Irritation

Proverbs 15:1

We all will face circumstances, or even people, that irritate us — that don’t go the way we think they should go.

We can come up with all kinds of justifications in our minds for our grumbling, our criticism, our anger — but that is all just our carnal nature examining and comparing and inflating our own ego to the point where we say, “I know better!!!”

But this is not the way of Christ, little children of our Almighty Heavenly Father. He says, “Do not judge one another” and “forgive” and “love your enemy”. And if this seems beyond your ability, it is because your trust lies in your own inability to accomplish it, not in His overwhelming ability to accomplish anything and everything. This is carnal thinking, relying on the ability of self — and it is the same type of thinking that leads us to judge others and grumble about our circumstances.

But to die daily to our carnal ways and choose instead to fellowship in spirit with Holy, Almighty God — will have us slowing our mental pace when we encounter “irritations” to “be still and know that He is God” and to remember that “we are not”.

Lord, help us, when we encounter those familiar irritations, to surrender them to you — to not fall into old patterns of carnal thinking and grumbling and complaining and anger — but to trust that you have a plan and purpose, and to provide us with a kind answer that soothes angry feelings. Amen.

What were you arguing about?

Then they came to Capernaum. While Jesus was at home, he asked the disciples, “What were you arguing about on the road?” They were silent. On the road they had argued about who was the greatest. He sat down and called the twelve apostles. He told them, “Whoever wants to be the most important person must take the last place and be a servant to everyone else.” Then he took a little child and had him stand among them. He put his arms around the child and said to them, “Whoever welcomes a child like this in my name welcomes me. Whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” John said to Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone forcing demons out of a person by using the power and authority of your name. We tried to stop him because he was not one of us.” Jesus said, “Don’t stop him! No one who works a miracle in my name can turn around and speak evil of me. Whoever isn’t against us is for us. I can guarantee this truth: Whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.” “These little ones believe in me. It would be best for the person who causes one of them to lose faith to be thrown into the sea with a large stone hung around his neck.
Mark 9:33‭-‬42 GW
https://bible.com/bible/70/mrk.9.33-42.GW

There are plenty of people who want to see themselves as the greatest, who want to argue, who want to try and exercise authority over others — even within the group who gathers together to follow Christ. But we see here that such behavior does not come from the spirit of Christ but is from the sinful nature of man, it rises up from the pride of life and is not the result of humble awe and wonder found in seeking the Lord.

It would be easy at this point to agree eagerly and point our fingers at some outwardly religious and judgemental person we know within the church who has behaved this way towards us and say, “Yes! See, we must stop them from teaching their vile behaviors to others! We must not listen to them! We must earn others of them!” When this rises up, and we are not quick to listen and slow to speak — we would be better off to first warn others not to listen to us!!!

Don’t fall into the temptation to aim this teaching outward towards others, and like the disciples, argue amongst yourselves who is greatest (and in turn make judgements about who you wrongly think is least) or you will be walking as blindly and confused as the disciples were before Jesus called them out. No, if Christ calls out his followers, and we claim to be a follower ourselves — our reaction shouldn’t be, “Look at those foolish disciples!” as if not including ourselves in the group to be corrected here. Our reaction should be to listen and look at ourselves. Where have we been prideful, religious, judgemental, divisive when it comes to other followers of Christ?

When have we too wanted to see ourselves as the greatest, wanted to argue, wanted to try and exercise authority over others? And those who quickly answer to themselves that they are innocent of such things — usually are not standing in close and right and humble relationship to the Lord, no matter how often they are seen amongst the religious crowd.

So first, we must ask whether we are willing to examine ourselves honestly and truly. Because the leaven of self- righteousness piety, of condemnation, of judgemental actions towards others sho their best to ship wreck the faith of these little ones around us — and who will answer for such things. We might know of those in “church leadership” whose hypocrisy and self-righteousness and argumentative and divisive nature has seemingly driven our ship off faith towards the rocks — and God grant us the grace to pray for our faith to be strengthened for their sake as well as our own. To rejoice in the thought that anyone have a milestone around their neck is to rejoice in a shipwrecked faith, so please, never let that be so in our hearts, Lord!!!

Can we see how this teaching, when aimed outward at others only breeds competition and division, but when we examine ourselves we can repent and be humbled ands praise God for the unmerited favor He shows us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

Stop trying to be great. You aren’t.

To even think that you are sets you on the path to failure.

If your vision is that you are to build great men and women of God up with your own hands — even if your intentions are to build up a legacy and monument to honor the Lord — you should first ask (like David did when he wanted to build a temple for the Lord) to see if that is even your appointed task.

And we all should know that it is not a temple built by the hands of men where the spirit of the Lord dwells. Religious men build up many converts and proselytes who are twice the wicked and empty tombs they are themselves — regardless how bright and shiny and greatly honored they are in public view. It would be good to rest assured that this is not the type of builder you are — that the work be the hand of the Lord and not your own chiseling and cutting and shaping and molding and manipulating. There are grand architects hiding in the shadows asserting such religious construction efforts that will all be swept away by the consuming fires in the end.

No. See clearly your own overwhelming need for the gospel truth, your need for Christ Jesus, your need to fall humbly in awe at the foot of the cross, amazed that any of us “foolish followers” would have a chance to remain in the throne room of Almighty God and not be utterly destroyed (and rightly so) by the consuming fire that is our God. We should fall on our faces, praying that we trust that His promises are true, and that we come with nothing of value to offer but our testimony of His mercy and grace and glory and honor.

Lord, help us. You know our many failures and shortcomings, but we have covered the door posts of our lives with the Blood of the Lamb, and we are singing your praises and sharing our testimonies. We know that you have overcome ands that yours is the victory. Keep us in your grace and see us through to your glory and honor, in spite of our foolishness. Help us walk upright to the point that it might encourage others that your promises address true ands that they might long for your presence as well — but not so that in our own sight we would be comfortable standing proudly in the way of another or building up any obstacles or hindrances to Amy that would know you as Lord and Savior. Forgive us for those times that we may have in the past, and lead us along your narrow way. Amen.

I Am Weak, He Is Strong

One man says, “To Hell with God’s standards!” (1)

Another man says, “YOU all need to be sure to live up to God’s standards!” (2)

Yet another man says, “LORD, I have fallen short of your standards. I can’t live up to them on my own. Change my heart and establish my steps to walk in your way. I know YOU can do it.” (3)

I don’t look at the many examples of people falling short in the Bible and think to myself, “I’m not going to be like them! I’m not going to make their same mistakes!” (4)

No, I say to myself, “I see my own weaknesses and imperfections, the same as in these others, and I see that great contrast to Christ’s perfection. I see even the disciples, even after Pentecost still making mistakes and their weaknesses still being evidence to the glory of God.” (5) (6)

I say, “If I will walk upright, it will only be by the power of God and nothing else, because I can’t on my own.” (7)

So I don’t strive to be “good enough” or to be a “great man of God” or to “slay my Goliaths” — nor am I expecting you to go out and do the same. (8) (9) (10)

No, I will tell you that if you admit your weaknesses, pray for repentance and forgiveness and deliverance, that God will do a mighty work in those who humble themselves — but He opposes the proud. (11) (12)

Christians,

Rely upon Christ.
Encourage your brothers and sisters to rely upon Christ.
When you find yourself looking outward at others, rely upon Christ that He has a plan for them, and pray for them that He will accomplish a mighty work in them.
When you find yourself wanting to motivate people to action, motivate them first to humility and relying upon Christ.

Don’t make relying upon Christ a buzzword at the end of a sermon that lays heavy burdens and raises heavy walls and stands in the way of those seeking to enter in. (13) (14)

You who preach this gospel, do not waver — we aren’t master architects building “great men of God” — we are messengers bringing testimony of our weaknesses and His strength — so that others might have eyes to see in the same awe and wonder as we the glory of our God — beware the leaven… (15)

Amen!

1. Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, and their actions are evil; not one of them does good!
Psalms 14:1 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/psa.14.1.NLT

2. Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it? I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ. In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would make the Gentiles right in his sight because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.” So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith. But those who depend on the law to make them right with God are under his curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” This way of faith is very different from the way of law, which says, “It is through obeying the law that a person has life.” But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing he promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith.
Galatians 3:1‭-‬14 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/gal.3.1-14.NLT

3. But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus. Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law. After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.
Romans 3:21‭-‬31 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/rom.3.21-31.NLT

4. Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer : ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
Luke 18:9‭-‬12 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.18.9-12.NLT

5. “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:13‭-‬14 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.18.13-14.NLT

6. And the leaders of the church had nothing to add to what I was preaching. (By the way, their reputation as great leaders made no difference to me, for God has no favorites.) Instead, they saw that God had given me the responsibility of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the responsibility of preaching to the Jews. For the same God who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through me as the apostle to the Gentiles. In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do. But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions? “You and I are Jews by birth, not ‘sinners’ like the Gentiles. Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.” But suppose we seek to be made right with God through faith in Christ and then we are found guilty because we have abandoned the law. Would that mean Christ has led us into sin? Absolutely not! Rather, I am a sinner if I rebuild the old system of law I already tore down. For when I tried to keep the law, it condemned me. So I died to the law—I stopped trying to meet all its requirements—so that I might live for God. My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
Galatians 2:6‭-‬21 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/gal.2.6-21.NLT

7. The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalms 37:23‭-‬24 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/psa.37.23-24.NLT

8. 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. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9‭-‬10 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/2co.12.9-10.NLT

9. Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies.
John 7:18 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/jhn.7.18.NLT

10. But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:39‭-‬48 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.5.39-48.NLT

11. Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
Ephesians 2:1‭-‬10 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/eph.2.1-10.NLT

12. 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 4:6‭-‬10 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/jas.4.6-10.NLT

13. “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven in people’s faces. You won’t go in yourselves, and you don’t let others enter either.
Matthew 23:13 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.23.13.NLT

14. Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28‭-‬30 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/mat.11.28-30.NLT

15. “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”
Luke 20:46‭-‬47 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/luk.20.46-47.NLT

Trusting in the Lord

I truly enjoy time with the Lord in Spirit through prayer, reverence, faith, hope, worship, and revelation. It is in that place of first love of God, of appreciating Him upon the throne of my life as both Lord and savior that so much is made new and alive even in the midst of challenge, struggle, trial and opposition.

I am learning to trust in the Lord more in this way than I even rely on my own natural soul (psyche) or natural body (senses) — which can both deceive.

When I look at the above two dimensional drawing, I can see in my mind how it can logically be compared to the:

– Triune nature of God: Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, and Son come in the Flesh

– Layout of the tabernacle: outer court, holy place, most holy place

– Layout of the temple: porch, outer sanctuary, holy of holies

– Man’s three in one being: spirit, natural soul, and physical body

I’m not going to stand here on this website soapbox and tell you that I have it all figured out and that “X is the right answer” and shun you for not agreeing with me. I have new things taught to me everyday, and I’ve come to understand that my own reasoning and understanding and imagination comes from my natural man and can easily be flawed. I don’t trust that part of me 100%, and neither should you — but we should test all such things by the Word of God.

Having said that, years ago, I started this website — not because I felt that I had something to “teach others”, but because as I started learning and being taught by my teacher through those spiritual gates as shown in the diagram above, I wanted to be transparent and open and accountable and correctable. This is still my purpose today.

At times, I have faced criticisms and opposition, and other times I have been warmly welcomed into readers hearts and considerations — and I appreciate both because God is being glorified in all of it.

I can see that it is God alone who is trustworthy and reliable in bringing the increase in something that He is doing, that He has ordained. Whether during times where my body and my natural were generating page after page of content — or during times where my body and my natural were showing much less evidence in output of additional content — He is producing consistently a growth and a change in me, and seemingly a growth in outreach through the site. We have averaged a growth of 30 percent per year during the 5 year history of the site. And that has been with no marketing efforts, no boosting of posts for visibility — just sharing my journey as transparently as possible as a Student of the Word of God.

I know that some are destined to be teachers, but I am a student. I trust in the communion that I experience through the Holy Spirit and what my teacher teaches me one on one in that special place so inadequately illustrated in the middle of that diagram at the beginning of this post. And in sharing, I don’t want to be your teacher, but I want you to come to know THE TEACHER, personally, spiritually, consciously, and physically as an undeniable presence in your life.

Do you know “about Him” or do you know Him?

Do you “read about Him” or do you “spend time with Him in that Holy place”?

I encourage you — even if the wicked hate you for it — and even if the religious hate you even more for it (because they both will at times if you are doing it right) — seek Him first. Trust Him. He will do amazing things — in spite of your shortcomings and failures.

Don’t settle for being a well polished tomb of a dying body carrying around a natural soul that is starved from any spiritual nourishment or life because there is no real connection to the life giving source through the glory of God — come alive in Christ Jesus and spend time with God. And share this amazing truth with others as well.

God bless you and yours in this New Year!