Psalm 1:3 “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”

I find that if I stay outside working in the garden long enough, God is surely going to reveal something whether I’m looking and expecting it or not.  Such was the case yesterday after a few hours, yes…hours, of watering (we really must sort out our irrigation system! – and no, that wasn’t the revelation!)

This is how I did it!

This is how I did it!

As I gave each  valuable plant a thorough soaking, careful not to simply wet the surface of the ground and move on, but hosed the earth (using the exact technique displayed in the above photograph 😉 ) s0 the water went down deep to the roots, God showed me that just like the life-giving water to the plants, so is His Word life-giving water to His valuable children.

God’s Word often speaks of “watering”, “planted and watered”, “washing with the Word”, and “quenching thirst”.  Soaking in God’s Word brings life, quenches thirst and cleanses believers; but we must drench ourselves with it.  If we do not thoroughly immerse ourselves in God’s Word but rather just taste a snippet occasionally, it will encourage shallow roots.  And this was God’s point – it must be deep watering.  Shallow roots do not produce an enduring church.

Mark 4:17 “and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time.  Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.”

The image of a tree beside a river is a perfect example of deep watering and a constant supply coming from God’s Word.  The verse preceding Psalm 1:3 explains who will be like this tree; it is the person whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His Law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2  This is not just watering the surface, but a saturation!

Just hearing the Word at church on Sundays, glancing at a daily verse on a calendar, or even reading a daily devotional penned by someone else, is not going to encourage the steadfastness and surety in God’s promises that really seeking in God’s Word provides.  I know that after opening God’s Word with a heart to receive from Him directly, I am refreshed and strengthened in my faith.  It is essential, like the air we breathe, and wonderful!

Be open to God’s Word. Seek His counsel in His pages with a heart open to the Holy Spirit’s teaching.  The roots of your faith will find depth and strength so that you will not be shaken in this dry and thirsty land.

Jeremiah 17:8 “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.”

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Philippians 3:18-19 “18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is their shame – who set their mind on earthly things.”

These statements are referring to people who are “walking”, those who know The Lord, and are supposedly following the Way of the Cross; but through their misdirected focus actually war against it.  Let us not be “enemies of the  cross of Christ” but fix our mind on Jesus and eternal matters of the Spirit – not the things of this world.

1 John 2:15 & 17 “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

Matthew 6:24-25 “24 No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches). 25 Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”

There are things we are told by Jesus, not to concern ourselves with, yet often these very things become the main focus of our thoughts and actions. I have been struggling with this myself and as I laid it all before the Lord this morning looking for answers, He showed me great and wonderful things in His Word. Hallelujah! These very same things were what Satan put before Jesus in the wilderness.

I have been reading Love not the World by Watchman Nee, and together with my bible study which has been working through Isaiah, God lead me to a passage from Luke this morning which complimented the thoughts presented in both, and gave me the answers I needed. Luke 14:1-13 takes us through Jesus’ experience in the wilderness being tested by the devil.

From Watchman Nee’s book, a point was made that in the last days, the World will be as it was in the Days of Noah and as Lot went out from Sodom. “They ate, they drank, they married, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded.” see Luke 17:26-30. Scripture tells us not to concern ourselves with eating, with drinking, nor what we shall wear. Romans 14:17 tells us that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Scripture bids us “first seek God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to us” Matthew 6:31-33. This point also resonates throughout the book of Isaiah.

I have been engrossed lately with “What we shall eat”. Being 28 weeks pregnant with baby #5 and a bridesmaid at my sister’s wedding in 3 weeks, I have been concerning myself with trying to eat for the health of my baby but not the size of my backside. Add to this, struggling with cravings and a lack of willpower against all tasty treats that are bad for both! I have been utterly defeated despite my most ardent desire to succeed.

We are also looking to sell the house in which we live and the to-do list which must be completed prior to this becoming a reality is consuming beyond distraction!

Watchman Nee points out regarding Christians, “The undue attention to eating and drinking is far from normal; it is supernatural. For it is not just a question of food and drink that we are meeting here; we are meeting demons.” Heavy stuff! I had never considered this at all, but it makes perfect sense. It was clearly confirmed when I opened my bible this morning, but more on that in a minute.

Watchman Nee also states “the question today is not so much one of sinfulness as one of worldliness. Eating and drinking? Marrying and giving in marriage? Buying and selling? These things are so common and so simple, they are yet being used by Satan to ensnare God’s children into the great net of his world order.” He reminds us that, “There was a time when the Church rejected the world’s ways. Now she not only uses them, she abuses them. Of course we must use the world, but let us not want it, let us not desire it.”

When I read the passage in Luke 4:1-13 I saw the truth of Nee’s statements. Here we see Satan’s plan in action – he tried it out on Jesus first, yet Jesus “overcame”, let us take note!

The first temptation Satan presented was food! He suggests that Jesus should break from Truth and rely on Himself or His power to provide bread to eat. Rarely do I take the concern regarding “What I shall eat, drink or wear” to God but rather I plan and allocate finances (ultimately funds that are not guaranteed) sometimes weeks ahead. Jesus’ mind regarding this is evident in His response, a response taken from the passages of Deuteronomy 8:3. “Man shall not live by bread alone”. We live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of The Lord. Jesus lived His life this way and shows us this in action in John 4:32-34.

Satan then presents Jesus with an offer of worldly power, authority and the glory of man. This is ultimately what the world seeks after. Power, prestige, the never-ending striving for more. I see this within my own family – members who are not saved, strive and strive for what is never enough. It’s futile and easy even for Christians to slip into if we take our eyes off Jesus.

Jesus combats the offer with “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.” Striving after the world’s goods and glory is worshipping Satan, pure and simple – keeping your eyes fixed on The One True God in worship to Him only is the key to overcoming this trap.

The final temptation is one that was discussed in my bible study group this week. We did not see it as an influence of Satan but definitely as something facing Christians today. As I read the Luke passage, it became clear that the force behind this certainly comes from the pit of hell. In bible study we looked at Isaiah 32:9-11. The passage begins as follows: “9 Rise up, you women who are at ease, hear my voice; You complacent daughters, give ear to my speech.” The NIV translates this passage as: “9 You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me; You daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say.”

In Luke 4:9-11 Satan then takes Jesus to the pinnacle of the temple in Jerusalem and tells Him to “throw yourself down from here” and have God save Him. As I read, again scales fell from my eyes and I saw the reality of what we had discussed in our group. It’s easy for today’s Christian to become complacent. We have no real “need” for God, being secure in our worldly endeavours fully able to provide for ourselves.  We also harbour an attitude of taking even our salvation for granted. We stand on the pinnacle of the temple, secure in our salvation but we often “tempt the Lord our God” Luke 4:12. When we live lifestyles in contradiction to God’s word, in hypocrisy to the grace offered to us, we “throw ourselves down” in opposition to the Truth of God’s Word.

In complacency we live each day with eyes set on the things of this world, showing little regard to redeeming the time as this age comes to a close. The salvation of unsaved loved ones does not weigh as heavy a burden upon us as it should and these passages have certainly been a wake-up call to me.

As Jesus stood firm against the wiles of the devil, He overcame him and the lures of “the World”.   Seeing who is behind these concerns certainly puts them in their proper perspective! 

As we take on the Mind of Christ and listen to the voice of God in all things, being willing to walk in His Way in obedience to His guidance, we too will overcome Satan’s schemes in the World and detach ourselves from it’s seduction.  We will discover the peace, rest and strength that comes from living by every word which proceeds from the mouth of The Lord.

 

See the Light

Revelation

1 John 2:6 “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”

How are we to walk? What are we to do each and everyday? As He did in the world.

When we spend time with God, waiting before Him, meditating on His word and listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit in His presence, we know Him, His heart, His love, and His character.  We will “see” Him and know Him.  We cannot do “the will of the Father” nor “be about the Father’s business” if we do not seek Him first.

1 John 2:17 “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

Jesus walked “doing the will of God”.

John 5:19 “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”

1 John 4:17 “Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”

THOUGHT FOR TODAY – 1 John 4:8b “God is love.”  BE love in the world.

 

 

 

I have been rejoicing in the Lord this morning…He has given me a wonderful gift (to be revealed in time). This gift allowed me to present myself before the Lord with a heart overflowing with greatfulness and yet knowing that I would need his strength and mercy more than ever because of it.  So, on one hand, I was overjoyed but on the other, fully aware of my need for His sustenance.  Confused yet? 😉 Sorry, but just wanted to set the scene a little.

I commenced today’s prayer time with the allocated prayer topic (from the 31 days of prayer and fasting program I’ve been following) which was “A call to pray for and eradicate POLYGAMY spirits in the church.”  As this is a program from PNG I understand that having more than one wife is relatively common practice over there.  In Australia, however, divorce is the outward evidence of this spirit at work.   This topic is one which is close to my heart as I have seen the restorative work of the Holy Spirit in my own marriage, who is willing and able to transform our lives as we hand our life over to Him.

This post is not actually meant to be focused on the topic of marriage per se but rather our hearts before God and the sin problem which is what ultimately leads those into this destructive situation.  One of the points to pray was that the sin/spirit of fornication, adultery, lust, uncleanness, covetousness will not creap into the church and destroy Christian marriages.

Here in lies the problem.  Sin.  Fornication, adultery, lust, uncleanness, covetness can affect every area of our lives, not just our marriages.  The next point to pray, was that the Word and Spirit of God will rule and the desire of the flesh will be crucified.  This is the only answer for deliverance and salvation.  We must continually allow The Word and the Spirit to rule and crucify the desires of the flesh as the flesh is nailed to the cross.

One of the verses pertaining to this topic this morning was Matthew 19:3-9.  In verse 8 we again see problem which leads to this situation.

“Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”

My prayer this morning, for those that are His, is that our hearts would not be hard so that we would look for permission to sin, but that our hearts would be soft and we would walk in submission to Him.

Over the last few weeks, a number of occurrences led me to contemplate different periods of my life.

The first was an attended funeral, reminding me of the mother I lost as a little girl of 9 years of age. I only have vague recollections of this part of my life – I am left totally blank for the majority, but I have the memories of others who were present at the time and who have shared several stories from an observer’s perspective.

One such story is of a time just before my mother died. A lady (who is now my lovely step-mother) was helping out at the school I was attending and stopped by my class. She found me alone in the classroom (I suppose it was a recess of some sort) sitting on the floor crying. As she came over to me I said, “Do you know my Mum is really sick?” I have no idea of the conversation that followed but the picture of a young girl (an only child) facing life without her mother shows just how desperately I needed the grace of God in my life. Looking back I see just how faithful He is!

Isaiah 46:3-4  “3 Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb; 4 Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.”

When I read this verse, the Holy Spirit showed me how this was true for my life. Even before I knew Him, He was there. From the moment I was born, God’s hand was supporting, protecting, comforting; even during my wayward years He was bearing, that the consequences of my actions would not be unto death, but rather would lead me back to Him and be a testimony of His grace.

Next, I was led to consider my early years of adulthood, when a dear friend spent the morning visiting with me. The old photo albums came out, and as she flicked through them, I must say, I was ashamed. This was a period of my life, which was totally dictated by self. During my early years I had been taught of the Lord and knew in my soul the truth of His existence. I had prayed a number of times as a very young girl (especially following my mother’s death) and He had answered me in powerful ways; thus the reality of the Lord could not be denied. But during my early teens, right through until after my marriage, I lead a rebellious life driven by my need to feel accepted and loved. These things I did not seek from the Lord, but from the world.

As I looked at the photos, all I saw was a life of sin and self. I thank God that He sustained me in my early years, when I lived life close to the edge. I stayed mainly in the bottom of a bottle of alcohol and often did foolish, dangerous things which many young girls do not live through – or sometimes wish they didn’t live though. I am so greatful to have had no lasting repercussions from these choices and see this again, as the grace of God in my life.

A final piece that I wish to share is the wonderful power of God to restore.

2 Corinthians 5:18  “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,”

Not long after the birth of my first son, I began a decent into depression. I walked away from the reasonably new relationship I had with God and began answering the lusts of the flesh. I drank heavily and a dark cloud grew over my life. At a similar time, my husband also, descended into alcoholism. These events ultimately led to the utter destruction of our marriage.

During our two years of separation, I lived a life devoid of God; however, the reality of Him never left my heart. I was doing life on my own and while on the surface my life was quite acceptable according the “the world’s” standards, I knew I was failing miserably. I was not the mother to my son that I desired to me, nor was I a woman who could stand before God with a clean conscience. After a night of excessive drinking, I knew that it was time to let God intervene. The following morning, I got on my knees (this is always the hardest part) and gave up. “I’m sorry, take over” I said “I can’t do it.” Thank God that He has already done it, and from that day on, my slate had been wiped clean and the reconciliation could begin.

As I began to walk with God, listening, obeying and being reconciled to Him, He began to restore my life. At the same time, He drew my husband out of the hold of alcoholism and began softening his heart. During the years apart, I never would have imagined that our marriage could have been salvaged, let alone restored and made to flourish, but our God is a God who reconciles! It is well within His nature to grant grace to myself and my husband as we showed grace to each other. It is only by the power of God that this could have happened. The fruits of God’s grace and His blessings to us are two more precious children, and a love that surpasses circumstances and self (most of the time 😛 ). Hallelujah!

Looking back at these patches in my life, these pieces of past, it was wonderful to see the amazing handiwork of God. The finished project it yet to be revealed, but I know that the light of Jesus Christ will shine through it all, both the dark patches and the bright. It will be a work bringing glory to God, through Him and for Him, Creator of all.

“Incline you ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your heart to my knowledge; for it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; let them all be fixed upon your lips, so that your trust may be in the Lord;” Prov 22:17-19

As we ponder on the sayings in God’s word, the simplicity of the Gospel becomes a stark reality. Jesus has done for us, what we were unable to achieve for ourselves. God made the Way and we are now equipped to walk in it.

Discussions at our gathering yesterday revealed that the Christian walk comes down to one thing – the state of our hearts. Are they wholly set on God? While this post touches on two topics, they are really inseparable. Firstly, the futility of trusting in earthly assurances, and secondly, what it is that enables us to walk securely in Christ.

That night, as I meditated on the truths presented in our meeting, and sought God as to what to post here, the following words were planted in my heart:

“Let go of anything whose roots are in this world. (James 3:14-15) Let go of anything which has been elevated to a level of importance above God. These things will be shaken. Your trust, security and faith must be rooted in God alone lest your heart fail you. Your heart must be wholly His.”

“Lest your heart fail you…your heart must be wholly His”

The securities originating from sources within this temporal world will be shaken so as to reveal to us (God already knows) the true state of our heart. Many of us have not had to totally rely solely on God for our provisional needs. It is easy for our hearts to remain in a state of deception. Thankfully, God will not allow this to remain, and will cause the true affections of our hearts to be exposed lest we deceive ourselves. Let us therefore, examine our hearts thoroughly so we may stand boldly and confidently during any time of trial, trusting steadfastly in the faithfulness of our God.

Right through the Word of God, we see a common cry of God; He sought a people whose hearts were wholly His. (2 Chronicles 16:9, Jeremiah 24:7) This is the heart of a Christian. A Christian’s heart is Christ’s. A heart that is wholly God’s, is one that desires continual fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Yes, there is a time for solitude and waiting on the Lord – essential to renew our strength and gain wisdom from above (Isaiah 40:31); but the heart that walks with the Lord is one in communion with the Holy Spirit.

We often talk of the Fruit of the Spirit and living righteously – we cannot produce this. The righteousness we are called to display, is the righteousness of Christ and the Fruit of the Spirit. These only become evident in the lives of those who are willing to listen and obey the Holy Spirit moment by moment.

Someone who changes from “spiritual” living, to clear outbursts of the flesh does not have a heart wholly turned to God. When James states “My brethren, these things ought not be so” (James 3:10) he is saying that a Christian whose heart is wholly turned to God, just as it should be, will display righteousness and speak life. This is reiterated by Paul in his letter to the Galatians (5:16) and John in 1 John 3:6.

Those who have committed their life to Christ, have committed to following Him. Their heart’s affections are set after Him alone. A love for God will be evident by a willingness, or even more than that, a desire to listen, obey, change, forgive, love.

Friends, let us all examine our hearts, that we may let the Light of Christ expose every corner. (2 Corinthians 13:5) Let us also be in continual fellowship with Him, listening and obeying His promptings. This is how we prepare and make ready for the moment we all long for; that moment when we will stand face to face with Him who holds the world in the palm of His hand. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Our Life.

“Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” 2 Timothy 2:19