in my heart.
“And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free”.
I want to be free! One of man’s most important truths is to realize what lies in his own heart. Knowing our heart will provoke us to seek God. Suppose I admit the truth “Lord I hate my neighbor and I don’t know how to Love him!” Let’s face it folks we cannot reach down into the depths of our heart and pull out everything unholy by the root. At times I wish I could, however if I could spiritual cleanse myself of darkness I would have no need for a Great Physician! I prefer a Savior rather than a legalistic God who puts a big red X on my report card every time I fall short of perfection. This kind of spiritual traffic cop would surely land me in jail I mean Hell. When I am being crystalline honest with myself, I realize parts of my heart do not line up with the Love scriptures in 1st John and what’s more, I cannot possibly change myself to match them. Here at our wits end we can either “forget this Bible stuff” or learn to rely on God every day of our lives. Then I pray: “Lord I admit I have hatred in my heart please help me to remain honest with myself. Please remove all the things that are not good for me and others.” Then hold on and remember all difficulties in life will reveal a lesson in one form or another if we are watching and self-aware.
In the movie “Forrest Gump” a man named Lieutenant Dan was in Vietnam and lost his legs. He was furious at himself, the world and mostly God for the tragic injustices he suffered. He tried to suppress his emotional pain by drinking liquor and running wild. Then he fled to Forest’s boat and got in touch with his hurt and anger. He expressed his feelings to God in a way some Christians would consider blasphemous. While sailing through a tumultuous storm he screamed and confronted his God. A movie yes nevertheless, it illustrates my point very well. Lieutenant Dan told God exactly what he thought of God’s world. The result was peace of mind and joy. I have found the results of this kind of assertive and honest prayer to be healing and liberating.
Jesus is our advocate with God He has experienced the same temptations as us. He was flesh and blood, born of woman, the seed of man, human. He experienced the streets of Nazareth. He understands our pain, grief, anger, weakness, shame and guilt.
For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.
He did also experience His own fear and doubt while on the cross.
“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed saying “Oh my Father if it is possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabaachthani?” That is “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
How can we get real with our repentance without self-honesty? We would do well to realize God knows it all. He is God yes but He was also human, flesh and blood, having a lower nature as all humans do. Again, He was tempted as all humans are. Jesus asked His Father, “take this cup from me, nevertheless thy will be done.” Do all we believers suppose that the only time Jesus was tempted was that famous temptation from Satan in the wilderness and on top of the mountain in Mathew fourth chapter?
I understand the struggle with trying to give up my will for Gods. My flesh cries, “God’s will for me will be unpleasant; I know best what is good for me!” It seems like my will is better than God’s then I do a reality check, where has my will really gotten me. What are my priorities when running on self-will? Money, possessions, getting my way, I want to feel good and let’s not forget vanity, boy do I want to look good! Where will all my favorite things get me spiritually? Has my will gotten me peace of mind? Have my fun toys gotten me true joy unspeakable? Has my will profited me a guilt free life of abundance I can enjoy? Can I truly enjoy a day at the beach or a vacation absent of the Love of God?
By active, working truth, I can have a relationship with God. It has been tricky figuring out what I need to have true well-being and how to get it. Most folks assume truth and godly Love cannot be the answer to contentment, it sounds to cliché, and childish. Our fears fight against the truth. If I am running on fear who knows what or who will rule my life. I must not allow fearful thoughts to direct my actions.
Here are some examples of some fear-based actions.
A man thinks to himself, my wife might leave me for another man so he grasps and clings onto her until she is annoyed and wants to push him away. He thinks he is getting old and ugly so he searches and struggles to stay young. He has all kinds of surgeries, make-up, expensive clothing etc. until he has maimed his body by too many operations and depleted his monies. He is so fearful of losing his job and security that he obnoxiously sucks up to his boss, again annoying him until his boss wants to push him away. The man then over-works himself to near exhaustion all the while thinking he is protecting himself from insecurity and poverty. By reacting to fear, he has twisted and turned himself into a state of anxious turmoil all the while struggling to be in a safer more secure place. “If the journey down the road runs on fear, the destination won’t be much better.” I have concluded through my work toward complete self-awareness that the fear in me is ONE yet I can project it onto a million different circumstances and react to it in many different harmful ways.
There was a time in my life that I thought dishonesty was sometimes the best policy. I was honest with some people and deceptive with others. I would justify, “My husband can’t handle the truth!” I did not like the results I got when I was truthful with him. In romantic relationships or partnerships if communication is not truthful, they will not grow far together in Love or trust. We too often look at our partners as the enemy. We often perceive them as an opponent because of previous hurtful relationships (baggage) from which we have not healed. In school, the teacher did not show us how to process hurtful emotions. The Bible does not offer help in that area until it is deciphered correctly. It took me years to understand the Holy word constructively. It required guidance and long-suffering to gain a usable understanding of the Word of God.
There have been instances when truth has gotten me into trouble. It is much easier, of course to be honest when we have nothing to hide. Guilt is the primary reason for dishonesty. Mischievous motives are generally followed by lies. The confidence to be honest in all areas of our lives is not only self-liberating, it exercises godly Love and triggers respect from others. Furthermore, it induces self-respect and much needed self-esteem. To achieve across the board honesty we do well to begin with honesty toward God, and ourselves then work our way toward honesty with others with God’s help.
Someone wrote these words about their deep, realized relationship with truth, it is beautiful:
What can be said of truth? It eluded me I could not grab hold!
I was sure, if I embrace her, she would hurt me
I thought, if I stand by her what I want would be gone
Oh sure I’ll embrace her when she serves my needs
I will hold her as a last resort
I could not see her beauty; invisible to the eye
I mistook precious truth for an enemy
So small in spiritual depth is the human eye
Truth, a peculiar beauty seen only by the heart
We see by good conscience we see by our soul.
Finally, I held truth every way I could
In casual words, in relations, in view of self
By respecting truth, I fed her beauty to my soul and was healed
Oh truth, you no longer elude me_____________________________________
Wait a minute! This is starting to sound like a namby-pamby (goody two shoes) self-help book that is going to get me into a lot of trouble! So far, I have suggested the following principals to consider with life goals and relationships in mind.
The first idea I submit is our concept of God may need some rethinking where “fear God” is concerned. I suggest that we meditate on examples in our own life of God’s Love for us. I also suggest we rethink truth on a completely different level, how it can work FOR us rather than against us. I submit that we ponder how self-honesty will help us improve the way we feel although initially it is sometimes uncomfortable.
If you are an avid churchgoer or have been at some point in your life the word deliverance may come to mind at the suggestion of overcoming sin and shortcomings. So many times, I have heard prayers in church like “Oh Lord, deliver this man from the throngs of alcoholism.” Unfortunately, the alcoholic man at this stage of his illness is miserable whether drunk or sober. Does the minister or the alcoholic once consider the practical action of joining a program of recovery? Oh no, that would involve work! Besides who wants to hang around a bunch of pitiful alcoholics? Personally I would rather lie at the altar of the church of my choice fasting and praying in travail of my addiction passively begging God to lift out every part of me that is feeble and dependent! PLEASE GOD JUST TAKE IT OUT OF ME! Unfortunately, from what I have seen God usually doesn’t totally extract character flaws from us. Nor does he take away our free-will.
I have seen the drug addict delivered in church and I have experience the alcoholic delivered from his addiction through the fervent prayers and intercession of prayer warriors, deliverance believers. What sometimes happens after these deliverances is that the delivered addicts somewhere down the road experience emotional difficulties in life. Perhaps they experience a hurtful divorce or death of a loved one, financial disaster etc. They have not learned plausible, practical coping skills and self-will or “free will” tells them the quickest way to erase emotional pain is in that bottle and they believe it. Fear takes priority and the delivered man relapses. Like a mother who forgets the pains of childbirth and delivers yet another child the addicted man, ninety nine times out of a hundred, under severe emotional pain will forget how bad drinking really was to get whatever relief the bottle offers.
It takes time and teaching for a person with long-term addiction issues to learn to rely on God in times of intense emotional pain. Hence the programs of AA and NA, God breathed I believe provide the addict direction simple and true on how to live life drug and alcohol free.
Undisputed, God has given us free will. Free will for a delivered addict is the freedom that very likely will be their undoing. Long term thought patterns die-hard. The Lord, I believe is without limit to what He can do for us. Free will or self-will has caused disasters from Eve and the serpent to Jonah and the whale, even Lucifer the mighty angel received grave consequences for his free will. God just does not remove all shortcomings from a man. Sometimes God does extract ingrained behaviors I can attest to that. Most times we must make a constructive effort with active reliance on God to change. Being aware of our faults is the first step in being an “over comer”. Change is uncomfortable at best. When working toward honesty with others, we will have fearful uncomfortable situations. Talking with a trusted fellow¬ about our own spiritual growth experiences is priceless in the way that it helps good change come into fruition. Sharing the pains the joys the fears and successes in life is fulfilling and needed. We are social creatures we benefit when we have friends and companionship both. Living a spiritual life is not only to please God but also to feel better and enjoy life when possible. There are times when enjoyment just is not appropriate or beneficial. At times of sickness, disease, dying, loss, injury it is right that life becomes burdensome. That does not mean we are not grateful….it could always be worse.
“JUST LIKE JONAH”
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“Arise go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.
Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. “And went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.”
Jonah and the whale everybody has heard that story. Three days three nights in the belly of a whale and I read it is scientifically possible for a human to survive three days in a great white. That’s the gist of it there you have it. Seriously, though I am shocked at how much I have gotten out of the old story of Jonah.
Jonah received instruction from God to go preach to the Ninevites. Nineveh was a famous city. Nineveh was the capitol and at the center of the great and powerful Assyrian Empire. It was located two hundred and eighty ml north of Babylon on the eastern bank of the Tigris River in a very fertile plain. Today the ancient ruins of Nineveh are located in what is now called Iraq. It was called the robber city because it overran and robbed other cities to enrich itself.”
I am guessing that when Jonah was ordered by God to go preach to those terrifying men he thought to himself “heck no! I am not going to tell those vicious killers to repent of their ways; they may kill me or worse!” Whatever he thought, he ran like hell to escape the call of God set before him.
Jonah’s actions show that (thank you Jonah) he did not trust God to see him safely through the task at hand. Keep in mind, during this study on Jonah; he was a chosen prophet of God. Most likely Jonah’s’ little story was inspired by God not just for the Ninevites benefit but also for ours. By it, we are able to see that the men of the Bible were not very different from us. Therefore, Jonah the man of God who heard the voice of God possibly audibly was experiencing doubt concerning God’s will as being good for him.
I surmise Jonah assumes he can quickly outrun the Most High ruler of the universe. Therefore, he catches a boat headed for Tarshish. A fierce tempest begins in the salty waters. Jonah is asleep in the birth of the boat. The ship’s sailors are scared to death of the storm. Fearing death or worse each man cries out to his own god. Maybe they prayed unknowingly to the Most High God unaware of His name.
“For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you.”
Apostle Paul went to The Areopagus a marble hill famous now (Mars Hill) in Athens (Acts 17:23-30) and ministered to some strangers. He had observed them worshiping a God they called the “unknown God”. Paul pointed out to them that the God they worshiped is The Most High God. Luke the beloved physician wrote this account of the men who were ignorant of God’s identity. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at.” (Acts 17:30) I won’t ask how The Apostle Paul new that God winked but I interpret that as God thought nothing of it, “Truly then God overlooked their times of ignorance” (KJII). Should we not show patience and understanding as well for those still ignorant of whom their God is while they search for Him in their own way?
The mariners sought their god next; they remembered that Jonah was sleeping in the birth of the boat. Jonah was a loving and honest man, what he did next shows it. He was truthful with the mariners and told them the reason the tempest came upon them was because he had fled the presence of the Lord. He then said, “cast me into the sea then it will be calm.” (1:12 Jonah). He was willing to die so these sailors could live. Jonah was not perfect, obviously, he had fear, and he did not trust God and disobeyed God’s instruction. Nevertheless, Jonah portrayed Love, honesty and courage. The mariners’ exhibited their own righteousness and Love. As scared as they were, facing death, they did not take lightly the idea of throwing Jonah into the ocean even to prevent their own death. They felt compassion for him or maybe they thought it would be wrong to kill Jonah. The men just kept rowing hard to get the ship to land (Jonah 1:13). When they finally decided to cast Jonah into the sea, they first prayed for God’s mercy, forgiveness, and grace; not as a clan of vicious self-serving idolaters as it’s said, but as conscientious, God-fearing men with principals. They did it, they tossed poor old Jonah into the raging sea. “And then the “raging ceased”. No longer ignorant of what God they worshiped they then praised The Most High God in their own way because of their escape from sure death. Let’s face folks they were relieved as hell to not die. Fear of death is the mother of all fear. (Jonah 1:16).
Jonah chapter 2
A great fish swallows Jonah now he takes time to pray to God.
“Out of the belly of Hell I cried” said Jonah. This reference to Hell in the book of Jonah is one example of a living hell. This kind of reference to hell is common throughout the Old Testament. Obviously it means a living hell, a state of heart and mind while alive. It is unfortunate for the apprentice bible reader that translations allow for generalized blanket terms on words with various meanings. (Words like “Love & hell) These blanket terms promote confusion and disagreement in church and bible studies. Words with more than one meaning can be studied in the Greek and Hebrew lexicon and dictionaries to be thoroughly understood. Jonah’s living “hell” is defined in Strong’s Hebrew dictionary as “world of the dead”. Obviously, Jonah has not stopped breathing; his heart still pumps blood as far as we know nevertheless, he feels dead and in hell, and so he is.
I can relate to feeling as if I am in Hell… At those times I feel hopeless even if I know I am not I still feel hopeless. A person may live in bondage to addiction, depression, mental illness, self-serving lifestyles of hate and violence, or are in destructive relationships all these can be described as a “Hell”. Perhaps you are living a life that consists of just work; bills, more work, and no joy little fun and few laughs. Many situations could generate a living hell. Psalms depicts this state of being often
“The sorrows of Hell compassed me about, the snares of death prevented me.”
In Hebrews 2:15 there is one very informative and simple truth:
“And deliver them who through fear of death were their entire lifetime subject to bondage”.
Fear and bondage go hand in hand. In this scripture, the type of bondage referred to is very real. This bondage does not imply being physically chained or imprisoned. Though no chains are visible, we can feel the oppressive and hindering shackles that sometimes rule our lives.
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption whereby we cry Ab’ba Father.”
Paralyzing, unhealthy fear permeates from the mother fear, the fear of death. Although death is not always our mental focus when spiritually paralyzed, I do believe it is the underlying fear. Fear is the culprit of all our dysfunction. Fear is spiritual in nature and requires a spiritual solution. We can lie at the church alter and ask God to take fear away and He very well may. We can lay in bed depressed for weeks, months, and years, unfruitful in our existence. Wondering why we were dealt such an unjust hand in life blaming everyone around us for our plight. We can anesthetize our fear with drugs, alcohol, a little Prozac, a few Xanax, or perhaps another piece of pie. However most of us have found no real solutions in these futile attempts to change our own state of mind.
We can put acceptable labels on fear such as, anxiety, boredom, nervousness, annoyance, obsession, jealousy, possessiveness, controlling, the list goes on. If we have reached a place of hopelessness as Jonah has in his living hell we may then be in a position, if open minded and teachable to receive a fresh understanding of God’s word. We may now learn to receive the “Life more abundantly” that Christ spoke of in John 10:10.
Jonah cries from his living Hell to God. Jonah was already a chosen man when the burdensome instruction from God was assigned. Remember the whole mess started when God gave Jonah a mission and Jonah’s reaction is, he wants to get away from God’s presence and now he has, to his own dismay. He is finding out his own self-will is much worse than his fear of God’s will. Now, he is realizing his mistakes and becoming teachable himself. I believe Jonah has arrived at a point of powerlessness. Meaning he feels no hope without God’s help. He is to the point of total surrender to God. He cannot fight, run, or blame. Now all Jonah can see is his mistakes and the hope that God will deliver him out of the Hell he has run into. I have found through my own living Hell that giving up on trying things my way then seeking out God’s will works wonderfully to create positive change. Being at the end of my rope affords me the realization that God’s plan is better than my own.
“And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the Lord and He heard me; out of the belly of Hell cried I, and thou heard my voice.”
Because of his affliction, he cried! Oftentimes these living hells are the only thing that prompt us complacent Christians to seek God. I mean really seek God cry out beg even! It would be nice if I could learn to live life in peace and harmony with others and remain in continuous contact with God every day. It can happen; it begins with a desperation like Jonah in our own Hell.
“They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.”
“Lying vanities” are the deceptive statements our minds make that distract and remove us from Gods peace and plan for our lives. In Jonah’s case, his deceptive mind told him that running from God would be better than following His will.
“God heard Jonah’s prayers and the whale spit him out on shore.”
The Lord came unto Jonah a second time and told Jonah what to say to the Ninevites.
“Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” Said The Lord
Next, the bible reads
“The people of Nineveh believed God.”
To be overthrown by God does not sound good. Apparently, it did not sound too good to the Nineveh homeboys because their reaction consisted of fasting, praying, and repentance. (Moreover, you know how strongmen Love their food.) I suppose the people of Nineveh felt their own Hell approaching and took positive action to change, they sought the solution. They believed Jonah was truly speaking for God. There are many unanswered questions where the Bible is concerned nevertheless it tells me enough for what I need to learn, which leads me to the next touching scripture.
“And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that He had said that He would do to them; and He did it not.”
Repent- to be sorry in a favorable sense (Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee dictionary of the Old Testament)
Evil- Bad or evil, adversity, affliction, calamity. Harm heavy hurt, misery, naught, sorrow, trouble etc. (Strong’s dictionary)
These scriptures present two examples of God’s nature toward us sinners. In view of God’s decision to change not only His mind but also His decree toward the Ninevites exemplifies He really did make humans in His image.
My view of God has changed through the years of my born again faith and rightly so! Our relationship with God should grow and change in a positive way as we get to know Him better. The “written in stone” rules and regulations God-type that some churches portray is strictly contraindicated in the book of Jonah and throughout the bible. Here God has mercy on those violent and hateful men that He told Jonah He would destroy. He changed His mind or heart or His spirit decided differently. (I feel describing Gods choices with earthly words is somewhat lacking to say the least.) The bible declares, “He would have done evil against them, but repented”. The Lord and Most High God repented. I will not speculate on what the Lord may have been thinking while planning their destruction. I will not speculate on God doing “evil”. Of this topic, you may draw your own conclusions. I will only elaborate on the facts. He showed them mercy, Love, and forgiveness in spite of themselves, this is the nature of God I need and Love.
Apparently, Jonah did not see it that way; he is dreadfully upset about God changing His mind. He is perplexed because of God not doing what He said He would do to these so violent, heartless city robbers.
Jonah 4:1 `But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry.”
Jonah 4:2 “And he prayed unto the Lord, and said, I pray thee 0 Lord, was not this my saying when I was yet in my country?”
Jonah is very displeased with the way God is handling His affairs. Why did Jonah have to leave his comfortable home for this? Jonah said he thought God should show mercy on them from the get-go without Jonah’s involvement.
Jonah 4:3 “Therefore now Oh Lord, take, I beseech thee my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.”
Jonah literally wants to die right now! Relating this to myself, I can see how in past times I have tried to manipulate God in my prayers to get done what I think ought to happen. Subconsciously thinking my way is better than God’s way. Even when praying for others my heart struggled to control situations and manipulate people’s behavior by my influence with God. I have learned that what I think I may need or others need oftentimes is not God’s will or the best thing. Sometimes my will is self-destructive and hurts people. The flesh strives against the Spirit in me. My flesh is the child who will eat chocolate until she is sick. God knows what I need and He gives it to me when I let him.
“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
This scripture has a twofold meaning, not only will God give me my desires but He will place Godly desires in my heart that I may better do His will.
“But seek thee first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
According to Jonah, he is not getting what he needs nor is God acting right! It is making Jonah very unhappy! If God would just do what he wants, then Jonah would be happy or would he?
Jonah wants what he wants and he wants it now! Now, he wishes only to die. I wonder if he really thoroughly wanted to end his life or if his reaction was a spoiled emotional response to his hurt feelings. It sounds like Jonah has slipped into some self-pity.
Jonah 4:4- “Then said the Lord”, Doesn’t thou well to be angry?”
A question rather than an accusation is a good way to prompt us to look at our behavior. A little self-examination is in order here. Where is this righteous indignation getting us that we may hold unto death? The only one Jonah’s hurting is Jonah. I say “righteous” indignation because yes, the Ninevites were voracious killers they robbed cities, families, and the innocent. If they were to continue hurting others, they needed to be neutralized, overthrown and sent to the lethal injection table no doubt! Again, I say “righteous indignation” because God did say forty days and they would be overthrown. Jonah has his valid reasons for being angry.
Not to add insult to injury, Jonah walks into the outskirts of the city and it gets hot, The Lord then prepares a Gourd for Jonah, a plant that would provide shade from the hot sun and deliver him from his grief. Jonah came to be glad for the gourd. God then prepared a worm to smite the gourd that it withered. Poor Jonah woke up hot angry wishing to die once again.
Jonah 4:9 “doesn’t thou well to be angry for the gourd? (God asks Jonah again) I do well to be angry, even unto death.”
“Then said the Lord, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for which thou hast not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night and perished in a night; and should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six-score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?”
In this passage, The Lord explains to Jonah one reason why he spared the people of Nineveh. Simply
put, they are ignorant of right and wrong. I surmise they, being raised from infants in their violent society and social traditions knew no better. I am not justifying their murderous behavior; I am only pointing out that the conditions we grow up in mold much of who we are and how we think. They are God’s people and he chose to bestow grace upon them rather than annihilate them. The Lords mercy and compassion are prominent in these scriptures. Even in these Old Testament times of law and punishment, The Lord God is Love. These verses also portray the Lord’s patience with Jonah as God walks him carefully through his lessons. God teaches Jonah as a father would teach his well-loved son, in a way that he can grow emotionally and spiritually. I empathize with Jonah because I have felt the same emotions Jonah revealed in this story. God the Father has walked me through my life as he has Jonah. Teaching me what I need to learn either the easy way without defiance on my part or the painful way where I rebel and defy God until I learn from my mistakes. As for the Ninevites, God looks upon the heart; He is not ignorant of our capabilities or deficits of sound reason. He will save us to the end, utterly, oftentimes from our own selves.
So ends the story of Jonah
*(Nineveh-Archaeological Supplement, Thompson Chain
reference bible, KJV, Fifth improved edition, study Bible.)
The sign of Jonah is that a man can drastically and miraculously be changed. People don’t often change. The sign of Jonah repentance Look up scripture in Matthew. EDIT Bible scholars have tried for centuries to figure out what Jesus meant about the sign of Jonah.
“GOD’S PERPETUAL GRACE, FREEDOM FROM GUILT”
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One definition of “grace” is unmerited favor; this is my favorite biblical definition. I feel it is most precise judging from my own experience. One of the benefits of this kind of Grace is “to not receive the negative consequences I deserve by my wrong actions. This kind of grace allowed me to be fairly functional and sane while living a self-destructive life. It is not of my own merit that I have survived to the age of 50 and am healthy. It is not by my own merit that I can write the words on this page and understand them with my heart. It is by God’s precious grace.
I was born again at the age of 27 and received a large dose of the Holy Spirit at age 30. After that, I felt I had everything I needed spiritually. I had lived most of my life refining and practicing the art of disobedience and defiance. I now assumed I had obtained the ability to live by every Godly law. In addition, why should I not believe same? My Holy Spiritual experience was the awakening of a lifetime. I was enlightened, strengthened, and healed both physically and emotionally. I had a psychic change as well, now I would merely know what is right and do it. Sounds simple huh?
I grew up practicing the concept that you learn something and then you know it. You learn division or addition then you get your grade, which is your reward. There should then be no further need for burdensome learning of addition or division. I assumed my spiritual lessons could be learned and retained in similar fashion. Spiritual laws are not the same as earthly carnal laws. I had to let go of my misunderstanding of spiritual concepts they reeked of self-sufficiency and left no room for further grace. I was looking for the prize, I thought I could do all the right things for God and the rewards would be thick!
What I really needed to learn was an active daily reliance on God. I needed a practical way to remain spiritually in tune with the “mystery of God’s will”. Paul in Ephesians chapter one calls God’s will a mystery. This mystery requires consistent acts of dependence on God to behold daily. When I failed at self-sufficient obedience to Gods law, I once again slipped into a rules and regulations perception of God by my own standards.
With my own guilt at the helm my God became a penalizing disciplinary rather than the omnipotent Father who loves me unconditionally and allows me to learn by my mistakes. I was unaware that as a human I would be spiritually fallible to a point the rest of my life. Although divinely awakened I had never experienced an emotionally healthy relationship how would I then have an ongoing healthy relationship with God without further lessons? Learning requires effort and work I did not want to work. I did want a supernatural good feeling continually without any more effort than some occasional prayer and church attendance. Consequently, I fumbled through years of sin all the while knowledgeable of God’s wonderful truths.
“For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not…”
Struggling with sin while born again was torturous. I saw myself as a complete hypocrite. I knew what God, Jesus had done for me by my deliverance and on the cross. I could not muster up the good behavior to honor and repay him. Free will was winning out over my desire to do what is right again. The guilt and shame was now deeper and more debilitating than before my deliverance. Was I lost for good? I continued praying for His help. Finally, God showed me through my brothers and sisters a proactive recipe to walk in the Spirit of Love by grace. The exercises outlined in this book are all exemplified in the Word of God. They are actions toward freedom if followed as a daily way of life.
Guilt will either direct me toward solutions or direct me toward destruction. The more I distract myself from truth, the further I get from a simple, peaceful life.
“THE DREADED SIN OF FORNICATION”
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I was delivered by God from heroin and cocaine addiction by receiving prayer in a little Baptist Church from five or so parishioners including the preacher. At that time my life changed dramatically and so I was born of Spirit or born-again as the expression goes.
Not terribly long after my born again experience which by the way included; water baptism, baptism of the Holy Spirit and I’m sure the baptism of fire (Luke 3:16). (All the Christian credentials). I met another Christian I liked very much that was quite an attraction for me. I was single, young, impressionable, and very much desired to live by the rules. We dated for a short time. I believed in sexual abstinence before marriage because that’s how I understood the rule in the Bible. I believed God wanted me celibate and had gone a year with no romantic relationships (a very strange concept to most people I think). However I had such strong passionate desire for this man I felt I had better marry him before I commit the dreaded sin of fornication. After all God had saved me from drugs and alcohol. I didn’t realize it at the time but I felt obligated as if now I owed God my obedience. I felt as if there were strings attached to my deliverance I did not have a pure understanding of God’s grace and Love. I was viewing a spiritual even from a carnal and earthly standpoint
I was totally frustrated with abstaining from sex. Between my unreasonable fear of God and my raging hormones I was about to make a huge mistake. My solution for my overwhelming frustration and fear was to get married and so I did. Not long after our union my young and handsome husband began popping Xanax and drinking in excess. He stopped working and became very much an obnoxious drunk.
I have learned the doctrine of marriage from attending various Christian churches. Some teach that I should have actually submitted to my husband and stay married. I was attending Narcotics Anonymous and still newly sober. Some churches will callously disfellowship or excommunicate a woman by disciplinary counsel for divorcing her husband under any circumstances. Biblical teachings on this subject can be misunderstood resulting in oppressive beliefs and doctrines. Some church members said I should have persistently prayed for my will to happen in my husband’s life meaning, for God to change him into what I want him to be and now! I could have wasted away praying for his transformation all the while living a life of servitude to a drunk. I would have been mourning and grieving daily about my husband. Me miraculously set free only to put myself back into bondage to an unfulfilled unreasonable expectation.
I recognize my readers may not agree with all I am writing. Christian divorce is a very sticky subject. As the preachers declare, “Sin to one may not be sin to another” I have found this to be true.
I married so I could Biblically and lawfully have sexual relations against the advice of my spiritual teachers. I married hastily not knowing the man well enough or long enough. Most people are on their best behavior when courting for the first 90 days.
Marriage is many good things but it is confined by intention when thought of as only a solution to sexuality. I quickly divorced Slim. I had not considered his well-being when I married him. I had ignored the glaring red flags I saw in my soon to be husband so I could get what I wanted. The union was based on selfishness. I broke the marriage vow and regretted the entire incident.
Should I have stayed in the marriage and sinned by self-induced oppression? Or should I have sinned by divorce and breaking a marriage vow? I deduced that I should not, by God live in my sinful mistake the rest of my life. The worse sin would have been rejecting my freedom to Love by staying with a man in a graceless institution by my immature ignorance of the higher law of Love.
“But I say unto you whosoever put away his wife saving for the cause of fornication causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever marry her that is divorced commit adultery.”
What does this scripture really mean? It is saying God’s law is higher than man’s law is it not. Even if the woman in the scripture was legally divorced, she still commits adultery states Jesus. The Judge signed the divorce decree, put his state seal on it and yet in Gods eye she is still obligated to her first husband. God’s law prevails. His law deems the divorce occurred for the wrong reasons, only infidelity it declares will allow such a separation and freedom to unite with another person.
My question is this; are your beliefs in traditional marriage so lawfully bound that there is no allowance for grace? Does forgiveness stop when we consider the laws of marriage? I do not think that is what Jesus really meant. Matthew 15:1-9 talks about the scribes and Pharisees who asked Jesus
“Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?” Jesus answered: “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of tradition”
In my ignorance and fear of breaking traditional biblical law, I abandoned and breached the higher law of Love. I placed my fear of the law first and married with selfish motives in my heart. The act of sin to one may not be sin to another because of the motives of one’s heart. Certainly, the act of marriage in of itself is not a sin but I believe it may be a sin depending on our heart.
Suppose I help someone because of the kindness of my heart and Love. Later I help someone again this time I’m doing it because they have something I want and I’m trying to manipulate them into giving it to me, I covet and lie to get what I want. Two of the same deed one sin, one Love. Indubitably, a big chocolate cake is not sinful but to the obese man it could be the tool of his self-destructive demise. In his heart, he lusts for it putting it before God, man and himself. The cake rules him it is his god. What about TV do I put it before my family and God? The same rule applies, what is in my heart?
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of thoughts and intents of the heart.”
“These people draw near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.”
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”
“For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”
We have biblically established that what is in our hearts is the bottom line with God unto life and salvation. Given this knowledge,
I would like to be capable of placing with my hand what goes in and what comes out of my heart thank you! More self-sufficiency, Please!
Self-sufficiency does not jive with the realm of The Spirit. Let’s examine the fornication issue a little further. Suppose on the flip side I meet that special man of God. A man of God, meaning he lives by the golden rule. This is the man I have been praying for, the man I want for my life partner.
We make a promise of fidelity to each other and keep it. We embark on a long loving relationship free of guilt and shame. We consider each other before ourselves often.
We do not legally marry or vow a vow because we are unsure of what tomorrow may bring and we have both been married before. Would I be living in sin? Would I be fornicating? I think not. Our motives are pure and within the boundaries of Gods higher law of Love.
Some men asked God this question,
“Teacher which is the greatest commandment in the law? Jesus said to him “You shall
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it,
Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the
Law and the Prophets.”
My point liberally spoken as it may be is if the motive in my heart is pure and my actions Loving, traditional do’s and don’ts are not relevant. Moreover, this child of God is not bound by their meticulous and complicated tuition. Some may call these traditions religious bondage. Fornication as I understand it is committing a wrong act done out of twisted immoral motivation, selfish in nature and hurtful to people. Love cannot fornicate, only God can see my heart and yours. Setting moral boundaries for me and identifying what is and what is not sin for me is one crucial ingredient of my spiritual maturity. No one else can decide how I abide in good conscience toward God except me.
A proverb written by a friend of mine reads, “Of guilt I can’t relieve you though you’re sorry and I believe you.” So often, when we go against our own beliefs and convictions (otherwise known as apostasy) we seek justification and approval from others. These confirmations give us temporary relief from inner guilt but do not cleanse our soul. Justification distracts us from our guilt and turns it to blame. Blame being a much easier emotion for our egos to handle. However, our hearts suffer the loss. Unchecked guilt usually results in self-hatred and snowballs into various sin. A little guilt can spin into more wrong action and create a downward spiral toward Hell.
Another spiritual succubus is un-forgiveness. Un-forgiveness also lives in our hearts and minds causing negative action due to negative feelings. I believe if we could see spiritual entities, these emotions such as guilt, hatred, blame etc. would appear as black clouds going down into the pit of our stomachs (like the graphic illustrations of disease in the movie “The Green Mile”) and if unchecked, fill our bodies to the brim resulting in feelings that are unbearable. These feelings often spill over in a bad way. These individual sins should be checked daily and confessed to God and man.
The bottom line of my message to you is illustrated here so perfectly in First Corinthians.
First Corinthians 6:12-15
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly and the belly for meats but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord and the Lord for the body.”
”REPENTANCE AN UGLY WORD OR A GRACIOUS GIFT?”
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Acts 5:31 “Him (Jesus) God has exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins”.
Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things they became silent and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the gentiles repentance unto life.”
Repentance should not be a one-time thing. It is necessary for salvation at the beginning of any Christian’s spiritual walk. Water baptism is referred to in Mark 1:4 as “A baptism of repentance.” This baptism is a formal act of Christianity. It is symbolic of dying to the flesh and rising in the spirit. Following such a monumental and decisive action of seeking God’s will there will be evidence of God in our lives. There will be affirmative indications of God in us such as charitable Love toward others or “loving others as ourselves”. In addition, we will be stepping into a process of spiritual growth that shows improvements gradually in our behavior. I heard a preacher tonight say repentance brings back the manifestations of God in our lives. We get re-aligned with the will of God and Things get easier when God is an active part of our life again.
I have yet to see perfection in any born again believers life. Often good change comes accompanied by difficulty and painful struggle. Repentance is a gift from God. Without it, none will grow spiritually or grow toward God in His likeness. Repentance usually results from guilt followed by honest self-examination. Solutions for remorse are found by conversations with God. The repentance process starts something like this. I realize I have hurt someone or myself by something I have done this causes an uneasy feeling inside of shame, remorse, guilt or utter horror. Our good conscience alone will let us know when we have done wrong. The Lord God has given us each good conscience for a reason, to use it to our own benefit.
Unless I am a sociopath and have no conscience or I have hardened, my heart against blessed emotions and am in deep denial I can recognize my guiding light my hearts nudge. Maybe I realize I have been living life wrong for a long time and have a whole river of tears to cry toward God. It is surely a gift when this point comes in our lives. Best we follow our own hearts nudge rather than what appears to be working for others. I have found that my heart will not accept the deeds that another’s heart seems to accept peacefully.
When my moment of clarity comes, I should seek God with honest and humble prayer saying I am wrong and asking for forgiveness. Thorough self-examination should be done nightly. A repentant heart admits when it is wrong without excuse or justification. This repentance is how I keep a free heart; it cleanses my soul and is a big part of my ongoing relationship with God. If I am not capable of admitting, I have been wrong to God or another person I can ask God to help me learn to repent.
As it is said if you cannot remember the last time, you were wrong, something might be wrong.
First John 1:9
“If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
So often in a situation when we are not doing what we know is right for others or us we ask God for strength. “Yea, that’s what I need, strength to do the right thing and overcome this besetting sin!” It makes sense in carnal theory, but for some reason my struggling, prayers for strength did not lead me toward that life more abundantly. Strength is great I love feeling strong! However, humility is the principal that keeps me close to God. It takes humility to repent.
Here I must sight the very first Bible scripture to which I could really relate. The scripture that set off a chain of re-birth events in my life. I began reading the Gideon’s Bible I found in a hotel room drawer. I lived in a hotel for quite some time. I started reading Proverbs; the verses are timeless and contain little traditional law, therefore are easily understood and a very good place for a beginning bible reader to start. Proverbs laws are laws of the heart.
I moved to Texas when I was 22, I had no real friends or family there. I was definitely not doing what I knew I should or wanted to be doing. I struggled with self-destructive sin. I began seeking God and turned to this scripture:
Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
Romans 7:19 “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing”.
Romans 7:23 “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”
Such a dilemma the Apostle Paul suffered! Such a dilemma we all suffer, call it the age-old war of the flesh and the Spirit. Label it the battle of fear verses Love. It is the war of sanity over insanity, diseased thinking over healthy thinking. This fight is ultimately one of death versus life. The two natures are in us all, the conflict is certain! Some are better at sticking to one side than others. Me, I was watching my soul’s destruction by my own hand like a powerless spectator. I was unable to do what my own heart urged. The law of sin is very real and it will result in death if not checked. It is a spiritual law, one that can only be broken by spiritual means. This sin can be any flavor as long as it makes us a slave to it. This sin can be blatant or subtle. It can be gossip or murder. It can be drug addiction or just plain selfishness. Whatever the sin you can be sure it is hurting someone.
“For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me].”
The following intriguing poem exemplifies the law of sin:
THE DARK SIDE CALLS, HER ARMS OPEN WIDE SHE WILL NOT REJECT ME OR PUSH ME ASIDE
SHE TAKES ME IN, I’M SEDUCED WITH RELIEF WITH PLEASURE SO GOOD, BEYOND BELIEF
SHE STREAMS THROUGH MY SOUL ERASING MY GROWTH MY UNDERSTANDING FADES, LIES SHE PROMOTES
SHE’S DARK IN MY DREAMS CALLING ME FAST
SCREW ALL THIS PAIN I’LL FREE YOU AT LAST!
SHE’S CUNNING SHE’S BAFFLING HER DECEPTION IS TRUE SHE TELLS ME “I KNOW JUST WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU”
STREAM THROUGH MY SOUL FAMILIAR LOVER QUENCHING MY THIRST LIKE NO OTHER
WARM FADED NOTIONS OF LIGHTED JOY FALL TO YHE GROUND LIKE A BROKEN TOY
REPLACED BY SENSATIONS OF DENIAL AND LUST IN THIS DARK REALM SHE RESPECTS NO TRUST
FUTURE GOOD FEELING? NAY, CONTINUOUS FALL
IS ALL SHE WILL GIVE ME SHE WILL MAKE ME CRAWL!
I BECKON HER CALL_____________________________________
If we are deceived by our besetting sin, this means we cannot see how we are hurting others or ourselves by it. It means that somehow I believe the sin is what is best for me. We justify and rationalize away the reality that we are hurting people so we do not feel guilt; this is self-deceit from sin.
Once in church I watched as the preacher brought in a large crystal clear bottle of water and placed it where we could all see. He said, “this bottle of water is you, now I will show the effect of sin on your person.” He took a tiny drop of red food coloring and said, “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9) As the red droplet hit the clear water, I will never forget how it changed the color of that entire 5-gallon bottle. The preacher was so right; sin permeates my total inner man.
I want to stop here to say I make no practice of telling anyone what their sin is nor do I point out sin to try to change people. What I am doing is sharing, in this book, how I overcame the actions (sins) that caused me a lot of pain and trouble that maybe you can get the same peaceful results. At any time while reading, you may replace the word sin with one of many synonyms, such as weakness, flaws, infirmity, fault, curse, imperfection, transgression, offense, wrongdoing, mistake, misdeed, misconduct and my personal favorite: character defect. Some people take offense to religious words such as repent, sin etc. I have found that an apple by any other name is still an apple and that’s just fine. By example, I would like to show the snowball effect of sin.
Let us say hypothetically that I have recently become born again. The Holy Spirit enlightens me; I have received Christ as my savior. I have stopped my immoral behavior with sex. I begin to speak more respectfully. I feel the Love of God in my daily life and my inner man, which is the evidence of the Spirit. I decide to quit smoking as well. It is self-destructive and my body is God’s temple. I quit for a while and then I have a bad day. My children are caught skipping school and I am angry. The anger makes me very uncomfortable. I cope by having what I believe is a well-deserved cigarette; well-deserved because it will relieve the burdensome anger from a situation I cannot change. After the well-deserved, self-destructive unto death cigarette in comes the guilt. The regret of failing God and I is heavy on my heart. Maybe I will add a little self-condemnation to the mix. Followed by screaming and yelling at my kids because after all it’s their fault that I smoked anyway. The blame eases my guilt. Snowball effect live and in progress. After screaming at my poor kids I need some serious relief, I go to the bar and have a few drinks, which turns into a few more. I run into my old lover (I am married) and it’s on! The next thing I know I wake up at her house, my lungs hurt from smoking and I realize I had unprotected sex. Lord knows what could result from that! It can get worse from there or get better depending on me.
What happened? I say to myself, I was born again, and I am! Who knows what my new church friends would say about this behavior! They give me the impression that after being born again, washed clean, given the spirit of God I would be sinless. Gosh, I even spoke in tongues! Forgive myself? No! I don’t deserve it and either does anybody else. Snowballing sin? At this point if I don’t repent, there’s no telling what I’ll do next. I can sit in astonishment of my unintended debauchery or I can blame everybody else and stay in denial.
Therefore, Apostle Paul and I ask, “Why do I do what I don’t want to do?” The answer is because of the “law of sin”, because of the law of being human. (Rom. 7:25) If this law of sin abides in me, how will I ever overcome my own thoughts and desires of the flesh? It is human nature to want to please God after a born again experience. We have changed and we are grateful. The logical mind says I can control these sinful desires through will power. “I’ll set my mind against these behaviors and stop them for good.” Paul says this law of sin “wars against the law of his mind” (Rom.7:23). I do not know about you but I have not been able to fix my mind with my mind. Neither was I schooled successfully in church on how to win this good war against myself it sounds crazy huh? I have struggled with sin before and after my born again experience. Temporarily, I can do the right thing while yearning to do wrong. Ultimately, my law of sin will win out against my own will power! How can I overcome sin? The recipe for spiritual success is right here in the word, if processed in a practical way.
Not to mention my neuron pathways have been in a cycle of guilt for so long it is natural for me to proceed in this fashion of sin, not only because of the law of sin but by the law of physiological habit.
Romans 7:24 and 25
“Oh wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
A big Amen to that! This scripture says it all. When it comes right down to it, us humans don’t have a snowballs chance in hell to escape damnation except for God’s grace. Think about it. I don’t mean to be all fire and brimstone but we are facing an impending death hear folks. Yet we are so blind to that death actually happening to us yet, it could happen today. If we just staked up eternity against our human life span we would all live for God and to help others every day of our lives? We would basically be kissing the Masters ass at all times to make out eternity more comfortable. Thank God for Grace. Not to mention we humans spend a lot of time trying to impress, and influence, our neighbors when really it’s The Creator we should impress.
This born again experience is salvation for my soul. It required humility to get me to receive Christ and it requires humility to continue growing toward Christ. My favorite definition of humility is being aware of one’s own character weaknesses and us born again believers do still have weaknesses contrary to some preacher teachings, (“the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Mt.26:41) I have prayed for strength, struggled and waged war against the dark side in hopes of overcoming sin. Ultimately, surrender is what keeps me spiritually fit. Surrendering to God’s will in my life on a daily basis, not just that one time initially when I accepted Christ but also following, as many times as it takes. For me that is daily, after all my flesh is with me daily.
First Corinthians 15:31
“I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
Do not get me wrong I am all for spiritual warfare. I myself war spiritually by prayer often. I have found when it comes to overcoming self-will and temptation a conscious daily decision or surrendering to God’s will in my morning prayers and meditation is what keeps me from being overcome by the flesh or Satan or just plain selfishness. It is easy to say to myself “Go and sin no more.” but sinning no more takes some positive action ahead of time. Dying daily as Paul phrases it is easier said than done. All that is in my flesh screams when I say the words “Thy will be done.” To believe that God’s will is better than my own means, admitting my will has not shown good results or my will has gotten me into major difficulties. Not only that asking for God’s will makes me feel like I am going to lose out on my favorite things whether they be sin or not. I don’t know what God wants for my life, not explicitly but I do know what I want for myself. I feel shame that my will does not align with God’s will. This my friend is what the Apostle Paul meant when he said “I die daily”. It’s not so much Satan that wars against our soul as our own self will.
Really, who would want to turn their will over to the Lord if their way is working for them? God’s will is uncertain, hence casts fear into my heart, and produces thoughts of losing something I want that He may not want me to have. Sometimes I pray for what I want then finish the prayer with “nevertheless thy will be done.” Remember an honest prayer is most effective. Even Jesus prayed these words just before the soldiers apprehended Him. He feared, I believe, what He must soon suffer.
Mathew 26:39: “O my Father if it is possible let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.”
Lord knows if even Jesus at times had difficulty agreeing with God’s will for His life, surely I will also. I like the 12 Step spin on this God’s will thing. Step 3 is “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”. That does not feel so much like a rule as a blessing because of the word “care” and blessings are good for me. I suppose there are others who have far surpassed this struggle of flesh against spirit and have no need to die daily. They have reached absolute reliance on God and don’t commit selfish acts and have no further need for the blessing of repentance; Lord bless them I feel they’ll soon be translated.
Avoiding the need for repentance takes practical action on my part. Spiritual learning comes in waves if I continue to seek God. Each wave is a level not outside myself to measure success, but a depth in my very being, my very heart. The new lessons are deeper, supplying a more resolute trust in God and a oneness with His will. When explained in words these lessons sound the same (not specifically but principally) as previous lessons learned.
We as students hear or say a spiritual phrase learn it, experience it, and want to be done with it. Graduate from that particular lesson. Then perhaps believing we got that lesson feel smug, prideful that we can now teach other Christians that which we so painfully learned.
In Matthew 6:33&34 Jesus talks about relying on God. He says not to worry about our earthly needs that God knows them and will surely supply. I read and understand this scripture intellectually. I have experienced times I did not have food, car, or money and miraculously God did get me through it, he supplied my needs all along during and after much worry. I got the scripture down I got that lesson down! I see now my worry had been futile. Following that lesson my neighbor Mr. Jones loses his job and tells me he’s scared to death of what might happen I smugly inform him, “God shall provide” all the while thinking: “Oh ye of little faith.” Next, a tornado destroys my lovely house. I then find out just how much I trust God. If I stay the path of faith and get through the disaster where God gives me a better house, I will have learned the teaching of Matthew 6:34 in a much deeper way. My faith and connection with God will be stronger because of it. However, something else has happened, another lesson. Why did I think I could fix Mr. Jones with words from a scripture? I cannot see his heart and its level of growth I should not judge him. I had to learn deeper faith from my own experience so must Mr. Jones.
What is peace of mind, one definition is that wonderful feeling everything’s okay and will be okay. The opposite of waiting on the Lord to provide would be me running around like a chicken with its head cut off begging, borrowing and stealing quick replacements for all I’ve lost in that storm, impatiently trying to re-acquire all that I lost not considering anyone or any consequence of my actions. This would be a faithless reaction to the disaster of losing my home. Though this reaction is human nature, at some point I must put my life in God’s care to have peace.
Hebrews 10:24 and 25
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up Love and good works. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day.”
Fellowship with other believers is also imperative to growth and change. Choosing my Christian or believing friends wisely is very important. We tend to pick up behaviors from those we socialize or play with. Some people are more fearful (hard to get along with) than others. Some run on fear and some run on Love not totally but on the most part. By fear, I do not mean the kind of fear that is healthy and preserves life. Nor do I mean the kind that implies reverence to God. I mean the kind that disguises itself in some of these character flaws.
Vanity, false pride controlling, enabling, criticism, judgmental, gossip, chaos, drama, gluttony, sloth, immortality, addictions, hatred, violence, faultfinding, self-righteous, greediness, blame etc. all these are rooted in unhealthy fear. Nobody I know is free of character flaws. However, glaring character defects can be contagious. Choosing friends that I strive to emulate is beneficial. Having to unlearn behaviors is difficult enough for a born again believer without being negatively influenced by others. My spiritual teacher Sister Petty used to quote this scripture:
Song of Songs 2:15
“Quick! Catch all the little foxes before they ruin the vineyard of your Love, for the grapevines are all in blossom.”
Sister Petty meant the little cumbersome annoyances that seem insignificant to my spiritual condition one way or another can collectively bring me to ruin.
First Corinthians 15:33
“Do not be deceived: evil company corrupts good habits.”
When others wrong us, it is a perfect opportunity to exercise good change. Expressing our own feelings in a non-attacking respectful way to the offender or even a neutral party promotes healthy emotions. The descriptions of good behavior in the Bible usually cannot be invoked through knowledge and self-will alone. The Lord does look upon our hearts and sees our desire to do His will. When we blaming others for our own shortcomings and do some honest self-appraisal we will be able to repent and ask God for help to overcome our sins.
“Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Roadblocks to progress and joy stand firm when we have become so good at blaming people and circumstances for what our lives have become that we don’t identify our shortcomings and can’t see what to repent of. Comparing ourselves to Jesus and lining up our actions with biblical principles shows sin in its true light. Comparing ourselves to the gossiping hooker down the road can make us feel better (haughty) but such a comparison yields us a false view of ourselves.
“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your soul. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And, you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chasten, and scourges every son whom He receives.” (NKJ)
This scripture commonly attributed as the writings of Apostle Paul is difficult to understand. I do know to be willing to take an honest look at my faults I had to have some serious motivation. It is tough to examine even one character flaw. God’s chastening brings about the emotional pain to be willing to change. Call it consequences or call it chastening either way it is a painful result of my own negative behavior. In turn, these unpleasant consequences send me into either denial or conviction. If these painful lessons have stopped and I cannot remember the last time I was wrong, I am either near perfect, one with God’s will or spiritually stagnant. Maybe I am very good at defining my loved ones and associates faults but am clueless of my own. A life without chastening is a life without progress.
I want to discuss the merits and benefits of various religions. I have been in tent revivals where by God’s Spirit miracles flow and the preaching is fiery and truthful. I have seen the Catholic confessional were men are set free from hidden secrets of guilt and shame and are not judged for being fallible. I have heard the praises ringing out from the Pentecostal Church where God dwells and the gifts of the Spirit flow. I have heard Baptist preachers speak of the grace of God by the blood of Jesus on the cross so powerfully it opened the eyes and hearts of men. I have sat in the rooms of 12 step programs where the people have shown the humility of children and a willing service to God sharing the miracles they have experienced by God’s mighty Loving grace. I have been in my own nondenominational church where the Love flows like milk and honey from the preacher’s heart and the choir was so gifted that each singer could have their own label. Amen
“Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (NKJ)
The effects of repentance and confession are unparalleled. Getting shameful secrets out of our head results in relief and freedom. If we pick a caring, honest person who can relate to us to hear our secrets, we find a fellowship surpassed by none. It helps so much when we realize other believers have the same struggles as we. Be prudent and patient in picking our confessional. We must be careful not to pick someone we will hurt with our words. Oftentimes concerns between wives and husbands, are better left unsaid. We must think this action of confession through and pray for guidance in this exercise of not only emotional health but also spirituality.
The exercises I am presenting are a work toward loving others and ourselves. A way we can learn to accept our brothers with their shortcomings by realizing our own. Suddenly we will realize change is coming over us through these simple principals. Our perception of God toward us will become much more loving and less rigid, less punishing. Our perceptions of self, others and God are one in nature. This knowledge is a great key to spiritual joy. Our honesty toward others, God, and self are also one in nature. Are we critical of others? If so you can bet our feelings deep down are the same toward us. I know I need to grow if my heart is critical. This measurement of spiritual status can be taken daily. By investigating my feelings toward those that have wronged my loved ones or me, I can learn my heart. Can I forgive or do I stand on my righteous anger unto death? Commonly phrased, “I’ll take it to my grave.” My God will forgive whomever He pleases me or the most diabolical murdering child molester on the face of the earth. (Romans 9:15) Un-forgiveness prevents me from growing toward Love. A root of bitterness can grow into a tree of hate, which is no fun! Only the self-deluded are most comfortable reveling in self-righteous hate toward those so wrong, they feel they are deserving of their hate. Forgiving others frees me to Love myself and have life more abundantly.
How do I forgive? What I do is pray for whoever it is I hate or resent and then forgive them in word asking God to cause my heart to follow. This really works.
“WISDOM is opposite of FREE WILL GONE BAD”
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My favorite definition of wisdom is “Knowledge put into action”
Another spiritual law that can make or break us is the karmic law of the tongue. The words we speak can be charitable and lovely or retched and deadly. I believe my own words have much more power over me than your words do. Not to say that I may not feel your words emotionally more than my own. I am suggesting that spiritually, by karmic law, my words affect me by karma more than other people’s words spoken to me. I will reap what I sew this law stands firm just as the law of gravity and the law of every action creates a reaction holds true. These laws are unchangeable except where the awesome power of grace is given.
“When He called the multitude and said to them”, hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.”
“Whoever guards his mouth and tongue, keeps his soul from troubles.”
“Be not rash with thine mouth and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth therefore let thy words be few.”
“There is one who speaks like the piercings of a sword, but the tongue of the wise promotes health.”
Proverbs 15:1 and 2
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but a perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”
“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
These scriptures are self-explanatory. The words we speak not only have an outward effect, but also create an inward result. A friend once wrote “Tell all you know and there will be nothing left, share your experience faith and hope, and it will grow and fill your heart with peace.” The karmic law (if you will) of speech can work for us or against us, it all comes back to Love. Are my words complaining, gripping, fear based and hateful or are they charitable and encouraging?
I have often thought about the scripture; “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) If I am interacting with an angry or hurt person, kind words promote healing both emotionally and spiritually. One friend I know is so good at not letting negative words pass over his tongue. When I asked him about it, he said, “First it’s an exercise in self-restraint. Just because certain thoughts pass through my mind I don’t have to say them, if I keep practicing self-restraint after a while the negative thoughts and feelings subside, they come less often.” because of this exercise he has peace and it shows.
I want this magic health to my soul, I want the spiritual goodness that will come when I stop myself from uttering every opinion, and pride filled thought springing from my heart. This exercise heals from within. If we encourage others with truthful charitable words, we will receive good results. These wise truths about the taming of the tongue are written in the word of God and I believe them! This karmic law is taught not only in Christian doctrine but also in many other religions.
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to the flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”
This karmic law in no way nullifies the gift of grace. Grace is about not reaping what we sow, with karmic law in place; grace is truly a miracle and blessing from God. Moreover, to reap what I sew is not only about my life here on earth, it is about actions now that enrich my eternity. Love is everlasting and it starts right here, today in our actions toward others. I want to reap good things so I am willing to try the actions suggested in this anointed word of God. Life or death abides in the words I speak.
Wisdom- The quality of being wise; power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action, based on knowledge, experience, understanding, etc. Good judgment, sagacity. 2. Learning, knowledge, erudition (wisdom of the ages). 3. Wise discourse of teaching, 4. A wise course of action. (Webster’s)
“Give instruction to a wise man and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man and he will increase in learning. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. For by me (wisdom) thy days shall be multiplied and the years of thy life shall be increased.”
About now, I am asking myself “What on earth have I to share about wisdom?” Really! I am not usually wise in my own eyes, but lacking. Proverbs 3:7 states; “Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.” Do I always depart from evil? Evil meaning taking the wrong course of action or actions contrary to what I know is best or contrary to my knowledge. Evil does not necessarily entail a glaring, dark, twisted hurtful action. The answer is no, I do not always take the best course of action. I wish I did, nevertheless! I believe I understand the meaning of knowledge based wise action and can share accordingly. A friend of mine wrote this poem about the wise. We believe that the heart and soul can be seen through the window of the eyes.
“THE EYES OF THE WISE”
The eyes of the wise how would they read?
With oceans of intellect and knowledge of seas?
Or maybe shine forth with prophetic revelation
Holding mountains of philosophy and valleys of expression
Appearing timeless as the heavens, outside our dark system
Having evidence of forever showing forth as they glisten.
The eyes of the wise how do they read?
Simply as a small child’s ready to receive
The words Jesus spoke are simple yet need to be realized in a deep and humble level of our heart.
Matthew 18:3- “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
Plainly, theologians and historians do not know for sure if Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. I remember reading Ecclesiastes for the first time and pondering the life of the man written of in that interesting book. (Whether it be written by Solomon or not). Solomon was said to be the wisest man of his time. (1st Kings 4:29-34). Yet he was fallible. He, (the writer, philosopher of Ecclesiastes whose actions and beliefs correspond with those of Solomon) was quite the intellectual. He spoke of seeking out vast quantities of knowledge, seeking wisdom, and doing great works.
The wise King Solomon sought out every good project available to men in those times, the arts, and building, eating, loving, celebrating, gaining silver, gold, all enjoyment, and wisdom under the sun. With this in mind, he concluded for himself that much of his escapades were pointless or folly he said because both the fool and the wise man end up in the same place, buried naked in the ground. He struggled with the realization that given all his wisdom and riches he would still end up in the same place as the fool. He struggled with the thought that his riches, on the most part; would be left to a man after him. (Ecc.2:18) He wrote that all his research, studies, complicated endeavors and intense contemplation where vanity. Wow!
“Then said I in my heart, as it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then wiser? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity. For there is no remembrance of the wise more than of the fool forever; seeing that which now is in the days to come shall all be forgotten. And how dieth the wise man? As the fool.”
I can relate to this man because of my own painful realization of human mortality mixed with my tendencies toward visions of grandeur. (False pride) Oh how my vanity wants me to be better than other men. Oh how it pains my false pride to realize I am not God. Sure, logically I accept this but what my natural heart yearns for is recognition and glory. I want to be praised yet now I see I shall end up old and haggardly that is if I am blessed enough to live that long. Perhaps this man of reflection in his repeated words; “vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.” was suffering from the realization that he could not control circumstances set down by God, such as life, death and aging. I hear this preacher man screaming out from his heart; “It’s not fair things should be the way I want them to be!” While pointing out the futility of reality he is in denial of his own control issue. What he needs to do next is accept that God is in charge. May I be so bold to say the preacher needs to realize his own shortcomings to find peace?
My history book states:
“Solomon having much intellect spake 3,000 proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. His greatest enterprise was the erection of the temple at Jerusalem, in which he was occupied seven years, and it was most elaborately adorned. (First Kings Chapters 5 and 6) He is known as the wisest man, yet his wisdom did not teach him self-control. He taught well but failed to practice his own precepts. He describes the fool in the book of Proverbs and thus draws a vivid picture of his own failings.” (Thompson Chain Ref. Bible)
How ironic! I can’t help see the parallels between Jonah and King Solomon. It does seem “all is vanity” with us humans. I cannot help but see the similarities of me and this man.
Kings 11:3 and 4
“Solomon also had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.” I prefer the word complete rather than perfect according to our Standard English definition. (Reference “perfect” Hebrew and Chaldee dictionary of the Old Testament, Strong’s concordance)
OK! That is a lot of beautiful woman, I can vividly envision poor King Solomon’s plight. I believe between the pleasures available to him and his intellect, Solomon had huge obstacles to overcome before owning the humility it takes to rely on God. In his case, riches and intellect was an obstacle to his personal growth. Some say you cannot be too simple to find God but you can be too smart; truth spoken, if I have high intelligence I will be more deeply rooted in self-sufficiency. If I have man’s glory, I will be more apt to bend toward grandeur and false pride. (Vainglory) Solomon was detoured from God by the Love (or lust) for his woman. We can learn from his human weakness. Though few of us have the ways and means of Solomon, we still may have the means for continuous pleasurable distractions. We still may be the king or queen of our castle.
First Timothy 5:6: “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth”.
Isaiah 47:8&9: “Therefore hear now this, thou that are given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, thine enchantments.”
Never say never!
All right, let’s stop here! This is beginning to sound a little legalistic, I enjoy my pleasure, and I scream, “don’t take my pleasure away!” Truly, I see little reason to serve a God only because I fear Hell fire. Who could practice legalistic rules of mundane obedience with no fun in their life and remain faithful not flailing into some kind of besetting sin, even if it were under the guise of religion and service? Hypothetically, those of us regulated by rules and law see those sinners having fun, enjoying sex, drinking and partying with no apparent negative consequences and darn it, we feel jealousy and envy. We can label the unpleasant emotion of envy righteous indignation and let these sinners know they are going to pay! God will punish them for their guiltless fun! Finger pointing is always a bad idea best I do not act out.
“There is but one law giver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?”
Inside our heart, if we listen to it, we may be asking, why can’t I participate in guilt free enjoyment? The lures of pleasure are great! The lures of distraction from truth are great! In all reality, our God will provide us with guilt free, sinless pleasures while we are obedient to Him. I have found much fun while walking in God’s will. Balance is one key to a pleasurable and spiritual walk with God. We need balance! Dogma all the time makes Jack a dull boy! Pleasure all the time consumes Jack in self-indulgence; as he leaves his God behind in the wake of self-serving sin. Ultimately, if we do live for pleasure, we will have a great spiritual and emotional fall. (I do speak from experience) True wisdom accepts complete reliance on God.
“The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. “
I fear where I will end up if I do not rely on God. Free will goes bad but without free will where would honor, perseverance, tolerance, patience, faith and every other spiritual attribute fit in? There would be no such virtue necessary in our lives. There would be no need to overcome and no fighting the good fight.
First Timothy 6:12
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, where-unto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.”
In Proverbs it is written numerous times “wisdom seeks counsel.” Presidents seek counsel, kings seek counsel, strong godly men, and woman through the ages seek wise counsel. Personally I have several wise counselors some family, some professional, some friends. We can seek advice regarding an action to take or not to take. Self-deception on the other hand, under the guise of good counsel seeks advice until it hears what it wants to hear. There are always people out there who will co-sign my bullshit if I seek them out. On the other hand, seeking various ideas and opinions when confused about a trying situation is wise. Aligning our decisions with God’s word is smart. Think well about your motives with all self-honesty. Possible consequence of a decision should be thoroughly considered.
We cannot please everyone, people pleasing actions are fear based and can leave us insecure and resentful. This kind of decision-making is rooted in the fear of losing someone we want in our life. Best we put God and ourselves first where matters of the heart are concerned. I am not saying be selfish and inconsiderate toward others, however if we deplete our own well-being what good are we to any man? Rescuing others from their own consequences breeds irresponsibility and is not Love. There is much to consider in important decisions, council brings out these many considerations and options. Often talking with someone about a matter by itself brings forth clarity of mind.
In choosing council we should look for someone who will not judge, someone who cares, the motive of the counselor is relevant. Are they strictly about money or are they being paid yet sincere, hoping for our improvement with no ill intent? Counselors make mistakes also so we too should not judge them if we disagree with their advice. Sometimes in a dilemma, the wisest course of action is no action. We humans tend to want to fix people by our actions. Example: Martha’s husband is an alcoholic. She struggles inside herself; will he get sober? Should I leave him? Have I had enough disrespect from him? What can I do to make him quit drinking? We humans worry excessively about how things look to our peers. Leaving a marriage because our friends think we should is a wrong motive. The wife’s decisions about her dilemma should be based on God and herself. Channeling our concerns to God is necessary for solutions. He will guide us by our heart of this I am certain. If our mind is, clear and we are spiritually connected.
TAKING RESPONSIBILITY CREATES SELF-ESTEEM AND FENDS OFF HATE AND BLAME
It is wise to take responsibility for our own actions and decisions I think it better to take responsibility now rather than later. Because of our lessons in childhood, oftentimes we equate the word “responsibility” with the word “fault”. The word “fault” implies that a wrong action was taken which resulted in a negative consequence or occurrence. Therefore, with this definition in mind I will show you an example of how taking responsibility for our own actions even when others wrong us is wise.
A drunk driver wrecks into a sober man and puts him in the critical care unit of the Hospital. The sober driver committed no crime to receive such a horrible consequence (the crash) therefore, it is not his fault. The negative consequences are the fault of the man that committed the irresponsible crime of driving while drunk. By the same token the innocent driver knew the statistics and possibilities of driving on a highway. He knew people die on the highway he knew people make mistakes while driving and commit crimes while driving he chose to drive anyway. The innocent driver weighed the highway accident statistics against his need to get from point A to point B and made his choice to drive. He knows a wreck could happen but hopes that it will not. Now, after the wreck as he suffers in the hospital he knows he made the choice fully aware of the facts. By the innocent driver taking responsibility for his own choice, he is free from blame, hate and anger toward the drunk driver…his taking responsibility keeps him free of resentment toward others. This injured man has a lot of trauma to work through it will be much easier for him to manage without the load of hate and revenge dragging him down.
Taking responsibility for our choices regarding any relationship keeps us resentment free. Yes if we are wronged or betrayed it, hurts however, we are responsible to process our own pain and anger in a healthy way…we are the only ones who can do this. We are not at fault when wronged just responsible. When we have this wise method of taking responsibility for our own actions it sets us free from the pains of blame and hate. This law also sets the stage for self-esteem and self-worth by taking responsibility for my right actions I have created good consequences in my life hence I build my well-deserved self-worth.
LAW VS LOVE
CAN I SEE IN DARK WHAT I SEE IN LIGHT? IF MY MIND IS CLOSED IT’S ALWAYS NIGHT
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I do not want to downplay the law or its pure and good purpose for mankind. There are many Biblical laws, The Ten Commandments, Mosaic Law, the law of the land, the greatest commandments by Christ, all the rules and regulations Apostle Paul and the disciples set down as tradition. Let’s not forget those pesky religious laws made-up by certain churches that dictates don’t wear this, don’t say that, shouldn’t marry her, too much jewelry, didn’t tithe enough, rules of eating, rules of drinking, cut that hair, don’t cut that hair! Oh yes the list goes on and it is rigid! If we are wrapped up in all those laws we will probably feel like the Israelites did when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with more rules than anyone could keep up with to obey. (Heb.12:20) “OMG it’s all too much to handle! Psychic meltdown I can’t do it I am doomed!” So cried the voices of the Israelites.
“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with my Father in his throne?”
We human beings understand rules well. We live by them; we teach them to our children to keep them safe. We teach them to our teenagers to keep them from shame and regret. We explain moral rules, rules of conduct, rules of math and science. Many of the rules, if not followed have grave consequences, jail, death and worse.
The Old and New testaments are nearly impossible to obey all of the time. Have you read Leviticus, Exodus, or Deuteronomy? Those books contain countless instructions on how to live! They contain threatening punishments and grave consequences for not following God’s exhaustive, undo-able rules. Just the word “disobedience” has a ring to it that makes me want to bolt away from any church!
A little friend of my daughters came to me and asked me to explain the bible. I told her, “Samantha let me sum up the entire bible for you. I have read it several times and this is my conclusion.” I gave her Jesus’ words of the two greatest commandments. I said, “Love God and Love everyone. However, this is impossible to do by human means alone, so we must learn to rely on God and build a relationship with him through prayer so we can Love. To ask God to help us do the very things He commanded and do His will always.” She said to me “You mean the golden rule treat others the way I want to be treated?” “Yes this is the whole law.” I felt this was the best way to answer her question rather than trying to explain the multitude of laws in the bible. Simply and so beautifully put this scripture brings peace to my soul and calmness to my mind.
“Love worketh no ill to his neighbor therefore Love is the fulfilling of the law.”
“For you have not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness and darkness and tempest. And the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (for they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said I exceedingly fear and quake:) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” AMEN!
Strangely, even though I am a child of the new covenant and believe on the scriptures in Hebrews that assure me I am Loved, forgiven and have an eternal home with my Wonderful Father I still sometimes feel like a condemned child of the law born into ongoing sin, guilt, shame, and punishment. Perhaps these feelings come from my inner core. I am an eternal part of God, which makes the covenant from Mt. Sinai a part of my inner spirit.
My core being is all things God. Maybe the feeling of self-imposed impending doom comes from some childhood issue of feeling bad and wrong. I do not know exactly but I do know I need to stay connected to God so that legalistic self-condemning part of me does not take hold and beat me down. Now and again, I feel I am carrying the curse of Mt. Sinai on my hip like a special needs child that I Love so much yet is dragging me down.
Our lives all spring from Adam and Eve and the original sin and curse which feels like a part of me…a part of us, we all His children, are the children of shame and fear. Therefore, the old law and covenant perches in my soul like a dark feeling emerging from time to time. I must refresh my soul with the new covenant often as possible by connecting with Jesus.
“Wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
“In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:”
“And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces that ye sin not.”
Did God believe that fear would keep the Israelites in line? Did God think they would be able to obey the laws set down by Moses? Did he believe that He could rule the people by fear? I believe my God is omnipotent. I believe my God is Pure Love. He knew his people whom He created and how they would react. I accept both covenants as God’s plan and believe that someday I will thoroughly understand the reasoning of God’s plan.
Law and punishment works to a point but when the laws become too much to handle we rebel and look for other options. Such as we may hide from God and lie to ourselves because we fear retribution. These laws set us up for failure. If the Israelites had turned to God and said, “We can’t handle this help us to obey!” rather than turning to other god’s; things probably would have been different. Maybe God would have felt pity if they would have expressed their dilemma to Him. Many of the Israelites did not make it to the promise land including Moses frankly put it is written God destroyed them. (Exodus 33:25 & 37)
What exactly is the “Old Covenant? Rules and regulations set down by God through Moses, prophets of old and priestly mediation, to be abided by, all emphasizing purity of life, as a condition of divine favor; including, laws and actions resulting in sanctification and redemption of sin through sacrificing, feasts, blood sprinklings, special building, sacred props, (candles etc.) priestly duties, special clothing, vows ritual cleansing’s, offerings, rules of morality, the list goes on and on.
Burnt offerings, signifying atonement and consecration (Leviticus 1:2-9)
Meat (meal) offerings signify thanksgiving (Leviticus 2:1 and 2)
Sin offerings, signifying reconciliation (Leviticus chapter 4)
Trespass offerings signifying cleansing from guilt, (Leviticus 6:2-7)
Peace offerings signifying fellowship (Leviticus 7:11-15
(Thompson Chain Reference Bible “Outline Studies or Analyses Books of the Bible)
Summed up the Old covenant employs a way to work our way into righteousness or suffer the mortal consequences of disobedience. Work and sacrifice our way to a guilt free life, salvation through works. This concept implies I should have the wherewithal to do the right things and stay in God’s favor. Hypothetically, the only need I would have for God is to understand His laws and do them. I wish I were that good I do not lie to myself and pretend I am capable of obedience without reliance on God. This kind of relationship with God does not sound like it is from the heart, or a Love affair. Rather it exhibits a relationship based on fear, strict discipline, and endless restrictions.
Many of us are used to these legalistic patterns because of our childhood; it is very natural to apply formerly established concepts of behavior to our attempt at spirituality. These old lawful ways remind me of a master and slave relationship. The old covenant requires a life of bondage, repressing free will and natural instincts. With this strictly regulated life, I surely would have been toast.
“Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bond maid, the other by a free woman.
He who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants the one from Mount Sinai, which gendered to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and answereth to Jerusalem which now is and is in bondage with her children.”
So, the Bible says the old covenant is of “flesh and bondage”. Unfortunately if I feel I can work my way to heaven, self-reliantly then I can also judge and condemn myself, self-reliantly. The pendulum swings both ways. I must keep myself as a child of God for peace, sake!
Another pitfall of living for law is my attitude of achievement. “Look what I’ve accomplished, Look what I’ve done for my God!” We have learned that “pride comes before a fall” and self-reliance breeds false pride. As an experienced backslider with Biblical knowledge, I have searched the scriptures hoping to relieve my guilt, but for me while in a guilty backslidden state of mind; all I was able to find were scary and condemning scriptures that deepened my guilt. I can understand how a believer’s guilt could throw him or her into denial and unbelief about Christ and the word. However, for the grace of God, this did not happen to me.
I feared Hell and judgment. What I should have feared was the actual consequences of my backslide into sin. I created my own Hell well enough, with prescription pills and a whole array of other substances and sick relationships. Why fear Satan when I am my own worst enemy? I learned many things wallowing in my back-slidden days. I learned that God’s Grace is a miraculous thing, which endures and is more powerful than my own self-destructive and self-loathing abuse. O learned that He still loves me during my sin in spite of me not loving myself. The Lord did not suddenly stop His Love for me because I returned to my sinful ways that would have been a conditional Love, which is a human concept selfish and weak. Again, there I was stamping fleshly ideals onto my concept of God’s Love. I learned that I ought not to judge others when they struggle with their own besetting sin. I learned humility. I learned tolerance of others shortcomings. I learned that even the child molester and the murderer (I use these examples because most of us are repulsed by those who commit such atrocities.) deserve forgiveness. I learned that under certain conditions all of us humans are capable of most any flavor of sin. Some might say to that theory; I would never commit this or that sin under any circumstance. I say never say never. Some believe that character assassination is as much a sin as assassination of a life. Well I think one is mortal sin the other not, surely its worse to snuff out a life than it is to gossip about one.
What about the mindset; “I’m not under law so I can sin and not worry about any spiritual repercussions.” I suppose this may work for some, if they believe it wholeheartedly. I have found following my own conscience makes me most happy.
“For you brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty; as an opportunity for the flesh, but through Love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this”: You should Love your neighbor as yourself” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”
In the above scripture, Apostle Paul did not say anything about God or Satan, only that you will be consumed by one another if led by the flesh. I used to think sinning against my neighbor was wrong because it hurt them. Rightly so but now I realize how it hurts me. The liberty in Christ spoken of in Galatians 5:13 if used to feed my flesh will consume me first and foremost. I should consider my brother and myself when choosing how to act. This puts obedience to the law in a completely different light, an alternative perspective. Meaning my obedience to Christ protects me. I want to have a good and happy life therefore I am willing to deny myself certain sinful passionate desires that I know may hurt someone I Love. To loving myself, I deny myself that piece of cake because I will be happier and healthier if I am not overweight.
Make no mistake fellow believers, the flesh or self-will is at times very cunning and self-destructive. The addict gets the benefit of seeing his spiritual malady more quickly and clearly because of the degree of consequences that his idolatrous sin brings him. One good reason to believe that works will not save us before or after we accept Christ is if we could save ourselves, we would not need a savior. If we could be saved from death by works, it would mean Christ died in vain, God forbid.
“I do not set aside the grace of God: For if righteousness is through law, then Christ died without cause.” KJII
Apostle Paul with such eloquence implored The Church of Galatia.
“Are you so foolish having begun in the spirit do you now perfect yourself in the flesh?”
During s slide back into the flesh it is more comfortable to apply scriptures like these to other people who we assume are in need of straightening themselves out. We seldom, during a descent into selfishness ask ourselves how scripture applies to us. The struggle with my flesh and breaking scriptural law feed guilt to my soul. Love thy neighbor can be made a grey area. Perhaps I can justify my sins by labeling them “done in Love” What a great loophole! LOOP HOLE, LOOP HOLE! If this is the context of my thinking, I can pretty much label my motives flesh. After all, I have devised many useless techniques for burying guilt!
Definitions of the “flesh” are as follows:
Bodily, temporal, or animal, unregenerate, carnal, fleshly (Strong’s)
The term animal implies living on instincts focused only on what I want and what I need to survive.
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”
Thank God, for the new covenant we are saved because we believe! (John 3:16)
“But wilt thou know 0 vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
“Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” I say, “I can’t see your faith if you don’t have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds.” (New Living Translation)
In other words If we have true faith, works will follow this is my experience.
Years ago, I given, called to a ministry for women. It was a ministry of Love and forgiveness to strippers, hookers and drug addicted woman. The most common feeling expressed among the ladies that obstructed their walk toward Christ was the belief that they must clean up their act before they could seek God. They believed they were not worthy of forgiveness in their sinful state. This self-condemning belief goes hand in hand with applying self-reliance to spiritually needy areas of our lives.
By the nature of self-reliance we are responsible for stifling our own sinful essence, even the credence that we alone are capable of “being good” without God’s help is a mighty and carnal myth that has brought down kings and vagabonds alike. As the Greeks have Zeus, the Romans have Neptune the Egyptians have Isis I am no such god.
I do not know any but I speculate the people who are truly capable of setting moral boundaries always keeping them who experience no inner struggle of good and evil tragically, have no need for God. If someone of this autonomous nature lost a loved one or contracted a disease they may be pushed to their limit and seek God.
Understanding the theorem of faith and grace is often difficult for us humans because it is a gift. I am not comfortable with receiving gifts because I feel wrong, weak, and penitent. My neuron process in my brain is not familiar with the patterns of receiving an unconditional Loving gift. I am used to strings! I shall apply my own scholarly, well thought out preconceived ideals about gifts thank you! A reward for being unable to live righteously does not compute! All I have to do is accept the gift, remain teachable, and rely wholeheartedly on Christ? Ideals easier said than done! This goes against all my natural instincts of self-sufficiency! Why did God make us weak and fleshly, doomed to a physical death? Good question, The Apostle Paul shows us one reason.
Second Corinthians 12: 9 and 10
“And He said unto me, “My grace is sufficient for thee for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest on me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
What a paradox! Apostle Paul, with certainty of conviction-filled faith stated his pure unwavering reliance on Christ! Such acceptance of God’s will! I venture to guess his faith did not come overnight. We do know Paul had a revelation of Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul was blinded for three days then healed by Ananias by the laying on of hands. (Acts Chapter 9) These events gave him a major jump-start where reliance on God is concerned. The crucifying of the flesh is a process of painful self-realizations and fearful yet courageous change. “Courage is not the absence of fear, it is the absence of self” Apostle Paul suffered and died for the gospels sake, he walked through the fear in the absence of self.
II Corinthians 11:24-27:
“Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fasting often in cold and nakedness.”
Those examples are just a few things Paul suffered. He had to be an extraordinary man.
He suffered extreme opportunities to exercise trust in God and survived. We all have our own opportunities to grow in faith, hopefully not to this extreme. We each walk our own walk with our God independent of one another yet connected through Christ.
What perspective can we put all these rules and regulations into that we learn of in the Bible? They are a guide to be aware of law serves us. Ultimately, we should always follow our hearts to decide the right action. A friend of mine once said, “Motives of pure Love supersede boundaries of law.” if the motives and actions are of pure Love, they cannot be wrong. This calls for discernment and truth to God and self.
“Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.”
I believe the Lord cleanses our minds unto clarity so we can distinguish between good and evil, between flesh and spirit, between sanity and insanity, between wholesome or defiled, ultimately between Love and fear.
First Corinthians 10:23 “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”
First Corinthians 10:31: “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God”.
God does not have to abide by man’s law. As we saw in the “Jonah” chapter, God has been known to change his mind even. “God is Love,” it says in First John 4:16, therefore, Love is the greatest guide to our do’s and don’ts. To become pure I need God’s Love to cleanse me from past baggage of guilt, shame, self-condemnations etc. Carrying spiritual baggage clouds my reasoning for decision-making. When I apply the spiritual exercises that we have learned so far, I become capable of judging right from wrong. These spiritual calisthenics invite God’s strength and good sense so I have the ability to crucify the flesh as Paul said and die daily. (Galatians 5:24, 1st Corinthians 15:31) This “crucifying of the flesh” sounds very cryptic. In simpler terms that are more palatable let us define it as “good change”
TREES SWAY IN THE BREEZE
BEND DON’T BREAK
BY EFFORTLESS EASE
PROGRESS THEY MAKE
WATER FLOWS OVER LAND
IT SMOOTHS OUT PATHS
RESULTS ARE GRAND
THIS CHANGE COMES
BY CREATIVE FLOW
THEY MERELY ADJUST TO HOW THINGS GO
LORD HELP ME LEARN
TO FLOW WITH GOOD CHANGE…
BE AWARE OF MY THOUGHTS
NOT STRUGGLE AND FEAR WHEN THINGS DON’T GO RIGHT
NOT FALTER, FAINT OR PUT UP A FIGHT
POSITIVE CHANGE A SONG TO THE BIRD
BLOOM TO A ROSE
TO A MUSTANG THE HERD
I PRAY I RECEIVE CREATIVE GIFT OF CHANGE
WITH HONESTY AND ACCEPTANCE, ON FRUIT TREE IT HANGS
READY TO PICK______________________________________
Recognizing character flaws requires honest self-examination. Letting go of old behavior is usually scary and painful. Some sins of communication such as manipulation, control, playing the victim to get what we want seems harmless enough but when the spirit starts guiding and teaching He will in an orderly fashion reveal to us all our behaviors that are not complete surrender to God’s will. We do not always recognize our subconscious manipulative, fearful actions. The spirit will guide us into all truth if we seek Him, praying daily for truth and God’s will. Granted, we will not be free of all these double-edged flaws (hurting self and others) while on earth, but the goal is to be free of twisted hurtful relationships and be at peace in self Love. I Love speedy deliverance! I have made that clear, who wants to work for good character? However, all things are in God’s time and my experience is; having had the insight to choose Loving actions over fearful actions, has allowed me to take part in this great process of change, from the carnal to the spiritual. Watching ourselves overcome the things that separate us from our God creates temperance, patience, gratitude, freedom, and joy within us.
“He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God and he will be my son.”
“Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Ab’ba Father.”
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The Archangel Michael showed respect even to Satan whilst doing battle over the dead body of Moses. Here is the scripture that exemplifies we have no right to disrespect anyone under any circumstance.
St. Jude verse 7 and 8
“Likewise also these [filthy] dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil disputed about the body of Moses, yet Michael did not bring against Satan a railing accusation, but instead said, “The Lord rebuke thee.”
Sister Petty my spiritual teacher used to say every good and faithful principle also has a sick and dysfunctional counterfeit. So I created a list of virtues with their most likely counterfeits.
Faith Vs Fear
TRUST- Suspicious control manipulation
PEACE -Turmoil, Chaos, Confusion
FAITH -Grasping fearful actions
FORGIVENESS -Resentment, Hate, Wrath
GIVING -Taking, Stealing, Covetousness
HOPE -Hopelessness, Jealousy, Envy, unreasonable expectations
OPEN MINDED- Contempt prior to investigation, Closed minded, Judgmental-Understanding
TEACHABLE- Intolerant, Unreachable, Denial
HUMILITY -False Pride, Vainglory, Dishonesty, and denial of personality flaws
GRACE- Judgmental, condemnation, punishing
LONG SUFFERING -Intolerant, impatient
VISION/PURPOSE -Idle time, feelings of uselessness
SHARING FELLOWSHIP -Loneliness, Separateness
FREEDOM -Emotional and Spiritual Bondage
WORSHIP- Idolatry, dependencies
TRUTH -Lies, Denial, Spiritual blindness
POSITIVE THINKING- Worry/critical thinking
JOY- Misery, Pleasure seeking
SELF DISCIPLINE- Sloth, Gluttony, Lust
ENCOURAGEMENT -Gossip, Criticism
On the healthy side of this list are feelings and actions that compile a wonderfully woven tapestry. If we begin practicing one act of Love, the next Lovely action is easier to accomplish. Love is a choice as is fear. The mother of all-evil is fear. Realizing we have a choice between the two through Christ is a great key to opening the door of solutions for the heart.
Fear breeds every dark feeling and behavior on this list. This in turn breeds bondage. If we could truly see evil as it is at all times, with its consequences; it would no longer be a burden to do what is right. We do not always see the whole truth. If we could see that doing what is right for others and God is most beneficial to us, realistically right behavior would be easier to accomplish by genuinely asking for help from God, as genuinely as we would ask for food while starving.
I remember when growing up, hearing my mother teach me about her understanding of Satan. She spoke as if he were a boogieman who could jump out of nowhere and possess my mind and body. She taught me a Satan to be feared. Again, in church as a baby Christian, I remember the people’s prayers of casting out Satan and binding him up so he cannot get me. In addition I read “your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (first Peter 5:8) and he is! Except! When Satan descended upon Jobs good life Job did not succumb to evil! It is written in the conversation between God and the Devil just what God would allow Satan to do where Job was concerned. In this instance, God forbad Satan to take Job’s life (Job 2:6) but he did allow Satan to take the lives of his sons and daughters. (Job 1:19) This not only shows some of the power Satan has but it also raises the question; what are Satan’s limitations? Are they different for different people? I believe, as crazy as it sounds, Satan is ultimately in God’s will of course I know that is a lot to palate. This topic poses many questions in my mind that have unavailable answers.
Romans 8:28 says
“But we know that all things work together for good to them that Love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
Satan was unable to overcome Job during his plight. Jobs wife even said “curse God and die!” (Job 2:9) because of the tragedy, she watched Job endure. Job still had a choice, seemingly near death and suffering with the sickness Satan had smote him with, he was still able to choose either good or evil. (Job 2:7) His faith in God and trust endured.
Here are some educated and biblical descriptions of the devil and his helpers.
The Devil- The accuser, Prince of demons, Author of evil.
“For the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
Demons- Malignant enemy of God and Messiah that inflict diseases at Satan’s bidding
(Definitions from Thayer, Greek, English lexicon of the New Testament).
Satan had to ask God’s express permission to take action against Job. I hope I am not as significant to Satan as Job was. Therefore I doubt God has given this express permission to Satan regarding my life. I believe Satan’s best intent for me (given my addictive history) would be that I self-destruct. Consider also that Jesus had not yet appeared on the scene during Jobs plight with His extra applications of the Holy Spirit. (I will talk more about that in the “Gifts” Chapter) However, grace, mercy, and forgiveness have been exemplified in the Old Covenant as well as the New. Moreover, Jesus has overcome evil by good; so must I.
In First Timothy 3:7 its suggested that if I speak evil of those not so well off as me, it could cause a boomerang effect resulting in my own evil bondage, a snare per say.
This is congruent with taming the tongue and reaping what we sew. (Karma)
Snare- Allurements to sin by which the devil holds one bound. (Thayer Lexicon)
First Timothy 3:7
“Moreover he must have good report of them which are without lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
Let me stop our study right here and interject some opinion. We who have read the book of Acts and the gospels know there is a lot of casting out of demons going on. Again, I believe this Bible is the anointed, inspired word of God, written by man. (I suppose most of us have seen the exorcist) I believe there are demons, fallen angels, satanic insanity, satanic diseases, satanic demon possession, and demonic influence. I do not fear Satan or his demons. My God tells me not to and that God or [Love] will help me not fear these dark powers.
“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear Him which is able to destroy both soul and body in Hell.”
First John 4:18 “Perfect Love casts out all fear.”
There is much unknown about the dark side. I believe there is, in modern day, such a thing as an exorcism or a casting out. The casting out can naturally happen when receiving Christ. It can happen in a Catholic priest kind of way. This topic is not black and white. To be closed-minded is blindness. Sometimes merely resisting the devil or temptation causes evil to flee. (James 4:7) In my understanding, if God is Love then Satan is spiritual fear and everything under that heading.
Once I took a sick friend to a state mental facility. While encountering several patients in this not so plush place, it interested me to find; most of the patients I encountered where religiously obsessed with God and Satan. A friend that works in one such facility told me that most were obsessed with sex or religion in one facet or another. What are the implications here? I will let you draw your own conclusions. Do they really see and hear demons? Why not?
God also teaches me to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. (Mt.10:16)
So I am compelled to write about protection against this evil force to afford us a greater understanding of evils wiles. We Christians seem to swing from one extreme to the other on this matter. Meaning: either we have an over awareness and preoccupation with Satan or an aloof intolerance about the topic as useful all together. Before presenting the biblical scriptures of surviving satanic influence and attack, I will say this about my own experience. Once I became aware that my flesh is weak, and aware of dark influence, I concluded I must feed myself spiritual nourishment daily, or “daily bread” to survive. As Jesus spoke in that most famous prayer, just as my body needs nourishment daily to survive, my spirit needs fed daily. This “bread” comes by prayer, meditation, worship, study, confession, repentance, fellowship, and lots of honesty toward God, myself and others and a vision of the hope of salvation.
Feeding my soul by spiritual exercise will keep me healthy and strong to be alert and aware of the whiles of the devil. Of my two Natures’ Love or fear the one I feed most will be strongest! If I revel in debauchery of all sorts most days then go to church one hour a week I am definitely feeding the wrong nature and will grow toward [in] fear. If we wish to grow toward God rather than away from Him, we must feed our spirit good things. These things do not have to be mundane and should not be. We can watch the word on TV if we choose our shows wisely. There are wholesome, good entertaining movies that feed our good self. We can write and journal to grow and learn about ourselves. Uplifting fellowship is high on the list of feeding my spirit. Nature’s beauty is a great feeding ground for our spirit by taking in God’s wonderful creation of springs, rivers and valleys, oceans, flowers, trees, hills, sparkling sunlit days and awesome, star struck moonlit nights. These settings can bring awe and gratitude for our creator while also holding pleasure and peace for us. Music is one of my favorite gifts of pleasurable spiritual food. Again, we can choose for ourselves wisely, I have found some music can stir me toward praise and gratitude for God and I do not mean mundane hymns. The actions that save me from my own lower nature (the flesh) also save me from satanic powers.
In Ephesians 6:10-18 are the famous words of Apostle Paul that is our supernatural defense against Satan and his servants:
THE ARMOUR OF GOD
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"Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints”
Let’s examine this “accuser of the brethren” concept.
" Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down."
“Brethren” includes me, inasmuch as I fellowship with believers in Christ and they are my brothers. I am also the brethren of Christ. How does Satan accuse me? Does Satan stand before God and belittle humanity? Yes, but also at times my own brethren play the “accuser”, to my face or behind my back. The question to ask myself is do I have the unchecked guilt that feeds poison to my soul and allows their accusations to trigger a negative reaction from me? Satan can only play on my mind through my weakness or allurements to sin. If my cycle of guilt goes unchecked, you can bet I will soon be playing the accuser myself. This satanic soul sickness does not work on me if I am guilt free.
When guilt-free I am as a duck to water, all accusations slide right off my back, and I am unaffected spiritually. I am not saying that accusations are not hurtful sometimes; I am addressing the spiritual effects. How can I avoid this soul sucking sickness from the accuser? By the first armor: TRUTH! I use it to my advantage, confessing and repenting of whatever sin is unchecked then I am safe. (Refer back to the chapter on truth for further understanding of this belt of armor.)
The Breastplate becomes accessible by accepting Christ as our Savior in prayer. I believe each soul must do this each in their own way straight from their heart. Our righteousness is of Christ through the blood he shed. Without Christ, the armor of God is non-existent. We begin to put this part of our armor into action by receiving Christ as our savior and choosing baptism. We are then washed clean spiritually. This is the essence of the gospel. I cannot eternally save you or myself and my own righteousness IS “as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6) Human abilities will never be good enough to get us to our supreme splendor. I am reliant on Christ, Him I choose to trust and depend on. The Christ in me that I have received is righteous, this is my breastplate, and it covers my heart that would otherwise be vulnerable to the dark side. It allows me to approach God through Christ under any circumstance.
It is written in The Bible that we are all sold under sin or destined to sin because we are human.
Romans 7:14 “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.
The law of sin means that by nature we shall in one way or another all sin even if only in our heart and mind.
Matthew 5:28 “But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart”.
Romans 7:23 “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Romans 7:25 “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I, myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
Where there is sin there is guilt though some do not always recognize it. Will I always feel guilt? Maybe, how do I allow my heart to reach God when the essence of guilt looms between He and me?
There is a place in my spirit where I do feel my perpetual shame deriving from guilt nevertheless, I present my heart before my God. A strong place within in me cries out, “I will not tolerate separation from my creator by hiding and protecting parts of my soul and being that I am ashamed of in hopes that I can then win God’s acceptance. Embracing the attitude of desperation toward God in spite of my apprehension awards me complete acceptance of “me” and of how God created me. Man seldom understands or sees this place in his spirit though it is there… Find it and you will find balance and a connection with God that cannot be intimidated by darkness of any kind even the darkness within ourselves.
My shame strives to separate me from humanity and God!
First John 1:8
“If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
In Hebrews 2:14 it is written that Jesus destroyed the devil.
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.”
What does that mean? I don’t get it! Is Satan dead or not? Herein lies a mystery; can it be both that Satan is dead and alive? Yes! If he were dead to all people there would be no evil in the world, would there? With the solutions Christ has given us by the armour of God, Satan can be dead to us, quite literally dead! Should Satan’s relationship with other people burden us? What matters is that he is dead to me. Does this idea sound selfish or does it sound liberating? I am not saying that we shouldn’t have hope or compassion for those burdened down by their Satan. I am saying we cannot walk our brethren’s spiritual walk for them, nor can we set our loved one’s boundaries for them. I am sorry, it is quite impossible. If we are trying to do just that, we are creating our own misery. I will now assert the proclivity to opine that if not for consenting humans, Satan would have no enduring power whatsoever.
BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
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The breastplate of righteousness allows us the boldness to approach the throne of God despite our sinful status. Therefore, we may be empowered to do His work more effectively. The pieces of armor work together as one strong defense against Satan.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For, our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
There is yet another powerful benefit of the breastplate of righteousness. The spiritual stronghold for good that the breastplate provides is for our own authority. It allows us the God given right to share our testimony as well as respond to our God given calling to the best of our ability. None of us are perfect and we should not expect ourselves to be. If we all must be perfect to walk in our calling, then there would be no one to carry the message of hope or Love. Do not make the mistake of neglecting your call because you feel you have not cleaned yourself up enough to do God’s work. As long as we are truthful and Loving while carrying out God’s work we are helping others and ourselves.
THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
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Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
FIND EASIER TO UNDERSTAND DEFINITION
Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines the preparation of the gospel of peace as follows: “Readiness of mind with the promptitude and alacrity (eager, willing) which the gospel produces.”
“They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
First, I will address the second part of Revelations 12:11. Earth is not my spirit /soul’s home,
Songwriter Jackson Brown wrote the following:
“It’s a hotel at best.
You’re here as a guest.
Better, make yourself at home
while you’re waiting for the rest”.
First Corinthians 15:50
“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.” (Meaning it is our incorrupt Spirit that inherits the kingdom of God)
I do not believe Revelations 12:11 is saying that we should despise what we have been given on earth nor that we should be restless irritable and unhappy all the days of our lives as human beings. There is a lot to enjoy here as human. I am suggesting to you that there abides a recurring feeling of separation from God, in the essence of every Christ believing mortal. When we read, “they loved not their lives unto the death.” it does not have to make us squirm with misunderstanding. The statement implies that we never will have the 100% feeling of completeness and comfort while on earth when our Father’s abode is where we want to be. We are not there yet.
“The gospel of peace”, that we are eager and prepared to share must be exclusive to us exemplifying our own experience with Christ. Our “testimony” (Rev. 12:11) should be from our hearts. Otherwise, it is not the pure and unadulterated spiritual weapon by which we overcome evil.”
This defense is wielded by sharing in the context of “I”. Meaning I am giving my testimony about what God has done for me rather than telling someone what he or she should do. It is not the gospel of peace if it is spoken in the context of “you” or we. I stand firm in this belief. Why is it not a gospel of peace if it is being wielded as instructions? Because the miracle has happened in me, I am the gospels fruition. We hope the skeptic and unbelieving will be saved. Preaching feeds our spirit but it is not the magic armour of God which is the preparation of the gospel of peace. The magic is in our personal testimony, which is the protecting armour of the gospel of peace.
How can I give something away that is not mine? Instructions, rules, and regulations are not the gospel of peace. The gospel of peace is my testimony of how The Lord brought me out of a living Hell to a joyous fruitful and sometimes difficult life. It is about the changes for good He has brought me. It is about belief in the promise of salvation that He has put in my heart. By my spiritual experience, I am prepared to share the gospel.
The icing on the cake is that this heartfelt sharing of Love is most effective for bringing others to Christ. At all costs, we should recoil from being the devil’s advocate, which would be coming across accusatory to God’s children while sharing the gift of salvation! It is written that Satan is the accuser of the brethren.
Revelation 12:9 & 10
“And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”
Furthermore, brethren the gospel of the good news of peace protects us by the peace of mind that believing in our own salvation produces. Furthermore, trusting God produces peace of mind, which in turn protects us.
Philippians 4:6 and 7
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
When we are at peace within, we rarely feel the need to verbally defend ourselves or argue. When we are at peace, we do not feel the need to attack or hurt anyone. Therefore, peace of mind protects us from all kinds of spiritual snares. Peace of mind is one of the most powerful defenses we have ironically without taking a defensive action.
“THE SHIELD OF FAITH”
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“Above all taking the shield of faith, wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.”
What is faith? Following are the Webster’s definition and a biblical description:
Faith- confidence, belief, to trust, an unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.
Faith and trust are built when we walk through challenging situations with hope and prayers that God will make things right. This will allow us finally to experience God’s pristine outcome. A God breathed outcome is not always the one we have envisioned. Again, I would prefer a quick deposit of faith by the magic Holy Ghost but that is not usually, how faith is increased. To have our faith fortified we must hold on to trust in God during bleak and emotionally taxing situations. HOLD ON! Getting to the other side of hurtful, tragic, traumatic situations builds trust in God if we guide our heart and mind toward hope.
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
What we do with that faith is our choice. We can exercise and build it or repress and deny it. Faith, use it or lose it. How faith is a shield from this dark oppressive power named Satan? Active faith protects me from fearful reactions (hurting others or myself). It tells me I do not have to try to control every situation that makes me uncomfortable. It allows me to let go and let God. It enables me to accept the things, situations, and people that I cannot fix anyway.
During perplexing experiences if I do not exert a little trust in God and put things in His hands I end up with a miserable outcome or a fruition of fear.
“Be still, and know that I [am] God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”
Exerting trust and hope by maintaining Loving behavior during times of frustration strengthens my inner being and rockets me toward a dimension of higher knowledge called spirituality.
However trusting God is not easy. It takes prayerful reliance on Jesus. The book of Hebrews’ description of faith includes the “substance of things hoped for.” Hope is a part of faith. Hope is a hard nut to crack because of fear of the unknown. My thoughts can be both hopeful and doubtful at the same time. Some needs I can easily believe will be met, while others are hard to envision. I do believe however, that an unwavering faith can move mountains. Quite literally, pure faith is miraculous.
I surmise that when Abraham moved to sacrifice his only, long hoped for son Isaac, he believed with all his heart that his son would be brought back to life by God. (Heb.11:17) When we exercise faith, we are putting our future in God’s hands where it belongs. When we experience good results, we marvel at the way our God accomplished things for us. This produces joy, gratitude, and true happiness in our lives. This is the “evidence of things not seen” Hebrews 11:1 talks about.
“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”
We must relinquish the fearful illusion that we need to control others or we will lose.
We must abandon the thinking that; we need to map out others boundaries of behavior and enforce penalty if they veer from the path we have chosen for them. This belief is nothing short of playing God; it piles up all manner of burden on our shoulders until we break. If we want faith to complete itself in us, we must realize our own equality with our fellows no matter what their station in life or ours may be. If I envision myself as superior to others, I naturally will also perceive that some others are superior to me.
Keeping my self-actuality of being a child of God relieves the burdensome feelings that accompany playing God. Yes, many know more and many know less; many fall hard as others slowly regress, many hate, many Love but one thing certain holds true for us all: “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14) We shall all stand-alone before God, and we are interconnected in Christ. Remember the golden rule of Love, would I want the action done to me that I want to do to others? If not, lift up the shield of faith, be still, and pray.
“THE HELMET OF SALVATION”
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1st Thessalonians 5:8
“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.”
“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
What might this be and how does it protect me? The helmet is set securely on my head, immovable. It is the unwavering belief that my name is written in the lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:27) The essence of the Helmet is the comforting knowledge that I will be transformed at the coming of Christ or on that fateful day of my death. Moreover, that I will receive a much broader space for my spirit to dwell after this body gives out. This armor is the helmet of immovable hope of new life and belief that Jesus died so that I may live. The helmet is the embodiment of Love for the heartfelt ideas of what the next life holds.
Do I hope and dream of a new earth where the wolf and the lamb lie together in peace as written of in Isaiah 11:6? Do I relish the thought that no pain, death, sorrow, or tears await me in eternity as exemplified in Revelation 21:4? Perhaps I would prefer to be whisked off to the third heaven as is written of in 2Corinthians 12:2 to dwell by the holiest places. Places where there is no need for sunlight because the illumination of God Himself shines so bright. The third heaven where angels and “spirits of just men made perfect” flourish (Hebrews 12:23 Rev.22:5). Maybe my dream of salvation is to be translated (spiritually transformed) as Enoch and Elijah were; not having to experience death, being simply taken up.
“By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.”
Hence, my lifeless body never to be discovered by friends and loved ones. (Hebrews 11:5 & II Kings 2:11) Maybe I just hope for a good long, well deserved spiritual rest until the resurrection of Christ. (First Thessalonians 4:14-16)
Whatever your hope for eternity, I believe much of the next life will be designed by this life, by our own faith and beliefs, our own Love and hopes. I believe we hold much more impact on our next reality than we give ourselves allowance for. These matters are not black and white, as some prefer. I am certain the possibilities are as endless as God’s Love for us.
The Lord spiritually transformed these men; Enoch and Elijah, before Christ was even crucified. God does not have to play by our boxed in rules. These biblical writings are but a touchstone of God’s realities. Limiting the possibilities within God’s realm of power reflects our own natural, perceptual limitations due to being born within the confines of space and time. It is by natural perspective not spiritual awareness that some say, “The afterlife can only happen one way”. Nevertheless, it is better to hope for Christ’s eternity in a boxed in limited way than not at all! I believe salvation is here for the free Christian and the boxed in Christian alike. Redemption from death does not depend on doctrinal idiosyncrasies.
How does all this belief in salvation protect us against the wiles of Satan? When we have a deep belief in our salvation, it changes our entire perspective on life. With the helmet of salvation firmly placed on our head, we are no longer living only for this life.
We now have a different spirit about our actions that reflect eternity. In other words, our thinking disseminates from a much broader viewpoint, the God consciousness is without limitation, and therefore the salvation belief vastly expands our thinking process in the direction of goodness and spiritual safety.
This phenomenon may be compared to a person spending his entire life inside the house, and then suddenly one day he steps outside, seeing the ocean, the sky, and the land. His perceptions and actions will be greatly influenced by this experience. Stated plainly, his life will change dramatically from walking outside the house. Never again will he think with such a limited perspective. Without the hope of salvation, there would be little reason in my mind to live for anything more than worldly pleasure.
Hence, my actions change because of my psychic reference and my faith in an afterlife, which is the protecting helmet of salvation.
Proverbs 9:20 (research)
THE SWORD OF THE SPIRIT
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“And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”
II Corinthians 10:4
“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” New International Version
“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds.”
Up until this point, our pieces of armor have been protective clothing that is worn. Now we will consider the “sword of the spirit”. A sword is a weapon different from the other armour. Have we here a weapon that actually wages war against Satan and his slippery demons? Have we a tool of war that will destroy our enemy? How do we use this sharp tool; this double-edged weapon of words? Which words do we use and how will they effectively cut the devil to the quick?
Is the word of God simply read or heard, then digested as daily spiritual bread so we may overcome Satan and his spawn? When we consume it, does it protect us like a magic potion of Love that surrounds us with angelic fighters battling night and day for our survival? Perhaps after I digest these words I can spew them out at the invisible Satan and bind him. I could spout choice words out at those I perceive as wicked to cut them to the quick showing no empathy for their possible humiliation and pain.
Would this be defined as use of the sacred sword?
I understand all these scenarios and negate none of them. However, the last scenario leaves much room for error because it involves passing judgment on my fellow humans. When I say error I mean such a judgment action can very likely go against the wholesome and Loving principles God has set down in His word. Personally, I do not pray the word “at” anybody face to face or spout it off as a retribution for someone’s weak actions. I will pray with others providing I have their express permission or request. I have found a more principled way to use the sword of God.
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
“The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.”
“With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.”
“By His knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.”
There is no denying the benefit of knowledge on any subject nor should we negate the possible damage of hurtful words. I have heard the word of God used to hurt others, which is contrary to the principles of God’s Loving word.
Knowledge saves my life in many situations. In war, in driving, walking down the street, using household products, learning a trade, feeding myself, the list goes on and on. Are things any different where spiritual knowledge is concerned? The word of God is knowledge, the wise apply this knowledge to themselves and benefit from it. When the word goes deep down into our hearts it serves us.
By seeking my own spiritual well-being, and applying these principals or words from God to my life, I am now able to serve others. The beginning of wisdom is to work toward feeling better by learning to follow our own conscience. Then as we begin to feel peace and acceptance of our own human condition, we can accept others as less than perfect. By our self-Love, we are more capable of giving to others the grace that was and is bestowed upon us.
Why is the word a double-edged sword? The sword has two edges cutting forward and back, it has two “Authorities”. The two powers of the sword signify a two-fold battle. The first battle is against my own carnal nature and the second battle is for the salvation of others. Meaning, I use the principals of the sword to witness, pray, and be a godly example for others, which with God’s’ power will aid in their salvation.
Before entering in battle the warrior exercises and practices with his sword by learning to apply God’s word in his own life. His practice results in powerful thrust and precision on the field of battle. He does not learn to handle his sword and then stand comfortably on the field of destruction screaming his knowledge of the sword at his enemies. He picks it up and uses it. Action is how he wins in battle. He sweats using that which he has so painfully learned through experience. He has been injured on occasion during battle, yet through these injuries, he has become a stronger more confident master of efficient warfare. He fears, yet fights courageously for his own life. Yes, the warrior protects and fights for others but the need to survive the battle himself is what wrought him the victory and kept him alive. Self-preservation was the key motivator by which he committed selfless acts. His survival instinct was a prerequisite that enabled him to fight for others. To walk away from the battle feeling the victory with his own health and welfare intact was his goal. He had become a living example of Godly character.
The bottom line is to hopefully put the sword of the Spirit, the word into action into our own lives. However, teaching the word to the unwilling and rebellious can only be imparted by example. Applying the word in your own life is the way the sword is used to its fullest benefit. I am saying that living by the principles of righteousness is your valiant sword. Being a doer of the word protects you with precision and power and testifies that you can teach spiritual swordsmanship to hungry willing subjects who may grasp it. The rebellious unbeliever must be taught in a way they can accept and respect, which is by example. Trying to impart guilt trips on sinners is no more than applying iniquitous principles to spiritual matters. It does not work.
“Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves”.
1st Corinthians 15:31
“I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
I am talking about the war we must wage against ourselves. We must fight our flesh to put good, biblical principles into action in our lives. What is temptation if not a war against a part of ourselves? The pain of self-appraisal, self-examination, and the grief during change for the better is all a part of our duality. The injury to our “flesh” or ego while resisting temptation is part of overcoming evil. In our effort to maintain Godliness and put Love first in our lives we must not be defeated even though we may fail temporarily. We do not stay down by beating ourselves up for a failure. We realize we are fallible, doing our best and so we get back up and start afresh on our righteous path as many times as it takes. This is our first true battle. This is our primary need for the sword of the spirit, just as the warrior on the field of blood we must fight, and put our higher nature first to win. We must overcome the enemy within. The Lord has provided us with the armor to overcome.
My fight is not against those who may tempt me; what is temptation if not a war waged within myself? My battle is not against those that may not believe in God as I do, nor is it to argue about the wages of sin or religious doctrines of men. My conquest in life is to learn how NOT to fight others. My battle is to overcome my selfish will to be in control of all within and without. Spiritual knowledge is vital to my being but there is one thing much more important and that is to know the Love of Christ first hand.
“And to know the Love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God.”
First Corinthians 13:8-10
“Charity never faileth but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”
One day when we pass-away our knowledge will no longer apply because our reality will change drastically. Just as the law of gravity holds fast at all times on our Earth the law of gravity does not apply in outer space. We will be Spirit and Spirit law is not human law. Nevertheless the Love of God is changeless this is what first Corinthians 13:8-10 means to me. A relationship with Christ comes by seeking Christ just as earnestly as we would seek out a beautiful lover whom we desire with our heart.
Seek Christ in your own way and He shall reveal Himself to you. Look outside yourself and seek a connection, ask God for a confirmation that Christ hears your prayers and cares. I do not speak for Christ! However, I have seen it over and over again people that seek do find. Reach out in prayer, “ask largely of The Lord” my spiritual teacher used to say.
“Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above.”
Summing up the entire topic of defense against Satan it comes down to choice. We choose whom we will serve God or Satan, evil or good. The only power Satan has against us is the power we give him. Seems to me it is God’s will that we experience the pains common to humanity, otherwise it would not be a human experience.
Why give Satan the glory for every tragic event? Distresses naturally occur on God’s green earth. Life, death and everything in between under the sun were created by God.
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.”
We are being prepared for a different type of existence, that of “Spirit”. Our focus should be on the good lessons we must learn to complete our human journey. Though I fully understand swimming in negativity and the distraction, it provides. The following scriptures are very comforting where fear of evil is concerned.
“Who shall separate us from the Love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the Love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I Love that scripture!
CIRCUMFERENCE OF PRAYER
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This is an in depth chapter about different types of prayer. Not everyone will relate to or have need of every kind of prayer written of in this chapter. Keeping prayer simple is a good thing. On the other hand some of us have what I call “the gift of prayer” a calling of God, a depth of spirit for serving intercessory, deliverance and warfare prayers. Some have the gift of higher language (tongues) to exercise in their prayers.
I must interject; I am weary of hearing inexperienced preachers, ministers, and teachers try to teach accurately a thing which they have never learned or even heard first-hand. These teachers balk at, disbelieve, and even condemn-as-evil the precious and anointed gift of praying in tongues. Tongues are a higher and much more concise prayer language.
PRAYERS OF SUPPLICATION
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Supplication- Kneel down, pray to fold double up. To ask for humbly, earnestly, as by prayer.
As I have written in prior chapters, the best prayer is the honest, heartfelt prayer.
Being honest in prayer and praying for what we need rather than what we think God wants to hear is very effective.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
What about this prayer request thing? Everybody who requests something through prayer knows prayers are not always answered the way we want them to be especially when specifics are involved. There is that pesky “free will” thing that applies when praying for others that the power of prayer will not nullify. Meaning when we are praying for people to change we must remember God will not snatch back anybody’s free-will including the free-will of the guy we want God so desperately to change. Then there are those irritating “life lessons” that we usually need to learn. Therefore, in the midst of a fervent request to God it dawns on us that what we are going through may be part of our spiritual growth orchestrated by God Himself… as we desperately beg Him to fix the perplexing situation. Unfavorable circumstances in our lives are usually geared for our own emotional and spiritual growth and the sooner we learn and accept the lesson the sooner the problem goes away. Many times the lesson is merely learning to let go, live and let live (or die). My mother has a saying: “Each person has the right to reach their own level of incompetence.” Oh Mom how true that is, we do well to stand by and let the whirling dervishes (drama queens and kings) spin.
Assuming that I know just what someone else should be doing is wrong. Checking my motives is the first and most important rule of prayer. Nine times out of ten if we are praying to change someone else, our request is rooted in selfishness. Prayers such as, “Lord please make John Doe behave the way I want him to!” If I stay on top of my own spiritual exercises and work on my own behavior, everything else will work itself out one way or another.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
As one of my well-respected counselor’s says “Allow and respect each individuals spiritual process toward personal growth and emotional maturity.” OK, so how about if we pray like this; “Lord, please heal so-and-so!” Well it so happens that “so-and-so” is 90 years old and it’s his time to meet God. Or how about a prayer such as this, “Lord please chastise, and rebuke Satan’s spawn that is living next door. He continuously has wild parties and commits moral sin!” Unbeknownst to us the person we have labeled “evil” has been through a lot of trauma and is doing his best to numb the intense emotional pain he feels on a daily basis so he won’t commit suicide. Chances are if we had gone through what he has, we would be ten times more dysfunctional than he is. I should not label anyone evil this is subtle harsh judgment. I am not justifying hurtful or sinful behaviors. It is prudent to pray thy will be done in someone’s life, and Lord please give me understanding of him or her if I am angry with someone. It is always better to understand than to be understood. Understanding shows Love and tolerance, which are characteristic of Christ.
“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam from thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of your brothers eye.”
Beware of subtle judgments that war against the soul. If I stick to the true spiritual blessings for others in prayer such as Love, faith, hope, wisdom and all the blessings of heaven I am praying rightly. [Giving] type prayers rather than [taking-away] something from a person type prayers are an act of Love. After all “it is better to give than receive.” even where prayer is concerned. The word reads “Bless and curse not.” (Romans 12:14)
Some feel it is all together wrong to pray requests for ourselves; I do not lean to such extremes though I do respect other people’s beliefs in that arena. The scripture expresses that it IS okay to pray for ourselves, balancing it with giving prayers for others.
James 4:2 and 3
“You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Our quest should be to learn to ask God for spiritually valuable things. I believe it is a good thing to request spiritual blessings for ourselves. On the other hand, I do appreciate those that have an unwavering faith and belief that God will supply all their monetary needs. So they never ask for anything for themselves because their faith is so strong in that area. Neither of these ideals: asking or not asking are wrong or a contradiction, but rather it is a choice we make according to our needs. Our prayers should develop and change as we mature as believers and grow toward God. Personally, I have not grown out of asking my God for help and doubt I ever will. Though often times God’s peace enables me to be still and trust Him. “Be still and know that I am God” Psalms 46:10.
LAMENTATION OF PRAYER
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Lament: mourning, wailing, echoic based. To feel deep sorrow or express it as by weeping or wailing. Mourn, grieve.
This type of prayer is sacred though it does not feel like it at the time. Lamentation consists of expressing to God deep emotional and spiritual sorrow, fear, grief, pain, or regret. These deep feelings cannot be uttered in words. These deep-feeling induced prayers are articulated by guttural sounds of moaning, screams, or wailing whatever our spirit needs to express. Theses regurgitations expel repressed, secret feelings that can cause depression, misery, anger even rage if left unexpressed. We can lament for others in prayer as well by feelings of deep care and fear for them or even by catching or picking up the deep pain in others. Sometimes we do not know why we are in need of such painful expressions or what the feelings pertain to nevertheless, lamenting yields emotional and spiritual healing whether we are interceding for others or processing our own buried feelings.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” (New International Version)
Romans 8:22 & 23
“For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.”
Yes, prayer of lamentation is painful and I am comfortable to do it in the presence of God alone. That is probably no wonder, within my own culture and in many cultures, a display of deep emotion is unacceptable and considered hysterical. I have been to funerals where woman are hauled off and hidden if they cry too loud even for the death of their own child. We have a whole array of prescription drugs to stop the healthy emotional processes that some consider wrong even shameful. The grieving and traumatized are sedated and oppressed so those around them may feel more comfortable. How did our country get so deep into the tradition of emotional and spiritual constipation? I do not claim to know the reason why. “Keep a stiff upper lip!” “Men are not supposed to cry.” “Crying is a sign of weakness if you cry you’re a baby!” and the oppressive clichés rally on.
I have no idea how many have reached the depths of this blessed prayer of lamentation. I think if I were ever seen while lamenting in prayer some folks might haul me off to the psyche-ward concluding surly I am beside myself in psychosis. Nevertheless, whether it be because of recent trauma, unresolved emotional issues, or prayers for others I regard this prayer as a true blessing because when the need falls upon me I am moved to seek God and afterward I am refreshed, renewed, and blessed with joy and a fresh connection to God. To feel my deep joy and gratitude I must feel my deep pain and physical separation from God. This body is not my eternal home not by any stretch.
2nd Corinthians 5:8
“We are confident I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
When a heavy burdensome feeling comes upon me, I sometimes do not realize it is a call for prayer; I may distract myself or blame people and situations for the way I feel. Sometimes I do not want to apply the solution to the way I feel which is prayer. Lamenting hurts! I question; why am I being led to pray, what does the burdensome feeling pertain to? Am I in need of intense prayer myself because of sin or impending disaster or is it for someone else? By the time, I have prayed things through (groans and all) these questions will usually have been answered. Furthermore, if not it will not bother me because of my new and improved connection to God.
These kinds of burdens are not easy. Sometimes God’s gifts are painful and trying. I have had times when I have tried everything I can think of to shake the feeling of spiritual burden. I do not feel like praying and I can be stubborn. When my futile attempts at serenity do not work, finally I give up and say to God “OK, I’m not leaving my prayer closet until I feel better, until I get a breakthrough! I feel I have no choice except to pray, and of course, this works out well for me in the end. In the words of Jesus in Saint John Chapter 16, verses twenty and twenty-one.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembers no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.”
Spiritual pain is real; I believe that if the Lord allows deep sorrow, He also provides directions of the best way to deal with it. I have had days on end in continual travail and lamentation followed by God’s wonderful joy. Tears alone are not sufficient to express these deep spiritual burdens; they come from deep within our being, deep within our bowels.
I have read in Psalms that King David lamented and groaned, and many other biblical characters did for one reason or another rent (ripped) their clothing, laid in ashes, lamented, groaned, fasted and grieved in prayer until victory came. I personally have only seen two brave souls who were able to pray this way in the presence of others. I thank God for them they helped me realize it is not wrong to feel that way and I am not alone. Bless you Jody Stevens for your fearless lamentation and travail that so shockingly taught me I am not alone. The second was a lady in chu