To “Belong”

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/2co.5.17.NLT

There’s a part of this verse that I believe is a crucial hinge upon which the door swings.

“Anyone who belongs to Christ…”

And what a question that can cause us to ponder, right? Someone “belonging” to Christ —

We might ask ourselves,

What does that look like?

How does one become one that belongs to Christ?

Is is belong like a possession — once bought and possessed, can we be thrown away when no longer of use to Him (like a used paper towel), or when we’ve been all used up (like the remains of an apple that had been eaten down to its core)?

Do you (like me sometimes) ask such questions when you read the Word of God? Or are you too afraid (like me sometimes) that you might get the answer wrong or get chastised for not knowing something already? I can encourage you by assuring you that it isn’t about mental assent or stacking up knowledge “about” God, but is about drawing closer to Him and He closer to you.

Examining the Word of God closely brings up many questions when it isn’t just academic or religious practice –but is a hunger and thirst for truth and seeking revelation of Alimighty God to His people. I hope that is how you come to the Word of God — with expectation for it to either reveal Him even more clearly as the faithful and true Living God who abides in His people, or to clearly show itself as foolish, false, and worthless for application or understanding. Because there is truly no middle ground to be found between those two. It is either the Living Word of God given to us to believe, trust, follow and obey — or it is a divisive and destructive book filled with the worst kind of judgemental hypocrisy pitting one man against another and promising a fate worse than death to those who don’t “join the club”.

And there is no lie in saying that people throughout history have used it both ways. There is no denying that when men want to further their own political or personal agendas, that they can quickly cut out a portion from this book and twist it to fit their purposes and lead many down the broad path to destruction. But there is also no denying that once evil and wicked and vile and selfish men have seemingly encountered something in this Good News of Jesus Christ and surrendered their old ways to live in a new way that has a sweet new smell of things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness faithfulness, and self control.

And there may be two men sharing the same church pew, hearing the same sermon week after week, sounding the same well timed Amen during the sermon, and serving on the same elder or deacon board, and one might just be seeking to manipulate his membership for his own benefit in this life — while the other is truly bought, possessed, used by God, sharing in the sufferings of Christ today and longing for the blessings yet to come.

So we cannot judge by the flesh, by the visible efforts or outward displays of religion. There are many men considered great, knowledgeable teachers of the Word of God that I fear are nothing more than Professors — and I do not mean that word simply in its academic form as a scholarly teacher — but as in the comparison that “the prince of preachers”, Charles Spurgeon, makes between “professors” and “possessors”.

Merely Professor, Not Possessor. If, O my reader! thou art merely a professor, and not a possessor of the faith that is in Christ Jesus, the following lines are a true sketch of thine end.

You are a respectable attendant at a place of worship; you go because others go, not because your heart is right with God. This is your beginning. I will suppose that for the next twenty or thirty years you will be spared to go on as you do now, professing religion by an outward attendance upon the means of grace, but having no heart in the matter.

Tread softly, for I must show you the deathbed of such a one as yourself. Let us gaze upon him gently. A clammy sweat is on his brow, and he wakes up crying, “O God, it is hard to die. Did you send for my minister?” “Yes, he is coming.” The minister comes. “Sir, I fear that I am dying!” “Have you any hope?” “I cannot say that I have. I fear to stand before my God; oh! pray for me.”

The prayer is offered for him with sincere earnestness, and the way of salvation is for the ten-thousandth time put before him, but before he has grasped the rope, I see him sink. I may put my finger upon those cold eyelids, for they will never see anything here again.

But where is the man, and where are the man’s true eyes? It is written, “In hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment.” Ah! why did he not lift up his eyes before? Because he was so accustomed to hear the gospel that his soul slept under it. Alas! if you should lift up your eyes there, how bitter will be your wailings.

Let the Saviour’s own words reveal the woe: “Father Abraham, send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame” (Luke 16:24). There is a frightful meaning in those words. May you never have to spell it out by the red light of Jehovah’s wrath!

Merely Professor, Not Possessor, by Charles H Spurgeon (1834-1892).

Yes, shouldn’t we at some point ask of the only one who knows the truth about our deceitful hearts, “Am I yours, Lord? Have you truly bought me and paid for me with the blood of your own son? Did you truly know me even before I was in my mother’s womb, and choose me before the dragons of the heavens and the earth, and love me even in the midst of my sinful rebellion, and pluck me out of the fire to be your s, to send me out with a calling and a purpose that will echo in the halls of eternity? Is that really true of this broken and humble man that cries out to you in surrender and hope, Lord?”

And won’t the answer be made clear if we will be still and know that He is God?

If you are truly surrendered, if you are truly bought by the Blood, if you are truly a new creation filled by the Holy Spirit of God, then come boldly into the throne room of grace wearing your white robes and do not go back into your old ways of sin and death, confess your sins and receive forgiveness and walk in newness of life.

For my TLDR; and KJV folks:

Be ye holy as your father in heaven is holy, ye who indeed belong to Him, ye who have tested yourselves to find that ye are indeed “in the faith”. And is is not of your own doing, but is by the power of this free gift of God’s grace, so that none may boast, or compare, or look down upon another, but only wonder in awe at the mercies of God.

Bring it into the Light…

In my flesh, I’ve dealt with every sin that the Bible says “shall not inherit the Kingdom of God”. So I don’t come to you saying, “Look, I’m worthy of inheriting the Kingdom of God!”
 
No, I tell you that I look at what God calls sin and I acknowledge it as sin. I don’t try to twist it into what is a comfortable fit for my life choices so that I can justify how I would like it to read to fit my life. No, I accept the Word of God as right and true and I see that I have fallen short.
 
But it doesn’t stop there. With belief and surrender comes death and new life. That old man is dead, and I am raised to new life in Christ — not so that I can continue in my sin and death, but so that I can live abundantly in the righteousness of Christ.
 
Homosexuality and same sex attraction? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Sexual immorality? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Pornography & Prostitution? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Drunkenness & drugs? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Murderous hateful heart? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Adultery and lust? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Covetousness, Idolatry and worldliness? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Thievery, greed, envy and jealousy? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Swindling and manipulation? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Strife, rivalry and division? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Offense, bitterness, and unforgiveness? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Orgies, lewdness, exhibitionism? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
Pride, high mindedness, self exaltation? Dead in the name of Jesus Christ.
 
Am I perfect? No.
Am I grateful for His victory in many areas of my life? Yes!
Am I hopeful to see deliverance in even more areas of life so that I’m not hindering His Holy Spirit or damaging my testimony? Yes.
 
So if you see me speaking out against a particular sin, don’t think that it’s because I’m not familiar with it, or that I’m picking on your favorite demon to make me feel better about my own. Nope, sin actually is the enemy, it actually is poison, it actually does steal from us, and my eyes are open to see that even though I was blind to it before.
There was a time when I wasn’t ready to hear the truth, when I didn’t want to hear the truth, where I thought that the truth was just judgemental, religious, self-righteous B.S.
When I heard someone talking about God or sin or righteousness or anything like that, I assumed they were tight-assed idiots and hypocrites — and when the truth hurt me, I acted as if “the church hurt me” when it was really the truth of the Word of God that hurt me because I wasn’t willing to consider a truth that called me to actual repentance and discipleship.
So if that’s where you are, I got nothing but love for you, neighbor. I pray that He will snatch you out of the fire like He did me, and all I can do is encourage you to seek truth with an open and humble perspective, and I expect that you’ll find what you’re looking for.
This post was inspired by this article that I read this morning:  https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/marriage-same-sex-attraction/

A Friend is Hurting…

A friend is hurting, and not just one person is hurting today — but many are hurting and have questions like the one my dear friend Brenda raised this morning:

QuestionAboutHealing

And this very real and present concern in Brenda’s life — as she watches her son battle against the ravaging effects of sickness — deserves a very real and serious answer. Each one of us will have to deal with very real struggles in this life that surpass our ability to make sense of the “WHY!!!??????!!!!!!!” that screams out from our innermost longing.

I found that after answering Brenda’s question this morning, that I felt that I needed to go back and add supporting scripture references in parenthesis so that it was clear that this wasn’t simply my opinion, but was a gathering of what I’ve found in the Word of God that comforts me in those times when the “why” isn’t so easily held in the solid grasp of my mind — those moments when doubt and fear and hurt are like gravity, pulling at the grains of sand that are my faith held tightly in my hand.

Here’s what was my attempt at a sound, biblical answer to this outcry from my dear friend:

Harold Ballinger: Praying. I offer this because many of us ask the same things. David even cries out in several psalms of lament like Psalm 3 with such questions.

A prayerful relationship with God is not about us gathering enough “faith in our prayers to sway God’s will” — but it is about us drawing close to have “faith in God’s will and purpose” (see Psalm 115:3 & 1 Peter 4:19) . It is not our goal to become strong enough in spiritual things in order to sway or manipulate God to serve our will, but that we would become surrendered enough to hear, accept, and at times even understand His will as more perfect and sovereign than our wishes (Isaiah 45:9 & Romans 9:20) .

Yes, sometimes it is God’s will to heal, to perform miraculous signs and wonders to demonstrate His power (Jeremiah 10:12), arise wonder (Exodus 4:21), and confirm His message (Matthew 12:39-40). And yes, sometimes it is God’s will to not heal (2 Corinthians 12:8).

And yes, always it is His will that we pray truthfully to Him with our concerns and listen for His answer (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But even Christ’s prayer in Gethsemane asking for this cup of suffering be taken from Him included “nevertheless, thy will be done”, and Christ went through the suffering, the scourging, and the crucifixion that led to the resurrection (Matthew 26:36-56).

Paul tells us that the sufferings in this age are nothing in comparison to the glories that await us (Romans 8:18). And many times the greatest testimonies to the unbelieving are that faith, that peace that passes all understanding, when a believer stands in the midst of trial and suffering and refuses to waver in their faith — even as their world seems to be crumbling around them (1 John 3:16). The unbelieving can dismiss a miraculous healing as false or as medically produced, etc. But they have no answer for the “faithful fool” that trusts his God even through the midst of horrible sufferings and that praises a “God who both gives and takes away” (1 Corinthians 1:18 & Job 1:21).

I don’t say this to discourage you from praying for healing. But I do say this to also encourage you to pray for wisdom to understand how God is working even in this situation and circumstances to bring glory to Himself — to understand how He might bring you and others closer to Him in a real, personal, fully surrendered and effective relationship with the living Almighty God –as opposed to a distant or only religious concept of “a god”.

These are questions we each wrestle with — why He moves one way in this situation and in another at another time. But for me, it reminds me that He is God and that we are not. Does He hear our heartfelt prayers and does He listen? Yes. Does He answer our prayers? Yes. Is it always in our timing or in the way we want It? No. Are all prayers and promises fulfilled on this side of eternity? No, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be fulfilled, so keep praying — but remember that prayer isn’t us talking “at God” but with God. Spend time listening to Him. If you can’t hear or recognize His voice as you pray so that it is a two way conversation, pray that He reveal it to you in His Word, open up your Bible and start reading through it diligently expecting Him to reveal both Himself and His will to you (John 5:25 & 1 Corinthians 2:9-13). Draw close to Him, and He will draw close to you (James 4:8).

And yes, in your time of need, call for the elders to come and lay hands and to pray for healing (James 5:14-16). The greatest healing, the greatest miracle, is not a healing in the physical body, but the restoration of something in our spirit that just wasn’t quite right, that wasn’t fully trusting and surrendered, that wasn’t pure of heart. The true healing of those things underneath and behind the veil of what can be seen, they many times spring up the hope, stir us to true saving Faith, and lead us to that love that overcomes all situations and circumstances. So I continue to pray that God will be glorified in all of this, that your faith will grow, and that the Good News of Jesus Christ will reach further than it had before — all by way of this situation.

God bless you and Joey both, Brenda.

I appreciate any comments, encouragements, corrections — wisdom of any kind — that you feel might help us in dealing with these types of questions. God bless.

Psalm 3

A psalm of David, regarding the time David fled from his son Absalom.

Lord, I have so many enemies;
    so many are against me.
So many are saying,
    “God will never rescue him!” Interlude[a]

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
    you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
I cried out to the Lord,
    and he answered me from his holy mountain. Interlude

I lay down and slept,
    yet I woke up in safety,
    for the Lord was watching over me.
I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
    who surround me on every side.

Arise, O Lord!
    Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
    Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
Victory comes from you, O Lord.
    May you bless your people. Interlude

 

Psalm 115:3 (NLT)

Our God is in the heavens,
    and he does as he wishes.

1 Peter 4:19 (NLT)

19 So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.

 

Isaiah 45:9 (NLT)

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
    Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying,
    ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,
    ‘How clumsy can you be?’

Romans 9:20 (NLT)

20 No, don’t say that. Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?”

Jeremiah 10:12 (NLT)

12 But the Lord made the earth by his power,
    and he preserves it by his wisdom.
With his own understanding
    he stretched out the heavens.

 

Exodus 4:21 (NLT)

21 And the Lord told Moses, “When you arrive back in Egypt, go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do. But I will harden his heart so he will refuse to let the people go.

 

Matthew 12:39-40 (NLT)

39 But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights.

 

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 (NLT)

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT)

17 Never stop praying.

 

Matthew 26:36-56 (NLT)

Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away[a] unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.

44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested

47 And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands[b] of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

55 Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. 56 But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

 

Romans 8:18 (NLT)

The Future Glory

18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.

 

1 John 3:16 (NLT)

16 We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.

1 Corinthians 1:18 (NLT)

The Wisdom of God

18 The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.

 

Job 1:21 (NLT)

21 He said,

“I came naked from my mother’s womb,
    and I will be naked when I leave.
The Lord gave me what I had,
    and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”

 

John 5:25 (NLT)

25 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear my voice—the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.

 

1 Corinthians 2:9-13 (NLT)

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
    and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
    for those who love him.”[a]

10 But[b] it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. 12 And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.

13 When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.

 

James 4:8 (NLT)

Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

 

James 5:14-16 (NLT)

14 Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord.15 Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven.

16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

We need more…

… your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.
Matthew 6:32b NLT

… you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it.
James 4:2b NLT

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.
Matthew 7:9‭-‬11 NLT

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.
James 1:5‭-‬8 NLT

You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
James 4:4‭-‬10 NLT

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord . “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord . “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
Jeremiah 29:11‭-‬14 NLT

Consider ourselves Dead, New Life

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
Colossians 3:5 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/col.3.5.NLT

We should consider ourselves dead and unresponsive to sexual immorality,
impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed.
Just like diseased limbs of a tree, these
practices must be cut off before they
destroy us. We must make a conscious,
daily decision to remove anything that
supports or feeds these desires and to
rely on the Holy Spirit’s power. ” – Life Application Study Notes

Unwanted advances in our lives do not have to be acknowledged or allowed or tolerated — and it is the same with temptations and desires that we know are not Godly.

It is encouraging that we have a promise in the Word of God about resisting evil:

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
James 4:7‭-‬10 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/jas.4.7-10.NLT

And with this death to the old desires we see new life:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17‭-‬21 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/2co.5.17-21.NLT

The Love of God

In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
I John 4:9 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/1jn.4.9.NKJV

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Isaiah 9:6‭-‬7 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/isa.9.6-7.NKJV

For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Romans 5:6‭-‬11 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/rom.5.6-11.NKJV

No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
John 3:13‭-‬21 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/jhn.3.13-21.NKJV

Worshipping Warriors

Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands— to execute vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with shackles and their leaders with iron chains, to execute the judgment written against them. This is the glorious privilege of his faithful ones. Praise the Lord !
Psalms 149:6‭-‬9 NLT

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Ephesians 6:10‭-‬18 NLT

Help us Lord, to praise you even at the gutsy opening of our eyes, even with those groanings of our waking moments that are unintelligible but that prepare us for the day ahead. Like a great roar of a lion, may our loud yoaning and groaning, be like a battle cry that this worshipping warrior is risen to see victory manifest in the will of God brought forth on earth as it is in heaven. May we rise and put on the full armor of God, remembering those things that equip us and send us forth are not pour own striving, but are the vey spirit and power of Christ in us going forth. And may our prayers not be so much about the changing of circumstances, but of the revealing of you, the revealing of hearts, the repentance and reconciliation of your people to your kingdom purpose and calling. May we cry out for the lost and the hurrying and the dead and the dying to find hope, faith, love and life in you. May we both pray for and remind our family, friends, nation, leaders of the whole Word of God, and may it be rightly divided to both bind their consciences to resist ungodly temptations and loosen your spirit to bring life and victory. May our prayers and the spoken Word of God rise powerfully in the name of Jesus, to see demons bound to depart and be replaced by your presence so they might never never return, and to loose your warring angels to execute the judgements written against those who oppose you. Remind us to stand firm and fully prepared. You are not only the light to our path, but the peace that we have found in you establishes pour footsteps. Guard ours hearts, our minds, our words, and our actions against whatever might muddy our testimony, stumble our brother, or hinder our prayers. Make straight what was once crooked, oh Lord, and overflow into our lives so that territories may be expanded, lost may be found, needy may find help, hopeless may know hope, the hurt may know healing, and the proud may know the valley. Thank you, Lord. You are faithful and true and may we sing your praises with our lives today. Amen.

One man comes to battle
with armor, shield, and sword..
the other comes a singing,
as a lowly shepherd boy…

One mocks insisting warfare,
The other stands in love,
But He is wiser than the serpent,
Even harmless than a dove…

It is not his intention
To destroy his mortal foe…
But this stone he wields
Bests the arrow from a bow…

It always hits its mark
It’s aim is always true
Because this is not a war
Between the me and you…

This is a mighty warfare
Sent down from up above
To reveal to all His victory
To testify His love…

So fall upon your knees
And fall upon your face
Our savior is the victor
And we have won the race…

Put down the sword you hold now
For its not by sword we live…
But in the masters arms
He has so much to give…

So abandon worldly wisdom
And rest upon His grace…
And in this you will find
His kiss upon your face.

Stop Competing and Comparing and Envying each other

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all.

Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

wise counsel

clear understanding

simple trust

healing the sick

miraculous acts

proclamation

distinguishing between spirits

tongues

interpretation of tongues.

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it. But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster.

What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything.

You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:

apostles

prophets

teachers

miracle workers

healers

helpers

organizers

those who pray in tongues.

But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.

But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.
1 Corinthians 12:4‭-‬31 MSG
http://bible.com/97/1co.12.4-31.MSG