God Works

If I walk into the thick of danger, You will preserve my life from the anger of my enemies. You will extend Your hand; Your right hand will save me.

Yahweh will fulfill His purpose for me. Yahweh, Your love is eternal; do not abandon the works of your hand.

We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Psalm 138, Ephesians 2

Pruning

I just pruned most of the back yard. It took a long time and I got hurt a few times. I ended up with enough clippings and cuttings to be a few bushes. Now, the pruned bushes and trees look nicer and the ones that produce flowers will produce more flowers than they would have.

When we get sick, it could be that a random demon has bumped into us and attacked us. It could be that sin has opened a door through which unclean things have become fastened to us. A human could be hating us and agreeing with some demon, opening a door to our pain. Maybe we just got sneezed on by someone who didn’t care.

Or, it could be that a sickness, or a hundred other problems, could be a pruning operation. Yahweh understands pruning better than most observers. He is the Designer. He knows that when we finally start to bear fruit, pruning us will cause us to bear even more fruit. Once we grow back…

I imagine a fulfillment of the idea Paul mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 being that fires come to test our work and our character. If we avoid the flames, we avoid having Christ formed in us, and our building skills don’t improve. When we face that final pruning by fire that Paul described, what’s left of us is a well refined tooth pick.

If we don’t avoid the flames, but allow them to burn off carnality and immaturity, as we grow back from the searing, we are stronger and more fruitful. We are better because of the challenge, attack, sickness, or whatever the pruning is, not in spite of it.

Our first response to adversity should be to ask Dad what He is doing and how to cooperate so that it happens quickly and effectively. Usually our first response is to call the devil a liar and start banging on him. Our enemies can’t touch us unless our God allows or commands it (see Job…).

Be transformed by having your mind renewed to see all things from Yahweh’s perspective, especially difficulties (and prunings.) Look for the prize in the box. Don’t waste time being discouraged that there are so few peanuts… Get the prize!

 

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling

Being Ripe

If fruit is ripe, it is usually sweet as an evidence and/or result. Ripeness and maturity can be synonyms.

Our maturity, whether it is emotional, social, or spiritual, can be measured by how quickly our responses to situations we face are manifestations of the character of Jesus. The list of such manifestations in Galatians 5:22 & 23 is what Paul called “the fruit of the Spirit.”

Having our hearts and minds given over to these response influencers makes us stable, trust-worthy, and not only useful in, but powerful in the Kingdom of God.

Your Nephew

If you want to do what Yahweh wants you to do, the only way you can fail is to quit.

When Saul was “serving Yahweh” by imprisoning and killing Believers, his God sent Ananias to touch him with freedom and redirection.

When Jews were plotting to kill Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21 – 23), his God sent Paul’s nephew to warn him and the Roman Tribune who had imprisoned him.

When the prince of the power of the air tried to kill Paul at sea, Jesus protected every life on the ship, which was destroyed.

When a serpent bit Paul’s hand after the shipwreck, his God healed him from the bite and used the healing to lead everyone who knew about it to salvation in Jesus.

No matter what enemy plots against you, no matter how much unified humanity stands against your purpose, no matter what means of access (health, finance, relationships, sanity) any unclean spirit tries to attack through, if you don’t surrender, you don’t lose.

Never give up. Never surrender to anyone but Jesus.

To Him, surrender all.

Speaking With Purpose

If you have opportunity to speak to a group of people and you know about it in time to prepare what you say, I recommend making one point.

If you go hunting with a machine gun, you might kill something. If you go hunting with a rifle, it is more likely that you will kill what you went for.

Ken Davis says in Secrets of Dynamic Communication that if you can’t boil what you want to say down to one sentence, you either don’t know what you want to communicate or you are trying to boil the ocean.

The options Ken suggests you have are to either suggest that the people listening to you “should do something and here’s why,” or that they “can do something, and here’s how.” It works as well for “shouldn’t” or “can’t.”

Put meat on the bones represented by the one sentence by offering testimonies, parables, Scriptures, and pictures. You don’t have to tell them everything you know. Just enough to give evidence that what you are suggesting is true.

If you only make one point, and the people hear it, are convinced of it, and take it home to be changed by it, you have accomplished much more than most “3 points and a poem” speeches happening over pulpits in thousands of sunday meetings in the last 6 weeks.

Distraction and Deception

I have two fronts on which to battle for the realization of righteous behavior in my life: the influences of other humans, other spirits, and my iniquity on one hand, and on the other my ability to be deceived.

If I am easily distracted, any toy or pleasure that is dangled in front of me will influence me. If I am easily deceived, I will argue with anyone who tries to point out my error and I will guard my freedom to believe the wrong ideas and to perform wrong deeds. When I am deceived, I will defend my error and become even more entrenched in its grip.

The gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven includes the good news that we can be influenced by righteousness and walk in freedom instead of being helplessly bound by deceivers. The alternate influences are the holy Spirit of God, His written and spoken word, and my reborn spirit, which is righteous because it is born of the Holy One Who is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: the Father of His Firstborn, our eldest Brother Jesus.

We are not stepchildren, born of one filthy and One Holy. We are born of God. Simply by allowing the righteousness of God that dwells in our spirit to influence all of our decisions, we will walk in that right-ness.

Having the additional influence of His holy Spirit, how can we fail if we will listen to Him, trust His leadership, and obey?